NXT HITS & MISSES 4/19: Pretty Deadly vs. Lumis & Hudson, Escobar vs. Hayes, LDF vs. Drake & Gibson, Quinn vs. Lee, Stratton vs. Sarray, Waller vs. Sanga, Jayne vs. Perez

By: Nate Lindberg - PWTorch Contributor (@NateLindberg)


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TIFFANY STRATTON vs. SARRAY

Sarray and Stratton have been at odds with one another for weeks after Sarray cost Stratton a match. The only other time they faced off in the ring, Sarray didn’t have the necklace her grandmother gave her. She had to wrestle as her normal self, not as the “superhero” version of herself. We saw Stratton decimate Sarray during that match.

Tonight, Sarray was at full strength with her medallion in her possession and was a much harder foe for NXT’s “Barbie girl”. Ultimately, Stratton was still able to over come Sarray and pick up the win.

I feel like this is the right move, as Stratton has been booked to be in a main event position. She should be the victor in her first feuds until they decide to bring her into the NXT Women’s Title scene.

Verdict: HIT

SANGA vs. GREYSON WALLER

Well, this was a bizarre start to a match. Greyson Waller was being interviewed backstage and he said that he was done with Sanga, that he didn’t need Sanga’s dead weight. Sanga shows up and chases Waller to the ring where a ref just shows up and calls for the bell.

What the heck was supposed to be on in this timeslot instead? Are we to believe that they had nothing planned for this timeslot so this unplanned attack could officially be sanctioned?

For the first time ever, Sanga actually looked like a force to be reckoned with, unlike any time he would try and defend Waller as his bodyguard. Sanga feels like he’s trying to be a Braun Strowman ripoff. From the extremely similar attire, to the move set, to the overall attitude, he feels very much in the same vein as Strowman was.

Now, just because Sanga felt like more of a monster doesn’t mean he actually won the match. Waller hit a stunner on Sanga for the win. If Sanga wasn’t going to win tonight, I feel like he needs a win over Waller at some point in the near future. Even if it’s an unclean win, he’ll at least have somewhat of a big win under his belt. For now, he just feels like a knockoff Strowman. Who isn’t nearly as charismatic.

Verdict: MISS

LEGADO DEL FANTASMA vs. THE ARTISTS FORMERLY KNOWN AS GRIZZLED YOUNG VETERANS

Earlier in the night, Pretty Deadly kicked off the show to celebrate their newly won Tag Championships. Legado del Fantasma as well as the newly renamed Drake and Gibson came out and laid claim to the titles, leading to this matchup.

I’m not a fan of all the renames lately. Alba Fyre instead of Kay Lee Ray? Come on. The shift from Grizzled Young Veterans to calling Zack Gibson and James Drake by their last names only is another one of these “come on…” moments. Why strip back GYV’s gimmick and turn them into more generic heels? Baffling.

What’s even more baffling is how quickly Drake and Gibson were defeated. Legado’s win was purely a stage for Escobar to have momentum into the next match against Carmelo Hayes.

Verdict: MISS

CARMELO HAYES vs. SANTOS ESCOBAR

Two of the few talents on the roster who seem “main roster ready” squared off in a singles match after weeks of verbal back and forth on who was a better champion. Carmelo Hayes as the former North American champion or Escobar as the former long reigning Cruiserweight champion.

This was an entertaining mid-show main event, with both men putting on a great performance. They each got in about the same amount of offense, making it difficult to predict the outcome. It seemed like it could go either way at any moment.

That is until two men in black suits, presumably sent by Tony D’Angelo, attacked Escobar outside the ring allowing Hayes to pick up the win.

I’d assume that this will end the feud between Hayes and Escobar, and Escobar and Legado del Fantasma will shift focus to Tony D’Angelo.

Verdict: HIT

NATALYA vs. TATUM PAXLEY

Last week, Nattie showed up during a Cora Jade segment to attack Jade as Jade gushed over meeting her idol. After that, Nattie walked into the women’s locker room and Paxley stepped up to Nattie and challenged her to a match.

