With three days to go before TakeOver: XXV, this episode was about putting the finishing touches on the build, but there was also two storylines on this show which will not be represented at TakeOver. The first of which was the feud between Mia Yim and Bianca Belair, with both Superstars gunning for a shot at the NXT Women’s Championship.
Mia Yim vs Bianca Belair
Heat has been building between these two since Mia Yim called out Bianca Belair for failing to deliver on her promises in title matches with Shayna Baszler on two separate occasions. Three weeks ago, Belair defeated Yim with the help of her infamous hair braid, and in the interim Yim visited NXT General Manager William Regal and obtained a rematch. That rematch happened here, and a close-run thing between the HBIC and the EST of NXT went Yim’s way when she reversed Bianca’s attempt at a powerbomb into a Protect Ya Neck, grabbing onto Belair’s braid in the process to add extra power to the move. This would seem to put the HBIC firmly above Bianca in the pecking order for an NXT Women’s Title opportunity, but something about this feud doesn’t seem finished to me. Both ladies are standing at a victory each, and I am somewhat expecting a rubber match to take place at some point following TakeOver.
Drew Gulak vs Kushida
This was the second non-TakeOver storyline. It was Kushida’s third match on NXT TV, and one that was set up when during his second, a victory over “The Finest” Kona Reeves, Drew Gulak would appear on the stage to take in the action. Although nothing physical took place between Kushida and Gulak on that day, after Kushida picked up the win, he and Gulak would stare daggers at each other from across the arena. It was great to see Gulak here for this bout, as at this point NXT feels like a bigger stage than Gulak’s traditional home, 205 Live, and Drew certainly deserves that larger platform. What he and Kushida had here was an excellent technical, mat-based submission match, with both wrestler’s ground games on full display, and for those fans of old-school grappling, this was a treat to behold. The victory went to Kushida, of course, as the high-profile NXT signing, and it came when he hit Gulak with a Flatliner and transitioned into an unorthodox roll-up style pinning predicament. After the bout, Kushida and Gulak would get in each others’ faces. Kushida held up three fingers, representing both the referee’s count and the number of victories under his belt so far, and Gulak called Kushida a coward, presumably as a reference to the manner of Kushida’s pinfall. It is a shame that Gulak is not featured on NXT more regularly, as he would be a welcome addition to the full-time roster that seems to lack midcard heels. Kushida, meanwhile, continues on his rocket push. Although without a match at TakeOver: XXV, it will be interesting to see if he plays a role in the show at all.
Oney Lorcan and Danny Burch vs Forgotten Sons (Steve Cutler and Wesley Blake w/ Jaxson Ryker)
This match between these two longtime rival tag teams went to a no-contest and ended up being more of a showcase for what could transpire during TakeOver’s NXT Tag Team Championship Ladder Match. Along with Oney Lorcan and Danny Burch and the Forgotten Sons, the Undisputed Era and the Street Profits will also contest the Ladder Match. Of course, this bout started to break down when one of those other teams would appear. Jaxson Ryker was thrown out of ringside by the referee for attempting to give the Forgotten Sons an unfair advantage, and as he reached the stage, the Street Profits would appear and attack him. Lorcan and Burch would fetch steel chairs and went to town on the Sons with them, before all four members of the Undisputed Era appeared and cleaned house. They set up a ladder on the stage, and the show went off the air after Cole climbed it and cut a cool promo on Johnny Gargano and Matt Riddle, who he and Roderick Strong are facing at TakeOver. With the Undisputed Era involved in three of the five TakeOver: XXV matches, this made them look the strongest they’ve been since they held gold in NXT. It will be so interesting to see if they can follow up on this and come out of TakeOver on top.
Elsewhere on the show, we were shown two excellent TakeOver hype packages for the NXT Championship match between Johnny Gargano and Adam Cole, and the NXT North American Championship match between Velveteen Dream and Tyler Breeze. Also, the NXT Women’s Championship match between Shayna Baszler and Io Shirai was hyped by two backstage interviews with the combatants, where Candice LeRae appeared to thank Shirai for helping her in recent weeks, and assured her that she would have her back in the match with Baszler.
Overall, this was a great go-home show for TakeOver: XXV, and did a great job tying up the build for the matches.