Since their debut as a trio at TakeOver: Brooklyn III, The Undisputed Era's infiltration of NXT has been thorough and for the most part, successful. They made their presence felt at the expense of NXT champion Drew McIntyre, tag-team champions SAnitY, and even recruited Mae Young Classic competitor Taynara Conti to spoil Nikki Cross' first attempt at qualifying for the women's championship at TakeOver -- though she did end up qualifying two weeks later.
A rare miscalculation occurred in their pursuit to recruit Roderick Strong as the fourth member of their squad. After repeated attempts to reel him in, Strong teased his acceptance of their offer last week by putting on an Undisputed Era armband only to begin assaulting Adam Cole, Bobby Fish and Kyle O'Reilly seconds later. The brawl that ensued resulted in general manager William Regal's War Games announcement. This week, Cole was out to exact a bit of revenge less than two weeks before TakeOver when he squared off with Strong.
Despite a good effort by both superstars, it was clear before the opening bell that there wouldn't be a definitive resolution between the two; it is destined to be resolved at TakeOver. What we did get was some fine in-ring work between the two and a memorable closing moment.
Technically, Strong got the win when Fish and O'Reilly got involved, which was the spark that ignited the wildfire that followed. The Authors of Pain rushed the ring in defense of their new teammate, and moments later, SAnitY came charging in from the crowd and a melee was underway, whetting the appetite for the chaos that is sure to follow at War Games.
The fracas came to an end when Strong superplexed Cole off the top rope to the outside of the ring on top of the rest of the combatants. It was an entertaining finish to the show and a prelude to the type of pandemonium we should expect from the War Games match at TakeOver. Buckle up.
Kairi Sane continues her winning ways
One of the most likable superstars in NXT continued to take the brand by storm as Kairi Sane faced Billie Kay. Kay, who failed to earn a spot in the fatal four-way alongside her Iconic Duo partner Peyton Royce, when Nikki Cross eliminated her from the qualifying battle royal two weeks ago, looked to make a statement of her own before TakeOver.
Sane picked up another win and continues to illustrate her tremendous in-ring prowess as Kay proved that while she might not be in the championship match at TakeOver, she's still among the best in the division.
The match was well worked, culminating with Sane's always impressive "Insane" top rope elbow drop. Sane has taken a fairly standard maneuver in the flying elbow drop and turned it into her own, unique version, resembling a baseball slide in the air. It's her ability to differentiate herself, something she has also successfully done with her persona, which makes her so appealing.
Will she carry her early success into TakeOver and pick up where Asuka left off as an undefeated champion? She's got as good a chance as any of the superstars in the match and a win would be an excellent way to capitalize on her popularity.
The Velveteen Dream sends a message to Aleister Black
In a warmup match of sorts before his collision with Aleister Black at TakeOver, the Velveteen Dream scored a quick pinfall victory over Cezar Bononi. Following the win, he had some words for Black.
"Aleister, I gave you what you needed," The Velveteen Dream said. "And now The Velveteen Dream is on your mind. And at Houston at NXT TakeOver War Games, when all that's dark comes to the light, The Velveteen Dream will get what he wants when your lips say my name."
Even with what looks to be a fascinating War Games match on the card, Dream and Black have a legitimate shot to steal the show at TakeOver. This rivalry has been expertly built.
Less than a week before their NXT Championship match at TakeOver, Drew McIntyre and Andrade "Cien" Almas will go face to face next week. In an interview this week, Almas' associate, Zelina Vega, hyped up her client when she claimed that Almas was, "head and shoulders above everyone else and Drew McIntyre will soon find that out at NXT TakeOver."
Heavy Machinery continued to dominate with a decisive victory over Sean Maluta and Chris Payne. The duo, which is very much over with the crowd and has been for a while now, should find themselves back in the NXT tag-team championship picture once we get past TakeOver. They are far too talented and charismatic (as evidenced by Otis Dozovic performing a version of "The Worm" that would make Scotty 2 Hotty proud) not to eventually be in that conversation.
Next week: Ember Moon will face Mae Young Classic standout Mercedes Martinez and the Street Profits will look to extend their winning streak when they take on Tino Sabbatelli and Riddick Moss.
Kassius Ohno versus Lars Sullivan has been added to the TakeOver: War Games card.