The nascent brand took their show on the road, and for the first time ever, they turned it into an episode of your favorite WWE television show! Triple H used the occasion of his inshrinement into the International Sports Hall of Fame to put on a mini-Takeover in Columbus, Ohio.
Actually, according to live reports, it was a card worthy of a full blown live special, but we didn't get all of it on the Network. What we got was good, though, and when you combine it with what we're getting this week...
But, let's not get ahead of ourselves. Fresh off a nice win over his archnemesis Hideo Itami, Tyler Breeze opened the show with a singles match against one half of former tag champs Lucha Dragons. Kalisto looked good flying solo, but Prince Pretty is on a (gorgeous) roll right now, and he stopped the luchador cold with a Beauty Shot after a good bout.
We were treated to quite a few video packages, both promoting Triple H's excellent Ohio adventure, and building to the two main event matches between our singles' champs and rivals with personal grudges against those titleholders. Before those contests hit the screen, though, Enzo Amore & Colin Cassady - recently christened the #1 contenders to the tag titles - rocked the crowd with their microphone magnificance as a lead in to Big Cass one-on-one against half of the current pairs kinds, Wesley Blake. The Queens native looked to be in full control while doing his best Kevin Nash impersonation, but "the Australian one" got involved, Carmella got dumped to the floor and Blake got a roll-up with a handful of tights. Sawft.
Hometown girl Alexa Bliss did what Developmental wrestlers are supposed to do, and did some on the job learning in her big spotlight match against The Boss. Despite showing her green, the blue-clad pixie picked up a huge countout win when she whipped the Women's champ head first into a ringpost and slid back in before the referee counted ten. Sasha Banks was not going to let that go, however, and General Manager William Regal had to intervene when she cut off Bliss' celebration to declare that she would not be pinned by the Sparkly One.
Raging did Alex Riley a little bit of good, as he did manage to wobble Kevin Owens in the main event. But just like everyone else who's faced the champ, A-Ry went down via Package Powerbomb. Also like Sami Zayn and Adrian Neville, the former announcer was about to get powerbombed back-first into the ring apron, but #1 contender Finn Bálor arrived to save his ass. KO slunk away to fight another day, but not before doing this:
Hail to the King, baby.
You really need me to write more stuff? That's not enough for you? You internet fans really are demanding...
Well, in addition to what should be a really exciting title bout, back in front of a hyped Full Sail Live crowd, there is some intrigue about where this match will leave us in the story of the NXT Men's championship. Owens is rehabbing from a minor knee surgery, but shouldn't be expected to wrestle again until late April at the earliest. Sami Zayn has been absent since Rival, and also healing up from the kind of wear and tear that dudes who've been wrestling since they were fifteen have to deal with.
So, while I wouldn't bet much on a title change, they'll use tonight's main event as a way to push the pause button on the main belt as the focus of the main event. Could be that's why we've been building up the Duke of Delish so much in recent weeks...
Or, the ladies, having proven the can rock the final match of a 'sode, might be ready to step up. We'll get round two of Banks vs. Bliss tonight, and Becky Lynch and Bayley are still hovering around the scene. Plus, Charlotte couldn't have been happy when she rolled the tape on her rematch and say that The Boss used the ropes for leverage in retaining her title.
And while she will probably have to prove herself, last week they did announce the long awaited debut of Dana Brooke. The bodybuilder looks like an overconfident heel to me. Somebody call Blue Pants.
(Note: I know some folks have come looking for a more definitive match listing - we strictly avoid NXT spoilers here at Cageside central. If WWE.com releases or the performers tweet more information on anything that's officially going to take place on tonight's show, that'll be updated here. If anyone wants to put a match listing in the comments, please use spoiler tags.)
Am I speculating about the women's division because I'm afraid that terrible things await whoever gets entered in the Andre the Giant Memorial battle royal?
I don't know...I don't want to talk about it. You will want to talk about this show with your fellow Cagesiders, so you should do that below, in the open thread and early tomorrow morning in the Reactions!