Thank you, Peacock, for not taking forever and a day to get a WWE/NXT pay-per-view replay available to view on your service.
I got to watch AEW Double Or Nothing, and now, it’s time to watch NXT Battleground, just so I can then turn around and finish my regular weekly column. Busy times. Let’s not waste any more time. Say it with me…
LESS DEW EET!!!
Wes Lee vs Joe Gacy vs Tyler Bate – Triple Threat Match for the NXT North American Title
I haven’t been a fan of the build to this one. More specifically, Lee and Bate going from buddies to not-quite-buddies. I am looking forward to the match, though. The clash of in-ring styles with Lee and Bate makes for exciting matches, and Joe Gacy is also someone who is in the match.
The crowd was a lot of fun here. It’s pretty clear that there’s only around 3,000-5,000 people in attendance, so their noise level isn’t exactly WrestleMania worthy, but they were plenty animated for the match. It helps when you have Wes Lee’s exciting offense, Tyler Bate’s jaw-dropping power game, and Joe Gacy, who is also someone in the match. The match ended up being shorter than I was expecting, but nothing too crazy. They actually could’ve gone longer without any issues. I do like that they didn’t wear out their welcome, though. 3.5 Stars
Noam Dar vs Dragon Lee – British Rounds Rules Match for the NXT Heritage Cup
This is the type of match that obviously works really well in the United Kingdom. This is a big test to see if it will work in North America. Both men are very talented in the ring, but there are A LOT of rules to these things. I’m not sure if any of you non-American folks have noticed or not, but American wrestling fans have a different attention span and generally look forward to a different style of action.
It wasn’t a huge reaction, but the crowd seemed a bit confused when the first round came to an end. Perhaps they were disappointed, as it appeared Dragon Lee was on the verge of performing a crazy dive when the bell rang and he was forced to stop.
You know… I think the crowd needed a bit more assistance to figure things out. Once Noam Dar got the pin to take the second round, there was almost zero initial reaction. Eventually, they booed the heel, but it seemed like they were really confused, wondering if the match ended on a roll-up after a minute.
Messy botch in the fifth round. Dar was standing on the apron, and Dragon Lee jumped over the top rope for what looked like a Hurricanrana attempt, but he didn’t catch much of anything, and he just fell to the ground on his upper back. Dar tried his best to make it look like he reversed it into a powerbomb, but it was a clear botch. Lee was really close to landing on his neck. He got lucky there.
I’m still not really sure if this type of match is going to be a success in NXT. Fans just seemed confused at the end of every round. The in-ring action itself was fine, minus the aforementioned botch. It was nothing special, but nothing offensive, either. 2.75 Stars. I will say this, though… the new stable of Dar, Oro Mensah, Lash Legend, and Jakara Jackson could not make me any less excited.
Ilja Dragunov vs Dijak – Last Man Standing Match
Here’s another match that has had a bit of a weird build. I like the fact that these two have defined the term “on sight” when it comes to a rivalry, as they will brawl whenever they lay eyes on one another. What I enjoyed less was the weird, quasi-BDSM aspect to things, with Dragunov saying that pain makes him feel alive and Dijak wanting to dish out as much pain as possible to “break” Dragunov and make him “immortal.”
This was absolutely brutal. Almost uncomfortably so at times. They beat the fucking shit out of each other for over 15 minutes. Dragunov legitimately looks like he has been through rounds of torture. He has gnarly bruises and welts all over his arms, chest, stomach, legs, and back. He is bleeding from a cut to his chin. Goodness gracious. Props to both men for what they put themselves through here. So much fun. Both men deserve to be pushed up the card after this. 4.25 Stars
Gallus vs The Creed Brothers – NXT Tag Team Title Match
Early on, it seems like the crowd is a little exhausted after that last match. It doesn’t help that Gallus, as good as they are, still haven’t really made any real connection with NXT crowds. This could be a good spot for a title change and a division reset, as the Creeds in-ring style continues to pop crowds.
I don’t think the match quite reached the ten-minute mark, but it was fun while it lasted. Four big boys looking to throw their opponents around. Lots to enjoy there. 3.5 Stars
Lyra Valkyria vs Tiffany Stratton – Tournament Final for the vacant NXT Women’s Title
After her first or second match, I declared Tiffany Stratton was the “next Bianca Belair” based on their athletic backgrounds and how quickly they learned the sport of pro wrestling. She has all the potential in the world to be a major star, and this is her first real shot to prove it.
The crowd doesn’t quite know what to do here. Valkyria is the face, but she’s also pretty new to NXT, only wrestling a handful of matches since coming over from NXT UK. That means, like Gallus, she hasn’t really made a connection with NXT fans. Meanwhile, Stratton is the heel, but she has been around long enough to make that connection, and she seems to be an internet favorite. Tiffany definitely got a much bigger face reaction during the match introduction, that’s for sure.
The match was a lot better than I was expecting. I didn’t think it would suck, but it ended up being really good. There were some slow points as the focus was more on Valkyria’s “injury” than anything else, but the action got better as the match went on. While we’re discussing Valkyria being injured, that would be my one complaint here. She isn’t exactly what I would refer to as a masterful seller when it comes to playing hurt. A lot of her selling comes across as exactly what it is… someone pretending to be injured when they’re really not. If she can improve in that area, she has the capability to be great in the future. 4 Stars
Carmelo Hayes vs Bron Breakker – NXT Title Match
We’re a month after the 2023 WWE Draft, and I’m still shocked to see both of these men in NXT.
I don’t like the forced narrative of Melo being a “Boston guy” and returning home for this show. Yes, the man is from a Boston suburb, but the connection isn’t quite the same. We’re not talking about CM Punk in Chicago here. This isn’t Sami Zayn returning to Montreal. It isn’t even John Cena in Boston. The whole thing, as I said, is too forced and isn’t coming across as natural. Melo is getting a good reaction here. That’s fine and all. His reaction isn’t much better than it is in Florida since his face turn, though. He’s popular, period, but he hasn’t yet become a “hometown guy” yet. Give it time.
Nobody delivers a Spear like Bron Breakker, and nobody sells a Spear like Carmelo Hayes. When you combine those facts, you have a thing of beauty. Melo is out of his mind.
These two wrestling each other is so weird to me. Their matches are good. Really good, even. They just don’t quite reach the level of great. Bron has had better matches with other people, and the same can be said for Melo. It’s not that they don’t have chemistry or anything. We just see things like that in wrestling from time-to-time. I would like to see both of them move on to other things now, though. It’s time. 3.5 Stars
Overall, this was a pretty good show. Two matches that are fighting for Match Of The Weekend status, and the rest of the card was at least decent. Ultimately, it will probably be a show we forget about in a few weeks or so, but for now, I’ll take it.
Now, let me go ahead and finish my regular weekly column to wrap up my busy Memorial Day weekend.