SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
Oney Lorcan & Danny Birch vs. Tino Sabbatelli & Riddick Moss: This was a great match to begin this week’s program. It was very hard hitting with both team’s strengths on display. Sabbatelli and Moss controlled most of the match with impressive cohesiveness as a team while keeping Birch grounded. Lorcan was finally tagged in and let off a fury of knife edge chops and European uppercuts that stung both of his adversaries momentarily. He was later caught by Moss in his attempt at a cross body only to be slammed into the turnbuckle. This lead to the end as Sabbatelli and Moss set Lorcan up for their finisher, a collaborative running bulldog, to pick up the hard-fought win. Even though this was not a match for any special prize or consideration, it was very entertaining and got the show to begin without a hitch.
NXT Women’s Battle Royal: This match at first did not seem like it was going to be as great as it was, only to serve as a showcase for Nikki Cross. To the contrary, this match was very competitive as each participant was surprisingly impressive. Some of the standouts (moments included) were Cross’s high crossbody onto the remaining competitors and her elimination of almost half of them, Billie Kay’s viciousness, especially when she escaped elimination by holding onto Bianca Belair’s hair extension only to be later whipped with that very same extension. Belair showcased her power throughout the match as she delivered hard hitting spears and her overhead body press elimination of Candice Lecrae. The match concluded with Cross eliminating the other three remaining competitors as she knocked both Belair and Mercedes Martinez as they fought on apron, later to eliminate Kay and becoming the fourth contestant in the Fatal Four-Way Women’s Championship match at NXT Takeover: Houston. As William Regal entered the ring to showcase the championship belt, the other three competitors made their way into the ring which resulted in a standoff that truly elevates the anticipation for the upcoming battle for the title.
Aleister Black attacked by the Velveteen Dream: Honestly, these two never get old. Each week NXT has brilliantly set up this heated rivalry exemplifying each one of their attributes – the Dream’s never-ending attempts of gaining Black’s attention and Black’s mysterious fury. As Black made his way to the ring for his match, the Dream rose from the smoke of his enemy’s entrance only to attack him at will and send him into the ring to where he was tied up within the ropes and relentlessly smacked by the Dream to say his name. Black eventually escaped from the ropes to fend off the attack and narrowly missed the Dream with Black Mass. The Dream ran up the entrance ramp only to turn around and have a stare off with the obviously agitated Black setting up for their inevitable showdown.
Roderick Strong vs. Andrade “Cien” Almas: This was a very exciting match that greatly served its purpose – to make Almas look like a viable threat to McIntyre’s NXT Championship while expanding on Strong’s championship aspirations, only to again come up short. Not only were there extremely executed moves, but both showed an in the ring chemistry, from the technicalities of their wrestling moves to the aggressiveness of each competitor. Even though not as fundamentally sound as Strong, Almas displayed great tenacity and fire during this match, from his spinning elbows to his calculated arm breakers on the ropes. Strong performed in usual fashion, putting on a clinic of moves showing why he is one of the top stars on the brand right now. The match concluded with Zelina hitting Strong with a hurricanrana that sent him into the steel stairs outside of the ring. Strong made his way back into the ring only to get hit with Almas’s hammerlock DDT for the win. After the match, one could sense the frustration of Strong as another time he has come up short. It was then that the Undisputed Era made their way to the ring to recruit Strong into their stable. Adam Cole was adamant about this when he “consoled’ Strong, telling him he is not a loser and that he could succeed as being “one of them.” Different from last week where we saw Strong quickly give Cole back an UE shirt that was given to him, to this time considering the validity of what he was just told. Only one can speculate if will he or won’t he join, just adding to the ongoing saga of what is to come, hence one of the reasons why NXT programming is exceptional week after week.
Drew McIntyre’s Interview: Overall, this week’s program was very good. The only slight miss would be McIntyre’s interview with the press on his way for a promotional event for the company. As he was explaining the reason for his trip, he was ambushed by Zelina’s questioning of a match with Adrade “Cien” Almas. What made this a miss was once again the scripted nature that McIntyre has when interviewed. He comes off very rigid and the Spanish references were not beneficial as it seemed forced. This is not to take away from the champion’s in-ring presence, but he comes up short of authenticity when it comes to his in-person interviews.
NOW CHECK OUT LAST WEEK’S COLUMN: NXT HITS & MISSES 10/18: McIntyre’s interview, AOP’s return, The Women’s Triple Threat Qualifying match, Undisputed Era