By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
NXT 2.0 Hits
Johnny Gargano segment: This was the big hook for the show. And while we didn’t get any definitive declarations from Gargano regarding his future, he handled it well and he had the live crowd with him. Whether Gargano is staying or going, I like that Grayson Waller was chosen to attack him. Waller has a ton of charisma and he has a good thing going with his sports entertainer gimmick.
Santos Escobar vs. Xyon Quinn: A solid match. The veteran Escobar has obviously been handed the assignment of making newcomer Quinn look good. He did a solid job of that in this match. The finish felt overbooked with the brass knuckles. I’m ready for pro wrestling to do away with brass knuckles. The Blade and The Bunny use them frequently in AEW and it always comes off as silly that they don’t leave a blemish on the faces of their opponents, and no one ever sells a brass knuckles punch beyond a match finish. We’re asked to go overboard in suspending our disbelief as pro wrestling fans, but the modern use of brass knuckles is asking too much.
NXT North American Champion Carmelo Hayes vs. Dexter Lumis in a non-title match: This was fine for a one-off, but I hope that Hayes isn’t going to be locked into a program with Lumis. I get a kick out of the Lumis character for mid-card comedy, but I’d rather see Hayes pushed in more realistic feuds over his championship.
NXT Women’s Tag Team Champions Gigi Dolan and Jacy Jayne vs. Valentina Feroz and Yulisa Leon in a non-title match: A simple spotlight match for the women’s champions.
NXT 2.0 Misses
Kyle O’Reilly vs. Von Wagner in a steel cage match: O’Reilly did his best to carry Wagner, who did an admirable job at this stage of his development. But Wagner’s lack of facial expressions are an even bigger problem now that he’s turned heel, as it really took me out of the match. On the bright side, I assume that O’Reilly losing was his swan song in NXT. I don’t play favorites between companies, but it’s time for O’Reilly to move on. He needs a change of scenery and would fit in nicely on the AEW roster.
Brutus Creed and Julius Creed vs. Josh Briggs and Brooks Jensen: The Creeds jumped out from the start as a badass tag team with some enjoyable squash matches. In this case, it felt like the NXT creative forces are trying to get two teams over at once and they ended up going with a finish that didn’t help either team. NXT has something with the Creeds, but I’m just not sold on the Briggs and Jensen country boys gimmick.
MSK and “The Shaman” Riddle: All that for a guy we see on Raw every week? Speaking of which, why didn’t they just go to Raw? Okay, I get that the idea was to showcase the personalities of Nash Carter and Wes Lee in this series of skits. But the skits were too campy, which is an ongoing issue with a lot of NXT’s vignettes.
NXT Cruiserweight Championship: Malcolm Bivens stated that the weight limit had been lifted, meaning that anyone can challenge for the title. So now it’s just a cruiserweight championship in name only. NXT doesn’t need three singles championships for the men. It’s time to put this title out of its misery.
The way NXT is going, they will probably turn the Cruiserweight title into another 24/7 championship.
A few thoughts
I agree. Walker being elevated was great. Next to Steiner he seems the best of the new breed
I’m all for the direction of the cruiser weight title (and the changes to 205 live). NXT could have something good brewing with the Diamond Mine (a better version of that raw fight club mess?) so I am all for altering the title in some manner to continue to highlight diamond mine (and Bivens -who continually reminds me of Gary Hart)
NXT did NOT mishandle KOR. He had his chance and failed to get himself over (despite his BFF and HHH best efforts). Maybe a change of scenery will help. But I am not sure he will benefit from being ex WWE wrestler #117 in AEW either
Gargano was genius and I hope he stays and returns after the baby