LIVE from the Kay Bailey Hutchinson Convention Center in Dallas, Texas with an attendance of around 10,000. Your commentators are Tom Phillips and Corey Graves.
An opening video talks about Texas’ rich wrestling history with NXT adding their own piece of it tonight.
The Revival (c) vs. American Alpha (NXT Tag Team Titles)
This was the perfect match to open the show. Jordan and Gable are, naturally, beloved and FIRED THE HELL UP as they come out wearing SWEET personalized track jackets. Gable and Dawson start and Dawson condescendingly slaps his face but Gable schools his ass on the mat and returns the favor. Jordan tags and almost launches himself into orbit for a dropkick that sends Dawson scurrying to the outside. Jordan WANTS THIS. The heels make an illegal tag to distract the ref so Dawson can rake Jordan’s eyes and take control but Alpha hits a double backdrop and it’s Dash’s turn to get thrown around. Dash staggers Gable with an elbow and tags Dawson but Gable keeps control until he misses a dropkick and the heels go for a double suplex, but Jordan pulls his partner free and Alpha hit STEREO GERMANS to bring the crowd to their feet. Jordan runs a lap around the ring and all he needs is the headgear and the barking to make the transformation complete. The heels FINALLY gain control after Dawson suckers Gable in on the outside and Dash takes his head off with a clothesline.
It’s playing the Gable time as the heels work him over and Dawson locks in a deep Gory Special, but Gable breaks the grip and rolls him up for 2, but The Revival cut off the tag, so Gable DDTs them both. He reaches for Jordan, but Wilder comes from under the ring to yank Jordan off the apron and they completely blow a double team powerbomb…thing to “Botchamania” chants, the only blemish on this match. Dash misses a charge and Dawson tags, barely cutting off Gable, but Gable kicks him off and it’s HOT TAG JASON JORDAN!! Dudes are thrown, straps are dropped and Jordan goes for a pop up belly to belly, but Dash yanks him off and Dawson almost gets a pin with his feet on the ropes and Dash adding extra leverage. Jordan escapes a slingshot suplex attempt and rolls Dawson up for 2, getting caught with a stiff Dash uppercut on the kickout, but Gable makes the save. Dash dumps Gable and the heels look to finish, but Jordan rolls up Dawson. Dash tries to keep his partner upright, but Gable dropkicks him and Jordan gets a close 2. Jordan suplexes Dawson out of his boots and goes for the corner spear, but Dash pulls his partner away. Gable tags and he and Dawson go through an amazing trade of pinfalls, showing who the superworkers on both teams are. Scott Dawson is fucking incredible and I hope more people start to realize that. Dawson avoids a charge but doesn’t see Jordan tagging in and is suddenly speared out of his boots and Grand Amplitude give MAH BOYS the titles. Jordan can barely contain his emotions as he finally has found something to latch onto after being in developmental hell for years so I’m the happiest for him. This post-match promo really shows you how much it means to him.
As I said, this was the absolute best match to start the show with as both teams exhibited top notch tag team wrestling that had pretty much everyone having Steiners and Brainbusters flashbacks. The NXT tag team scene may very well become this year what the women’s division became last year.
And this was probably the THIRD best match on this damn show!
We see Jim Ross, Michelle Beadle and oh hey fucking KOTA IBUSHI sitting at ringside. Graves makes sure to mention that little Cruiserweight Open they are having and hey maybe Kota may have something to do with that, eh?
NXT returns to the UK in June.
Baron Corbin vs. Austin Aries
A match that would have been a fine TV main event or a pretty good match on any other Takeover will be considered the “worst” match on the show. There just isn’t that much to say here aside from Corbin coming more and more out of his shell and relishing in yelling at all the “pigboys” and Indy geek lovers in the crowd as he grabs a nerve hold because fuck you he’s not getting paid to do flashy stuff. Aries does a fantastic job selling for him. Corbin gets increasingly frustrated that this damn nerd won’t just go down already and Aries makes the comeback and sends Corbin to the outside with a dropkick followed by a dive. Corbin catches him with Deep Six on the floor (ouch) and Aries barely makes it back in before the ten count, which just increases Corbin’s frustration. Aries tells Corbin to bring it and Corbin slugs him down, but Aries spins through an End of Days attempt and rolls him up for the pin.
Again, this match doesn’t really hang with the others on this card, but in no way does that mean this match wasn’t good. It was solid, entertaining wrestling that got Aries his debut win and keeps Baron Corbin vs. the Indy Geeks going for a bit longer.
Sami Zayn vs. Shinsuke Nakamura
The match of the year in 2016 and quite possibly the best match in NXT history.
Wait, you want me to elaborate? Well, fine.
Sami, in probably his final NXT match, gets a tremendous ovation as the crowd sings along to his theme song, but MOTHER OF GOD do the fans go absolutely insane for Nakamura. The second Nakamura’s awesome theme hits and he comes out, you know he’s belonged here all along. It’s one of those goosebumps on top of goosebumps moments you rarely get in wrestling. Graves: “If you aren’t excited right now, you better check your pulse.” Indeed.
