Dakota Kai def. Tegan Nox in a Steel Cage Match
While not an all-time classic Steel Cage match, this was still very entertaining. Not even in NXT does the cage prevent interference. Raquel Gonzalez interfered in predictable fashion and aided Kai to victory in innovative fashion, which was probably the best call to keep heat on the duo and continue their momentum. Unsurprisingly, Nox and Kai have awesome chemistry together and I'm not opposed to another match between them, likely at TakeOver: Tampa. If so, I question what would be bigger than a street fight and a steel cage. Last Woman Standing, potentially?
Chelsea Green def. Shotzi Blackheart to Qualify for the NXT Women's Championship No. 1 Contender's Ladder Match at TakeOver: Tampa
Both of these women are works in progress, so I honestly would have been content regardless of who won because I highly doubt either of them will become the next number one contender to the NXT Women's Championship. It was a perfectly fine match but didn't feature anything too exciting in the few minutes it had. Blackheart may have been better in the Ladder match environment, but Green is the one they're pushing right now and another loss would have hurt her momentum.
Cameron Grimes Confronted NXT North American Champion Keith Lee
Lee was talking about all of his potential opponents before Grimes came out and announced he'll be challenging for Lee's NXT North American Championship next week. This was a solid verbal exchange between the two with Grimes scoring nuclear heat from this crowd. He has yet to fully grow on me, but at least he's finally getting more mic time compared to four or five months ago when he was all over the show for no reason with zero character development.
Undisputed Era (Kyle O'Reilly and Bobby Fish) def. Oney Lorcan and Danny Burch
These teams have had some terrific matches together over the last two years and this was another enjoyable encounter from them. I can't remember the last time Lorcan and Burch scored an important victory on NXT TV, so while the outcome was never in doubt, Lorcan and Burch never have an issue getting the crowd into their matches. This was hard-hitting and exactly what it needed to be. This allowed Undisputed Era to get back to their winning ways and set up a possible Triple Threat for the NXT Tag Team Championship for an upcoming episode (if not TakeOver: Tampa) between Undisputed Era, The BroserWeights and The Grizzled Young Veterans.
Austin Theory def. Isiah "Swerve" Scott
Similar to Green, Theory is in the midst of a push at the moment and thus it was logical he would win here, which was for the best following his loss to Tommaso Ciampa last week. I wish Swerve won more matches, but at least he looked competitive before losing. This was a blast of a bout and both guys are great in the ring but would benefit from some character development. Theory in particular is fairly generic, but I assume he'll work through that in time.
Mauro Ranallo Hosted a Sit-Down Interview with Johnny Gargano
Despite being a natural babyface, Gargano shined in this sit-down interview and came across like a total paranoid prick. Ranallo was the perfect person to host the interview as well since he's so likable and Gargano making him walk away caused Gargano to look like that much more of a jerk. This intensity and aggression is exactly what we need from this new heel Gargano and I loved how he never actually explained why he turned on Ciampa. Rather, he dodged every question thrown his way. This was very well done.
Roderick Strong def. Velveteen Dream in a Steel Cage Match
I wasn't overly impressed with the last match Strong and Dream had against each other two weeks ago, but there was a sense of urgency in this one and both guys had excellent performances. I wasn't crazy about the interference from the rest of Undisputed Era, especially since we already saw it in Nox vs. Kai, but the crowd didn't seem to mind and I understood why it was done. Dream losing on purpose was slightly silly, but it's clear getting his hands on Adam Cole was more important to him than Strong. The post-match angle all but confirmed that it's going to be Cole vs. Dream for the NXT Championship at TakeOver.
I'm still not a fan of how this show featured two Steel Cage matches (which was overkill), but at least both bouts delivered. It helped that everything seemed to serve a purpose, there was build for TakeOver as well as next week's show, and there were a handful of well-wrestled matches that held my interest. I hadn't been feeling the last few episodes of NXT, but this episode was definitely a step in the right direction. With two title matches on tap for next week, here's hoping the black-and-gold brand is ready to kick it back up a notch with TakeOver fast approaching.
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