By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
NXT 2.0 Hits
Bron Breakker vs. Robert Roode: A logical win for Breakker heading into his NXT Championship match with Dolph Ziggler at NXT Stand & Deliver. Roode put over Dominik Mysterio on Monday’s Raw and followed up with another loss in this match. I hope this is a sign that WWE brass recognize the value of having him work with younger wrestlers.
Io Shirai and Kay Lee Ray vs. Dakota Kai and Wendy Choo in the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic finals: The right team went over. Kai and Choo were a fun odd couple duo even though I’m still not digging Choo’s silly persona. Shirai and Ray adding themselves to the NXT Women’s Championship match at Stand & Deliver when the reward has always been a shot at the NXT Tag Titles made for weak storytelling. I’m also not sure why Cora Jade’s character would be happy about this development when she was supposed to be getting a singles shot at the championship held by Mandy Rose.
Solo Sikoa vs. Roderick Strong in a qualifier for the ladder match for the NXT North American Title: A good show opening match. Sikoa continues to impress, and Strong can always be counted on to get the best out of the young developmental talent. Strong has spent plenty of time in the NXT North American Title picture, so it was good to see Sikoa qualify for the ladder match instead.
Grayson Waller vs. A-Kid in a qualifier for the ladder match for the NXT North American Title: A brief, yet entertaining match. Waller qualifying for the ladder match is fine, but I was surprised to see him do so at the expense of A-Kid, who just debuted last week.
Tony D’Angelo vs. Dexter Lumis: A decent match with an odd finish. The idea that the referee ducked D’Angelo swinging a tire iron in his direction yet didn’t actually see the tire iron felt like it was really pushing it. The post match angle with Tommaso Ciampa once again teasing that Stand & Deliver could be the end of his NXT run adds some real juice to his match with D’Angelo.
Julius Creed and Brutus Creed vs. “The Grizzled Young Veterans” Zack Gibson and James Drake: GYV haven’t clicked in NXT, but they definitely know how to make their opponents shine. That was on display here, as they put over the green Creeds in a decent match. I like the mystery regarding the duo that is toying with the Creeds. For as much pro wrestling content as there is today, I’m surprised we don’t see more mysteries and cliffhangers in the storytelling.
Bodhi Hayward and Andre Chase: I haven’t been a big fan of Chase’s ode to Bobby Knight gimmick, but I got a kick out of Hayward following his teacher’s lead by cursing out other students in his class.
NXT 2.0 Misses
Elektra Lopez vs. Fallon Henley: Lopez continues to be a work in progress. Henley is a nice addition to the roster. Her gear change seems to suggest that she will be a fixture in the Josh Briggs and Brooks Jensen act, which does nothing for me.
Gunther: When Walter worked sporadically in North America, it seemed like it would be a major coup if WWE officials could ever persuade him to work full-time in North America. Now that it’s happened, he’s off to a flat start. The name change didn’t help, but the bigger issue seems to be the philosophical changes in NXT. While there are pros and cons to those changes, some of Gunther’s dream opponents were released or moved on once their deals expired. And rather than being the featured newcomer, he’s had to share the spotlight with all of the fresh face that NXT officials have introduced. Gunther’s match with Duke Hudson was fun and his stiff chops got a big rise out of the crowd. His angle with LA Knight was solid and I am looking forward to their match. But it feels like Gunther needs to have deliver one of those show stealing performances he’s known for to heat things up again.
Joe Gacy: This is more of a big picture issue than it is a problem with his brief appearance on the show via Draco Anthony’s phone. Gacy has shined on the mic and his pairing with Harland has potential. The PC elements of the character actually feel limiting since they never really show him being hypocritical. Gacy strikes me as an intellectual villain who should be executing some type of grand plan. At this point, he feels like the most underutilized person on the roster, and I hope that will change coming out of Stand & Deliver.
I wonder if the guys in hoodies are friends of the Smackdown hacker?