With just over a month to go until NXT TakeOver: Houston, WWE's developmental brand continued advancing several different angles up-and-down the card.
We saw a triple threat qualifier for the NXT Women's Championship Fatal 4-Way, with Ember Moon, Sonya Deville, and Ruby Riot fighting to join Kairi Sane and Peyton Royce in Texas, while SAnitY finally got their hands on The Undisputed Era in the main event of the evening.
Elsewhere, Drew McIntyre was confronted by Zelina Vega, while we saw development in the best feud on WWE television: Aleister Black vs The Velveteen Dream.
Ember Moon qualifies for TakeOver
The first match on this week's NXT pitted Ember Moon, Sonya Deville and Ruby Riot against each other in a triple threat qualifying match for the NXT Women's Championship Fatal Four Way at TakeOver: Houston.
After a competitive affair, Ember Moon predictably clinched victory after hitting Sonya Deville, who had an ankle lock on Ruby Riot, with the Eclipse. However, rather than pin Deville, she opted to pin Riot for the 1-2-3.
Ember Moon joins Peyton Royce and Kairi Sane as three of the four names in the NXT Women's Championship match, with the fourth competitor being the winner of a battle royale that will take place next week.
The triple threat was a nice little match for what it was. It showcased Riot and Deville appropriately while pushing Ember Moon in the NXT Women's Championship picture where she belongs.
Zelina Vega lays down the challenge to Drew McIntyre
Halfway through the broadcast, Drew McIntyre sat down for a backstage interview. During the segment, Drew spoke about how his initial run in WWE made him question his future and what he wanted to do with his life, mentioning how his then-girlfriend and father asked him if he was going to be ok.
It was at this point that Zelina Vega, Andrade 'Cien' Almas' manager, interrupted and proceeded to conduct the interview. She accused Drew of intentionally avoiding Almas, mentioning how if Drew really wanted the match, Regal would book it.
In response, the NXT Champion laid down an ultimatum to Almas via Vega: come to talk to him face-to-face and he would consider giving Almas the title match.
With Adam Cole wrapped up in a programme with SAnitY right now, it makes sense that Drew would face Almas in Houston, which is where this seems to be headed, especially with Almas having the momentum that he does.
Authors of Pain lay down the law
The main event of the evening saw The Undisputed Era make their in-ring debut as a group against SAnitY. It was a fun main event in and of itself, but it is what happened at the climax of the contest that stole the headlines from the two teams.
Despite a quick start from SAnitY, The Undisputed Era dominated much of the match. That was until Eric Young made the hot tag to Killian Dain. Adam Cole, who spent as little time in the ring as he could, watched on as Dain dismantled Kyle O'Reilly and Bobby Fish. When the latter did manage to mount some offense on Dain, Young and Wolfe cut him off to maintain control.
When O'Reilly and Fish were handled, SAnitY turned their attention to Adam Cole on the outside. They cornered the three time ROH Champion before Dain pulled Cole into the ring by his hair.
However, just as SAnitY looked to have the match won, the Authors of Pain made their presence felt, storming the ring and laying out every member of SAnitY, while The Undisputed Era snuck off up the ramp to safety, questioning the life decisions that got them to where they were in that instance.
AOP hoisted the tag titles over their heads after laying out SAnitY, thus reminding both SanitY and The Undisputed Era who they were dealing with.
- The finish of Moon/Deville/Riot was a massive misstep in this writer's opinion. The visual of Moon hitting Deville with the Eclipse while Sonya had Riot in the ankle lock was amazing and would have made a stunning closing sequence. The decision to have Riot take the pin instead of Deville was a strange course to take. Not only did it dilute the awesome closing sequence, but it also made little sense in the way that Riot was not incapacitated enough not to kick out.
- The story of The Undisputed Era attempting to recruit Roderick Strong to their ranks continued this week after grainy CCTV footage from outside the arena showed Adam Cole drape a shirt over Strong's shoulder, only for Roddy to drape it back over Cole's shoulder in a perceived act of defiance. It is an interesting development when it comes to both parties involved. The thought of Roderick turning heel and taking part in this ROH invasion is certainly tantalizing and it will be interesting to see where it goes.
- After weeks of attempting to get Aleister Black to acknowledge him, The Velveteen Dream seemingly made a breakthrough this week. Black was scheduled for a match against Raul Mendoza when Dream stole the Dutchman's jacket and spent the match staring down at Black from the ramp. Black dispatched Mendoza in short order with the Black Mass but, in a sign of frustration, he stared over at Dream leaving with his jacket, while the commentary team asked whether Aleister had finally acknowledged The Velveteen Dream. While a jacket being the reason that Black showed weakness is a little bit irritating, the advancement in the story is welcome and represents a crack in Aleister's steely demeanor. I can't wait to see what happens in NXT's best current feud.
- NXT Women's Championship Qualifier: Ember Moon def. Sonya Deville & Ruby Riot
- Aleister Black def. Raul Mendoza
- Kassius Ohno def. Cezar Bononi
- SAnitY def. The Undisputed Era by DQ
What did you think of NXT this week? Are you excited for TakeOver? Let us know in the comments below!