NXT HITS & MISSES 1/31: Strong vs. Bate and analysis of where each wrestler should go from here, TM-61 returns, Evans vs. Cross

By Ryan Harrison, PWTorch Specialist

Roderick Strong (photo credit Jim Valley © PWTorch)


This week’s program is the first since this past weekend’s phenomenal Takeover: Philadelphia.  Most of this episode consisted of recaps of the event and interviews with some of the participants after their matches.  This week there were only three matches, two that were mediocre, and one that was decent.


Roderick Strong vs. Tyler Bate (Number One Contender Match for the UK Championship):

This match was as exciting as it was confusing.  It is not a surprise that this match would be an exhibition of some strong technical wrestling as each wrestler has a high wrestling I.Q. Neither Strong nor Bate totally controlled the match as each jockeyed back and forth for dominance.  We did see a little bit more viciousness on the part of Strong which was a good contrast to the gentleman style of Bate.  Bate was his usual self with lightning fast moves that left Strong perplexed at times.  In the end, it was Strong picking up the win with the End of Heartache.  Neither one looked weak as both put up a great performance.

What is confusing is where does this really go from here?  Not that we don’t know whom the victor will face – it will be Pete Dunn – but what is the overall direction for each participant in this match?  For Bate, we have seen him win the UK Championship, lose it, and fight to gain it back repeatedly. It makes you wonder if there are any other options as far as starts in the UK division besides Bate and Dunn.  For Strong, it is a little more confusing.  He has been in championship contention numerous times before only to come up short-handed.  Now he is going for the UK Title, but he seems out of place as if the creative team does not know what to do with him.  As mentioned before, it is time for him to move on, which seems like it might be 205 as he is a participant in the Cruiserweight Tournament.

Depending on how the revamp of the roster and program are, this could be a good fit to where Strong can help to elevate it to another level with his in-ring presence and reputation as an excellent and well-traveled wrestler.  Bate could also benefit from joining 205 as well since the UK Division seems to be in a stand still.  Creative must figure out what they are going to do with each wrestler, particularly Strong, as they are running out of options to keep them both relevant.  If it wasn’t for their outstanding abilities in the ring, both men might be regulated to the upper mid card of NXT.


Overall, there weren’t any misses this week.  The other two matches were just mundane as we saw the return of TM-61.  After watching weeks of profile spots, their re-debut came off a little deflating as the pace and action of their match was subpar, but not terrible.  The other match, Nikki Cross vs. Lacey Evans, was “meh” with Nikki picking up the win, but there was no drama that came with it and no real plot or storyline behind it.  As mentioned, both matches were mediocre, and it only wets the palate as to what we can expect next week and the weeks to come.

NOW CHECK OUT LAST WEEK’S COLUMN: NXT HITS & MISSES 1/24: Evaluating the final hype for Takeover including the Gargano vs. Velveteen Dream match, and Moon-Baszler face-off

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