Housekeeping note - they definitely didn't upload the show on the Network early this week. It would have made my life easier, but NXT is always worth the wait.
- The elusive pre-taped title change so many of us have been asking for finally happened when Wesley Blake's blind tag allowed him to get a roll-up of Kalisto, even though the Lucha Dragon had just hit his finisher on Buddy Murphy.
- Flashback to the chaos that lead to William Regal booking a Fatal 4Way for the Women's championship is prelude to Bayley telling Charlotte she's not sorry for Hugplexing her, but she will focus on winning their tag match against Team B.A.E. this week.
- Someone named Solomon with an IT background got busy with the intro videos before our first tournament match, but the commentators didn't seem to notice.
- Tyson Kidd and Adrian Neville provide another worthy chapter to their on-again off-again saga, with the former champ picking up a win on his own quest to prove he's the greatest champ in NXT history.
- Having the titles change hands to a team that was strictly enhancement talent until last week, in a standard four minute match where the story hinged on confusion over the legal man is the most NXT Tag Division thing I've ever seen. That a championship held for the past year or so by space vampire barbarians and gold-plated luchadors named after mythical beasts could be sooo vanilla is a miracle.
- Has Buddy Murphy been a redhead this whole time? And they have him his WWE name just so recappers would have to type "dropkick" and "Murphy" in the same sentence a lot, didn't they? Well played, Triple H. Well played.
- Haven't taken Full Sail to task in a long-time, but Blake & Murphy don't get a "You Deserve It" chant. It cheapens them, and makes me question their status as Zayniacs.
- Loving the Sami Zayn/James Storm-influence on the Hugster, but they're missing a big opportunity not tying her watching the Triple H documentary in to her new ruthless streak. Imagine the segments where she gets Hunter to let her call herself the Lady Cerebral Assassin and then tries to hug him. Also, the side pony was TIGHT. That thing looked lacquered up.
- It was a good night for t-shirt aficionados. Charlotte got the party started with this mash-up of Naitch and The Ruler. Why aren't those FACT DROPPER shirts that Kidd wears on sale, though?
- Finally with the Sami Callihan debut! Wonder if the scrapping of the hacker gimmick was all a work, or if they couldn't come up with anything better so they went back to it. Of the two men this graphic interruption might indicate he's targeting, a Crowe vs. Neville feud makes the most sense, but there's no wrong answer.
- Kidd & Neville are incapable of having a bad match. I'll just come out and admit that just watching them circle each other gets me a little hot. My only lament is that Tyson is pretty directionless. Let's get him some wins and a storyline.
- Second best heel move of the night? Tyson popping over the top rope only to immediately slide back under the bottom rope to break the referee's ten count.
- The Boss is confident that her tag partner will "do the right thing" at Takeover, but the only right thing Becky Lynch has planned is becoming Women's champion.
- New tag champs Blake & Murphy are positively giggly about their win, and promise to give the Kalisto & Sin Cara a rematch anytime.
- Tempers run hot in the women's tag bout, and Charlotte goes off when Bayley's save catches her in the crossfire. A full blown brawl wipes out the match, but the Nature Girl and her huggable rival have to pried apart after they dispatch of the heels.
- Finn Bálor hadn't planned on facing Hideo Itami this soon in his career, but will set friendship aside when they face in the #1 contender semi-finals next week. His Japanese pal warns him that he brought the Irishman to NXT, and he'll take him out, too.
- NOOO, I don't want Team B.A.E. to break up yet!
- What do you say we send Wesley and Buddy back to Dusty Rhode's promo school? If tag teams got more than 30 seconds of mic time once a month, I'd say they could figure out how to make "goofy excited guys" work on the show, but what we got tonight ain't going to get them over.
- Also NOOO, Bayley's new entrance theme.
- They better give the ladies 20+ minutes on February 11th, because they are really harshing my buzz with these narrative-driven non-finishes. What we got of this one was a little sloppy...Charlotte hasn't been at her best since R Evolution, and Bayley covered for her botch where she didn't land right while hoping onto the ropes, but it was still a botch.
- Third best heel move of the night? Banks mocking Bayley's wacky inflatable tube men while standing on her fingers.
- Think I'd be alright with almost any outcome coming out of that match, but I think my favorite would be Sasha winning so Bayley could chase her while Charlotte and Becks have a vicious tweener vs. rudo side feud.
- If we're going to turn one of the Japanese imports, I'd rather it be Bálor. But if they feel they can give him some edge while still a hero, that's fine too. Forgot to mention it last week - Hideo's new haircut looks great.
- Emma's back!
- Baron Corbin quickly dispatched Bull Dempsey (again) to move on to face Neville in the semis. They then have a head scratcher of an interview spot indicating that their one-sided feud might not be over.
- Kevin Owens turns the tables on Sami Zayn and William Regal to turn the non-title grudge match for Takeover into a bout where Sami's NXT Championship will be on the line.
- Maybe it's all the discussion and debate since Monday, but I'm pretty over "Reality" Era angles like Emma's "it didn't work out for me" comments about leaving NXT. But who cares? Emma's back! Actually, the most exciting thing about that news is that, through sheer numbers alone, they may now have to book a mid-card scene for the women.
- Was it just me, or was that, like, the exact same match Dempsey and Corbin had the first time? End of Days on the big man still looks good, and the evading maneuver where The Lone Wolf cartwheeled over the top rope hints at some agility of which we've only scratched the surface.
- Baron can probably go back to American Dream school, too. I would mark for a running bit where Bull gets squashed every so often and then crashes Corbin's promos to say, "you got lucky, man, if you think that's going to happen an 18th time, you're crazy".
- Only thing better than the champ's earnest babyface delivery is his rival's dead-eyed sociopath who loves his family schtick. Based on content alone, Owens is kind of a jerk, but his reasoning is sound and something to which a lot of us can relate. But mix it up with an aggressively annoyed look and a monotone-yet-charismatic delivery, and he's suddenly an emissary of Satan.
- Seen criticism that maybe the General Manager folded a little too quick, but I was okay with it since Zayn pointed out that it was what the fans wanted, and Regal is on record as wanting to deliver the best show at all times. But I do think a maybe cooler path to the title match might have been a few weeks of KO either wrecking Sami's stuff or refusing to wrestle when his boss booked him to in order to force the belt into the picture. A casualty of rushing the next live special, I suppose. But a minor one.
- Best heel move of the week? Big Kev's pen toss. And pretty much every other thing he did.
Much the same as last week, we got one really good match and a lot of positive forward momentum. Not a standout episode like some of the ones we were treated to in Road to Redemption arc, but entertaining - and taken as part of the larger picture, a piece of something really special.
What did you think, Cagesiders?