By Graham "GSM" Matthews
NXT Champion Kevin Owens Interrupted Hideo Itami; Rhyno Attacked Finn Balor
It was encouraging to hear Itami will be back in action in the next three to four months and I hope that timetable ends up being accurate. It was also wise to tease him going after the NXT title upon his return to the ring, which is why it was logical that Owens interrupted him. The two had a good back-and-forth on the mic and Owens fumbling over his words only to turn it into a shot at Itami was hysterical. Balor making the save was solid hype for their upcoming title match in Japan and Rhyno attacking Balor set up the main event nicely, so this segment was successful on various fronts.
Enzo Amore and Colin Cassady def. Jason Jordan and Sylvester Lefort
I usually enjoy the pre-match promos of Amore and Cassady and while I appreciate their effort to incorporate relevant movies into this promo, it was a total train wreck. Unfortunately, the match wasn't much better, and it's not as if it served as a simple squash for Amore and Cassady. The match was mere minutes long and it ended on a roll-up win for the babyfaces, so how much did it really do to benefit them? I guess they're slowly building to Jordan teaming with Chad Gable and usually I'd be in favor of that, but I really wish they'd hurry and get to that point for the sake of adding more depth to the NXT tag team division.
Dana Brooke def. Cassie
Brooke is still a work in progress in the ring, but she's coming along nicely. Her matches aren't nearly as deplorable as they were when she first debuted a few months ago and while this was no instant classic, she held her own and had a decent outing. Something about Cassie stands out to me, and maybe it's because she's a former student of Lance Storm's (then you know she's good). Hopefully we see more of her in the future and she isn't always utilized as an enhancement talent.
The Hype Bros def. Angelo Dawkins and Sawyer Fulton
The team of Zack Ryder and Mojo Rawley isn't for everyone, but I enjoy their energy and think they make for an awesome pairing. Ryder has always been a tag team specialist and Rawley is limited in a tandem, so it's a win-win for both guys. I could've sworn I read somewhere not too long ago that The Shoot Nation was no longer teaming together, but apparently that wasn't true. They weren't referred to as such on this show, but I hope they establish an identity for themselves at some point.
Finn Balor def. Rhyno
Although this match wasn't much different from their first outing, it was still relatively solid. I like both guys, but together, they don't create compelling matchups, or at least as compelling as most would expect from them. Balor scoring the win was the right move as his NXT Championship match nears, and Samoa Joe making the save afterward planted the seeds for a tag team match between himself, Balor, Rhyno and Kevin Owens for down the line which has the potential to be a show-stealer.
I enjoyed last week's show slightly more than this week's, but this episode had its fair share of highlights including the stellar second part of the feature on Finn Balor covering his time in Japan. Other than that, the bookend segments on this show made it worth watching while everything that occurred in between them was passable but ultimately forgettable.