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…

Advertisements

ROH: 14th Anniversary Review/Recap

ROH-14th-Main-Event-645x323

ROH finds themselves in an interesting spot coming into 2016. Things aren’t exactly booming, but things aren’t really heading into the dumps. Perhaps that’s a bit too unkind, the show and promotion is doing well, trending up, but it isn’t filled with a mass of huge angles that draw attention or super big stars that are captivating the world, when rather the wrestling world seems pretty neutral on the product that ROH is coming out with. It’s still really good, and pound for pound better wrestling than a lot of what you’ll be able to see on your TV screen. With the emergence and mainstream wrestling popularity of NXT over the “indie” brand and with others such as Lucha Underground with a fresh perspective on the business along with various indie indie (like, really indie) companies like PWG and EVOLVE, there’s certainly a lot of GOOD wrestling out there than ever before, making ROH fade into the background.

ROH has a ton of good wrestlers, potential stars and people behind the scenes to make not only a great show, but something that sticks out and becomes “must watch” to wrestling fans who already have so much content at their fingertips to watch.

The company runs a risk a lot of the time as still feeling like just a breeding ground for when their stars get super red hot and over that they’ll eventually get signed or poached away by WWE. That doesn’t have to be the case, especially if they make it a premium to push and foster the talent they have now, who have massive potential to build the company as this destination for top-tier wrestling where their characters make up the brand. They definitely took a step in the right direction locking down the Young Bucks last year and then at the end of the year re-upping Bobby Fish and Kyle O’Reilly (who are a fantastic tag team, but seem destined for more singles pushes this year) and Jay Lethal who continues to kill it in the ring and on promos as the ROH World Champion. Adam Cole is another guy who seems to have unlimited potential, and thus is always linked to going to WWE, but with the right handling of him the guy could be a star in ROH and the guy to headline the brand in the coming years.

Tomohiro Ishii Defeated Roderick Strong and Bobby Fish to retain the ROH World Television Championship:

This was the match that came out of nowhere and largely thrown together after Ishii won the ROH TV title. I was very much looking forward to the Roddy/Bobby rematch after them having a pretty great match at Final Battle, and I’m a bit disappointed we didn’t get it here since this match wasn’t very great and the story the two men had coming in was pretty good, only to get swept aside now that Ishii was involved.

Granted, it’s kinda cool that Roddy lost the belt at the joint ROH/NJPW show a wee before it was to be defended, since that never really happens and gives that shock value since you always assume once a guy is booked to defend his title at a big event, he won’t lose it between then, but not when you face someone like Ishii.

So, yeah, this match wasn’t bad per se, but definitely underwhelming especially when you have the talents of all three guys, especially ones who can crash and bang. Ishii’s style and first time in an ROH ring might’ve thrown a bit of a kink in it, but either way it wasn’t anything special, and didn’t even get much time to build until it was over pretty fast.

I thought that Ishii would give up the title with Roddy pinning Bobby or something like that where Ishii avoids the pinfall, but I guess they’re sticking it with Ishii and I guess the TV title won’t be a thing going forward on the ROH tapings, since I doubt they’ll do much if at all with it at the TV tapings. I don’t know what this means for Roddy/Bobby and I guess we won’t see Ishii defending the belt until Global Wars in May.

B.J. Whitmer Defeated Adam Page:

This was really the only match on the card I could not have cared less for. I pretty much tune out any and all Whitmer/Page stuff on the weekly TV shows as it doesn’t do anything for me promo-wise or wanting to see these guys go at it in the ring. The only thing I will say is that Whitmer is a pretty good heel and great at actually attracting heat, but even still I find it hard to care about him or what he’s doing. Just that I know and recognize how good he is at doing it.

Also, I’m not really too sure about Adam Page. I haven’t seen enough of him to fully judge whether he has the chops to be a top guy going forward as some see him as. To me now he’s nothing special, but I’d like to see him be put with someone his more equal wrestling-wise and for him to have a feud where he can sink his teeth in a little more with someone more of his ilk.

