By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
NXT 2.0 Hits
Cameron Grimes and Solo Sikoa vs. Carmelo Hayes and Trick Williams: A strong opening tag match with a mildly surprising finish in that Sikoa pinned Hayes rather than Williams. I actually like that call rather than taking the predictable approach, as it gives Sikoa a bigger win heading into his North American Championship match against Grimes, which should be a gem.
The Creed Brothers vs. The Viking Raiders: A fun match. The finish was creative in terms of giving the Creeds an out for losing while further establishing friction between them and Roderick Strong and his new pledge Damon Kemp. It also evened things up in that the Viking Raiders avenged their loss to the Creeds on the Spring Breakin’ show, so hopefully that means there will be a rubber match.
Tony D’Angelo vs. Santos Escobar: A Hit for match quality. Escobar is a true pro, and D’Angelo continues to shine in every part of his game for a guy with very little experience. The mob wars story continues to be a groaner. It doesn’t help that Troy “Two Dimes” Donovan looks like more like Gabe Brown from Alaskan Bush People than a mobster.
Wes Lee vs. Nathan Frazer: This was really fun while it lasted. It’s another case of a cruiserweight match standing out on 2.0 because the roster isn’t filled with wrestlers who work the same style. I actually liked the interference by Von Wagner, as there really wasn’t any reason to have winner or a loser in this match, particularly if they end up having Lee and Frazer form a tag team. Meanwhile, I loved the calm and cool vibe that Sanga gave off during his backstage verbal exchange with Lee and Frazer. While his former partner is playing a heel savage on Raw, Sanga is getting a chance to be something that feels more authentic than the typical foreign monster heel character.
Roxanne Perez vs. Kiana James in an NXT Women’s Breakout Tournament match: Another good showing for Perez, who is new to the company and yet further along in her in-ring development than most of the women in NXT. It will be interesting to see what type of match she can get out of Lash Legend when they meet in the semifinals. James has not had as many reps as Perez, but she has a lot of potential and seemed very poised while delivering her pre-taped promo.
Grayson Waller vs. Andre Chase: A solid television win for Waller. I get the sense that creative isn’t sure where to go next with Waller. While he has a new alliance with Tiffany Stratton, he doesn’t seem to have an actual program with anyone. The Chase U act is good for a few laughs and there’s a role for that in any promotion, but Waller should be doing something more high profile.
Lash Legend vs. Tatum Paxley in an NXT Women’s Breakout Tournament match: A decent developmental match. Paxley is further along than Legend it as this point, but it’s obvious that NXT officials have high hopes for Legend. She has a great look, mic skills, and charisma. If Legend can get the in-ring part of her game down, she has the potential to be a star. I’m happy for her and others in NXT that they will be getting more reps in front of live crowds with the return of Florida live events.
Overall Show: NXT cut back on most of the campiness that had been bogging down some of the recent episodes. This was more of a straight forward pro wrestling show, which is far more appealing to me than the corny sports entertainment style silliness.
NXT 2.0 Misses
Bron Breakker and Joe Gacy: The recent presentation of Gacy has been so damaging. It’s a shame because he is such a good talker and has made the most of whatever he’s been given. I went from being excited to see him slotted as a challenger to Breakker to being anxious to see the conclusion of their feud due to the cartoonish villain that Gacy has become. Once this ends, I really hope the creative forces will do a reset on Gacy’s character and eliminate the aspects that are not working. On the bright side, I am looking forward to seeing Duke Hudson work with Breakker next week. There’s no reason to think that Hudson will win clean, but I hope he’s protected. Hudson was saddled with the bad poker player gimmick before he was moved into the comedic romance storyline. I’d really like to see him positioned as a serious player in NXT, so hopefully he won’t just be fed to Breakker in a throwaway match.
Edris Enofe and Malik Blade: Their impersonations of Tony D’Angelo and Santos Escobar were absolute duds. The goal seems to be to position Enofe and Blade as fun loving guys. I can’t tell whether it’s the material they are given or if they just haven’t developed the on-air personalities to pull it off, but I want to like these guys and it’s just not clicking.