By: Frank Hyden
GOOD/UGLY- Johnny Gargano beats Ridge Holland
This was a pretty good match, no surprise there with Gargano leading the way. There was a part in the match, though, that was really scary. Holland did a powerslam on Gargano which dumped Gargano right on his head and neck. It looked really bad but somehow Gargano was able to continue, though obviously impaired. Gargano later pinned Holland to advance to the ladder match for NXT North American Championship at TakeOver 30.
GOOD- Dakota Kai beats Jessi Kamea
This was an obvious squash, but Kamea did get plenty of offense. After the match, NXT Champion Io Shirai and attacked Kai. She had her on the run until Raquel Gonzalez returned and laid out the Shirai.
GOOD- Legado Del Fantasmo beats Breezango and Isiah “Swerve” Scott
The action was quick in this match, as they took advantage of the skill of the men involved, as well as being a six-man tag. They again set up that Scott has the number of NXT Cruiserweight Champion Santos Escobar, but the heels pulled out the win.
GOOD/BAD- Pat McAfee and Adam Cole war of words
McAfee made his entrance with an entourage after The Undisputed Era had already made their entrance. McAfee delivered an over the top heel promo that was effective but it’s ridiculous that Cole and The UE are supposed to be the faces here. They’ve been arrogant and overbearing pricks for the last few years but now we’re supposed to like them because some outsider runs his mouth? Plus, it’s not like they’ve been cool heels, anyone who had to suffer through the Roderick Strong therapy segments can attest to that. They’ve been old school heels and I haven’t seen any longing for the crowd to cheer these guys.
Each man was effective at what he did but the ending left a lot to be desired for me. Cole comes up to McAfee, who’s standing in the corner shocked after Cole laid out the 4 rent-a-cops, and Cole delivered a good line about how he’s going to make McAfee his bitch at TakeOver. The problem, though, is it really illustrated the huge size difference between the two. Pat McAfee was a punter, one of the more athletic punters but still a punter. I always loved him, which continues to this day, so maybe I’m too biased towards him. Anyway, McAfee is about 6’1″ and Cole barely came up to the bridge of his nose. McAfee’s arms and legs are also much bigger than Cole’s. Hell, there’s several women on the roster (Gonzalez, Mercedes Martinez, Rhea Ripley) who look bigger than Cole does. I get that it’s a different era, and I’m not saying Cole needs to get on the juice, but would it kill him to do some pushups sometime?
If you’re going to go around acting like a badass, you need to at least somewhat look like a badass. I find Finn Balor extremely annoying how he goes around acting like he’s a badass even though he’s also very short, but at least he has a physique. I always felt the same about Taz in ECW. Taz looked tough, though, Cole looks like the guy at the Apple Genius bar helping you set up your iPad. There’s no problem with that, but he needs to be a chickenshit heel then. It’s not quite as bad as action movies where they have a woman beating up five 200lb. men at once but it’s still not all that good. I hate sounding like Kevin Nash making fun of The Vanilla Midgets but all those guys leaned into their appearance. Cole is a good looking guy with the cool long hair and can talk and all that, he’s the ideal chickenshit heel.
GOOD- Shotzi Blackheart and Rhea Ripley beat Mercedes Martinez and Aliyah
They teased Ripley vs. Martinez but Blackheart and Aliyah did most of the working together. The finish came when Ripley powerbombed Martinez over the barrier to the concrete while Blackheart hit a top rope senton to Aliyah for the win.
BAD/GOOD- Velveteen Dream beat Finn Balor
This kind of had some good moments but it was too long and had way too much interference. Cameron Grimes came out, then Johnny Gargano, then Bronson Reed and Damian Priest. Then, Timothy Thatcher came out as well. All this allowed Dream to get the win and advance to the ladder match for the NXT North American Championship at TakeOver 30.
Dream has been accused of sexual misconduct. WWE says they’ve investigated and cleared Dream. I see people on social media yelling about this and saying it’s BS. There’s petitions and hashtags and all that. I don’t know enough about this to comment definitely. I haven’t seen much evidence but that doesn’t mean it’s not out there, as I don’t have the time to really look deep into this. I believe in the presumption of innocence but if anyone did this stuff, they need to be punished. We’ll have to wait and see how this continues to play out.
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