By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
NXT 2.0 Hits
Cameron Grimes vs. A-Kid vs. Roderick Strong in a second chance qualifier for the ladder match for the NXT North American Title: A very good three-way match. The outcome was telegraphed given that so much of the focus was placed on the Grimes character wanting this win for his late father. But doing so led to them telling a good story and hopefully the more serious Grimes is here to stay (can he at least drop the “kiss my grits” line from the “Alice” a sitcom that was cancelled in 1985?).
“Imperium” Gunther, Fabian Aichner, and Marcel Barthel vs. LA Knight and “MSK” Nash Carter and Wes Lee: An action packed opening match. I was surprised to see Imperium go over if only because I thought the tag team champions would take a loss to MSK heading into the Triple Threat match for the NXT Tag Titles on Saturday. No complaints, though, as that scenario has been overdone to the point that it’s expected and rarely effective.
Dolph Ziggler and Cora Jade video packages: Ziggler acknowledged the obvious fan assumption that Bron Breakker will have his big moment by beating him to regain the NXT Championship on Saturday. And while I still assume that’s the plan, the fact that Ziggler spoke openly about it was actually an effective way of making viewers second guess whether it will be that simple. Meanwhile, the Jade video package was a good piece of production that helped established her as a relatable lifelong fan who is living her dream.
Dakota Kai and Raquel Gonzalez reunion: It was fun to see them back together even if it felt way too easy coming out of their heated rivalry. We’ve seen the spot where rivals who are about to become allies back into one another a million times, but I don’t think it’s ever been executed as clumsily as when Gonzalez did it. Oops.
Von Wagner vs. Bodhi Hayward: A decent match. There was a little too much going on with the mystery woman at ringside while Jacket Time also did their oddball commentary gimmick. That said, Wagner turned babyface in my eyes when he the hell out of Jacket Time and destroyed one of Ikemen Jiro’s silly jackets.
Nikkita Lyons vs. Sloane Jacobs: This was the best showing that Lyons has had on NXT television thus far. I hope the singing and dancing that were holdovers from her WOW persona have been scrapped.
NXT 2.0 Misses
Joe Gacy vs. Draco Anthony: The match was fine. The Miss is for the ongoing disappointment that is the Gacy character. There’s so much potential given how well he plays his part, but the character just hasn’t evolved and he’s yet to be involved in anything that feels important.
Tiffany Stratton vs. Ivy Nile: A clunky outing for Stratton. She is a talented athlete who performs some impressive moves, but she struggles with the basics at times, which is understandable at this point in her career. The upside potential is clearly there and it’s just a case of Stratton needing more reps. It felt awkward to see the Nile character need a distraction from Sarray in order to beat Stratton, who loses as often as she wins.
Josh Briggs and Brooks Jensen vs. Raul Mendoza and Joaquin Wilde: The country boys gimmick still does nothing for me even if this was decent tag match. It’s always sad to see Mendoza and Wilde slotted as henchmen. Legado Del Fantasma could be a great faction if Mendoza and Wilde were pushed as the quality team that they are rather than as fall guys. All of that said, the wrestler with the most upside was in the corner of Briggs and Jensen.