By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
NXT 2.0 Hits
Tommaso Ciampa and Bron Breakker: A good opening segment with the champion doing the heavy lifting on the mic to set up the rematch for the NXT Championship on the New Year’s Evil show. Breakker also played his role well as the confident young challenger. I assume that Breakker will avenge his only loss and take the title at New Year’s Evil, but I wouldn’t complain if Ciampa cheats to keep his title and they stretch this feud out a bit longer.
Raquel Gonzalez vs. Dakota Kai in a Street Fight: A spirited brawl and a fitting final chapter of this feud. I wasn’t really feeling it when this match was announced. I’ve enjoyed their previous battles, but it felt like they’d already turned the page and moved on. Those feelings were quickly washed away once Gonzalez and Kai started brawling in the backstage area. Gonzalez held up her end of the bargain, and I’m always impressed by the work of Kai, who continues to be among the most consistent performers in NXT.
AJ Styles and Grayson Waller: It was cool to see Styles make his first appearance in NXT after all these years. Waller is currently an obnoxious pest heel, so Styles acting unimpressed by him compared to other prospects was understandable. I have high hopes for the charismatic Waller and it’s obvious that the NXT creative forces do as well given the high profile spots they’ve put him in. While the pest role works for him now, hopefully he will have the chops to be more than that.
Pete Dunne vs. Tony D’Angelo: Dunne did a great job of carrying the match. D’Angelo continues to be impressive for a guy with so little in-ring experience. He also has his character down and is a smooth promo. I like that while Dunne got the win, D’Angelo got his heat right back with the post match attack. I was surprised to see how much heat this generated with the live crowd given how popular D’Angelo has been on past shows.
Von Wagner vs. Edris Enofe: I cringed when Enofe was introduced as Wagner’s opponent. Wagner was advertised as being in action, which is typically the easy to decipher code for squash match. Furthermore, Enofe lost his two previous NXT matches, so all signs pointed to this being another loss for him. So it was a pleasant surprise when Enofe scored the upset win. The post match angle was all about Wagner snapping. The beatdown felt a little generic. The beard has improved Wagner’s look, but he really needs to find tights that don’t look so low budget. Robert Stone lurking at ringside is encouraging, as Wagner could definitely use a good mouthpiece.
Dexter Lumis vs. Trick Williams: This went a little longer than anticipated given the limitations of Williams at this stage of his development. All things considered, it went fairly well. Lumis going over was the right call. Grayson Waller attacking Lumis afterward was logical given the ties between Lumis and Johnny Gargano, and sets up Waller vs. Lumis for next week.
NXT 2.0 Misses
“The Grizzled Young Veterans” Zack Gibson and James Drake vs. Julius Creed and Brutus Creed: The match was well worked, but I wasn’t sure which heel team they wanted fans to pull for. The involvement of Jacket Time along with Josh Briggs and Brooks Jensen presumably sets up a four-way. The only team in the mix that’s working for this viewer are the Creeds. Gibson and Drake are a top notch team in the ring, but their characters just haven’t clicked, and I’m not sold on the idea of them becoming more comical.
Xyon Quinn and Elektra Lopez: Both prospects have real potential, but their love story is both awkward and risky. I could see it working for Lopez and a different wrestler. It just feels like NXT is reaching for female viewers by putting Quinn in a love story, and I fear that it will lead to some backlash from some male viewers. Quinn has a great look and they are killing off whatever cool factor he possesses. They really pushed it by having him sing “Sexy Boy” recently, and bringing mistletoe to the ring in hopes of getting a kiss was a real groaner.