WWE NXT Results: Winners, Grades, Reaction and Highlights from July 26
The NXT brand is on the road to TakeOver: Brooklyn III and it showed in Wednesday's broadcast.
There was less wrestling, more story-driven segments that gave fans a taste of what they can expect come the blockbuster live event special.
Kassius Ohno and Hideo Itami, formerly friends, saw their rivalry come to a head as they battled in the main event.
Drew McIntyre addressed the fans ahead of his upcoming championship showdown with Bobby Roode, while Sanity reiterated its desire for a tag team title opportunity against The Authors of Pain. Ember Moon voiced her readiness to challenge Asuka for the women's title.
Velveteen Dream rounded out the action on Wednesday's show.
Ember Moon vs. Lei'D Tapa
En route to TakeOver: Brooklyn on August 19, where she will likely challenge Asuka for the NXT Women's Championship, Ember Moon squared off with former TNA Wrestling Knockout Lei'D Tapa.
The newcomer was little match for Moon, succumbing to a series of kicks and the Eclipse.
After the match, a victorious Moon took the mic and expressed her readiness for a match against Asuka for the top prize women's wrestling has to offer in NXT.
Ember Moon defeated Lei'D Tapa
Moon showed some extraordinary fire here, putting Tapa down quickly.
The post-match promo on Asuka teased a woman finally ready to do what she must to defeat the dominant champion, who came within seconds of dropping her title to Moon at TakeOver: Orlando.
The heat should be off the charts when the women take to the squared circle for that hotly anticipated bout.
Sanity Confronts The Authors of Pain
Before a scheduled squash by The Authors of Pain, Sanity appeared, laying waste to the intended victims and confronting the tag team champions as they prepare for an epic encounter of villainous tandems.
A brawl erupted, ending with Akam and Rezar sending Killian Dain and Alexander Wolfe to the floor. Nikki Cross held them back, understanding the need to regroup before any further damage was done.
The Authors of Pain versus Sanity is one of those rivalries you never really knew you wanted until you were confronted with it.
The brawl here suggested a battle between the chaotic duo of Wolfe and Dain and the unforgiving, punishing champions Akam and Rezar could be great fun. It could also provide a spark for The Authors, who have been coasting since wrapping up their rivalry with DIY in April.
A fun segment that appropriately teased the impending battle.
The Velveteen Dream vs. Cezar Bononi
Prior to the match, the commentators ran through the recent story of Cezar Bononi, who upset Andrade "Cien" Almas two months ago, and then found himself on the receiving end of a beatdown by the same opponent following a loss to No Way Jose a week ago.
On Wednesday night, The Velveteen Dream took the fight to Bononi, attempting to make his recent victory look more like a fluke.
Bononi came back with a rollup for two, but Dream quickly regained control.
His top rope elbow drop, complete with Rick Rude hip gyrations, ended Bononi's night on a sour note.
Velveteen Dream defeated Cezar Bononi
The pre-match videos put the emphasis on Bononi and the impending rivalry between Almas and Jose, but the match itself was all Dream, who continues to adapt, evolve and grow his character. That will benefit him exponentially as NXT loads up on established, acclaimed in-ring talents.
Where this leaves Bononi going forward—especially after the time spent on his story over the last two months—is a question in itself.
Drew McIntyre Addresses the NXT Universe
One week after defeating Killian Dain to earn a shot at Bobby Roode's NXT Championship, Drew McIntyre addressed the fans inside Full Sail University in Orlando, Florida.
McIntyre recalled his status as Vince McMahon's "Chosen One" and admitted he expected to have everything handed to him. It wasn't until he left, he said, that he realized the importance of working hard.
That is why the Scot signed with NXT. The locker room is full of equals, hardworking individuals who seek the same greatness.
He called out NXT champion Roode for being the exception. He is self-centered and not at all reflective of the brand.
McIntyre led the crowd in an NXT chant and stood tall to close out the segment.
McIntyre using parallels between himself and Roode to tell their story is a wise move. Utilizing that story device will help tell a much more intriguing and compelling story than the typical "he's coming for the title" line that has dominated the brand for the last year.
The call back to the Scot's previous run was a nice touch of continuity that is not always present.
McIntyre appears more motivated than he did during his last run with WWE, and it should help him achieve the greatness he failed to then.
Kassius Ohno vs. Hideo Itami
The rivalry between Hideo Itami and Kassius Ohno came to a head this week as the Superstars battled in the night's main event.
Itami scored the early advantage with a guillotine neckbreaker and worked over Ohno for the majority of the match. The two cut a slower pace than one would have imagined, with Itami keeping Ohno grounded.
Ohno fought back into the match using kicks, a series of clotheslines and a Shining Wizard. A senton earned him a two count.
Itami attempted the GTS, but Ohno fought out and delivered a big kick. With desperation setting in, Itami went low, kicking Ohno south of the border and drawing a disqualification.
Itami executed one GTS, but a stubborn Ohno fought through it, only to find himself on the receiving end of another which put him down.
Itami dragged Ohno to the floor and delivered a third, dropping him face-first across the ring steps.
Kassius Ohno defeated Hideo Itami by disqualification
This was more angle than match, with Itami stooping even lower than before to try to prove his superiority to his former friend.
Ohno looked like a world-beater, withstanding the best Itami had to throw at him. His vengeance on Itami, presumably at TakeOver: Brooklyn III, should be fun to watch unfold.
Until then, expect the program to intensify in the weeks to come.