NXT HITS & MISSES 10/21: Kushida vs. Dream vs. Ciampa Opener, Tag Title Contender Switcheroo, Women’s Division & More

By: Nate Lindberg, PWTorch Contributor


Kushida vs. Velveteen Dream vs. Tommaso Ciampa:

No time wasted this week, Kushida was mid-entrance as the show began. As Dream made his entrance, Ciampa attacked from behind and this match was underway. Ciampa spent the first few minutes of the match completely in control of Kushida and Dream, paying special attention to Dream’s broken arm.

It’s no secret that I have really not cared to see Dream on my TV screen as of late, which really sullied my enjoyment of the start to this show. I also questioned Vic Joseph’s call of Dream “gaining a sick pleasure at torturing his opponents. No, he didn’t torture anyone. But “sick pleasure” when talking about someone who was caught inappropriately consorting with underage children is probably not a good look.

Kushida also looked great in this match after getting the upper hand over Ciampa. I still wish he showed a bit more fire, as I did last time we saw him in action. That said, I think they got away with it with the finish. Kushida used Dream’s cast as a weapon against Ciampa.

Verdict: HIT

Undisputed Era Backstage Promo

Adam Cole is still home nursing his injuries, so the other three members stood facing a camera with an iPad, Adam Cole conferenced in. Cole said he’s getting better every day and tonight, Fish and Strong will regain the titles. All four members of U.E. spoke too, Cole seeming like the defacto leader. Through this video alone, I wouldn’t sense any dissention between the group. Meaning that’s probably what I expect the most.

Verdict: HIT

Jessi Kamea vs. Ember Moon

Well, at least Kamea got some TV time? A quick squash match to showcase Ember Moon after her return. Moon still seems to show a little bit of ring rust, but I’m hopeful that she’ll bounce back to be as great as she was before her injury.

Truth be told, though this was a showcase match for Ember Moon, Kamea continues to impress each time she gets some time in front of the camera. She showed enough moxie that on multiple occasions the announce team thought she may get an upset win. That certainly says something, as they wouldn’t give her that nod if they didn’t see something in her.

No sooner did the match end, Dakota Kai attacked Moon continuing their feud to see who will next challenge for the NXT Women’s Title.

Verdict: HIT

Bobby Fish Attacked, Kyle O’Reilly Now In Tag Match

Fish was attacked backstage, not seeing who attacked him. During the following match, it was announced that he can’t compete and KOR will take his place. They wouldn’t make it this obvious that KOR has been behind these attacks, would they?

Verdict: HIT

Austin Theory vs. Bronson Reed

Thicc Boi, Bronson Reed looks to have traded in his heavy moniker for a larger one. Bronson “The Colossal” Reed took on Austin Theory. I wasn’t sure who would go over here, as Theory has been given a lot of time on TV lately. With Reed being repackaged, I assumed he would wind up with the win. That, and Theory hasn’t been on the most winning of streaks lately.

Predictable finish aside, this was a fun match between two up and coming talent.

Theory grabbed a mic after his loss and said “No, No. I am the future of NXT and WWE!” He told Reed that he’s done more at 23 years old than Reed has done in his 15 year career. Round Two…

Verdict: HIT

Austin Theory vs. Bronson Reed (again)

Theory lost in mere seconds to a devastating Samoan Drop. I’m really liking this heel Theory. Obnoxious, you just want to see him get his butt whooped.

Verdict: HIT

Xia Li Confronts Kacy Catanzaro

Li has not been able to beat Catanzaro nor her partner in singles or tag competition in recent weeks. Li said “Thank you for facing me tonight, this is so important to me.”

She said this was the biggest match of her career and she needs to win. There isn’t any reason she needs to win other than to pad her ego. Personally, I like this motivation for greatness.

Verdict: HIT

During Commercial…

Theory was asked if he had any comments while he was walking to his car. He said “I quit… I’m done…” and drove off. This absolutely adds to what I was saying earlier, he’s an obnoxious little butthead. This is exactly what he should be doing for heat.

Verdict: Hit

Legado del Fantasma vs. Isaiah “Swerve” Scott, Jake Atlas & Ashante “Thee” Adonis

A shame that Swerve and his team didn’t get entrances. But if that gave them an extra minute or two of TV time to spend in the ring, that’s fine by me. The cruiserweight division continues to be my favorite part of NXT TV. Escobar and his cronies have settled into their roles extremely well since their debut, and Swerve, Atlas and Adonis seem like just the band of misfits to take them down.

This was a bit more chaotic than I would have liked, with a lot of the match spent outside of the ring or breaking some other “rule”. However, this was just a necessary building block in the Swerve/Fantasma feud. It wasn’t their best match and it didn’t need to be. It was entertaining enough, and kept us just hungry enough for the next chapter in this ongoing cruiserweight saga.

Everyone looked great here, but I want to give a shout out to Atlas & Adonis. This match was really about Swerve and Fantasma. Atlas and Adonis looked like a million bucks and really stood out to me with their in-ring work and charisma. They are still relatively new characters, and they continue to impress me each week.

Odd commentary thing: In an instant replay, they blatantly showed a camera angle where Wade Barrett was not only reading off of a script, he flipped the page mid sentence.

Verdict: HIT

Everybody Knows Johnny Hates Wheels!

