By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
Tiffany Stratton vs. Kiana James for the NXT Women’s Championship: This was really well done. It was hard to tell how the crowd would react to the heel vs. heel matchup, but putting it in the opening slot all but guaranteed that the fans would be vocal, whereas running it later in the show ran the risk of the fans sitting on their hands and not picking sides. The actual match was well worked. Stratton went over, but James continues to show major upside. The post match angle that set up Becky Lynch challenging Stratton for the title next week sets up a really fun match that should move the needle from a ratings standpoint. It was also great to see Stratton abandon her usual promo style and show more of a mean streak later in the show.
Ilja Dragunov vs. Oro Mensah: Mensah has been used as the fall guy for Noam Dar, so it felt a little strange seeing him in such a competitive match with Dragunov. But Mensah did a nice job of holding up his end of the entertaining match with Dragunov, who has continues to be among the most consistent performers in NXT. The post match angle with Carmelo Hayes started awkwardly with the crowd calling for a Triple Threat, but Hayes cut a good promo and set the table nicely for next week’s No. 1 contenders match.
Bron Breakker vs. Von Wagner in a No DQ match: A fun hoss fight brawl. These two really brought it and had a good, physical match. Wagner’s new table fetish has been well received by the fans, and he finally seems to be growing more comfortable delivering promos. More than anything, it was good to get a clean finish despite Baron Corbin sitting in on commentary. The post match angle with Breakker slamming the ring steps onto the head of Wagner while the screen went black and Corbin said he couldn’t believe Breakker did it was unique.
Dragon Lee vs. Mustafa Ali for a NXT NA Title shot with Dom Mysterio as referee: The Dirty Dom fast count finish that you had to know was coming following a quality match. The post match angle was unexpected with Dom raising Ali’s hand only for Ali to punch him out.
Nathan Frazer vs. Duke Hudson in a Heritage Cup tournament match: The broadcast team did a nice job of explaining that Frazer was down in the standings and desperately needed a win. The match was solid and it was nice to see a clean finish.
Butch vs. Axiom in a Heritage Cup tournament match: The draw finish was not well received by the live crowd, but I enjoyed the match and felt that Axiom gained something by hanging with Butch, albeit for only 12 minutes.
Tyler Bate vs. Dabba-Kato: A Hit for match quality and Bate showing off his freakish strength with an airplane spin on the big man. But I have to question the idea of having Bate plow through Dabba-Kato. I get that they want to free up Bate for they Heritage Cup tournament, but they make it tough to view Dabba-Kato as a monster when he loses so many matches. And if Dabba-Kato loses his monster status, then what is he?
Gigi Dolin vs. Thea Hail: The match was just sort of there, and Blair Davenport attacking Dolin made for a weak protection finish.