Hirooki Goto Defeated Dalton Castle:

Since Goto’s original opponent Ishii was thrown into that defending his TV title, Goto had to have a new opponent and it probably worked out just as well with Dalton Castle getting a prime spot against the former IGWP Championship no. 1 contender. They had a really great match with a lot of strength moves being used, especially by Castle who showed no struggle putting his signature suplexes on the hefty Goto. I would’ve liked to have seen Castle win, since everybody loves him, all the other NJPW stars won and the company seems to slowly but surely be moving him up the card, but it’s not the worst to have him lose as he still looked fantastic in defeat and it’s not really going to do anything to his status.

Alex Shelley Defeated Christopher Daniels:

This was a really great match, too, as expected from two fantastic wrestlers who have come all the way from TNA and putting on great X division matches. This was really all to set up the reunited of the Moto City Machine Guns with Chris Sabin coming out and turning face to align with Shelley, and also helping him to get the win. This obviously sets up a feud between the newly reformed MCMG and The Addiction, which should result in some fantastic tag bouts.

Hiroshi Tanahashi and Michael Elgin Defeated The Briscoes:

This was definitely the second best match of the night (behind the six-man tag) and it makes sense since it’s hard to find any better veteran journeyman workers like Tanahashi/Elgin and the Briscoe brothers. I absolutely love the Tanahashi/Elgin pairing, they seem so different, yet so perfect for each other and put in some great collaborative work as the best babyface tag team out there for my money right now. I heard some thoughts that they might challenge for the NJPW tag titles, which would be a fun program. Also, I’m no doctor, but Tanahashi’s shoulder looks pretty damn healed and he showed no issues with it or shied away from it at all. If it wasn’t already apparent that dude is the Japanese John Cena, he’s apparently got his freakish fast-healing skills as well.

It’s kinda crazy to me that Jay Briscoe had one of the biggest and longest ROH World title reigns and was the top guy in the company and then as soon as he lost to Lethal he was eventually just down doing random tag matches with his brother. I wonder what the plans are with him, if it’s just a holding pattern for now, as he seems like too good of a guy just to be stuck doing largely nothing matches. Granted, he’s been with the company forever and done it all, so who knows.

Kazuchika Okada Defeated Moose:

I definitely can’t say I was really looking forward to this because I couldn’t believe they booked this match, not only because it was the IWGP champ against Moose, but because Okada and Moose had such different style that I didn’t think anything that good would come out of it. It was actually pretty good, though! It wasn’t amazing or anything, but definitely not as bad or boring as I expected it to be. I mean, Moose is big obviously and also very athletic, which he did well to utilize to keep up pace with Okada and thus never devolved into a “big lug versus small guy” fight, and actually had a pretty nice pace to it. It was probably Moose’s best match he’s had and really you’d assume only good things would come out of this since it was actually pretty good, but I guess if you’re getting booked in a singles match with Okada in the first place you’re doing something right.

The Elite Defeated Kushida, ACH and Matt Sydal to retain the NEVER Openweight 6-Man Tag Team Championship:

Everybody had huge expectations of what to expect and what they wanted to see out of this match, and it’s pretty safe to safe that they were all blown out of the water. There literally wasn’t a weak link anywhere in this match between any of the six guys, the spots and staging, everything was perfect and would literally be a blur if I attempted to type out every move these guys did. Kenny Omega and the Bucks were CRAZY over and treated these dudes like gods, especially Omega who now being booked as a top guy in NJPW just overnight seems like this huge star. While The Elite got the enormous reactions, Kushida, ACH and Sydal were more than up to the task of equally them in the ring and looked great all around. My love for ACH grows by the match, it’s no question he’ my favourite guy in the company (outside of maybe Jay Lethal), and he should be star wherever he is in the next couple years.

War Machine Defeated The All Night Express to retain the ROH World Tag Team Championship:

These poor guys. Nothing could have followed that six-man tag match and as soon as this thing began it was like all the air was released from the room. The crowd was deflated as they just spent all their energy going crazy for the six guys before that they really couldn’t care less about this match. The match was no DQ which involved weapons into the melee, but that did nothing to help entice the crowd. I mean, it wasn’t the greatest match with the best guys to begin with, but it wasn’t bad, just stuck in an unfortunate spot where the guys got nothing from the crowd and seemed to reflect back the same.

Jay Lethal Defeated Adam Cole and Kyle O’Reilly to retain the ROH World Championship:

Even the world title main event seemingly was still feeling the hungover effects of the six-man match as while this thing was a bit more lively than the tag title match, the crowd was still very quiet throughout and never really gave the match any of that main event energy, with the match suffering because of it.

