WWE NXT Battleground 2024 : 3 Things We Hated And 3 Things We Loved

Welcome to Rllegends's annual review of "WWE NXT" Battleground, the latest premium live event to feature the stars of WWE's developmental brand — and these days, also the stars of TNA Wrestling! With the recent shocking arrivals of TNA Knockouts World Champion Jordynne Grace and former AEW star Ethan Page, there was more attention on this show than there would be for your typical "NXT" PLE, and it gave the WINC staff plenty of things to form opinions about. We couldn't quite cover everything (and also, pretty much everyone's feeling about the Oba Femi match could be summed up with "Oba Femi rules," so that wasn't really worth a full write-up) but we're covering very nearly everything, and you can catch up on whatever you missed via our Battleground results page.

So, did Grace's and Page's championship matches with Roxanne Perez and Trick Williams, respectively, live up to the hype? Did NXT Underground prove to be the ideal setting for Lola Vice vs. Shayna Baszler? And most importantly, did six "NXT" women really get through a championship ladder match spotfest without anyone getting injured? Here are three things we hated and three things we loved about "WWE NXT" Battleground 2024.

Loved: Women's wrestling rules the roost (again) in NXT

Battleground was split evenly between men's and women's matches, and once again, the "NXT" women's division (with a little help from TNA) proved that it's still the star of the show in WWE developmental. Not only were two of the men's matches pretty clearly the worst of the evening (we'll get to both in short order), but the NXT Women's Championship match between Roxanne Perez and TNA Knockouts Champion Jordynne Grace was pretty clearly the best, and the other two women's were tons of fun in radically different ways. Add to that the fact that Kelani Jordan is a more-than deserving inaugural Women's North American Champion and Lola Vice's star continues to rise, and the only thing preventing the women from a clean sweep at Battleground is the undeniable fact of Oba Femi's awesomeness.

What stood out most to me, though, is just the depth the division still has right now, even after losing Tiffany Stratton, Kiana James, and Lyra Valkyria to the main roster. There wasn't a single woman in the North American title ladder match who felt like she didn't belong there, and they all got the chance to shine. You've also got Tatum Paxley still dancing around being her insane self (possibly in TNA at some point?) and the likes of Thea Hail, Jacy Jayne, and Wren Sinclair in the reserves, while Cora Jade, Gigi Dolin, and others heal up from injuries. It's a pretty amazing list of talent, and that's before throwing in Grace and potentially other members of a similarly deep women's division in TNA. Oh, and Giulia is supposedly arriving, someday.

It's only appropriate that the brand that started the real women' revolution in WWE is now the stage for an extraordinarily talented group of performers who now have a singles midcard title to fight over (something that's almost unprecedented in mainstream American wrestling) and something at least vaguely resembling equal TV and match time to the men. It's pretty cool to see.

Now bring the NXT Women's Tag Team Championship back, cowards.

Written by Miles Schneiderman

Hated: A waste of a title defense

Axiom and Nathan Frazer, the team that dethroned the dominant Wolf Dogs duo of Baron Corbin and Bron Breakker, defended their NXT Tag Team Championship against the Good Brothers during Battleground. But when all was said and done, it did little to truly cement either team as worthy champion nor challenger. Unfortunately for this match in particular, it was also surrounded by a really enjoyable card of wrestling and it just seemed to be a match that existed to fill time. There were plenty of moves being delivered, but very little impact or story behind them, and Gallows and Anderson's offense in particular felt asphyxiating to watch.

As the old verbiage goes, styles make fights, and it's unfathomable how the decision was made to put the slow, limbering, one might even say lazy style of the Good Brothers, alongside the pairing of high-flying champions with the idea that they would mesh well. Ultimately, Axiom and Frazer retained their titles in a match that will just pad the stats pertaining to this reign. Here's hoping that the feud with the tag champs has come to an end for the Good Brothers, so they can resume their best work behind a heel AJ Styles on "WWE SmackDown."

Written by Max Everett

Loved: Baszler and Vice pull off a solid scrap

Gimmick matches can be tricky. Especially those that are relatively new. NXT Underground matches, as the offshoot stepchild of the desperation that was Raw Underground during the pandemic, have had a checkered history thus far. So tonight, with Shayna Baszler and Lola Vice squaring off for the first Underground match at a premium live event, at the UFC Apex mind you, the pressure to execute was higher than ever before. And in the end, it worked. Each of the former professional mixed martial artists executed and entertained as best they could and the match itself came across in turn, which was no sure thing coming in.

The presentation was everything it should have been, with each competitor making her way to the ring in a gi, donning the customary open finger gloves, mouthpieces in place, and ready to start banging, which is exactly what they did. Baszler and Vice stood toe-to-toe and threw hands right out the gate and successfully blended the worlds of MMA and professional wrestling masterfully. Keeping both women looking strong, with Baszler both dealing with a knee injury and losing her cool in attacking the lumberjack-esque men and women surrounding the ring, while Vice ended up getting the finish in conventional combat sport style; a TKO that saw Baszler believably sell it by latching onto the referee's leg, as if she was knocked loopy and wasn't sure if the fight was still going on or not, as MMA fans have seen time and time again in cage fights for the longest time.

It's nice to mix up these matches from time to time and the Underground style seems like it still has some legs under it. None of this is to say it was perfect, my cup of tea exactly, or anything I expect to see take more prominence in WWE or elsewhere, but this one worked. And the effort and execution therein should be appreciated.

