SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
Thanks, I hate it.
Okay, I don’t hate everything. But I do hate the branding and the overhaul of the CWC. Everything just looks like it was taken straight out of the mid-90s and then updated with a 2021 flair (woooooooooo! Sorry, can’t help myself). There is a lot of whitespace above the heads of the audience, making the CWC feel like a high school gymnasium, not a mini arena as I felt the old set did. If they added LED boards or other branding on the wall above the crowd, Okay maybe I can get behind it. But it’s just a big white wall with a neon NXT logo, it doesn’t look nearly as impressive as the LED boards did.
As far as the content of the show went, we definitely began to see some changes. From a plethora of new faces to a more “main-rostery” feel, this absolutely felt like a different show to me. Some for the better, some for the worse.
Tonight, NXT needed to come out of the gate very strong. I don’t feel like they did that within the first few minutes of the show with the Bron Breakker promo. Frankly, if I didn’t need to watch the show in order to write this column or do PWT Talks NXT, I may have shut the program off after he interrupted LA Knight. That’s how bad his promo was.
While I don’t think the entire show as a whole was a bust — this was certainly a bit of a departure from our beloved Black and Gold NXT. It felt like a stripped back show, less important than the old NXT, as far as I’m concerned.
Verdict: Mostly a MISS
LA KNIGHT vs. BRON BREAKKER
Before the match, Breakker approached Knight backstage and challenged him to this match. A bit confusing, as LA Knight is also booked for an NXT Championship match later on in the program. Why would LA Knight take on a second match knowing it’s going to lessen his chances at winning a fatal four way a couple hours later?
Breakker has a decent look, but one too many K’s in his last name. His choice in attire, horrendous. His in-ring ability, halfway decent. And he went over LA Knight. Who is in contention for the NXT Title later on in the night, did I mention that? A brand new character with the name Bron Breakker defeated a top guy… I’m just at a loss for words.
This was absolutely not a great start to NXT 2.0, and did not leave me with warm fuzzies for the new NXT.
(Note: Even though I knew Bronson Rechsteiner was signed and set to debut, I legitimately did not put two and two together during the show that Breakker was indeed Rechsteiner. I wrote my opinion above before I had that realization later in the night on PWT Talks NXT. My opinion still doesn’t change entirely, but I am hopeful that since he grew up around the business that he will drastically improve.)
IMPERIUM vs. JOSH BRIGGS & BROOKS JENSEN
Briggs & Jensen looked great against the ring veterans, Imperium. They looked strong and credible, and put on a halfway decent match. With the addition of this team and the Creed brothers last week, I’m hoping an overhaul of the tag division is on the way!
B-FAB vs. KATRINA
Good to see Katrina back on TV, as we have seen her on NXT and Main Roster WWE in the past. She showed up for a cup of coffee before being taken off of TV. This was B-Fab’s first televised matchup, and frankly it showed. She seemed a little clunky and some of the spots seemed incredibly mistimed. She has charisma for days and with the rest of Hit Row behind her, I think she can easily be a work-in-progress and become a bit of a player on the brand down the road.
Verdict: Lukewarm HIT
KAYDEN KARTER & KACY CATANZARO vs. GIGI DOLAN & JACY JANE
What could have been an awesome match, ruined by a brunette Mandy Rose run-in, followed by Sarray making a save. Cut to commercial, and oh hey! This is a six-woman tag all of a sudden!
Both teams are high on my watch list for women’s tag teams in WWE as a whole and I was really looking forward to seeing a match between these two teams and these two teams alone. I’m sure we’ll get it down the road. But considering that this is a rebranding show, I’m going to go under the assumption that WWE felt that the inclusion of Sarray and Rose made this a bigger deal. Instead, it watered the entire match down for me.
I care about Dolan and Jane as their characters are interesting enough on their own to get over. I’ve never been a fan of Rose in the ring, and the only time I’ve paid any real attention to her is during the Otis angle. Yes, she has the look Vince wants, but she is holding the two newcomers back as far as I’m concerned.
RIDGE HOLLAND vs. DRAKE MAVERICK
This match was exactly what you’d expect.
Ridge Holland absolutely destroyed Drake Maverick.
While I liked this squash match, it makes you wonder what goes through the minds of the kayfabe booking team. “Hmmm, lets take a big dude and throw him with a little dude for funsies.”
CREED BROS vs. JOBBER TEAM
As far as I am aware, the Creed Brother’s opponents were not named. They were, however, decimated by the two decorated athletes. Just like Maverick & Holland before this match, this was exactly what it should have been. A brutal affair.
The addition of Ivy Nile (Possible spelling? They haven’t spelled it yet as of this writing.) to Diamond Mine was unexpected, though all the other factions seem to have one woman in them. She has a solid look and I’m curious to see how she does in action.
PETE DUNNE vs. LA KNIGHT vs. VON WAGNER vs. TOMASSO CIAMPA – NXT CHAMPIONSHIP
Kyle O’Reilly was attacked by Dunne and Holland earlier in the night, and was unable to compete in the fatal four way. Cal Bloom, now renamed Von Wagner, was named as the fourth man in the match by William Regal midway through the night.
Going into the match, I was unsure of who would come out on top. Ciampa is a former champion and can easily be the face of the brand. However, that seemed unlikely to me considering the direction to new talent. LA Knight seemed like the obvious choice, as he is a decent worker and amazing on the mic. You could easily build around LA Knight. I couldn’t see them putting the belt on Von Wagner in his debut match. And that left Pete Dunne, a man who has been on the cusp of a main event run for months now.
However, I was pleasantly surprised when Ciampa did win the title once again. At the top of the show, he said that he wanted Goldie back and he did what he set out to do. He brought Goldie home.
I’m not sure how I feel about this. On one hand, I was entertained by it. On the other, it was very silly. Now, I usually like some silliness in my wrestling when the time calls for it. But I think they could have cut back on just a little bit of the silliness and given a bit more time to the NXT Championship match.
InDex is now married! This whole angle has been a guilty pleasure of mine, and I am excited to see where they bring this act.
Johnny Gargano was absolute gold throughout the segment with his seemingly ad-libbed dialogue, and the way the rest of the segment was booked, there were quite a few opportunities for multiple performers to have a moment in the spotlight, even if they weren’t associated with the angle outside of showing up for the wedding.