A quiet, somber opening as General Manager William Regal announces that Bayley is unfit to compete at Takeover: The End on June 8, so tonight’s main event will be Carmella vs. Alexa Bliss vs. Nia Jax to determine the No. 1 contender for the NXT Women’s Championship.

Tonight we’re going to try a little something different. Each week on the WWE Raw review, Jeff Hawkins lists the top three things you should watch over three hours. I’m going to take a page from both Jeff and hockey by giving you the three stars before the show gets moving. As in hockey, the first star is the highlight of the night.

Tonight’s Three Stars

First Star: Johnny Gargano and Tommaso Ciampa vs TM61 (0:02)

Second Star: Nakamura face to face with Austin Aries (0:25)

Third Star: Andrade “Cien” Almas vignette (0:19)

Johnny Gargano and Tommaso Ciampa def. TM61

The match wasn’t much to start, namely before the commercial break, but it served to set the stage that these were relatively evenly matched teams. TM61 were not to be taken lightly as NXT rookies. If the biggest takeaway of the #NewEra in WWE is that accomplishments outside of WWE matter, then this has been a huge success.

Following the commercial, however, the match really picked up. It didn’t reach the heights of the October 2015 tag team match between Gargano, Ciampa and American Alpha that lit the fuse on the NXT tag team division (and I named one of my matches of the year), but what a debut for TM61 and a vote of confidence in the newly WWE.com profiled Gargano and Ciampa.

If I have a criticism of Gargano’s early NXT tenure it’s that his spear through the ropes is in danger of becoming as trite as Dean Ambrose’s rebound clothesline. But seriously, Gargano and Ciampa are both showing an incredible combination of assimilation and differentiation if that’s the biggest concern with their transition.

Despite their exceptional teamwork, TM61 were eventually separated and Shane Thorne was taken out for a three count by the running knee/superkick combination from Gargano and Ciampa. ***1/2

I Broke You, Bayley…

In promotion for tonight’s main event, Bayley tells Cathy Kelly how disappointed she is that she won’t be able to compete at Takeover: The End in two weeks. Nia Jax interrupted, as she does, and claims she broke Bayley last week. Carmella steps in to try to defend her friend, but Jax brushes her off and walks away.

Andrade “Cien” Almas

La Sombre has (another) new name, this one is Andrade “Cien” Almas. He’s being treated like a big deal and the vignette says he’s “coming soon.” I suspect it will be in the Global Cruiserweight Series.

Aries and Nakamura, You Say?


Austin Aries cuts a solid-if-lengthy promo about being the greatest and how, essentially there can only be one “greatest” superstar. He doesn’t think it’s Shinsuke Nakamura.

Nakamura comes to the ring and starts speaking Japanese. He apologizes, and says that the NXT Championship isn’t going “to Greatness,” but will instead go to the King of Strong Style.

Before the two devolve to fisticuffs, GM Regal comes out to retain some order and make a match for Takeover. Austin Aries vs. Shinsuke Nakamura is official for NXT Takeover: The End on June 8. This is shaping up to be a very, very fun card.

No Way Jose def. Johnny Vandal

The match was mostly a joke – a vessel for comedy spots. Good for a house show, not super great when you have one hour of programming per week.

Jonny Vandal, who didn’t get an entrance or name graphic, was called something along the lines of “Jonathan Organ” by Tom Phillips.

Jose went to go dance with Phillips and Corey Graves after the match.

Asuka: A Woman of Few Words

Following a promo video for the NXT Championship cage match at Takeover (lots of non-ring action on this week’s NXT), Cathy Kelly is back to ask Asuka who she hopes to face at Takeover on June 8. The following is the entirety of Asuka’s interview:

“No matter who wins, I will defeat them.”

Well, it works.

Nia Jax def. Carmella and Alexa Bliss

The early story of the match was Alexa Bliss leaving Carmella to fight Nia Jax on her own.

Bliss returned to the ring as Jax wore down Carmella and the two actually brought out signs of weakness in Jax. Even when they had chances to take Jax on alone, both Carmella and Bliss both showed more creativity in their attacks on Jax than did Bayley.

Alas, there’s only one woman in the NXT women’s division who might be able to handle Jax’s immense strength advantage. Thankfully, that one woman is the NXT Women’s Champion, Asuka, who came to the ring after the match. Champion and challenger faced off as NXT faded to black.