The last time Natalya competed in an NXT ring was back in 2015 or 2016 when she faced Charlotte, each with Bret Hart and Ric Flair in their respective familial corners. As Tom Stoup has talked about on the VIP PWTorch podcast, Bonus Point, Tatum Paxley is a talent to keep an eye on. She may be new on TV, but she’s showed a lot of promise between her NXT and Level Up appearances.

Natalya looked like the consummate ring general in the match, minus a communication hiccup or two. Not only did her in ring work look veteran, but if you knew what to look for you could see Nattie coaching the new comer, Paxley, through the match.

Paxley tapped to a Sharpshooter, which kayfabe showed the women’s locker room why she is considered the Best Of All Time. The BOAT. I mean, not quite as good as the GOAT, but roll with what you can trademark I guess!

Verdict: HIT

WES LEE vs. XYON QUINN

Commentary danced around the fact that Nash Carter was released, barely recognizing that Wes Lee no longer has his tag partner. While they did mention him needing to forfeit the tag titles, that was about as far as it went. Instead, they just focused on how the last few weeks haven’t been much fun for Lee.

I think Wes Lee has the potential to be a singles star. He was the stand out between he and Carter anyway. Singles may be uncharted waters for Lee in the WWE environment, but I think he has the charisma and in-ring ability to pull it off as long as they don’t book him poorly.

Quinn rather easily defeated Lee, but not before Lee showed quite a bit of heart to try and defeat a larger opponent. I think this could be a good angle for Lee, showing him overcoming the odds and bad luck to become a success.

Verdict: HIT

JACY JAYNE vs. ROXANNE PEREZ

The former independent star, Rok-C, made her NXT debut tonight as Roxanne Perez. Impressive, as she only signed to WWE around a month ago. I wasn’t expecting to see her on TV for a little while as she acclimated to the NXT/WWE style.

Seeing as she not only received one of the only full entrances on the show tonight, but also was put into an immediate program with Toxic Attraction says to me that NXT looks to position her as a top competitor on the brand.

In the middle of the match, Wendy Choo appeared on the big screen while standing in Toxic Attraction’s locker room, destroying it. The distraction allowed Perez roll Jayne up for the win.

Verdict: HIT

PRETTY DEADLY vs. DUKE HUDSON & DEXTER LUMIS – NXT TAG TEAM CHAMPIONSHIPS

One week after winning the NXT Tag Titles, Pretty Deadly put them on the line against the former foes turned friends, Lumis and Hudson. Admittedly, I’ve only seen Pretty Deadly in action a handful of times in NXT UK, but they’ve already won me over. They feel like a major threat in the tag division two weeks in to their run, and come off as a polished product.

Heck, they main evented the show two weeks in a row!

Lumis and Hudson showed just enough offense to be believable as a team, but their miscommunications (as part of their current storyline with each other) were ultimately their downfall.

Verdict: Lukewarm HIT

GACY TORMENTS BREAKKER

For weeks, Gacy has been after the NXT Champion, even going so far as to kidnap Breakker’s father, Rick Steiner. Tonight, Breakker spent the entire night hunting for Gacy to get Steiner’s stolen Hall of Fame ring back. At the end of the show, Gacy appeared on top of a platform above the crowd and called Breakker out. Breakker obliged and Gacy said he’d return the ring if Breakker would give him an NXT Title match. Breakker agreed before Gacy leisurely pushed him off of the platform. Breakker was surrounded by hooded figures as the show came to a close.

Since Gacy’s debut as this character, I’ve said he reminded me of a combination of Bray Wyatt’s two gimmicks, and tonight showed that. His promo style feels like NXT Bray Wyatt, cryptic and spooky, and the way he’s playing mind games reminds me of The Fiend/Funhouse Bray.

I think this could potentially be a winning combination. Unfortunately, they’re doing way too much way too soon. Gacy’s character seems too supernatural and too “produced”. It’s far too hokey for what NXT was just less than a year ago, but it could be a winner in Bruce Prichard’s NXT. Well, a winner in their eyes anyway. While I want to be optimistic on this character, I’m thinking that most NXT fans may not buy into a gimmick that seems so far outside of the bounds of reality.

Verdict: Lukewarm HIT

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