By Graham "GSM" Matthews
Elias Sampson Interrupted Finn Balor
I'm digging the added extra aggressive layer to Balor's character. He's been criticized for months for growing stale, and I started to see that myself as of late, but this was a refreshing change of pace. I rolled my eyes at Sampson coming out, but Balor made it entertaining by battling back and chucking his own guitar at him at ringside only for Sampson to catch it. I'm fine with Sampson in this enhancement talent role (similar to Tye Dillinger, though he deserves better) as long as he isn't prominently pushed. Since we don't typically see talking segments kick off NXT, this didn't overstay its welcome and it set up the night's main event effectively.
NXT Tag Team Champions American Alpha def. Corey Hollis and John Skyler (Non-title)
This was American Alpha's first time wrestling in front of the Full Sail University crowd since capturing the NXT Tag Team Championships in Dallas, hence the "you deserve it" chants at the start of the match. This was basically a showcase for the newly crowned champs and a fun one at that. Their last encounter with The Revival was awesome, so their eventual rematch (which I assume will be held at the next TakeOver) should be equally excellent.
Shinsuke Nakamura def. Alex Riley
For those who missed it, Riley was released from WWE last Friday, so this was his final farewell. He scored some offense over Nakamura, but it was all about The King of Strong Style for the most part and I'm sure there were those who took pleasure in seeing Riley get the crap kicked out of him. Hey, I could think of worse ways to go out. Nakamura received a hero's welcome from Full Sail and it will be interesting to see what direction his character takes going into TakeOver.
Alexa Bliss def. Rachel Ellering
Corey Graves made a great point on commentary: Bliss has been going after second-generation stars recently. First it was Tessa Blanchard, and now Ellering. Could Charlotte be next? Okay, I kid. I just think it's a cool coincidence. She's been in singles action more often than she has been in the corner of Blake and Murphy lately, and even if these wins aren't building to her getting an NXT Women's Championship match (and they should be), at least they're providing her with an opportunity to improve.
Finn Balor def. Elias Sampson
This was a glorified squash for Balor, and similar to Nakamura vs. Riley, this match was a treat for anyone who despises The Drifter and wanted to see him get his ass handed to him. I like(d) Riley, but since I've never been fond of Sampson, I include myself. The post-match confrontation between Balor and Samoa Joe as well as the announcement from William Regal for the title rematch at TakeOver were really well done.
Other than the announcement of the TakeOver main event, nothing of note occurred on this episode, yet it was an enjoyable edition of NXT anyway. The women's match was less-than-stellar, but the other three matches were fun for what they were and there was hype for next week's match between Austin Aries and Blake and Murphy in addition to Bayley vs. Nia Jax. We should be getting more matches made official for TakeOver in the coming weeks.
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