It was a good match, though, not an all-time classic or anything, but really good. I didn’t think they’d take the belt off of Lethal this soon, but it does feel like it might be soon and I wouldn’t be surprised if they did take it off him. Granted, I love Lethal and think he still has a ton more run left as the champ and is doing great work, so I think there’s still time with him, but it wouldn’t shock me to have him lose. I was shocked that Adam Cole took the pin and not O’Reilly, so maybe it will indeed be O’Reilly who eventually takes the belt, as he definitely has the wrestling skills, although nowhere near as good as Lethal or Cole on the mic.

O’Reilly is just so fun to watch and if you somehow think technical wrestling is boring, Kyle is never not boring and always has some flair with his chain wrestling. One of the best spots was when O’Reilly had both Lethal and Cole in a submission at the same time.

I’m not really sure how this review came off, but overall I wasn’t really all that enamored with the show. It wasn’t bad, but didn’t really leave me with anything all that positive going forward out of it outside of the six-man tag match. It feel into good, not great, territory, something that as I mentioned above I don’t think ROH really has that liberty to put on something just good and not all that memorable. The year is early, though, and I really don’t see any reason why this year shouldn’t be as good as the last as they got a lot of fundamental pieces to build off. Their TV taping set got a massive upgrade with a new lighting grid and a whole new entrance stage, so they definitely are trying on all ends to make the product as appealing visually as possible (I never had an issue with it before, since I kinda like that gritty, dingy look, but I get how people would be turned off by it). ROH and NJPW are probably my two favourite companies, and not coincidentally the two companies I have the most trust in when it comes to booking matches and creating long-term angles and thus serving their characters. That’s why when they don’t hit it out of the park I’m more forgivable on one hand, but on the other it continually seems like in this day and age with all the competition out there’s becoming less and less of a safety net.

Fastlane: Review/Recap

RESEM50037fastlane2016MEBecky Lynch And Sasha Banks Defeated Team B.A.D.:

Don’t really have much to say about this. It was actually a pretty good match, all things considered, from both teams and did a decent job kicking off the night and managed to avoid any kind of gaffs (unfortunately the latter women’s match wouldn’t be so lucky). This thing is obviously just a way to build up the feud of Becky Lynch and Sasha Banks going after Charlotte and the Diva’s title. I’d presume it’ll be a three-way for the belt at WrestleMania, or just a straight up Sasha/Charlotte match. I’d be more keen to the Sasha/Charlotte match because you know that both the company and the women want a star-making match of not only showing off the skills of the women on this huge stage and they can be just as good if not better than the men, but they also want to make huge starts out of these women as the torchbearers for the division for the next decade+. So, it’s easier to make a great singles match with planned ideas, spots and fluidity (the latter part which often plagues divas matches) than to create a great triple threat match which often includes dealing with a lot of timing issues and having to eliminate one person so much that it always seems like a revolving singles match. Anyways, I’m not complaining either way, and I’m sure either match will be great, I just sense that this is a match execution that they’ll want to pull off in spades to further benefit and lend credence to the division as wrestlers.

Kevin Owens Defeated Dolph Ziggler to retain the Intercontinental Championship:

This was your prototypical Kevin Owens/Dolph Ziggler TV match that was really no different than the last 567 times they faced off. It wasn’t great, but it wasn’t bad by any stretch. They’re basically the king of kicking off shows, and if it wasn’t for that extra women’s match that’s what they would’ve been doing, although this was basically the same. Owens was obviously going to win, since he just won the belt and WWE seems like they actually have and want Kevin to do stuff (not that it’s apparent lately) and Ziggler has been doing nothing since that whole Rusev/Lana thing that we’re probably just better off forgetting.

I have no clue what Kevin Owens will be doing for WrestleMania. I’m thinking either a program with AJ Styles for the title, which I’d love, or maybe a program with Chris Jericho for the title, which would be fine, especially since Owens/Jericho worked a bunch on house shows over the past year and their dueling promos would be a lot of fun. I mean, a Sami Zayn feud would be awesome, but I don’t think that’s happening so soon, especially with Zayn dealing with NXT stuff, but I wouldn’t fret since I’m sure we’ll be getting a lot of it over the next decade.

