Cameron Grimes def. Dominik Dijakovic
While I maintain that Grimes' character needs more development, he has grown on me thanks to his recent string of quality matches. He was very impressive against Johnny Gargano a few weeks ago and this was an enjoyable opener. I think everyone assumed Dijakovic was going over considering he challenged Keith Lee to a rematch last week, but Dijakovic was protected in defeat via Damian Priest's interference. Plus, I like how this spices up the NXT North American Championship picture a bit. Could a rematch of last month's Fatal 4-Way with Lee, Dijakovic, Priest and Grimes be on the horizon?
Imperium Attacked Finn Balor
Considering Balor beat Gargano at NXT TakeOver: Portland, the thought was that he'd challenge Adam Cole for the NXT Championship in Tampa. Thankfully, that currently doesn't appear to be the case. Instead, it looks like he'll be facing WALTER, which has the potential to be a banger. Fabian Aichner and Marcel Barthel laying out Balor was the right call and puts Balor in a position to bounce back. I don't think this will turn him face, but fans are cheering for him anyway, so it hardly matters.
Xia Li def. Mia Yim
Mauro Ranallo noted on commentary that Li made her NXT TV debut one year this month against Yim, so I appreciated the attention to detail. The match was fine while it lasted, but this was designed to be more of an angle with Dakota Kai and Raquel Gonzalez getting heat by beating them both up afterward. Li didn't gain much from the roll-up win, though. NXT needs to cool it with the distraction finishes as they've a bunch of them lately.
Tommaso Ciampa def. Austin Theory
Needless to say, the outcome was never in doubt here, but I was more curious how good he'd look in defeat. Sure enough, he had a strong showing and didn't lose much in defeat. Ciampa let him score plenty of offense before going over in the end. It helped that they worked well together and put together a very solid match. Gargano's post-match attack on Ciampa was also well done. He's more of a natural babyface, but his heel work proved to be a lot of fun last time.
Killain Dain def. Bronson Reed
Both of these guys are terribly directionless at the moment, so this would have benefited from having some sort of a setup backstage to make sense of it. Otherwise, it was just two guys fighting each other for no reason. Don't get me wrong, it was a hard-hitting hoss fight and the six minutes were a blast, but I get the sense that neither are guys are about to be pushed any time soon. I'm stunned Reed loses as much as he does despite being as big as he is.
Grizzled Young Veterans def. The Forgotten Sons
Nothing is official as far as Grizzled Young Veterans officially joining NXT full-time, but I hope they are. They've done everything and faced everybody in NXT UK, whereas NXT's tag team division needs them more. I mean, NXT has to be desperate for tag team talent if they're turning Forgotten Sons face. Nobody in the crowd seemed to buy it and I didn't, either. It was as random as Lacey Evans' turn two months ago, but she's much better in the role than they are. This was a decent match with Grizzled Young Veterans winning as they should have.
Charlotte Flair def. Bianca Belair
Belair looked like an equal to Flair from the get-go. She may not have won here, but she'll be a breakout star as soon as she hits the main roster (presumably after WrestleMania 36). As for Flair, it was so refreshing to see her back at Full Sail University. This delivered as a main event-level match and I'm positive we'll see a rematch before the end of the year on Raw or on pay-per-view. Flair will be challenging Rhea Ripley for the NXT Women's Championship at WrestleMania, so it made sense for her to win decisively here. Speaking of Ripley, she came across like a complete idiot for doing her entrance while Flair beat up Belair with a chair in the ring. The show went off the show so abruptly that the angle never had a chance to breathe.
Although this was easily the strongest edition of NXT in recent weeks, there are still a few issues the brand has to address. Firstly, the distraction matches are becoming too commonplace. Secondly, too many people are without a proper program right now. Finally, two Steel Cage matches on next week's show is overkill, especially four days before Elimination Chamber where there's rumored to be three Chamber matches. That aside, these two hours were entertaining. Flair competing in the main event was a treat, we got a better idea of what the TakeOver: Tampa card might look like, and the in-ring action was better on the whole than it has been the past two weeks or so.
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