From the NXT Arena at Full Sail University. Your commentators are Tom Phillips and Corey Graves.
GM Regal opens the show by announcing he intended for Bayley to get her NXT Women’s Championship rematch at Takeover, but she is not medically cleared after injuring her knee last week. Instead, he makes a triple threat #1 contender’s match between Nia Jax, Carmella and Alexa Bliss in our main event.
We get a new snazzy opening sequence.
Tommaso Ciampa and Johnny Gargano vs. TM61 (Shane Thorne & Nick Miller)
TM61 were known as TMDK (The Mighty Don’t Kneel) on the indies and they reference that name in their inset “Hey, introduce yourselves” promo. They have “+61” on their trunks which is the international calling code for their homeland of Australia.
Both teams have a feeling out process and Thorne is able to show off his agility by backflipping out of an arm wringer and getting air on a dropkick. Thorne definitely seems to be the more dynamic member of the team. They work over Gargano but he escapes and tags Ciampa for a chopfest and TM61 uses some tandem offense to send Ciampa and Gargano to the outside as we take a break.
Ciampa fights out of a chinlock and tags Gargano who slingshots himself in with a spear to Thorne and a dropkick to the back of the head. He wraps him in almost an inverted Koji Clutch but Thorne makes the ropes. Ciampa cuts off the tag but gets kicked in the face and Miller gets tagged. He runs Ciampa and Gargano into each other and knocks them down, catching Ciampa on a sunset flip and TM61 hit a double team DVD but Gargano breaks up the pin. Johnny kicks Miller to the outside and LAUNCHES himself out onto him, almost completely flying over his head and landing halfway up the ramp. Gargano slaps the taste out of Thorne’s mouth and hits a running knee in the corner before the double team superkick/knee combo gets the pin. Both teams show respect to each other after the match.
A pretty decent debut for TM61 as The Great NXT Tag Team Renaissance of 2016 continues. The Dusty Classic is going to be a hell of a tournament this fall with all these teams.
We get an AWESOME hype video on the steel cage match at Takeover where Samoa Joe looks like the baddest dude walking the face of the Earth. I wouldn’t want to be locked in a cage with that guy.
Cathy Kelley gets comments on Bayley (who is wearing a Paramore shirt) about not getting her rematch at Takeover. “It sucks.” She worked so hard but she understands she isn’t 100%. Nia Jax interrupts and claims that she “broke” Bayley last week. They start to get into it but Carmella comes to her friend’s aid. Alexa Bliss tries to get a word in, saying that it’s her opportunity, but Nia blows her off and Carmella says she’s gonna make Alexa tap.
They are actually using a goddamned BABYMETAL song for Takeover. I’ve seen it all.
We get another really cool vignette, this time for Andrade “Cien” Almas (Manny Andrade AKA La Sombra) as he slowly removes his lucha mask while watching highlights of himself. The hits just keep on coming to NXT.
Austin Aries comes out for a promo. He thinks “the best” is the most overused phrases in professional sports because there’s always someone that comes along who is better. That’s why he calls himself “great” because nobody can take that away. He proved his greatness by winning championships around the world and elevating NXT with his presence. He also knows that timing is everything and realized that someone else was trying to steal his spotlight. But that will change because it won’t matter who wins between Joe and Finn, Aries will be NXT Champion. This brings out Shinsuke Nakamura to a MASSIVE pop. Nakamura starts to speak Japanese but stops himself, leading to quite possibly the best exchange you’ll hear all year:
“You don’t understand Japanese right?”
“I don’t understand you!”
(without missing a beat)”Yeah me too.”
Nakamura lays a claim of his own to the NXT Championship and out comes GM Regal. He was intrigued at them as a tag team last week…but he has something else in mind. The crowd takes up a “Takeover!” chant and Regal makes Nakamura vs. Aries on June 8th. Dude has the easiest job in the world. Goddamn that should be a great match.
The night of great promos continues as American Alpha says they are ready for whatever the Revival is going to bring to Takeover because it doesn’t matter if it’s Dallas, Portland or Full Sail because they are Ready…Willing…and Gable. MAH BOYS!!!
No Way Jose squashes Jonathan Ordagan (who Graves can’t stop busting on for his Abe Lincoln beard). Jose is basically the new Adam Rose: he’s got a fun character and entrance and he’s fine as a lower card comedy character, especially in front of a Full Sail crowd, but hopefully they don’t try and make him much more than that until he has developed more. He does get Corey to awkwardly dance at the announce booth.
Another video package on the cage match, this time from Finn Balor’s perspective. In the cage, nobody knows what he is capable of. He will rise again at Takeover.
Cathy asks Asuka if she has a preference for who she wants to face at Takeover, but she simply says no matter who wins, she will defeat them. I believe her.
Carmella vs. Alexa Bliss vs. Nia Jax (#1 Contender’s Match for the Women’s Title)
Carmella gets a hug from Bayley before she comes to the ring. Alexa hits the floor at the bell, quite content to watch her opponents beat on each other. Nia powers Carmella around to start and Alexa goes up to try a sneak attack on Jax, but realizes her mistake when Nia sees her and goes back to the floor as we take a break. Alexa is truly one of the greats.
Carmella tries a rana, but Nia swings her back up, so Carmella fights back and ranas her into the post. Alexa pulls Jax to the floor and comes in for a pin with the tights on Carmella before going to work, including a VADERBOMB!! That’s like dropping a pillow on a cinderblock. She SLAPS ON THE GOOZLE and slams her down, hitting the double knees and avoiding Jax breaking up the pin before hitting Jax with the knees followed by the SPARKLE SPLASH~! but Carmella breaks up the pin. You are stretching my suspension of disbelief here, ladies. Carmella and Bliss try to suplex Jax, but that goes about as well as you expect and Jax ends up suplexing them both. They end up sending Jax to the outside and Carmella tries a dive, but Jax catches her. Bliss kicks Jax down and Carmella takes care of Bliss, following up by hitting the dive on Jax. Carmella runs through Bliss, hitting the Bronco Buster and messing up the setup for her leg scissors. Jax pulls Bliss off and headbutts Carmella, but Carmella locks in a sleeper. Jax breaks it in the corner so Carmella goes up and hits a flying Thesz press and goes for the Bronco Buster, but Nia catches her, slams her down and drops the leg for the pin.
Not the smoothest match you’re ever going to see, but it was still fun as hell given the characters involved. It was a tad ridiculous seeing Jax sell for two women that are probably barely her size put together, though. Still, you can’t deny there has been some improvement in all three and, though we may never reach the heights of the Four Horsewomen days last year, the women’s division in NXT should be OK.
Asuka comes down for the big staredown with the title as we fade.
OVERALL: Probably one of the best episodes of the year, in all honesty. A bunch of great promos for Takeover coupled with a bunch of fun matches and a good debut. I had my doubts about this Takeover, but the cage match and the booking of Aries/Nakamura have done a fair bit to erase them.
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