SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
CORA JADE vs. LYRA VALKYRIA – NXT WOMEN’S TOURNAMENT SEMIFINAL
To kick the show off, Lyra and Cora squared off to determine who’d make it to the finals and challenge for the NXT Women’s title. It felt inevitable from the brackets that we’d wind up with a Cora Jade and Roxanne Perez revisit, and the winner of this match would basically give away the winner of Perez vs. Stratton.
I was pleasantly surprised to see that Valkyria advance, as we’ve seen Jade/Perez too much already.
With the exception of a mistimed spot at the beginning, this was a fun match to kick off the show. Jade attacked Valkyria after the match with a kendo stick perhaps making her chances this Sunday seem a bit further away.
AXIOM vs. DABBA KATO
Three weeks ago, Axiom defeated Scrypts and exposed him as Reggie… Shocker. We haven’t seen Axiom since, and tonight he’s going up against one of the largest men in NXT – Dabba Kato.
Axiom looked like a child standing opposite Kato who has over an entire foot on him. Axiom used his agility to try and outwit Kato, but Kato’s power and strength would cut Axiom down time and time again.
Kato hit a sit-out double chokeslam for the win in just a matter of minutes, and then continued his assault on Axiom after the bell. Reggie flipped into the ring and tried to make the save…and… actually did. Somehow, Reggie managed to save another human being from the monster of a man named Dabba Kato.
Axiom wasn’t super happy with Reggie’s help, and the segment ended with them arguing in the ring.
Yeah, they’ll be a tag team within a few weeks. Mark my words.
Verdict: Meh. This existed.
TYLER BATE vs. EDDIE THORPE
North American Champion Wes Lee sat with the commentary team to watch one of his opponents, Tyler Bate, in singles action before their triple threat match with Joe Gacy. Lee no longer trusts his friend Bate after finding out he wanted a shot at the NA title, and this move almost seemed paranoid to me. Keep your enemy in your sight at all times?
This was as good as you would expect out of Thorpe and Bate, hard hitting and technical action. It just felt like Thorpe was fed to Bate. Thorpe came into the company with a lot of pomp and circumstance surrounding him. He got a couple easy wins, and now he’s losing cleanly in a match where he had no part of the underlying story?
Gacy attacked Bate and Lee after the match. Why not have Gacy interfere during the match and have Thorpe get the win? You effectively achieve the same story with Gacy making the attack, but you aren’t sacrificing Thorpe either.
Verdict: 75% HIT
NOAM DAR vs. NATHAN FRAZER
Noam Dar has brought the Heritage Cup to NXT after not seeing either he nor the Cup since NXT UK was dissolved. The Cup will be on the line this weekend at Battleground when Dar takes on Dragon Lee. But first, he had to get through Frazer tonight.
This was a great match to help continue to reintroduce the NXT audience to Noam Dar while doing the same for Nathan Frazer, as he’s recently returned from injury himself. Both men looked strong in a relatively even back and forth contest. Probably the match of the night.
Dragon Lee eventually made his way to the ring and walked over to the Heritage Cup to distract Dar. This distraction worked, as it always does in the WWE, and Frazer picked up the win less than 30 seconds later.
HANK vs. TANK
It’s not often when two opponents come to the ring together with their own entrance music. But, Hank & Tank did just that for this friendly competition between tag partners.
This match was slightly comedic, playing to both Hank and Tank’s humorous characters. What worked against them is the fact that they’re still new and the audience hasn’t latched onto them just yet. Personally, I loved this match. I’m already invested in the duo. But for anyone who isn’t, I could see how this was easily the bathroom break match.
Anyone who did go to the bathroom instead of see the finish would have missed Bron Breakker spearing the hell out of both competitors as a message to Carmelo Hayes after the match ended.
LUCA CRUSIFINO vs. VON WAGNER
Last week, Von Wagner pushed Crusifino aside backstage which led to Crusifino wanting to get some revenge tonight.
Unfortunately for him, he may as well tried to fight a brick wall. Von Wagner decimated the newer talent, making him look almost as stupid as his sleeveless suit. Stupid was the theme for Crusifino, as he brought out the photo of Wagner as a child with the scars on his head, which enraged Wagner. He assaulted Crusifino to the point of getting DQ’d, resulting in the largest crowd pop I’ve ever heard for Von-Freaking-Wagner.
Well done, Cal Bloom. You’re on your way to getting over, I’m so happy to see his character finally resonating with the audience.
TIFFANY STRATTON vs. ROXANNE PEREZ – NXT WOMEN’S TOURNAMENT SEMIFINALS
With Valkyria’s victory earlier in the night, she would go on to face the winner of this match this Sunday at Battleground for the NXT Women’s title.
Going into this match, I felt like Valkyria’s win foreshadowed Stratton victory in this match. Where Perez and Valkyria are both faces, Stratton and Valkyria made the most sense for Battleground. Even though that was my prediction, I still gave Perez a small chance at winning. A face vs face match is hard to pull off, but it can be done. I just don’t think the general audience would really care much about it.
The match itself was well executed. Perez and Stratton have decent chemistry together and they put on a relatively long and entertaining main event with plenty of false finishes in an attempt to keep us guessing who the winner would be.
At the end of the night, my initial prediction was right. The predictable outcome — Tiffany Stratton and Lyra Valkyria are both going to Battleground.
Verdict: 75% Hit