By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
Carmelo Hayes, Trick Williams, and Lexis King: I was impressed by the way Hayes explained why he looked so leery when Williams confronted him last week. Yes, Hayes’s character could end the drama by telling Williams whether or not he attacked him, but it came off like Hayes is offended that Williams would even question his loyalty, which works for this viewer. King made himself the prime suspect for the Williams attack based on the wording of his promo. It sure looked like Williams intended to throw the punch at Hayes rather than King, but that could have been poor execution and not necessarily the intent of the angle. I wasn’t blown away by last week’s cliffhanger, but they really got this episodic story back on track this week.
Tyler Bate vs. Dijak in an Iron Survivor Challenge qualifying match: I was ready to write that Dijak feels like the Lance Archer of NXT. Dijak doesn’t disappear from television for months at a time like Archer does, but they are both talented big man who never seem to beat wrestlers who are higher on the food chain. But then he actually picked up a clean win over Bate, who is typically protected by the NXT creative team. It was an enjoyable match and while the outcome caught me off guard, I’m all for it, as Dijak has been underutilized.
Noam Dar vs. Akira Tozawa for the Heritage Cup: A fun reminder of how good Tozawa is in the ring when he gets to work a straight forward style. The crowd really got behind Tozawa as the match went on. My only disappointment is that they still went with an interference finish even though Alpha Academy was at ringside to counter the other members of Meta-Four. It’s okay to put Dar over clean, especially when he was facing a guy who will go right back to playing a comedy role on Monday. That said, the Alpha Academy crew said they will be back on Super Nova Sessions next week, so perhaps there’s more to come from Dar and Tozawa.
Bron Breakker vs. Von Wagner: A nice big man match. As silly as the story of Wagner’s brain trauma is, it has helped strengthen the on-air relationship between him and Mr. Stone. They’ve become a likable duo and it’s nice to see Stone show range by playing a babyface role as opposed to being the butt of the joke heel. Breakker going over was logical, especially since Wagner regains the crowd’s interest by putting his opponents through the broadcast table after his losses. But I’m still baffled by Breakker spinning his wheels in NXT rather than being called up to the main roster.
Tiffany Stratton vs. Fallon Henley in an Iron Survivor Challenge qualifying match: A nice television match. As much as I continue to hope that Henley and Kiana James will break out of the mid-card, you had to know that Stratton would qualify for the Iron Survivor Challenge.
Otis vs. Drew Gulak: Dot Net staffer John Moore remarked a few times during his live review of this episode that the Performance Center crowd was tougher than usual. That wasn’t an issue with this match thanks to Otis. It was a reminder of the value that Otis brings as a mid-card comedy act who has a connection with the fans. Otis may never be a world champion, but there should always be a spot on the roster for a guy like him.
Roxanne Perez and Kelani Jordan vs. Lola Vice and Elektra Lopez: A passable match considering that Perez was the only wrestler involved who has surpassed the prospect stage of her development. Despite the need for more reps, Jordan continues to show impressive athleticism and charisma.
Lyra Valkyria promo: The live crowd gave her a strong reaction when she made her entrance for her first appearance since beating Becky Lynch for the NXT Women’s Championship. She had the fans with her, but the crowd became less engaged the more she spoke. On the bright side, I liked the angle with Xia Li, who threw a nice kick at the security guard.