Big Show, Kane and Ryback Defeated The Wyatt Family:

This wasn’t even all that bad! I was surprised! I couldn’t even think of a match I’ve been looking forward to less than this one (although, I feel like I say that on ever PPV review I do). I mean, it makes absolutely no sense why didn’t give the Wyatts the win, as that seemed a foregone conclusion. The booking on the Wyatts is the most schizoprenic, they’ll languish in the background and lose to everybody, then they’ll be pushed like they finally want to build them as legit monsters who win and dominate, but then they’ll just get pushed down again and back to scrape the doldrums. In a perfect world it would be cool to see the Wyatts as legitimate threats and not just glorified jobbers in the skins of people who in theory would be a lot more successful.

Charlotte Defeated Brie Bella to retain the Divas Championship:

Oh, man, this thing was terrible. Not too many other ways to put it. The whole match both Brie and Charlotte seemed to be on a completely different page. This is where that fluidity thing I mentioned in the Sasha, Becky/Team B.A.D. thing comes into place. Often in women’s matches they’ll seem so stiff and so hesitant of the next move and spot that it becomes so blatantly and painfully obvious that this is staged and everything is pre-determined. There’s no seamless back-and-forth, but rather waiting and stumbling around to set up the next move, or wait an unrealistic amount of time to do something or just do something so strained and removed that it looks painfully manipulated. This match was that idea in a nutshell. There was countless times where Charlotte would have to do some many unnatural delays or moves to make sure she and Brie were in the proper position to do a move that it was so blatantly stunted. It wasn’t just Brie, where I think the problem lies in both women being not having much experience with each other and neither really taking charge. The whole thing culminated in a finish apropo of the entire match with Brie having Charlotte in a single leg crab, until she decided to seemingly launch herself into the ropes and give up the move only for Charlotte to magically recover put her in the figure-8 and win. What you were supposed to know is that Brie’s leg was injured and thus the pain of putting pressure on her leg in that move launced her out of the move? I dunno, it was a bad match and a bad finish. Charlotte will redeem herself at Wrestlemania with some more worthy competition, and Brie I’m sure will have a better showing as she winds her career down and remains thankful that this wasn’t her goodbye match.

AJ Styles Defeated Chris Jericho:

Looking back Chris Jericho was pretty much the perfect fit for AJ’s first feud in WWE. They’re both decade+ vets in the business, are of similar sizes and can put on great matches with seemingly anybody. In the end I never got that classic match I expected from the two that I know is in both of them, but instead we just got some really, really good matches, which especially on this show shouldn’t be anything to complain about. I think, funnily enough, that this match was similar to the Brie/Charlotte match (I know.. hold on, let me explain), but on the opposite side of the spectrum. As good as the matches were and this one was, both men just seemed to slightly be on different pages. Whether it was AJ still getting used to the new ring and relative new style (yet he’s still better than 95% of the roster being this new to the company) or if it was Jericho’s age and style not being able to keep up with AJ. Sometimes you’d see them just off on a spot, like that AJ springboard off the ropes to Jericho drop kick, where to anyone less skilled than them it would look blatantly obvious, but instead these guys are so good that slight misses go largely undetected.

I also had a pretty big issue with having Jericho kick out of the Styles Clash, especially when he was just going to give up the submission to Styles, anyways. I would’ve loved to have seen them build up the Styles Clash as this great move, maybe not Japan levels of building it up, but at least have it built up enough to help out another guy that could use the rub rather than wasting it on Jericho a week in. Especially when they have AJ using the calf slicer as his main finisher now and the Styles Clash could’ve been used as a “big match” move that AJ only busted out when absolutely necessary. We’ll see, though, I guess I should just be happy they gave AJ the win over Jericho and actually made him tap out.

The Cutting Edge Peep Show with The New Day:

I rolled my eyes at first because it just seemed like a lame time filler to pimp the new Edge and Christian show, and it was that, but the dreaming side of me actually thought they’d use this to debut Enzo and Cass on the main roster to feud with The New Day into Mania. But, nope, as soon as The New Day started talking about the League of Nations I knew this thing was only destined to get worse. It makes total sense in retrospect that they’d go with this feud since neither has nothing to do, but I could care less. The New Day act is sooo played out with me and always goes on about 5 minutes longer than it should. As if things couldn’t get much worse on this show…

Curtis Axel Defeated R-Truth:

Yep, you read that correctly, the co-main event match on this show was Curtis Axel with the Social Outcasts beating R-Truth in two minutes when a Goldust accidental distraction led to the pin because we absolutely needed that story continued on this show. How this makes it on, even as a dumb time filler when Kalisto/Alberto Del Rio languished on the pre-show is beyond me, because you know full well they could’ve just shifted things slightly and had that match on here to at least bring up the mean.

