Antonio Cesaro def. Derrick Bateman
Cesaro is obviously one of those guys who can get at least a decent match out of anyone he steps in the ring with g, and considering Bateman was improving anyway (which William Regal made mention of on commentary), this was an enjoyable matchup. Similar to any other NXT match around this time, they weren't given a ton of time, but they definitely maximized their minutes and set the tone for the rest of the night.
Tamina Snuka def. Sofia Cortez
I believe Cortez was already released from the promotion by this point and this had been taped beforehand, so it was no surprise that she lost. That said, she had plenty of potential and it was unfortunate she was cut from her contract (though she did go on to reinvent herself in Lucha Underground). Tamina had a fine showing, but none of her matches ever excite me. On the bright side, Raquel Diaz had her moment to shine afterward by attacking Tamina.
Kassius Ohno def. Jake Carter
Ohno may have been in better shape back then compared to now, but he's much more fun to watch these days because he goes all out. At this point in time, he had a hard-hitting style, which was different from others on the roster, but it was slightly boring early on in this contest. This actually felt a lot longer than it actually was, but Ohno's victory helped him build momentum, nonetheless. Richie Steamboat emerged during the post-match to seemingly kick off a feud with Ohno.
Justin Gabriel and Tyson Kidd def. Johnny Curtis and Michael McGillicutty
Gabriel and Kidd had a soft alliance throughout 2012, calling themselves "Air Force" (or something along those lines), and they never ceased to entertain audiences with their aerial offense. While they were a blast here, take nothing away from Curtis and McGillicutty, who had solid showings as well. Curtis especially had a chance to showcase his skills for a change and looked good in defeat. This was a terrific tag team match on the whole.
Seth Rollins and Jinder Mahal Came Face-to-Face
I loved the video packages that aired throughout the evening focusing on comments from main roster Superstars such as John Cena and Daniel Bryan talking about the importance of becoming the inaugural NXT Champion. This was also an effective way of building anticipation for the big championship clash the following week, and although neither of their promos blew me away, it was smart for them to have to chance to discuss what winning the title would mean to them.
This entire edition of NXT centered around the finals of the NXT Championship Gold Rush Tournament and the face-off between Rollins and Mahal at the end of the evening. The hype paid off in a major way and successfully gave Rollins vs. Mahal a big fight feel. Combine that with three matches on the undercard of this episode that ranged from average to great and you have yourself an excellent show.
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