By John Moore, ProWrestling.net Staffer (@liljohnm)
NXT TV Hits
Bron Breakker and Carmelo Hayes contract signing: Simple and effective approach with the nice twist of both opponents being respectful. Carmelo Hayes seems primed for a babyface run as champion, which would make sense since he tore through a lot of babyfaces during his long North American Championship runs. Breakker has stalled in terms of character development ever since his lame feud with Joe Gacy, but I do like that he’s experimenting here and there as a character and not relying on his Scott Steiner voice. What is a bit odd is they are trying to push him with mixed-reactions a la “Super Cena”.
Johnny Gargano and Grayson Waller: Solid heel work from Waller, who deserves a lot of credit for trying new heelish techniques as opposed to relying on old tricks other heels overuse. I like the nice added touch of Waller integrating social media (via Instagram live) in his live segments. Here he proved that he’s a bit sinister and not just a pest like Miz. It’s cool that we’re getting the serious Johnny Gargano as opposed to Raw’s Comedy Gargano. One more note, we got the television debut of young Quill Gargano. I hope he isn’t traumatized after his mom forced him to watch his dad get curb stomped into the ground (That said, Matt Hardy’s son has watched him get beat up many time and even wrestled matches. The curse of being a wrestler’s kid I guess.)
Apollo Crews vs. Dabba-Kato: Most of the show felt disjointed, which is the feeling I seem to get every two weeks in NXT these days. This was a nice match that was booked well. Good to have Kato go over because this feud is just budding. The first half of the match seemed plodding when Kato was on offense, but he looked better in the second half. One thing I want to see him integrate into his moveset is some of the Muay Thai he was implementing when he was doing Raw Underground.
Isla Dawn and Alba Fyre vs. Kayden Carter and Katana Chance vs. Tatum Paxley and Ivy Nile for a shot at the NXT Women’s Tag Team Titles: The big Hit goes to the breakup of one of my least favorite tag teams in all of WWE, Paxley and Nile. Nile showed a ton of potential when she was managed by Stokely Hathaway and was doing those vignettes where she would show feats of strength. Paxley has felt like an anchor on her career and they have zero chemistry. Here’s hoping Nile finally gets that singles push she totally deserves. Fyre and Dawn were the right team to go over. Dawn continues to impress me with her new witch character. Her old witch character in NXT UK felt so dorky, kinda like what Taylor Wilde is doing now in Impact. Dawn has made enough tweaks to make this new character really good. She was a highlight with all her mannerisms on the ring apron while she was tagged out.
Zoey Stark vs. Sol Ruca in a ladder match qualifier: The right person went over here because you would want Zoey Stark to be working the arena show. Sol’s young and will have her day eventually. There’s no need to rush. Sol continues to shine with her smooth athleticism. She’s great at selling too as she made Stark’s tilt-a-whirl GTS look like a million bucks.
“Gallus” Mark Coffey and Wolfgang vs. “Pretty Deadly” Elton Prince and Kit Wilson for the NXT Tag Team Titles: A well worked match, as you would expect from both teams. Gallus are still a work in progress in terms of getting over with he crowd. They’re great in the ring, but they fail to captivate viewers in terms of being characters. Having the charismatic Joe Coffey with them would help. Speaking of which, are there still visa issues with Joe? Why were they able to bring over the less-interesting Coffey brother and not the cool one?
NXT TV Misses
Roxanne Perez follow-up: This was really odd. They closed last week’s solid show with a dramatic angle (that even some news outlets even thought might be a shoot). This week’s follow-up was minimal and disjointed. The first weird thing was they announced the “qualifier” match before announcing why they were qualifying for in the first place. When Shawn Michaels finally made the announcement, it was the weirdest non-announcement ever. He essentially said “we might need a new champ, we might not.”
Wes Lee’s open challenge: More so, the bait and switch of Lee doing a flip dive and the advertised match not happening. To Shawn Michaels’s credit, he seems to be turning these convoluted Jeff Jarrett TNA match concepts into good matches. They fixed King of the Mountain with the Iron Survivor Challenge. Wes Lee’s open challenges having people are fight to get into the the ring remind me of the Reverse Battle Royal, just not dumb. This week though, it was just odd to see the segment end abruptly after a flip dive.
Ilja Dragunov and JD McDonagh: Similar to two weeks ago, there was nothing wrong with this segment per se, but it felt like they could have saved it for next week and have it be more refined. This felt like time that could have been used to enhance other segments. I’m looking forward to their match though given how great both men are in-ring.
Tyler Bate: So he’s a yoga hippie now? This feels so NXT 2.0.
Scrypts: Speaking of NXT 2.0, they really need to pull the plug with this WrestleCrap character. I can actually see this character being really good, but not with Reggie under the hood. If someone like Eric Young, who has more range, were playing this role then I could see it being a solid gimmick. Can somebody get my man Reggie his serving tray and wine bottle back? Reggie and Scrypts suck, but the guy was awesome when he was Reginald the Sommelier. It looks like Scrypts is about to feud with Axiom. So we’re getting the Mathematical Superhero vs. The Cursive Writing villain. Oh joy.
Kiana James vs. Gigi Dolin in a ladder match qualifier: The match was fine and the right person went over, but the match seemed unnecessary since they were also building towards James and Henley vs. Fyre and Dawn in the same night. The Fallon Henley, Kiana James, Brooks Jensen, and Josh Briggs stuff were not good tonight, and it got a lot of TV time. Henley is coming off as very unlikable for meddling in Jensen’s business, and failing. The NXT Women’s Tag Team titles also seem held hostage behind the virgin cowboy storyline.
Overall Show: This was an okay show at points, but they tried to stuff too much story into two hours and an overrun. Some segments could have been deferred to next week, and not be rushed. The time from those segments would allow the segments on this week’s show to breathe and come off better. This has been an odd booking pattern in recent weeks where every other week would be an overstuffed mess.