SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
ADAM COLE vs. CARMELO HAYES
Adam Cole was told to pick his opponent this week by William Regal. Tonight, he came out and said he wasn’t going to start playing by the rules now and refused. Carmelo Hayes came to the ring and cited “Ruthless Aggression” while confronting Cole. With Adam Cole looking to be main roster bound sooner rather than later after a couple appearances on Main Event, it looks like he’s giving a rub to someone that NXT is looking at in high regard. First Hayes debuted against Kushida, now he’s challenging Cole while stealing John Cena’s debut catchphrase? They clearly see good things for him.
Hayes looks great in the ring, has the look and the charisma to be a star. If you’re going to lose to someone after looking that good, Adam Cole is the man to lose to. The man considered to be the face of NXT.
ZOEY STARK & IO SHIRAI vs. JESSE KAMEA & ALIYAH
Will Shirai show signs of ring rust? That was the question heading into this match. The match was fine, and Kamea & Aliyah were the defacto losers in this match considering Shirai & Stark were involved in the post-match angle with The Way, Shotzi & Ember, and Dakota Kai & Raquel Gonzalez. This was really just a setup to get all four teams in the ring at the same time. While that Chaos would typically be eye-rolling for me, seeing Samoa Joe come out and interject himself and security was great. I can’t think of a better person to be in Regal’s enforcer than this man.
I have a feeling we’re going to see a number one contender match for the tag titles in the coming weeks with the winner of that match facing The Way at the Great American Bash.
THE WAY (AUSTIN THEORY & JOHNNY GARGANO) vs. ONEY LORCAN & PETE DUNNE
The way is slowly morphing from annoying heels to annoying faces, while Lorcan & Dunne ride that heel wave even further. The underlying story of whether Dunne or Gargano should be next in line for the NXT Title played out through this match and segment earlier in the night. With Karrion Kross on a similar main roster trajectory as Adam Cole, a title loss is most likely coming. I personally cannot see either man as the NXT champion right now. Pete Dunne, maybe, as he is a prize fighter. But this iteration of Gargano seems stale, even as he transitions to a face.
Admittedly, this was a hell of a tag match. All four men told a great story throughout the match and put on a cohesive and entertaining performance. With Gargano not only getting the pin, but getting taken out by Karrion Kross after the match, my money is on Gargano being the next challenger and possibly the next champion.
FRANKIE MONET vs. ELEKTRA LOPEZ
A typical NXT squash match win for Frankie Monet, where her opponent got more offense in on them than you would have expected. I actually enjoyed the match, however. Elektra Lopez, formerly Karissa Rivera, looked great tonight. Introducing a new gimmick in this way is much more effective than picking up local talent to squash. This allows the jobber to be seen on TV and in the ring with an up and coming talent, like Monet. And with Lopez getting some offense in, it gives her a little bit of momentum for her next match.
Monet is money, and I’m looking forward to seeing her finally involved in the women’s division as opposed to a bi-weekly squash match.
EVER RISE vs. HIT ROW (Top Dolla & Ashante “Thee” Adonis)
Two of my favorite teams on NXT for completely different reasons. Ever Rise, formerly Team 3.0 on the indies and Chikara, have been on my radar years before making their debut and have always had a soft spot in my heart. This new annoying “idiot” gimmick they’re pulling off is nothing but mid-card fodder but they’re doing a spectacular job at making people dislike them as far as I’m concerned. Hit Row is just such a cool new team who can back up the crap they talk, making for an entertaining new faction.
Hit Row made easy work out of Ever Rise, as they should have. They are being booked as a legitimate force, Ever Rise continues to be the lower mid card jokesters. An entertaining match, albeit short, matchup.
KUSHIDA vs. KYLE O’REILLY, DIAMOND MINE DEBUT
A “Dream Match” as constantly purported by the commentary team throughout the course of the show. While this is a match that I was looking forward to watching once announced, it wasn’t a match I was dreaming about by any stretch. Granted, maybe I should have been because this was easily the match of the night for me. In this non-title match, especially where the story was revolving around Kyle O’Reilly, Kushida had little chance to win. KOR is seen as the bigger star by the company and is the one currently in a main event story-line.
While the finish was predictable, it did not take anything away from this match whatsoever. After the pinfall, Kushida showed KOR respect by giving him a quick hug and pat on the back.
Adam Cole rushed the ring after the match, attacking Cole outside the ring forcing security and Samoa Joe to break it up. Roderick Strong, Tyler Rust and another unnamed wrestler led by Malcolm Bivens attacked Kushida and left the Cruiserweight Champion laying. Bivens held the Cruiserweight title up for Roddy to gawk over and then introduced them as Diamond Mine as the show faded to black.
This was a very welcome return for Roderick Strong and I wonder how he’ll fair as the leader of a faction. He and Bobby Fish were always the two lesser guys in Undisputed Era, I’m anxious and excited to see how he does. Tyler Rust and Malcolm Bivens were spinning their wheels for months now, and this seems like a perfect spot for them. I’m not sure who the other guy in the faction is as of this writing, but he looks super familiar to me. Let me know in the comments below who he is!
Overall, the match as well as the post-match segment were great and left me waiting for next week’s show. Something that a WWE show or PPV have not done in awhile.