Matt Riddle def. Arturo Ruas via Referee Stoppage
I spoke briefly about Ruas in my review of EVOLVE's 10th Anniversary special this past weekend, but I hope he becomes more of a regular on NXT TV in the future. Granted, he's largely been utilized as an enhancement talent so far, but he always looks good in defeat and that was once again the case here. He and Riddle had a highly physical and fun match in the time they were allotted. Post-match, Killian Dain made his anticipated return to NXT by attacking Riddle and putting him through the stage. It was a well executed angle that got me excited for these two eventually going one-on-one.
Bronson Reed def. Dexter Lumis in an NXT Breakout Tournament First Round Match
The gimmick Lumis is doing now is very similar to what he was doing in TNA years ago as Samuel Shaw. To his credit, he plays the character well, but it's never done anything for me, personally. In fact, it just bores me to tears. Thankfully, Reed impressed me with what he could do and made this passable. It was easily the weakest of all the tournament matches so far, but at least the right man advanced.
Kushida def. Apollo Crews
Although this match was announced one week ago by NXT general manager William Regal, the live crowd had no idea that Crews would be Kushida's opponent, so the huge reaction Crews received by the fans in attendance was genuine. I always felt he never got the run he deserved in NXT due to being called up to the main roster too soon, but I'd be all for him making a full-time return to the brand (similar to Tyler Breeze) if he'll actually be used to his full potential, unlike on SmackDown Live. At any rate, this was a super enjoyable match with an invested crowd. Kushida continues to kill it in NXT, while this was the best bout I've seen from Crews in quite a while.
Johnny Gargano Attacked NXT Champion Adam Cole
When it was advertised last week that Cole would defending his NXT Championship on this show, I figured it would be against a nobody since it was never disclosed who his opponent would be. As it turned out, Cole chose to face one of Gargano's pupils from the wrestling school he trained at, who then brought out Gargano himself for the first time since TakeOver: XXV in early June (if you don't count his appearance at the EVOLVE 10th Anniversary special on Saturday night). The brawl that ensured between the two was terrific and left me looking forward to their likely third match at TakeOver in Toronto, especially since we know they are capable of contesting classics.
The road to TakeOver: Toronto is heating up, yet I'm shocked no match announcements were made on this show. It's a little over three weeks away! Yes, most of the card is pretty much set in the stone anyway, but you'd think they'd want to announce most of the lineup to get fans buzzing about it. Nonetheless, this was the usual quality show from NXT with everything serving a purpose. The Breakout Tournament wasn't as strong as it has been in recent weeks, but the returns of Gargano, Crews and Dain were definitely notable and came across very well. Plus, Keith Lee vs. Damian Priest was announced for next week, which should be a gem of a match.