Takeover: The End is one week away, and this week’s television is the go-home for a Network Special that has pretty much been named for the end of an era. With both NXT’s and WWE’s rosters going through makeovers heading towards the brand split, this could very well be the final time a star like Finn Balor appears on NXT’s weekly programming. As has been the case recently, there is only one segment advertised on the official WWE.com preview for tonight’s episode of NXT, and it’s the sit-down interview between champion Samoa Joe and challenger Finn Balor, hosted/moderated by the most entertaining commentator in the company, Corey Graves. The duo are headlining their third NXT PPV in a row, and this will be the first NXT special in front of the Full Sail University crowd since Takeover: Respect in October, where Joe and Balor triumphed as teammates in the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic.
This segment should be an interesting final set up for the cage match next week, and it will be worth watching if they play up the “will this be Balor’s final stand in NXT?” at all during the interview.
1. Buddy Murphy vs. Tye Dillinger
Buddy Murphy without Blake or Alexa Bliss just feels wrong. Especially no Bliss. And while this was fine, I can’t say there was much about this that screamed breaking the tag up was a good idea. Really, Blake and Murphy belong together. I’m not saying Bliss has to be stuck with them, but even if she was, she could still do her own thing. I’ll give it time, but I can’t say this is a good idea. As for Tye, the guy is such a good talent. He’s over. He’s charismatic. He really deserves to be on Takeover and I’m glad to see that love spreading. Oh, and it looks like it could be happening. Whether it’ll be with Andrade or No Way Jose, I’m looking forward to it. Decent match, Tye won clean.
Winner: Tye Dillinger
After Tye celebrates we get a long sit down interview conducted by Corey Graves. His guests? Samoa Joe and Finn Balor. Samoa Joe is one of the most underrated talkers in the entire business. Finn Balor is, well, not. But he did well enough here and this was a really good segment. What I liked most here is that while Joe is definitely the monster heel, he has a point that can be understood, even if he went about it in arguably the wrong way. This makes the feud more interesting, and more than that, it could mean a lot for a Finn turn if that ever happens.
2. Austin Aries vs Elias Sampson
This was fine for what it is. The crowd was booing both men, which made for a different experience. While Aries isn’t full blown heel yet, he walks like a heel, he talks like a heel, and he’s received like a heel. Oh, and he’s feuding with the most over babyface on the NXT roster. So naturally, he wasn’t going to get much love here. As for Samson, well, what can I say? He is what he is. NXT needs a B-show for him to keep improving, or even throw him in a tag team. Something to keep him doing something and giving him time to improve, but without letting him drown with the top guys.
Winner: Austin Aries
Aries cuts a promo after, with the crowd wanting Nakamura, and I can’t wait for their match at Takeover as it’ll likely be the thing we’ve been waiting for from Aries for awhile. That was followed by the Andrade “Cien” Almas vignette that is just so good. The news here, though, is that he’ll be at NXT Takeover: The End. So that should be very interesting. The guy is going to be a big star.
3. Johnny Gargano and Tommaso Ciampa vs. The Revival (Dash and Dawson)
This was a really fun match, but most importantly, this was big news. Don’t call it an upset- actually, you can call it an upset, because Gargano and Ciampa just beat the guys in a title match next week. And I was extremely happy to see it happen. Sure, the Revival got their heat back after and beat them down, but regardless, it was a huge win for one of my favorite tag teams. So what does this mean going forward? Will Gargano and Ciampa challenge American Alpha for the gold next? Is this some kind of weird psychology and the Revival get the tag gold back? I’m not really sure, but regardless, with these teams and TM61, a lot of good things are happening. I suspect at least one of the teams, either the Revival or American Alpha, end up getting called up with the draft, but I could also see both end up going to the main roster. It just makes sense to start grooming Gargano and Ciampa, and I’m happy to see it.
Winners: Johnny Gargano and Tommaso Ciampa
After they celebrate, we then get to the main event which is a contract signing between Nia Jax and Asuka. This was short and sweet, with Nia talking smack and Asuka standing up to her before being flattened with a powerbomb. I liked this, considering I’m not a huge Nia fan. This succeeded in what it should have done. And that wraps up NXT this week.
This was a decent episode of NXT. The Gargano/Ciampa/Revival stuff was excellent. The Joe/Finn interview was quite well done. And everything else at least served a purpose, even if Elias Samson and Buddy Murphy singles matches aren’t exactly something I’d like to see more of.
Looking ahead, next week is NXT Takeover: The End and it is sure to be a good show. While it may not have the hype a lot of these do, it will likely deliver another special show. Especially with a big debut and possibly a surprise or two along the way. Maybe Itami? I can hope.