It’s gotta be hard to cut a promo in NXT with a bunch of college smarks who never shut up and let the wrestlers speak. They all need to be heard, for some damn reason. Nobody can say one line without at least two or three of them having to scream out a stupid comment that they think is clever or hilarious. I don’t know if any of them were actually listening, but it was a really good opening war or words between Ricochet and Velveteen Dream. It looks like these two are headed for a showdown at Takeover Chicago. I’m all for it.
Segment Rating: Six Gold Medals
RAUL MENDOZA VS. EC3
Mendoza is good at frustrating someone like EC3 who likes to be an aggressor, because he’s so quick and agile he can avoid strikes and hit counters. Once EC3 caught him and started hitting him with his powerful attacks it really slowed him down. Mendoza shows the ability to stand and strike with EC3 as well. He’s not best in-ring worker but he has some great athleticism and if he improves the crispness of his moves he can be very good. The crowd never got into this match for some reason. Nobody even reacted to EC3 hitting his finisher.
Match Rating: Three Gold Medals
Following a tense exchange, Pete Dunne agrees to team up with Oney Lorcan and Danny Burch vs. the Undisputed Era. They later announce the match for next week. I’m definitely down for that. I was really happy to hear last week that Danny Burch was signed to a full-time contract, he’s a hell of a performer, and he and Oney are really over with the NXT crowd.
DAKOTA KAI VS. VANESSA BORNE
I’m sure it’s on purpose, but Vanessa Borne looks skanky as hell. She has a Sherri Martel-type look, and even her style reminds of me her a bit. Dakota Kai can really get her legs up there, there’s a reason they call her the “Captain of Team Kick.” That seems like a pretty weak finisher she has. Shayna Baszler comes out to terrorize Kai after her win, but instead of attacking Kai, she attacks Vanessa Borne as a message. Shayna is such a natural heel and seems to relish playing the role. They continue backstage having Dakota piss herself at the sight of Shayna, while Nikki Cross laughs maniacally in the dark. Awesome.
Match Rating: Four Gold Medals
WAR RAIDERS VS. HEAVY MACHINERY
That’s a hell of a lot of beef in the ring. I’m actually surprised they’re having this match-up so soon after War Raiders’ debut. The way the match is booked could tell us what they think of the future of these teams. This escalated quickly. War Raiders get the win in pretty short order. With a near squash over such a large and built-up team, it’s fairly obvious that WWE is solidly behind War Raiders as the next money tag team. I was hoping to see a longer match with all the guys hitting impressive power moves. The match was fairly limited.
Match Rating: Four Gold Medals
TOMMASO CIAMPA VS. KASSIUS OHNO
The crowd really piles the hate onto Ciampa, even more than usual. Ohno delights the crowd with an early beatdown. Mauro Ranallo’s commentary really helps Ciampa’s heel character, and it makes all of his matches feel deeply personal. Ciampa just shows complete disgust for his opponents and for the fans, and his facial expressions when Ohno makes a comeback are perfect scared heel, it’s reminiscent of Ric Flair. Hiding behind the ref, digging at Ohno’s eyes, using his wrist tape as a weapon, all reasons why I think Ciampa is doing some of the best heel work in 20 years. He delights in taunting the crowd after his win. He capped it off by attacking Ohno with his knee brace. You just gotta love to hate this guy.
Match Rating: Eight Gold Medals
Overall Show Rating: Five Gold Medals