WWE NXT is filling it’s original role as a development territory with sporadic supershows to renew excitement. Following Takeover: London, NXT fell into a weekly rut. Takeover: Dallas was incredible; a contender for Show of the Year, but NXT has fallen into that same driftless rut since Dallas. Part of the problem is the advanced tapings. Any surprise is spoiled weeks, if not months, earlier on the dark pit that is #WrestlingTwitter.

The other, more troubling problem is the quality of the matches. 2015 was an incredible year for NXT, even on the weekly shows there was at least one great match per month. The first six months of 2016 have been incredibly disappointing for weekly match quality, even with the debut and success of Shinsuke Nakamura. NXT has always been known for enhancement matches, but even the competitive matches have been WWE-ized and exist solely for storyline purposes.

How much of the decline has to do with former NXT head writer Ryan Miller being promoted to SmackDown? I’m sure I don’t have the answer, but what was the hottest property in professional wrestling is set to become one of the largest disappointments of 2016.

Finn Balor’s Matches Could Go Either Way

Former NXT Champion Finn Balor was on his way to challenging Samoa Joe to a re-re-re-rematch for the title when Elias Samson interrupted with a new ditty for the once-champ.

Samson got an incredible amount of heat, borderline go-away heat, but heat and this company will take heat in any form they can get it. Samson took a powder following a Pele kick, but forgot Chekov’s Guitar which Balor threw out to him. Surprisingly, in what was the most impressive thing Samson has done since debuting as The Drifter, he caught the guitar.

Balor and Samson will wrestle later in this show.

American Alpha def. Hollis and Skyler

Corey Hollis and John Skyler are getting the Dash and Dawson treatment apparently. It worked for the former NXT Tag Team Champions, but some cursory research tells me catching lightning in bottles is not easily replicated.

I made an informal list of my favorite WWE-centric tag teams last week. American Alpha is on that list and pretty high up, but their squash matches are incredibly formulaic. They’re fun to watch because, as a team, they’re clearly having the time of their lives. Hollis and Skyler didn’t get much in, but the point of this match was The Revival coming to taunt the champions. Despite the distraction, American Alpha won with the Grand Amplitude.

Honestly, I would love for the tag team title rematch to main event the Takeover special coming next month. This Alpha-Revival is clearly the hottest feud in NXT right now.

Shinsuke Nakamura def. Alex Riley

Fare thee well, Alex Riley.

There are worse ways to go out than a knee to the head from Shinsuke Nakamura.

Rob and Jeff eulogized Riley’s WWE tenure as well as I could’ve on Shake Them Ropes this week. In summation, Riley is an entertaining wrestler who has…something, but his absence we’re unlikely, as viewers, to long for the days of Riley yore.

Nakamura got an “arena pop” when the first chord hit on his entrance. Andre the Giant could come out to wrestle The Rock and I don’t think Full Sail would pop as hard as they did when they saw Nakamura for the first time.

Once the match actually started, Riley started by disrespecting Nakamura the instant he got the upper hand, including insulting strong style. Nakamura responded by beating the piss out of Riley and ending his barage with an inverted exploder suplex, a Kinsasha and a pin.

Austin Aries Came Here to Be Great

General Manager William Regal, backstage with Austin Aries, was interrupted by Blake and Murphy demanding an NXT Tag Team Championship shot. Aries argued with the two former champions and our benevolent overlord Regal booked Blake and Murphy against Aries and a partner of his choosing for next weeks show. Which TNA legend will Aries bring over? Or will The Greatest Man Who Ever Lived find someone a little more…royal?

Alexa Bliss vs. Rachel Ellering

Rachel Ellering, the daughter of Paul Ellering, is the latest in a line of ex-wrestler daughters to be fed to Alexa Bliss in her build up for a title challenge.

In addition to Bliss’ build to replenish the top of the division, she’s drawing a stark contrast, and likely a dividing line, between herself and her partners Blake and Murphy.

This wasn’t a world-beating match, but Ellering is at a considerably higher level than that shown by Tessa Blanchard since her first NXT appearance in the weeks following Takeover: Dallas. Bliss wins with the Sparkle Splash.

Finn Balor def. Elias Samson.

It’s been alluded to over the past few months, but Balor keeps sharpening that edge on his character. He was out for blood against Samson.

All in all, this was an entertaining little match. And here’s the thing about NXT: there are no bad wrestlers on the roster. I can say (and I do) that Elias Samson stinks (and he does), but he’s a fully serviceable worker and is more than capable of filling the role he’s in on the main roster. What stinks most about Samson is that over gimmicked gimmick and a boring moveset, a moveset which might be a part of the terrible character.

But this kind of main event match is what’s holding NXT back every week. There’s no reason to use a Balor-Joe match on the weekly show, but the standard I hold these shows to is the American Alpha vs. Johnny Gargano and Tommaso Ciampa from October 2015, a match I loved so much that I put it on my VOW MOTY ballot.

Balor put the boots to Samson and won with the 1916. I don’t know if you can tell, but I run out of phrases to describe demolition victories ever. single. week.

Balor cut a promo after the match and challenged Joe to a rematch for the NXT Championship. Joe came down to fight the challenger, but Regal ran down to get inbetween them before Joe could get into the ring.

Regal announced that Joe-Balor IV would take place at Full Sail on June 8 during the next NXT Takeover. Livid, Joe yelled and screamed at Regal which gave Balor ample opportunity to leap over the ropes (and Regal) and onto Joe. Balor left Joe lying as NXT faded to black.