Date: April 1, 2017
Location: Amway Center, Orlando, Florida
Commentators: Nigel McGuinness, Tom Phillips, Percy Watson
It’s time for the big one again as NXT gets to run a major show from its home city. Wrestlemania is in Orlando this year and that means we get a special Takeover right down the road from Full Sail University. The main event is Bobby Roode vs. Shinsuke Nakamura II for the NXT Title in what might be Nakamura’s farewell. Let’s get to it.
I was in the arena for this show so it’s going to be my second look at it.
We open with a HHH voiceover talking about how this is our night to make history. Tonight we show the world that we are NXT and we are home.
The opening video looks at NXT over the years (or at least NXT from Full Sail), which really does include some amazing moments and stars getting their starts. This turns into a video on Roode vs. Nakamura, which is a fight over Roode fighting for himself and Nakamura fighting for the fans. The Women’s Title gets a quick look as well.
Sanity vs. Tye Dillinger/No Way Jose/Roderick Strong/Ruby Riot
Sanity all has black paint around their eyes, making them look like Deadpool. Actually hang on a second as Sanity jumped No Way Jose at Axxess and has put him out of action. We have a replacement though.
Sanity vs. Tye Dillinger/Roderick Strong/Ruby Riot/Kassius Ohno
The good ones hit the ring at a run and the brawl is on in a hurry. The women officially start things off with Cross throwing Riot across the ring by the hair. I still have no idea how that doesn’t make anyone scream. Ruby sends Cross into the corner so it’s off to Wolfe, meaning Ohno has to come in. That earns Wolfe and Young a big right hand each with Kassius easily taking over. At Takeover. Kind of makes sense no?
Young offers a distraction though and Wolfe takes over like the cheater he is. Another big elbow cuts off the heel control though and it’s off to Strong for some speed. Roderick does his running leapfrog (one of my favorites) and backbreakers Wolfe before kicking Dain in the head. I do love how face teams always stay on the apron and let their buddy fight everyone off at once. It’s just not polite otherwise you see. Dain runs him over though as the SHAVE YOUR BACKS chant start up.
Roderick’s comeback is cut off by a running dropkick and it’s off to Young for some choking. A top rope elbow draws Tye in for the save and there go the TEN chants. Eric misses a charge in the corner though and NOW it’s off to Tye with the hot tag. House is cleaned as everything breaks down, including Tye hitting a high crossbody on Wolfe, straight into a dive on Young for a sweet sequence.
Wolfe makes the save so Ohno loads up a dive but Wolfe moves just in time. Not that it matters as Ohno manages to bail by landing hands first on the apron and flipping onto his feet outside. Cross breaks up Ruby’s dive and the closest thing you’ll get to an NXT catfight breaks out.
That leaves Tye vs. Eric with Dillinger cleaning house, including a superkick for a close two on Dain. Onno BLASTS Wolfe with a forearm and Strong Sick Kicks Young to the floor. Roderick vs. Dain looks to give us a rather interesting showdown but the women jump on their backs. Tye loads up the Tyebreaker on Dain but Wolfe makes a save, setting up the Ulster Plantation (One Winged Angel) for the pin on Dillinger at 12:21.
Rating: B. This was a really good choice for an opener and could have been a classic if Tye had gotten the pin and FINALLY won something but instead let’s have him job again. You have to imagine a big showdown with Dillinger facing Young once and for all, but if he loses, I have no idea what’s left for him in NXT. At some point you have to actually win something and Tye hasn’t quite pulled that off yet. Also, Ohno was the only real option here. He’s been featured too much on NXT TV lately and he had to get a spot on here, especially with a great tease of something with Sanity going forward.
Edge and Beth Phoenix are here.
Andrade Cien Almas vs. Aleister Black
No real story here other than it’s Black’s debut and he needed an opponent. Black’s entrance (which I couldn’t see from the upper deck) is straight out of Nosferatu as he rises up from what looks like a casket and onto the stage. Black slingshots over the ropes and lands in a sitting meditation style position, which is almost guaranteed to become a signature pose.
