Since TakeOver: Brooklyn III back in August, NXT has done a wonderful job weaving storylines into each other, a technique that, when done right, can create compelling television. It's a method that keeps audiences guessing as to the direction each story is headed and one that keeps said stories fresh.
NXT's recent catalyst of this storytelling approach has been the Undisputed Era.
Since their debut as a trio at TakeOver: Brooklyn, they have developed conflicts with a number of superstars: SAnitY, Drew McIntyre, Authors of Pain just to name a few. Their tendency to meddle continued on Wednesday night.
Two of the premier storylines heading into TakeOver: War Games next month include Andrade "Cien" Almas' pursuit of McIntyre's NXT Championship and the future of Roderick Strong, who has been offered proposals on multiple occasions to join the Undisputed Era following his NXT Championship loss a few weeks ago. Those two avenues of storytelling intersected when Almas and his associate, Zelina Vega, took to the ring to address the NXT Championship opportunity that McIntyre has yet to award Almas.
"Andrade 'Cien' Almas has been waiting a week for a contract for an NXT Championship match against McIntyre. And here we are, still no contract," Vega said. "Drew McIntyre is ducking Andrade 'Cien' Almas because he knows, just like Roderick Strong will soon find out, that Drew is not man enough to breath the rarefied air of a champion."
That brought out Strong and Full Sail was treated to an excellent main event highlighted by Vega's interference near the bout's conclusion. While the referee's back was turned, Vega delivered a picture perfect hurricanrana to Strong on the outside of the ring, sending him into the steel ring steps. That was all Almas needed as he picked up the pinfall victory soon thereafter, furthering his case that he belongs in the championship match at TakeOver. That match will indeed happen as General Manager William Regal made it official just minutes after NXT went off the air.
Strong, who suffered another big loss, was once again confronted by the Undisputed Era who offered him a spot in their group.
"You are not a loser, Roderick," Adam Cole said as he removed his armband and handed it to Strong. They then left the ring allowing Strong to think it over.
While Strong's current situation would have the audience believe that it's time for a change of direction, Strong is a natural babyface. His story and journey to the world of professional wrestling as well as his exciting move set are easy attributes to get behind. A turn to the dark side doesn't seem likely.
The TakeOver Women's Fatal 4-Way is set
Since April 1, 2016, one woman has been the staple of the NXT women's division: Asuka. That was the day she defeated Bayley at TakeOver: Dallas to begin her record setting 523-day championship reign. Following Asuka's successful main roster debut at TLC against another former NXT standout, Emma, it's time for a new era to begin.
A battle royal featuring superstars from the NXT women's division, including many who took part in the Mae Young Classic, took place this week to determine who would join Ember Moon, Peyton Royce and Kairi Sane in a Fatal 4-Way women's championship match at TakeOver: War Games.
As the bout neared its conclusion, the field was whittled down to Billie Kay, Bianca Belair, Mercedes Martinez and Nikki Cross. In the end, Cross came out victorious by eliminating Kay.
Adding Cross to the championship match at TakeOver was the right call. Cross has established herself as a leader within the division by way of her unique charisma, intensity and ability to tell a great story in the ring. She has earned the right to be a part of one of the biggest women's matches in the history of NXT.
The Velveteen Dream and Aleister Black get physical
After weeks of mind games by The Velveteen Dream, who has been attempting to break the calm demeanor of Aleister Black, their rivalry intensified, this time from a physical perspective.
As Black made his entrance, he was blindsided by Dream, who tied Black up in the ring ropes, slapped him and shouted, "Say my name!"
An irate Black got loose and narrowly missed nailing the Velveteen Dream with his black mass spinning heel kick, prompting Dream to retreat.
I noted last week that this feud is reaching its boiling point and the water has started to bubble. This is one of the hottest programs going in NXT.
Coming off their respective singles losses to Johnny Gargano, Tino Sabbatelli and Riddick Moss got back on track as a tag team with a win over the newly formed team of Oney Lorcan and Danny Burch.
Speaking of Johnny Gargano, he'll face Fabian Aichner next week.
The Authors of Pain will get their tag team championship rematch against SAnitY in next week's main event