NXT HITS & MISSES 5/17: Escobar vs. D’Angelo, Williams & Hayes vs. Solo Sikoa & Grimes, Frazer vs. Lee, Waller vs. Chase, Viking Raiders vs. Creed Bros., Perez vs. James, Legend vs. Paxley

By: Nate Lindberg - PWTorch Contributor (@NateLindberg)


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CAMERON GRIMES & SOLO SIKOA vs. CARMELO HAYES & TRICK WILLIAMS

Last week, Hayes & Williams double teamed Grimes with Sikoa coming to the aid of his rival. Tonight, Sikoa and Grimes had to work together to bring down the former North American champ and his lackey. Sikoa and Hayes are both in contention for Grime’s North American Championship, making working together a little awkward for Grimes and Sikoa.

Sikoa came off as the star of the match once again this week. Which says something, as both Grimes and Carmelo Hayes are as close to a “main roster” product as you can get. Sikoa harnesses the Anoa’i family charisma and in-ring prowess, and the audience picks up on that handily.

With the exception of one spot where Sikoa tagged himself in, Sikoa and Grimes worked together very well to pick up a win over Hayes and Williams. Admittedly, the quality of this one match was light years ahead of nearly every match last week.

Verdict: HIT

TATUM PAXLEY vs. LASH LEGEND – WOMEN’S BREAKOUT TOURNAMENT

And for the most predictable match of the night, the powerhouse, Lash Legend took on the scrappy Tatum Paxley. Paxley, while far from a polished product herself, is easily a step above Legend in the ring. The NXT brass have their eye on Legend due to her size and reportedly her charisma, yet I’ve yet to be impressed by her promo work. Paxley, on the other hand, seems to be on a good trajectory herself, even in tonight’s loss. She’s had a lot more TV time as of late and almost always seems to outshine her opponents.

On three seperate occasions, Paxley tried to put Legend in an Electric Chair position, failing to lift the larger opponent to her shoulders. Ultimately, this was the downfall for Paxley, as she seemed to lose stamina each time she tried. The last time, Legend easily retaliated for the win.

Verdict: Lukewarm HIT

VIKING RAIDERS vs. CREED BROTHERS

The Creed Brothers told Roderick Strong last week that they wanted another chance at the Viking Raiders, this time without any interference by Strong. They want to prove that they can beat the Raiders without help.

Now, this would be a more compelling story if the Raiders weren’t relegated to near jobber status on the main roster. In NXT, they were undefeated until their loss to the Creeds a few weeks ago. But after being so mishandled on the main roster, I don’t see how anybody can see a team beating the Raiders and think “OMG, these guys are amazing! They beat the VIKING RAIDERS!” It’s almost like the Creeds beating Doink and the Brooklyn Brawler. Okay, maybe not quite that bad. But you get my point.

Nothing against the Raiders. I’ve been a fan of Ivar (Warbeard Hanson) for years as he got his start in my local promotion, Chaotic Wrestling. They’re a hell of a team. It’s just hard to buy into this story when you’ve seen most of the RAW and SD Tag roster beat them over and over.

That said, this match was absolutely solid. The veteran experience (Viking Experience???) of Ivar and Erik coupled with the no-nonsense style of the Creeds made for a fun and entertaining matchup. With the Creeds picking up the win against the Raiders two weeks ago, and the Raiders picking up the win tonight, one wonders if we’ll see the blow-off at In Your House.

One also wonders how Diamond Mine as a whole will fair without their mouthpiece, Malcolm Bivens, who was released recently. Neither Roddy, the Creeds or Damon Kemp can handle themselves on the mic.

Verdict: HIT

ANDRE CHASE vs. GREYSON WALLER

Waller and Chase have been feuding for weeks now, this being the first time they’ve faced off in a singles match against one another. Chase had Bodhi Heyward ringside as well as Sarray in the crowd waving a Chase U flag. The odds were stacked against Waller in theory, outnumbered three to one. If Chase was aligned heel, I would have expected both of them to interfere on Chase’s behalf. Instead, Waller landed on Bodhi after being thrown out of the ring and he capitalized on the moment when Chase went to check on his protégé.

