WWE NXT (Aug. 3) Hideo Itami returns!

NXT is speeding towards Takeover: Brooklyn II and this week’s episode helps set up some potentially excellent matches. Let’s get in the ring!

Hideo Itami vs. Sean Maluta

In his return to NXT television, Hideo Itami reestablishes himself as frighteningly quick and devastating force on the roster. His forward momentum was halted thanks to his injury but it is immediately clear that Itami will be a credible threat to not only Samoa Joe but to Shinsuke Nakamura as well.

Helping Itami knock off the ring rust is Sean Maluta who was recently eliminated from the first round of the WWE Cruiserweight Classic. Maluta is an excellent wrestler and hopefully he will find a permanent home in NXT. However, Itami is not to be denied and displays a playfully vicious streak to compliment his brutally stiff striking. Ideally Itami will regain the momentum that was taken from him over a year ago and transposed upon Finn Balor.

Winner: Hideo Itami (via pinfall following a Running Single Leg High Knee)

Mojo Rawley vs. Chris Atkins

Thanks to the enraged, rampaging NXT Champion Samoa Joe, this bout is a total non-starter. As a vehicle for the Joe/Nakamura and Joe/William Regal feuds it is terrific. A side effect of Joe dismantling Rawley and Atkins is him coming off as a super monster heel that would seem destined for a call up in the near future.

Winner: Corey Graves (who seemed to find a nirvana-like place of serenity at the thought of The Hyped One being beat up.)

Asuka vs. Aliyah

Asuka has been unstoppable during her time in NXT. She is the Women’s Champion, undefeated and she makes short work of Aliyah. The crux of this match is Asuka’s goading of Bayley who joins the commentary team briefly before going ringside, taking the bait left by the Empress of Tomorrow. Asuka’s pointed brutality shows hints of mounting hubris and sets up an exciting and potentially show-stealing confrontation at Takeover: Brooklyn II.

Winner: Asuka (via submission following the Asuka Lock)

The Revival vs. TM61

Top to bottom this is an excellent match. Tag Team Professional Wrestling is an art form unto itself and in The Revival, TM61 and Gargano & Ciampa the division shines bright in the mostly muddy WWE system. From a storytelling standpoint, this match was probably the best one that aired anywhere on the WWE Network. It reaffirmed The Revival as the dominant team in NXT; TM61 took the champs to the limit and displayed their mastery of tag wrestling; Gargano & Ciampa established themselves as crowd favorites and put their mic skills and personalities in the forefront. Recommended match!

Winners: The Revival (following a pinfall following a DDT)

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