SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
CARMELO HAYES & TRICK WILLIAMS vs. AXIOM & APOLLO CREWS
Last week, Apollo Crews and Axiom crossed paths backstage and agreed to team up to take on mutual enemies, Carmelo Hayes and Trick Williams tonight.
The pairing of Axiom and Crews seems to be temporary, just a pairing for the sake of their individual stories. While they had their moments to shine together as a team in the match, Williams and Hayes really stood out to me as the well-oiled team. From their color-coordinated gear, to their great chemistry in the ring and on the mic, there is no denying that they’re next-level.
That’s not to knock Axiom or Crews, they’re incredible talents in their own right. But in this storyline and in this match, it was clear who the tag team was compared to the two thrown together singles competitors.
Crews and Axiom got the win when Crews rolled Hayes up, catching him off guard long enough to be pinned. While slightly underwhelming, the finish was feel-good as we saw the faces get the win over the trickster heels.
SOL RUCA vs. ALBA FYRE
This match should have happened a couple weeks back, but Sol Ruca was attacked prior to the match by Isla Dawn. With her feud with Dawn in the rearview mirror, Fyre extended another match to Ruca to give the upstart an opportunity.
Fyre was on the offensive for a good chunk of the match, reversing every offensive move Ruca was throwing at her. When it looked like Ruca might be down and out, Isla Dawn appeared on a platform out by the crowd. Ruca used the distraction to hit the Sol Snatcher for the win.
I liked the booking of this match. It showed us that the somewhat lackluster conclusion to the Dawn/Fyre feud isn’t actually over. Fyre was booked dominantly and only lost because apparently every wrestler gets distracted very easily. Ruca, the newcomer, has a victory over a veteran like Fyre.
Was it perfectly executed? Eh, I’m sure it could have been better. But at the end of the day, this was the best outcome to propel these stories forward.
JOSH BRIGGS & BROOKS JENSEN vs. GALLUS
Last week, Gallus returned after a six month long storyline suspension and attacked Briggs & Jensen, the team they were feuding with back in September. Tonight, the two good ol’ boys looked to get some retribution on their attackers. It’s great to see Mark Coffey and Wolfgang back in NXT, though one wonders when we’ll see the return of Joe Coffey as the front man for the scottish trio.
All four men have a bit of a brawling style, which made this match feel a bit on the brutal side. Gallus looked very dominant in this match, as they should considering they are not only just returning — but they’re Gallus. These brutes should be a force to be reckoned with.
Briggs and Jensen have been pushed quite a bit over the past year, so story-wise it makes sense that they could stand up to Gallus. Once again, Josh Briggs was the stand out of the team showing his charisma and heart after Jensen was suplexed onto the concrete floor and taken out of the match. He fought valiantly, but Gallus took down Briggs for the win.
The finish to the match felt a little flat. It wound up being a handicapped match for the last few moments of the match, meaning the dastardly villains had an advantage. I feel like you’d want the returning, imposing heels to get a more decisive win, no?
THEA HAIL (w/ Duke Hudson & Andre Chase) vs. VALENTINA FEROZ
I absolutely love the Thea Hail character. The over the top energy and the way she delivers it makes for such an entertaining and polarizing character. Some may find her annoying, but I think it’s brilliant.
Before the match, Hudson was caught on hidden camera dissing Chase U but said that his words were taken out of context. It brewed a bit of tension between Hudson and Chase in the match. Elektra Lopez also made her way to the ring and slipped Feroz a pair of brass knuckles while the ref was distracted by Hudson and Chase. Feroz turned the knucks in to the ref, wanting to win the proper way. But she was too focused on the ref, and missed Hail attacking from behind for the win.
While a somewhat entertaining segment, the finish felt horribly overbooked.
TYLER BATE vs. JAVIER BERNAL
The return of Tyler Bate to NXT saw him take on McKenzie Mitchell’s favorite jobber, Big Body Javi. Surprisingly, for a man who has lost more matches than he’s won, Javi got quite a bit of offense in on the former two time NXT UK Champion.
It didn’t take long for The Big Strong Boy to put Javi away, however. This match really just served as a quasi-squash match to re-introduce Bate. While I don’t hate the segment, I do wish that someone of the caliber of Bate returned against someone a bit higher on the food chain. Unless, of course, this was a one off and we’ll see his first actual feud next week.
TOXIC ATTRACTION vs. ROXANNE PEREZ & LYRA VALKYRIA
Earlier in the night we saw Toxic Attraction and Lyra Valkyria get in a bit of a scuffle, with Roxanne Perez making the save for Valkyria. A tag match was made for Perez and Valkyria to take on their mutual foes.
We knew this match was going to be a bit of a car crash, as it started at the end of NXT proper and the beginning of the seven minute overrun that USA Network allows the program. Everything felt super rushed and there wasn’t any selling of high impact moves. It was just one spot to the next and to the next.
Toxic Attraction isolated Perez from her partner for the bulk of this short match, with Valkyria getting the hot tag towards the end. I think the match was booked this way to let the audience think that Perez has no chance of winning in the triple threat against Toxic Attraction at Vengeance day.
As Valkyria got that hot tag, Cora Jade pushed Valkyria off the top rope and caused her to lose any momentum she had. She immediately tagged in Perez again, who was left to fend for herself against both members of Toxic Attraction.
To foreshadow the triple threat even further, Perez only got the win after Jayne inadvertently superkicked Dolan when Perez ducked out of the way. My guess, we’re going to see Toxic Attraction turn on one another before or at Vengeance day, with that being the impetus for Perez to retain.