Kicking off Summerslam weekend, WWE gifted us with an NXT Takeover show, in a sold out Barclays Center, and not a SINGLE second of this event was put to waste. There were four dark matches we didn’t get to see on broadcast, that I’ll have to seek out after the event we just witnessed. If you can’t already tell, I loved this event, and it’s up there as event of the year. On top of that, this has my match of the year, and it may not be what you’re expecting. Like always, we are gonna go match by match, giving some takeaways and slight reviews. Onto the action!
Match 1: Tyler Breeze vs. Jushin Thunder Liger
What a way to start off the show. Japanese wrestling legend, Jushin Thunder Liger, makes his first appearance in a WWE ring and puts on a great match with Tyler Breeze. While this wasn’t the longest match with a lot of big spots, Liger showcased his technical prowess, and Breeze continues to be one of the best in ring workers in NXT in terms of speed and pacing. The finish kind of surprised me, as I was kind of hoping that Liger would put Breeze over, but I more then understand wanting to give Liger a win in this really big moment for WWE. That being said, I’m a little nervous about Tyler Breeze. He’s losing momentum, even though he’s one of the best workers (as I already said). To be set on the main roster, he definitely would need a slight character reinvention, as to not end up like Adam Rose and Fandango, but all of the pieces of greatness are there. How it looks now, he’ll end up like Dolph Ziggler; main event potential, but needs a push.
Winner: Jushin Thunder Liger
Match 2: Blake and Murphy (with Alexa Bliss) (Champions) vs. The Vaudevillians (with Blue Pants) for the NXT Tag Team Championship
While I can say the same thing about the Vaudevillians gimmick as I did about Breeze’s, theirs is out there enough and still fairly “tough”, it could work. In terms of Blake and Murphy, I’ve been a little skeptical, since they don’t really put out too much in terms of character and on the mic, but the addition of Alexa Bliss as their manager is just brilliant. They remind me of old school tag teams where the manager did much of the talking (a la Cornette and The Midnight Express) and the wrestlers just put on great matches. That was the case here. Blake and Murphy have incredible chemistry as a team, and they make a great heel team, beating down one opponent with a unique offense, and allowing that eventual hot tag to be really impactful. I loved the storytelling on both teams here. Just when the Vaudevillains looked to have the upperhand, Blake and Murphy fight or steal back the momentum. On top of that, the Whirling Dervish (spinning running neckbreaker), that Alex English used in the end was truly out of nowhere and a great moment. The Vaudevillains reach the mountaintop here, and the NXT tag division looks strong as ever.
Winner and New Champions: The Vaudevillians
Match 3: Apollo Crews vs. Ty Dillinger
The takeaway from this match is something that I and a lot of indie wrestling fans already knew, Apollo Crews (known as Uhaa Nation on the Indie scene), is a damn good wrestler and is full of charisma. This match, which was more or less a squash, just gave Crews the platform to show his physical ability. I am really looking forward to him getting work in a bigger feud, and getting to see his awesome mic skills. That standing moonsault Crews used as a finish, incredible athleticism.
Winner: Apollo Crews
Match 4: Baron Corbin vs. Samoa Joe
As soon as Samoa Joe debuted in NXT, I’ve been craving this big moment showcase for him, as he was in the top 5 wrestlers in the world. What sucks, in my opinion, is that his first match had to be with Baron Corbin. In terms of the story, Corbin is actually a solid heel, and it’s really easy to hate him. As soon as they got in the ring, however, his inexperience showed. I know he’s a big man, and he is gonna have a slightly slower game, Joe’s technical ability got stifled in that when he would go for complicated spots, they both had to slow down and it looked a little awkward. In the bigger sense, that’s kind of what NXT is for, Corbin has the opportunity to work out the kinks to get ready for the main roster. Samoa Joe, on the other hand, showed glimpses of greatness. We have seen his technical ability in NXT before, but he not only showcased a submission clinic in this match, but he also gave one of the stiffest head chops I’ve seen. He’s known for his stiff work, but I haven’t seen a slap to the head like that. I can’t wait for Samoa Joe to move up the card (put him with Balor and I’ll dance), and I hope Corbin gets another vet to work with in ring as he is definitely on his way.
Winner: Samoa Joe
Match 5: Sasha Banks (Champion) vs. Bayley for the NXT Women’s Championship
Before I get into it, stop reading, go watch this match. This is my match of the year WITHOUT QUESTION. I put this above the Cena v. Owens series, and that is saying something. My love of the Women’s division in both NXT and the main roster is well documented, and this is a perfect example of the division at it’s best. This match was a tour de force in storytelling. Bayley was such a babyface underdog, and Sasha Banks filled the role not only of villainous heel, but also an almost vet passing the torch. Some of the spots in the match had me screaming at my tv, and when Banks goes after Bayley’s recent broken hand, I nearly lost it. Its rare that I get emotionally invested to these performers in a way that I worry for their CHARACTER instead of the person, but Bayley did that here. The last 5 to 10 minutes of this match are some of the most heart pounding wrestling moments I’ve seen in years, and the reverse super hurricanrana Bayley uses to set up the finish is up there as one of my favorite in ring moments as of right now. On top of that, getting “The Four Horsewomen” (Charlotte, Banks, Becky Lynch, and Bayley) performing a Kliq like congratulations to Bayley, and what seemed like a send off for some of them, was a classic moment. These Four women(and I would personally add Paige and their INCREDIBLE trainer Sarah Del Ray) have changed Women’s wrestling in the WWE forever, and I can’t wait for what they bring us next, and I hope they get to headline a takeover event!
Winner and New Champion: Bayley
Match 6: Finn Balor (Champion) vs. Kevin Owens Ladder Match for the NXT Championship
Not gonna lie, it was hard for me in this match because the previous match took so much out of me, but this match was obviously very good, with some bone crushing spots with the ladder, and Balor using a bent ladder that I thought might kill him. Going in, it seemed hard for Owens to logically come out of this match as champion, as he’s so solidly locked into his spot on the main roster, it would be wasted for him to have that title at this point. That being said, this loss only builds Balor, and Owens still really looks like a monster. At points, Owens does what he does and tossed Balor around the ring (and sometimes outside the ring), and Balor showed his speed and experience yet again. Considering it took a Coup de Gras from the top of a ladder to finish of Owens, he can’t lose anything from this. Now, give me Balor v. Joe and continue to push Owens to the moon on the main roster!
Winner and Still Champion: Finn Balor