By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
Carmelo Hayes vs. Baron Corbin vs. Dijak for a shot at the NXT Championship: A solid main event with the right person going over. Any complaints that Hayes was made to look small because he was in the ring with Undertaker last week and now Corbin and Dijak this week are nonsensical. Guess what? Hayes is shorter than the average WWE wrestler. Get over it. He will eventually go to the main roster where he will end up working with bigger wrestlers. You can’t hide a wrestler’s height forever, especially in WWE. The focus needs to be on making him feel special for being able to hang with the big boys despite having a size disadvantage. Anyway, I am surprised that they are holding Hayes’s rematch with Ilja Dragunov on Halloween night. I appreciate that they are not throwing in the towel despite the holiday and I guess only time will tell whether the promotion’s biggest match will be enough to prevent the rating from falling off a cliff.
Lyra Valkyria vs. Tegan Nox: A solid match that was not nearly as strong as the broadcast team made it out to be. I get that they are doing their jobs, but they also need to protect their credibility. There was no mystery regarding the outcome with Valkyria getting the next title shot. Speaking of which, Becky Lynch delivered a strong post match promo to support the match. Lynch is clearly doing her best to give rub to Valkyria and it’s obvious that the creative forces are behind her. Will it be enough? As talented as Valkyria is in the ring, she still hasn’t fully connected with the audience.
Mr. Stone: I’m not a fan of the Von Wagner brain injury storyline. It’s ridiculous to think that Bron Breakker intentionally slammed the ring steps on Wagner’s head and caused a serious injury, yet he faces zero punishment whatsoever. Hell, Breakker even vowed to do the same thing to Stone. But if there’s one positive coming out of this mess, it’s that Stone is getting a chance to show his range. He’s the only person who seems outraged by what Breakker did to Wagner and he did a really nice job of calling him on it during their backstage confrontation.
Bada-Bing, Bada-Boom Battle Royal: An in the middle rather than a Hit or a Miss. As someone who also watches AEW, I’ve seen way too many tag team battle royals this year. That’s not NXT’s fault, but it is what it is. For whatever it’s worth, I prefer the AEW approach that requires both tag team partners to be eliminated as opposed to a wrestler awkwardly leaving the ring once his partner is ousted. And I’m neutral on the NXT approach of having the last two teams compete in an actual match as opposed to following through with the typical battle royal elimination rules. All of that said, tag team battle royals do nothing for me.
Karmen Petrovic vs. Jaida Parker in a first round match of the NXT Women’s Breakout Tournament: A rough outing even when compared to the other developmental tournament matches. On the bright side, they both showed promo skills and personality during their pre-taped promos.
Arianna Grace vs. Brinley Reece in a first round match of the NXT Women’s Breakout Tournament: The better of the two tournament matches and yet still not very good. Grace is playing her part well, but the beauty pageant gimmick feels straight out of WOW.
Shotzi vs. Kiana James: A campy match with Shotzi pulling a brick out of the bag that James brings to the ring. Am I the only one who is dreading Shotzi turning her Halloween Havoc hosting job into Two Nights of 1,000 Howls? I’m high on James and Fallon Henley, yet they both seem stuck in the women’s division mid-card.