NXT HITS & MISSES 3/3: Baszler & Jax vs. Kai & Gonzalez, Balor vs. Strong, The Way Goes To Therapy, Moon vs. Aliyah, Lorcan & Burch vs. Ciampa & Thatcher, LA Knight’s CWC Debut, Grimes vs. Reed, more.

By Nate Lindberg: PWTorch Contributor


SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...

ONEY LORCAN & DANNY BURCH VS. TOMMASO CIAMPA & TIMOTHY THATCHER

Thatcher & Ciampa entered the arena together tonight, showing that unity is on the forefront of their minds. To me, it was a subtle acknowledgement to the audience that their feud is now completely water under the bridge. I’m completely on board with that because it just helps to solidify their strength as a team, not having to really worry about whether or not the breakup lingers at any moment.

One thing that I didn’t like was the set up for this match. It happened during a backstage interaction between Ciampa talking to the Tag Champions and asking them for a non-title matchup. The odd thing was that Thatcher was nowhere to be found during it. Instead, MSK just joked around behind Ciampa. Just how many weeks ago was it now where Ciampa was condemning the new breed of talent? 12 or so? Now he’s on the same page as them?

Another thing that does feel a little lackluster is the fact that Oney Lorcan & Danny Burch, love them as I do, still doesn’t feel like an act that can hang with a main eventer like Ciampa and a solid upper carder like Thatcher. If they didn’t have the magical shield that is the NXT Tag Titles around their waists, my money is on them not being able to go toe to toe with them.

Imperium’s involvement added a welcome layer to the angle, as their assist in helping their rivals beat Ciampa & Thatcher made it look like perhaps they were scouting both teams. Not just the champs.

As for the match proper, it was exactly what you would expect out of these two teams. High intensity and fantastic tag wrestling.

Verdict: 50% HIT/MISS

RODDY WANTS ANSWERS, RIGHT NOW!

Roddy called Adam Cole out once again for answers to why he betrayed Undisputed Era, as well as why he double-crossed him last week. Balor answered, saying that Roddy didn’t know how to get Cole to show up, but he did. He declared that he’ll put the belt on the line against Cole next week. Balor started dressing Roddy down, telling him he’ll never be a leader and he needed to have an aggressive instinct or he’ll be a follower forever.

Roddy attacked him and they fought until the refs broke it up. Ultimately, I like this for Roddy as he’s looked like a bit of a fool so far. It was still foolish to attack the NXT Champion as far as I’m concerned. At least he stood up for himself, getting a non-title shot against the NXT champ later in the night.

Verdict: HIT

AUSTIN THEORY GOES TO THERAPY

In a completely unconventional one-on-one therapy session, all four members of The Way accompanied their formerly kidnapped member to therapy. The first segment, Gargano got over the top angry at the therapist “thera-peeing” on him when they were there to “thera-pee” on Theory. This led to him getting kicked out of the therapy session.

The second skit showed the remaining three talking about Lumis and Hartwell’s major crush on Lumis. Meanwhile, Gargano was angry texting LaRae from the lobby forcing the therapist to throw everyone else out of the session, leaving just her and Theory.

The third skit showed Arthur Fonzerelli, leather jacket and all, water ski over a shark who was confined to a netted area at the beach they were vacationing at. In other words, Theory should stick to wrestling and not acting. This is officially where The Way jumped the shark for me.

Verdict: MISS

ALIYAH W/ROBERT STONE BRAND VS. EMBER MOON W/SHOTZI BLACKHEART

While Vic Joseph and Beth Phoenix talked up just how much of a threat Ember Moon is, the mere fact that she went more than just a couple minutes with a member of the “Brand” cancelled those comments out. Moon should be viewed as a major threat to the women’s division as a former NXT Women’s Champ and a talent with main roster exposure. Instead, she’s in a relatively meaningless match with an undercard talent. Who actually got quite a bit of offense in on her.

Not only that, she arguably didn’t even win cleanly as the predictable interference from Stone, Kamea & Shotzi played into the final moments of the matchup. That doesn’t even begin to touch on the overall sloppiness from both competitors. I may have seen better work from some of the most glittery “Divas” during that era, quite honestly.

During the match, I was chatting with my PWT Talks NXT co-hosts and they likened it to Aksana vs. Cameron on this year’s episode of the VIP podcast NXT 8 Year’s Back. That is not a rave review for this match, I assure you.

