The WWE Mixed Match Challenge kicked off Tuesday night with Finn Balor and Sasha Banks vs. Shinsuke Nakamura and Natalya, a match that would set the tone for a tournament in which 12 teams will fight not only for bragging rights but also a $100,000 check for their chosen charity.
A bare-bones presentation on Facebook Watch, the first episode featured four of the most accomplished and acclaimed professional wrestlers in action.
Finn Balor and Sasha Banks vs. Shinsuke Nakamura and Natalya
Finn Balor and Shinsuke Nakamura started the match with some chain wrestling and the trademark "c'mon" gesture from The Artist.
The women brought the action next, with Natalaya scoring a brief advantage with a low dropkick. A double knee attack by Banks sent The Queen of Harts scurrying to the ringside, where she and Nakamura attempted to regroup.
Banks took off through the ropes at her opponents but was caught. Another diving attack wiped out Natalya on the arena floor but only momentary. The former SmackDown women's champion quickly regained control of the bout.
Natalya worked the core and back of her opponent, using her technique and experience to punish The Boss.
An enzuigiri from Banks allowed her to tag Balor back into the bout.
The former NXT champions traded strikes, including knees and kicks, with neither man gaining much of an extended advantage. Nakamura tried for Kinshasa, but Balor countered with Slingblade and delivered the corner dropkick.
Balor tried for the Coup de Grace, but Natalya crotched him on the top rope. Banks returned the favor, breaking up a pin attempt by Nakamura. The Artist missed a charge into the corner on Balor and the Irishman made the tag to Banks.
Balor and Banks exchanged Too Sweets before the latter delivered the Banks Statement and forced a tapout from Natalya.
Winners: Finn Balor and Sasha Banks
Balor and Banks have the type of chemistry that suggests they may be the perfect team to roll through the semis and into the finals. They are charismatic and the Too Sweet late in the match was a nice touch.
The format worked to perfection and the length was just right. It was a sprint of a bout that never overstayed its welcome or exposed the flaws a tournament full of these mixed tag team matches is likely to include.
The right team went over and WWE Creative deserves props for bringing together four extraordinary workers to set the stage for what fans can expect in the weeks to come.
A solid first effort from the Mixed Match Challenge crew.