At Home With The Gargano’s returned as LaRae and Gargano sat at their dining room table. On the table, a mini “Spin the Wheel, Make the Deal” gimmick. Johnny proclaimed his hatred for wheels and the match type itself. LaRae said they needed to practice so they spun the “training” wheel in case they needed to come Halloween Havoc.

Another absolutely hilarious segment between the real-life husband and wife team.

Verdict: HIT

Ever Rise vs. Drake Maverick & Killian Dain

Getting some revenge on Ever Rise after their attack last week, Dain & Maverick were back in action. Last week, Dain said that “I’m the only one who gets to hit you!” and stood up for his partner for the first time. Ever Rise may have spent the majority of the match beating up Maverick, but Dain quickly took the upper hand. That is, until surprisingly, Ever Rise was able to knock the Beast from Belfast down and lock in a single leg crab. Seeing his friend in pain, Maverick grabbed a chair and went Bruce Banner on Shane and Matt.

Realizing they lost the match, Dain looked furious. Until he said “THAT WAS AWESOME! THAT WAS THE BEST THING I’D EVER SEEN!” He kept asking Maverick “Where has this guy been?!” while praising Maverick’s mean streak.

I saw this coming a mile away once Ever Rise started getting as much offense as they did. But I still loved every second of it.

Verdict: HIT

Roderick Strong Attacked!

Well, well, well. Who keeps attacking the Undisputed Era? Kyle looks to be the most likely person still. But I do hope they don’t make it this obvious. With only one member of Undisputed Era able to compete, Regal called a meeting backstage. He asked whodunnit. Kyle refused to compete tonight after Regal pushed him to deliver a tag title match. Something that was really odd. Why not tell Kyle that Regal was going to just change the match? Instead, Kyle offered it to Burch & Lorcan. They refused saying that he earned this spot. Instead, Kyle left the building and went to the hospital to check on his friends.

Regal then changed the main event to Lorcan & Burch vs. Breezango for the NXT Tag Titles anyway. I like this angle, but it was a little contrived compared to other similar reasons that have cancelled championship matches in the past.

Verdict: HIT

Xia Li vs. Kacy Catanzaro

Considering that both women have less than six years combined experience in the ring they put on a great, albeit short, matchup. Li lost, and that anger came out in full force afterwards as she decimated Kacy and her partner Kayden Carter. Raquel Gonzales emerged from the back and laid waste to all three women before grabbing a mic. She said that this was a warning for Rhea Ripley. “I’m bigger. I’m Badder. At Halloween Havoc, I will be your diabla, your nightmare.”

Verdict: HIT

Cameron Grimes Finds Out His Halloween Havoc Match Stipulation

He was told that he had a House of Terror match with Lumis at Halloween Havoc and acted terrified. Lumis was staring at him through a window the whole time. Weird. Just… Weird. I’m excited to see Grimes get a spotlight match. But I’m less excited about Lumis by the week.

Verdict: MISS

Thatch-as-Thatch Can, Finally A Thing?

After months of vignettes, this finally got a proper segment tonight. In a live segment, he taught success. This was an odd segment where he legitimately showed you how to apply a hold to an opponent. The crowd didn’t seem to be overly invested in it, and it honestly lost my attention for a little bit. Odd, considering that I typically love Thatcher and these vignette segments.

After repeatedly getting schooled by Thatcher, his student “Andrew” locked in a front face lock that Thatcher struggled to get out of. Very reminiscent of that segment where Angle was legitimately attacked by Daniel Puder during a worked shoot segment.

They made the match official, and then Thatcher spent the next handful of minutes beating the sideburns off of his student.

Ultimately this segment won me over, and I hope they continue to make Thatcher look this strong going forward.

Verdict: HIT

NXT Tag Titles – Breezango vs. Brit-Am Brawlers (Danny Birch & Oney Lorcan)

Extremely last minute, Lorcan & Birch were thrust into an NXT Tag Title match. Personally, I was more excited for this match than Breezango vs. Undisputed Era. But most people aren’t as big of fans of Birch & Lorcan as I.

I feel like this may have felt like a bait and switch to those in attendance. They expected to see Undisputed Era in action. Lorcan & Birch are fantastic, but it’s not a suitable replacement in the eyes of the majority of fans.

The announce team really played up how neither team had the opportunity to prepare. It made it seem like this last minute change was very important. Turns out, foreshadowing, folks! My favorite Tag Team in WWE has finally secured NXT Gold!

A masked man came out and attacked Fandango without the Ref seeing it. That distraction lead to Birch & Lorcan securing their first tag titles! That masked man celebrated with them for a little while before unmasking.

Pat. Freaking. McAfee.

How the heck did I not think of McAfee being the man taking out Undisputed Era? This wasn’t dissention in the ranks between Undisputed Era. They were being hunted by these three men! If this leads to Lorcan & Birch being henchmen for McAfee as McAfee takes on Undisputed Era going into Survivor Series weekend, then I guess it’s a win.

McAfee really wowed me with his performance against Cole at Takeover a few months ago, so I’m willing to give this some time. Though right now, this felt like a disappointing reveal. I was really expecting to see Kyle or Fish/Strong revealed as the mastermind. Granted, that could still happen down the road.

Verdict: HIT

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