Almost feel like this is redundant, since almost every beat of this hour was worth its own post...
Last week's two-out-of-three falls match gets the full WWE production treatment. That leads to the credits, and then Sami Zayn hits the ring for a promo to put over Samoa Joe, their bout and TakeOver: Dallas. His quest is still to become the first two-time NXT champ, but he's bummed he doesn't have a match on the show.
Enter General Manager William Regal, who concurs that Zayn deserves something special for the brand's biggest show ever, because he's meant so much to NXT. After saying Sami will face NXT's newest acquisition, the GM exits and a static-y screen reveals Shinsuke Nakamura as the crowd chants "Holy Shit".
After recently suffering their first loss since partnering up, Zack Ryder & Mojo Rawley get back in the win column against Angelo Dawkins & Kenneth Crawford. Hype Bros need a little more than three minutes to take care of their opponents with a Hype Ryder.
Walking backstage, Emma & Dana Brooke bump into Deonna Purrazzo. They tell she should have taken their advice, and find it funny when Purrazzo says she'll stop the Emmalution. Brooke gives her a head tap. Their match is a squash, with Deonna getting in a few solid strikes but mostly taking offense before tapping to the Emma Lock.
- Love it when Regal can't help but smile before one of these announcements. And this one was certainly smile-worthy. Perfectly logical set-up and well-delivered, too.
- Guess the resolution of the Dawkins/Sawyer Fulton break-up angle is that they broke up?
- One thing Roadblock taught/reminded me... wrestling fans love to chant. There's no other explanation for "We the People" being over in Canada. A lot of people may hate him as much as Corey Graves, but Gronk's buddy is on to something. And now that he's not running around hitting people with his ass, I'm on board.
- Other than re-establishing Hype Bros a bit, the opening tag was really just a showcase for Graves. Pretty much any one thing he said about the Gronk Cruise was better than everything every announcer said in the last six hours of main roster television.
- Purrazzo as the consistent jobber in the story of Emma and Asuka is a great use of outside talent.
- Love pretty much everything about cocky yet short-tempered and sadistic Emma and her cheerleader Dana, but I'd love them more if I had any sense of where they're going. Like Apollo Crews saying he's changing, telling us you're running the show loses its luster when we see the same stuff all the time. What's worse, if they do the title change in Dallas, the Aussie has zero creditability as a challenger for Asuka... especially since they announce that she's
losing tofacing the joshi star again next week. Actually, if Bayley retains, she has even less.
Video package promoting last weekend's road trip to Ohio, their relationship with The Arnold Sports Festival and the growth of NXT since last year.
Footage of the Revival's successful title defense in Toronto last Saturday is shown, leading us into Tommaso Ciampa storming to the ring to face Jesse Sorenson, who entered while we were away. It only takes the Sicilian Psychopath a couple minutes to get the submission via armbar.
Recapping the aftermath of Bayley's win over Carmella sets the stage for our first tag match of the evening. All four women get individual entrances. Nia Jax & Eva Marie both target Bayley in the early going, but the Hugster survives and gets a few moves in before tagging Asuka. Eva gets one strike in on the Empress of Tomorrow and then eats a series of kicks. The Hugster is caught off-guard by a bling tag to Nia giving the heels the upper-hand for a few seconds, but it doesn't last long. All Red pisses Asuka off by slapping her while she was waiting for a tag, which results in her taking a kick to the head which pushes her right into a Bayley-to-Belly and a loss.
Post-match, Regal returns to tell the victors they'll be facing each other in Dallas. Asuka does creepy things with her mouth while Bayley looks nervous.
- What a difference a year makes. I probably don't give NXT enough credit for successfully becoming a touring show without too many hiccups.
- I have advised my client, GEN-O MR-OKSO, to sue Graves for gimmick infringement, since his introduction of Eva is basically a spoken word version of one of my boss' flowery odes to All Red Everything. Also, I'm pretty sure the General says "OH MY GOD, SERIOUSLY, SHUT UP" to me once a day. Which I guess makes me Tom Phillips. Let's never speak of this again.
- So, Eva. Heat magnet, yes. But anyone else feel let down this was the payoff to her eliminating Asuka from the battle royal? When she can't be trusted to do anything but take offense in a four minute tag match, let's just officially make her a manager.
- Did like that Asuka and Jax were kept apart, since that could be a money program for the Summer while Peyton Royce and Billie Kay get established.
- Bayley's rocking herself side-to-side with a sheepish grin on her face when Regal told her she sets "the standard for what a champion should be in NXT" was phenomenal, and is her character in a nutshell. I don't know what opportunities she'll get at the next level, but as long as she continues to find ways to work her personality into every gesture, I'll remain optimistic.
Tom Phillips sets up an Austin Aries promo by asking him about what happened with Baron Corbin in Orlando. A-Double sells their match saying pretty much what he told WWE.com in their feature on him last week... he's been a champ everywhere he's gone and he's beaten guys like Corbin who didn't take him seriously at every stop. The Greatest Man Who Ever Lived will teach the Lone Wolf a lesson in Dallas.
Main event starts off with Chad Gable & Jason Jordan dominating, clearing the ring for a commercial break. Simon Gotch has regained control when we return, and the Vaudevillains hit their Dukes Up combo along with some rest holds during a brief period of working over the Olympian.
Gable sunset flips over Simon to bring Jordan in hot. Aiden English takes a tag at the same time, but is the recipient of several strikes before both former champs take suplexes. American Alpha go for their finisher but are blocked, leading to a chaotic sequence where Chad kicks Gotch to the floor where JJ catches him and suplexes him. In the ring, the thespian scores nearfalls with a roll-up and sitout powerbomb. Aiden doesn't see a tag, however, and gets shoulder blocked into the corner for Grand Amplitude.
American Alpha will challenge the Revival for the tag titles at TakeOver: Dallas.
- He's no Samoa Joe, but Aries casually cutting a promo that tells us who he is, why he's here and what his plans are - and still manage to convey intensity - is pretty amazing when there are people on the main roster who couldn't do the same. Which makes me think two things: (1) guys like him are really valuable in a developmental program and (2) it's pretty telling when wrestlers who've had some autonomy with the microphone in other feds can talk circles around ones who've been reading WWE Creative's scripts for years.
- Would really like to see a 15 - 20 minute Gable/Gotch bout somewhere down the line. Two guys with totally different approaches to innovating in the ring, and they showed some flashes of chemistry here.
- Solid but unremarkable main event overall. The outcome was never in doubt, and they weren't given enough time to create any. American Alpha are on fire right now, and we'll all enjoy pretty much anything they do. Gatekeeper heels is the right roll for VV. This was all about getting to the "one more" moment for Gable & Jordan.
- Since I don't have much else to say about, I'll close with this random observation: Gable rocking the Steiner Brothers singlet with the Team Angle boots is almost as weird a combo as Asuka's ensemble.
Very eventful episode, as we're now more or less locked and loaded for Dallas. The newsflashes came with some cool moments, but there's not much in the way of standout promo or match to recommend.
Holy schnikes is TakeOver gonna rock, though.
Hit us with your take, Cagesiders.