By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
NXT 2.0 Hits
Giovanni Vinci vs. Andre Chase: The Chase character is so over the top and cartoonish that it’s easy to forget how good the guy actually is in the ring. Viewers got a reminder during this impressive outing with Vinci. It’s early in Vinci’s run, but it feels like something is missing. He’s a terrific wrestler and I hope they either make some tweaks or perhaps add a valet to his act. Meanwhile, it doesn’t hurt to have a planted cheering section, but I must admit that the Chase U gimmick is more fun and more over than I ever thought it would be.
Roderick Strong, Julius Creed, Brutus Creed, and Damon Kemp vs. Tony D’Angelo, Stacks, Raul Mendoza, and Joaquin Wilde: This didn’t feel like it belonged in the main event slot, but it was a solid match overall. D’Angelo’s team is a mess due to the absence of Santos Escobar and the departure of Two Dimes, so they simply needed the win more than the Diamond Mine squad. Even so, I was surprised to see Julius Creed take the loss for his team.
JD McDonagh: Finally, someone addresses the danger of eating popcorn! Actually, I enjoyed the promo because it was out of the ordinary and held my attention. McDonagh did a nice job of speaking calmly while coming off as intimidating and deranged. The exchange with Bron Breakker was also solid and McDonagh continued to lean into the oddness of his character by laughing while he was bleeding from the mouth.
Zoey Stark vs. Gigi Dolin: They set the table for this match nicely with a solid show-opening verbal exchange that included all of the Toxic Attraction members and Cora Jade. There was no mystery regarding the outcome given that Stark is challenging Mandy Rose for the NXT Women’ Championship at the NXT Heatwave show, but it’s a logical story to have her work with Rose’s sidekicks beforehand.
Grayson Waller vs. Wes Lee: A nice match with a finish that put over Waller while also building to Lee’s match with Trick Williams. That said, I laughed out loud for all the wrong reasons at Williams hiding his identity in the crowd while wearing a pair of boxing gloves for no good reason.
NXT 2.0 Misses
Apollo Crews vs. Xyon Quinn: Quinn seemed to find his voice recent weeks, but this match showed that he’s still a work in progress in the ring. It wasn’t all bad, but Quinn’s offense is very basic and it looked like things fell apart for a moment when he failed to catch Crews on a crossbody block. If nothing else, it has been refreshing to see Crews featured as a babyface again. I suspect that Crews will settle in as a gatekeeper character who gives the brand a reliable veteran presence that the prospects can learn from.
Announcement of the four-way for the vacant NXT Women’s Championship: Madusa throwing the WWF Women’s Championship in the trash on WCW Nitro continues to pay off for her all these years later. It was a nice touch to bring her in for this segment. But I can’t say that I’m thrilled with the team selection for next week’s four-way. Yulisa Leon and Valentina Feroz haven’t won a tag match on NXT television since 205 Live was around, and I don’t believe Ivy Nile and Tatum Paxley have ever teamed on the actual NXT 2.0 television show. It’s obviously a depth issue and normally I would have sympathy, but NXT creative put themselves in this position by having Cora Jade and Roxanne Perez break up a week after they won the titles. The creative forces may opt to put the belts back on the Toxic Attraction team, but I’m hoping that Kayden Carter and Katana Chance get a run with the belts.
Indi Hartwell vs. Ariana Grace: A flat, basic match. They didn’t have any major flubs like the disastrous Hartwell vs. Lash Legend match a couple weeks ago, but it just didn’t feel like a match that really needed to be on the show either.
Kiana James: She wears glasses so you know she’s smart! Her act feels like something you’d see on WOW, so I guess it’s only fitting that she will be working with WOW alumnus Nikkita Lyons.