By Darren Gutteridge
Shinsuke Nakamura vs. TJ Perkins: I don’t know why I was somewhat unsure about this match hitting the high notes, but boy was I wrong. We’ve had some time away from Swagsuke doing Swagsuke things, so it was fun just to see him back in the swing of things. Perkins may have actually made an even bigger impression on me. I still don’t understand why he is a babyface, so smugly arrogant is he, but this was perhaps his best WWE match to date, and certainly the best one since the CWC finished.
Ember Moon vs. Billie Kay: Despite being a tad short for my taste, this match had a nice flow to it anyway. Moon needs more wins like this before Takeover: Orlando if anybody is to truly believe she can beat Asuka, and the commentators need to keep up with the hard sell on how devastating the Eclipse is. The post match was so odd. If it’s an angle, it sure didn’t come off like one. If it was legit, why not edit it out?
Aleister Black promo: This was good. Really good. Recently, NXT hype packages have lacked a little something, but this one was beautifully atmospheric, and just as mysterious as its subject Aleister Black. I always got the dark religion vibe from the former Tommy End on the indies, so I’m excited to see where the gimmick goes now the WWE machine is behind it. They’ll have to do well to avoid lazy comparisons to Bray Wyatt though.
Andrade Almas vs. Ho Ho Lun: There is almost never a good time to see Ho Ho Lun, but for once he served a purpose here, as Almas looked like a million bucks compared to him. It was only a squash match, but a win’s a win with Almas, who I truly feel could be a main event heel player if they just give him a consistent push.
Kassius Ohno and Bobby Roode interviews: The Ohno video is something I have been bemoaning the lack of for weeks. It was a nice way of reintroducing Ohno, establishing his past, and lining up his goals for the future. Roode was similarly straight forward in his heel promo immediately after, and I also enjoyed the nice and simple positioning of the two – grounded babyface Ohno appeared at the home of NXT, whereas up-himself heel Roode appeared via satellite from his home.
Sanity and Tye Dillinger: Have you ever heard a crowd as quiet as they were here? I thought I was having audio issues because it was so eerily silent. That said, I can’t blame them – this attack smacked too much of dejá vu, and lacked almost any impact as a result. It feels like a feud born out of a need to get everyone on the card at the Takeover: Orlando, as opposed to anything engaging.