By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
“Pretty Deadly” Kit Wilson and Elton Prince vs. Ridge Holland and Butch for the NXT Tag Titles: Wilson and Prince were obnoxious and over the top during their State of the Commonwealth Address, meaning they played their parts perfectly. Last week’s video package was hilarious enough that there seemed to be a slight risk that fans would start to back Pretty Deadly. The promo combined with the arrival of Ridge Holland and Butch was enough to cement their heel status. The actual match was entertaining and it was a case of outside interference being logical. Imperium interfering saved the vulnerable heel champions while also playing on their issues with the Brawling Brutes. The post match scene felt flat. Brooks Jensen and Josh Briggs have been established as worthy contenders for the tag titles, but it feels like Edris Enofe and Malik Blade are being shoehorned into the title picture.
Carmelo Hayes vs. Oro Mensah: An entertaining opener with Mensah getting a really nice offensive flurry that rallied the crowd behind him. Trick Williams shoving Hayes out of harm’s way and taking one for the team turned things around for Hayes, which put heat on the heel duo while also giving Mensah an out for losing.
Andre Chase vs. Von Wagner in a qualifying match for the ladder match for the vacant NXT North American Title: A fun match. I didn’t think the ode to Bobby Knight gimmick stood a chance of getting over when it was introduced, but it’s one of the sports entertainment style creations of NXT 2.0 that clicked. Granted, it doesn’t hurt to have your own planted cheering section. Even so, Chase has really done a great job with the character and the actual fans are backing the Chase U act. Wagner going over was the right call and I continue to hope that the big man will live up to his potential. He’s come a long way since his oddball workout in the woods with Kyle O’Reilly.
Veer Mahaan returns: A simple segment with the Mahaan approaching Sanga in the backstage area while dressed similarly to his former tag team partner. There were no words spoken and it left me looking forward to seeing where the former Indu Sher members go next. Mahaan’s main roster gimmick was one dimensional, so it’s encouraging to see him seemingly following the likable Sanga’s lead.
Kayden Carter and Katana Chance sit-down interview: This was a huge upgrade over their past party girl videos. It felt like we finally got to see the real Carter and Chance and the fun dynamic between them. It was a nice reminder of Chance’s past on American Ninja Warrior, and this was the first time that I felt like I learned something about who Carter is.
Gigi Dolin and Jacy Jayne vs. Zoey Stark and Nikkita Lyons for a future NXT Women’s Tag Team Title shot: Former NXT Women’s Tag Team Champions Dolin and Jayne were effective in the gatekeeper role. The win gave Stark and Lyons a credibility boost and made them feel like credible challengers for Carter and Chance. One critique is that it would be nice if Lyons came off like she was more focussed on getting the win than mugging for the cameras while she’s pinning an opponent. I’m guessing it’s something she’s been coached to do. And it’s fine to do that during enhancement matches, but it felt a bit over the top to do it at the end of this higher stakes match.
Julius Creed vs. Duke Hudson: I still don’t understand why Hudson is booked like an enhancement wrestler, but the match was a brief showcase win for Julius. The post match angle with Damon Kemp setting up his Halloween Havoc match with Julius was clunky in terms of the multiple stipulations that were announced, but Kemp and the Creeds did a decent job with their mic work.
Wendy Choo vs. Lash Legend: This was a solid outing for Legend, and it’s no coincidence that she was in the ring with Choo, who also got quality matches out of a green Tiffany Stratton. Even so, the Choo character continues to be a turnoff. It’s said to be over with kids at the NXT live events, but it’s just not clicking with me despite the fact that Choo has gone above and beyond to make this work. I really hope she can transition into something less polarizing.
Grayson Waller Effect with Cora Jade and Roxanne Perez: I enjoy the work of everyone involved in this segment, but there was just too much going on. The scrolling text messages were distracting, and I could have done without Apollo Crews attacking Waller, which also took away from what was happening with Jade and Perez. And don’t even get me started on Apollo’s latest premonition coming true.
Hank Walker vs. Xyon Quinn: A soft Miss. The broadcast team of Sudu Shah, Wade Barrett, and Byron Saxton (who worked nicely together) did their best to sell us on the greatness of the Walker story, but the truth is that it’s been a disjointed mess. Walker was rushed into his first NXT television match and then he disappeared for a few weeks after winning. On the bright side, Quinn needed a win and got one, and it works for Walker to remain slotted in the underdog role.
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