By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
Note: The AEW Double Or Nothing Hit List will be pushed back to Tuesday due to the Memorial Day holiday.
NXT Battleground Hits
Carmelo Hayes vs. Bron Breakker for the NXT Championship: Thank goodness Breakker scrambled to catch Hayes on that early flip dive because the champion appeared to be just inches away from landing on his head. Aside from that scary moment, this was a big upgrade from their Stand & Deliver match. This match also wasn’t plagued by another bad finish. Both wrestlers have adjusted nicely to the shift in the babyface/heel dynamic. Breakker is a natural heel, while Hayes is off to a really good start as a babyface. With back to back PLE losses, one has to wonder if Breakker is main roster bound.
Ilja Dragunov vs. Dijak in a Last Man Standing match: This was about as violent as a modern day WWE match gets. Dragunov took an absolute beating. As much as I roll my eyes at overused kendo stick shots, it was impossible to miss the nasty welts that the weapon left on the left arm of Dragunov. It’s a shame that Dijak seems to lose every big match because it’s eliminated any sense of mystery regarding the outcome of his most meaningful matches. Will Dragunov move into NXT Title contention? I’d love to see him headline a PLE with Carmelo Hayes.
Wes Lee vs. Tyler Bate vs. Joe Gacy in a Triple Threat for the NXT North American Championship: A great opening match with really crisp work from everyone involved. Bate showed off his freakish strength with an impressive airplane spin with Gacy on his shoulders while he simultaneously performed the swing on Lee. Gacy taking the loss was no surprise, but it creates the need for a straight up singles match between Lee and Bate. I just hope they abandon the bad story of Lee being bothered by Bate wanting a shot at his championship.
Tiffany Stratton vs. Lyra Valkyria for the vacant NXT Women’s Championship: Stratton’s Prettiest Moonsault Ever finisher was picture perfect and true highlight reel material. The right person went over in what was a quality match. Valkyria hasn’t connected with the audience and if she does it will be in spite of her gimmick. That may happen because she has a good look and can go in the ring, but the path would be easier if the creative forces would make some tweaks. Meanwhile, Stratton has been pegged for stardom since she arrived in NXT with a standout look and the gymnast background. She needs to develop more in-ring consistency, but she’s come a long way and hopefully she can bring some needed stability to the title.
NXT Battleground Misses
Noam Dar vs. Dragon Lee for the NXT Heritage Cup: This was on its way to being a good first showing for the Heritage Cup format in the primary version of NXT. The interference from Lash Legend and Jakara Jackson was disappointing and a strange choice while they attempt to establish the rounds format. Dar is such a dynamic personality and an awesome heel that he really doesn’t need a supporting cast, but perhaps he can give the ladies and Oro Mensah a boost. The botched spot that led to Lee taking a hard bump on the floor was frightening. Fortunately, he seemed to be okay. Part of me wants to see them run this back, while another part of me wonders whether Lee would be better off working traditional matches.
“Gallus” Mark Coffey and Wolfgang vs. Julius Creed and Brutus Creed for the NXT Tag Team Titles: A soft Miss. The match was enjoyable until the bad distraction finish created by Ava running Ivy Nile into the ring post. Perhaps Gallus fighting babyfaces and heels will eventually lead to them earning the respect of fans, but in the meantime it feels like fans aren’t quite sure what to make of them.