Gutteridge's WWE NXT Hit List: Finn Bálor and Kevin Owens sign the contract for NXT Takeover: Brooklyn, plus Eva Marie returns to the ring, Bayley vs. Emma, VaudeVillains vs. Sawyer Fulton and Angelo Dawkins, and Samoa Joe vs. Mike Rawlis
By Darren Gutteridge
WWE NXT Hits
Finn Bálor vs. Kevin Owens contract signing: Even though this followed the played out contract signing M.O., it was still made entertaining by Owens. His little digs at the crowd were effective, and watching him once again clobber William Regal was great heel work. I'm also glad they avoided having Bálor put through the table on his first night as champion.
Bayley vs. Emma: It's great to see Bayley back, and the history between the two ladies helped elevate their match slightly - helpful as they have had better ones in the past (not that this wasn't enjoyable). I liked the fact that Bayley called out Charlotte and not Sasha Banks, as it shows a respect for the NXT Women's title that only helps to build its prestige further.
The VaudeVillains vs. Sawyer Fulton and Angelo Dawkins: An OK tune up for the VaudeVillains that mirrored Blake and Murphy's match with Fulton and Dawkins last week (Simon Gotch's suplex counter was magnificent), but I'd rather they'd have done something more directly focussed on build to next week's tag title match, either via a singles match or a run-in. Blake, Alexa and Murphy appeared backstage at least, and GOOD LORD, BLAKE'S HAIR. He looks more like Barbra Streisand every week.
WWE NXT Misses
Opening promo: Bálor's promo style seems ill-suited to this kind of set-up. While well spoken, he has such a laid back style that this was hardly what I'd call "stirring". He didn't go overly long, but in future he may be better served backstage or in opposition to someone. This would also maintain the mystique of "The Demon", which seems jarringly at odds with this chilled out, everyday guy in a suit.
Samoa Joe vs. Mike Rawlis: A slight improvement over last weeks match, as Joe didn't give the no-name much offence and they hyped his appearance before it happened, but this is still a miss. Joe should mean more than this. Speaking of slight improvements, Joe's music - it's better than his old one, but in the same way that one nutshot is better than two nutshots.
Eva Marie vs. Cassie: I stated when Eva first resurfaced on the NXT scene that I hoped she would silence the haters for the awful way they treated her. But night one of her in-ring return wasn't exactly fantastic. She has improved marginally, but every part of her game is still lacking. That's fine if she's still learning, but she shouldn't be on TV at this stage. Her biggest problem is she still looks like a performer going through a sequence of moves, and not a wrestler having a match. Nothing looked natural.
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