By Graham "GSM" Matthews
Kevin Owens vs. Sami Zayn Was Made Official For NXT TakeOver
From Owens to Zayn to even William Regal, everyone involved in this segment was excellent. Regal is so effective as an authority figure because he's not all over the show and when he does show up, it feels special. Owens knows his character like the back of his hand and plays it perfection. Zayn continues to be a great underdog, beloved by the audience and showing fire in his exchange with Owens. It was good to see their championship match confirmed one month out and as much as I'm looking forward to it, it'd be even cooler if a stipulation of some kind was added.
Enzo Amore and Colin Cassady def. NXT Tag Team Champions Blake and Murphy (Non-title)
It never ceases to amaze me just how over Amore and Cassdy are right now, and there's no doubt in my mind that the NXT Tag Team titles should be put on them at the special next month. The match was fun while it lasted, but only due to the crowd being hot for Amore and Cassady Blake and Murphy are a very good tandem, and their character development is coming along, but their entrance must be changed as soon as possible. I assume they were holding back a bit for their upcoming title encounter. I thought this was their way of giving Amore and Cassady a title shot, but they were already the No. 1 Contenders, so why bother beating the champs in non-title action?
Dana Brooke def. Bayley
For her second in-ring appearance, I'm still not impressed with Brooke as a wrestler. She's not terrible, but it seems strange they'd bother bringing her up if she was ready yet. Then again, this is developmental after all, so I'm sure she'll improve in time. She just has to stop touching herself so much (and yes, I'm well aware of how awkward that sounded). Thankfully, she had a really good opponent in Bayley, who got a passable match out of here. Plus, Bayley was protected in defeat with Emma's distraction on the ramp, so I liked the booking here.
Hideo Itami def. Adam Rose
I don't what it is, but I always enjoy Rose's returns to NXT. The Full Sail University crowd wasn't red hot for him throughout the bout, but they were receptive toward him when he made his entrance. It was as if he never left, and it went to show just how badly he's been booked since arriving on the main roster about a year ago. The match was a total showcase for Itami, which was necessary with the No. 1 Contender's Triple Threat match also involving Finn Balor and Tyler Breeze coming up.
Becky Lynch def. Sara Dobson
Lynch has always been a great in-ring worker, but she's really come into her own as a character since turning heel. That showed during her pre-match promo and I'm already excited for the promos she and Sasha Banks will be having together in the weeks to come. Of course, this was a simple squash match to further her momentum (and that armbar finisher was brutal), though I felt like it was unnecessary. We just saw her in action last week, so why not use this time to allow one of the other matches to go slightly longer?
Sami Zayn def. Alex Riley by Disqualification
They wouldn't given much time to work, but Zayn and Riley made the most of the time they were allotted by having a solid matchup. Riley was on offense for most of it, which I didn't mind that at all seeing how he's coming off two losses to Kevin Owens and he had the size advantage, anyway. Owens' interference was well done and it once again established him as a beast. His powerbomb could very well write Riley off TV for the foreseeable future, and as big of a fan as I am of Riley, it's probably for the better since I don't see where he fits into the Takeover plans right now.
It looks like the new set of tapings are underway and it definitely showed by the enthusiasm of the Full Sail University crowd. I wouldn't go so far to call it a great show, but it was an enjoyable hour and better than what we've seen in recent weeks. Most importantly, it planted the seeds for the upcoming Takeover special that is (unsurprisingly) shaping up to be one hell of a show. None of the matches from this episode are must-see, but the opening segment certainly is.