By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
Karrion Kross and Samoa Joe: A good pull apart brawl that left me more excited about their Takeover title match than I’ve been since Kross was booked to lose Raw matches.
MSK vs. Fabian Aichner and Marcel Barthel for the NXT Tag Titles: A solid win for MSK. But NXT desperately needs to come up with right right heel tag team for Wes Lee and Nash Cater to feud with. Aichner and Barthel and the Grizzled Young Veterans are both good tag teams who just haven’t clicked at a high level with the U.S. audience. Raul Mendoza and Joaquin Wilde still come off as henchmen more than a meaningful tag team. I wouldn’t mind seeing NXT creative change that by booking the Legada del Fantasma duo to win the tag titles to put MSK and Hit Row (I left out Tommaso Ciampa and Timothy Thatcher because I continue to believe they can fill voids as high end singles wrestlers).
Ilja Dragunov vs. Roderick Strong: NXT made the best of a bad situation. With the show labeled “Title Tuesday”, Kushida was pulled from the show due to medical reasons. Quite frankly, the replacement match was an upgrade for this viewer. It’s not that there was any reason to think that Kushida and Strong would have disappointed in the ring. Rather, it’s that this felt like a special match because it was Dragunov’s second week working at the Capitol Wrestling Center. Ultimately, it was an entertaining match and a nice win for Dragunov heading into his NXT UK Championship rematch with Walter, which should be outstanding.
Dexter Lumis and Indi Hartwell vs. Robert Stone and Jessi Kamea: As much as I hoped that Stone’s character would become more of a serious manager, there’s no denying that he plays the comedic butt of the joke role well. His Terry Silver look was good for a chuckle before the bell even rang to start the match. And it was nice to hear a WWE broadcast team legitimately burst out laughing rather than faking it when he did the comical over the top rope dive and went splat at ringside. The post match bit with Hartwell proposing to Lumis was silly sports entertainment fun. It continues to be concerning that Franky Monet lost a television match and is taking part in these comedy segments. She’s proven that she can be a top singles heel everywhere she’s gone, so hopefully there is a plan to move her into contention for the NXT Women’s Championship soon.
Cameron Grimes vs. Josh Briggs: I’m over Grimes in the butler attire and was ready to give this a Miss. But he’s clearly moving on from that silliness based on the fiery promo he delivered backstage. While I haven’t enjoyed some of the build, they have done a pretty good job overall of setting the table for the Grimes vs. LA Knight match at Takeover.
Carmelo Hayes vs. Duke Hudson in an NXT Breakout Tournament match: A good win for Hudson. He did a nice job of telling the story of facing big men in the first two rounds and now facing Odyssey Jones, the biggest man in the tournament, in the finals. While the tournament really hasn’t done much for me this time about, I am looking forward to seeing what type of match Hayes and Jones can put together in the finals.
None: A quality episode that provided strong final hype for the Takeover matches. It wasn’t a red hot show as the lack of Misses may seem to suggest, but everything seemed to click at some level.