By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
Becky Lynch and Lyra Valkyria vs. Tiffany Stratton and Kiana James: I groaned at the teased handicap match with Lynch facing both heels, so it was a pleasant surprise when Valkyria was added to the match. The creative forces clearly believe in Valkyria, who has been put in position to get a rub from both Lynch and Rhea Ripley. Valyria is very good in the ring, but Dot Net staffer John Moore and I agree that there’s something missing that is preventing Valkyria from fully connecting with the fans. The actual match was entertaining. I was hoping to see the heels steal a win to get some heat back, but it wasn’t a big surprise to see the babyface duo go over. While James took the loss for her team, the fact that she was in this match is a sign that she is well regarded by Shawn Michaels and his creative crew.
Butch vs. Tyler Bate in an NXT Heritage Cup tournament match: These UK standouts picked up where they left off by putting in another strong match. The 12-minute time limit prevented them from producing a special match, but they made the most of the time they had and it was nice to see a clean finish as opposed to the draw that this appeared to be headed toward.
NXT Champion Carmelo Hayes vs. NXT North American Champion Dominik Mysterio in a champion vs. champion match, Heritage Cup tournament matches: More good than bad. The actual match was solid. The problem is that Raw did a lousy job of setting the table. Dom lost to Cody Rhodes in just over two minutes because he didn’t have Rhea Ripley in his corner, yet he was highly competitive with the NXT Champion without Ripley just one night later. If you can get past that, they did a good job of creating more friction between Hayes and Ilja Dragunov. Furthermore, Dragon Lee coming out and taking a shot at Dom was a quick way to push their NXT North American Championship match for Monday’s Raw. I also like that Mustafa Ali took issue with Lee getting a title shot before is match at No Mercy.
Duke Hudson vs. Joe Coffey in an NXT Heritage Cup tournament match: A fun upset win for Hudson over Coffey, who had been undefeated in the tournament prior to this match. The Chase U crew continues to be one of the NXT 2.0 success stories, which I never saw coming.
Nathan Frazer vs. Duke Hudson vs. Joe Coffey in an NXT Heritage Cup tournament match: The biggest thing working against the match was the lack of a strong rooting interest. The fans like Frazer and Hudson, yet it didn’t feel like there was enough of a story told with either man in the tournament to make the fans truly invest in the possibility of either man winning. But the actual match was well worked. As much as Frazer’s fast paced offense is crowd pleasing, Hudson had some standout moments both offensively and with his selling. I was pleased to see Coffey go over because he’s been spinning his wheels since he arrived and is too good to be lost in the mid-card.
Roxanne Perez vs. Lola Vice: Vice is an impressive prospect in that her first match took place less than a year ago. She clearly needs more reps, but she has already made a connection with the live crowd and has a bright future. Working with Perez certainly helped the cause, especially if that was an improvised finish.
None: There was a lot to like about this episode. The star power of Becky Lynch, Dominik Mysterio, and Baron Corbin gives the show a nice boost. Being deep in the tournament gave meaning to three matches. There were also some good promo segments and verbal exchanges. I really liked the way that Josh Briggs stood his ground with Baron Corbin. Eddy Thorpe showed good fire while setting up his strap match with Dijak. Multiple heels trying to get in the head of Trick Williams was interesting storytelling. And even Scrypts came off like a better fit with Bronco Nima and Lucien Price in their vignette.