The August 28 episode of NXT was one of the biggest and most newsworthy in recent months, and it came at a time when the brand is putting the final touches on the card for its next two-hour live event special, Takeover II.
William Regal is the new general manager, and he wasted no time making a monumental decision. Confronted by three men who all believed they were the rightful No. 1 contender to Adrian Neville's NXT Championship and pressured by Neville himself, Regal booked a Fatal 4-Way match for the title on September 11.
Later in the night, Neville teamed with one of those challengers, Sami Zayn, to take on Tyson Kidd and Tyler Breeze. Kidd and Breeze emerged victorious, but it was Zayn who was left standing to close out the program.
With Bayley, Bull Dempsey and The Ascension all leaving marks on the NXT Universe following their performances Thursday night, it is safe to say the Superstars and Divas of the developmental brand recognize the importance of the upcoming event and will do whatever it takes to make sure fans are buzzing about their performances there.
With that in mind, here is a look at the winners and losers from this week's NXT.
Winners: The Fans
Not only were the NXT faithful treated to the revelation of Regal as the new general manager of the brand, but they were also privy to the announcement of the huge Fatal 4-Way for the NXT Championship that will take place at Takeover II.
NXT has long been a fan-friendly brand that makes decision and books events fans want to see, and this was no different. Regal has built up such respect among the fans—via his Hall of Fame-worthy in-ring career and his quality work behind the microphone as a color commentator—that people legitimately care about him, regardless of his role.
Add to that the fact that those same fans will be treated to a huge championship match between four of the best workers in NXT, a match with potential to steal the show and become a legitimate Match of the Year candidate, and you have a fan base that should be elated following Thursday's show.
Loser: Angelo Dawkins
Every time young Angelo Dawkins competes on NXT, the commentary team does a great job of talking up his athletic ability and how much work he puts in at the WWE Performance Center. Problem is, every time he wrestles, he loses. Badly. Without much offense of his own.
That was the case again Thursday night. He was completely overwhelmed and outmatched by Bull Dempsey, who finished him off in short order with the Bulldozer.
Dawkins does appear to have considerable athleticism. He also has size, which will be of great benefit to him when he eventually gains enough trust to be put in a starring role in NXT. Unfortunately, he still looks very green, so that time may be further away than he would like.
The lovable and adorable Bayley took a major step in establishing herself as the face of the NXT Divas division Thursday night. She not only defeated Sasha Banks in a hard-fought match but also delivered a strong performance on the microphone.
While showcasing the sweetness that made her one of the most popular NXT Divas, she also demonstrated a strength and an unwillingness to take verbal abuse from her peers—especially Charlotte, whose appearance and threats following the match were met with defiance from Bayley.
Not allowing other Divas to walk all over her will do wonders for Bayley's confidence and her acceptance by fans as the top dog in the division.
Loser: Sasha Banks
Already one of the most underrated stars in all of NXT, Banks has delivered some extraordinary performances in recent months, but she will be forced to watch from the sidelines as Bayley and Charlotte compete for the NXT Women's Championship at Takeover II.
Always second fiddle, whether it is to Summer Rae or Charlotte, Banks has proved with her recent work that she is deserving of an opportunity to star on her own. Her match a few weeks back against Bayley was absolutely outstanding and featured one of the best finishes in recent memory.
Why management seems so hesitant to push her to the forefront, despite her performance between the ropes, is baffling.
Winner: Sami Zayn
It is no secret that Zayn is one of the most popular stars in NXT. His in-ring ability is unrivaled by any of his peers, and his matches with Tyler Breeze and Cesaro have earned him critical acclaim during his first full year with the developmental brand.
Thursday night, he was the last man standing following an action-packed main event. With the three men he will share the ring with at Takeover II lying in a heap in the center of the squared circle, Zayn reached for the NXT Championship and held onto it like a child, staring down at it as fans erupted into a "Yes!" chant.
It was a moment that demonstrated the connection between the audience and Zayn. It showed just how much the people want their favorite wrestler to win the title that has, to this point, eluded him. If it happens on September 11, expect one of the loudest roars of all time.
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