Aleister Black def. Bobby Fish
I was hyped to hear weeks ago that Fish debuted on NXT TV during this batch of tapings because it's been a long-time coming. He's no Adam Cole, mind you, but he's a hell of a hand in the ring. If you weren't already familiar with his work from Ring of Honor, this match should have given you a good idea of what he's capable of. He wasn't dominated by Black the same way past opponents of his have been and actually had a strong showing in defeat. NXT has a plethora of babyfaces right now, so I'd prefer he joined the tag team division with Kyle O'Reilly (who also recently signed with NXT).
Vanessa Borne def. Jayme Hachey to Qualify for the Mae Young Classic
I had zero clue who these women were and the live crowd didn't either considering they were quiet for their respective entrances. I'm actually surprised this Mae Young Classic qualifying match made the air over the other one involving Aliyah, which went up on WWE's YouTube channel a few weeks ago. This was over before it even began and rightfully so because it sucked. Neither of these women are polished at all, so here's hoping Borne doesn't go far in the tournament.
Johnny Gargano Returned
It's super unfortunate Tomasso Ciampa has since been sidelined with an injury because he and Gargano could have torn it up in Brooklyn, but that's all the more reason to look forward to when Ciampa returns. Gargano has never been known for his mic skills, but this was exactly what it needed to be with him vowing to become "Johnny Wrestling" again. The live crowd ate it up, showing me he can be a major breakout babyface in Ciampa's absence.
NXT Tag Team Champions The Authors of Pain def. Heavy Machinery
I initially figured they would wait to do this match at TakeOver: Brooklyn and have Heavy Machinery take the titles off them there, but perhaps it's for the better they didn't go that route. This was a decent battle of the big men, but not quite what I was hoping for from a main event match. Heavy Machinery had their spots to shine down the stretch, but it never felt like the belt were ever truly in jeopardy. The post-match tease of SAnitY being next in line to challenge for the straps was intriguing, but as noted earlier, I would rather prefer reDRAGON contending for the twin titles in Brooklyn.
This edition of NXT peaked early with Black vs. Fish, but I dug Gargano's promo as well and was happy to have him back. I can't say the same about the women's match, however, which was awful for as long as it lasted. Meanwhile, the main event wasn't bad per se, but it failed to meet my expectations and was far from as memorable as the last two title matches on NXT lately. On the bright side, we'll be getting Ember Moon vs. Ruby Riot next week along with Drew McIntyre vs. Killian Dane in a No. 1 Contender's match, so the card for TakeOver: Brooklyn is slowly but surely coming together.
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