NXT: TakeOver: Dallas: Review/Recap

NXT_Takeover_Dallas

American Alpha Defeated The Revival to win the NXT Tag Team Championship:

This was a great match to kick things off with, with the crowd always getting energized by American Alpha. They were of course going to win with the big push they’ve been getting, along with the even bigger reception from the audience. The Revival was always going to be a stop-gap championship team, because it’s not that they are particularly bad it’s just that they are so unmemorable and have absolutely nothing to make you feel true love or hatred either way, they’re so faceless voids that make you pause for a second to remember which one is Dawson and which one is Wilder.

Austin Aries Defeated Baron Corbin:

I’m a big Austin Aries fan and have really been liking Baron Corbin over these last few months as he’s been improving mightily, especially putting together some nice promos. Aries got the win, which I guess was expected, but I kinda thought Corbin might pull it out in a surprise as a sort of furthered push on his growing character, but I’m not mad at Aries getting his first win in his first match as an older guy. I knew Aries was a smaller guy and of course Corbin is huge, but jeez, Aries looked like a baby trying to attack a giant in this match, which was a great visual in Aries trying to take down this beast. Like, I said, I’ve been impressed with Corbin lately and think he has good potential in filling out a monster heel role, so I’m looking forward to seeing what he delivers in the next couple months.

Shinsuke Nakamura Defeated Sami Zayn:

Charisma’s a weird thing where you can obviously detect it, but it’s sometimes impossible to pinpoint exactly what it is and exactly how you can get it and fully utilize it. However complicated and undefined it may be, one thing for sure is that Shinsuke Nakamura has it in spades just after one second of entering an arena. He lives the cliche of looking up “charisma” in the dictionary and it’s just a picture of him.

The match itself was a well-booked masterclass in ring psychology in two geniuses in their own right. Little things like Zayn kicking out at one early in the match and then progressing through the match where he would then kick out at two as he got tired were nice small touches that unfortunately you don’t see much of nowadays where guys will get an unrealistic near-fall pin after a simple early suplex. That was a great thing about the match, they really played up the tired and exhausted angle as you would expect in any match really, but since it’s so rarely done, and especially to the level like this, it really played well into the big match factor. Nakamura got the pin, of course, and Sami went out on his back in his last NXT match, but really who better to do it to than Nakamura.

Asuka Defeated Bayley to win the NXT Women’s Championship:

After the last match I was a little worried what would follow since they were guaranteed to be in a lull after all the emotion spent in the Nakamura/Zayn contest. Fortunately, the crowd wasn’t that deflated and had some energy, although it wasn’t anything noteworthy. This was a pretty good match, through and through, but the ending was pretty weird and very anticlimactic. Asuka kept trying to put Bayley in her choke submission and once she finally got it cinched it looked to set up the idea that it looked like Bayley was done for only to see her miraculously find her way out of the move, except that totally didn’t happen here and instead Bayley just passed out and like that we have a new champion.

It wasn’t that it was a surprise or unexpected or anything to see Asuka walk away with the title, its just that how they finished the match in what looked to be an innocent move with the crowd fully expecting Bayley to wriggle out or the match to at least not end there, were shocked to see it finish like that when the crowd had to get their bearings for a few seconds to process what actually happened.

Bayley was seemingly going to lose the title sooner rather than later and Asuka was the perfect person to lose it to. Looking at the other women on the roster like Eva Marie, Nia Jax, Emma, Alexa Bliss and whoever, none of them are even close to the level of Bayley and are nowhere close to being believable in beating here. Whereas Asuka is this stone cold killer who wants nothing more than to wreck havoc on Bayley’s happy universe. And now I presume this will set up a redemption story for Bayley in getting here title back, because I really don’t see this title loss as freeing her up to go to the main roster, especially when the NXT women’s division is pretty thin and the main roster actually has a bunch of female talent who have the power to establish that division.