Roman Reigns Defeated Dean Ambrose and Brock Lesnar:

The theme of this show really was if you came into it expecting exactly what everybody knew was going to happen (which it did) then it probably didn’t bother you too much. As much as you might’ve wanted Ambrose to win and how fun it would be to throw a wrench in everything, you knew WWE wasn’t doing anything to mess with the story they had of Roman and Triple H with Roman gunning after that belt yet again, he’s already won it twice somehow! The match was good, nothing amazing and pretty serviceable to all. It will never get old watching Brock get built up like the monster he is and just destroying guys left and right.

I’m writing this after RAW, so WrestleMania is becoming a lot more clearer. We got the match that nobody say coming with Shan McMahon coming back to the company to face Undertaker in a Hell In A Cell match to win the rights to Monday Night Raw. I’m sure there will be a lot of strings pulled from now until then and the match itself will probably be a cluster in terms of guest spots and smoke and mirrors towards whoever will win. Regardless, I’m excited for the match and at the very least the idea of it because it sounds like the most fantasy booking thing ever, especially in 2016.

Dean Ambrose is facing off against Brock Lesnar in a street fight, which sounds amazing and has the potential to steal the show. The street fight stipulation is a good idea, because it’s the only way that things can sway in Ambrose’s favour towards a fair and believable fight, because realistically Lesnar should mop the floor with the scrawny Ambrose. I’m much more excited about this than I am the before rumoured idea of Lesnar/Bray Wyatt which was seemingly being set up at the Rumble. I was looking forward to the legit Lesnar/Wyatt match, but not the tedious month+ long build up of boring promos and attacks.

I don’t know what’s truly happening with the tag belts outside of New Day/League Of Nations feud, but don’t know how that’ll play into WrestleMania. They’ve been putting together a few tag teams of late like Social Outcasts, R-Truth/Goldust, plus the Dudleyz and Usos feud that seems to be happening and now it seems like Styles/Jericho are going to be a team which I’m not the biggest fan of. So maybe they’ll do a big multi-team match like they did last year?

It seems like the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal will be back, as it’s now just an easy match to throw all your leftover guys into, and especially since a ton of the big guys have nothing to do like Big Show, Kane, Ryback, the Wyatts etc. I have no clue what this means for Bray Wyatt as I can’t see anyone relatively big or decent for him to feud with that he hasn’t faced already. Who knows.

Of course you got John Cena posting cryptic things on Twitter about him pushing hard to make some certain goal. Hmmmm. This is the same dude who posted about him struggling to regain the mobility in his weak arm and then two days later posted him squatting 300 lbs. The dude is a freak, so he’ll probably be back, but I have no clue facing. The fantasy booker in me wants John Cena vs. AJ Styles for the dream match we’ve always wanted over the past decade.

And, oh yeah, that whole Triple H vs. Roman Reigns for the title thing. It’s hilarious that WWE thinks that continually putting bigger and bigger things in front of Roman for him to “overcome” to win the title will somehow get people to like him, yet it’s having the opposite effect where it gets comical how much he beats out to get what he deserves. I’m sure there will be a special ref or special enforcer or people in each of their corners or whatever, but I don’t think much will work and the fans are just too far gone on Reigns in this iteration to see him win like this.

I was getting pretty skeptical of Mania with all the injuries, lack of big matches and the mess the world title picture is, but the whole Shane/Undertaker thing has really piqued my interest and the Lesnar/Ambrose thing is bound to be a lot of fun. Plus, I’m sure they still got a few surprises up their sleeves since it’s the “biggest WrestleMania of all time” (haven’t you heard!?!?), and given we’re still more than a month out a lot is bound to change, but I’m back excited for Mania, and hey, we at the very least get an NXT Takeover special to look forward to, no matter the Mania card.

NXT TakeOver: London: Review/Recap

9Hg5LQe

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.