Ember Moon def. Lei'D Tapa
For those who watched TNA three or four years ago, Lei'D Tapa was a part of the Knockouts division for a cup of coffee as Gail Kim's protege, a storyline that ended abruptly before Tapa departed the company. I wasn't a fan of her work then and she seemingly hasn't improved at all since I last saw her. She had a pretty poor performance here, even while in the ring with someone as skilled as Moon. On the bright side, Moon cut a decent promo afterward that sets her up to face Asuka again at TakeOver: Brooklyn for the NXT Women's Championship.
NXT Tag Team Champions The Authors of Pain vs. Timothy Bumpers and David Ramos Went to a No Contest (Non-title)
Every match where Authors of Pain take on a pair of local athletes is essentially the same, so SAnitY actually did us a favor by beating up Bumpers and Ramos before Authors of Pain could. The brawl that ensured between the two teams was fine, but it didn't make me any more excited to see them do battle in Brooklyn than I was when it was first teased a few weeks back. I understand NXT's tag team division is thin, but it doesn't scream TakeOver worthy to me at this point. Perhaps they'll exceed my expectations.
The Velveteen Dream def. Cezar Bononi
It's been two months and I'm still not entirely sold on The Velveteen Dream, at least as a character. The artist formerly known as Patrick Clark is an excellent athlete, but how far can this gimmick really go? I suppose we'll find out in due time, particularly when he's placed in a program with someone. That should hopefully be soon because it has gotten to the point where these squash matches for him have grown tiresome.
Drew McIntyre Addressed NXT Champion Bobby Roode
McIntyre wasn't receiving a ton of storyline support before just recently, so in order to truly maximize the build to his bout with Bobby Roode at TakeOver, this was promo was necessary. Ultimately, he did a very good job with it, discussing why NXT belongs to the fans and not Roode and how taking that title will be the culmination of his road to redemption in returning to the company. However, he isn't as red-hot as Roode right now in my opinion, so I would keep the title on Roode a little longer and wait for Roderick Strong to come back for it.
Kassius Ohno def. Hideo Itami by Disqualification
The slow-burning heel turn for Itami has been incredibly well done over the past few months and this was the perfect way to blow it off by having him get himself intentionally disqualified via a low blow. The match that preceded the finish was also entertaining and a nice teaser of what to expect if they do indeed face off in a rematch at TakeOver (fingers crossed that's in the cards). Itami has been in NXT for so long that I'm sure there are those who are convinced he'll never be called up to the main roster, but if nothing else, this change in character should help reinvigorate him and give him something meaningful to do.
Currently, I'm not in love with the lineup for TakeOver: Brooklyn, but these TakeOver shows are never anything less than good, so I have faith the matches on tap will deliver. Plus, we're just a month away from the event, so there is plenty of time to heat up the card. In regards to this edition of NXT, the main event was the highlight of the night and everything else served some sort of a purpose, so it was a solid show all things considered.