NXT HITS & MISSES 1/11: Styles vs. Waller, Quinn vs. Escobar, Grimes vs. Kemp, Boa vs. Sikoa, Enofe & Blade vs. Gacy & Harland, Pirotta & Choo & Hartwell vs. Catanzaro & Karter & Miller

By Nate Lindberg, PWTorch Contributor

PHOTO CREDIT: WWE

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

SANTOS ESCOBAR (w/Legado del Fantasma) vs. XYON QUINN

For weeks now, we’ve watched as Elektra Lopez has meddled in Quinn’s affairs. From looking like his enemy to his love interest, we’ve been left wondering where Elektra Lopez allegiance lies. This match was set up last week, winner would win her services. The storyline seems like it pivoted after Lopez debuted, as it seems strange to me that she would align with Escobar and Legado del Fantasma for weeks before this love story with Quinn. Sure, people fall in love at the darndest times. But this angle just seemed a little out of left field to me from the start. Besides, could you even trust the services of someone who made you fight for them? Which brings me to the Lopez nut shot on Quinn to end the match. (Oof… Phrasing? Nah, I’ll keep it.)

Angle aside, I’m really looking forward to seeing what the future brings for Quinn. He has the look, he has the charisma and the ability in the ring. Unfortunately, he’s being booked to be outsmarted by the wrong head, if you catch my drift. While I’m glad to see a win for Escobar, as his stock has declined over the past year or so, I’d like to see Quinn booked a little stronger.

Verdict: HIT

CAMERON GRIMES vs DAMON KEMP

Malcolm Bivens appeared on the stage during this match, cheering Damon Kemp on each time he was on the offensive. Kemp was able to land a few moves on Grimes, but ultimately this wound up being a short Grimes squash match. Kemp showed promise during the few moments he was in control of the match, and I think it would be cool to see Bivens pick up a newbie like Kemp as an addition to Diamond Mine. Allow Bivens to build him up, groom him and refine the skills that clearly shone through in the match.

Verdict: HIT

EDRIS ENOFE & MALIK BLADE vs JOE GACY & HARLAND

During their entrance, Malik Blade & Edris Enofe were shown in a split screen view giving a quick promo before the match. They said that they may have been rivals in the ring, they aren’t rivals in life and announced that they wanted to enter the Dusty Classic. The winner of this match would secure a spot in the tournament.

Enofe & Blade would certainly be the more fun addition to the Classic, as their high flying style and fantastic chemistry would surely entertain. However the “handler and the beast” pairing of Gacy and Harland have been pushed so strongly lately that I couldn’t see them losing cleanly here. Instead, I liked how they booked themselves out of this spot. They had Harland just bash Enofe’s face into the turnbuckle until he was unconscious and the ref had to call it.

Enofe & Blade advance to the finals due to disqualification, and Harland looks more like a beast. Unfortunately, he’s still a bit green in the ring and that really shone through while he tried and failed to grab Enofe’s head as it magically hit the turnbuckle repeatedly. Eh, it’s developmental again. I’ll give him a pass.

Verdict: HIT

PETE DUNNE vs. TONY D’ANGELO – CROWBAR ON A POLE

Last week, Dunne was attacked by D’Angelo with a crowbar ringside and the Bruiserweight looked to seek revenge during this crowbar on a pole match. Ironically, it was reported this week that someone with the last name Russo is now in creative too. Huh. Coincidence?!?! Probably.

Dunne is one of the few Black and Gold roster members left, providing the rub to the up and comer, D’Angelo. I like the gimmick and ring work out of D’Angelo, but I do think it has a ceiling. D’Angelo is going to need to show a bit more depth than just being a “wise guy” for longevity in this company.

Putting aside the fact that sanctioning a crowbar as a legal weapon could literally be lethal, they incorporated it in ways where it made sense. Like trying to reinjure Dunne’s hand, or using it during D’Angelo’s Fisherman Buster. I just think after that finish, someone should have checked to see if Dunne’s skull was still intact.

Whenever an “On a pole” match is announced, I just instantly assume it’s going to suck. Dunne & D’Angelo made it entertaining. With Dunne’s recent appearances at RAW and SD dark matches, I’d assume we’ll be seeing Dunne staring at the lights for the remainder of his NXT run.

Verdict: HIT

PERSIA PIROTTA, WENDY CHOO & INDI HARTWELL vs. AMARI MILLER, KACY CATENZARO & KAYDEN KARTER

I don’t even think I can properly analyze this match, I just spent the entirety of it angry that Karen Q has been given this absolutely abysmal narcoleptic “little girl” gimmick. She is far too talented to be wasted on… whatever the bloody hell this is. I’m not even British, I think Wade Barrett’s commentary is just rubbing off on me.

Readers, do you know who I desperately want to win the NXT Women’s Championship? This sleepy chick in PJs! That screams champion!

The match was okay.

Verdict: MISS

SOLO SIKOA vs. BOA

Sikoa versus Boa, try saying that ten times fast.

Boa has had a rollercoaster trajectory in NXT. Injuries and start & stop pushes have relegated him to just above a jobber on the roster. At least in my eyes. However, he always tries conveying the story that he will do better and he will overcome his odds.

That gave me some hope for Boa going into this match. A win for him over the up and coming Solo Sikoa would probably do wonders for his career. I hope you sense the slight sarcasm, as there’s no way anyone is going to put down a member of the Anoa’i family this early in their career.

A double count out was a smart way to get out of this match, making it seem like both men care more about beating each other to oblivion than a win. Sikoa still has not been pinned, and Boa didn’t lose a match he couldn’t afford to lose. During the backstage brawl, Boa used a fireball to blind Sikoa to end the segment. That’s gotta be a Bruce Prichard idea. Who else would think a fireball is a good idea in 2022?

Verdict: HIT

GREYSON WALLER vs. AJ STYLES

This match was just as good as you’d expect out of AJ Styles and one of the most surprising standouts of the 2.0 class. With this feud bleeding over to RAW, it definitely helped to put eyes on the product. Not to mention, it was cool to see AJ in NXT. Waller looked like he could hang with one of the best wrestlers on the planet, earning just that much more respect in my book.

Though, I would have liked to see him in the Black and Gold brand selfishly.

AJ made Waller look like a million bucks, and Waller sold brilliantly for AJ’s offense. AJ had to go over, as he is the main roster star. I would have been surprised if they actually put him over a former WWE Champion. Instead, the loss served for the return of LA Knight to come and whip Waller’s ass all over the arena. At the end of the day, this was a feel good ending on a show that needed it. Though I gave nearly a hit, nothing is black and white. Most of the segments were just passable on this show, not deserving of a “miss”. But not completely deserving a “hit” either. This match was easily the match of the night, and deserves something a little extra.

Verdict: PHONOMENAL HIT 

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