I don’t see Waller spending too much time in NXT, as his heel work has been top notch (at least in terms of the rest of the heel NXT roster) since his turn months ago. Chase has come a long way himself, often being one of the more entertaining and comedic acts on the show.

Verdict: HIT

ROXANNE PEREZ vs. KIANA JAMES – WOMEN’S BREAKOUT TOURNAMENT

The final match for round one in the breakout tournament saw the former indie darling, Roxanne Perez take on the rookie, Kiana James. James, formerly known as Kayla Inlay, is about as green as green can be, this being her twelfth career televised match – sixth in the WWE system.

This match was relatively paint-by-numbers. A very basic matchup with arm drags and waistlock takedowns galore. Now, exactly what this match should have been anyway given how new James is to wrestling. You’d rather show off her strengths rather than highlight her weaknesses.

All of that said, this match was about exactly what I expected out of these two. A perfectly fine contest allowing James to shine and giving her a chance to get over with the crowd, with Perez firing up towards the end for the win.

Verdict: HIT

NATHAN FRAZER vs. WES LEE

The debut match in NXT (US, anyway) for Frazer saw him take on Wes Lee. Lee was supposed to be in a match against Xyon Quinn tonight, but Quinn was “not medically cleared”, though Lee believes that Quinn is just dodging him. Frazer came up to Lee backstage and said that since Lee wanted to be in the ring so badly, that he could accommodate and that he looked forward to the challenge.

“Flippy Sh!t” match of the night winner, hands down. Now, I’m not a fan of flippy moves just for the sake of flippy moves. And yes, this match certainly had plenty of that. But it also felt so fresh compared to the majority of the NXT matches we’ve seen as of late.

Frazer looks like he’ll be a great addition to the roster, but I feel like he’s just a generic babyface right now. He needs a bit of a gimmick for the fans to latch on to. Now, I’m not saying to repackage him as “The Trashman” or something ridiculous like that. But he does need something a little bit deeper to make his character stand out. Hopefully as his time in NXT continues, that will happen.

The match was interrupted by Von Wagner and Robert Stone with Wagner laying waste to both competitors for seemingly no reason. I’m okay with it, as this drew some major heat for Wagner. Most people seemed to want to see the rest of the match. Wagner needs to be treated as more of a monster heel if they want people to take him seriously. This certainly helped point him in that direction.

Verdict: HIT

SANTOS ESCOBAR vs. TONY D’ANGELO

For a couple months now, D’Angelo and Escobar have been butting heads backstage. Escobar and his cartel-like stable and D’Angelo and his mafioso stable have been at odds, as you do when you have two rival “gangs”.

Both D’Angelo and Escobar told their stablemates to stay backstage, that they wanted to fight the other one-on-one. I may be higher on D’Angelo than some. He may have a very stereotypical Italian mob boss gimmick, but that’s also my jam. Even with the last name Lindberg, I’m mostly Italian myself and have always enjoyed mafioso movies and stories. That said, I feel like D’Angelo’s in ring work isn’t quite at the level it should be to be in the main event scene. Unfortunately, most of the main event scene has either moved up to the main roster or was cut from the company entirely, so D’Angelo is what they have to work with. He’s not doing a bad job per se. But if this was the main roster, I don’t see him on the same trajectory to the top.

Overall, this wasn’t a bad match. But I think it deserved to be on a card like In Your House or another big show. They’ve put a lot of time into this angle, and it felt like this stage wasn’t big enough for it.

Escobar picked up the victory after some shenanigans by both Legado del Fantasma and “The Family”, as I believe D’Angelo’s stable is being called. There was just enough distraction for Escobar to channel his inner William Regal and pull some brass knucks out of his tights.

I think the wrong person won this match. D’Angelo is the up-and-coming talent and he’s lost a lot of big matches thus far. Escobar could have eaten the loss, no problem. But D’Angelo is still a work in progress. Unless they continue this feud and wind up putting D’Angelo over, I worry that this could sully the perception of D’Angelo and his lackeys.

Verdict: Lukewarm HIT

 

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