By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
NXT 2.0 Hits
AJ Styles vs. Grayson Waller: A Hit for match quality. It’s hard to have a bad match with Styles, but Waller held his own in the match and was made to look competitive before taking the loss. Sure, I would have had Waller cheat to steal a win since he’ll be staying in NXT while Styles will go back to the main roster, but it was hardly a surprise that Styles won the match. Riddle scoring the pin in last week’s six-man tag match was a clear indicator that the main roster wrestlers are going to beat the NXT regulars far more often than not. But Waller still gained something in defeat and the live crowd was receptive to the transition back into Waller’s feud with LA Knight.
Bron Breakker promo: Breakker delivered a good promo in his first appearance since winning the NXT Championship. It was laid out well in terms of emphasizing his work ethic and by having him show respect for Tommaso Ciampa, the man he beat to win the championship. It’s a shame that WWE didn’t keep Samoa Joe around to feud with Breakker over the title that Joe never lost in the ring. And it continues to be bizarre that everyone knows Breakker is a Steiner and there are some cute references made to his lineage, but no one on NXT television is actually allowed to directly state that he’s a Steiner.
Pete Dunne vs. Tony D’Angelo in a Crowbar on a Pole match: Sure, the match stipulation was silly and a case can be made that the match overstayed its welcome, but it was another impressive outing for D’Angelo. Working with a pro like Dunne obviously helps, but the confidence and poise that D’Angelo is showing in the ring after only eight matches is really impressive.
Joe Gacy and Harland vs Edris Enofe and Malik Blade in a Dusty Rhodes Classic Play-in match: A surprising outcome, as I assumed that Gacy and Harland would actually be players in the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic. I like the Enofe and Blade pairing, so no complaints about them being in the tournament. It feels like it’s time for Gacy to be more overtly heelish. I assumed his character would be framed as a hypocrite. He plays his part really well and I love the sinister smile, but it’s time for him to actually do something sinister.
Kayden Carter, Kacy Catanzaro, and Amari Miller vs. Indi Hartwell, Persia Pirotta, and Wendy Choo: The match had some rough moments, but this was all about the in-ring debut of the new Choo character. While Choo working in pajamas might get old quickly, it currently feels like a cute sports entertainment gimmick and NXT’s answer to Orange Cassidy.
Solo Sikoa vs. Boa: A solid brawl to the back that set up the face paint version of Boa shooting a fireball at Sikoa. They creative forces really should have done more to sell the effects of the fireball. The angle happened and was forgotten. Something like that should be treated like a major deal with frantic medical updates to establish the danger of the fireball. Putting that aside, I like the way they added intensity to the feud between Sikoa and Boa.
NXT 2.0 Misses
Santos Escobar vs. Xyon Quinn: The match was a Hit from an in-ring quality standpoint. But creative put Quinn in a no-win situation by putting him and Elektra Lopez in an oddball love story. Lopez kicking Quinn below the belt and walking off with Escobar made Quinn look like like a naive, lovestruck goof. This is actually better than the alternative of the two of them actually being paired together long term, but this was just a bad idea from the start. And I feel compelled to continue stating the obvious – Escobar belongs on the main roster.
Cameron Grimes vs. Damon Kemp: Every time it seems like Grimes might become a more serious act, he ends up sticking with his comedic routine. He plays the part well, but it limits him to a mid-card role and I believe he can a lot more than that in NXT. Hopefully he’ll flip the switch during his upcoming feud with Carmelo Hayes, which should produce some fantastic matches. The most compelling part of the Grimes vs. Kemp match was Malcolm Bivens scouting Kemp, the younger brother of Gable Steveson. Kemp looked unsure of himself at times, but that’s understandable at this point in his development.