Back in the familiar confines of Full Sail Live, the gang put on a show before their WrestleMania Axxess shows...with a main event worthy of The Granddaddy of Them All.
Before we got to that, though, Women's champ Sasha Banks had to set things straight following her countout loss from Columbus. Ohio native Alexa Bliss showed her pluck once again, but she still can't say that she's beaten The Boss by pinfall or submission. In Orlando, she became the latest contender to tap out to a Bank Statement.
In other news from the Women's division, Emma's time in the bigs has left her jaded, and determined to get Bayley to forget about the NXT Universe, who the formerly dancing Diva says aren't doing the Hugster any favors. And Carmella got a nice (but fake...Enzo called that like he was Lefty Ruggiero) gift from the tag champs, as Wesley Blake & Buddy Murphy barged in on a Port Authority confab to make amends - and possibly drive a wedge between #1 contenders Enzo Amore & Colin Cassady and their lady friend.
Continuing to be one of the best things in pro wrestling, the combination feud and Rush Hour re-enactment that is Hideo Itami & Tyler Breeze had a big week that went from WWE Network to Twitter to live shows to YouTube and back again. After the Japanese sensation threw down a gauntlet to Prince Pretty, suggesting a way to break their televised tie, Itami went and won himself an Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal berth. To celebrate, he re-claimed his finisher from some UFC guy...delivered to Breeze, but thankfully just to the mid-section, and not his gorgeous mug. The 'Mania pre-show didn't work out so well, but they'll always have social media.
Main event time came early on last week's two match show, and that's because the cleared the decks for the showdown between reigning king Kevin Owens and # 1 contender Finn Bálor. The Irishman made the decision to leave his face paint, and whatever it may help him channel, in the back, and that may have been a crucial error. It might also have been diving toward Full Sail's notorious steel ramp. Or just stepping to KO, who's on a roll that looks it might take a miracle to stop.
As much as I'm going to enjoy two guys with great chemistry trying to live up to Owens vs. Bálor from last week, I'm bummed that their two out of three falls extravaganza tonight might be the last we see of them working together for a while. And I'm legitimately torn on who I'd like to see win. Considering the week he just had, I wouldn't be shocked to see Hideo-us take a slightly unclean loss to The Gorgeous One as Regal & Haitch like to keep all their top guys strong. But, if this is the feud-ender, the law of babyfaces might prevail, along with Itami.
The females got a lot of story time last week, and they might get more tonight. It's been a while since we've seen Becky Lynch or Bayley in action, and Dark Emma's dealings with the Headbanded One have to lead to something other than locker room vignettes soon. The debut of Dana Brooke has been hyped for weeks now, and she's been featured fairly prominently at the live events.
It would be interesting to know when the next Takeover - presumably the first of the monthly live specials (or, you know, not) - will go down. I'd guess they're teasing out the tag title showdown for that, and knowing how many shows we have until it happens would help us anticipate the next move. As it stands, we should get Enzo vs. the Australian one soon.
And it remains to be seen how exactly they'll stall for KO's knee to heal. More work with Finn leading to a rematch where the demon is brought. Or will a certain Syrian-Canadian finally return?
(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.)
The last few weeks have felt like a bit of a reset...after an exciting month on the road, will we see big things from NXT tonight?
Exciting times for the new brand on the block. Spend your $9.99 with your friendly neighborhood Cagesiders tonight!