By Graham "GSM" Matthews
NXT Champion Shinsuke Nakamura def. Samoa Joe in a Steel Cage Match
I heard from some poeple that were in attendance for last week's live event title match between Joe and Nakamura in Japan that it was actually a lot longer and better in person, and I assume that was the case with this championship clash as well. It wasn't quite the caliber of contest as their past encounters, but it was enjoyable, nevertheless. I liked how they played off spots from the first cage match back between Joe and Finn Balor. I was surprised Nakamura pinned Joe instead of escaping the cage, but I suppose they want to finish off the feud once and for all with the decisive conclusion. At least Joe was made to look strong in defeat. Now time for him to head to the main roster where he belongs.
Tye Dillinger def. Eric Young by Disqualification in a Qualifying Match For the No. 1 Contender's Fatal 4-Way Match For the NXT Championship
Well, this was hardly a match at a mere minute long, so there really isn't much I can say about it. The bout was barely getting underway before SAnitY interfered, though the non-finish did prevent Young from eating a pinfall loss. Perhaps the biggest thing coming out of this was Damo seemingly alligning with SAnitY. It isn't official yet, but he would be an excellent addition to the group.
Andrade "Cien" Almas def. No Way Jose in a Qualifying Match For the No. 1 Contender's Fatal 4-Way Match For the NXT Championship
It's obvious Almas is much more comfortable in the heel role and I'm happy to see it. He's an awesome wrestler to boot, so he and Jose had a nice little match here. Jose was able to put up a good fight while also allowing Almas to advance to the No. 1 Contender's match. Almas can be a major star for NXT if given the proper push, and this was a step in the right direction for him.
Roderick Strong def. Elias Sampson in a Qualifying Match For the No. 1 Contender's Fatal 4-Way Match For the NXT Championship
Strong hasn't done too much of note since Austin Aries was sidelined with an injury, but this was an encouraging return to prominence for him. I'm not sure what exactly he's supposed to be since he was a heel (?) when he debuted, but as a singles babyface, he should shine, especially now that NXT needs more star power. Sampson bores me to tears, but Strong did his best to get me invested in this match for as long as it lasted.
Bobby Roode def. Oney Lorcan in a Qualifying Match For the No. 1 Contender's Fatal 4-Way Match For the NXT Championship
I initially questioned why they would save this match for the main event when it was easily the most predictable, but then I realized it was for two reasons: Firstly, Roode is a more notable name than anyone else in the tournament. Secondly, it was the best bout of the night. Locan may be positioned as a glorified enhancement talent at the moment, but the guy is a great worker and this was entertaining despite being a squash for Roode.
NXT should have taken a page out of Lucha Underground's book in stretching out the qualifying matches over the course of a few weeks. Instead, they rushed all four qualifying matches in one night. None of the matches would have been instant classics anyway, but it would have helped fill out episodes of NXT through the end of the year. This wasn't a must-see show, but each match served a purpose in building to a big No. 1 Contender's Fatal 4-Way match next week and the highlights of the Steel Cage match were cool as well.