By Graham "GSM" Matthews
NXT Champion Sami Zayn Called Out Kevin Owens
It was really cool to see Zayn more aggressive than usual seeing how he was attacked by Kevin Owens yet again at the end of last week's show. It's obviously still too soon for the two to come to blows, but I really liked how NXT General Manager William Regal made a match between the two official for the next live special as well as their contract signing next week. On that note, I found it interesting that the first Zayn vs. Owens match will be non-title. That actually adds more intrigue to the match whereas if the title was on the line, it'd be obvious Zayn would win.
Finn Balor def. Curtis Axel in a NXT Championship Tournament Quarterfinals Match
Was it just me or was this Axel match much better than the one he had with Hideo Itami a few weeks ago? Perhaps it's because Balor has more of a connection with the crowd at this point in time, but either way, Axel's return to NXT isn't off to the strongest start. It was a fairly good match, but it was a showcase for Balor more than anything else. This might be a bold statement, but I honestly believe he has one of the best entrances right now in all of WWE.
NXT Women's Champion Charlotte def. Sasha Banks by Disqualification
Charlotte and Banks contested another good match in the time they were allotted, but it obviously paled in comparison to their past encounters. Then again, that was probably the point since Becky Lynch interfered before they could kick it up a notch. I really liked the way Bayley was showcased afterward by attacking Charlotte, putting herself back into title contention. I love the idea of a Fatal 4-Way between the four ladies at the next live special and I surely hope that will be the show where Bayley finally wins the belt.
Wesley Blake and Buddy Murphy def. The Vaudevillians in a No. 1 Contender's Match for the NXT Tag Team Championship
The match itself was fine for what it was, but it wasn't given enough time to be anything of note. However, Blake and Murphy pulling out the victory was great. The Vaudevillians are a solid team, but they feel overexposed at the moment. While Blake and Murphy have underdeveloped characters, they are fresh faces in the tag team division and them challenging for the tag titles should be fun. I also appreciated them switching it up a bit by holding the title match next week instead of waiting until the next special.
Hideo Itami def. Tyler Breeze in a NXT Championship Tournament Quarterfinals Match
This was easily Itami's best singles showing to yet, which shouldn't come as any surprise given who his opponent was. They kept the pace consistent throughout before building to an exciting conclusion down the stretch. All the near-falls were believable and the action was very entertaining. I figured Breeze would advance because I didn't think they'd give Itami vs. Balor away so early, but hey, I'll take it!
NXT has been consistently great all year (I know, that's not saying much since we've only had four episodes) and this show kept the streak going strong. The opener and the main event were especially enjoyable and the other two matches were effective in progressing storylines. Furthermore, there was a lot of solid hype for next week's show as well as the upcoming live special in February. There's a lot to get excited about in NXT right now and the pending live special is shaping up to be equally epic as its predecessors.