By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
NXT 2.0 Hits
Walter vs. Roderick Strong: A very good main event that was overshadowed by Walter announcing his new name as Gunther afterward. While I’m not a fan of the name change, no one should be surprised by it given that WWE wants to hold the trademark over the names of their wrestlers. Granted, Gunther would not have cracked my top 1,000 choices for a new name for Walter, but perhaps it will grow on fans like most name changes eventually do. The Imperium feud with Diamond Mine is a little awkward at this point, as it currently feels like a feud involving two heel factions. It will be interesting to see if the plan is for one of the factions to emerge as babyfaces.
Grayson Waller vs. Dexter Lumis: The spotlighting of Waller continued with a nice win over Lumis. Waller has the pest heel mic work down. The key remains booking him strong in the ring so that he can actually be more than a pest heel. This was the right move to help in that regard, as it means something for an NXT newcomer to beat Lumis. While I like the work of LA Knight, I assume that he will also play a role in the elevation of Waller by ultimately putting him over at the end of their feud.
Julius and Brutus Creed vs. Josh Briggs and Brooks Jensen in a Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic tournament match: The right team went over. The Creed Brothers are green, but they have already clicked as the most entertaining of the newer tag teams. I don’t know what to make of the country boys hanging out with the party girls. My first instinct is that it doesn’t seem like a positive for either side, but obviously we’ll see what the creative team has in mind.
Dante Chen vs. Guru Raj: This Hit is all about Duke Hudson’s return, which saw him attack both wrestlers to end the match in a no-contest. Hudson’s poker player gimmick was lousy, but he showed a lot of potential in spite of the gimmick. Hopefully they will abandon the poker aspect and simply make him an intelligent, calculated heel character.
Edris Enofe and Malik Blade vs. Joaquin Wilde and Raul Mendoza in a Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic tournament match: As much as I hate to see Wilde and Mendoza make an early exit from the tournament, I like the way Enofe and Blade are being pushed as likable underdogs. With that in mind, it’s surprising to see the brackets laid out in a way that will have them facing a fellow babyface team in the second round barring some type of double elimination finish in the MSK vs. Jacket Time match.
Dakota Kai vs. Yulisa Leon: It’s crazy to think that there isn’t a meaningful place for Kai on the main roster, but the younger wrestlers in NXT will certainly benefit from working with her. I assume this match was meant to set up something for the women’s tag team tournament. If so, it will be interesting to see who the crazed Kai character teams with.
NXT 2.0 Misses
Kay Lee Ray vs. Ivy Nile: Ray is still finding her way in the North American version of NXT, and Nile is off to a good start as one of the green newcomers. It felt like a questionable move to put them in a match together and I don’t think either one of them came out of this looking better than they did going in. Nile won the match and Ray was protected in defeat by a distraction finish, but I think the better move would have been to simply keep these two away from one another until somewhere down the road.
Sarray: The original Sarry presentation in NXT was too dry for a WWE television show. But at first glance, the new school girl character feels like a cliche stereotype. I’d be a little more open to the idea if this was an extension of a character she played in Japan and was simply bringing it with her to the United States, but that’s not the case with her. All of that said, Tony D’Angelo’s character has similar issues. The live crowds love him and the masses seem to accept him, so we’ll see how this goes for Sarray despite my initial concerns.