By Graham "GSM" Matthews
NXT Champion Samoa Joe def. Rhyno (Non-title)
I realize Rhyno may not be too much of a threat to the top guys these days, but he's much more credible than a typical enhancement talent, so he serves his purpose in putting over the younger stars on NXT. Plus, he can always be counted on for a competent contest and this match was no exception. Granted, a large part of that was due to Joe and how he's been on an absolute roll lately, but Rhyno held his own as well. I liked Joe going over in decisive fashion and now we look forward to him moving into his next title program, presumably next week.
The Authors of Pain def. American Alpha
Other than one short-lived squash match late last month, we really haven't seen much of The Authors of Pain in the ring. Thus, this match was a true test as to how they would fare against a team much better than them, and I'd certainly say they passed with flying colors. Their presence alone is intimidating, but they backed it up in this match with a dominant performance. They garnered good heat beforehand by attacking the babyfaces from behind, American Alpha were on the verge of victory on a few different occasions, and Authors of Pain scored the big victory as they should have. Solid stuff all around.
Austin Aries def. Patrick Clark
Anyone who watched Tough Enough would recognize Clark from last year's sixth season. Having had experience on the independent scene, I really thought he should have won the competition, but he ended up with a developmental contract anyway, so I suppose it's a moot point. This was essentially a showcase for Aries and his feud with No Way Jose was well-furthered afterward. On a side note, Clark's all-patriotic attire was something else. I believe he portrays a heel on the house show circuit, so it was weird for him to be paired with a heel Aries here.
Bayley def. Nia Jax
I was not a fan of the match these two had in London back in December and enjoyed their rematch in May significantly more, but this was their best bout to date in my opinion. I still say Jax is far from main roster ready, but she has no doubt improved in the ring in the nine months she's been in NXT and has been nicely protected for the most part. Bayley can get a crowd rallying for her like no one else, so she had the audience solidly behind her throughout the bout. Furthermore, I liked the finish a lot with Bayley just barely scoring the victory by hitting the Bayley to Belly off the top rope (a crucial mistake made by Jax that cost her the contest). If this was Jax's final match in NXT before getting called up, she went out on a high note.
NXT promoted this episode as "Fight Night" with three marquee matches by the show's standards, and it lived up to the billing in my opinion. Not all four matches may have been blockbusters, but each of them were meaningful in their own way. Joe continued his reign of terror, Authors of Pain had an impressive outing, Aries picked up a nice win, and the main event was entertaining, making this an enjoyable edition of NXT on the whole as the road to TakeOver: Brooklyn heats up.