Drew McIntyre def. Dolph Ziggler in a Steel Cage Match
I still have no idea whether's Ziggler is supposed to be a babyface, a heel or a tweener, but regardless, he and McIntyre have strong chemistry together. I couldn't believe that it's been nearly a year since a Steel Cage match was held on Raw, so that was an interesting stat. It was an entertaining affair and I liked the story they told with Ziggler giving it all he had before finally falling short. McIntyre was ruthless and completely dominant here, which was great to see. He has to lead the list of potential Royal Rumble winners for this coming year.
Triple H Confronted Seth Rollins
Apparently WWE is serious about doing away with the automatic rematch clause for former champions, which has been a thing in the company for as long as I can remember. I'm sure we'll get a Dean Ambrose vs. Rollins rematch eventually, but Rollins will first have to earn his shot. At any rate, this was a strong segment with very good mic work from both men. Since Rollins brought up Brock Lesnar several times, I assume he'll factor into the finish of the Royal Rumble match if not win the whole thing.
Bianca Belair def. Lacey Evans, Io Shirai and Mia Yim in an NXT Women's Championship No. 1 Contender's Fatal 4-Way Match
Any one of these women could have realistically contended for the NXT Women's Championship at NXT TakeOver: Phoenix, so that obviously added to the drama surrounding the nearfalls and the in-ring action the whole. All four ladies played their roles remarkably well, the crowd was into it all, and it was just a strong layout. Belair vs. Shayna Baszler for the title is now official for TakeOver, and I assume Evans eating the pinfall loss was designed to be her swan song from NXT with a main roster call-up imminent.
Jaxson Ryker def. Mitch Taverna
It's been a while since Ryker was last showcased in singles competition, so hopefully that means he hasn't been forgotten about just yet (see what I did there?). He made short work of Taverna and looked impressive while doing so. He's honestly more interesting than the other two members of Forgotten Sons On a side note, it's worth noting that commentary was completely silent during this. No explanation was given, which was weird.
Zack Gibson and James Drake def. "Wild Boar" Mike Hitchman and "Primate" Jay Melrose
Hitchman and Melrose appear to be the latest additions to NXT UK's tag team division, and although they have the neat nicknames down, they didn't do much to stand out to me in this match. They do work well together, though, so there was that. Gibson and Drake, on the other hand, are more of the complete package as a tandem and are among the front-runners to become the inaugural NXT UK Tag Team Champions.
"Bomber" Dave Mastiff vs. Josh Morrell Went to a No Contest
Before the bout could even begin, Eddie Dennis emerged from the back and attacked Morrell on the stage while Mastiff was in the ring. It was basically payback from the week prior when Mastiff brawled with Dennis and forced him to flee. It would have been a short and sweet squash either way, but this simply helped expedite the process and furthered the feud between Mastiff and Dennis.
NXT UK General Manager Johnny Saint Announced NXT UK TakeOver: Blackpool; Toni Stormi Challenged NXT UK Women's Champion Rhea Ripley
It's cool to see the NXT UK brand making strides by holding their first-ever live TakeOver special in January. The brand has been a blast thus far, so I have no doubt that the show will be every bit as excellent as the NXT live specials. Also in this segment, Storm informed Saint that she was using the title shot she earned from winning Evolution to challenge Ripley for the NXT UK Women's title at TakeOver. It seems strange they're going with a rematch from the finals of the tournament so soon, but then again, I don't know who else is worthy of challenging for the championship right now.
Jordan Devlin def. Kenny Williams
Williams is one-half of the enhancement tag team with Amir Jordan, so while the outcome of this match was never in doubt, it was a fun little outing that allowed Williams to shine for a bit before Devlin went over decisively. In addition to maintaining momentum with the victory, he cut a promo afterward about who he'd target next, teasing that whoever it is has been an "embarrassment" to their country.
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