Date: July 13, 2016
Location: Full Sail University, Winter Park, Florida
Commentators: Tom Phillips, Corey Graves
It’s a big show this week as we’ve finally reached the showdown between Finn Balor and Shinsuke Nakamura. This is another instance of NXT building up a match to be a huge deal and it’s made things feel even bigger than they would have otherwise. It’s likely that the winner will face Samoa Joe for the title in Brooklyn at the next Takeover. Let’s get to it.
We open with a long video on Balor vs. Nakamura. They really are making this feel important.
One more thing I like that seems to be a normal thing around here: Corey Graves is introduced as a former Tag Team Champion. I know he’s been around on commentary for a long time but that one line lets new viewers know he has some credibility. I’d love it if WWE acknowledged that with their announcers more often. JBL is mentioned as the longest reigning Smackdown Champion but Lawler’s title reigns are almost never mentioned and he comes off as just an old guy making bad jokes instead of someone with a long history in wrestling.
Here’s Samoa Joe for an opening chat. Like a lot of people tuning in tonight, he’s here to see Balor vs. Nakamura. He finds it disrespectful that both of them seem to think whoever wins here will be a contender to his championship. Some people here think Balor will win and get his title back. Then some people think the King of Strong Style will overthrow the emperor. Joe (who is sweating buckets here) brought strong style to these shores though and will make the King bow. This brings out Rhyno to say he’s ready to face the warrior but Joe walks away without a fight.
For next week:
Bayley vs. Nia Jax
American Alpha vs. Authors of Pain
Samoa Joe vs. Rhyno
Another Balor vs. Nakamura video with wrestlers talking about how big this is due to how big they were in Japan and how close they are in real life. HHH talks about how it would be disrespectful of either of them not to push their friend as hard as they can.
Finn Balor vs. Shinsuke Nakamura
No Demon for Balor. Actually none for Nakamura either but I thought that might be implied. Even the Big Match Intros get THIS IS AWESOME chants. They trade wristlocks to start until Balor takes it to the mat for a headlock and a BOTH THESE GUYS chant. Nakamura fights up and does the head on Balor’s chest thing but Balor flips him around and gives him a Too Sweet on the head.
It’s back to the headlock to keep Nakamura in check but he sends Balor to the corner. Finn jumps over the ropes to avoid a running kick but his enziguri is blocked for an enziguri from Shinsuke. Good Vibrations set up some running knees to the head and we take a break. Back with Balor getting smart by dropkicking the knee to take away Shinsuke’s best weapon.
We hit a leg lock on the mat for a bit before it’s time for the chops. Thankfully Balor goes right back to the knee by hanging it over the middle rope and stomping down onto it. More stomps to the knee have Nakamura screaming and it’s off to another leglock. Shinsuke gets up and hits him in the ribs with the injured knee, followed by a spinning kick to the face for a breather.
The knee is suddenly fine enough for the running knee to Balor’s ribs in the corner as selling isn’t modern wrestling’s strong suit. Balor gets in a running kick to the face though and we take another break. Back again with Balor putting on something like a shortarm scissors but on the knee, drawing even more screams before Nakamura can make it to the ropes. Shinsuke grabs a triangle choke but Balor dives over and puts his foot on the rope for the break.
The reverse 1916 gets two and Balor is in shock. He’s in so much shock that Nakamura gets in a quick Kinshasa to the back of the head for two more. Balor can’t get the regular 1916 and it’s time for the big slugout. Another shot to the knee has has Nakamura in trouble but he kicks Finn in the head. That just earns him a Sling Blade but the Coup de Grace misses, setting up the Kinshasa for the pin at 25:14.
Rating: A-. This was exactly what was expected with two guys beating on each other for a long time. The knee work didn’t really play into the ending but it made up the middle of the match and told a good story. As usual the winner wasn’t the biggest shock but it’s no real secret that Balor is probably bound for the main roster around Battleground at the latest. Above all else though, this felt like a major showdown and a passing of the torch which left Nakamura as the only logical option to face Joe in Brooklyn. Great match here and that’s exactly what it was destined to be.
A lot of posing and replays takes us out.
Overall Rating: A+. That’s really all you can give a show where they set up a match, announce two other matches that people have been waiting for and then spend half the show on a great match. If the card that is expected goes through for Brooklyn, it has the potential to be one of the best Takeovers to date, which really shouldn’t be happening given how great some of them have been.
This was all about one match and that made it feel special. NXT has really grasped the concept of not not cramming too much stuff into one show, which is something so many other shows need to learn. They didn’t try to put anything major other than this one match onto the show and anything else would have felt out of place here. Really good stuff and a great way for Balor to (presumably) go out.
Shinsuke Nakamura b. Finn Balor – Kinshasa
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