By John Moore
Roderick Strong vs. Bobby Roode: It was a smart move by NXT to allocate a majority of their show for this showcase match. Roderick looked strong here, pun intended. This also didn’t lull early on like most Roode matches thanks to Strong getting a good amount of offense during the sequence where Roode usually does his methodical work. Maybe it’s those backbreakers outta nowhere? It also helped that Roode was more aggressive in trying to take away Roddy’s ability to do the backbreaker by targeting the legs. I would have toned down the “family man” talk about 25 percent because the commentators were a bit heavy handed with trying to put sympathy on Roderick. That said, they did a great job drawing sympathy to Strong and that was helped by the false finish.
Sanity vs. Hideo Itami and Kassius Ohno: This was not a squash match. We’ve been getting a lot of those in the NXT undercard lately. The match did a good job at several levels of enhancing everyone involved. Itami continues to be more aggressive with his strikes to where his offense looks like it hurts. The match built towards the potential Ohno-Itami collision very well. Sanity got to look strong with Killian Dain inserted as Wolfe’s tag team partner. My favorite part of this match was actually the ending part with Wolfe and I think it was Percy Watson who pointed it out. We’ve never learned anything about Wolfe other than he’s the guy in Sanity that gets beat up a lot. He did a random dance, which was odd. What stood out was that smile he flashed during the GTS and post match and the announcers sold Wolfe’s insanity very well. Finally, some character development for him.
Ember Moon: I can’t be the only one that thinks that Moon’s stock drops every time they do a Performance Center interview with her. She’s not awful, but she loses some of her mystique and comes off more as a regular person. For Ruby Riot, coming off as a regular person works, but all it does for Ember is make her come off more as confusing. It doesn’t help that her injury interviews made her come off as both sappy and mopey. She is also coming off as the chosen one to defeat Asuka, but every week they do an interview with her she looks less and less like the heir apparent. Ruby Riot and Nikki Cross deserve the title more at this point. Or they should just pull a Paige and just strip Asuka of the title when she makes the main roster jump.
Commercial Breaks: I don’t have a problem with the regular commercial breaks. I just don’t think they fit during the main event title match. I know they allocated the latter part of the show solely for the main event so the concession had to be made for the international markets that buy the show, but maybe they should have done more of the Smackdown approach and do a Picture-in-Picture deal? It gets a bit jarring when you get commercials during a match that should be on a Takeover/PPV.