SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
Carmelo Hayes: Major Hit
Finally! I’ve been saying for a long time that Hell Melo is money and he was genius tonight! From his first sit-down in the ring (walking away was a great hook for later), he’s heelish (yet, logical) explanation for his turning on Trick, his beatdown of Ilya: that was heel turn perfection. Hats off to Trick Williams, as well: I don’t know if Melo’s turn would have been as effective against anyone, but the popular Trick. I seriously thought there would a few more Melo fans, but it seemed like almost the entire Performance Center hated Melo. Just excellent stuff!
Axiom & Nathan Frazer vs. Malik Blade & Edris Enofe: Hit
Stellar match. All four of these guys move so fluidly, especially Frazer. I wasn’t high on the random pairing of Axiom and Frazer at first, but I think they’d make a great pairing and have some great matches, if creative doesn’t have anything for them singularly. I actually went back and watched this match again, since I enjoyed it so much.
Ilya Dragunov promo: Hit
There’s just something about this guy’s intensity. I mean, he’s not a Rock or an Austin, but he always sounds believable and I guess that’s what’s most important. I was also thinking how refreshing from his time in NXT:UK to now, they treated a Russian as a babyface, instead of the tired trope of “all Foreign people are bad guys”
Lexis King vs. Riley Osbourne: Hit
I think the star of this match was Osbourne, he’s just so fun to watch. King has the personality, but he always seems to get stuck in second gear in his matches. They’re not bad, just…average, I guess. That’s not a knock at King and I think as he acclimates to the WWE?NXT styling, he’ll be fine. The right guy went over here, as Osbourne can absorb the loss from the ‘distraction’ finish, while continuing his own Chase U storyline.
Lola Vice vs. Roxanne Perez: Hit
Lola Vice gets progressively better every time she’s in the ring and it helps when she’s in there with someone line Roxanne. Vice is at her best when she’s striking or kicking and she executes thoughts wonderfully. The loss doesn’t hurt her here, now she doesn’t possess the Breakout Contract.
Fallon Henley & Wren Sinclair vs. Lash Legend & Jakara Jackson: Hit
This was the match on the card I was least interested in, but it ended up winning me over. Legend is leaps and bounds ahead of when she was featured on NXT 2.0, Jackson had a good showing, Sinclair plays the “fish out of water” babyface very well and Fallon is one of my favorite women on the roster. Nice tag match.
Ilya Dragunov vs. Dijak: Hit
Was the winner ever in question: for such a talented guy, Dijak loses…a lot. I had read his contract was coming up this year, so maybe he’s on his way out and is serving as gatekeeper, but he’s fun to watch, especially with a guy like Ilya. They beat the hell out of each other. My only gripe was the finish: really? A boxing glove on a stick? I’m trying to get behind Gacy’s character, but couldn’t he have done the same under-the-ring attack with a sledgehammer or crowbar? It marred a very good match, but not enough to take away the Hit for the overall match-up.
Special Hit Mention: The Announce Team
No Booker (although I hope whatever he’s going through isn’t serious and he’s doing well). I was seriously hoping we’d get a Wade Barrett appearance after Vengeance, but we got Byron Saxton, who as a color commentator, was pretty good. I never liked him as the “third wheel” so this was a pleasant surprise. And I know some will disagree, but I think Vic Joseph is a treasure. I love the casual way he dresses, the bowl of candy on the desk…and the deadpan look he gave the camera when Saxton didn’t realize he was trying to shake his hand made me laugh out loud. I wouldn’t mind seeing/hearing this pairing moving forward.