Dakota Kai def. Sarray
Kai was originally scheduled to face Ember Moon on this show before it was revealed shortly beforehand that Moon isn't cleared to compete currently due to a medial issue that wasn't revealed. Here's wishing her a speedy recovery. Kai vs. Sarray was a fresher match because we'd never seen it before, but it did result in Sarray's undefeated streak ending. That's not a big deal as long as Sarray can bounce back and settle into her first feud on the brand soon. Plus, this was a well-wrestled opener where she made to look credible in defeat. I liked Raquel Gonzalez's intensity during her post-match promo.
Pete Dunne Confronted Ilja Dragunov
It was awesome to see Dragunov on NXT TV for the first time. I feel like most of the NXT UK roster has appeared in NXT at one point or another, so his appearance on this episode felt special. He's become a strong talker over the last year and he hyped up his NXT United Kingdom Championship clash with WALTER well here. His verbal exchange with Dunne was also enjoyable and Dragunov bringing up how he's going to do what Dunne never could (beat WALTER) was a nice touch. This served as solid setup for their main event match later in the night.
Million Dollar Champion LA Knight def. Andre Chase (Non-Title)
We got a brief look at Chase in the first round of the NXT Breakout Tournament. He's experienced from his time on the independent scene, but there's nothing about him that stands out whatsoever. Thus, I had no problem with Knight squashing him within 30 seconds here. The focus was meant to be on what happened afterward with Ted DiBiase confronting Knight and challenging Knight to a Million Dollar Championship match at TakeOver on Cameron Grimes' behalf. DiBiase will become Knight's new butler if Grimes loses again, which I don't think he will. I think NXT can still get more out of this story with Grimes as Knight's butler, but I assume they want to speed it up so they can do the payoff at TakeOver.
Gigi Dolin def. Amari Miller
We've seen Dolin in action at least once before on NXT TV this year, but this was the first time she was actually focused on with a pre-match promo and everything. Jacy Jayne accompanied her to the ring, so it looks like they'll be a unit. Dolin has such a unique presence about her that makes her feel like a star, not to mention that she's super skilled in the ring. She's an excellent pickup for this women's division if they book her correctly. This was a good showcase for her and I'm excited to see her continue to develop.
Kyle O'Reilly and Adam Cole Picked the Stipulations for Their 2-Out-of-3 Falls Match at TakeOver 36
We all knew we were getting a third match between O'Reilly and Cole at TakeOver 36. The question was what the stipulation would be. I was pulling for it to be Loser Leaves Town given the storyline and the real-life circumstances with Cole's contract reportedly expiring soon, but maybe that would make the outcome too obvious. Instead, it will be a 2-out-of-3 Falls match, or basically a Three Stages of Hell match but not by that name. It's the same stipulations as the one Cole had with Johnny Gargano at TakeOver: Toronto II, which is slightly disappointing. I guess Hell in a Cell would be asking too much, especially if it's in the Capitol Wrestling Center. Nonetheless, this was a terrific segment with strong promos from both men. I can totally understand fans being tired of this rivalry, but the matches and promos have delivered, if nothing else.
Odyssey Jones def. Trey Baxter in an NXT Breakout Tournament Semifinal Match
Jones is still very green, but as I've said before, he has a lot of potential. His charisma alone is going to take him far along with his above-average athletic ability. Baxter is very talented in his own right, but Jones was the easy choice to advance to the finals. Jones dominated a majority of the match, but Baxter was impressive whenever he was on offense. I would've liked to see this last longer than it did.
Boa def. Drake Maverick
I feel bad for Maverick. For a guy who had so much momentum coming out of that Interim NXT Cruiserweight Championship Tournament last summer, NXT has done very little with him since then. I'm not saying he should be contending for the NXT Championship, but he's a very valuable and entertaining performer. In other words, he should be above the enhancement level at this point, yet he lost to Boa of all people here. Yes, the same Boa who has had his ass kicked on countless occasions over the last two years. Xia Li was nowhere to be seen here, which was strange. Boa doesn't have a ton to offer compared to Maverick, so I was not a fan of this.
Pete Dunne def. Ilja Dragunov
Personally, I would have saved this first-time-ever encounter for later down the line when it could have meant more, or at the very least not had either of them get beat by pinfall. I know they're protecting Dunne at the moment, likely for a match with Samoa Joe eventually, but I don't think Dragunov has lost at all since October, so him losing here was a questionable all. The match itself was an excellent, hard-hitting affair. Dragunov got the better of WALTER afterward and stared at the NXT United Kingdom Championship belt. Maybe Dunne will be first in line to challenge him if he wins?
There was a different vibe to this show coming off the reports and the rumors that NXT is going to be undergoing some serious changes soon, which I hope isn't true. Sure, NXT is lacking buzz at the moment and it isn't what it once was, but to go back to what it was before Triple H took over would be disastrous. I enjoyed this episode on the whole, including the vignettes with Dexter Lumis and Indi Hartwell on their date, and thought the build to TakeOver next weekend was well done. Two more matches were added to the card and two title matches were announced for next week's show. Say what you well about the black-and-gold brand, but the lineup for that TakeOver looks amazing on paper.