By Graham "GSM" Matthews
NXT Champion Finn Balor and Samoa Joe def. Enzo Amore and Colin Cassady in a Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic Round 2 Match
Balor and Joe are a bit of a mismatched duo in comparison to the rest of the competitors in the tournament, don't you think? This was a fun little match while it lasted, but Amore and Cassady looked like shmucks in the ring with Balor and Joe. They beat them with ease, but it was logical to have them advance given their star power. I'm just surprised they won so decisively. Regardless of whether they win the whole thing, this pairing will obviously serve as a stepping stone to a feud between them in time for the December TakeOver special.
Apollo Crews def. Johnny Gargano
Crews' incredible athleticism never ceases to impress me. This was another standard squash from him, but Gargano scored more offense than any of Crews' prior opponents. I like how Crews is slowly stepping up in competition and Gargano was the perfect guy for him to go up against. He looked good in defeat and I hope this means they signed him to a contract, but I guess we won't know for sure until the next set of tapings.
Dana Brooke and Emma def. Peyton Royce and Billie Kay
I thought Royce and Kay would be more polished in the ring than they are, but apparently not. This match was sloppy in spots, but it mostly due to the inexperience of Royce and Kay than it was Brooke, which was weird. Again, not to sound like I'm "hating" on Brooke, but she's still not doing it for me, but at least her alliance with Emma is helping her in a way. Working with Asuka at next week's TakeOver special should also help her hone her craft more. As for Royce and Kay, they won't get any better until they're put in the ring with people who can wrestle (like Emma, not Eva Marie) more often.
Tyler Breeze def. Tommaso Ciampa
Breeze has been in such a holding pattern for so long that I think people could stop caring about these inconsequential matches after a while. He beats almost everyone he faces on NXT, but when it comes to the specials, he loses and that will likely be the case when he faces Crews next Wednesday. As for this bout, it was very well-wrestled and Ciampa had a good showing, but it seemed to me that Gargano had more of a connection with the crowd than he did. Thus, if I had to sign only one of the two, it would be Gargano.
I've noticed in the past that the go-home shows to the live specials are never anything of note, but this episode wasn't half-bad in my opinion. None of the matches were worth going out of your way to see, granted, but that video package highlighting the Bayley vs. Sasha Banks feud absolutely is. What a masterpiece that was! I'm very much looking forward to that main event next week as well as the rest of the TakeOver: Respect card, as it has the potential to be marvelous similar to every past special.