By Graham "GSM" Matthews
Finn Balor and Hideo Itami def. Tyson Kidd and Justin Gabriel
Balor's promo was extremely brief, so for someone like me who hasn't seen much of Balor's pre-WWE work, I wasn't able to get a good feel of how he is on the mic, but I'm sure he's great. The interruption from Kidd and Gabriel set up the tag match nicely and it was a fun way of kicking off the show. There was a lot of entertaining action and it was by far Itami's best in-ring showing to date. Balor's first WWE match should have been hyped in advance, but I can't complain about an enjoyable opener.
Sasha Banks def. Alexa Bliss
Bliss has improved quite a bit since her debut many months ago and she'll only get better in time. She had a nice outing against Banks here, though it was obvious it designed to be a squash match for Banks as she continues to hunt the NXT Women's Championship. Her vs. Charlotte has a lot of history behind it and it should be a great match, and throwing Bayley into the mix would only enhance it.
NXT Tag Team Champions The Lucha Dragons def. Wesley Blake and Buddy Murphy (Non-title)
It's amazing how much more interesting the Sin Cara character is when he's in a tag team. His pairing with Kalisto has done wonders for his career and the duo is having awesome matches whenever they're in action. Viewers haven't been given any incentive to care about Blake or Murphy since they've been established as enhancement talent in the past (even though I believe Murphy has potential as a singles guy), but it was a very fun showcase for the tag champs.
NXT Champion Adrian Neville def. Sami Zayn
First off, I really liked the fact that they acknowledged their No. 1 contender's match from one year ago on NXT. This match was as equally entertaining as that one was if not better due to what was at stake here. Both guys both forth a strong effort and there were several moments where the Full Sail University crowd thought Zayn had it in the bag. The finish with Neville rolling Zayn up for the win after (presumably) feigning an injury was brilliant and it sets up the need for a rematch at the live special next month.
Of course, this week's episode didn't feature as many big matches as last week, but it was still a strong show with some very good matches and storyline progression. Finn Balor had an excellent in-ring debut, the ladies had a nice outing, the tag team match was fun and the main event was excellent. I've been anticipating the next live special for some time now, but as we get closer and closer to it, my hopes grow higher and higher. It's shaping up to be the best event yet, so here's hoping they can continue to build toward it the right way.
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