By Graham "GSM" Matthews
Shinsuke Nakamura def. Wesley Blake
He may have switched up his entrance theme and attire, but I'm still not sold on Blake as a singles competitor. Buddy (ugh I hate that name) Murphy has more potential than he does. Not to say Blake is bad in the ring as he held his own here against Nakamura, but at the same time, he didn't impress me any. Rather, this match was more about Nakamura hitting his signature spots and lighting the audience on fire as always. William Regal's post-match announcement that Nakamura will contend for the NXT Championship against Samoa Joe at TakeOver: Brooklyn was huge and needless to say, that's a match I am very much looking forward to.
Billie Kay def. Santana Garrett
I dug Kay's new entrance. Garrett's? Not so much. Her new song sounded like a rip-off of Emma's old entrance theme, but I assume it's only temporary. With so many women being promoted from NXT to the main roster in recent weeks, NXT needs to start building up the new crop of women as quickly as possible, so this was a step in the right direction. I liked how the commentators talked about how Kay's debut match on SmackDown went to her head, explaining her heel turn (if she was a babyface to begin with). This was a serviceable match and I'm sure the crowd will warm up to Kay's matches once they grow more familiar with her. On a side note, Garrett should be signed by NXT if she hasn't been already.
TM-61 def. Adrian Nails and Rob Ryzin
Similar to the women, there are a few open spots in the tag team division in NXT with American Alpha and seemingly The Hype Bros getting called up to SmackDown in the WWE Draft, and TM-61 fill one of those vacancies perfectly. Although they're excellent athletes, they're lacking character development, but they will likely develop their personas in due time. Squash matches such as this one where they can show off their skills will do a great deal in getting them over with the audience.
No Way Jose def. Steve Cutler
One of my biggest concerns/fears with No Way Jose when he debuted back in April was that he would be a one-dimensional character. That said, I'm happy that not only has he found direction in his feud with Austin Aries, but their program has brought out a newfound serious side in Jose. We saw a bit of that aggression here in his match against Cutler and in his post-match promo. Some may look at this rivalry as a step down for Aries, but it's great he's helping put over a fresh face in Jose, regardless of who wins their eventual match.
Kota Ibushi def. Buddy Murphy
Blake received new entrance music, so why not Murphy? Like I said, I like him a hell of a lot more than Blake, yet nothing seems to have changed about him since his tag team days. Either way, Ibushi was the central focus of this matchup as he should have been because the guy is an absolute star. He has had only one match in the Cruiserweight Classic thus far and yet the crowd went nuts when he came out. It doesn't matter whether he wins the tournament or not; him getting signed to either WWE or NXT is a must! This was an incredibly fun match part in a large part due to his in-ring awesomeness, but Murphy deserves credit for having an impressing outing as well.
NXT General Manager William Regal Interrupted Samoa Joe
As I mentioned a few weeks ago, Joe has been freakin' killing it on the mic since becoming champion, and this was another gem of a promo from him. As a result of him flourishing in this role, he has earned the audience's admiration and respect, but he does a wonderful job of turning them against him with his mic work. Furthermore, Regal setting Joe straight by threatening to strip him of the strap if he didn't agree to the title match was simple yet effective, as was the subsequent face-off between Joe and Nakamura.
After weeks of marquee main events on NXT, this edition was successful in showcasing the talent of tomorrow including Kay, TM-61 and Ibushi. Meanwhile, Jose furthered his feud with Aries and the NXT Championship match was made official for TakeOver, so this was a solid show from start to finish. With what we've seen lately, Brooklyn should be an exciting event as the card begins to take shape.
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