Finn Balor Defeated Samoa Joe to retain the NXT Championship:

I haven’t really been looking forward to this match until the last few weeks. And it didn’t really have anything to do with the participants, but with the rumours of what was going to the happen with the fallout with the idea that possibly the loser could be heading up to the main roster, along with the incoming Balor Club. I’ve tried and tried, but I really cant’ get into Finn Balor in any way, his ring work is fine enough, but his promos are just horrendous and often cringey. His title run has long grown stale and Balor as a babyface is just something that hasn’t worked well as he seems like someone which such little personality. I’m hoping the Balor Club institutes him turning heel and providing a spark to his character and at least lets them do some heel stuff with him which seems more naturally fitting to his character.

Thus, I thought Joe was for sure winning this thing and ushering in the age of bad ass Joe as champ. Joe is just the meanest looking guy on the roster and just personifies this animal in a cage mentality in every fight he’s in. The early blood that was drawn just adding fuel to that fire and provided a nice extra level in his menace. Unfortunately, because nowadays they medical staff have to be over every little bit of blood like a hawk, the momentum was severely halted in all the semi-stoppages and didn’t give the match the flow it had in the ending. It was unfortunate, but the match was still uniformly great throughout with both men believably until the very end in taking home the title. I have no clue what this means going forward, and am pretty disappointed that Balor will be retaining the title yet again, especially with rumours of his Balor Club direction popping up. Joe seems like the perfect guy to hold the belt for a bit until a younger guy makes his name by beating him for the title. But, maybe this all means that Joe is soon to see the main roster, and boy could they use not only his body, but strength at being a heel up there.

Overall I really liked the show and enjoyed it much more than the December show (although, it’s not like I hated that or anything). Not entirely sure of the direction of any of these guys after this, including their big guns like Nakamura, Balor and Joe, but they’e got gold in every one of them if they utilize them properly. Here’s hoping…

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NXT TakeOver: London: Review/Recap

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Asuka defeats Emma:

Oh, man, I was not expecting this thing to be THIS good, especially right out of the gate. I mean, I though this match would be low-key good, given that Asuka is one of the best workers in the company and Emma is underratedly so good, but like the TLC PPV from a few days before, this first match just pulled the rug out beneath the rest of the card and stole the show. This was no doubt the best match of the night for me, with Asuka and Emma providing great chemistry in their technical wrestling skills all the way up to the end when they teased the deceptive win(s) for Emma with the help of Dana Brooke. It wouldn’t be that way, though, Asuka remained undefeated, but what a showing for both of them.

I’ve always felt semi-sorry for Emma because she can be just as great as a wrestler as Bayley, Charlotte, Sasha Banks and Becky Lynch when she wants to, she’s just kind of got lost in the shuffle due to a variety of reasons. She’s basically like the female version of Tyler Breeze where everyone just passed her by. But, hopefully she can shine in the division now that it’s pretty thin and includes green people like Nia Jax and Eva Marie, especially with the quality of match she just put on.

Dash Wilder and Scott Dawson defeats Enzo Amore and Colin Cassady to retian the NXT Tag Team Championships:

Can’t say the result of this was much of a surprise. As much as Amore and Cassady’s gimmick is fun and they’re little entrance schtick is like no other, they’re sub-par wrestlers and just don’t seem like an ideal to put the belts on at this time. Seemingly, the time to put the title on them has vanished behind them, not that they’re close to being done, it’s just that better options always seem to make themselves know. It seems quite clear that Chad Gable and Jason Jordan will be the next team challenging for the belts, and with wrestler as great as them it only makes sense to have Wilder and Dawson, great wrestler in their own right, be the ones to make it a better wrestling feud.

Baron Corbin defeats Apollo Crews:

Now this was something I didn’t expect at all. Baron Corbin not only going over, but doing so cleanly. I mean, it’s quite clear how high the company is on Corbin, it’s been like that for awhile, but Crews seemed to be the new fresh blood that they were grooming to be the next champion, or at least the next contender. He has the perfect big man build that they’re seemingly always looking for, coupled the agility with someone a hundred pounds lighter. It’s not even like it was some great war that went back-and-forth, where easily it was the weakest match on the card and neither man seemed very comfortable in the ring or with each other.

