By Graham "GSM" Matthews
Austin Aries def. Angelo Dawkins
Aries was able to showcase more of his skills in this match versus Dawkins than against Baron Corbin at NXT TakeOver: Dallas because this was a lopsided squash. He hit all of his signature moves and the crowd was solidly behind him throughout the bout. I wonder whether he'll be using the spinning forearm as his finisher going forward since Finn Balor currently uses the brainbuster as one of his own finishers. With Baron Corbin getting called up recently, it will be interesting to see who Aries feuds with next.
Alexa Bliss def. Tessa Blanchard
Obviously, Blanchard is a second-generation wrestler and the daughter of WWE Hall of Famer Tully Blanchard. She's certainly attractive, but so was Lacey Von Erich, so I was hoping she was at least passable in the ring. The focus was more on Bliss in this match than it was Blancard, but she had an impressive outing and showed signs of potential. I could see her landing a developmental deal at some point down the line. Does Blake and Murphy not coming out with Bliss mean she's finally breaking out on her own?
Johnny Gargano and Tomasso Ciampa def. The Vaudevillians
Of course, The Vaudevillians are also now a part of the main roster, so I feared this would be similar to the previous two matches and be used to give them one last boost of momentum in what could have been their last match for the promotion. Thankfully, that was not the case and they produced a very good tag team match. It was about time Gargano and Ciampa were signed to NXT contracts and I was ecstatic they scored the victory. They can go far as a team if they can continue to be built up strongly and a match against American Alpha down the line for the titles would be something special.
Baron Corbin def. Tucker Knight
These short-lived squash matches are where Corbin thrives. The main roster writers should take notes. He came off extremely dominant here and defeated Knight in decisive fashion. This was taped before he won the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal at WrestleMania and arrived on Raw the next night, so it leaves me wondering whether this was his swan song from NXT as well like The Vaudevillians.
Bayley def. Liv Morgan
I'm glad Morgan finally has entrance music and apparently a character. It will help her establish an identity in NXT and come across more than just an enhancement talent. In fact, she was on offense for a majority of this match. It not only benefited Morgan in making her look credible, but Bayley works best from underneath, anyway, so this was a well-paced women's match. Bayley's post-match promo was a logical follow-up to her loss of the NXT Women's Championship from TakeOver: Dallas and I'm highly anticipating her inevitable rematch with Asuka.
Shinsuke Nakamura def. Tye Dillinger
I think it's pretty well-documented Nakamura is a total star, but Dillinger deserves credit for being absolutely brilliant. He's simply a fantastic foil to just about any beloved babyface, hence why him and Nakamura had such excellent chemistry together. It wasn't a technical masterpiece by any means, but it entertained the hell out of me. Finn Balor brought up Nakamura in a backstage segment prior to the match, so it's possible we see them clash for the NXT Championship sooner rather than later. That's a money match waiting to happen.
Typically, I'm a fan of the "less is more" approach when it comes to the number of matches held on an average episode of NXT, but I was totally fine with this seeing as how they were taped at WrestleMania Axxess, so the different atmosphere was a refreshing change of pace. None of the matches served any real purpose, but the main event was highly enjoyable and Aries and Nakamura making their in-ring debuts on the program made it a newsworthy night. Plus, we have American Alpha vs. Enzo Amore and Colin Cassady to look forward to next week, so these upcoming episodes should be fun.
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