Aleister Black def. Czear Bononi
Black continues to run through his opponents with ease and it's still extremely entertaining to watch. I'd like to know more about the guy as a character, but then again, I like the mystique he has about him at the moment. The guy is an exceptional performer and I honestly think he could move up to the main roster tomorrow and he'd be fine. Bononi had a few sloppy moments early on, but Black's exciting offense quickly made me forget about that.
#DIY def. Tino Sabbatelli and Riddick Moss
We really haven't heard from or seen #DIY since they lost their latest shot at the NXT Tag Team Championship at TakeOver: Orlando, so it was about time they returned to action. They have already come up short against Authors of Pain a handful of times, so it was wise to reestablish them as threats to the title by having them beat Sabbatelli (who has boatloads of potential) and Moss in a nice little match. The Ladder match between the two teams at TakeOver: Chicago has me very excited.
Hideo Itami def. Roderick Strong in an NXT Championship No. 1 Contender's Match
The crowd was equally behind both babyfaces throughout this bout, and although Itami is fresh off returning from injury, I truly believe Strong would have been the bigger fan favorite had the live crowd seen the vignettes that aired for Strong talking about his emotional upbringing (or at least I'm assuming they didn't). Nevertheless, this was an awesome, hard-hitting match that was given great time and saw Strong and Itami kick the crap out of each other. Itami was a logical challenger for Roode considering Itami targeted Bobby Roode when he initially resurfaced a few weeks ago, but I hope Strong ends up somewhere on the card as well because of how much focus he has received lately.
As I've said several times over the last month, the quality of NXT week-to-week is gradually returning to its former glory from a year or two ago. Yes, there are a handful of enhancement matches each week, but that's what NXT is at the end of the day: a developmental system. Everything on these episodes serves a purpose and the card for TakeOver: Chicago is virtually set in stone at this point, and it has plenty of promise on paper. This entire edition of NXT was solid from start to finish, but certainly go out of your way to watch the mini piece on Ruby Riot (which was well done) in addition to the strong main event.