By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
NXT 2.0 Hits
Carmelo Hayes vs. Solo Sikoa for the NXT North American Championship: NXT closed out the anniversary show with the surprise of Sikoa replacing the advertised Wes Lee in this title match, and the even bigger surprise of Sikoa winning the NXT North American Championship. The finish left some unanswered questions. Does Sikoa bring the title to Smackdown to add to The Bloodline’s belt count? Will he drop the title at the taping for next week’s NXT show? Does this free up Hayes to make the jump to the main roster? Regardless of the answers, the title change combined with the new logo made for an intriguing ending for last night’s epiosde.
“Pretty Deadly” Elton Prince and Kit Wilson vs. Julius Creed and Brutus Creed in a steel cage match for the NXT Tag Titles: An entertaining cage match opener. I really wish pro wrestling companies would be disciplined enough to avoid having interference in cage matches. There were other ways to keep the tag titles on Pretty Deadly without having Damon Kemp handcuff Julius to the cage. Nevertheless, both teams worked hard and I was pleased to see Pretty Deadly keep the titles, as they are much more effective as vulnerable heel champions than they are without the titles.
Bron Breakker and Cora Jade: The production crew took two different approaches with Breakker being interviewed while Jade essentially served as her own narrator. But both segments did a really nice job of recapping the the run that both characters have had since they started in NXT. It was refreshing to hear Breakker use his actual speaking voice rather than mimic his uncle’s promo voice.
Nikkita Lyons and Zoey Stark vs. Kiana James and Ariana Grace: A solid showcase win for the team of Lyons and Starks. They were originally scheduled to be in the WWE Women’s Tag Team Title tournament. I figured that would be the end of their team, but perhaps they are being positioned as eventually challengers for the NXT Women’s Tag Team Titles.
Quincy Elliot vs. Sean Gallagher: A fun debut for the flamboyant Super Diva character.
NXT 2.0 Misses
Lash Legend vs. Fallon Henley: Legend still isn’t ready for prime time. I continue to gt the appeal. Legend has a great look, she’s charismatic, and she can talk. Unfortunately, she just hasn’t shown much in-ring improvement during her televised matches.
Tony D’Angelo and Channing “Stacks” Lorenzo vs. Cameron Grimes and Joe Gacy: Gacy jumping in and becoming the partner for Grimes was a logical development. The issue continues to be that Gacy was severely damaged by the booking to the point that he and his sidekicks feel like channel changers. It’s a shame because I was very high on Gacy prior to his NXT Championship feud with Bron Breakker, and the Grizzled Young Veterans are a terrific tag team. On the bright side, at least they finally pulled the trigger on Gacy and his crew attacking Grimes, meaning they are finally moving on from the courtship phase of the story.
Javier Bernal vs. Hank Walker: A Hit with the live crowd, but this should have meant more. The creative forces rushed into Walker having his first match on the main NXT television show and left weeks of storyline build on the table. Bernal has never won a match on the NXT television show, so it didn’t feel like a big upset when Walker beat him despite the good work of Wade Barrett, who did his best on commentary to establish Walker as a heavy underdog. The live crowd was hot for the match, but unlike most NXT television viewers, the Performance Center regulars have seen both wrestlers on NXT Level Up.
Tyler Bate and JD McDonagh to meet in a No. 1 contenders match: Bate and McDonagh are sure to have a hell of a match. The issue is that Bron Breakker beat them both in his last two televised title defenses. I’m not saying they can’t go with rematches eventually, but I’m ready for Breakker to work with a fresh heavyweight challenger rather than have rematches with cruiserweights he’s already beaten.
Presentation means a lot (to me anyway) and I found the 1980s style color scheme and overstimulating light show and music just didn’t work for me in the 2.0 era
Granted the CWC was maybe too dark but a return to a more traditional approach will certainly be an improvement.
Now none of this window-dressing changes the fact that for now NXT is still viewed as developmental and as such we may be subject to talent not quite ready for prime time. But I am excited for the changes