By Graham "GSM" Matthews
Liv Morgan def. Peyton Royce by Disqualification
Morgan has definitely improved in the ring over the past year or so, but both she and Royce are still a far cry from the women that once ran this division (i.e. the Four Horsewomen). The match was serviceable, yet nothing special, so perhaps the non-finish was for the better. If nothing else, it prevented Morgan from suffering another loss that would have solidified her as a total loser. I'm glad Ember Moon has seemingly joined forces with Morgan and Aliyah as it finally gives her something notable to do. That said, I might be more interested to find out who will be aligning with Morgan and Royce.
Elias Sampson def. Nathan Cruz
Ugh. I can safely say that despite being out for six months, absence did not make my heart grow fonder of Sampson. His gimmick is still as stupid now as it was before he got hurt, and I can't believe they didn't use his time off to reboot his character because as I've said before, the guitar gimmick will only go so far. I couldn't tell whether he was eliciting genuine heat from the audience or go away heat, but I couldn't have cared less about the match. Thankfully, it was kept relatively brief, but I just can't see him getting anywhere with this persona.
Andrade "Cien" Almas def. Cedric Alexander
I was hoping they would hold off on this match until TakeOver: Toronto, but the card is already stacked as it is, so they were wise to do the match in the main event of NXT where it could receive much more time. This wasn't the same flashy match we saw from them last month, but I liked that they told a different story this time around with Almas working a more physical and aggressive style due to his heel turn. Meanwhile, Alexander is absolutely exceptional and is a popular babyface, so it wasn't hard for him to get the crowd behind him. Once they picked up the pace down the stretch, it turned into a very good match and the final few minutes were awesome. The Lumbar Check out of nowhere looked fantastic, and I loved that Almas cheated to win given he's the NXT regular and Alexander isn't.
Unless a six-woman match match is added to TakeOver, none of these matches had any relevance to the upcoming event, but they were merely deigned to be background fodder in the first place. That said the main event was highly entertaining and well worth checking out. The video packages that promoted each of the matches at TakeOver were excellent and got me more hyped up for the show than I already was. Every TakeOver thus far has been a gem and I expect Saturday to be no exception.