By John Moore
Aleister Black vs. Kyle O’Reilly: To think, at one time the pinnacle of WWE martial artist technique was Steve Blackman. Move over Blackman and meet Aleister Black, who has put on a great string of matches in NXT and his standouts so far have been when he is paired with a fellow martial artist. On the commentary side, this was Mauro Ranallo’s best call since returning. Nigel McGuiness did an amazing job on his end too. Mauro gave the viewers a comprehensive history lesson on O’Reilly and he also did a great job with the nearfalls and in the end protected O’Reilly in his loss. With both O’Reilly and his ROH tag partner Bobby Fish losing, let’s hope that NXT tag team division is bolstered with the debut of Red Dragon.
Hideo Itami: In the Misses section, I go over the language barrier with Asuka’s promo. The language barrier didn’t hurt here because Itami was solid and there were some non-traditional WWE promo methods utilized. Hideo taking the mic away from Kayla Braxton was a nice touch and transitioned nicely to his in-ring promo where he demanded respect. It also made sense for Aleister Black to come out for his match that he was scheduled for. Black got to show off that he’s as cold as ice in blindsiding Itami after Itami’s failed blindside attempt. Itami doesn’t lose anything since he was caught off guard by Black Mass.
Sonya Deville vs. Jenna Van Bemel: Deville continues to improve in her television matches. She needs a few more enhancement matches like this to establish herself as she makes her way up the ladder in the NXT women’s division. She’s still not quite ready for a feud, but she will be someday. What made this match better than her match against Lacey Evans was how she sold a lot less and got to show off some of her signature spots. Jenna got a move in but it led to Deville countering with the armbar finish. She’s established a submission and now I hope she gets some knockout wins as well. That said, I have to point out that Sonya still annoys me with her choreographed shadow boxing into the camera (she did much better shadow boxing in her taunting sequence during the match).
Johnny Gargano vs. Raul Mendoza: This match served as a good reintroduction of Gargano as a singles wrestler to the NXT audience. Thankfully, Gargano can still do all of the fun things he did as a tag team member of DIY. Mendoza is currently in the position where he loses to people higher on the totem pole but he puts in good performances whenever he gets a chance. He showed off some great reversals in this match and transitioned them to solid high spots. This type of match also makes me wish that 205 Live would be canceled because of the mundane style they work on that show while the NXT style of match is far more dynamic. It also isn’t all high spots because Gargano and Mendoza showed off some solid mat wrestling here.
Asuka and Ember Moon: I was jumping around on this one. This segment could have easily have gotten a Hit since the part after the promos were done very well. However, the promos didn’t do a great job. Even though Ember’s promo delivery was better this weak, I still feel she would have gained more in silence. If you extricate the talking parts of this segment it would have landed as a Hit. I think NXT also missed out on it’s intended perception. Even though the fans respect Moon, Asuka is still bad ass and they really got behind her beatdown on Ember. If Asuka has to talk, she has to rip into the fans just like they did in the segments prior to her last match with Ember.