What went right/wrong on the Dec. 21 episode of NXT 2.0

TOKYO,JAPAN - JUNE 29: AJ Styles looks on during the WWE Live Tokyo at Ryogoku Kokugikan on June 29, 2019 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Etsuo Hara/Getty Images)
TOKYO,JAPAN - JUNE 29: AJ Styles looks on during the WWE Live Tokyo at Ryogoku Kokugikan on June 29, 2019 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Etsuo Hara/Getty Images) /

As we inch closer to NXT 2.0’s New Year’s Evil special in January, this week’s episode of WWE’s developmental show began formulating what that card will look like. In addition, WWE gave the audience a bit of a treat on this week’s telecast: an appearance by AJ Styles.

As has become the custom with these episodes of NXT 2.0, we saw a mix of good and bad on this show. Let’s take some time to take about both ends of that quality spectrum.

These are the things that went right and wrong on the Dec. 21 episode of NXT 2.0.

Right: Dakota Kai vs. Raquel Gonzalez in a street fight

These two bitter rivals kicked off the in-ring action on NXT 2.0, through their individual skills and in-ring chemistry, they put together a good street fight that matched the tenor of the feud. Having Raquel Gonzalez and Dakota Kai start the match backstage before they made it to the ring also added to the chaotic vibes that are usually associated with these sorts of matches.

Kai and Gonzalez utilized plenty of unique and vicious-looking spots — including a Kai double stomp from the apron to the floor with Gonzalez’s head and torso stuck in a trash can (fitting) — before the former NXT Women’s Champion ended things with a powerbomb into another trash can.

Now that this feud is over, it looks like Raquel begin her chase to regain the NXT Women’s Championship. As for Kai…who knows? Optimally, WWE would figure out a way to turn her babyface, but they’ll probably stick her in a feud with Kay Lee Ray since they both have “unhinged” gimmicks.

Wrong: Constant mid-match interruptions

While the main roster booking tropes don’t pop up quite as much in NXT 2.0, they’re still an unwelcome sight when they do, especially when they get booked in more than one match or segment.

This week, for example, two matches — Io Shirai vs. Elektra Lopez and The Creed Brothers vs. Grizzled Young Veterans — featured contrived mid-match interruptions that were at one point a weekly occurrence on either Raw or SmackDown. Worse yet, the interruptions in the tag match led to a no-contest and a brawl between all the teams that weren’t named Imperium, Legado Del Fantasma, or MSK.

It goes without saying that this didn’t help any of those teams stand out, and the Xyon Quinn interruption/interference that helped Shirai beat Lopez created the same issues that these sorts of finishes always do: it made Lopez look silly for getting so easily distracted (and for so long) and Shirai only winning because of said distraction didn’t make her look better.

Right: Tommaso Ciampa and Bron Breakker

Before getting to Ciampa and Breakker, could WWE stop with the lampshade hanging, as we saw when Ciampa acknowledged that he might get interrupted during his show-opening promo? It ceases to be a shrewd moment of self-awareness if you continue to book the same bad plot devices; instead, it becomes an example of your laziness.

Anyhow, the opening segment between Ciampa and Breakker effectively continued the “seasoned main eventer vs. unexperienced upstart” conflict between these two, and the moment when Breakker pressed Ciampa over his head in response to Ciampa slapping him put over his physical advantages over Ciampa while establishing that Ciampa doesn’t have Breakker as figured out as he thinks he does.

Wrong: Von Wagner loses via rollup

In his first match since getting the big rub from Kyle O’Reilly, WWE followed up with Von Wagner by having him get rolled up and pinned by Edris Enofe, a man with zero wins in NXT beforehand. He then beat up Enofe after the match to ensure that no one got over in the end. You can’t make this up.

It’s nice that Enofe got the win, and WWE will probably book Wagner to go on a tear after this (particularly if he links up with Robert Stone), but why go in with the mindset of repairing someone later when you could just avoid doing the damage, to begin with?

Wagner getting so distracted by Robert Stone merely standing at ringside and watching his match undercuts the monster heel aura that WWE is trying to build for him, and it’s not like he’s gonna get his heat back on the microphone after such a loss (also, he doesn’t have enough credibility to make the latter work anyway).

Next. NXT: Unifying the Cruiserweight and North American Titles hurts the roster. dark

Just keep it simple and give the guy clean wins.