By Graham "GSM" Matthews
Johnny Gargano def. Elias Sampson
Kicking off the show with Sampson? Whose bright idea was that? The match, much like The Drifter, did nothing for me, but at least Gargano was able make it somewhat interesting. It still shocks me that he has yet to be signed to a full-time contract to NXT, but I guess WWE's deal with EVOLVE doesn't make that necessary. Gargano winning was a pleasant surprise, though I'm not at all excited at the idea of a Sampson vs. Apollo Crews feud. Crews deserves so much better than that.
WWE NXT Champion Finn Balor def. Rich Swann (Non-title)
I have heard complaints from fans in recent months that for as great as Balor is, he has yet to evolve, but I would argue against that following this match. It was quite clear Swann was the intended babyface here and Balor worked more of a heel style than usual. I don't know if that's a sign of things to come or what, but it was definitely worth nothing. Swann certainly has in-ring potential and I'd like to see him utilized more than just as an enhancement talent in the future.
Alexa Bliss def. Sarah Dobson
Bliss worked a random singles match during the UCF tapings as well, leading me to believe that there are plans to break her off on her own sooner rather than later. I'm in full favor of that, and if nothing else, Blake and Murphy can continue to accompany her to the ring. It just shouldn't be the other way around. The match was ultimately nothing special and Dobson didn't impress me whatsoever in the brief outing she had. Bliss, however, continues to improve as a worker.
Bull Dempsey vs. Danny Burch Went to a No Contest
Full Sail University got it right when they chanted "Thank you, Joe!" We dodged a major bullet by not getting this match. I can't believe it's been almost two months since Dempsey was released from NXT and he's still making on-air appearances. I give TNA crap all the time for taping so far in advance, so it's only fair I give NXT the same crap when situations such as this occur. Anyways, Joe looked dominant in destroying both men and built good momentum for his pending NXT Championship match against Balor.
Asuka def. Emma
Although this wasn't on the same level as their clash from NXT TakeOver: London, it was quite good and both women put forth an excellent effort. I was happy that it was properly slotted in the main event and they more than made the most of the opportunity. Emma is so awesome in her heel role and I hope she finds success now that she has since returned to the main roster. As for Asuka, I'm highly anticipating her upcoming match with Bayley in Dallas. That should be something special, to say the least.
This was a middle-of-the-road show on the whole with a well-wrestled main event and a fun Finn Balor match. The rest was fine for what it was, but the video package focusing on American Alpha stood out to me the most. Absolutely fantastic. This should have been a hotter show with TakeOver just a little over one week away, but thankfully, the card is so strong that these shows can afford to be merely mediocre.
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