By Graham "GSM" Matthews
Hideo Itami def. Tyler Breeze
For a match that wasn't announced until the pre-show, Itami and Breeze did a really good job of making the crowd care about this match. Then again, they're both already organically over as it is, so I guess I shouldn't have been too surprised. This was perfectly placed in the opener and they kicked off the night on a high note. They worked well enough together that I'd definitely be open to them working more matches together in the near future as their feud begins to develop. By the way, when Itami eventually hits that GTS, Full Sail University is going to come unglued. Mark my words.
Baron Corbin def. Bull Dempsey in a No Disqualification Match
Obviously, this was their longest match to date and the best of the series, though that's not exactly saying much. Was the No Disqualification stipulation even necessary? The only element of hardcore in this match was the steel chair at the end. I guess they wanted to tack something extra on to it to make people think it'd be different their past encounters, but that stipulation should be saved for when the time calls for it. The bout was sloppy at points and I surely hope this was the end of the rivalry. Where both guys go from here, though, is beyond me.
NXT Tag Team Champions Blake and Murphy def. The Lucha Dragons
For the love of god, can the entrance of Blake and Murphy please be changed? Dubstep is atrocious and makes these two heels to me. In all seriousness, this was a pretty nice matchup that was taken more seriously than their last title meeting. Aside from one slip-up from Kalisto, it was a rather smooth match and the final few minutes are fun. Now that The Lucha Dragons have used up their rematch clause, who will be next to challenge Blake and Murphy for the straps? NXT needs more teams. Cesaro and Tyson Kidd, anyone?
Finn Balor def. Adrian Neville in a No. 1 Contender's Match for the NXT Championship
Could you honestly expect anything less than greatness from these two? They worked a solid match early on only to pick up the pace down the stretch. The nearfalls and all the close calls were done in stellar fashion and had the crowd waiting with bated breath to see who would come out victorious. Everything about this match was fantastic and it was awesome that Balor scored the win. I wouldn't have minded Neville getting another shot at the title, but Balor is a fresh face and he just radiates stardom. Excellent work from both men.
Sasha Banks def. Charlotte, Bayley and Becky Lynch in a Fatal 4-Way to Win the NXT Women's Championship
I absolutely love how well they position the women on NXT. I know that's no news flash, and the main roster has an equal amount of talent, but it's all about how they're received. NXT has done such an amazing job of making their women matter that I was excited for this match more most matches on this card. That said, all four women put forth a strong effort and had a great match. Everyone involved had their shining moments and the crowd cared about all the nearfalls because the story leading up to this match has been so well done. Gee, you give the women the time of day and they'll actually deliver; what a concept! Seriously, this was exceptional and congrats to Banks on the well-deserved win. Although I was feeling Bayley's big championship victory here, her chasing the strap will be fun to watch unfold in the months ahead.
Kevin Owens def. Sami Zayn by Referee Stoppage to Win the NXT Championship
This match was every bit as great as I initially expected it being, but in a different way. Yes, the wrestling, especially in the latter half, was very good, but what hooked me in was the story they were telling. This match was all about revenge and personal hatred, and that's exactly what Owens relayed in his vicious assault on Zayn. They had the crowd, who was cheering for Owens at points, booing the finish; not because it was poorly done, but because they wanted to see Sami prevail. I love everything about this because a) it makes Zayn look like a monster, b) Zayn is even more of a sympathetic figure than he was before, and c) Zayn was never pinned, so there's a story in place for when he returns and wants his rematch. You couldn't have asked for a better close to the show.
Well, NXT managed to top themselves once again with another highly entertaining live special. The undercard was enjoyable and the final three matches delivered and then some. The two title matches made it a newsworthy evening, and there's also plenty to look forward to in the weeks ahead including Owens vs. Balor as a temporary title feud, Banks as the new Women's champion, Solomon Crowe's highly anticipated debut next week, and so much more. They always do an amazing job of not only putting on a great night of wrestling, but also of building toward the future. Whether this was the best special to date is up for debate, but it surely left this viewer satisfied and gets two thumbs up from me.
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