There are now just over three weeks until NXT TakeOver: Houston graces the WWE Network on Survivor Series weekend. While there is still plenty of time for NXT to continue building their biggest stories going into the event, this week's broadcast of NXT saw many of these stories reach the next level.
We saw Aleister Black and The Velveteen continue to escalate their tensions, Nikki Cross get a second chance at qualifying for the NXT Women's Championship match at TakeOver, and Andrade Cien Almas stake his claim for an NXT Championship match against Drew McIntyre.
Elsewhere, we saw Roderick Strong's issues with The Undisputed Era complicate even further
Nikki Cross battles her way to Houston
This week's NXT featured an over-the-top-rope battle royale for the final spot in the fatal-four-way NXT Women's Championship match at.NXT TakeOver: Houston. The match featured Nikki Cross (who was allowed into the match by William Regal),Billie Kay and several Mae Young Classic alumni, such as Mercedes Martinez, Abbey Laith and Candice le Rae
Nikki Cross started quick, eliminating Taynara Conti within seconds before Conti pulled Cross under the ropes and slamming her into the rails. This was followed by Peyton Royce ramming Cross into the steel steps, taking the Scottish sAnity member out of the match for a period.
Inside the ring, Bianca Belair impressed, eliminating a total of three competitors, including the popular Candice le Rae.
Nikki Cross would eventually go on a tear once reentering the match, eliminating seven additional people on the way to victory, including Mercedes Martinez, Bianca Belair, Vanessa Borne and, finally, Billie Kay.
After the match, all four competitors stared each other down as the match to determine the NXT Women's Champion in Houston was set in stone.
Aleister Black's worst nightmare
This week saw the latest development in the gripping feud between Aleister Black. The Dutchman was advertised for a match on the night's show, but was attacked from behind by Dream who emerged from Black's own smoke.
From there, Dream wrapped Aleister up in the ropes, slapping him in the face as he demanded that he said his name, as has been the theme of the entire story.
Black would end up fighting out of the ropes and just about miss the Velveteen Dream with the Black Mass, as Dream headed back up the ramp.
There are very few stories in WWE as strong as that of Aleister Black vs The Velveteen Dream. It has been booked to perfection and this writer cannot wait to see what they can do at TakeOver: Houston.
Zelina Vega gets physical to assist Almas
The main event of the evening saw Andrade Cien Almas take on Roderick Strong with the former looking to send a message to NXT Champion Drew McIntyre.
The match itself was fast-paced, back-and-forth and extremely hard-hitting. Almas would dominate most of the match, using his larger size to keep the smaller Roderick down. The former luchador would come close to victory on a number of occasions during the contest, earning a near fall from a tornado reverse DDT, and another from his signature double knees in the corner.
Strong would eventually mount a comeback, cutting off a second double knees in the corner with a high knee which had Almas rocked. Strong continued to fly around the ring, knocking Almas out of the ring to the outside.
Unfortunately for Roddy, this is where he would meet his demise. After sending Almas back in the ring and with the referee distracted, Roderick Strong would be taken out with a hurricanrana into the steel steps from none other than Zelina Vega. From there, Almas hit Strong with the hammerlock DDT for the pinfall victory.
After the match, Vega grabbed a headset from commentary and promised McIntyre that Almas would meet him face-to-face next week. As for Roddy, he was met in the ring by The Undisputed Era, with Adam Cole offering Strong an armband and thus a spot in his faction, telling him that he didn't want to let his family down.
- I may be reading a little bit too much into this, but it was interesting that only three competitors in the battle royale received a proper entrance: Nikki Cross, Billie Kay and Candice le Rae. While it is to be expected that the first two entered to their own music as they are two established names in the NXT women's roster, but to see Candice le Rae enter to her own music was quite interesting. However, due to the pop she received from the Full Sail University crowd when she emerged, it was the very much the right move. She was immensely popular on the night, which garnered Bianca Belair great heat when she eliminated Candice late on.
- It was quite a bit interesting just how short the show was on matches. In total, there were three matches on the night's card: the battle royale qualifier, Tino Sabbatelli and Riddick Moss vs Oney Lorcan and Danny Burch, and Andrade Cien Almas vs Roderick Strong. Aside from that, there was a short pre-taped segment involving Drew McIntyre and Zelina Vega. It is understandable that a one hour broadcast cannot be jam packed with matches, but it is a far cry from the 27th of September broadcast, for example, which had five matches. This is not strictly a bad thing, just an observation.
- Tino Sabbatelli & Riddick Moss def. Oney Lorcan & Danny Burch
- NXT Women's Championship Qualifier: Nikki Cross wins battle royale, last eliminating Billie Kay
- Andrade Cien Almas def. Roderick Strong
Are you excited for TakeOver? Let us know in the comments below!