By Graham "GSM" Matthews
NXT General Manager William Regal and Solomon Crowe Interrupted NXT Champion Kevin Owens
Can we all just take a second to admire Owens' incredible mic skills? The dude's absolute gold on the stick and he covered all of his bases here including his attack on Sami Zayn, being accused of ambushing Hideo Itami, Samoa Joe's debut and last but not least, his upcoming match with John Cena at Elimination Chamber. Regal is great in his role of the general manager as well in that he's not all over the show, but when he does appear, he's effective and only enhances the segments he's in with his exceptional promo ability. Furthermore, it was cool to see Crowe, who has been overlooked for the most part since arriving in NXT, get thrown into the mix and finally say more than just a line or two. It's weird how much I despise long talking segments at the start of wrestling shows on the main roster, yet they're always done well in NXT.
Emma def. Bayley
I've been pleasantly surprised by how well Emma is coming along as a heel. I honestly didn't think it would work considering how great she was as a babyface, but since her main roster run bombed, turning her heel was the only logical move to make in order for her to rejuvenate her character and her career. Speaking of great babyfaces, Bayley is just that and I enjoyed the dynamic she had with Emma. This wasn't a sensational women's match by any means, but still a step above anything you'll see on Raw or SmackDown from the ladies. The clean win for Emma was a bit shocking (I thought Dana Brooke would factor into the finish somehow), but it gave the Australian Diva a much needed victory. Charlotte coming out to save Emma from the attack only to get laid out herself furthered her feud with Brooke as well.
NXT Tag Team Champions Blake and Murphy def. Elias Sampson and Mike Rawlis (Non-title Match)
This was a sad reminder how depleted the tag team division in NXT is at the moment, but a nice win for the tag champs, nevertheless. The match went on a few minutes longer than it should have considering it was a simple squash, but at least Blake and Murphy are coming out of these bouts looking strong. I like the tandem, but as I've said before, they need to show more character development and I definitely think the addition of Alexa Bliss to the act can help with that. If she's the new official mouthpiece for them going forward, then tremendous. Speaking of tag teams, it was hinted at that we get the official debut of the Shoot Nation soon. I read somewhere recently that they were done, but I surely hope not because they can only add to the division.
Finn Balor def. Tye Dillinger
You could have just watched this match solely for Balor's entrance and I wouldn't have faulted you one bit. That will never cease to amaze me. Anyway, the match allowed Balor to showcase his skills and score a good win, bu that's about all it accomplished. I would have been fine if Balor's opponent was anyone else, but Dillinger is grossly underutilized. I heard he had the chance to shine at some recent NXT live events. Why not bring that gimmick to NXT TV instead of utilizing him as an enhancement talent?
NXT Champion Kevin Owens def. Solomon Crowe (Non-title)
Although I was slightly surprised by how one-sided this was in favor of Owens, I think it worked to both men's benefit. Owens continued to establish his dominance and ruthlessness while Crowe showed great fire as an underdog babyface and sold very well for Owens' offense. It's all about the aftermath with him as I hope he is featured as prominently going forward and this wasn't just a one-off for him. Samoa Joe coming down and teasing physical interaction with Owens was simple and effective. If they wait long enough to deliver on that, it'll mean more and Full Sail University will come unglued.
While this wasn't the red-hot follow-up show to NXT TakeOver: Unstoppable that I thought it would be, but I still enjoyed it for what it was. Simply put, it was the "Kevin Owens Show" this week as the opening segment was excellent and the main event felt fresh. Everything else in between, while not bad, wasn't too noteworthy, but I get the feeling that we'll know more about what the future holds starting next week or the week after.
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