From the NXT Arena at Full Sail University. Your commentators are Rich Brennan, Corey Graves and Byron Saxton.
Michael Cole is in the ring and welcomes us to the show. He is running the show while GM Regal is recovering from his surgery. He is there to preside over the NXT title match contract signing, but also decides, against Regal’s wishes, to let the NXT Women’s Title match go on tonight because WWE Corporate decided it should. Finn Balor is first to the ring and demands Joe come to the ring and look Finn in the eyes as he signs the contract. Samoa Joe is introduced and he simply stomps to the ring (which is surrounded by refs to prevent shenanigans in a nice little touch), signs the contract without even looking up at Finn, and leaves. That was awesome. Finn signs and walks back up the ramp holding his belt high before he is ambushed by Joe. Joe sends him back into the ring and Finn nails him with a dropkick. The refs try to pull them apart as they use the camera shaking and quick cut camerawork that makes RAW unwatchable at times, but Joe ducks a punch and locks in the Coquina Clutch, choking Finn out once again. I like how NXT contract signings always end up the same way most signings do (a brawl), but they’ve gotten to that point in a different way each time. This time, Joe knew he wasn’t going to get the jump on Finn with all those refs ready to jump in so he waited until everyone let their guards down before striking. Another super intense segment between Joe and Finn to set up what should be an intense match in London.
Tonight: A Takeover: Respect rematch between Asuka and Dana Brooke and the NXT Women’s Title is on the line as Bayley defends against Eva Marie.
The Vaudevillains vs. Dash and Dawson (C) (NXT Tag Team Title match)
The Vaudevillains control to start as English works over Dawson and then Dash but Dawson blind tags in as English tries to roll up Dash and hits an armbreaker, sending Aiden to the outside in great pain as we take a break.
Dash works the arm as the announcers point out how Dash and Dawson changed their gameplan by going after Aiden’s arm instead of his knee like their last match. English escapes and makes the hot tag to Gotch who runs wild and gets a pair of rollups for 2. Dash provides a distraction allowing Dawson to clothesline him down but English breaks up a Shatter Machine attempt and Gotch gets a rollup for a close 2. The Vaudevillains look for the Whirling Dervish, but Dash breaks that up and English gets another rollup for another close 2. He tries another, but Dawson tags Dash and they hit the Shatter Machine for the pin to retain. A decent match as Dash and Dawson continue to show how their teamwork is the reason they are the champs right now. They celebrate until Enzo and Cass’ music hits to a BIG pop and they come to the ring not for a funny promo but to beat the holy shit out of the champs. I think we have another match for London coming.
Eva Marie has taken over GM Regal’s office to prepare for her match and this is honestly the greatest thing because they have completely gone all in on the “Eva is fucking terrible at everything but the higher ups love her so fuck you” narrative as she cuts a terribly great (terrigreat?) promo about how she has run through her opponents and, though Bayley is a “swell girl”, but it’s time for a REAL woman to be champion. She looks over to all the gifts from the Total Divas staff (seriously, I can’t hate this) and introduces her new bestie: Nia Jax. This is the epitome of “turning a negative into a positive”.
We recap the Takeover: Respect match between Dana Brooke and Asuka and Dana’s challenge to a rematch last week.
Hey, remember when Elias Sampson brought a guitar to the ring and was called The Drifter in the Brooklyn episode? I guess they are still rolling with that as he sings a morose song.
Asuka vs. Dana Brooke is, of course, a setup for Emma in a hoodie to jump Asuka. She cranks in an Emma Lock which Asuka helps to make extra vicious looking to lay her out. Dana and Emma celebrate their evilness as Asuka recovers and gives them the Smile of Death. They just don’t want to learn, do they?
Bayley knows why Eva Marie would be a favorite of WWE Corporate, but there’s one difference between her and Eva: she’s a wrestler and Eva is not. Damn, that’s extra ice-cold coming from superface Bayley; at least she was nice enough last week to say Alexa was just not in her league. Tom Phillips does give her a high-five for it, which means he’ll be alongside Brad Maddox in the unemployment line next week.
Sami Zayn is returning! He is scheduled for the UK tour so maybe he does something at Takeover? It’ll be good to see him back, at least.
Apollo Crews squashes Jesse Sorensen and accepts Baron Corbin’s challenge for London. The spinning sitout powerbomb seems to be his new finisher. Backstage Corbin says Crews’ career won’t be long enough for anyone to remember and the Apollo Nation will fall.
Charles Robinson comes to the ring and we are informed that WWE Corporate sent him down to ensure there will be no controversy in the main event tonight. Seriously, this booking is kind of brilliant. It should have been Scott Armstrong, though.
Eva Marie (w/Nia Jax) vs. Bayley (C) (NXT Women’s Championship match)
The crowd is MOLTEN in not wanting Eva to win this and freak out on every Eva near fall. Obviously this match is going to be extremely short as Eva controls for a few minutes, but Bayley quickly gets a Bayley to Belly and Nia yanks the ref out of the ring. Eva gets a rollup and Robinson makes a two count as the original ref is helped out. Nia hits a headbutt to Bayley and Eva hits her shitty senton, getting a series of two counts as the crowd is ready to riot. Eva works her over some more, but Bayley explodes on her with a clothesline and makes her comeback. She goes for her elbow in the corner, but Robinson steps in the way allowing Eva to hit the Shit Bread, but Bayley kicks out at two. Eva yells at Robinson who promises to cheat better, but Bayley shoves Eva into him on another finisher attempt. Eva goes up and Bayley tries a Bayley to Belly off the top, but Nia yanks Bayley off and to the floor. Bayley reciprocates, sending Nia into the apron and hits the Bayley to Belly off the top with the original ref coming back in to make the three count. After the match, Nia lays Bayley out and drops a leg on her while holding the Women’s Title and I think we have another London match.
Simply put, this was AMAZING and the absolute best use of this situation. If this was RAW, they probably would have had Eva actually try and wrestle an actual match to prove she can do it and it would have been an unmitigated disaster. Here, they knew Eva was extremely limited in the ring BUT the NXT crowd has almost a visceral reaction to everything she does and know that they knew Eva was planned to beat Bayley in London (whether that was actually true or not, the story was out there), so they used all of that to their advantage and put together a great segment. Plus, it immediately transitions to Bayley’s new challenger with immediate credibility due to her size and power.
Are you getting why I look forward to this show each week while RAW is setting 20-year lows in ratings yet?
OVERALL: Not much on the wrestling front, but this did a great job at building towards London as each match tonight had something to do with one of the matches either officially announced or teased for that card. Plus, it looks like we’re going to start to see the returns of people like Sami Zayn and Hideo Itami in the near future, so 2016 looks like business as usual for NXT.
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