Bayley defeats Nia Jax to retain the NXT Women’s Championship:

Couldn’t say I was really looking forward to this, as both women’s contradictory styles didn’t exactly foretell a great match, especially coming after the last two TakeOver’s with the classics with Sasha Banks. In the end the match was a lot better than it had any right to be, with Bayley eventually making Jax tap out, because there was no way should could finish her off with her normal Bayley-to-belly finisher. Also, damn, you woulda though they’d want to protect Nia Jax some more, especially her leg drop finisher, but they had Bayley kick out of four damn leg drops. It was unbelievable, I saw Jax hit all those leg drops and thought realistically there’s no way that Bayley should kick out of those moves, but of course she did.

This was kind of a nothing feud, and with a Asuka/Nia Jax tease earlier in the show, it seems to leave Bayley’s opponent wide open. Are they gonna go the nuclear way and through Eva Marie right into it, or what? There’s not too many more options nowadays besides Emma and Dana Brooke who just got demolished by Asuka in back-to-back TakeOvers. So, basically, call me when Asuka finally gets her run at the title.

Finn Balor defeats Samoa Joe to retain the NXT Championship:

Now this is a match I’ve been looking forward to for a long time. I’m a HUGE Samoa Joe fan and have been for over a decade and the fact that he’s in the WWE now is still something that makes me do a double-take. The storytelling for this thing was pretty foreseeable with us counting down the days until Joe turned on Balor when they were partners. Not that it hampered anything, since both of these guys are so well-rounded inside and outside the ring that they can make anything work. They had a great match, as expected, but nothing that really blew the doors off for me. Balor was going to retain, yeah, but I felt like there was a small part that could’ve had Joe take the title for a big swerve, but deep down I knew it wouldn’t happen.

So, the next TakeOver got announces, as expected for the Friday of WrestleMania weekend giving us two-and-a-half months between TakeOver’s and us wondering what that’ll include. It seems likely that Corbin will be going after NXT title, I guess, since he beats Crews. I don’t foresee them stretching that to Mania or having that main eventing that caliber of event, but who knows. I feel like they’re not going to boot Crews right out of the title picture, though, so I’d imagine he’d be right there, too. Does Joe stick around there, too? I don’t know if this is one and done with Balor, but who knows. In a perfect world this would be the perfect time for Joe to be promoted to the main roster, a place in dire need of some top talent and someone who has the potential to be a top heel or be great in literally whatever he does. But, supposedly they have no plans to move Joe up, which is a shame because after he got his title shot in NXT I don’t just want to see him spin his tires and hang around in the mid-card of NXT.

Oh, and how could I forget about the returning Sami Zayn, who worked the UK tour before this event and worked a match after the show to air on the following week’s NXT TV. People thought Zayn would come back and immediately go up to Raw, but who knows. One would imagine they’d love to do the Balor/Zayn title feud which makes the most sense and would probably be the perfect main event for the TakeOver in Dallas on WrestleMania weekend.

On the other side of things Hideo Itami is right smack in the middle of his six-eight months of being away from his shoulder injury that he suffered in May, so I’d assume he should be right around the corner from returning and he definitely provides another top talent that the division could use right now. One can’t help but imagine how great a Joe/Itami feud would be, except NXT runs the risk of that match stealing the show of whatever card it’s on. I’m salivating just thinking about it.

Honestly, I wasn’t that enthused with this TakeOver as a lot of people seemingly have been. It was good, don’t get me wrong, but didn’t really feel that special than some of the monumental TakeOver’s of the past few months and of the majority of the year. The show definitely has taken a dip in quality since earlier in the year and especially after losing a few stars to injury and a bunch to the main roster like Neville, Owens, and the majority of their divas division. Now it seems they’re just in the end of their restocking phase with cementing some new divas like Asuka, Nia Jax and strengthening their tag division with Wilder/Dawson and Gable/Jordan along with rising single stars like Corbin and Crews along with returning veterans in Zayn and Itami. I hope/think they can build some new momentum like that had coming into the new year last year and really go on another incredible run that always seems possible with this quality of talent.

