As the build to the upcoming NXT Takeover continues, we prepare ourselves for another edition of what is (quite frankly) the best hour of WWE’s weekly programming. Last time out, we saw Johnny Gargano establish himself as Andrade Cien Almas’ challenger at the next Takeover. But there will be fallout! How will Lars Sullivan and Killian Dain react to not getting the title shot they craved? How will Aleister Black react to Undisputed Era’s interference that cost him last week’s match? Here’s hoping NXT does a better job of answering questions than Smackdown…
On a side note, we are in Atlanta for this taping. How will NXT fare away from its ‘home’ crowd at Full Sail University?
Shayna Baszler v. Dakota Kai
After attacking Kairi Sane last week, Shayna Baszler makes her debut. Kai is making her debut as well but, let’s be honest, no-one is paying attention to her (beyond the fans chanting “Shayna’s gonna kill you!”) The match doesn’t last long as the ref calls the bout off after Baszler stomps on her arm in a nasty looking spot. The medical team comes in and, surprise, surprise, Shayna slaps on a choke hold. That draws out Ember Moon. Baszler smirks as she makes her way to the back. Winner: Shayna Baszler
That was certainly an effective debut! Baszler had both the adulation of the fans and drew massive heat with her vicious attack. Ember Moon coming out adds an interesting angle to the championship picture. I suspect she is being fast-tracked to the main roster.
Kassius Ohno v. Raul Mendoza
The commentary team spend a lot of airtime building up Mendoza ahead of this bout – should we expect a push for him in the near future? It seems so as he starts off in control. Briefly. Ohno soon overpowers him as the crowd chant his name. Mendoza has a hope spot, but it is little more than that as Ohno closes out the match with the ‘High Tension Elbow’ for the pin. Winner: Kassius Ohno
Ohno is NXT’s Dolph Ziggler. His pushes are so stop-start that it is hard to care. What was interesting in this match is how much the announcers were trying to put Raul Mendoza over. Push?
Lars Sullivan v. Lio Rush
Lio Rush! We haven’t seen him in a while. It’s almost like he’s been punished for some transgression or other and kept off TV… Anyway, this doesn’t take long. Rush tries to use his speed and agility to frustrate Sullivan, but one Freak Accident is all it takes. Post-match, Lars gets on the mic and calls out Killian Dain for another clash. He then scoops up Rush and hits another Freak Accident from the second turnbuckle. Winner: Lars Sullivan
This was all about the post-match promo. Lars Sullivan v. Killian Dain… WWE sure does love its big guys!
NXT Tag Team Championship: Undisputed Era v. Sanity
Right after the Sullivan match, we cut to Undisputed Era taking out Sanity backstage. The trio hit the ring to gloat but are interrupted by Nikki Cross attempting to storm the ring, much to the delight of the Atlanta crowd. William Regal comes out to declare Fish and O’Reilly will defend their titles tonight. Roderick Strong comes out soon followed by Aleister Black. We have a new match!
NXT Tag Team Championship: Undisputed Era v. Roderick Strong & Aleister Black
Black and Strong start the match off… well, strong with the NXT universe firmly behind them. A cheap shot from Fish on the outside puts the heels back in control. They beat down Black until he gets the hot tag to Roderick Strong. He lays out Fish and O’Reilly with assistance from Black on the outside. Adam Cole tries to attack Black but soon gets chased into the crowd. That leaves Strong alone to face Total Elimination as the champs retain. An irate Black returns to the ring to beat down Fish and O’Reilly, but the numbers game catches up with him as Cole returns to the fray. He delivers a neckbreaker onto a chair as the Undisputed Era leave Black lying in the ring to a chorus of boos. Winners: Undisputed Era
As soon as the commentary team mentioned Seth Rollins and Jason Jordan winning the Raw Tag Team Titles as a surprise pairing, I knew this wasn’t going to happen. A short but fun match that still felt like a missed opportunity. After the match, William Regal announced the Adam Cole will face Black in an Extreme Rules match as Takeover: Philadelphia while Fish and O’Reilly await the outcome of the Street Profits/AOP match to find out who they will face.
This was all about post-match angles and setting up clashes down the line. It was for the most part easy to pick the winners in every match – even the surprise tag team title match was too soon to expect Undisputed Era to lose. Having said that, I am a lot more excited about where NXT is going right now than the main roster. While the RAW and Smackdown superstars are all focused on who is entering the Royal Rumble, NXT actually has storylines and developing rivalries – keep it coming!