What went right/wrong on the Jan. 18 episode of NXT 2.0

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These days, watching an episode of NXT 2.0 requires you to channel Andre 3000 at the start of the OutKast song “The Whole World” by taking a deep breath before saying “Okay, here we go” and settling in.

This two-hour throwback to the early-to-mid ’90s is like that box of chocolates Forrest Gump used to talk about: You never know what you’re gonna get. Sometimes, NXT turns out to be a pretty good show. Other times…well, let’s just it’s not for everyone, which is fine.

In that spirit, it’s time to discuss the elements of this week’s show that worked and the ones that didn’t. To be clear, there were A LOT of things that misfired in this episode, but not everything.

These are the top things that went right AND wrong on the Jan. 18 episode of NXT 2.0.

Right: Roderick Strong vs. WALTER

If nothing else, NXT 2.0 treated fans to a spectacular main event between Diamond Mine’s Roderick Strong and Imperium’s WALTER. Once the opening bell rang, the two proceeded to beat the hell out of each other for the next 12 minutes, which should come as no surprise given the reputations these two hold.

Unlike most other things on the show, this match highlighted how effective matches (and segments) can be when a promotion keeps things simple. Unfortunately, though, the good vibes would screech to a halt after WALTER defeated Strong with his patented powerbomb because…

Wrong: WALTER changes his name to GUNTHER

Yesterday afternoon, news spread of WWE filing a trademark for the name “Gunther Stark”. Of course, it didn’t take long for people to look up the name and discover that it belonged to a Nazi U-Boat commander from World War II, the sort of naming mistake that WWE seems to screw up more often than it should (even with the name connection likely being a coincidence).

It gets worse, as it didn’t take long to find out who WWE trademarked the name for. After beating Roderick Strong in the main event WALTER (or the man everyone knows as WALTER) grabbed a microphone and corrected the ring announcer who declared him as the winner by saying “The winner of this match is GUNTHER!”

With that sentence, wrestling fans’ worst fears for the former NXT UK Champion had been realized. Making matters even worse, it now leads to this optic: WWE has a stable of wrestlers who aim to “purify” the sacred sport of wrestling being led by an Austrian man with the same first name as a Nazi soldier. Yeah, that won’t create any problems going forward (to be clear, it probably will).

Also, it’s another case of WWE believing that it needs to add its not-so-Midas touch to something that was already over with its viewing audience.

Wrong: Too many distraction/interference finishes

Did Vince McMahon/Bruce Pritchard/anyone on the creative team watch last week’s AEW: Dynamite and think “ah, THAT’S what this show needs: More wonky finishes”? If so, it would explain why all but three matches ended with some sort of outside interference or distraction (and one of those three still had shenanigans to set up the babyface hope spot).

You could argue that such a finish was justified in the Grayson Waller vs. Dexter Lumis match since it was a means to introduce Waller’s insurance policy/heater, but the other instance felt like WWE’s familiar “let’s use a distraction to ‘protect’ the loser in defeat”, which often only makes the winners look like flukes and the losers look like idiots.

It also makes moments like Waller getting a new bodyguard stand out less, as it just becomes another bad finish on the show instead of a memorable moment.

Wrong: Another romance angle

Most romance angles in wrestling aren’t for me, but for everyone else, your mileage may vary (how we look at this stuff is subjective, after all). But WWE is clearly trying to shoehorn these onto the show in an attempt to replicate the Indi Hartwell/Dexter Lumis angle from last year while missing what made that story work with so many people in the first place.

(It’s also an attempt to re-do the Mandy Rose/Otis stuff from 2020, but, again, there was a certain charm to that story that connected with the audience).

Next. WWE: Beth Phoenix should get one more run at the top of the division. dark

This week, WWE tried to spark something with Kayden Carter and Brooks Jensen as a continuation of Carter and Kacy Catanzaro’s past hangouts with Jensen and Josh Briggs. There are likely some folks who enjoy this (back to that subjectivity), but the lack of chemistry between these four combined with witch the recency of other romance stories make this come across as less-than-organic. Just focus on making these two duos great tag teams in their respective divisions.