NXT TakeOver: Respect: Review/Recap

NXT TakeOver: Respect

Finn Balor And Samoa Joe Defeats Scott Dawson And Dash Wilder:

Now I don’t think it was much of a surprise to anybody that Balor and Joe would make it to the finals of the Dusty Rhodes Classic, whether they won it or not, but with Balor having the title and Joe making no bones that he wanted it, this thing had some seeds that were obviously going to play out throughout the whole tournament, which I’ll get into a bit later.

The match itself was fine, nothing amazing, nothing great, they booked it with Balor getting the leg injury and eventually would tag out Joe, seemingly none to happy with this, and Balor would hit the coup de grace for some reason, because he wanted all the glory of the win? Or something? I don’t know, surely this would set up things for later in the night…

Baron Corbin And Rhyno Defeats Jason Jordan and Chad Gable:

Now, damn, this was a match I wasn’t expecting it to be as good as it was, and arguably the match of the might. You know what you’re going to get with Rhyno, the brawler who uses his power game to dismantle opponents, and Corbin is basically the same, except he’s on his way up while Rhyno is at the tail end of his career. Corbin has done nothing to excite me, although, his match with Joe at Brooklyn was some underrated stuff, but damn if he didn’t impress in this match. He worked well with the varying styles of Jordan and Gable and was paramount in a few nice strings of moves and reversals that showed off some of his technical side over the “let me just hit and slam you real hard.”

On the other side of the coin, Jordan and Gable were more than up to the task and showed why they should be one of the tag teams to build around in the division. I though for sure they would make it to the finals and actually win this thing, giving a rub to them and catapulting them in the division, but nope, Corbin and Rhyno for the win. Great match, nonetheless.

Asuka Defeated Dana Brooke:

I seem to be alone in this, but I’m a big Dana Brooke fan and see a ton of potential in her. Where she isn’t a woman who’s parading all on looks like a bunch of the main roster divas, and nor is she a technical wrestling wonder like Bayley or Sasha Banks, but rather she’s really just a bare bones wrestler who definitely uses a more power move set than normal in the women’s division. She’s not amazing by any stretch, but she’s definitely been making strides and can be very good on the mic in her heel persona.

But, the real story here is Asuka, a women’s star unlike any other in the division so far in NXT. She’s got the foreign Japanese aesthetic, which as a wrestler is always money, she’s weird and creepy with her masks and deadpan reactions to everything that just give the hint of a tactical killer underneath. So, Asuka gets her win in her first match, of course, in a glorified squash.

I’d imagine they’ll continue this feud for a little bit with Asuka facing off against Emma at the very least, which should be fun. I don’t see Asuka in the title picture right away, they’ll probably want to assert her a little more and get her some wins and steam before the eventual Bayley showdown I’d imagine.

Apollo Crews Defeats Tyler Breeze:

And just like Asuka, Crews is on his way up and Breeze has been around NXT forever it seems now, while everyone has passed him, so Crews pads his resume with a win over the vet. Crews, no doubt, has that major champion look, he’s a beast with all the power moves that his physique would suggest, but also is mobile with the best of any cruiserweight. It’s obvious they’re gonna push him to the moon and really I think it’s only the booking that tells how viable he will be as a champion, as his look and move set are very confident in their own right. I don’t think he’s ready for the title picture now, as there are much more interesting match-ups for Balor right now, but we’ll see.

And poor Tyler Breeze, dude has been in NXT for so long just to see the likes of Neville, Sami Zayn, Kevin Owens, Finn Balor and so on not only surpass him to the title, but see time on the main roster. I really don’t know what their plan for him is nowadays. He does work wonderfully in the spot under the main event against a special attraction like Jushin “Thunder” Liger, which was a perfect match for him, in the sense of opponent and story. But, he just always seems to be the bridesmaid and never the bride when it comes to the title picture and never seems to get the chance to be THE guy, even when fans love him. I don’t know what’s next, Balor seems set with the title for awhile, and I don’t know what Breeze losing in the title picture again really does, and he doesn’t really seem prime for a call-up, and his gimmick complicates things, too. So, I guess we’ll just see him trucking along like he has been, I’d imagine. The biggest fantasy booking that always pops up is him facing William Regal at the Takeover event in the United Kingdom and that would be amazing on so many levels, but I don’t see it reasonably happening then.

