By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
NXT 2.0 Hits
Tommaso Ciampa vs. Bron Breakker for the NXT Championship: A good main event with Ciampa passing the torch to Breakker as WWE continues its shift to becoming a true developmental brand. Breakker continues to be beyond impressive. There was a clunky spot where veteran Ciampa held things together, but it’s crazy to think that Breakker headlined a show with a good 15-minute match in just the fourteenth match of his career.
NXT North American Champion Carmelo Hayes vs. NXT Cruiserweight Championship Roderick Strong in a title unification match: NXT opened with a terrific match. These two brought it. Strong always delivers in the ring, and Hayes has major upside. One can only assume that the unification will lead to the end of the cruiserweight title.
Walter, Fabian Aichner, and Marcel Barthel vs. Riddle and MSK: I didn’t know if anything on this show would top the unification match. Little did I know that the very next match would do just that. It was no surprise to see the main roster wrestler get the win. Here’s hoping that Walter will be sticking around through a least Royal Rumble weekend.
Mandy Rose vs. Raquel Gonzalez vs. Cora Jade for the NXT Women’s Title: A solid match. Rose had some clunky moments and the pin looked bad with Jade’s shoulders clearly off the mat, but there was more good than bad. As much as the women’s division is built around Toxic Attraction, Jade stands out as the rising star of the division.
AJ Styles and Grayson Waller: A solid segment to set up next week’s main event. The live crowd loved Styles and lapped up every word of his promo, while Waller garnered good heat. I continue to hope that NXT creative views Waller as more than an obnoxious pest heel. I suspect that his in-ring work will help determine whether he will end up being more comparable to The Miz or MJF. It’s hard to have a bad match with Styles even though Omos pulled it off on Monday. Nevertheless, next week’s match should tell us a lot about Waller’s in-ring ability.
NXT 2.0 Misses
None: This was built up as a special episode and it delivered. The key to NXT 2.0 being a viable television product is for some of the younger talents to break out as stars. Bron Breakker is well on his way, and it’s encouraging to see Cora Jade, Grayson Waller, Joe Gacy, The Creed Brothers, Tony D’Angelo, and others starting to click. The quality of the weekly show is really impressive considering the experience level of the new faces. Are there rough moments? Yes. Are there some wrestlers who in over their heads? Absolutely. But the appeal of the show is really no different than watching young wrestlers learn their craft on the independent scene. So while this will never be the original NXT that many of us adored, it’s still an entertaining product for what it is.