They trade armbars and headscissor escapes to start until Black misses a swinging kick, leaving Almas to pose at him. Back up and Black kicks him to the floor for a dive, only to moonsault back into the mediation pose. Back in and Almas takes him into the corner for a stomping and one heck of a slap. A missile dropkick gets two for Almas and it’s time to start in on the arm.
Nigel isn’t sure on this as Black mainly uses kicks but figures it might just be overconfidence. Almost immediately thereafter, Black starts firing off the kicks to send Almas outside for a huge middle rope moonsault. Back in and Almas grabs a cross armbreaker over the ropes, followed by something like the Rings of Saturn (I’m glad that’s becoming more popular).
Black ducks the running knees in the corner and they trade kicks to the head for a double knockdown. A moonsault kick to Black’s head sets up a snap German suplex for two so Black starts snapping off kicks. Black Mass (a spinning kick to the head) knocks Almas silly at 9:35.
Rating: B-. This was fine without much of a story other than Almas getting cocky, as is his nature. I wasn’t wild on him at first but this was a solid debut performance. The meditation pose is going to be a winner for him, especially once we get to know him a little bit better. I also like the Black Mass as sometimes you just need to kick someone in the head.
Also of note, I wasn’t really able to pay much attention to the finish live as the fans in section 220 decided they were more important than the rest of the show. This included declaring their section’s greatness, chanting TWENTY after each near fall (“1-2-TWENTY!” Get it?) and calling the other sections around them S-A-W-F-T. You can imagine how this went and you can hear the other sections telling them to shut up during the ending.
We recap the Tag Team Title match, which is almost guaranteed to be the best match on the card. DIY and the Revival tore the house down for the better part of six months but the Authors of Pain took the belts from DIY, setting up a three way feud. This meant a triple threat elimination tag, which for once made perfect sense.
Tag Team Titles: Revival vs. DIY vs. Authors of Pain
The Authors are defending but before the match, William Regal presents some snazzy new title belts (the Women and NXT Titles will get new belts as well), possibly due to the Women’s Title being involved in Paige’s sex tape. Revival and DIY stare each other down before they both turn to face the Authors, drawing the first major pop of many. Rezar is sent into the barricade so DIY grabs a table, even though this shouldn’t be No DQ (I believe a DQ would count as an elimination).
Akam goes into the steps and the four challengers stare each other down, setting up the showdown that the fans really wanted to see. Nigel is beside himself as the champs are recovering while the other four fight each other. We settle down to a regular match until Akam tags himself in for a double clothesline.
Ciampa’s high crossbody is caught but he kicks Rezar in the head, only to have Revival back down the steps instead of taking a tag. That’s smart in this kind of a match, which shouldn’t be surprising given how intelligent those two come off most of the time. With the referee distracted, Dawson sneaks in for a DDT on Akam to give Ciampa two. Dawson comes in legally but takes a shot to the ribs. This time it’s DIY dropping to the floor because they’re just that smart.
Gargano tags himself in and gets two off the slingshot spear before kicking Dawson in the head. Johnny adds a slingshot DDT and the fans are WAY into this, just as you would expect them to be. The champs catch a dive so Ciampa tries a suicide dive of his own, only to have the Authors THROW GARGANO THROUGH THE AIR to break it up. Things slow down with Akam working on Gargano’s ribs, including throwing him up into a torture rack. Johnny finally sends Rezar into an uppercut from Dawson, allowing the hot tag off to Ciampa.
It’s time for a series of strikes into a pair of German suplexes on Rezar, followed by the running knee for two. With Rezar reeling, Gargano tries a powerbomb from the apron through the table but can’t put him down. Ciampa’s help isn’t enough so Revival punches Rezar in the jaw, setting up the double powerbomb through the table for the big crash and an even bigger cheer as the giant is in trouble. That leaves Akam on his own…and all four surround him.
Since he’s a monster though, he actually drops all of them on his own because screw it. A chop block brings Akam down though and Dawson slaps on the reverse Figure Four. Gargano thinks about breaking it up but adds his version of the Crossface for the double submission. The partners grab Rezar so he shoves them into Akam and company for the save, drawing a loud round of booing. A series of strikes drop Rezar and it’s Dawson/Gargano hitting DIY’s double strike. Naturally this means Ciampa and Wilder give Akam a Shatter Machine, sending the fans even further into orbit with the champs going outside.
