Don't worry, guys! We got through the first episode of NXT 2.0 without the world ending. Now, that I got my obvious sarcasm opening out of the way let's talk about NXT 2.0.
The first thing I want to note before we start this list in earnest is that for the most part enjoyed what we got out of the former black and gold brand last week. The show flowed pretty well, we got to see some talents get highlighted, and even the wedding went off without an issue. Honestly, we all should've expected exactly the kind of show that we got. You can change the stage, the color scheme, the narrative focus, but at the end of the day, it was still going to be a wrestling show.
Still, we have only seen one episode of NXT 2.0. There is a lot of time for the things that we liked to go sour and the things that we disliked could get better. So, let's dive right in and look at 3 things we liked and 2 we disliked about NXT 2.0.
Like: Bron Breakker
Look, when the worst that anyone can say about you is that they prefer the name "Rex Steiner" over Bron Breakker, you have made an impact.
Breakker in just one match and 2 segments has already proven to be a major player in NXT's future. His match against LA Knight showed off his fantastic work in the ring, and his intensity against Ciampa at the end of the episode proved that he can be the guy.
I see this guy getting pushed to the moon and back, and with what we have seen so far I am impressed.
Disliked: "Superstars of Tomorrow"
This is a small gripe but it could be the beginning of something huge. During the broadcast last week Vic Joseph called NXT the show where you can see "The Superstars of tomorrow, today!".
This feels like a step back for the show that spent the last two years demanding respect as a third brand on WWE. It was made clear to those watching that the wrestlers you see on NXT are not WWE Superstars, they are the superstars of tomorrow.
NXT is back to being developmental it seems and that rubs me the wrong way. NXT is where new superstars get started, but guys like Johnny Gargano, Tommaso Ciampa, and women like Io Shirai and Candice LeRae are all clearly superstars. Even newer acts like Hit Row are clearly doing some of the best work in the business, but they are getting referred to as the stars of tomorrow for some reason.
Now, this could be remedied in the future, but as of last week, NXT is no longer a full third brand.
Like: Ciampa and Goldie
Last Tuesday morning, I would've told you that Ciampa winning the title would've been my dream outcome but there was no way it was happening. I am so glad to be wrong!
Ciampa and Goldie are reunited and we should all celebrate it! To me it feels like Ciampa is being put into the spot of having to pass the torch to the next generation that Samoa Joe was set for until he had to vacate the belt. I don't predict a very long title run for Ciampa, but I think we can all cherish it while it lasts.
Tomasso Ciampa is a great guy to lead NXT into this new era. He represents the old guard of NXT, but he has also been able to make subtle changes to his character over the years and get himself over. He will adjust again to help ease the transition for long-term fans.
NXT made the right call here!
Dislike: A Lack of Focus on Women's Titles
This isn't to say that the women's division got pushed to the side on NXT 2.0's first episode. B Fab from Hit Row had her first official match, Mandy Rose debuted a new look and her new group, Toxic Attraction, was made official. But we didn't see anything from women's champion Raquel Gonzalez and the only appearance from women's tag champions Io Shirai and Zoey Stark was in the crowd at the wedding.
NXT still has one of the best women's divisions in the business, but if both sets of titles can get bumped for some squash matches (no matter how great) that isn't a great sign for the division.
Maybe this week will bring us a much more female-focused episode, but NXT will have some work to do before they can claim that these belts are as important to creative as the men's equivalents.
Like: New Set
The former capitol wrestling center got yet another makeover last week and it is probably the best improvement yet. The CWC served its purpose during the pandemic and was perhaps my favorite set blending the best elements of small audiences and the Thunderdome, but it was time for a change. With Raw and SmackDown both going back to touring and live crowds, the CWC's dark audience felt out of date almost immediately.
Being able to see the audience in the setup that blends the best elements of an arena audience, a studio, and theater in the round is incredible.
This new set, along with smaller production changes made for the show to feel fresh and new all while featuring both new and old talents. These changes make me feel the most secure in the future of NXT.
What do you think? Has NXT 2.0 won you over? Are you done with NXT after last week? Do you need to watch another episode? Let me know by tweeting at me @robbydeshazer!
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