By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
NXT 2.0 Hits
Carmelo Hayes vs. Johnny Gargano vs. Pete Dunne for the NXT North American Championship: A well worked match. I could have done without the creative forces taking the lazy approach of having Tony D’Angelo interfere with the tired explanation that there are no disqualifications in a Triple Threat match. That said, D’Angelo’s interference did serve a purpose in terms of setting up the WarGames match between the old guard and the NXT newcomers. Gargano being saved by Tommaso Ciampa should have meant so much more given their history, but perhaps they will be able to do more with the dynamic between the two next week and during the actual match.
NXT Champion Tommaso Ciampa vs. Grayson Waller in a non-title match: A strong opening match with a good performance from Waller. Obviously, working with a great veteran in Ciampa helped his cause, but Waller stepped up his game for his highest profile match to date. Waller showed good babyface charisma previously and now he’s made a quick transition into his role of triggering fans who don’t like WWE’s new approach of recruiting mostly non-independent wrestlers.
Cameron Grimes: Finally, the switch has been flipped. I’ve been waiting for Grimes to take a more serious approach since he worked as Trevor Lee in Impact Wrestling. It finally seemed to happen during his strong promo in response to Duke Hudson cutting his hair and beard. Grimes plays an entertaining comedy hayseed, but it’s obvious that he is capable of more. Meanwhile, even though Hudson’s poker player character is underwhelming, he’s playing the part really well. He’d be just fine sticking with the basic traits of the character even if they pulled the one dimensional poker player gimmick.
Santos Escobar vs. Malik Blade: A nice showcase win for Escobar. It’s still odd to see him in NXT when he’s clearly main roster worthy. Then again, it seemed like a good thing when Hit Row was called up and we saw how quickly that went south.
Mandy Rose vs. Cora Jade in a non-title match: This was fine and nothing more. The finish of Kay Lee Ray creating a distraction was too gimmicky to do much for Jade. For that matter, beating Rose still doesn’t mean much even though she’s the reigning NXT Women’s Champion. She should gain more in-ring credibility with a good title reign, but we’re not there yet.
Ivy Nile vs. Yulisa Leon: Nile has been very impressive. While she needs more ring time and polish, she carries herself in a way that screams legit badass.
Overall show: A quality episode that did an effective job of setting the stage for the NXT WarGames special. Is 2.0 at its best as good as the original version of NXT at its best? Absolutely not. There are weeks when the show feels like a throwaway minor league product, but there are also times when things click well enough that it’s enjoyable to see a mix of veteran talent and fresh faces.
NXT 2.0 Misses
Indi Hartwell and Persia Pirotta vs. Kacy Catanzaro and Kayden Carter: While it wasn’t all bad, there were enough hiccups that it was tough to stay invested in the match. Hartwell staring at her wedding ring to show her concern over Dexter Lumis’s hand injury was a bit much.
“The Grizzled Young Veterans” Zack Gibson and James Drake vs. Josh Briggs and Brooks Jensen: Gibson and Drake have become a comedy team, and Briggs and Jensen country boys act just isn’t working for this viewer.