When will WWE NXT be great again? Shinsuke Nakamura should help. Tonight’s show cemented more matches for Takeover: Dallas than had been previously announced and started to add a shine back to the brand.

“Sami Zayn, I will see you in Dallas…”

NXT kicks off with Sami Zayn coming to the ring after a vignette recap of the big No. 1 contenders’ that felt as long as the match itself. Zayn congratulates Samoa Joe for his win and said the match might’ve turned out differently if he had longer fingers (Trump much?).

Zayn says his goal, to become the only two-time NXT Champion remains the same, but his focus must turn to Takeover: Dallas.

Before Zayn can continue, Commissioner William Regal comes out to tell Zayn that he does deserve something special for Takeover and directs Full Sail Arena to a pretaped video featuring Shinsuke Nakamura. You can watch Nakamura’s whole appearance below.

Yep, Shinsuke-fucking-Nakamura. We knew he was coming (thanks again, WWE.com), but it didn’t make his first appearance any less goose bump inducing.

Additionally, Corey Graves and Tom Phillips did an incredible job of conveying the importance of Nakamura, including outright calling him the King of Strong Style. Does a 10 second clip make NXT great again? Not quite. But it certainly put a smile on my face and elicited the largest, loudest “holy shit” chant I can remember WWE allowing on a show that wasn’t broadcast live.

The Hype Bros def. Angelo Dawkins and Kenneth Crawford

“Hey, we want some Mojo,” the NXT crowd sang as Mojo Rawley squared off with Kenneth Crawford to start the match. These have got to be the only people in existence who have wanted more Mojo. Who in NXT has been around longer and progressed less than Rawley?

Gronk Jr. has become only slightly more palatable in the six-ish months since pairing with Zach Ryder, and that’s only because Ryder takes half the camera time away from him.

Is it fixable? Maybe.

Graves and Phillips made sure we all knew that Rawley was palling around with the New England Patriots’ Rob Gronkowski, but there’s nothing about Rawley other than being obnoxious that relates him to Gronk. Rawley is all talk (and terrible moves) at the moment.

Rawley is kind of a bizzaro Roman Reigns at the moment. Rawley gets solid cheers on the bottom of the card, but he’s a wholly unlikeable character and an absolute bore in the ring. And he hasn’t made the progress in the ring to make up for the character confusion.

Anyway, Rawley and Ryder win in less time than it took me to write that with the Hype Ryder.

Emma (w/ Dana Brooke) def. Deonna Purrazzo

Emma and Dana Brooke found Deonna Purrazzo backstage before the match, and Purrazzo told the pair that she would be the one to stop the Emmaloution. I thought Asuka did that, but never mind that. Emma won with the Emma Lock in what was an almost entirely uneventful match.

The NXT women’s division has become deeper and more developed than the NXT men’s division in short order. The women’s division has a legitimate, talented midcard filled with wrestlers who can be called up to the main even scene for short programs at a moment’s notice.

The NXT men’s division, conversely, is a mess outside of the top 5 wrestlers. Anyone worth their salt is in the absolutely rocking NXT tag team division leaving us with the likes of Elias Sampson filling out shows.

Tommaso Ciampa def. Jesse Sorensen

Then again, Tommaso Ciampa is still here. But do Ciampa and Johnny Gargano count? They won’t get any real recognition until they’re full time roster members, but they’re clearly, sorely, dearly needed on NXT more often than they’re currently around

For his part, Ciampa came out swinging for this match. Poor Jesse Sorensen’s days were numbered when he didn’t get an entrance which, as we know, is a death blow. After reigning down elbows and knees all over Sorensen, Ciampa won the match with the yet-unnamed-in-WWE Sicilian Stretch armbar.

Bayley and Asuka def. Eva Marie and Nia Jax

Bayley didn’t have super great luck with Carmella when they tagged together against Eva Marie and Nia Jax, so Asuka it is. The match itself was fine for a match that heavily involved Eva Marie wrestling, but the best part of the whole segment was Phillips announcing Asuka’s decimation of Eva Marie with unbridled glee while Graves outwardly groaned at some of Asuka’s more devastating strikes.

As much as Graves loves Eva Marie, the crowd was relentless with her. Endless “you can’t wrestle” chants and incessant boos follow Eva Marie.

Bayley and Asuka isolated Eva Marie for almost the entirety of the match and even when Jax did make it into the ring her most notable accomplishment was accidentally leg dropping Eva Marie. Bayley gets the pin on Eva Marie with a Bayley to Belly.

Commissioner Regal came out again after the match to make Asuka vs. Bayley for the NXT Women’s Championship official for Takeover: Dallas.

“You’re big, you’re bad and you’re insecure.”

Austin Aries’ “live via satellite” interview did a heckuva job playing off of Baron Corbin’s anti-indie character and legitimizing the ability of Aries without ever having him step foot in the ring. Aries said that Corbin should’ve asked him for advice on how to be the best since Aries himself has been around the world and earned everything he’s received – including his NXT contract.

This interview highlights the huge disparity in the main roster and NXT’s acceptance of outside talent. Aries’ accomplishments are being highlighted and used to make Corbin look even more heelish. If this was on the main roster? JBL would get unlimited air time to disparage everything Aries has ever done as well as mock his height and wouldn’t be challenged by either of the other announcers on the table.

American Alpha def. The Vaudevillains

Chad Gable and Jason Jordan each had on their half of a Marty Jannetty singlet, but oddly Gable was rocking these red, white and blue boots that stick out like sore thumbs with their technicolor dreamsinglets.

Despite being super serious, the Vaudevillains couldn’t keep up with American Alpha for the most part. Simon Gotch and Aiden English shared a short second act keeping control of Gable after a commercial, but Gable made the hot tag to Jordan and the short TV tag formula went off without a hitch. Or did it?

The Vaudevillains cut off Jordan’s hot tag just as American Alpha was going to go for Grand Amplitude. The Vaudevillains did a great job of creating a final stretch with American Alpha by counterpunching and interrupting certain nearfalls, including Gotch breaking up an incredible roll-through deadlift German Suplex bridge by Gable.

Eventually Jordan and Gable overcame the Vaudevillains, however, and won with a second attempt at a Grand Amplitude. In one hour of television NXT made three Takeover matches official and more than doubled the publicized card.