Finn Balor And Samoa Joe Defeats Baron Corbin And Rhyno:

So, yeah, basically since this whole thing started I was 100% certain that Balor/Joe would team to the finals, with planted seeds of dissension (which did take place) until the last match where Joe would turn on Balor and cost them the match, setting up their title picture, and putting over a young tag team (*ahem* Jordan and Gable *ahem*) and things would go on their way. Balor had that leg injury story from the first match that continued on into this one, and I thought for sure that story would then be used by having Balor cost him and Joe the match and Joe lashing out in anger. But, nope, none of that happened at all. As we know, Corbin and Rhyno moved on and then Balor and Joe defeated them without much fanfare in nothing match, really.

They didn’t even do anything with Balor’s injury, it hampered him a bit, but eventually he just hit the coup de grace again at the end, with no ill effects and won the match. Like the Charlotte leg injury to win at Night Of Champions I have no clue why they booked that injury storyline when it added nothing and did not affect the outcome one bit. I mean, sure it was an easy story to book the Joe turn, but it doesn’t make it any less of a draw. And I mean, neither of them really don’t have to turn heel, and maybe they do it that way where it’s not face against heel just wrestler giving another worthy wrestler a shot, who knows. But, now is the time for Joe to get that title shot, where he came in guns a-blazing Unstoppable, which seemed to be setting up Owens/Joe for the title, but with Owens ascension to the main roster that never happened, and since Joe has just been wallowing around outside the main picture. We shall see.

Bayley Defeats Sasha Banks 3-2 in a 30-minute Iron Man match:

Many cried foul when the first Bayley/Sasha match didn’t main event Brooklyn, but with that the stature of that event and given that Balor/Owens was the bigger long-standing feud it was never going to main event. But, coming out of that with the men’s title having just had its feud finished and no real direction, the Bayley/Sash rematch aka Sasha’s last NXT match was the clear-cut and well-deserved choice to main event the next Takeover.

I can’t remember the last time I looked forward to a match this much, especially when it was 99% certain who was going to win. The build-up was great, mainly due to how much each competitor embodies their own side. With Bayley the baby-iest of babyfaces, with her bright colours, exuberant attitude and literally hugging people as part of her gimmick. Compared to Sasha the arrogant, cock and brash heel who will showboat and flaunt to prove her point and might even just ridicule the a little girl in the crowd. A rivalry of character-types that goes back to the beginning of time, and doesn’t get old when it’s treated as well as this and held up by such strong and defined characters.

I don’t got to tell you the match was great, that’s like asking if Michael Jordan still has his hoop earring in (thank you, Drake), it’s just an assumed fact. After all the continued five-minute and less matches that populate the women’s division on the main roster, it’s refreshing to see that, yes, that you can give two excellent female wrestlers the same amount, and more, as the men and they’ll put on an equally, if not better match. Because Bayley and Sasha aren’t just two of the best women’s wrestlers in the whole company, they are just plain and simply two of the best wrestler in the company.

So, Baylely wins as she was going to do and firmly entrenches herself in unknown territory, she is the IT woman in NXT, everything now rides on her shoulders. Long gone are Charlotte and Becky who would balance great matches from her, they’ve moved on to the main roster. Sasha has, too, but having been champion she clung on just a bit longer to face her real life friend and kayfabe enemy. Bayley stands and celebrates in the ring alone with her title, Sasha the last of second-last horsewoman collapses in tears in front of the NXT roster on the entrance ramp. It’s the end of the beginning for Sasha, stepping stones past with the majority of the river still in front of her, leaving her mark on the past. Bayley gets the mantle and title now, hoping to build and inspire the next set of great women wrestlers who seek the title that she so desperately covets.