By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
NXT 2.0 Hits
Dexter Lumis and Santos Escobar: It’s refreshing to have the person running the main roster creative actually care about wrapping up NXT storylines. Sure, you have to turn off your brain to think that Lumis kidnapped Miz in Toronto and then somehow made it across the border and all the down way to Orlando before police finally caught up with him, but I still like that they made some attempt to tie up the loose end that is his relationship with Indi Hartwell. The real Hit was Escobar showing up and telling Cruz Del Toro, Joaquin Wilde, and Elektra Lopez that he wasn’t leaving without them. This was the feel good moment of the night in that it signifies that the entire Legado Del Fantasma faction is main roster bound. I’m a little surprised that Lopez is joining the group because as a wrestler she needs more time in developmental, but she does add something to the act in a non-wrestling role.
Wendy Choo vs. Tiffany Stratton in a Lights Out match: The Choo gimmick is a total turnoff for me, but I have a lot of respect for the person playing the part. Choo is a strong in-ring talent and she’s gone all in with her portrayal of this oddball character. She has done a great job of working with the inexperienced Stratton throughout this program, and I don’t think it’s any coincidence that Stratton has shown so much improvement throughout this program. That’s not to take anything away from Stratton, who a tremendous athlete and it’s easy to see why she seems to be on the fast track to becoming a main roster star. As much as the Choo character and the hardcore style run counter to my tastes, both wrestlers worked really hard and produced a good match in what seemed to be the blowoff of their feud.
NXT UK Champion Tyler Bate vs. Von Wagner in a non-title match: While Wagner has upside and should be protected in most cases, the creative forces picked the right time to sacrifice him. There’s not much time to build up Bate heading into the unification match with Bron Breakker. And given Breakker’s size advantage over Bate, it was an intelligent move to show Bate decisively defeating a much bigger opponent.
The Grayson Waller Effect with guest Apollo Crews: A strong verbal exchange between Waller and Crews. Waller went after Crews for using the Nigerian accent on the main roster, and Crews had a solid comeback. Crews fired back by labeling Waller a discount Miz, which really popped the live crowd. I still don’t understand why viewers and even the wrestlers can see Apollo’s premonitions. Crews came off down to earth and real in this segment. Crews doesn’t need the comic book twist and it belongs in the comic book world, not in the storyline universe that NXT has created.
Charlie Dempsey: It was worrisome when Dempsey popped up in a Chase U skit. Granted, the Chase U silliness has grown on me, but I had no desire to see Dempsey involved in a comedy act. Fortunately, it looks like that isn’t the plan given the way he manhandled the Chase U students and called them soft.
NXT 2.0 Misses
Worlds Collide build: The sprint to get to the unification matches at Worlds Collide is making for some rough television. I really don’t understand the rush. They could have gone with a different theme for their Labor Day weekend show and then taken the time to properly establish the NXT UK acts before setting up unification matches. The approach NXT is taking feels even more rushed are far less meaningful than AEW’s build to the Forbidden Door show.
Brooks Jensen and Josh Briggs vs. Mark Coffey and Wolfgang for the NXT UK Tag Team Titles: A decent match with a crap finish that saw Lash Legend and Pretty Deadly attack the champions for a count-out finish. I assume they are setting up a Triple Threat or even a four-way tag title match for Worlds Collide, but they could have come up with a much better way to showcase Gallus in their first NXT television match.
Blair Davenport vs. Indi Hartwell: I enjoy Hartwell as a character, but she’s not a polished and consistent in-ring performer. As such, it was a strange call to put her in the ring in what was meant to be a showcase for Davenport in her debut. The post match angle with Mandy Rose and Meiko Satomura came out of nowhere, as did Rose coming off like a babyface.
Cameron Grimes vs. Javier Bernal: The match was fine for what it was. I’m just ready for the creative forces to cut to the chase with the plodding story of Joe Gacy and his crew courting Grimes. Rinse and repeat with The Dyad vs. Cruz Del Toro and Joaquin Wilde, though apparently that tag match was the blowoff for the Legado Del Fantasma duo.