A.J. Styles (photo credit Ben Tucker © PWTorch)
The OC attacks Undisputed Era, Ciampa Lee, and Riddle respond – HIT: I’m gonna say this once and get it out of the way. I hate November and the build to Survivor Series these past few years since the brand split. All the storylines stop for some contrived brand supremacy angle, and it really kills a lot of the momentum that some of the wrestlers have. That said if they are going to do it, then this was a great way to kick off an OC invasion of NXT. Ciampa looked like such a star here compared to AJ, Gallows and Anderson who are big stars in their own rights. Lee/Riddle is my favorite oddball pairing of the month, so entertaining together. Add Ciampa to the mix, and you get an incredibly oddball trio (Yes, I know they are the WarGames team. But it’s still an odd trio. I love it anyway). Notable that this is the first appearance of any of the three OC members on NXT television.
Pete Dunne vs. Damian Priest – HIT: How cool is Damian Priest’s entrance? The Archer of Infamy might be a rather strange moniker, but I’m digging just about everything about this character. Mid match, there was a ticker at the bottom of the screen with BREAKING NEWS, touting the main event which I thought was a cool touch. Other than to promote upcoming shows, I can’t recall a time where a ticker has been used to promote an upcoming match. Nice touch. The match itself was not as good as their first showing, and most of it was sullied by commercial breaks. Still, it was a very enjoyable and entertaining match. When Dain interfered, I expected Bate to make the save for Dunne and we’d see Priest and Dain team up. But, apparently it looks like we’re heading towards a triple threat match, possibly at WarGames.
Taynara vs. Santana Garrett – MISS: I hate giving this match a miss. Taynara deserved a televised win (finally) and has certainly improved in-ring. Garrett is an already well-polished talent stemming from the indies and other promotions. Something about this match was off. The match looked too crisp, too rehearsed, in spots which really took me out of the moment. There were also some timing miscues throughout that looked a bit sloppy. I’m glad Taynara got the win and excited to see what Garrett will bring to the NXT Women’s division, but it just seemed like they didn’t click once they touched. I think on an indie show, or NXT house show, this match would have been fine. But it wasn’t up the caliber that we expect out of the NXT product, at least as far as I’m concerned.
Survivor Series Raw vs. SD vs. NXT video package – PASS: I’m not going to rate this a hit or a miss, because there wasn’t a whole lot a substance to this other than laying out the Survivor Series card. But I did notice something that I forgot to mention on PWT Talks NXT during this video package. They showed match graphics for the champion vs. champion vs. champion matches and it really stood out to me just how much like toys the WWE titles look like in comparison to all the NXT titles. I’m excluding the Cruiserweight title, because up until a few weeks ago – it was a main roster belt. Especially the tag titles, in my opinion.
Dakota Kai vs. Shayna Baszler – HIT: This was an incredible showing by Dakota Kai. The amount of heart that she brought to the ring in this match was second to none. She got in credible offense against Shayna quite often throughout and really drove home why she wasn’t a wasted pick for WarGames. I expected the Bazsler win, but man I was rooting for Kai to upset. The run-in from all of the other Women’s WarGames contenders and Mia Yim was a great little brawl to promote the match at WarGames as well. With Yim officially being chosen as the 4th teammate, the somewhat telegraphed Kai heel turn seems to be just around the corner.
Tony Nese vs. Angel Garza – HIT: I was listening to ARN, Arn Anderson’s new podcast yesterday. It was an older episode, but he talked about what it means to have “it”. You want a great look, great charisma and to be a workhorse in the ring. Angel Garza has that “it” factor. He plays the perfect tweener. He can get the crowd 100% behind him, and he can make them hate him. His work in-ring is excellent, and he just looks like a star. PWT Talks NXT co-host, Tom Stoup said that in-person at Full Sail, it looked like Nese botched a few spots and made some of his offense look like it didn’t actually connect. That didn’t come across to me on TV, but I will defer to Tom on that one. The match itself wasn’t one of Garza’s best, but he certainly came away from this win looking like a million bucks.
Isaiah “Swerve” Scott vs. Dominik Dijakovic – HIT: I love watching Swerve get his butt whooped. Not because I want to see him lose. He just sells so incredibly well. Swerve is going to be a main event player in this company, mark my words. There is no way that talent like this stays at an “enhancement” level like this for much longer. The match seemed like filler to remind us that Swerve and Dijakovic still exist, but it was surely entertaining.
The OC vs. Riddle & Lee & Ciampa – HIT: For the first time in years, I was excited to see Gallows and Anderson in action. This match felt like something we’d see on Raw or SD, not NXT. It followed WWE’s formulaic match style and was a bit of a disappointment compared to the other main events that we’ve seen in the NXT on USA era. However, just like Swerve and Dijakovic, it was entertaining and fun to watch. I kind of expected this to be a no contest. We didn’t see UE after they were attacked, and I expected to see them come out and interfere, just as they did. I did like how Adam Cole acknowledged both the Survivor Series and Takeover storylines by coming out to save the NXT team, but then immediately destroying Ciampa. Again, if they are going to get NXT tangled up in the Survivor Series web of ridiculousness, there could be far worse ways they could go about it.
LISTEN TO OUR NXT PODCAST: For more coverage and analysis of this weeks episode of NXT, check out the PWTorch Dailycast: PWT Talks NXT. Kelly Wells, Tom Stoup, and I spent over two hours recapping not just this episode, but NXT’s involvement in Raw and Smackdown and the build to both Survivor Series and Takeover.