By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
NXT Stand & Deliver Hits
Dolph Ziggler vs. Bron Breakker for the NXT Championship: A good match and a truly surprising win for Ziggler. Even Ziggler himself stated on NXT television that everyone assumed this was set up to be a crowning moment for Breakker. The rookie was protected via the exposed turnbuckle spot that led to the finish and with Robert Roode interfering throughout the match. It will be interesting to see if they go to the rematch soon or if this is leading to Breakker moving up to the main roster.
Carmelo Hayes vs. Santos Escobar vs. Solo Sikoa vs. Grayson Waller vs. Cameron Grimes in a ladder match for the NXT North American Championship: Vic Joseph nailed it when he described this as human demolition derby. These wrestlers all worked their asses off and took some insane bumps. The spot where Waller appeared to injure his arm was ridiculous. It’s not a WWE thing, it’s a pro wrestling thing, companies need to save the wrestlers from themselves by eliminating some of the insanely high risk spots. The bar has been set too high. Meanwhile, I wasn’t a fan of the story that Grimes told in his pre-match promo about this being his last chance to make good on his promise to his late father that he would become a champion. He’s a 28 year-old guy, so why would anyone believe this would be his final title shot? That one line needlessly tipped off his win.
Mandy Rose vs. Cora Jade vs. Io Shirai vs. Kay Lee Ray in a four-way for the NXT Women’s Championship: It wasn’t always pretty, but there was good drama throughout this match. While I wasn’t a fan of the NXT Women’s Tag Title change (more on that later), it did add some mystery to this match in that it felt like there was a chance that Rose could lose the title in advance of Toxic Attraction being called up to the main roster. It ended up being a credibility building win for Rose, who survived three babyface opponents without getting any help from her sidekicks.
Gunther vs. LA Knight: A strong match that gave Knight plenty of offense before Gunther turned the tide and then made quick work of him once he did. This wasn’t a Walter-style classic, but it was enjoyable, and both men came out of this looking good despite Gunther going over strong in the end.
Fabian Aichner and Marcel Barthel vs. “MSK” Nash Carter and Wes Lee vs. Julius Creed and Brutus Creed in a Triple Threat for the NXT Tag Titles: It’s good that the nonsensical booing of MSK that a small group of fans in Orlando are responsible for didn’t follow them to Dallas. This was a quality three-way tag match. I dig the Creed Brothers, but the match would have been stronger had they sat this one out. That said, this is developmental and the Creeds gained something from the experience. They were also protected by not taking the pin, so I assume we’ll see them challenge MSK soon.
Tommaso Ciampa vs. Tony D’Angelo: A fun slug fest. The appearance of AJ Galante was fantastic if you’ve watched Netflix’s Untold: Crime & Penalties. And if you haven’t seen it, you should, as you’ll see some of your WWE favorites at Galante’s birthday party, which was thrown by his father, who the late James Gadolfini dubbed the real-life Tony Soprano. No matter what’s next for Ciampa, this was a great win for D’Angelo, who continues to overachieve at this early stage in his development. And how about that post match moment with Paul “Triple H” Levesque making a surprise appearance on the stage to send off one of the pillars of the Black and Gold era? Awesome.
NXT Stand & Deliver Misses
Gigi Dolin and Jacy Jayne vs. Dakota Kai and Raquel Gonzalez for the NXT Women’s Tag Titles: A soft Miss for a decent match that lacked the proper build. The Kai and Gonzalez reunion was extremely rushed, and it was odd to see them win the tag titles again so quickly. As previously noted, the title change left me wondering if Toxic Attraction was main roster bound post WrestleMania, but Mandy Rose won her match, so I assume that’s not the case. Meanwhile, it’s not just Orlando. The Dallas crowd’s mild reaction to Wendy Choo tells me that her gimmick isn’t clicking in a major way. Choo is a talented performer and I’d be happy to see the creative forces repackage her.