The fight is on and Ellering cheers both teams on in a perfectly logical (yet still amusing) moment. Gargano and Wilder hit stereo dives on the champs and Ciampa goes up top, only to have Dawson SUPERPLEX HIM ONT THE BIG PILE OF PEOPLE, putting all six down at once. Dawson goes after Gargano (Nigel: “NO! This is a mistake!” It turns out that he’s right as the Authors get back in for the Last Chapter and the elimination on Ciampa at 18:54. You could feel the energy going out of the crowd at that point and it never recovered for the rest of the match (or show for that matter).
The fans chant DELETE (because they’re such big fans that they forgot the Hardys were 40 minutes away at Ring of Honor) but have to settle for Revival, who are now the most over team in the world. A German suplex/top rope elbow gets two on Rezar but Akam kicks Dawson in the face. Almost stereo powerbombs earn the champs a NO ONE LIKES YOU chant as this is getting brutal. Rezar spears Wilder into the barricade while Akam sends Dawson into the corner. The Super Collider retains the titles at 23:43.
Rating: A-. Give this a more popular and less deflating ending and it’s the Match of the Year so far. Those first seventeen minutes or so were as smart and well thought out that I’ve seen in years but as soon as the Authors turned into Super Cena, everything went flying out the window. In theory this means DIY and Revival are heading to the main roster (this is being written after Revival debuted on Raw) and if that’s the case, this is the logical move. If DIY sticks around though, I have no idea what they’re thinking.
The NXT fans want to see DIY vs. Revival in their awesome matches and the Authors are as far removed from that as they could possibly be (not saying they’re bad, but that they’re not what the fans want). It makes them look unbeatable though and that means the team that takes them down will be even more awesome than anyone could imagine. It’s a great match but the ending really brings it back to earth.
We recap the Women’s Title match. Asuka is sitting by a pool and says the division rises and sets with her. She’s said she’ll keep the title forever but Ember Moon is undefeated as well. Asuka might be a more complete wrestler than Moon but she has the biggest weapon in NXT (close enough) in the Eclipse. That’s the whole idea: if Ember can hit that one big move, nothing Asuka can do matters. The video goes on a good bit longer than it needs to, which is a pretty common problem in WWE.
Women’s Title: Ember Moon vs. Asuka
Ember is challenging and has some of the best theme music in NXT at the moment. No special entrance for Asuka but I believe she has new gear. After the Big Match Intros, Regal presents the new title which looks like a cross between a UFC belt and the old X-Division Title. I really liked the first one but come on: it had to change eventually.
They lock up and go to the mat to start with neither being able to get any kind of an advantage. Stereo dropkicks go nowhere and it’s time for a standoff. Asuka offers a handshake but pulls her hand back instead, showing quite a bit of confidence (fair enough). Shoulders go nowhere as they’re doing a great job of portraying both of them as equal. The flying hip attack only sees Ember nip up….and make a not funny face in her way of saying bring it. Yeah that looked dumb.
Another hip attack sends Ember outside and it’s time to really take over with some spinning elbows to the head. A third hip attack drops Ember and Asuka fires off kicks to the chest. The Asuka Lock is broken up and Ember blasts her in the jaw to send the champ outside. They’re doing a really good job here of having Ember hang with Asuka until one big shot cuts her off all over again.
Case in point, Ember kicks her in the head but takes a Shining Wizard for two. The Asuka Lock goes on (To very little reaction for some reason. Even live this didn’t feel important.) with Asuka on Ember’s back, allowing Ember to drop backwards for the break. A good looking superkick drops Asuka and even more kicks have her reeling. Ember’s springboard is broken up though and a German suplex gives Asuka two.
Asuka loses a slugout and gets capture suplexed for two more. Ember loads up the Eclipse and throws Asuka off the top….only to have Asuka shove the referee into the ropes for the heel turn. Somehow that’s not a DQ (I need to read that WWE Book of Rules) and Asuka kicks her in the head to retain at 12:12.
