By Darren Gutteridge
WWE NXT Hits
Samoa Joe vs. Bull Dempsey: A serviceable sendoff before Takeover: Dallas. The match allowed Joe to dominate a big guy, and the brawl between him and Bálor was fine. I think seeing the brawl that ended Raw made this smaller scale one seem less impressive somehow, but that’s not really NXT’s fault. That said, I think repeating the spot of Joe choking out Bálor in the go-home show, as I believe they did before NXT Takeover: London, would have been a bad idea, so this was fine as an alternative.
Baron Corbin: His match was an afterthought come the end of the episode – because his promo blew it away. Corbin has always carried himself as the athlete who doesn’t care for indie guys, but this was the first time he was able to make that character trait believable, impactful, and above all valuable – NXT fans will pay to see Indie stars try and take this character down. I still think he and Austin Aries will struggle to stand out on a super-stacked Takeover: Dallas card, but Corbin just hit a home run to ensure the build was as good as it could be.
American Alpha vs. Corey Hollis and John Skylar: This was a very smart way to send American Alpha into their tag title match at Takeover: Dallas. They could have just squashed the jobbers in 15 seconds, but that isn’t where their strengths lie. Instead, they got to put on an amateur masterclass, looking completely in control without appearing unstoppable. The commentators also did a good job of planting the seeds that the Revival will have a plan to counteract the American Alpha style (AKA cheating). As I said, this was all smartly executed.
The Revival vs. Steve Cutler and Tucker Knight: Personifying the comments Corey Graves and Tom Phillips made, The Revival showed how they could find a way to unlock American Alpha with their smash mouth style and tricky tactics. A great compliment to the opening match.
WWE NXT Misses
Apollo Crews vs. Alex Riley: Damn, Crews is really slumming it right now. He’s facing Alex Riley (who looks much more like a drifter than Elias Samson) and heading into Takeover: Dallas to face Samson in what will at best be a buffer match. He needs to find a spark as a character soon, or this trend may continue.