Io Shirai and Dakota Kai def. Marina Shafir and Jessamyn Duke
Considering Shafir and Duke are still relatively new to the wrestling scene, I thought they did perfectly fine here. They still have a ways to go, of course, but they did well in their debut match on NXT TV. It also helped that they had two incredibly skilled competitors to work with in Kai and Shirai. I'm surprised Shafir and Duke lost so decisively, but I guess it was more important for the babyfaces to build momentum.
Dominik Dijakovic def. Aaron Mackey
Dijakovic is the former Donovan Dijak from Ring of Honor and the northeast independent scene. He is super impressive for a guy of his size and I'm happy he now has a bigger platform to showcase his skills on. This was exactly what it needed to be: short and sweet with Dijakovic dominating throughout. I'm looking forward to him showing more of what he can do once he begins facing more credible competition.
Heavy Machinery def. Blake Howell & Danny D'Accardo
It was announced this past week on Raw that Heavy Machinery are main roster bound, so it looks like we already know the outcome of their NXT Tag Team Championship match against Undisputed Era next week. That said, it was smart to keep them looking strong by having them beat these two jabronis with ease as Undisputed Era looked on from the stage. That should be a fun clash.
Johnny Gargano def. Aleister Black in a Steel Cage Match
Unlike on the main roster, Steel Cage matches are a rarity in NXT, so it was cool for the next chapter in the Black vs. Gargano saga to take place inside the steel cage. Not only was the in-ring action excellent, the storytelling was also spectacular with Black more concerned with inflicting pain and punishment on Gargano than winning the match, which would ultimately cost him in the end. Both guys played their roles remarkably well here, and while I normally hate interference in Steel Cage matchups, it made sense for Tommaso Ciampa to get involved and aid Gargano to victory. Seeing DIY reunite was a super cool moment and leaves me wondering if they'll be on the same page moving forward.
By NXT standards, this was a pretty newsworthy show between the Steel Cage main event, Shafir and Duke stepping in the ring for the first time, and Dijakovic debuting. All of those things either met or exceeded my expectations, and the Heavy Machinery squash was well done, too. It was an entertaining episode on the whole, and there was also hype for next week's show. TakeOver: Phoenix isn't for another month or so, and while I don't know exactly what the card will look like, I have faith the brand will put together something spectacular per usual.
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