Verdict: MISS

WWE WOMEN’S TAG TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP – DAKOTA KAI & RAQUEL GONZALEZ VS. NIA JAX & SHAYNA BAZSLER

It’s been quite some time since these titles were defended on the Black & Gold brand. Nia Jax & Shayna Baszler made their return to NXT to do just that. Unfortunately, their main roster trajectory took a lot of the wind out of the sails for their defense against the Dusty Classic winners. Like Edge showing up to tease him challenging Finn Balor, the main roster always takes precedence over NXT. No way were Kai & Gonzalez actually going to win as far as I was concerned.

It was great to see Baszler back in an NXT ring. I may not be the biggest Nia Jax fan, but even she looked like she was having fun being back on Wednesday night.

The majority of the match was built around Kai needing to make a hot tag to her partner, playing fodder for the WWE Women’s Tag Champs. Unfortunately, all the momentum in the world wasn’t going to dethrone Jax & Baszler when Vince assumedly has the final say on the decision.

Predictable outcome aside, I was not predicting Adam Pierce and a Raw referee to get involved after the NXT official was incapacitated. Kai passed out in the Kirafuta Clutch, but she wasn’t the legal partner. Maybe this feud isn’t just a one and done?

Verdict: 50% HIT/MISS

LA KNIGHT’S CWC DEBUT

For the first time, the former Eli Drake stepped foot into the Capitol Wrestling Center. I actually kind of dug his promo here, he has that cocky heel down very well. Frankly, I would have probably bought in even more if his name was still Eli Drake. Or maybe even Eli Knight. But LA Knight? It sounds like a sports team. With that awful name, he doesn’t come across as anyone to pay attention to. We’ve seen how many cocky heel acts over the years with bad names?

He certainly said alot here, but didn’t say much.

Verdict: MISS

CAMERON GRIMES VS. BRONSON REED

Billionaire Grimes and his bedazzled trunks could afford to bribe Vince McMahon to get out of his contract. Yet he allowed Regal to force him into a match against the Colossal Bronson Reed. Reason 621 why I love Grimes. Common sense does not exist.

He tried bribing Reed to forfeit, to no avail. This was a fun match, although a good chunk of it was eaten by a commercial break. This match didn’t mean anything at the end of the day, but it was still entertaining wondering what Grimes was going to come up with next.

LA Knight interfered, allowing Grimes to get the cave-in and defeat Reed. What this means for Knight is the question. Does he align with Grimes? Does he feud with Reed? Both?

Verdict: HIT

LEGADO DEL FANTASMA RUINS BREEZANGO VS. EVER RISE

Before the match got underway, Mendoza & Wilde attacked Breezango while they were still on the stage. Ever Rise was attacked by the NXT Cruiserweight Champion and the trio took to the center of the ring. Escobar said not to take last weeks events as a sign of weakness. If you do, what they did to these four men will happen to you.

I’m okay with this. I didn’t really care to see this match anyway so why not use it as a way to give Escobar some of that lost credibility back.

Verdict HIT

FINN BALOR VS. RODERICK STRONG

Strong came out to new music and non-UE branded gear, showing that he has shifted from the days of old, looking towards tomorrow. While the match itself wasn’t a bad technical contest in and of itself, I found myself really struggling to get into it. Roddy isn’t the most charismatic of the Undisputed Era and while I understand his part in the angle this matchup seemed easily miss-able.

You knew Roddy most likely wouldn’t win cleanly considering he’s up against the NXT Champ. That means either Balor is going to win or Roddy some how gets a win via distraction or something. This match also didn’t really mean anything. At the end of the day, it wasn’t going to make any significant change to this storyline. It was merely placeholder to get to next week when Cole and Balor finally meet one on one for the title.

A recent theme with NXT recently, the match itself was entertaining but I have to give the overall angle a miss. Balor didn’t gain anything by beating the lowest man on the Undisputed Totem Pole (considering Fish is still absent, that defaults to Strong) and Strong certainly didn’t put up a good enough fight to look credible against Balor. Ultimately, that earns this episode of NXT an extremely rare third “MISS” from me. Four if you count both 50%’s that I gave out tonight. I haven’t checked, but I believe that marks the first time ever I’ve given out four misses on an episode of NXT since I started this in Oct 2019.

Verdict: MISS

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