WWE NXT Results: Winners, Grades, Reaction and Highlights from September 23
The Vaudevillains defeated Buddy Murphy and Wesley Blake on NXT on Wednesday night, successfully retaining their tag team championships with the assistance of Blue Pants.
That championship clash headlined a show that also saw the arrival of Japanese sensation Kana, who was renamed Asuka and immediately confronted by two of the brand's top female stars in Dana Brooke and Emma.
Bull Dempsey suffered another disappointing loss, this time to Tyler Breeze as they continued their rivalry.
Finally, Eva Marie again ended Carmella's night on a sour note, defeating the Princess of Staten Island courtesy of some controversial officiating and a less-than-thrilling count-out.
How did each match and segment grade out? What will they mean for foreseeable future?
Take a look for yourself with this analysis of Wednesday night's episode of NXT.
Carmella vs. Eva Marie
Eva Marie continues to be the most despised woman in all of NXT, the crowd lashing out at what they perceive as a lack of talent. On Wednesday night, she would have the opportunity to prove her harshest of doubters wrong as she squared off with Carmella.
For the Staten Island Princess, the match represented a chance to avenge a loss to Eva Marie, when a botched pin and whether Carmella's shoulders were ever down to begin with called into question the legitimacy of the win.
Eva controlled early on, but Carmella mounted a comeback and should have scored the pin. Instead, the official argued the All Red Diva got her foot on the ropes and refused to count the fall.
Moments later, Eva tossed her opponent to the arena floor and won the match via count-out.
Eva Marie defeated Carmella by count-out.
The match was nothing special, but the potential development of a storyline involving Eva Marie and the officiating of her matches was a welcome one. It also greatly improved the grade for the segment.
The idea of Eva Marie benefiting from crooked officiating designed to advance her up the ranks in WWE is an interesting one. If that is the case, it would be an instance of WWE playing up the real criticisms of the audience, most of whom believe management is hell bent on seeing Eva Marie succeed no matter what.
That is a move that would assure Eva remains one of the most despised talents in the entire brand.
Bull Dempsey vs. Tyler Breeze
Recent weeks have seen the intensification of the rivalry between Tyler Breeze and Bull Dempsey, which ignited when they were ousted from the Dusty Rhodes Classic thanks to miscommunication.
After Dempsey cleared the ring of Breeze and Adam Rose last time out, he had the opportunity to stick it to Prince Pretty in singles competition on Wednesday night.
Breeze benefited tremendously from sending Dempsey into the guardrail, taking control of the bout. The Bull Fit competitor showed great resiliency, though, fighting back and brushing off some of his opponent's offense in the process.
However, his insistence in heading to the top rope doomed him, as Breeze tossed him off the turnbuckles and scored a tainted pinfall, his foot on the ropes for added leverage.
Tyler Breeze defeated Bull Dempsey.
This was a satisfying conclusion to the match and the logical continuation of the feud. More of a stopgap than the culmination of a weeks-long journey, it did what it was meant to and that is put the heel over to fake out the fans while building to a more satisfying conclusion, possibly on a bigger stage.
Dempsey looked motivated, which has been the case since he made his babyface turn. Working with Breeze will only help with his development and evolution.
Kana's Contract Signing
NXT general manager William Regal welcomed new signee Kana to the squared circle on Wednesday. She was officially renamed Asuka, and she revealed her happiness to be in NXT. Unfortunately, what should have been a magical night for the newcomer was ruined by the appearance of Dana Brooke and Emma, who made their way to the ring amid chants of "Asuka's gonna kill you."
The devious duo took credit for driving Charlotte from the brand, then ordered Akusa out of the ring.
She obliged, leaving the squared circle looking dejected. Then, she stopped, turned and flashed the slightest smile, insinuating the mean girls of NXT may have awakened a monster they are ill-prepared to deal with.
This was a really strong segment that both introduced Asuka to NXT and immediately set up a program for her going forward.
As the lead heels in the NXT Divas division, Dana and Emma make the perfect opposition for the Japanese star. Almost immediately, she will be perceived as a major threat to the women's title thanks to the fact she jumped right in with two of the highest-profile Divas on the roster.
The twisted little smile she flashed was a nice indicator of the type of character fans can expect to see in the coming weeks.
WWE Tag Team Championship Match: The Vaudevillains vs. Murphy and Blake
At TakeOver: Brooklyn, the Vaudevillains brought the tag team title reign of Buddy Murphy and Wesley Blake crashing down. To do so, they enlisted the help of Blue Pants, who kept the vindictive Alex Bliss subdued at ringside.
On Wednesday night, the former champions invoked their rematch clause, squaring off with Simon Gotch and Aiden English in the main event.
English found himself isolated from Gotch, worn down by the technical skill of both Murphy and Blake. A hot tag to Gotch, however, turned the tide in the champions' favor.
As English came off the top rope with a late-match swanton bomb attempt, his back caught Murphy's knees, leading to another near-fall.
Lucky for him, he recovered just in time to deliver the Whirling Dervish with Gotch to successfully retain the titles.
The Vaudevillains defeated Buddy Murphy and Wesley Blake.
The champions and challengers have some hellish in-ring chemistry that is only getting better with every passing week.
Early in their run as a team, English was the recipient of the hot tags, leaving Gotch to play the face in peril. It was a formula that did not work nearly as well as it does with the roles reversed.
Whether this is the end of the feud remains to be seen, but all signs seem to point toward a new program for the Vaudevillains.