By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
NXT 2.0 Hits
Bron Breakker and Tommaso Ciampa feud with Legado Del Fantasma: Ciampa showing up at the end to side with the man who beat him for the NXT Championship was an interesting twist. The Ciampa character has been unpredictable enough throughout his run with NXT that they can play up the mystery of whether he will have Breakker’s back or stab him in it.
Solo Sikoa vs. Boa in a No DQ, Falls Count Anywhere match: Wait, they had a match? I was too busy watching that Jillian Hall thing slowly fall from Sikoa’s face. I’ll be right back… Okay, so I still couldn’t take my eyes off of it completely, but I saw enough to know that this was a good, spirited brawl. Sikoa will be a player on the main roster. The Great Boa gimmick is an improvement and Boa does a nice job in these brawls, but he still needs to show that he can hang in traditional matches.
Cameron Grimes vs. Tony D’Angelo for a shot at the NXT North American Championship: A solid match that sets up what should be a hot match between Grimes and Carmelo Hayes. The post match angle with Pete Dunne returning was a bit of a surprise of only because it felt like Dunne was on the verge of being elevated to the main roster after his recent loss to D’Angelo.
“MSK” Wes Lee and Nash Carter vs. “Jacket Time” Ikemen Jiro and Kushida in a Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic match: The right team went over in this battle of babyface teams. As much as I hate to see Kushida in this role, he and Jiro are a comedy team. It will be interesting to see if there’s a storyline reason for MSK working with Jacket Time and now another babyface duo in Edris Enofe and Malik Blade in the next round.
Duke Hudson vs. Guru Raaj: A good showcase for Hudson. It appears as though the creative forces have wisely moved on from Hudson’s poker player gimmick, but it’s hard to say for sure because they haven’t changed his video wall. Either way, I liked the intensity that Hudson showed while destroying Raaj, along with the ruthlessness that his character displayed by going after Dante Chen’s surgically repaired knee after the match.
“Toxic Attraction” Mandy Rose, Gigi Dolan, and Jacy Jayne vs. Kay Lee Ray, Persia Pirotta, and Indi Hartwell: You had to assume that the babyface team was going to win to set up at least one title match. The match was fine, but I am concerned about the lack of personality development with some of these wrestlers. Rose is obviously the centerpiece of Toxic Attraction. And while Dolan and Jayne hold the NXT Women’s Tag Titles, I don’t feel like I know anything about their characters. Rose’s character is fairly one dimensional, so it would really help the faction if Dolan and Jayne were given distinct personalities. On the babyface side, Ray’s ass kicker gimmick is fine, but they need to pull back on the baseball bat. Hartwell established a fun, quirky persona during her time with The Way, but she’s spent most of her time lately showing concern for Dexter Lumis. Pirotta has been the supportive friend. I assume she’ll end up turning on Hartwell sooner or later, but I don’t feel like I know anything about her character.
NXT 2.0 Misses
“The Grizzled Young Veterans” Zack Gibson and James Drake vs. Andre Chase and Bodhi Hayward in a Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic match: I’m just not a fan of the Chase University gimmick. Chase working in a sweater and a collared shirt is a disconnect moment for this viewer. In addition to having babyface teams meet in the semifinals, we have heel teams facing off on the other side of the bracket. While it’s nice that it didn’t follow the predictable formula of setting up the predictable and far too convenient babyface vs. heel matches every step of the way, it feels like they’ve gone too far in the other direction. On the bright side, I like the idea of Robert Stone managing Von Wagner, who attacked Chase and Hayward after the match.
Io Shirai vs. Tiffany Stratton: Stratton had a much better outing than she did in her first match. Why is she already losing a match on television? It’s not that I’m suggesting that she should have beaten Shirai. But it feels like they should be establishing her character and giving her squash wins rather than having her take a televised loss in just her second match on NXT television.
Raquel Gonzalez and Cora Jade: Neither one of them came out of their gym argument looking particularly good. Gonzalez’s badass babyface character is downright unlikable, and I just don’t care about seeing them form the company’s latest odd couple tag team in the women’s Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic. In fact, it’s hard to muster up much enthusiasm about the women’s tournament given the lack of actual women’s tag teams in NXT at the moment.
OllieJayy: Does this mean they finally evicted Poppy from the WWE Performance Center basement?