By John Moore, ProWrestling.net Staffer (@liljohnm)
The following commentary pertains to the September 16, 2022 edition of NXT Level Up.
Ivy Nile and Tatum Paxley vs. Sloane Jacobs and Erica Yan: A good match with Tatum Paxley showing some in-ring improvement, even though she was still limited because they didn’t have her do too much in a tag team setting. This also allowed Nile to continue to show that she belongs on the main NXT show instead of being trapped on the Level Up show. Can we trade out Lash Legend for Ivy Nile in terms of being stuck on Level Up? Nile also has felt like she’s been in a holding pattern with this story with Tatum Paxley not having progressed for what seems like half a year, if not more. Yan didn’t show much in terms of offense, but she’s done a solid job in terms of selling. She’s a blank slate and I’m interested to see what NXT can mold her into. Sloane Jacobs seems to be the most experienced of the group in terms of in-ring, despite being only about 19 years old. They noted that she trained at “The Monster Factor” pro wrestling school, the same school Matt Riddle and Damien Priest trained at.
Bronco Lima and Lucian Price: While both men felt like they were reading off scripted lines, their delivery of the presumed scripted lines was pretty solid. Both men seem to have good natural speaking voices. While Bronco has impressed me in terms of emoting in the ring, Price delivered his lines in a calm and natural manner. There’s something there with both of these guys. They each sounded better in this interview once they got to bounce off Duke Hudson back and forth. Nothing to spectacular here, but you can see that these two are nice prospects with potential.
Duke Hudson vs. Bronco Nima: This looked like a performance assessment for Bronco, and in terms of that I thought he did a decent job. Yes, he’s still green and is putting together matches with a beginner’s moveset, but where I think the the guy excels is in his facial expressions and emoting. Even the best athletes in pro wrestling take forever to get the facials down right. He’s really interacting in the match, which makes him stand out positively. In terms of executing the basic moves, he seems further along than a handful of developmental talents we’ve seen on TV (i.e. Lash Legend).
As for Duke, it still baffles me as to why they have him in the “jobber to the stars” gatekeeper role when the guy has a great look and has finally found a voice on the mic. They present him as a mid-card speed bump. I thought they had something when it looked like he was going to be a unhinged heel coming out of the Cameron Grimes poker feud. I hope they repackage him to something more meaningful because it’ll be a shame to see such natural talent be wasted as cannon fodder.
Indi Hartwell vs. Amari Miller: A good match, but I don’t understand why they can’t find a story to put Indi Hartwell in. This has been going on for months, where she just wrestles matches with no consequence. I say this because we’ve seen her shine when in an actual story via her involvement with Johnny Gargano and The Way. I also noticed that ever since that botch in the match against Lash Legend, she’s stopped using her very cool looking Slingshot Elbow Drop. It was a cool finisher that she hit all of the time, but maybe she’s looking at doing an easier finisher to execute, so I won’t blame her for that. Amari got more offense than she usually does, but she still ultimately served as enhancement fodder for Indi.