By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
NXT 2.0 Heatwave Hits
Carmelo Hayes vs. Giovanni Vinci for the NXT North American Title: A hot opening match with terrific work from both wrestlers. Hayes continues to bounce back and forth between defending his championship against babyfaces and heels. In this case, it resulted in the live crowd cheering for spots more than pulling for one wrestler over the other. Vinci is a hell of a wrestler and while the repackaging from his days as Fabian Aichner has gone pretty well, it still feels like his act is missing something. Perhaps the right valet or manager would help.
Mandy Rose vs. Zoey Stark for the NXT Women’s Title: A strong match and one of the best outings of Rose’s career. This was another case of the babyface doing a terrific job of selling throughout the match. Rose targeted Stark’s surgically repaired knee from start and they told a really good story throughout the match. Rose came off as ruthless in picking up a mildly surprising victory, while Stark looked gutsy in a loss that shouldn’t hurt her in the eyes of the fans. That said, it will be interesting to see if the company cites her bad knee as an excuse to replace her in the WWE Tag Team Title tournament match on Friday or if that bad knee will end up being the big story of that match.
Tony D’Angelo vs Santos Escobar in a Street Fight: A loss seems like a big win for Escobar, as the match stipulation that Escobar is kicked out of NXT should lead to a long overdue main roster promotion. I’m disappointed that it doesn’t seem like Joaquin Wilde and Cruz Del Toro will be joining him, but perhaps the plan is to establish the kingpin character before calling up his Legado Del Fantasma faction mates. D’Angelo continues to impress at a very early stage in his career, and Escobar did a terrific job of selling for him throughout the match.
Bron Breakker vs. JD McDonagh for the NXT Championship: A soft Hit. I just never bought into the possibility of McDonagh winning the championship, which really worked against the match. Still, it was a good match and a quality title defense for Breakker. The post match angle with NXT UK Champion Tyler Bate served as a big ass spoiler for those watching the tournament for the vacant title play out on the weekly NXT UK television show. Bate’s attire didn’t exactly make a great first impression on unfamiliar fans, but more on that later. Bate is a terrific wrestler and I assume we’re getting a unification match, and it will be very interesting to see what this all means for the future of NXT UK.
Overall show: NXT built this up as a special show by using the Heatwave theme and they delivered with quality title matches and rivalry showdown matches. This was the best of themed editions since the 2.0 switch. Even the Misses listed below involve programs that excite me going forward. The addition of the NXT UK talent felt a little flat and likely created a late to the party feeling with more casual viewers. Even so, they introduced some talented wrestlers who should be strong additions to the NXT 2.0 mix once they are properly introduced.
NXT 2.0 Heatwave Misses
Gallus attacks Diamond Mine: The bickering between Julius Creed and Roderick Strong was rough. Just when it seemed like the segment couldn’t get worse, the Gallus trio showed up dressed like sloppy fans and delivered a soft beatdown (those kicks on Roderick Strong were awful). Apparently, Jimmy Hart needs to visit the WWE Performance Center (and other promotions) to retell the story of the message that the late Dick Clark gave him – “If you dress like the audience, one day you’re going to end up in the audience.” Look, folks, I’m a jeans and t-shirt guy and I’m not suggesting that every wrestler should wear a suit. In general, though, I think it’s fair to say that some wrestlers should give a little more thought to what they wear on television by trying to stand out from the crowd if it makes sense for their character. Anyway, I am actually looking forward to this feud and the younger members of Diamond Mine are sure to benefit from working the with veterans. I just can’t imagine that this packed much of a punch for viewers who are unfamiliar with the NXT UK faction.
Cora Jade vs. Roxanne Perez: In this case, the live crowd was presented with a a definitive heel and babyface scenario, and half the crowd still pulled for the heel. Both wrestlers delivered spirited performances and had a decent match. It felt like they worked such a fast pace early and they couldn’t come close to maintaining it down the stretch. Either way, the finish was a big letdown. The show-opening video package included footage of Perez swinging a weapon at Jade, yet Perez either felt compassion for her former friend during the closing moments of a heated match or she foolishly looked at the referee while surrendering the weapon to avoid being disqualified. It was logical to have the heel steal the first win in what should be a lengthy feud. I just wish they would have come up with a better way of doing it.