NXT HITS & MISSES 10/16: Lee vs. Dijakovic, Undisputed Era’s USB Drive Promo, Shirai vs. Carter, Riddle vs. Bronson Reed, Dunn vs. Priest, Ciampa vs. Garza

By Nate Lindberg, PWTorch contributor


Tommaso Ciampa vs. Angel Garza: HIT – Opening the show with the long-awaited return of Ciampa was a fantastic way to kick off the night. Ciampa and Garza had a short, yet very intense match that delivered on all fronts for “Daddy” Ciampa’s return. Angel Garza certainly got his share of offense in, but he was thwarted at nearly every turn by the returning former champion. A quick showcase match to blow off this brief altercation from last week was a good way to introduce a potential new audience on USA to Ciampa. The quick, dirty, win combined with his sheer veracity showed any new fans what Ciampa is all about. Having the Undisputed Era rain on Ciampa’s victory after the match was a nice touch and served as a welcome reminder that in order for Ciampa to bring Goldie home, he must get through Cole first.

Undisputed Era’s USB Drive Promo: HIT- When U.E. made their way to the ring they handed a USB drive to Mauro Ranallo. Returning from the commercial break, the commentary team cut to the video contained on that drive. What we saw was a clip of the U.E. sending a message to the entire roster that they are not to be trifled with, and the aftermath of a beat-down on Velveteen Dream. This video was exactly what I want to see out of a “selfie” style promo; seemingly unscripted, passionate and a clear mission statement.

Oney Lorcan & Danny Birch vs. Imperium (Fabian Aichner & Marcel Barthel w/Alexander Wolfe): HIT – I was pleasantly surprised at how much the Full Sail crowd was behind Lorcan and Birch, and boy oh boy did they deliver. I constantly praise these two incredible athletes, and they continue to impress me any time they are in the ring. Aside from a couple semi-botched big boots from Barthel where Birch and Lorcan were easily a foot away from him, this was everything that you could ask for in a mid-card TV Tag match. The action never stopped, the crowd was incredibly hot, and the Brit-Am Brawlers made Imperium look like a million bucks. That’s not to discredit Aichner or Barthel whatsoever, as they both looked fantastic in this outing as well. But, Lorcan and Birch continue to maintain their reputation as fantastic in-ring mechanics.

Io Shirai vs. Kayden Carter: HIT – Heel Io is the best Io. In this short match, the veteran laid waste to Kayden Carter in an intense showcase match. Kayden held her own for a bit, but ultimately was no match for Shirai’s pure intensity. Glad to see Io throw her name in the mix for the Women’s title and it was cool to see Ripley make her way down to the ring and tell Shirai to basically step aside and that the title is hers.

Keith Lee vs. Dominik Dijakovic: HIT – Looks like Dream will be out of action for a while. But we learned from Regal that the winner of this match will face Strong in Dream’s place next week for the NA Championship. It’s a shame that we won’t get the Strong/Dream rematch any time soon, but either one of these two competitors is a solid replacement in my book.

I have been looking forward to this rubber match since it was announced, and I was absolutely not disappointed. The beginning of this clash of titans started out a bit sluggish which kind of put me off a little bit at first. But as the match continued the pacing of the match slowly but surely increased until the two big men were just beating the hell out of one another. Keith Lee is surely a unique athlete. He moves like he belongs on 205 Live but has the size and power of someone like Vader or Strowman. You want to talk physics-defying? How in the hell does a man of this size pull off a reverse hurricanrana?! After Strong’s interference in this match, and Regal subsequently turning next week’s bout into a triple threat, I almost gave this a miss. But I gave myself a bit of time to think about it and I think I’m okay with it. Generally, I don’t like multi-man matches with an odd number of wrestlers. However I’m intrigued here. Roddy is one helluva competitor, but both Lee and Dijakovic come off as massive threats to his (stunningly gorgeous, have I said how much I love this belt design?) North American championship on their own. Now he has TWO hurdles he needs to climb to retain. I’m looking forward to see where that match leads!

Matt Riddle vs. Bronson Reed: HIT – Apart from the Breakout tournament, I think this is the first time we saw Bronson Reed on NXT TV and what a performance! Matt Riddle is one of the top guys in the promotion, and I thought on more than one occasion that Reed might steal the upset victory. I have a feeling Reed is going to be one to watch over the coming months.

Taynara Conti vs. Teagan Nox: HIT – The girl with the Shiniest Wizard has returned to the NXT Arena! Watching what happened to her during the 2nd Mae Young Classic is one of the more heartbreaking stories that I can think of in recent wrestling history. But what a comeback performance for Nox! Conti laid it to her at first, though Nox was able to steal the upper hand after a few near falls. Not to mention, she began her comeback with one of my favorite moves, a chokeslam. Nox began to address the crowd with Dakota Kai by her side, when Shayna and the other two horsewomen came ringside to deliver the diss of the night: “Ask your friend Dakota Kai what it’s like to be in the ring with me. Let’s be honest, you’re running out of limbs to rehab.” I’m kind of hoping this turns into a mini feud between Shayna and Nox while Belair, Ripley and Shirai duke it out for the rights to the #1 contendership.

Boa vs. Killian Dain: HIT – Boa looking for a bit of retribution after Dain’s interference in his match last week. Right out of the gate, he exploded with some martial arts offense against Dain. But when the action spilled outside of the ring, the beast of Belfast quickly took the upper hand and remained dominant until his submission victory after three Vader Bombs from the middle rope. Dain looked like an absolute monster and gained some of his credibility back after his loss to Matt Riddle a few weeks ago. Even in defeat, I still remain impressed with Boa. You don’t see many wrestlers come out of China and I think Boa could have a fantastic upside if given the opportunity.

Pete Dunn vs. Damian Priest: HIT – During Dunne’s entrance, Killian Dain looked like he was about to take Dunne out when the Bruiserweight grabbed Dain by his fingers, snapping them back. This looks to be a setup for a potential Dunne vs. Dain feud and I’m certainly looking forward to that if and when it happens. Priest may have one of the coolest entrances in NXT, at least since Alistair Black had been on the Black and Gold brand. Going into this match, I was having a hard time picking who I thought would win, but was leaning towards Priest due to his undefeated streak. Ultimately I was right, but right up until that final 3 count I really had no idea who may come out on top. Both of these men went to war with one another, returning their opponents blows with something even harder. Priest needing to go for the low-blow, or the “Balls-eye” as Mauro so wonderfully called it, is surely overdone in the WWE bubble as of late, and I could have done with a different finish to the match. But, I wont let one sub-par decision ruin the rest of this intense bout. I hate to see Dunne lose. But if he has to lose, this was a good way of doing so and keeping him strong.

NOTE: If you’re looking for even more in-depth analysis of this episode of NXT, be sure to check out the PWTorch Dailycast’s “PWT Talks NXT.” Recorded immediately following the conclusion of the show, Kelly Wells, Tom Stoup, and I break down and discuss all of this episode’s happenings.

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