SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
HIT ROW (Ashante Adonis & Top Dolla) vs. LEGADO DEL FANTASMA (Joaquin Wilde & Raul Mendoza)
As much as I’ve written about loving Legado del Fantasma since their inception, Hit Row has quickly become my favorite stable act in NXT. Both teams are cool in their own way, yet Hit Row feels fresher. I didn’t have a lot of faith in Top Dolla after his first match, but week after week he’s improving significantly. He oozes charisma and has learned to play the big man role very well. Sometimes I forget that he’s not the leader of the faction. Ashante Adonis has been killing it as the high flier of the group, which is weird to say considering Swerve is known for his high flying style.
This feud has to lead to Hit Row getting a win over Legado del Fantasma. They should be kept strong and win their first major feud. Legado del Fantasma has lost quite often as of late, however Escobar is the type of heel who can turn those negatives into positives with a few well cut promos to keep their heat. They can recover. I fear if Hit Row loses their first major feud, they may not catch on like I hope they will. As high as I am on Hit Row, the COVID Wrestling Center (Trademark: Tom Stoup) crowd doesn’t seem to be as behind them as I thought they may be.
RIDGE HOLLAND (w/Pete Dunne & Oney Lorcan) vs. IKEMAN JIRO
Great to see Jessica Carr back in the Black and Gold ring as a referee. She was on last week’s tapings as well, she just seemed like she was supposed to be there I didn’t realize until later!
A quick squash match for Holland with him making quick work of Ikeman Jiro. Nothing too noteworthy in the match, it was exactly what it should have been. Holland destroying a jobber. The match was really just a setup for Pete Dunne, Oney Lorcan & Ridge Holland to cut a promo on Timothy Thatcher and Tommaso Ciampa continuing their feud.
BOBBY FISH vs. RODERICK STRONG (w/Diamond Mine)
You know, this “big money” match was oddly placed on the card! You’d think they’d open or close the show with a match of this magnitude!
I hope the dripping sarcasm came through those two sentences and through your screen. Sure, Fish vs. Strong was a match worth hyping considering they were two members of the most popular faction in NXT history, The Undisputed Era. However as singles competitors, neither man comes across as a major threat. Strong may be the face of Diamond Mine, but once he opens his mouth for a promo his credibility as a leader drastic goes down (Trademark: Scott Steiner).
Bobby Fish was the veteran of Undisputed Era at 44 years old. He may be a former NXT Tag Champion, however going into this matchup he had not won a single 1 v 1 matchup on the brand. While they didn’t mention Fish’s record, the fans certainly didn’t forget it.
The build to this match was lacking. We still don’t understand why Fish and Strong were upset with one another and they consistently booked this to be a mid card angle while telling us how important it was. If it was important, book at least one or two segments to open or close the show!
The match itself was okay in terms of wrestling ability. But the crowd was not invested whatsoever. Neither was I. I found myself having trouble paying attention as I just was not invested in this angle as I should have been.
GRIZZLED YOUNG VETERANS vs. CAMERON GRIMES & LA KNIGHT
The Grimes and Knight saga continues to be my favorite storyline in NXT. It’s so over the top and stupid, it just works. Grimes playing the subservient butler to the new Million Dollar Champion has raised the stock in both Grimes & Knight where a gimmick like this could be the kiss of death for some performers.
As I expected, LA Knight left Grimes to fight for himself towards the end of the match. However, what I didn’t expect was Grimes to stand as tall as he did against GYV. He may have lost the match, but he seriously showed some heart before the loss. Ted DiBiase came out to give Grimes a pep talk after the match, telling him to get himself out of this situation and get his dignity back.
This is most likely going to eventually lead to Knight and Grimes battling it out once again, but until then I’m going to eat up all the comedy I can out of these segments.
JOE GACY vs. TREY BAXTER – BREAKOUT TOURNAMENT
I’ve really been digging this years Breakout Tournament and this match was no different. I was a little surprised to see Gacy eliminated so soon with his size. He seemed like a shoe-in for the second round. Trey Baxter has shown up once or twice before but in enhancement roles, so I didn’t quite expect him to get the win here.
However, I am glad that he did get the win. To name yourself after a serial killer, John Wayne Gacy, is just a little too poor taste for me.
JOHNNY GARGANO vs. DEXTER LUMIS – LOVE HER OR LOSE HER MATCH
I can’t believe I was as excited as I was for this match. The InDex storyline made me roll my eyes so hard at first, but it’s really grown on me as time went on. Dexter Lumis needs something new to his character, this stoic and silent character was stale almost the moment he debuted it. So I was hopeful that this match would mean new things for a stale character.
If Johnny won, Indi Hartwell would need to forget about her love for Lumis. If Lumis won, Gargano would need to give Lumis a chance and allow Indi to do her thing.
NXT, bah gawd you rascals, you did it. You got me to care about Dexter Lumis. This whole match, I was all in and completely behind Dexter Lumis. Dexter, even while keeping his stoic stare for the most part, was able to portray compassion and love for Indi allowing me to get just that much more invested.
Gargano may have won, but love ultimately prevailed as Indi jumped Dexter after he lost and kissed him.