By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
NXT 2.0 Hits
Dolph Ziggler vs. Tommaso Ciampa for a shot at the NXT Championship: A really good main event and a finish that brought Robert Roode back to NXT. It’s nice to see Ziggler doing something that feels creatively meaningful again rather losing far more than he’s won on the main roster for so many years now. It’s a shame he didn’t arrive before the switch to 2.0, because it would have been a blast to see him work with some of that crew too. Ciampa took the expected loss, but it is encouraging to see that he’s still in a significant role rather than being pushed aside in favor of younger talent.
Grayson Waller vs. LA Knight: The rivalry continues with Waller picking up another cheap win in an entertaining opening match. Waller seems to have settled in as a pest heel, complete with Wade Barrett referring to him as a weasel, but it’s not like he can’t transition into a more serious heel role somewhere down the road. I remain surprised that the slick talking Knight hasn’t been called up to the main roster yet.
Duke Hudson vs. Dante Chen: A showcase win for Hudson. The creative forces have wisely moved on from his poker player gimmick. I was worried that he dropped the cool confidence that came with that character, but he seemed pretty damn confident when he made out with Persia Pirotta backstage and revealed that his character has history with Indi Hartwell. As for Dexter Lumis hanging his head, pro wrestling is one of the only forms of entertainment that could give viewers an “awwww” moment for an implied serial killer.
Camron Grimes vs. Trick Williams: A bounce back win for Grimes after taking a loss to Carmelo Hayes in last week’s North American Championship match. It was interesting that the tide turned when Hayes gave poor advice to Williams. Their act is off to a good start and it seems like it would be premature to break them up, so I don’t think that’s where this is going, at least in the near future.
Kay Lee Ray and Io Shirai vs. Amari Miller and Lash Legend in a Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic tournament match: Who would have guessed that Shirai would be the first to blow a big spot in this match? They wisely kept the match short and went with the expected outcome. It wasn’t always pretty, but at least it was brief. Legend showed charisma and the gift of gab in those bad talkshow segments. If she improves in the ring, she could become a major player on the main roster.
Kacy Catanzaro and Kayden Carter vs. Ivy Nile and Tatum Paxley in a Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic tournament match: Catanzaro and Carter are a nice team and I’m looking forward to seeing how far they go in the tournament this year. It would be nice to see an actual tag team win it rather than one of the teams that consist of two singles wrestlers. The post match angle with Nile roughing up Paxley to end their brief alliance worked for me.
NXT 2.0 Misses
Imperium, Diamond Mine, and Solo Sikoa: I like where this ended with Sikoa taking out Gunther to set up a match. But the way they got there was rough. Diamond Mine has a lot of talent, but I’m not sold on Roderick Strong as a main singles wrestler in the group. He’s a great wrestler, but I’m just not feeling him as the face of the faction. Are Diamond Mine going to be babyfaces or is that just for this feud with Imperium? Or are The Creed Brothers babyfaces, but the other members are heels? I’m confused. The in-ring spot with Gunther doing the big wind up for a punch on Malcom Bivens while waiting for Sikoa to stop him looked really bad. I hate to be petty about a name because I’ve said many times that most wrestler names that sound bad initially end up growing on us, but this Gunther name may be an exception.
Nikkita Lyons vs. Kayla Inlay: This match simply went longer than it needed to. Lyons has charisma, good size, and brings something different to the roster. But this entertainer gimmick continues to feel like it’s from the worst of WOW.