Shayna Baszler def. Dakota Kai
I've had the pleasure of seeing Kai compete in person a few times and I can tell you she's a very talented wrestler, though you probably already knew that if you watched her in the Mae Young Classic last year. That said, this was designed to be a total squash for Baszler in her in-ring debut for NXT, and that was exactly what it should have been. She used a submission maneuver to win matches more often than not during the Mae Young Classic, but I liked how she put away Kai by seemingly crushing her elbow instead, which looked vicious! It's obvious Baszler vs. Ember Moon for the NXT Women's Championship is the direction they're headed in for TakeOver: Philadelphia.
Kassius Ohno def. Raul Mendoza
I don't believe Mendoza has won a single match since he joined NXT, but I'd be damned if his matches weren't a lot of fun. Of course, Ohno is always excellent, so unsurprisingly, this was a blast of a bout while it lasted. Mendoza looked credible in defeat and I'm looking to seeing more of him in the future. As for Ohno, I'm curious as to whether this was merely a rebound win for Ohno or if he'll be entered into another rivalry sometime soon.
Lars Sullivan def. Lio Rush
You had to know this match was coming as soon as Rush got himself in hot water with that tweet about Emma not being "ready" for Asuka upon her release from the company late last year. On the bright side, at least he's back on TV. I was honestly shocked he wasn't completely squashed by Sullivan and was instead allowed to score some offense. Sullivan continues to build momentum with the win, and afterward, he issued a challenge to Killian Dane.
NXT Tag Team Champions Undisputed Era def. Roderick Strong and Aleister Black
Before the bout, Undisputed Era ambushed SAnitY backstage and rendered them unable to contend for the tag titles. Before William Regal could name proper replacements, Strong and Black took it upon themselves to fight the champs. I didn't think Kyle O'Reilly and Bobby Fish would drop the straps so soon after winning them, but it was an entertaining main event once they got the commercials out of the way. Adam Cole cost the babyfaces the match after distracting Black, setting up their rumored TakeOver match in the process.
Center Stage is such a refreshing environment for NXT. There are benefits to filming from Full Sail University, but they have been beyond dead lately, so I welcome this temporary change of scenery. As the first official edition of NXT of 2018, this was a real solid show with a number of enjoyable outings. Nothing is confirmed for TakeOver in two and a half weeks outside of the NXT Championship main event and now Black vs. Cole in an Extreme Rules match, but several other matches have been teased and are bound to be announced in the next week or two.
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