On Wednesday night, NXT had their sixth live special on the WWE network. The developmental league for WWE continued their streak of stellar shows and while it didn't live up to past events like the first TakeOver or Fatal 4-Way, it was an exhilarating evening that answered some questions and raised a lot of new ones.
Let's break down what happened and try to determine where we go from here.
No. 1 Contender's Match: Finn Bálor def. Tyler Breeze
On the NXT Kickoff show, it was revealed that Hideo Itami was attacked in the parking lot earlier in the afternoon, thus making him unable to compete in this match, which was initially scheduled to be a triple threat match to crown a No. 1 contender. Breeze debuted a new, elaborate entrance (and cape!) and Bálor introduced new "demon" makeup prior to the match. Bálor eventually put Breeze away with the Coup de Grace.
What we learned: Bálor will once again make a run at the NXT Championship, in what could very well be his final storyline in NXT. The guy is destined for superstardom, has accomplished pretty much all he can at Full Sail and if anyone's ready for the main WWE roster, it's him. Breeze, meanwhile, continues to be phenomenal in his role and underrated purely by benefit of being the guy that the more marketable guys keep running up against. Luckily, that means he's always going to have a job. Not sure where he goes from here, but he'll find someone new to feud with, certainly.
Charlotte & Bayley def. Dana Brooke & Emma
The good guys got the win, pretty easily defeating the team of newcomer Dana Brooke and the refusing-to-dance Emma, who has some new, pretty sinister-looking ring gear.
What we learned: Not much! Dana is still learning, Emma is still getting deeper into her mean streak and Charlotte and Bayley are still great. This was a solid match, but we're so used to NXT women's TakeOver matches being must-watch affairs that it fell a bit flat.
Baron Corbin def. Rhyno
In a battle of two big beefmen beefing at each other, Corbin picked up the win after avoiding the gore and hitting End of Days for the pin.
What we learned: Corbin continued to look strong as NXT keeps stretching him out a little at a time. He's still not ready for the main roster, but he continues to make progress. Expect NXT to point another thumper at him for another short feud.
NXT Tag Team Championship Match: Blake & Murphy (c) def. Enzo Amore & Colin Cassidy
Enzo and Big Cass appeared to be on the brink of victory when Alexa Bliss ran out and attacked Carmela, distracting Colin long enough for Blake and Murphy to pick up the win and retain the titles.
What we learned: Alexa Bliss is now part of a heel faction with the NXT tag champs! Enzo and Big Cass clearly still have some beef here, which will likely lead to a six-person match, or at least one more shot at the titles for everyone's favorite best friends.
NXT Women's Championship Match: Sasha Banks (c) def. Becky Lynch
Everyone expected the women to attempt to steal the show and they delivered. Banks and Lynch gave it everything they had. The Boss eventually retained after hitting a huge armbreaker off the top and then picking up the submission win with the Bank Statement.
What we learned: Becky Lynch firmly cemented herself as one of the cornerstones of the fully-stocked women's division in NXT. In her first chance to really shine, she produced a signature performance, just as Charlotte, Emma, Natalya, Bayley and Sasha had all done before her. She'll return to the title scene eventually and her road back to the top will be well worth the wait. For Banks, it's on to the next challenger, possibly Dana Brooke or Alexa Bliss.
NXT Championship Match: Kevin Owens (c) def. Sami Zayn
Owens, in perhaps the ultimate heel move, entered the ring wearing John Cena's current United States title shirt. A spectacular display of his cockiness, as it indicated he was already looking past Zayn and moving onto his opponent at the upcoming Elimination Chamber pay-per-view.
As for the match, Owens lived up to his promises, re-injuring Zayn and rendering him unable to continue. Refs and William Regal tried to get Owens to stop his attack on Zayn, but he headbutted Regal and sent the referees scurrying. Who should that bring out but SAMOA JOE (complete with sound-alike Godzilla entrance to his theme), making his WWE and NXT debut. He stared down Owens until Owens took a powder. He briefly considered going toe-to-toe with Joe, but eventually said, "Not tonight."
What we learned: Zayn will likely be taking significant time off for a shoulder injury, just like Itami. Joe is also next in line (after Bálor, of course) to step up and challenge Owens, which makes perfect sense. Owens has built himself as a truly unstoppable monster within NXT. And you need a monster to stop a monster. I cannot wait for this one and neither can most independent wrestling fans.