For the 11th time WWE’s developmental brand, NXT, “took over” the WWE Network and put on yet another excellent live special.
Was this NXT’s best Takeover special?
Was it an awesome wrestling show?
Got ya! I know you were expecting a Daniel Bryan gif.
The show kicked off with the debut of Andrade “Cien” Almas (formally known as La Sombra) against “The Perfect 10” Tye Dillinger.
Dillinger is so over. It got to a point where I thought that Almas was going to get booed, but ACA quickly showed why he’s a perfect fit for this roster. His lucha libre style is unique to NXT and to boot, he has a look that is tailor-made for the main roster.
The spot where Almas did a headstand on the top turnbuckle and Dillinger superkicked him was awesome spot number two of 783 on this show. The crowd totally bought that as a legit finish.
Awesome spot number one was Almas performing a moonsault from the second rope, landing on his feet and then hitting a standing moonsault.
Almas got the win after hitting his finish, which is a running double knee strike to a seated opponent in the corner. It looks very dangerous and can be done to anyone. So it’s a great finisher.
Three ½ stars out of five
American Alpha (C) vs. The Revival
So let me start off by saying this was the best match on the show. These four individuals made magic happen in the ring in front of a rabid audience at Full Sail University.
It shouldn’t have come as a surprise because they also had an incredible match at Takeover: Dallas, but this one was a bit cleaner and featured so many believable false finishes, that I legitimately had no idea when the finish was coming.
There were also so many awesome double team spots:
– A double ankle lock by AA.
– A dropkick-German suplex combo by AA.
– An incredibly dangerous spot where Dash Wilder had Chad Gable in a position to deliver a powerbomb closeline combo with Scott Dawson, only for Gable to reverse into a belly-to-belly suplex. It could have ended so badly.
After Jason Jordan ran wild and proved why he’s the treasurer of Suplex City, AA was in position to retain their NXT tag titles, but Gable was tossed out of the ring and The Revival hit the Shatter Machine and pinned Jordan clean in the middle to become NXT’s first two-time tag team champions.
After The Revival headed to the back, American Alpha was standing in the ring soaking in the applause from the crowd when the Authors of Pain made their surprising debut and wiped out Jordan and Gable. The team is made up of Sunny Dhisna and Gzim Selmani, two huge guys who can actually move.
And then out of nowhere Paul Ellering (!!!), the Legion of Doom’s former manager, showed up on the entrance ramp and walked away with the new duo.
Four ¾ stars out of five
The beauty of these NXT Takeover shows is that the card doesn’t usually have the “popcorn” filler matches that are strategically placed to bring the crowd down, so they can come back up later on in the show. There isn’t time to take a break, which is exactly what happened after the tag match because it was time for Austin Aries vs. Shinsuke Nakamura.
Nakamura’s entrance is just incredible and got even better because the crowd started singing along and continued to do so after the music ended (a la Sami Zayn). They continued to do it during the match as a way to pick up Nakamura after Aries beating down on him for a solid chunk of time.
This was the best that Aries has looked in NXT and it wasn’t just because he was in the ring with the “King of Strong Style,” AA was physical and sharp. The Death Valley Driver he delivered to Nakamura on the ring apron looked BRUTAL and then he followed it up with a suicide dive right into the barricade.
But the real star here is Swagsuke.
His offense is hard-hitting, his selling is spot on and his personality can fill up any arena. He’s going to be a gigantic babyface on the main roster and on top of that, he’s going to be a legitimate star.
Nakamura ended the match with the KINSHASAAAAAAAA and appears to be on his way to a program with Samoa Joe, which will be an awesome main event at Takeover: Brooklyn.
Four ½ stars out of five
The crowd came down a bit for the NXT Women’s Championship match between Nia Jax and Asuka (C), but the two had the crowd invested by the end.
While Nia Jax is the butt of quite a few jokes on the Internet, this was her best performance to date. The size difference between Jax and Asuka really made this match stand out because Asuka is shorter than almost every other women on the NXT roster (Hi, Alexa Bliss!). It’s not every day that you see multiple high impact power spots in a women’s match and Jax delivered them with confidence.
Asuka once again proved why she’s the best in-ring performer in the women’s division. The quick transitions into submissions were just beautiful and her strikes looked vicious especially in the finishing sequence of the match.
The champ kicked Jax four times in the head and then pinned her to retain the title. This was great because after the third kick, Jax let out a primal scream, only to get drilled by a Shining Wizard.
It looked like Asuka legit rocked Jax with the first front kick to the left side of the head.
Four stars out of five
There was a backstage interview with William Regal that was shot earlier in the day. As Regal was talking, Bobby Roode walked behind Regal and went into his office. A production assistant whispered something to Regal and he promptly left the interview.
Main event time!
Samoa Joe (C) vs. Finn Balor
For the first time in NXT history a steel cage match took place as Samoa Joe defended the NXT title for the first time since he defeated Balor at a house show in Lowell, Massachusetts last month.
Balor entered in his “demon” paint, complete with a great entrance where he appeared behind a cage wall that was set up on the entrance way. He then knocked it down and crawled over top of it on his way to the ring.
The two had a very physical match. I got yelled at by The Roommate for freaking out when Balor legitimately soccer kicked Joe RIGHT IN THE FACE.
Totally worth it.
I thought the two used the cage really well here. There were multiple times where someone was either thrown into the cage (usually Balor) or trapped in between the ropes and the cage (Joe). They both teased going out of the door and Balor almost climbed out of the cage multiple times.
Balor kicked out of a muscle buster and then Joe kicked out of the Coup de Grace. In a nice throwback spot to their match at Takeover: Dallas, Joe locked the Coquina Clutch, but Balor ran up the turnbuckles and flipped over to break out of the hold.
After this sequence, Balor did a standing double foot stomp on Joe and then started climbing up the cage to escape, but Joe grabbed his foot and eventually slammed Balor’s face into the cage and hit a TOP ROPE MUSCLE BUSTER to pin Balor and end the “demon’s” undefeated streak (Balor hadn’t lost while wearing his body paint).
Four out of five stars.
Hot take: I wasn’t the biggest fan of the main event. I appreciated the physicality of the match as the two always beat the hell out of each other when they’re in the ring together, but I thought they’re previous two bouts were better.
Quick power rankings of their three matches:
- Full Sail
After the match Joe walked up the ramp as the trainers attended to Balor in the ring and Tom Phillips gave the hard sell as the show went off of the air.
Overall it was a wonderful show. I did leave the show wanting more due to the comments by HHH earlier in the week. Hunter stated that the name of the show (Takeover: The End) would have multiple meanings, so of course as a wrestling fan I’m going to shoot for the moon and assume that we were going to witness absolute chaos.
Well we didn’t get that, but we did get an awesome two hours of wrestling, so everyone should have gone home happy.