WWE Review: NXT TV #458-#461 (July 11 thru August 1, 2018)

TakeOver: Brooklyn is shaping up to be pretty interesting (as it typically is)…

#458

Danny Burch vs Adam Cole Totally good, but something was missing from the energy of this match. It must have been at an awkward point in the taping. ***1/2

Candice LeRae and Shayna Baszler Conversation/Pull-Apart Nothing much more interesting than the bare facts of what it was, but an effective segment all the same. ***

Dakota Kai Interview (Lacey Evans Interrupts) Kai has been given one of the more interesting character arcs of NXT in a long time, as she becomes more confident and less afraid of Baszler. I’m less interested in a program with Evans, who looks like she’s wearing a low-budget community theatre costume here.

Vanessa Borne vs Kairi Sane This match wasn’t great and it’s additionally hurt by how I feel like Borne is one of the easiest NXT TV regulars to not care about. She’s just been given almost no character development beyond “jobber heel”. Kairi has also lost a ton of momentum since the Mae Young Classic. She just hasn’t been having great matches or interesting programs.

Kairi Sane Promo Fun stuff, even if I cringe at how much Kairi is getting buried by her own gimmick, a la Tyler Breeze.

Aleister Black Walk & Talk (Interrupted by Johnny Gargano, Then Ciampa) Kind of interesting stuff for Gargano’s character, and—in his speaking here—Black comes across as way more natural than he usually does.

NXT Tag Team Championship Match: Roderick Strong & Kyle O’Reilly (Undisputed ERA) vs Tyler Bate & Trent Seven (c, Moustache Mountain, vegans!) Enthusiasm is always great, but the dueling chants through this match honestly got a little irritating and distracting. What a weird complaint to have, but it really was feeling like the crowd was more interested in themselves than they were in the match. ****1/2

#459

Dakota Kai vs Lacey Evans I didn’t like the plot of this match. It took what was a reasonably heated one-week build and smothered it in a super slow match that allowed a ton of their heat to just quietly evaporate in rest holds.

Ricochet Interview Almost stilted-feeling, but not bad. ***1/4

Street Profits Funnin’ Around Enjoyable as usual. ***

EC3: Walk & Talk & Sell & Initiate a Program With Kona Reeves Pretty good work by both to kick off a reasonably interesting feud. ***1/4

Aleister Black & Tommaso Ciampa Video Package Like in the previous episode, I think Black’s talking has improved. Ciampa is still a great performer. Good hype video overall. ***1/2

Kassius Ohno vs Rick Ramirez Even if I gave this one star for every second it lasted, I’m not sure it would total three or more.

Undisputed ERA Backstage Chat Always a delight. ***3/4

War Machine Video Package This actually seems a bit late, but it’s good to have folks get to know these guys better… even if their gimmick gets more problematic when it’s spelled out as Viking-inspired.

Velveteen Dream Video Pretty silly but in a completely fun way. ***1/2

#1 Contender Match: Nikki Cross vs Candice LeRae vs Kairi Sane Shayna Baszler added a lot on commentary here, and Nikki Cross in particular was a lot of fun in the ring. I felt like Kairi looked somewhat out of sync with Candice and Nikki in spots, though. I was a little cold on this match at first, but by the end I liked it a lot (even if the finish wasn’t my favorite). ****

#460

Adam Cole vs Sean Maluta Solid TV match with a better (probably less tired) crowd than for Cole vs Burch. Even for this match’s obvious purpose, I would have liked a little longer of a match. (Just a little. Like two minutes longer.) ***

Adam Cole & Ricochet (And More) Promo Not bad, but a little more stilted than NXT tends to be. ***

Shayna Baszler & Kairi Sane Contract Signing Good talking at first from Shayna to heat this up just that much more, but this got longwinded fast. Slight amount of stiltedness. Kairi is a bit awkward. Regal is very awkward through this.

Tenilla Price vs Lacey Evans Just okay, just a squash. Evans wiping her brow and dropping the kerchief on her opponent’s face could be a good signature thing.

Bianca Belair Promo She’s just fantastic in every way. I look forward to her being in the women’s title picture soon. ***1/2

Shayna Baszler & Candice LeRae Confrontation They both talk well as a rule. Good stuff, however brief. ***1/4

NXT Championship Match: Tommaso Ciampa vs Aleister Black (c) Really good big-match tone for this one, and some nicely textured storytelling. I think aspects of the match felt rushed, though: this could have used some more selling, in my opinion. The action in the final few minutes is pretty undeniable, even if it gets a little overbooked. And I’m usually not the first person to call something overbooked. ****1/4

#461

Tucker Knight & Otis Dozovic (Heavy Machinery) vs Nick Miller & Shane Thorne (The Mighty) I felt weirdly uninvested in this. I think they let this program cool off from NXT TV for too long, and as a result it felt very stale to me. The weird booking didn’t help things for me.

Tyler Bate & Trent Seven (Moustache Mountain, vegans!) vs Matt Knotts & Brandon Taylor Solid squash. ***

Moustache Mountain Promo Not bad but super straightforward. It’s hard for me not to want more of Trent’s funny side.

EC3 vs Kona Reeves It’s hard to find much wrong with this, but it’s not easy to take Reeves seriously as a challenger to EC3 at this point in either’s career. Also, I feel like Reeves is at risk of ripping off Ric Flair a little too much and a little too directly. Dream showing up to distract felt kind of odd to me. ***1/4

EC3 Backstage Interview Super funny in ways I really didn’t expect. ***1/2

Candice LeRae vs Shayna Baszler This was super good from both technical and storytelling perspectives. Good plot and nice heat, with some excellent wrestling throughout. One of my favorite non-title TV matches of recent memory. ****

Moustache Mountain Interview This is more like it. A little more comedy from these big strong vegan boys. And War Machine shows up, too. They’re very serious. ***1/2

Tommaso Ciampa Promo Ciampa is probably one of the best talkers in NXT right now, and that’s saying something: there’s a bunch of good talkers there right now. There’s also a great callback to an interaction with one particular fan. ****1/4

Aleister Black & Johnny Gargano Appear Interesting program brewing here, even if it risks being somewhat muddy between the Gargano/Ciampa story and the championship story.

Photos of the products in the Meatless Rib Store.

Keep up with posts as they’re published by staying in touch via social media: