The September 25 edition of NXT was jam-packed from start to finish.
Sami Zayn picked up another big win to continue on his path to the NXT Championship, while current titleholder Bo Dallas threw yet another obstacle in his way.
The No. 1 contenders to the Tag Team Championship would be determined in a Tag Team Turmoil match featuring Colin Cassidy and Enzo Amore, Scott Dawson and Alexander Rusev, The Ascension and a pairing of unlikely partners.
Summer Rae would accompany newfound friend/pawn Sasha Banks to the ring for her match with Bayley, while Aiden English would continue his crusade to bring true art and talent to NXT.
To top it all off, WWE COO Triple H would make a very special appearance to address the future of the NXT.
It was an eventful week for WWE's developmental brand and one that will have long-lasting effects.
Sami Zayn def. El Local
Aiden English def. Bull Dempsey
Sasha Banks def. Bayley
The Ascension won Tag Team Turmoil, last eliminating Enzo Amore & Colin Cassidy
The in-ring action on this week's show was short and to the point.
The Ascension (Connor O'Brian and Rick Victor) kept their dreams of becoming NXT Tag Team champions alive by winning Tag Team Turmoil and becoming No. 1 contenders.
The team they defeated, Enzo Amore and Colin Cassidy, were equally as impressive, dispatching the makeshift duo of enemies, Tyler Breeze and CJ Parker, as well as Sylvester Lefort's tandem of Scott Dawson and Alexander Rusev, before falling to the stronger, more determined Ascension.
Sasha Banks displayed a meaner, more vicious side of herself in a win over the bubbly, friendly Bayley, but she and Summer Rae realized their quest to dominate NXT will not be as easy as they thought, thanks, in part, to dancing Diva Emma.
Sami Zayn, the Montreal native, defeated El Local in a showcase match while Aiden English picked up another convincing victory.
Here's a story...of a model and a hippie
The rivalry between CJ Parker and Tyler Breeze took an unexpected turn this week, as Raw GM Brad Maddox forced them to team with one another for the big Tag Team Turmoil match that kicked off the program.
They were reluctant partners and it showed in their body language as they entered the squared circle.
Parker would start the match for his team against Enzo Amore and Colin Cassidy. Unfortunately for the life-loving psychedelic Superstar, Breeze would never even climb on the apron, leaving him to fend for himself.
That would not work out well for him as he fell prey to a sidewalk slam from Cassidy.
How will Parker return the favor to Breeze? Will they finally have a match to settle the rivalry once and for all?
When will Breeze upload his latest selfie to Twitter?
Find out in the coming weeks.
Russev and Dawson Lose...That's Amore
The feud between Enzo Amore and partner Colin Cassidy against Sylvester Lefort's team of Scott Dawson and Alexander Russev added another wrinkle this week as they met during the Tag Team Turmoil match.
Cassidy dominated the action for his team early on, but the heels gained the upper hand when Russev simply overpowered the much smaller Amore.
Dawson and Rusev looked well on their way to victory, but a small package by Amore, the New Jersey Native, picked up a sudden and unexpected win for himself and his tag team partner, proving once and for all that Lefort and his men are S-A-W-F-T!
The Ascension Earns Its Shot
In recent weeks, Connor O'Brian and Rick Victor have had no problem labeling themselves the No. 1 contenders to Adrian Neville and Corey Graves' NXT Tag Team titles.
This week, they earned the label.
Taking to the ring for the final fall of Tag Team Turmoil, facing an exhausted team of Amore and Cassidy, The Ascension was absolutely dominant. They ran over the competition en route to a convincing win.
The rivalry between O'Brian and Victor and Neville and Graves was taken to a new level several weeks ago when the heels assaulted Graves in the backstage area, injuring his ribs. Graves has yet to hit 100 percent since, and one has to wonder whether or not the new top contenders will exploit that previous injury to their advantage when they finally get their title opportunity.
Will the raw power and deviousness of the challengers be able to outmatch the speed, quickness and high-flying ability of the champions?
Neville and Graves have gotten the better of their rivals in the past.
Perhaps it is time for The Ascension to, well, ascend to the top of the tag team rankings.
The Evolution of Sasha Banks
Summer Rae accompanied Sasha Banks to the ring for her match with the lovable Bayley on this week's show, and it was obvious from the get-go that the leggy blond's attitude and mean streak have worn off on her new associate.
Sasha was vicious and mean between the ropes, displaying an aggressiveness that few knew she possessed until now.
Her open-hand chops to the chest of Bayley were violent, and every move she executed had an extra snap to it that was not there previously.
Bayley, on the other hand, fought back and, for the first time in her stint with NXT, did not seem to be starstruck by her opponent. She exploded with offense late in the match, but another well-timed chop from Banks turned the match back in her favor.
Ultimately, Banks flattened Bayley with a neckbreaker and picked up the pinfall win.
Banks' mean streak adds a new layer to a performer who, in the past, was a solid worker and a pretty face but a rather undefined character. With Summer Rae guiding her, Sasha has the opportunity to be the top villain for the women's division of NXT and a major threat to Paige and the Women's title.
Dancing Divas Duel
Too many Ds?
Immediately following Sasha Banks' win over Bayley, Summer Rae grabbed a microphone and announced to the fans in attendance, as well as those watching at home, that her dance partner Fandango would appear on next week's show. She promised that they would dance all over NXT and no one would stop them.
This brought out NXT's resident dancing Diva, Emma, who chased Summer Rae and Banks from the ring.
