By Graham "GSM" Matthews
Hideo Itami def. Adrian Neville in an Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal Qualifying Tournament Semifinal Match
To my knowledge, these two had yet to clash in NXT, so this was a fresh matchup that was a long time coming. Neville played the heel for most of it, but the crowd was definitely favorable to his (awesome) offense. I liked how they started out slow and built to an exciting final few minutes with both guys going for their respective finishing maneuvers. Given how Neville was already main roster bound anyway, it was surprising to see him lose here, but he obviously looked good in defeat and Itami was the fan favorite to win.
Finn Balor def. Tyler Breeze in an Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal Qualifying Tournament Semifinal Match
If you're among those that think Breeze isn't anything more than a glorified gimmick, think again after watching this match. He's an excellent athlete and had a great opponent in Balor, and you don't need me to tell you how much of a star he is. Their antics early on (Balor mocking Breeze for example) were entertaining and the action throughout was quite good. Balor's already destined for big things, but I surely hope Breeze doesn't get lost in the shuffle when he eventually gets called up.
Hideo Itami def. Finn Balor to Qualify for the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal
As former tag team partners, this match had some history behind it. I had my expectations set up and unsurprisingly, they surpassed them. They have awesome chemistry together and they put together a quality main event. The GTS teases from Itami continue to be a lot of fun and while I realize he connected with it at the NXT live event during WrestleMania weekend, I hope he finally hits it on TV at some point. Itami winning came as a genuine surprise given Balor was a strong candidate to win it, but it was a huge victory for Itami and Balor lost nothing from the loss. Hopefully we're in for more matches between these two down the road.
The outcomes of each match were predictable given that it was taped two weeks ago, but I was happy to see the important matches from the tournament get aired. I was in favor of them airing it live on WWE Network as it was going on, but it made for a solid edition of NXT. The in-ring action is well worth checking out and the video package highlighting Itami's journey to WrestleMania was incredibly cool. There was also effective hype for next week's show which will feature Sami Zayn returning to the ring and Dana Brooke's debut.