Rating: B. Commentary really helped this one a lot as Nigel was selling the heck out of the idea that Asuka had met her match. That’s the story here and it worked really well: Asuka couldn’t beat Ember using her standard stuff and was in real danger from the Eclipse so she cheated to win instead. I’m fine with Ember losing as she never got to hit the Eclipse (so there’s your rematch) and you have Ruby Riot, Kimber Lee and Nikki Cross ready to challenge too.
In your big surprise of the night, DREW MCINTYRE is in the crowd. That’s the best news I could hear as McIntyre was all over Wrestlemania weekend and I’ve wondered why he isn’t WWE Champion like, now for example. I’m very happy with this and it couldn’t have been much of a better choice.
We recap Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Bobby Roode. As mentioned earlier, it’s basically Roode being out for himself and Nakamura being out for the fans.
NXT Title: Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Bobby Roode
Nakamura is challenging and does his entrance behind a translucent screen where you can see his shadow. That feels very Michael Jackson-esque for some reason. The fans of course sing Nakamura’s song (despite it not having any words) and it’s yet another awesome entrance. Granted they also sing Roode’s song as Roode spins around on a pedestal, accompanied by two pianos (TAKE THAT REBY!). Regal brings out the new belt, which looks almost identical to the Women’s Title.
We’re ready to go, but first this reason why I can’t stand Twitter. Phillips: “These fans are on their feet and they’re ready for this hashtag NXT Championship match!” Roode goes straight for the knees as the fans like both these guys. A headlock doesn’t get the champ very far so Nakamura lays him on the ropes for the head on Roode’s chest spot. Roode laughs off the bring it but gets caught up in the rapid fire strikes to bring him down.
Nakamura drops a knee and sends him into the corner for Good Vibrations. Roode gets in a dropkick and knocks Shinsuke off the apron and into the barricade for a crash. Nakamura seems to have hurt his shoulder but Roode opts to just stomp him down in the corner. Being the cocky jerk that he is, Roode stops for the GLORIOUS pose but still manages to chop Nakamura in the corner.
We hit the nerve hold for a long stretch (softening up the neck for the DDT) before Nakamura gets in a kick to the head for a breather. It’s time to start in with the knees, including one in the corner and one on the apron. Roode comes right back with a heck of a clothesline and a chop block to start in on the knee again. The knee is wrapped around the post and we hit a bad looking Figure Four. Nakamura turns it over to, sending Roode straight to the ropes so he can get right back to the knee.
Another hold is countered into a cross armbreaker but Roode gets to the ropes again. Nakamura fires off strikes in the corner but knees the buckle by mistake. That earns Roode a series of kicks from the good leg so he grabs a Backstabber to put both guys down. They slug it out with Nakamura kneeing his way out of a suplex and dropping another knee for two. Kinshasa sends Roode bailing to the floor but he kicks the ropes to hit Nakamura low.
The Glorious DDT connects for two and again Nigel is right there to sell the heck out of it. Roode goes to get the bell but gets kicked in the head, followed by the exploder. Kinshasa is countered into one heck of a spinebuster for two and Nakamura is done. Back up and Roode drives him into the corner for a tornado DDT into the Glorious DDT to retain at 28:14.
Rating: B+. This was….long. The first match had far better drama with the story around the knee while this was just more long than anything else. That’s not to say it’s a bad match but I did like the first one earlier. The key here though is Roode winning clean without ever really doing anything all that complicated to counter Nakamura’s insane offense. Roode is a very basic wrestler but he does everything so proficiently that it’s hard to beat him. It’s a very good match and pretty clearly Nakamura’s swan song, but not as good as the predecessor.
After the show ended, Nakamura got the big sendoff with his music playing and taking a bow to all parts of the arena. See you Tuesday.
Overall Rating: A-. This show has one problem: it’s going to be compared to Takeover: Dallas. Last year’s show was one of the best of all time while this was just a really good one. There’s absolutely nothing bad on here but the lack of title changes hurt things. This show felt like a big goodbye instead of NXT showcasing itself, which is one of the problems that a developmental territory is going to have. It’s an outstanding show though and definitely worth watching, only being held back by what happened last year.
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