By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
NXT 2.0 Hits
Tommaso Ciampa and Tony D’Angelo: The bulk of the Hit goes to Ciampa’s well-delivered promo. While I’m not sure what comes next for Ciampa, he seemed to indicate that he’ll be leaving NXT. He’s had a hell of a run and his feud with Johnny Gargano was legendary. Meanwhile, D’Angelo seeking to put himself on the map by beating Ciampa was good logic from his character. This angle was totally effective in that they put two characters together for the first time and left me anxious to see them meet in the ring.
Dolph Ziggler vs. LA Knight for the NXT Championship: A good main event that was set up during a forgettable Miz TV segment at the start of the show. The match suffered from a lack of any real suspense regarding the outcome given that Ziggler just won the title and it was pretty obvious that he’d end up defending the title against Bron Breakker at NXT Stand & Deliver. Still, it was a well worked match and it’s encouraging to see Knight so over with the NXT live crowd.
Santos Escobar vs. Cameron Grimes in a qualifier for the ladder match for the NXT North American Title at NXT Stand & Deliver: A strong opening match. Grimes swung and missed in a recent NXT North American Title match, so it felt like the right call to have Escobar win this match. I also liked that Grimes showed frustration later while venting about how his three years in NXT have been disappointing. I assume that means a character shift is coming and perhaps this will finally lead to Grimes being positioned as a more serious act.
Dominik Mysterio vs. Raul Mendoza: I like the idea of sprinkling in some unadvertised main roster wrestlers occasionally. The days of NXT being a standalone third brand ended with the regime change, and having the occasional main roster wrestler appear without warning can create the feeling that you need to watch the show because you never know who might show up. That’s not to suggest that they should give away big matches without with no advertising, but a Dom vs. Mendoza is the type of match that can air in impromptu fashion, and ideally sets up a bigger match in Rey Mysterio vs. Santos Escobar for somewhere down the road.
A-Kid vs. Kushida: A soft Hit for a well worked match. The problem is that beating Kushida in an NXT debut match should pack much more of a punch than this did. Kushida’s NXT run has never lived up to expectations, and his run as one half of Jacket Time isn’t helping the cause.
NXT 2.0 Misses
Cora Jade and Toxic Attraction: Jade playing “Home Alone” with Gigi Dolan and Jacy Jayne was a strange way to get to her challenging Mandy Rose for the NXT Championship at the Stand & Deliver event. The silly traps were groaners, and the parking lot portion completely lost me when they had multiple cameras set up inside Jade’s vehicle. And I just don’t buy Mandy Rose as an ass kicking heel. Oddly, despite all of these issues, I am looking forward to the Rose vs. Jade match.
Sarray vs. Tiffany Stratton: Stratton showed good intensity during her beatdown of Sarray. Stratton has a long way to go, but she’s already showing signs of progress. I get what they were going for with Stratton beating the schoolgirl version of Sarray’s personality. Sarray’s new gimmick is straight out of a comic book movie. I love a good comic book movie and pro wrestling can learn a lot from the basics of comic book storytelling, but leave the special powers to the comics. Sarray “transforming” due to a magical pendant is bending the rules of the NXT storytelling universe in a way that holds no appeal to me as a traditional pro wrestling fan.
Indi Hartwell vs. Persia Pirotta: An all women’s Miss section? I feel like a member of the He-Man Woman Hater’s Club. Anyway, I got a kick out of the presentation with the Hartwell and Pirotta cautiously walking to the ring together. The match was brief and then the post match game of one-upmanship via their make-out session with Dexter Lumis and Duke Hudson worked for the live crowd more than it worked for this viewer. I like each of the wrestlers involved in this program individually, but I will like them even more if the couples go their separate ways after the inevitable series of mixed tag team matches.