Backstage, Renee Young caught up with Summer Rae, who challenged Emma to find a tag team partner and to take her and Fandango on next week in a mixed tag team match.
This is a fine example of something NXT does better than the main roster shows. In the span of two quick segments, a secondary Divas feud, outside of the one over the Women's title, has been established. Summer Rae and Emma have had an entertaining rivalry ensuing for weeks now, and the latest chapter will unfold on next week's show when they meet in mixed tag action.
Couple that with Sasha Banks' new attitude and her quest to dethrone Paige as Women's champion and there are two very distinct rivalries between four different Divas for fans to invest themselves in.
The Bo Dallas Invitational...Minus Sami Zayn, of Course
Moments after Sami Zayn scored a solid victory over El Local (Ricardo Rodriguez sporting a very red mask), NXT champion Bo Dallas made his presence felt. As he addressed both Zayn and his fictional BO-lievers, he revealed two very interesting bits of news.
The first was that he was finally healed after suffering an injury at the hands of Zayn at SummerSlam Axxess. The second, more important topic, was that he would hold the first-ever Bo Dallas Invitational on next week's show.
The winner will receive a guaranteed NXT title match with Dallas in three weeks.
When Zayn said he would be the first to sign up, that he had no problem doing it right then and there, Dallas criticized his disrespect for the champion and disqualified him from eligibility. There would be no Sami Zayn in the Bo Dallas Invitational, an announcement that did not sit well with the Montreal native or his fans, which Dallas referred to as "Zayniacs."
It should be interesting to see just how Zayn gets around Dallas' ruling, especially since all signs continue to point towards him eventually challenging for the title.
Dallas remains one of the best heels in the industry. He is a smiling, disingenuous third-generation star who thinks he is more popular than he is, despite the loud chorus of boos that greets him every time he steps through the curtain. He is a cheesy babyface that would have worked well in the 1980s, but now, nearly thirty years later, is completely see-through.
Kudos to management for recognizing months ago that fans did not want to cheer Dallas and for cleverly turning him heel as a result, all the while having him keep essentially the same character.
Kassius Ohno Is Back!
Kassius Ohno made his return to NXT this week as he confronted Raw GM Brad Maddox about his lack of television time in recent months.
Maddox called Ohno a D+ Superstar (at best!) and said that he did not even know Ohno had been cleared for competition after being brutally and savagely attacked by the Wyatt Family a while back.
Ohno laughed off the notion that he was a D+ talent and said he was cleared weeks ago but he's been kept on the sidelines, something Maddox claims "they," meaning upper management, liked to do to toy with him.
Maddox offered Ohno a match on next week's show against a member of the Wyatt Family, a proposal which the man formerly known around the country as Chris Hero was all too happy to accept.
A New General Managing GOD
Triple H made a very special appearance before the NXT faithful at Full Sail University and put over the talent of the brand. He then addressed the ongoing drama involving the Rhodes family before announcing that he had relieved "The American Dream" Dusty Rhodes of his duties as General Manager of NXT for now and introduced the new interim GM.
John Bradshaw Layfield entered the arena to a big pop before addressing the audience. He said that, if anyone knows what is best for business, it is him. Soon enough, he continued, fans would refer to him as a General Manager GOD!
It was a short, sweet promo that transferred power without really setting the stage for any specific thing to come.
JBL has long been one of the better characters on WWE television so it should be very entertaining to see how he interacts with some of the characters in NXT.
This writer, for one, cannot wait for the first interaction between JBL and Tyler Breeze.
Match of the Week: Bayley vs. Sasha Banks
While the Tag Team Turmoil match featured a great deal of talented individuals and Sami Zayn delivered his typical great performance, the Sasha Banks-Bayley match was so much more intense and aggressive than anyone could have expected.
The two former independent wrestling standouts delivered a hard-hitting match that solidified Banks as a top contender to Paige and the NXT Women's title and revealed another side of the smiling, hugging, waving Bayley.
Star of the Week: Renee Young
The beautiful Canadian broadcaster has been making a name for herself on Raw, SmackDown, NXT and WWE Classics on Demand as of late, and this week's program was her coming out party.
Young joined William Regal and Tom Phillips at the announce position for the Sasha Banks-Bayley match and came across as a natural on the headset. She was smart, funny and her interactions with the lecherous Regal were highly entertaining.
Later in the evening, she caught up with Summer Rae and let a little more of her personality shine through. When Summer asked Young why she thought fans would be satisfied to see her next week, she replied, "Your outfits."
It was the type of sarcastic comment that showed personality, something others in her role are either not allowed to showcase or simply are incapable of.
The best episode of NXT in a while, as everything that made air served a purpose, advanced a storyline and was treated as important.
While Triple H is seen weekly on Raw and SmackDown, his appearance on this week's NXT was special and, the way in which he put over the brand's young and exciting talent ("I feel good knowing that if something were to happen to the main roster, I could replace them and we wouldn't miss a beat") was a major confidence-booster for the men and women in developmental.
The feud over the NXT Championship continues to build to a major main event match while the NXT Divas show week in and week out why they are head and shoulders above the majority of the main roster ladies.
There is a wealth of talent on the NXT roster, a lot of which was showcased on this week's show. Their outstanding performances and the solid, almost old-school booking approach to the show makes it the most fun, entertaining and interesting program produced by any of the big three promotions in today's wrestling landscape.
The highest recommendations for this week's NXT, available for free over at Hulu.com.