Following last week's less than stellar episode, and with the huge Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Finn Balor match just around the corner, how would this week's NXT look to get things back on track? Let's have a look.
There was a major focus on the tag team division this week, with plenty of storyline advancement and no less than five teams being involved in one form or another. Considering NXT has less than an hour of screen time each week, to have five tag teams in this position is pretty impressive. The shows main event wasn't the most inspiring match on paper as Tommaso Ciampa and Johnny Gargano went over The Hype Bros, however in it's execution it was actually a rather fun and pacy tag clash. The match built nicely towards it's conclusion with the momentum swinging between the two teams numerous times before Ciampa and Gargano were able to hit as Superkick and Knee Strike combination on Ryder for the win. Ryder and Rawley seem to have found their niche as a tag team, using the classic power and speed combo, I'm still not convinced about Rawley but this was definitely a step forward from him.
The action would continue after the bout, with Ciampa and Gargano staking claim to a title shot, which would be granted by NXT General Manager William Regal for a future show, whilst American Alpha and NXT Tag Team Champions The Revival would interrupt as well, with a Two out of Three Falls title match being booked between the two for next week. Everything was timed perfectly with each interruption getting a big reaction from the Winter Park crowd, whilst The Revival shone the brightest with Scott Dawson doing some of his best mic work to date. An extra twist in the tale came when The Authors of Pain jumped American Alpha and destroyed them in the ring. We haven't seen a lot of Gzim Selmani and Sunny Dhisa in the ring or had an explanation of their previous attack on the duo at the last Takeover event, and with Paul Ellering turning up on the ramp as well, there's a real element of mystery about them, whether this intrigue can be turned into a satisfying pay-off we'll have to wait and see.
Alexa Bliss took a big step towards earning a shot at Asuka's NXT Women's Championship with a convincing victory over Carmella, in the best match either woman has had to date. From the opening exchanges it was clear that both women have been putting some real effort in at the Performance Center, as they looked much more comfortable in the ring and transitioned from hold to hold with ease. Whilst lacked direction in the first portion, with Carmella spending way too much time putting on wear down holds for a babyface, after the ad break was where the match really got going. After pulling Carmella's arm across the ring rope, Bliss focused in on the arm with Carmella selling well both on offence and when locked in submissions. I'd have liked to have seen the injured arm play a little bit more into the finish, but it definitely added to Carmella's fiery babyface comeback. Let's hope we see these two continue to improve over the next few month's, they're going to need to in order to help the brand build it's Women's division back up.
Andrade Almas would pick up his third victory in a row on NXT, winning a simple squash bout over Noah Potjes (previously known as Noah Kekoa). For me, this was a much better showcase for Almas than we had seen previously in his bouts with Tye Dillinger earlier in the month. It allowed Almas to show off a range of his exciting, high-flying offence against an opponent that wasn't already over with the Full Sail Arena. Potjes also bought a nice aggression to his offence, which added to Almas performance as a babyface. This was still a short, enhancement match, but I was happy to see Almas finally get a proper showcase.
ATPW Scale Rating - 5.38/10
This was a much better episode than last week's show, with a number of different divisions getting the time to build their storylines and strength their divisions as a whole. The tag team main event and subsequent segment were strong television fair, which also managed to set up various different avenues for the promotions and performers to travel down over the next month or so. Carmella and Alexa Bliss both had their best matches to date, whilst Andrade Almas got his best opportunity to showcase his skills since joining the company.
There's lots to look forward to over the next few weeks with The Revival and American Alpha's Two out of Three Falls match and Finn Balor facing off with Shinsuke Nakamura, I'm expecting the next couple of episodes to be another step in the right direction.