Dakota Kai vs Bianca Belair Totally good, but lacking heat to some extent. ***1/4
Ricochet Backstage Interview Nice work by Ricochet here, even if it’s just a little on the forgettable side. ***1/2
Velveteen Dream Backstage Interview Not bad at all, but very short.
Shayna Baszler Backstage Interview Again, very short, but also kind of stilted.
Aleister Black Backstage Interview Sort of a nothing segment, but I prefer a terse Black anyway, so that’s fine.
Oney Lorcan & Danny Burch Backstage Interview Virtually perfect (if modest) babyface promos from these two. ***3/4
EC3 Pretaped Interview Not horrible, but this felt kind of over-rehearsed.
Hanson & Rowe (War Raiders) vs Shane Thorne & Nick Miller (The Mighty) I appreciate The Mighty’s new ring gear and attitude. A good match here, but definitely not the best these four are capable of. ***1/2
Aleister Black & Tommaso Ciampa Promo I really don’t like this style of promo for Black. As I mentioned above, I like a terse Aleister Black, and a longwinded traditional babyface promo just doesn’t fit his persona in my opinion. On the other hand, Ciampa comes across as really convincing and true to his character. I love his work here. ****1/4
Vanessa Borne Interview Kind of fun, but also a bit silly. Borne just doesn’t really have the credibility to make her call-out of Kairi Sane feel important.
Kona Reeves vs Max Humberto It seems like Reeves is progressing nicely, but this was a nothing-ish squash match beyond getting Reeves a little more over, particularly character-wise.
Candice LeRae vs Lacey Evans Evans focusing on LeRae’s arm makes for a specific in-ring story, but it wasn’t clear to me why she would do so: it doesn’t really figure into either woman’s moveset super strongly, to my knowledge. Regardless, Evans is becoming an increasingly effective heel and LeRae needed a match like this to get herself over again as a babyface wrestler due to how much time she spent playing Mrs. Wrestling in the build to TakeOver: Chicago. ***1/2
Johnny Gargano Backstage Interview Brilliantly emotional segment. Gargano and Ciampa’s Chicago match combined with the fuel Gargano adds to their program in this segment makes for a revitalized feud, which I was losing enthusiasm for in the weeks ahead of Chicago. ***1/2
Tucker Knight and Otis Dozovic Grill a Ton of Meat Like Jerks Boo.
Candice LeRae Backstage Interview Really important segment for getting Candice’s in-ring career back on track. Good work here. ***1/4
Trent Seven & Tyler Bate (Moustache Mountain, vegans!) vs Dave Dixon & Carl Axelrod: Nope, Just Kidding Because Undisputed ERA Brutalizes These Guys Kind of a funny heel promo by the ERA, but not their most remarkable mic work.
Trent Seven (vegan!), Tyler Bate (vegan!), & Ricochet vs Kyle O’Reilly, Adam Cole, & Roderick Strong I love how Moustache Mountain can incorporate comedy into their matches without completely deflating potential for drama. All of the action in this was fantastic; it hardly comes as a surprise given how good these six guys are on a regular basis. ****1/2
Dakota Kai vs Santana Garrett Garrett looked surprisingly awkward in spots, and this felt kind of rudimentary in general.
Tucker Knight Gets Attacked at the Performance Center Not much to it, but it’s a reasonable setup to something larger.
Shayna Baszler Promo A little overwritten at first, but ultimately very effective like most Shayna promos are. ****
Danny Burch Backstage Interview (Crashed by Undisputed ERA) Kind of just a replay of the post-TakeOver promo until the ERA shows up and makes this a ton of fun. ***3/4
Nick Miller & Shane Thorne (The Mighty) vs Otis Dozovic Pretty fun, but it also kind of made The Mighty look weak-ish and silly. Given that they’re in pretty vulnerable shape given their long absence and the experiment with their new gimmick, that worries me a little. ***
Bianca Belair Pretaped Segment Totally good stuff. Super convincing and effective, and it really places her firmly near the top of the division. ***1/2
Kairi Sane Interview I think they’re pushing the pirate gimmick just a little too hard. It’s fine to incorporate it into her character, but the focus should be on how good she is rather than how goofy she is.
Velveteen Dream (vegetarian!) vs Dijak A really good character-driven TV match, with plenty of heat and some great spots. It seems like Dijak is likely to succeed in NXT, which is good to see as someone who became a quick fan after his classic versus Keith Lee in last year’s Battle of Los Angeles. ****
Trent Seven (vegan!) & Tyler Bate (vegan!) Backstage Moustache Mountain vs Undisputed ERA is just the most charming feud imaginable for NXT. Moustache Mountain hold up their end of that pretty well here, but it’s not the most memorable segment. ***1/4
EC3 vs Johnny Gargano Kind of a weird rhythm with how EC3 came out before the previous match had cleared out, plus the explosive start to this one. Even though this was just a TV match, I also feel like it could have used a hair more of pre-match build. Finally, EC3 is so much bigger than Gargano that it’s just impossible to ignore the disparity there. Regardless of those issues, the action was good and there’s some interesting (if overstated) character stuff going on with Gargano (even if I’m not sure it’s a good direction). ***1/2
Keep up with posts as they’re published by staying in touch via social media: