What a show! What a crowd! What a night! Good God Almighty NXT is so much fun! You thought you saw a good Raw on Monday night? This is a real wrestling show.
I love NXT for a lot of reasons but one of them is that everyone is over. The main event, midcard, women, the tag teams. Everyone. Not just over either, like really over. Everyone who has a spot on the card (and pre-taped NXT show) has a gimmick that fans respond too. It’s like 1998 when even the jobbers were loved. Whats great about this is it makes the whole show matter, every match, every spot gets a reaction. It’s intense!
The crowd at Takeover were the best I’ve ever had the pleasure to be apart of. That includes Wrestlemania 31 and the Raw after. Hell, it even includes the NXT San Jose house show! Some people have said that the crowd tried to get themselves over, but I never once heard the ‘We are awesome!’ chant so I say no to that. We cheered the faces, we booed the heels. We were always loud and a lot of fun. I can guarantee that every wrestler on that show would agree with me saying that they would rather perform in front of that crowd every single night than a half empty, silent Smackdown crowd.
You know something? I love getting predictions wrong. I love to be watching a show and not sure how matches are going to end. Unlike the main shows NXT still has the ability to keep people guessing. Just when you think they’re heading down one route they twist you down another and then back again. ‘Oh so it’s like this is it?’ NOPE! Wrong again! It’s great to watch and also means every result has a genuine reaction from the crowd rather than ‘Yay, but we knew this a month ago’. The same thing happened on the last Takeover when everyone thought Samoa Joe and Finn Bálor would lose the final of the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic after a break down between them. That didn’t happen and it worked!
You should see some matches that were tapped on next weeks NXT. It’s a great idea having a tapping at the event. It lets everyone see all of their favourites (Jordan & Gable) and also gives NXT two huge shows in a row in front of red hot crowds. However something you need to know. We didn’t like Mojo Riley. In fact we hated him so much we actually booed Zack Ryder as well. Sorry Zack!
Another positive for NXT is the commentary team. Which was once again good throughout. Corey Graves as always is amazing. Byron Saxton is so much better on NXT than Raw, if that isn’t an indication that Vince is killing him by talking in his ear I don’t know what is. Rich Brennan holds it all together in his Michael Cole role. This commentary team have the ability to talk over a match but not take anything away from it. Everything they say adds something. Giving back story, calling moves, talking about the crowd. It works. Take notes JBL.
Askua Vs Emma
I’ve been really enjoying the Emma heel turn, even if I’m not the biggest fan of Dana Brooke. Meanwhile Askua is over with the fans as a crazy Japanese killing machine. It’s a combination thats working well. Speaking of Dana Brooke she spent the night playing cheerleader and good lord was she annoying. Did they have the microphones turned up just so they could get everyone of her comments or is she just that loud? Mother of God please shut the hell up.
Emma made Askua look great, which she is but I have one question. Why so many butt moves from Askua? Namoi will be furious about this gimmick infringement!
Then we get to the ref bump, dear oh dear. Referee! If that slight ‘collision’ took him down then he must be terrified of light wind as well. I’m joking obviously but it did look kind of stupid.
We have a few false finish teases with Emma and Dana trying to use a belt to cheat. Just when it looked like the shenanigans were going to be successful. Bam, nope. Fans were expecting a screw job but they forgot that Askua is a badass. It was a great way to end the match. Tricking the smark crowd into what was happening thus building suspense. Which is a hell of a lot better than the ‘kick out of all finishers’ false finishes we’ve become use to. Instead they told a story. Great stuff!
Nia Jax Vs Bayley
Bayley is the top female wrestler in the world right now, there is no doubt about it. The crowd absolutely loved her. “Heeeeeey, hey Bayley! I wanna know if you’ll be my girl!” – Your move Full Sail. We saw a good David Vs Goliath style match with Bayley desperately trying to cut down Nia but mostly getting her ass kicked. She eventually locked in a guillotine choke to win the match. When she did, the crowd who hadn’t stopped singing for her all night went mental!
I’m glad they didn’t put the belt on Nia Jax it would have been too soon for her. I am surprised that we saw her tap though, it seems odd for a monster heel to tap so early in their career. I’m also surprised that she didn’t attack Bayley after the match to get her heat back. That would have ruined the moment and killed the crowd though so it’s all good. Another place, another time!
Dash & Dawson V Enzo & Cass
Enzo Amore and Big Cass have to be the number one faces on the planet right? The crowd loved, loved, loved these guys! I have so much respect for Enzo. For someone to be confident enough to happily walk around dressed the way he does. Well played sir, but you look a right state. It’s brilliant! Quick correction for Corey Graves. While you are indeed correct that chavs are the worst kind of people. Enzo, Cass and Carmella are not Chavs. Good attempt to reference British culture though. Thumbs up.
Enzo and Cass are great faces but to be truly great you need to be able to play off great heels as well. I think Dash and Dawson are well on thier way to become just that. Even if the crowd hilariously didn’t know “Which ones Dawson? Which ones Dash?” Even if you can’t tell who is who though, you can still recognise the fact that they are a throw back to a brilliant era for tag team wrestling. Hard hitting with few frills. They also seem to have a great knack for tag team psychology.
This match featured yet more chanting. This time changing The Beatles classic ‘Hey Jude’ into a song for Big Cass that rang out for much of the match. Corey Graves bit back saying “Unfortunately for Enzo and Cass though, The Beatles weren’t expert tag team wrestlers”. Quality comment.
The match was full of great psychology to build heat for the heels. Denying the hot tag to Big Cass for as long as possible. Then going after his hurt knee when he does get it to slow him down. Great finishing sequence for this match with Dawson pulling Enzo out of the ring after his big splash. You have to appreciate tag team wrestling done right.
I don’t know what Dash and Dawson’s finishing double team move is called. It’s like an elevated code breaker? This time they did it from the top rope, excellent! Enzo sold it like he was dead, full rag doll that just it look even more impressive.
As much as I would have loved to see Enzo and Cass win keeping the belts of Dash and Dawson is a great idea. Those guys are seriously talented n the arts of old school tag team wrestling and this just solidifies them as the best right now. Until Jordan and Gable challenge them that is! Those guys are seriously over by the way, they might actually give Enzo and Cass and run for their money as fan favourites.
Apollo Crews Vs Baron Corbin
Baron Corbin got zero love from this crowd. The chants he had to listen to were brutal. It wasn’t go away X-Pac heat though instead it was you’re a dick heel and we hate you. It’s an important difference.
The match featured some great trash talking from Corbin. He’s often accused of having no personality and just a cool entrance. Well, there’s your personality. A dick personality. Great stuff.
The match itself had some good moments, but it felt sluggish in places. Neither competitor truly on their ‘A’ game here I’d say. I know there is a better match between these two and I look forward to seeing it.
I said in my predictions post that I wasn’t sure how this one would go. I could see reasons for both me winning it. Again, excellent booking by NXT to keep people guessing. This time Baron Corbin got the win a nice bounce back from his feud with Samoa Joe and losing effort with Rhyno in the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic.
Finn Bálor Vs Samoa Joe
Awesome match between Finn Bálor and Samoa Joe, though that’s to be expected from this two great wrestlers. I predicted Finn to win but on the night a flip flopped my decision more times than I can remember. An excellent ending sequence saw most of the fans standing in anticipation. It was magic. You could easily see either man winning at any moment.
Bálor as we have become accustomed too had his usual amazing entrance. He is a fantastic showman, this time he was inspired by Jack the Ripper. A great homage to the city and made this first UK NXT PPV that little bit more special. Yet it was definitely implied that he killed a woman right? Heel turn!
The crowd was split for this one and as the commentators rightly pointed out that is only because Samoa Joe has such a history all around the world and is truly respect in the industry. Rather than it just being a bunch of smart marks cheering for the heel just to be ‘cool’. When Finn did when though, everyone cheered. Awesome match.
NXT Takeover London was a great way end of the year for this up and coming brand. It’s out there on its own right now. A completely different animal to the rest of the WWE. I can not wait to see what next year brings us. Very much looking forward to another great show on Wrestlemania weekend when I’ll be there live and in person again!
See you same time next year NXT? I hope so at least!