Cult of Lee def. Impact World Tag Team Champions LAX (Non-title)
The layout of this match was very well done with a hot beginning, a solid middle, and a fun finishing sequence. It felt like there was a ton of bad blood between the two teams, so that added intensity was appreciated. Of course, I appreciated the show kicking off with a match as always. With this win, Cult of Lee will vie for the Impact World Tag Team Championship in two weeks at Crossroads.
Brian Cage def. Hunter Law
For the second straight week, Cage had an impressive performance where he made quick work of his unknown opponent. In fact, the commentators actually timed the match after he won last week in under a minute. It definitely looks like he'll be a babyface to start, which is fine considering the crowd is behind him as a fan favorite. I could see him squashing a few more nobodies before moving into a real rivalry with someone on the roster.
The Velveteen Dream def. No Way Jose
Jose rarely shows up on NXT TV these days and his act grew old a year ago, so it was no surprise that the fans in attendance sided with Dream here. This was an impressive performance from Dream while Jose certainly held his own, but the result was what it needed to be. Afterward, Dream called out NXT fan favorites such as Aleister Black, Asuka and Tyler Bate, hinting at a possible future feud with the last individual.
Nikki Cross def. Vanessa Borne
We haven't seen much of Bourne in NXT since the Mae Young Classic, but at least she's improving. It will be a while before she's a real player in the division, but she has shown some signs of potential, which is good. As for Cross, this was another nice showcase for her as she continues to build momentum. She seems to be in a holding pattern since the NXT Women's Championship picture is stacked at the moment and the rest of SAnitY is busy with Undisputed Era.
Jay Lethal def. Flip Gordan
Gordan has impressed me in every outing he's had in Ring of Honor over the last year, and although he falls short of victory more often than not, he always looks great in defeat. He definitely proved his worth against a top-tier talent here in Lethal and the two had a very entertaining match. Lethal continues to not only deliver the goods and have awesome matches but pick up wins as well, so it comes as no surprise that it was officially announced afterward that he will be vying for the ROH World Championship at the 16th Anniversary Show next month.
Brandi Rhodes def. Karen Q in a Women of Honor Championship Tournament First Round Match
I didn't see one Brandi Rhodes match during her time in IMPACT that I thought was passable, so I was actually pleasantly surprised by what I saw here. It was by no means outstanding, mind you, but both women had solid showings and kept the pace consistent throughout. Karen Q was clearly positioned as the heel coming in while Brandi was the babyface, so it was weird that Brandi feigned an injury to beat her. Then again, Cody is a heel in ROH, so it wasn't completely illogical.
Buddy Murphy def. Ariya Daivari in a WWE Cruiserweight Championship Tournament First Round Match
I'm digging Murphy's new look and props to him for getting in amazing shape, but that terrible theme music needs to go pronto. That said, he had a hell of a performance here. I don't know how wise it was to debut him against the extremely dull Daivari, but it did allow him to pick up a nice win and advance in the tournament. Plus, this turned into a pretty good match down the stretch with Murphy proving to people just how talented he truly is.
Lince Dorado and Gran Metalik def. Local Athletes
Dorado and Metalik may have been bumped from the tourney already, but their alliance with Kalisto is certainly for the best. They finally seem to have a sense of direction, and with 205 Live now under new management, they shouldn't be lost in the shuffle anymore. This squash matchup gave them the chance to showcase their skills and build momentum, so it served its purpose.
United States Champion Bobby Roode and SmackDown Women's Champion Charlotte Flair def. Apollo and Nia Jax in a First Round Match
It's funny that Roode and Charlotte have such strong chemistry together and are currently champions yet both are far more comfortable in the heel role. Despite that, they seemed to be having a ton of fun teaming together here, while Apollo and Jax felt like a thrown-together tandem (Apollo replaced Enzo Amore, who had been teasing something with Jax a few months ago). As a match, it was enjoyable, all four stars worked well together, and the right team won. Jax going off on Titus Worldwide afterward went a little longer than it needed to, but I assume that was done to get heat back on Jax before she faces Asuka at Elimination Chamber.
As I've said before, the Superstars are given plenty more freedom on this show than they normally are on Raw and SmackDown Live, so it's worth checking out for that alone. The matches aren't always excellent, but this was an entertaining installment on the whole. The first round matches are officially done, and next week, Finn Balor and Sasha Banks will square off with The Miz and Asuka to kick off the next round.
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