By Graham "GSM" Matthews
NXT Tag Team Champions The Lucha Dragons def. Jason Jordan and Tye Dillinger (Non-title)
I'm still struggling to figure out whether Jordan and Dillinger are faces or heels, but either way, the crowd isn't behind them much. Dillinger was able to show more personality in this one match than he has his entire run with Jordan, hence why I'd like to see more of him as a singles competitor. It was a nice showing from the tag team champions and The Vaudevillians attacking them afterward set up the tag title rematch for next week.
"Blue Pants" Leva Bates def. Carmella
As ridiculous as the "Blue Pants" stuff is, it's entertaining as all hell. Enzo Amore and Colin Cassady are a riot together, but Carmella still needs some work. I can't say I'm too sad to see her suffer her first defeat to an "enhancement talent," but the reaction Bates received when she scored the upset victory was terrific. Can we please make her a regular on NXT?
Baron Corbin def. CJ Parker
The only thing that made this different from every other Baron Corbin squash is that Bull Dempsey attempted to conspire with Parker beforehand. Of course, that led nowhere, but I was pleasantly surprised to see Corbin speak for the first time after the match. I haven't been too enthralled with the slow build to their eventual match, but their brawl here was a step in the right direction. They really aren't waiting for the next special for these two to go at it, right?
Natalya Saved NXT Women's Champion Charlotte From Sasha Banks and Becky Lynch
As I've said countless times over the year, Charlotte has improved leaps and bounds since her debut in the summer of 2013, but there's always room for improvement. She seemed a bit nervous during her promo and subsequent interaction with Natalya. She's apparently a babyface, so why did she tell the live crowd to shut up at one point? Natalya has been off NXT TV long enough that her return means something. She and Charlotte had a hell of a match back at Takeover in May and I'd love if a rematch was in the works.
Hideo Itami and Finn Balor def. The Ascension
Similar to their encounter at R Evolution, the action was slow early on, but they picked up the pace down the stretch. I preferred their last match over this one, but this was still very good, especially by Ascension standards. For what it's worth, Itami once again went for the GTS maneuver, so it's possible he might wind up actually connecting with it one of these days. The final few minutes were fun and I look forward to where Itami and Balor go as a team from here.
It was a solid show from start to finish and a nice way of ringing in the new year. The opening tag match was good, the two squash matches were decent, the women's segment furthered a feud and featured Natalya's return, and the main event was also enjoyable. There's going to be a lot of "hangover" stuff from R Evolution in the weeks to come, but I'm already looking forward to the live special as well as next week's show that will see the return of NXT Champion Sami Zayn.
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