By Graham "GSM" Matthews
NXT Champion Finn Balor Addressed Kevin Owens
It was logical to kick off the episode with the new NXT Champion given this was his first appearance on the program since winning the title in Japan earlier this month. He saved his best mic work for the contract signing, but this promo was still short, sweet and to the point, also serving as effective hype for the contract signing later in the night. Balor is beloved at Full Sail University, so the reaction he received when he came out was an electric way of starting the show.
Eva Marie def. Cassie
I've been following Eva's training closely (not in a weird way, though) these past few months and I, like everyone else, was anxious to see how she'd perform in her first match back. While she didn't blow me... away (sorry, I couldn't resist), she has improved immensely from the last time we saw her. Her pre-match promo wasn't that bad, either. Then again, that's not saying much considering how god awful she was before, but it's still a step in the right direction. I'm pulling for her and applaud her for putting in the effort to honing her craft.
Baron Corbin def. Local Athlete
Another week, another Corbin squash. Is there really anything else to say at this point? These matches remind me of the old Ascension matches we also used to get on a weekly basis on this show: they're repetitive, boring and accomplish nothing. I'll continue to not care about anything Corbin does until he enters a notable program or at least shows signs of progression as a character.
Samoa Joe def. Mike Rawlis
This was a pretty basic squash match from Joe and it was fun while it lasted, but I'm ready for the next chapter in Joe's NXT stint. He came in with a ton of momentum at the last live special in May, but he's cooled off considerably since then because his feud with Kevin Owens was seemingly dropped. I don't know what they have planned for him going forward, but that match against Rhyno in two weeks should be good.
Bayley def. Emma
After some time away from the ring, it was awesome to see Bayley back in action. She's been one of my favorites in NXT for a while now and I've been dying to see her win the NXT Women's Champions for the last year. With Charlotte, Sasha Banks and Becky Lynch on the main roster (though still making sporadic appearances on NXT for now), you'd think she'd be next in line to hold the gold and possibly that comes at NXT TakeOver in Brooklyn. Charlotte doing the favors for Bayley and possibly even Brooke is wise as well.
The Vaudevillians def. Angelo Dawkins and Sawyer Fulton
The Vaudevillians have been getting over nicely as babyfaces as of late and it always baffled me they were ever kept heel to begin with even after they were winning over the audience early on in their run. This was a pretty passable match from the duo that was designed to further their momentum going into their tag team title match against Blake and Murphy next week.
NXT Champion Finn Balor and Kevin Owens Signed the Contract for Their Title Match at NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn
Is it just me or does NXT host the best contract signings? They don't drag on forever and are kept relatively brief. Balor and Owens shined on the mic in the small window of time they were given to talk, and what kind of contract signing would this be if it didn't end in physicality? It offered viewers a preview of what to expect in their rematch in Brooklyn, so it was successful in what it set out to do.
I believe this was the first show as part of the latest set of tapings. It wasn't the hot episode I thought it would be, but it was solid on the whole with a number of effective matches and segments that gave viewers plenty to get excited about in the coming weeks. I'm typically not a fan of shows that feature a multitude of squash matches, but I often have to remind myself that it is a developmental territory at the end of the day.