By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
Dominik Mysterio vs. Dragon Lee for the NXT North American Championship: A good match with a lousy finish. I don’t mind most outside interference finishes in Dom matches, but this one just felt lazy and predictable once Ripley threw the first title belt in the ring. It didn’t help that it looked like Lee ran toward Ripley so that he could be hit with the other belt. But the finish wasn’t enough to ruin what was a quality match otherwise. I like that Rey gave a rub to Lee, and also had moments with Thea Hail and Lyra Valkyria. It feels like Valkyria is being pushed aggressively despite not having a strong connection with fans. She’s very talented in the ring and hopefully she becomes a more dynamic character. Are they working toward Dom and Ripley vs. Lee and Valkyria in a mixed tag match?
Mustafa Ali vs. Axiom: An impressive match. They worked a back and forth style with believable selling as opposed to it feeling like they were just taking turns performing moves on one another. We’ve seen masked wrestler lose due to their opponents messing with their mask, but they shook that up nicely with Ali coming off like it was accidental only to then recognize that he had an opening, which he took by shaving Axiom off the ropes. Ali makes everyone he works with look better, and Axiom has proven to be a strong in-ring performer as well.
Bron Breakker vs. Von Wagner: A necessary bounce back win for Breakker, who has taken a lot of high profile losses lately. Wagner’s character is still a work in progress, but he got his mojo back after the match by saving Mr. Stone and putting Breakker through the broadcast table. By the way, I’m not sure why Vic Joseph always has so much candy at the broadcast table, but I’m even more confused by him not grabbing his candy dish before wrestlers are put through the table. Stop wasting good candy, Vic!
Angel Garza and Humberto Carrillo: Sure, it was strange that we could watch them at home and read their text messages. And I can’t blame anyone who can’t get past that because I’m also for a more realistic product. But it was well done for what it was in that it was a unique way to get establish their storyline while working around Carrillo’s promo shortcomings. These two are an excellent team and the move to ditching the Los Lotharios gimmick is really encouraging.
Blair Davenport vs. Kelani Jordan: The veteran Davenport did her best to carry Jordan, but there was only so much she could do. It’s a process. Jordan has a lot of upside and simply needs reps. They clearly intend to have her work with another veteran in Dana Brooke, so hopefully Jordan continues to improve.
Noam Dar vs. Tyler Bate for Dar’s Heritage Cup Championship: The introduction of the Heritage Cup format to North American viewers has been poorly booked with silly comedy, bad finishes, and even Dar getting an impostor cup before the company made the real cup feel important. The Dar and Bate match was well worked and yet the fact that they were fighting over an imposter cup really killed my interest. On the bright side, the Meta Four entrance looks really cool, and it looks like they will be down to a single cup soon.
Charlie Dempsey and Drew Gulak vs. Josh Briggs and Brooks Jensen: The match was fine, but the live crowd’s quiet reaction to this match was telling. I’m happy that we’re finally seeing Damon Kemp align with Dempsey and Gulak. I just hope it leads to something meaningful for the trio. Briggs, Jensen, and Fallon Henley were featured prominently for months in their saga with Kiana James. As strange as that story was at times, everyone involved made it work. But the pushes of all four wrestlers strangely seemed to end abruptly once that storyline concluded.
Kiana James vs. Ivy Nile: It was encouraging when James stated in a pre-taped promo that she was going to show off a different side of herself. But then the match was overshadowed by the awful Schism crew surrounding the ring, and the match was laid out to show that Nile would have won had she not been distracted by Ava. In other words, this win did nothing for James, nor did she didn’t show off a different side of herself. And if Rip Fowler and Jagger Reid are really leaving, then why is The Schism getting so much television time? Hell, even if the talented duo ends up staying, I still don’t understand what the creative forces see in this lousy cult that just won’t go away.
Ilja Dragunov and Trick Williams: Both wrestlers delivered their lines well, but they lacked on-air chemistry. Their promo styles just don’t mesh well. Trick was much better while busting on Kemp, Dempsey, and Gulak later in the show. Perhaps less is more with Trick’s mic work at this point. I’m still looking forward to the Dragunov vs. Williams match in spite of their needlessly long verbal segment.