Written by Jon Jordan

Hated: TN ... Eh?

For all the excitement across the wrestling world since TNA Knockouts Champion Jordynne Grace showed up to challenge Roxanne Perez for the NXT Women's Championship, indicating a partnership between TNA and WWE, even though it was probably unreasonable to expect much in the way of deeper TNA involvement at Battleground tonight, I think it's fair to say that a decent amount of people expected at least a tease of another Knockout, or TNA World Champion Moose, or the internet's new darling Joe Hendry. But what we ended up getting was ... Dana Brooke?

Look, I'm not here to be mean, and I know that the former Brooke/now TNA's Ash By Elegance took all kinds of abuse and bad vibes during her WWE run. I never even had anything against her then, not even during the 24/7 Championship nonsense, and I was excited to see her get some new life following her WWE release. But if we're going to bring anyone else in during the first sort of, kind of WWE/TNA hybrid experience, THAT'S who we go with? I mean, even Vic Joseph's way of explaining/reminding us who it was thwarting Tatum Paxley's attempt to steal Grace's title was awkward as f***. "That's Dana ... I mean, TNA wrestler Ash By Elegance!" Huh?

Worst of all, the crowd didn't care at all, which, maybe that would have been different if this had taken place in Orlando and not Las Vegas (but I doubt it). And overall, it contributed to the flat ending of an otherwise phenomenal NXT Women's Championship match. Of course, I know what they're doing. We'll surely see Paxley, Grace, By Elegance (WTF did I just write?), and maybe even Perez mix it up come Tuesday, or at a TNA show soon enough, but have we already broken the space-time continuum with Dana By Brookegance here? Could we not have picked someone else from over there instead of a WWE rehash? At least that would buy some time, if we're really gonna do this thing all the way, before it has to be figured out how to deal with a Dolph Nemeth, a Brian Hawkins, a Steph De Pirotta, or a Mustafa Ali (okay, that one's easy).

All in all, this match was beyond great, so plenty can be forgiven. But the surprise return(ish) of Ash ... Brooke ... whoever ... fell flat, and that sparks some suspicion as to how well this cross-promotional endeavor may fare in the long run.

Written by Jon Joran

Loved: A Battleground angle for the Knockouts

While Jordynne Grace and Roxanne Perez decided to blow the roof of the UFC Apex tonight over the NXT Women's Championship, Tatum Paxley emerged, and it was clear she had gold in her gaze. What turned out to be a bit of a twist, however, was the title she zeroed in on.

Going into Sunday night, there had been some concerns over what TNA would be getting out of a potential working relationship with WWE, and rightly so considering the way things have typically transpired when WWE tries to play with others. But amidst the amazing title defense that was staged, showcasing TNA's top female talent as a credible threat to the two-time NXT Women's Champion, was a small promise that TNA will be getting its own angle out of this.

I can see no other reason for the involvement of Paxley, and later the semi-return of Dana Br — Ash By Elegance, in an altercation over the TNA Knockouts title, if there isn't an intent to follow up on that somehow. Perez had already talked up the idea of a rematch with Grace in TNA, and a number of "NXT" talent have reportedly stated they want the relationship to continue and expand. At the very least, there was a tangible level of respect for TNA from WWE's side, which would have been considered impossible a decade ago.

Written by Max Everett

Hated: The lightning escapes the bottle

Please correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't think anybody in the world came into Battleground thinking "Man, I am really excited to see Trick Williams and Ethan Page have a normal-ass wrestling match." So much of the drama in the title contest came from outside players, specifically Meta-Four, who appear to be out for Page's blood after he revealed he's the one who's been attacking them backstage — Oro Mensah even attacked Page at his hotel ahead of Battleground. Would Meta-Four get their revenge on Page during the title match? What about Williams' romantic relationship with Meta-Four member Lash Legend, would that come into play? Would she play a role in saving Trick, or would she perhaps betray him? Could it be possible that Meta-Four would somehow end up siding with Page, maybe even helping him win the title?

There were any number of possibilities, and "NXT" booker Shawn Michaels chose ... none of them. Nobody interfered. None of the aforementioned set-up was paid off in any way. Aside from Legend's participation in the show-opening ladder match, Meta-Four didn't appear in any way on the broadcast. Instead, Williams and Page wrestled, and Williams won clean. In short, the most boring possible option, and a finish that just doesn't make sense within the context of the story being told.

Beyond the Meta-Four thing, this was also a real golden opportunity for "NXT" to do something unexpected and give Page the title. It would have justified his immediate championship push and made him a formidable "NXT" star overnight while giving Williams something to chase, which babyfaces usually need. Personally I really thought Legend and Meta-Four were going to turn on Trick and hand Page the title, giving Trick a heel stable to overcome and a romantic betrayal to deal with from a character standpoint, but it didn't have to go down that specific way. Maybe Page would just cheat to win, or Legend would help him accidentally, or one of the dudes from TNA would show up at the end, I don't know. Just something to keep the interest up, as opposed to what we got, which was nothing.

"NXT" is coming off a really good ratings performance, and that's pretty much entirely because of the intrigue surrounding the TNA crossover and the arrival of Page. You'd think that would have somehow informed Battleground; instead, the only extra TNA involvement we got was from Ash by Elegance, who literally worked here not even a year ago, and instead of doing something bold and exciting in his first WWE match, Page had a clunker of a main event with Williams and then lost clean, and it feels like he's already dead in the water. Great job, everyone. Booker of the year.

Written by Miles Schneiderman