By Graham "GSM" Matthews
Solomon Crowe def. CJ Parker
What more fitting way for Parker to go out than as a loser? For those unaware, Parker requested and was granted his release from NXT two weeks ago, so this was his last televised appearance. He will not be missed (I'm kidding, I wish him in the best in the future). The match itself was pretty ho-hum, but at least Crowe had a better showing here than he did against Bull Dempsey not too long ago. I also liked the new submission move he debuted, as it's ten times better than whatever that headbutt was he was doing before. His goal is to join the hunt for the NXT Championship, but with the title picture crowded at the moment, hopefully he can find someone to feud with in the meantime.
Baron Corbin def. Steve Cutler
I was expecting this to serve as a starting point for a new feud or development in character for Corbin, but nope, it was your standard 30-second squash match. It was quick and painless, of course, and Corbin still has that cool factor about him, but he's been doing the same thing for almost seven months. From what I understand, he played the heel against Rhyno at that NXT live event over WrestleMania weekend, and with a shortage of heels at the moment, he could flourish in that role if they turn him sometime soon.
Enzo Amore and Colin Cassady def. Angelo Dawkins and Sawyer Fulton
I've heard only good things about Dawkins and Fulton as a team (collectively known as Shoot Nation), but the problem is that we know nothing about them. They had a good showing in this match, but with no background, the crowd didn't have much reason to care. I realize they were only in there to give Amore and Cassady an easy win, but they should be developed more before they become regulars on TV. As noted, the match wasn't anything special with the focus being on Blake and Murphy giving a rose to Carmella at ringside. It's not the best story to tell, but at least it adds something to this tag team feud that had nothing going for it before.
Dana Brooke def. Blue Pants
Is Leva Bates aka Blue Pants even signed to an NXT contract? If not, I don't see why considering she's almost always on the show. She was the perfect first opponent for Brooke because she's so over with the Full Sail University audience, so it was easy for them to boo Brooke. The match didn't last long, but I didn't learn much about her in-ring skill from it. She's certainly no Sasha Banks or Bayley, but even if she is limited in the ring, I'm sure she'll improve over time. She has a good look and poses well, so there's that.
Sami Zayn def. Rhyno
I expect this match would have been a lot hotter had it not happened at the end of a long string of tapings. I wouldn't exactly call it "awesome" as the crowd was chanting at one point, but it was still quite good. Zayn hasn't missed a step since his last NXT match two months ago and Rhyno continues to prove why he belongs in NXT and is a valuable asset in getting the young guys over. This was obviously his longest match since returning to WWE, but he performed well and put over Zayn strongly.
This was the first edition of NXT in recent memory that didn't capture the same magic that it tends to do each week. It wasn't a bad show by any means, but more often than not I'm not a fan of the five match format during an hour show because no matches other than the main event had enough time to sink in and digest with viewers. The first four matches were decent and the main event was solid, but there wasn't anything particularly worth going back to watch. The new set of tapings happening soon should breath new life into the program before the next special next month.