Before they even touch the crowd runs the gamut of shitting themselves chants (“Holy shit!” “YES! YES! YES!” etc.) They trade holds to start as a dueling chant breaks out until the fans just give up and chant “both these guys!” Nakamura works the arm and lands some kicks to gain the upper hand but Sami hits a suplex for 2. Nakamura comes back with forearms but Sami lands one of his own to knock him out of the ring. Nakamura cuts him off with a Pele kick on the apron before landing a running knee to the face and then one to the back of the head on the apron. Back inside he drapes Sami on top and knees his ribs through his spine, but Sami escapes a suplex and suckers Nakamura into falling over the top, following him with a dive and a crossbody back in the ring for 2. Nakamura knees Sami to escape a suplex and adds a few more on the ground but Sami catches him with a Michinoku Driver that almost spikes Nakamura on his head.
Then, they just decide to ELBOW THE EVERLOVING PISS OUT OF EACH OTHER for like three minutes as the crowd just lose their shit and we have apparently transported to the Tokyo Dome. Nakamura gets a bloody nose but that has no effect on him as he kicks the shit out of Sami in response. Sami, in response to the response, clotheslines him inside out twice, but Nakamura grabs the arm on a third attempt and rotates into an armbar, turning that into a triangle choke, but Sami just steps on his head to escape, following that up with kicking him in the face as hard as he can before locking in the Koji Clutch. Nakamura rolls Sami onto his shoulders for 2 and hits a step-up enzigiri, with Sami doing the BEST sell, stumbling towards the ropes before collapsing in a heap. The crowd chants “Fight forever!” and it’s hard to disagree at this point. Sami fights out of a suplex and charges at Nakamura for the Hevluva Kick, but Nakamura moves and hits an inverted Exploder suplex. He goes for the Kinshasa (the new name for the Boma-ye and an inspired choice if you know the reference. Kinshasa is the city in Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where Mohammed Ali fought George Foreman and fans chanted “Boma-ye, Ali!” because they hated Foreman so much) but Sami sidesteps and hits a Blue Thunder Bomb for a CLOSE 2 that the crowd bought as the end. Nakamura rolls to the floor and Sami looks for his DDT, but Nakamura kicks him in the goddamn face to end that nonsense. Nakamura goes up but Sami cuts him off and goes for the brainbuster, but Nakamura fights back and knocks Sami down. He charges, but Sami catches him and tries the Exploder, but Nakamura flights free and comes off the middle rope with a knee to the back of the head and the Kinshasa (with Graves doing the appropriate New Japan-style call “KINSHASAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!!!”) for the pin.
As I said, this is the match of the year for 2016 right now and GOOD LUCK to anyone that tries to top it. The funny thing? They really didn’t do a whole lot. By that I mean they kept it pretty straightforward with an even wrestling match turning into two guys just beating the everloving piss out of each other until one went down. They knew the crowd was going to piss themselves even if they just stared at each other for 15 minutes.
Nakamura offers a handshake and Sami accepts with Nakamura giving Sami the ring so he can get a final, well-deserved sendoff from the NXT crowd. If he doesn’t win the IC title Sunday WWE will have truly lost their goddamn minds. Watch this fucking match many, many times.
Stephanie McMahon is in the crowd and gets booed. Good on ya, Dallas!
Bayley (c) vs. Asuka (NXT Women’s Title)
Asuka has donned her special “Izzy in tears” mask for this match while Bayley has her 80’s Sting tribute jacket on. The fans try to sing at Bayley, but they are completely not in sync.
The crowd actually doesn’t seem what to feel about this match; they obviously love Bayley, but they don’t really want to boo Asuka, but they don’t really want Asuka to kill Bayley either. That mixed with the fact that they are still recovering from Zayn/Nakamura kind of killed the heat a little bit, though they did recover by the end.
Both women whiff on running attacks and we have a stalemate early. Asuka lands some strikes and hits a hip attack, following with a short kick, but Bayley avoids another hip attack and clotheslines her down, following with her spinning elbow for 2. She hits a crossbody off the top for another 2 and drops a knee, but Asuka catches a clothesline and tries an armbar but Bayley makes the ropes. Asuka strikes away in the corner, but hangs herself up after missing a kick and Bayley drops an elbow for 2. Asuka cuts her off and goes up, but Bayley forearms her and ranas her off for another 2 before locking in the guillotine (the same hold she beat Nia Jax with), but Asuka breaks free and locks in an anklelock. Bayley sends Asuka out on the break and slides out with a rana to the floor. Bayley slugs away but that just angers Asuka and she lays in the kicks, but Bayley fights back, so Asuka kicks her in the head on an armdrag attempt and follows with a running knee for 2. She tries another hip attack, but Bayley catches her and hits a suplex. Bayley ducks a kick, but Asuka rotates through it and hits her with her other foot for a double KO. Things start to get like the last match as fists and elbows start to fly, but Bayley catches Asuka mid-kick and turns it into a kneebar turned into an anklelock! Bayley focuses on the legs, trying to take out Asuka’s weapons and charges for the Bayley to Belly, but Asuka flips her into an armbar but Bayley rolls her up for 2, ducking another pair of kicks and getting a small package for another 2. Bayley drills her with a clothesline and tries the same shoulder and arm hold that she finished the Iron Woman match with, but Asuka escapes, barely kicking out of another rollup at 2. Bayley goes for the Bayley to Belly again but Asuka fights her off and hits a spinning kick followed by a neck chancery and locks in the armbar, transitioning that into the Asuka Lock. Bayley gets to her feet and reaches for the ropes, but Asuka spins her around and down into the hold. Bayley tries to get back up, but Asuka latches onto her like an anaconda and drags her back down. Bayley still struggles, but she slowly fades out and goes limp (an amazing selljob) and the ref calls for the bell, leaving the crowd in shock. They cheer Asuka for her win, but there are plenty of bummed fans (and apparently an inconsolable Izzy) in that crowd. Bayley gets checked on by the officials as Asuka celebrates and they share a definite “We’re gonna fight again” look instead of the traditional NXT Women’s Hug of Honor.
