By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
Tiffany Stratton vs. Roxanne Perez in an NXT Women’s Championship tournament semifinal match: This was a solid main event and the right person went over. Perez works better in chase mode than she does as a champion at this point in her young career. That said, I am surprised that they didn’t save this match for the tournament finals at Battleground.
Tyler Bate vs. Eddy Thorpe: A well worked match. The live crowd was fairly quiet. Some of that is likely due to it being a babyface vs. babyface match, but it also feels like neither wrestler has fully connected with the fans. That’s to be expected for Thorpe, who is still fairly new to NXT and it feels like he’s working out the kinks of his gimmick. It’s more concerning for Bate, who is a tremendous wrestler, yet has an oddball persona that is tough to get behind. On a side note, Wes Lee’s reaction to Bate having interest in the North American Championship is a huge Miss and doesn’t mesh with his take on all comers approach to defending his title.
Dijak and Ilja Dragunov: A bounce back week with big brawls throughout the night. This was a big upgrade over last week’s creepy bondage video. I was surprised to see this feud get so much attention and even close the go-home show, but that’s not a complaint. It is a shame that Dijak hasn’t been pushed stronger going into this match, as he continues to feel like more of a stepping stone than a major force in NXT.
Dabba-Kato vs. Axiom: A nice win for Dabba-Kato. His size really stands out in NXT due to the abundance of cruiserweight sized wrestlers on the roster. Meanwhile, Scrypts was awful, but it’s not like unmasked Reggie is much better.
Hank Walker vs. Tank Ledger: The match was fine for what was meant to be an even singles match between a young tag team. The real Hit is for Bron Breakker coming out afterward and destroying both men heading into his title match at Battleground.
Lyra Valkyria vs. Cora Jade in an NXT Women’s Championship tournament semifinal match: A rough match with Valkyria slipping on an early rope spot and Jade suffering a cut near her eye. They never quite found their groove and the finish felt like it came out of nowhere, in part because Valkyria’s finisher looks like a throwaway kick.
Noam Dar vs. Nathan Frazer: It’s asking a lot of fans who didn’t watch NXT UK to suddenly care about the Heritage Cup match at Battleground without actually showing them how the format works. The video package breaking down the rules was nice, but they really should have had Dar defend the cup on television against an enhancement wrestler. Worse yet, they had the champion lose on go-home show, which sends the wrong message about the importance of the cup. I’m all for NXT doing more with Frazer, but this was an odd time to have him go over, even with the distraction created by Dragon Lee.
Gallus and The Creeds: Gallus continues to struggle on the mic, and the Creeds are still a work in progress. More than anything, it feels like the creative forces need to pick a direction with the Gallus trio in terms of deciding whether they are babyfaces or heels.
Gigi Dolin and Jacy Jayne: Dolin’s initial promo came off like she was delivering a monologue as opposed to speaking from the heart. Worse yet, she’s supposed to be a babyface and yet it came off like the only reason she’s not still in a heel tag team is because Jayne gave her the boot.
Luca Crusifino: A lawyer who moonlights as a wrestler? Or is he a wrestler who moonlights as a lawyer? The Kliq stepped up and persuaded Vince McMahon to do away with the lame occupational characters that were plaguing WWE back in the day. So why is the Shawn Michaels led NXT creative team trying to bring them back? On the bright side, Von Wagner destroying Crusifino after the match was well received.
Tony D’Angelo: Hey, maybe Crusifino can help out NXT’s resident mob boss. Sigh. D’Angelo needs to get away from this limiting stereotypical gimmick. He’s a talented guy, but I can’t even remember the last time I enjoyed one of his campy mafia themed storylines. I assume that Stacks will be revealed as the informant, which should lead to a feud between the crime family duo.
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