By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
Carmelo Hayes vs. Apollo Crews: A strong match to start the new year. This looked like a good match on paper and exceeded my high expectations. Hayes is more than ready for the main roster and I’ll be surprised if he’s not on the list if the company does post WrestleMania call-ups.
Axiom vs. Trick Williams: Unfortunately, we didn’t get to see the full match. Axiom attacked Williams after the opening match and then they cut to commercial while this match got underway. Based on what aired, this was one of Williams’ better outings. Working with the talented Axiom surely helped, but hopefully this was a sign that things are starting to click for Williams, who has been better on the mic than he has been in the ring thus far.
Kofi Kingston vs. Joe Gacy: The New Day appearances on NXT continue to provide the show with a nice dose of star power. Kingston going over was no surprise, though I was surprised to see this match happen in the first place, as it continues to feel like The Schism takes one step forward and then two steps back.
Drew Gulak vs. Andre Chase: Gulak declining to release the submission hold after Chase tapped out continued to show that Gulak isn’t a nice guy. Gulak is a ruthless trainer. Gulak is a sadistic fighter. Gulak is NXT’s Terry Silver. If Cobra Kai is the inspiration for this feud, then I assume Gulak and Charlie Dempsey are actually united and are just toying with Hank Walker, which will ultimately drive him to join the rival dojo, er, Chase U.
Alba Fyre vs. Isla Dawn in an Extreme Resolution match: The hard work of the wrestlers was strong enough to put this brawl in the Hit section. It’s a shame that Fyre overshot the big table spot, but she lived up to her veteran status by keeping her composure and going right to an impromptu table spot. All of that said, the live crowd’s mild reaction to the brawling is proof that there’s still a lot of character work to be done with both wrestlers.
Javier Bernal vs. Oro Mensah: Feliz Javidad! Don’t tell anyone, but I would buy that single. Anyway, I’m not sold on Mensah’s club entrance or his ode of Rich Swann ski goggles, but he’s impressive in the ring and this was a solid match.
Bron Breakker on The Grayson Waller Effect: Is Waller winning the title next week? The fans clearly see him as the underdog, so I didn’t get the idea of having Breakker dominate him physically to close the show. No matter what they have planned for next week, it really seemed like the situation called for Waller to get the better of Breakker in this go-home segment or to at least walk away unscathed. Part of the appeal of the match is seeing Breakker get his hands on the loudmouth Waller character, and for some reason they gave that away a week before their match.
Dijak vs. Channing “Stacks” Lorenzo: I’m thrilled to see the revamped Dijak back in NXT. I’m impressed by Tony D’Angelo. But I’m just not excited about their feud. I don’t see any chemistry between the characters and I have no clue how fans are supposed to feel about Dijak from week to week.
Women’s promo segment and brawl: It felt way too contrived that so many women popped up with mics at various places in the studio and it way too conveniently led to the announcement of a battle royal for next week.
I see Sarah Michelle Gellar’s hubby full on trashed NXT today. And he isn’t too far off. I know the age of the Black and Gold is over (and we’re gonna look back 10 years from now and realize that was the best show on TV during that phase)
The wrestling is clunky and outside of PD and Waller pretty much everyone is death on the mic
So you can do a couple of things to fix this
1 make it a full on 3rd brand (even if it’s the C-show) like B/G was and move the trainees to Level Up or house shows
2 embrace the trainee nature and make it seem more like the minor league if is. Bring in more main roster talent (as they have been) so the people who are closer to ready can be carried to more watchable matches and learn. And bring in some retired legends as managers/mouthpieces until the newbies learn how to talk
So basically bring back all of the problems that killed Black and Gold after its last dead years.
NXT is developmental. End of story.