By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
NXT Great American Bash Hits
Carmelo Hayes vs. Ilja Dragunov for the NXT Championship: A match that looked great on paper and lived up to lofty expectations. Hayes and Dragunov are two of the best wrestlers on the NXT roster and one can only hope that this won’t be the last time they meet for the championship. I get the feeling that the wheels are in motion for a Trick Williams turn on Hayes. I don’t know if it’s something that will happen quickly, but it seems like we’re starting to see some little things that could evolve into big problems between the two.
Dominik Mysterio vs. Wes Lee vs. Mustafa Ali in a Triple Threat for the NXT North American Championship: A fun three-way with the right person going over. Dom and Rhea Ripley have given the NXT television show a ratings boost, so it was the logical choice to keep his title reign going. Lee and Ali had their moments, and the match was effectively laid out to make Lee look resilient despite the fact that he ultimately took the pin. Ripley is great in the ring and she’s doing excellent work when she corners Dom.
Roxanne Perez vs. Blair Davenport in a Weapons Wild match: A good intense match with both wrestlers using the weapons in an effective and believable manner. It was impressive to see them start at a fast pace and maintain it throughout the match. Perez really needed this gritty victory. The creative forces laid it on too thick with her ribbons and playing to young girls in a way that made her seem child-like, so this was a step in the right direction. Bonus points to Perez’s family. You never know what you’re going to get from a wrestler’s family reacting to the action. Perez’s family was great. Her sister was emotional and her mother looked genuinely concerned when Davenport was on the offensive. My only disappointment is that Perez wasn’t shown having a moment with them afterward even though they were featured so prominently throughout the match.
Mark Coffey and Wolfgang vs. Tony D’Angelo and Channing “Stacks” Lorenzo for the NXT Tag Team Titles: It was a good idea to put this match in the opening slot if only to guarantee that the crowd was be invested. The fans dig D’Angelo, but the Gallus trio and even Stacks have been tougher sells. The match was well worked and the babyfaces winning the tag titles was over with the live crowd.
Nathan Frazer, Dragon Lee, Yulisa Leon, and Valentina Feroz vs. “Meta-Four” Noam Dar, Oro Mensah, Lash Legend, and Jakara Jackson: The match was filled with fast paced action. The men supplied most of it, but Leon and Feroz added some crowd pleasing spots. Was it enough to justify NXT expanding the pre-show from thirty to sixty minutes. Absolutely not.
NXT Great American Bash Misses
Gable Steveson vs. Baron Corbin: The double count-out finish was a big Miss. I get the idea of extending the feud between these two, but there were better ways to do that without resorting to a bad television finish on a premium live event. It was surprising to hear so many in the live crowd turn on Steveson in favor of Corbin, but they can easily correct course by turning Steveson heel. It may actually be an easier path for Steveson as he tries to develop his promo skills. But the creative forces bear some of the responsibility for the crowd’s negative reaction. Steveson looked like a tool for showing up at the building with the gold medal around his neck. And the idea of trying to position him as the next Kurt Angle when he’s clearly not a pro wrestling prodigy is foolish.
Tiffany Stratton vs. Thea Hail in a submission match for the NXT Women’s Championship: A soft Miss. Viewers had to know the gist of the finish when they saw the towel around the neck of Andre Chase. The wrestlers did a decent job of establishing Hail’s back injury to set up the finish, but it just felt too predictable.
The Schism: It wasn’t a big part of the show, but the ridiculousness of their brief appearance has to be acknowledged. They were upset because two of their masked followers betrayed them and said they intend to interrogate all of their followers on Tuesday’s show. Everyone watching the show expects it to be the Creed Brothers. And even if the creative forces throw us for a loop by having two other wrestlers be revealed as the culprits, the fact that only one of The Schism members thinks it might be the Creeds is absurd.