I don’t think the fans were expecting the match to end that way, but it was booked beautifully as Bayley tried almost everything she had, but Asuka seemed to have a counter for it all and wore Bayley’s body down because that’s easier to break down than her heart and spirit. Bayley goes back to the chase and, if she’s not going to the main roster (which I don’t think she is) I am ALL IN on a rematch. If Zayn/Nakamura is the NXT match of 2016, this is pretty close behind.
The crowd reacts as we see former TNA champion Bobby Roode in the crowd.
Finn Balor (C) vs. Samoa Joe (NXT Championship match)
Finn has stolen Dean Ambrose’s chainsaw and incorporated some Texas colors into his gear. I guess they nixed the Leatherface mask so they wouldn’t get sued?
Since it’s worked so many times tonight, they start slugging away and an inadvertent headbutt busts Joe open on the corner of the eye, which wakes the crowd right up. Joe scurries to the outside and Finn follows out with a dive. They fight on the floor and Joe LAUNCHES Finn over the guardrail and wipes out a poor security guard. Joe is a bloody, scary as fuck mess as he tries to clean himself off, but Finn comes back with a forearm and the intensity has suddenly gone up about 200%. Finn avoids a charge but Joe cracks him with a jumping kick and dives out onto Balor. Joe diving onto you is scary enough; a pissed off Joe bleeding like mad diving at you? That’s nightmare fuel. The doctors try to work on Joe which does NOT make the crowd (or Joe) happy at all. I get the reasoning, but they take forever to do it and it completely ruins the great opening flow the match has. Back in, Joe drops Finn with an STO and cracks him with another kick for 2. Joe is still bleeding so the docs come in again as a “fuck PG” chant rings out. I understand the fans’ frustration, but it’s misplaced here. The commentators expertly make the interruptions part of the story, saying that this is just going to enrage Joe more and he’s gonna take it out on Finn. Joe hits the facewash in the corner and looks to finish, but Finn fights him off, so that just earns a hard chop to his spine and a kick to the face for 2. Joe continues the beating, but Balor comes back with a dropkick and the docs desperately try to clean Joe up one last time as a “let Joe bleed” chant breaks out. Finn stuns Joe with chops and kicks him to the outside, following up with the soccer kick on the apron, but Joe catches him on a slingblade attempt and suplexes him for 2. Balor manages to hit the slingblade but Joe swats away a dropkick and hits a senton for 2. He hits a powerbomb and locks in the deep Boston crab, turning it into a crossface, but Balor rolls through and hits a double stomp. He hits another slingblade and the corner dropkick, but Joe pops up and cuts off the Coup de Grace, kicking Finn in the face and hitting the Muscle Buster, but Finn barely kicks out. They trade strikes and a Pele kick has them both on the mat. Finn comes to his feet and roars, the Demon having come fully out as he hits the slingblade and the Coup de Grace, but when he goes for 1916 Joe goes behind and locks in the Coquina Clutch, but Finn roars again and walks up the corner, flipping into a pin to retain.
Joe looks utterly stunned as Finn can barely stand. An angry Joe heads up the ramp and turns back, taking a step to resume the fight, but decides to call it a day instead. Finn celebrates as we fade.
The doctor stoppages did somewhat kill the flow of the match at times, but the blood did a LOT to enhance the intensity of the match as Joe seemed to become a possessed animal afterwards and Finn had to tap into the darkest parts of his soul to overcome him. This was better than the London match because of that intensity and it’s obvious that a third and final encounter is in the cards.
OVERALL: Every time a Takeover is coming I have the same thought: “This is going to be awesome but I have to try and keep my expectations in check so I don’t overhype myself.”
Then they go and make me feel dumb for thinking that. Every time.
“Best Takeover ever” seems to almost lose its meaning at this point, but this is heads and shoulders above every single special they have ever done. A surefire MOTY followed by two matches maybe a notch below is a stretch of greatness I haven’t seen since WrestleMania X-7. Couple that with a great, hot opener and a perfectly fine performance by Aries and Corbin, it’s gonna be hard for anything this year to top this.
Well….until the next Takeover at least.
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