By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
Apollo Crews vs. Dijak: A competitive match between two good workers. It was encouraging to see Dijak get a clean win over someone who matters. I’m guessing he won’t be going on a winning streak given that he’s set to face Ilja Dragunov next, but they should have a hell of a match together.
Wes Lee vs. Charlie Dempsey for the NXT North American Championship: An enjoyable match. Lee is having a stronger championship reign than I anticipated. That said, they would have been better off saving this match for somewhere down the road. I wish NXT creative had taken a similar approach with Dempsey as the one Impact Wrestling took with Masha Slamovich last year. Slamovich won a series of dominant squash matches and continued to look strong as she eventually worked her way up the ladder. She felt like a world beater before she finally got a title shot at Bound For Glory.
Carmelo Hayes on the Grayson Waller Effect: A good verbal joust with insults that felt true to the characters. I could have done without Waller boasting about stealing the show at Stand & Deliver. Or at least it felt like Hayes should have pointed out that stealing the show doesn’t matter if you lose the match (in a storyline sense). Waller’s jab about Hayes’s relying on Trick Williams to help him win matches felt spot on. I’m still annoyed by the way he won the championship with help from Williams and yet even his opponent Bron Breakker acted like Hayes won fair and square.
Roxanne Perez vs. Zoey Stark: A smooth match involving two of the division’s best wrestlers. The post match angle that set up next week’s Triple Threat was solid. While I’m typically a fan of singles matches, Stratton is a welcome addition to the match and I wouldn’t be surprised to see her win the championship that I thought she was going to win at Stand & Deliver. On a side note, I really hope creative can find a way to help Stark become more than a gatekeeper. She was likable as a babyface and now she’s playing the basic heel role well, but there’s never been anything truly distinctive about her character.
Brooks Jensen, Josh Briggs, Kiana James, and Fallon Henley: Cheap sets, bad acting, and yet still good fun. Every time I think the virgin cowboy drama has lost me, something pulls me back in. In this case, the new look Brooks has won me over. We’ve all had a friend (or even been the person) who tries to be something they are not just to please a new partner. The only problem is that it’s hard not to sympathize with Jensen given all of the crazy things that Briggs and especially Henley have done while trying to expose James. I’m surprised they are already going with the mixed tag match and yet I am looking forward to it.
Mark Coffey and Wolfgang vs. Rip Fowler and Jagger Reid vs. Julius Creed and Brutus Creed in a Triple Threat for the NXT Tag Titles: An action packed three-way. But hopefully Gallus will enter a real program rather than just having fairly random title defenses that receive quick one week builds.
Noam Dar vs. Myles Borne: A simple showcase match for Dar in his return to the ring. It will be interesting to see if they can get the Heritage Cup format over with U.S. television viewers.
Gigi Dolin vs. Cora Jade: A soft Hit. Jacy Jayne’s involvement kept her feud with Dolin going, while the post match angle set up Jade’s match with Lyra Valkyria.
Von Wagner and Mr. Stone: The split lasted a whopping week. Worse yet, all it took for Wagner to win over Stone was to tell him he always wanted to be in WWE and that his father was a Beverly Brother. Stone feels underutilized. He’s always played the butt of the joke and hopefully whatever he’s doing with Wagner will lead to him being treated as a more serious manager.
Bron Breakker and Duke Hudson: The segment was fine, but the Miss is due to Breakker coming off as directionless while feuding with the Chase U crew. While I get that this will give him some heat building wins over some likable mid-card wrestlers, it just feels strange that Breakker seems content to slide down the card to feud with the comedy faction when he should be hellbent on regaining the championship he was screwed out of. On the bright side, Breakker is playing his new heel role well. And Hudson deserves a ton of credit. He was saddled with the oddball poker player gimmick when he started and he made it watchable. I assumed that Hudson’s role in Chase U would only last a few weeks before he turned on them, but he’s really made this work in a clever way that continues to leave one wondering about whether actually committed to the cause or still out for himself.