By Graham "GSM" Matthews
Carmella def. Peyton Royce
Although the commentators touted this as the "debut" of Royce, we've actually seen her several times before on NXT as an enhancement talent, but that's usually the case with most of the new signees, anyway. The match was fine for what it was and Royce showed promise in the ring, but Carmella is still mediocre at best. It doesn't help she's not over with the audience and it seems like the crowd doesn't know how to feel about her, hence why they're typically quiet during her matches. That said, she doesn't have anything going for her at the moment, so why did she win? It was a wasted opportunity to have Royce make a name for herself in her first official match.
Johnny Gargano and Tommaso Ciampa def. Tyler Breeze and Bull Dempsey in a Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic Round 1 Match
While the match itself wasn't anything special, I enjoyed it for a number of reasons. First of all, it was extremely cool to see independent stars Gargano and Ciama on NXT TV, and considering they won, it leaves me wondering whether they've both signed contracts with the company (though I've read conflicting reports on Ciampa). Furthermore, Breeze and Dempsey made for a fun duo and their clash of characters should make for a solid storyline in the weeks ahead.
Dana Brooke def. Billie Kay
It's no coincidence that more women are being introduced in NXT with three-fourths of The Four Horsewomen now on the main roster. Kay, similar to Royce, is off to a decent start, but there's still plenty of room for improvement. As for Brooke, she's not awful, but she's just not doing it for me. She's certainly improved over the last six months, but she doesn't have that same "it" factor that many of the other ladies do. Maybe it will come in time, but she's going to need to be carried by Bayley if that's the direction they're headed in with her.
NXT Champion Finn Balor and Samoa Joe def. The Lucha Dragons in a Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic Round 1 Match
Seeing Balor and Joe make their entrances in front of a WWE crowd (not counting NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn because that was an NXT show) gave me chills. Both guys should be on the main roster right now in my opinion, but I understand keeping them down in developmental a little while longer because of the lack of star power right now. Anyway, the similar in-ring styles of all four competitors made for a great match with the consistent, entertaining pace making it must-see. The crowd was more into the action than you'd expect, but it might have been because they weren't expecting to see Balor or Joe in person. Nevertheless, if this was any indication, Balor and Joe will be stars when they eventually get the call-up.
It was nice to see some fresh blood in the women's division (despite the fact we've seen them on the show before just under different names), but both bouts left something to be desired. Hopefully we get a better feel for what's in store for the ladies when Bayley returns next week. Meanwhile, both tag team matches were very enjoyable and made this show worth watching. It's great that the tag division is finally getting showcased and I'm looking forward to the next set of matches in the tournament.
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