The SmarK Rant for NXT Takeover REvolution Live from Orlando, FL Your hosts are Rich Brennan, Corey Graves & Alex Riley. So I guess Graves has decided to hang it up after all. It must suck to be forced into retirement before you even make it out of developmental. Kevin Owens v. CJ Parker Hopefully this “KO” will work out better than the first one. Huge pop for Owens once his video reveals his identity and he attacks Parker, tosses him, and then splats him with a dive on the ramp. Back in, CJ catches him with a spinkick and throws weak knees, followed by the palm strike for two. This actually busts Owens’ nose open, and he levels Parker with a lariat and a muscle buster. Powerbomb finishes at 3:12. So that was quite the debut. **1/2 NXT Tag titles: The Lucha Dragons v. The Vaudevillains Sin Cara gets a quick bodypress on Gotch for two and the Dragons double-team him with a senton for two. The villains work Sin Cara over and English gets two. Blind charge hits elbow, but Cara remains trapped in the corner. The beating continues for a bit and Kalisto gets the hot tag and throws kicks on Gotch. They toss the heels and follow with a double dive on English, but Gotch gets out of the way and tries to capitalize on Kalisto. Sadly, he takes the SDS and gets pinned at 6:54. Kind of a nothing match, not much heat to it. ** Tye Dillinger v. Baron Corbin The crowd timing the match is a funny bit. Corbin hits the Snake Eyes, big boot and finishes with the End of Days at 0:40. That’s a hell of a name for a finisher. He and Bull Dempsey have a staredown at ringside afterwards in some good old fashioned rasslin’ story development. The Ascension v. Finn Balor & Hideo Itami Well the babyface team doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue easily. But Finn Balor’s interpretive dance entrance WINS THE INTERNETS because holy shit. This was like something out of NJPW’s over the top theatrical entrances and I love it. The babyfaces clear the ring and the crowd chants “Marking out”. Itami and Balor control Viktor in the corner and Balor throws chops for two. Over to Konor, who gets dropkicked for two. Itami throws kicks, but walks into a flapjack for two and the Ascension takes over. Konor stomps away for two and Viktor goes to a chinlock. Konor with a corner clothesline for two. Viktor does some old school cutting the ring off, but misses a charge and hits the post…and then Konor knocks Balor off the apron like an ASSHOLE. That’s great. Itami keeps fighting back, and this time makes the hot tag and the crowd goes cray cray. He kicks Viktor into the corner and then hits him with an enzuigiri on the top, putting him on the floor and following with a dive on both Ascension. Back in, he misses a double stomp on Viktor, but hits an inverted DDT for two. Viktor with the STO for two. Itami tries a GTS as the crowd freaks out, but Konor breaks it up and they set up for the Fall of Man. Balor hits a Pele on Konor and both faces go up with stereo double stomps to finish at 11:34. Devitt is a STAR and I was way into this one. Although he was such a huge star that he pretty much overshadowed Itami in the process, which might be a problem. *** Meanwhile, Renee Young interviews Roman Reigns, who as usual has nothing much to say. NXT Women’s title: Charlotte v. Sasha Banks Sasha throws chops in the corner and gets beat up as a result, and they take it to the floor. Sasha sends her into the stairs and back in for two. Sasha stomps away in the corner and gets two off that. Sasha stops for a strut and gets rolled up for two, and they do a nice little reversal sequence that leads to Sasha hitting a backstabber into a straitjacket hold. Charlotte powers out of that, but Sasha takes her down with a headscissors. Charlotte powers out with an electric chair and makes the comeback with clotheslines and a neckbreaker for two. Sasha dumps her and follows with a suicide dive, and that gets two. They trade chops and Charlotte puts her down with a spear, but goes for the figure-four and Sasha cradles for two. Neckbreaker gets two and she fights for the count. Good to see that. I also love the touch of Sasha getting all pissed off because she can’t beat Charlotte. Charlotte misses a moonsault, but recovers with a senton instead for two. What a great spot. Sasha escapes a Razor’s Edge and sends Charlotte into the corner for a superplex, but Charlotte blocks it. Natural Selection from the top rope finishes at 12:13. Good, no point in bringing her up after the debacle on Monday. This was an amazing performance from Sasha Banks, as I had no idea she had this kind of match in her. ***1/2 NXT title: Adrian Neville v. Sami Zayn The heat for Zayn is off the charts as he somehow manages to keep people invested in him despite all the failures. They trade wristlocks to start and Neville starts working the arm, which leads to a stalemate. Sami with a backbreaker to put Neville on the floor, and Sami hits him with a quebrada. Back in, Neville with a crucifix for two and a back elbow for two. Low dropkick gets two. Neville with the chinlock, and three kneedrops for two. Sami fights up, but Neville gets a dropkick for two. Sami fights back again and dumps Neville for another dive, then follows with a crossbody for two. Neville tries a handspring and Sami catches him with a powerbomb for two. Neville with a running elbow and german suplex for two. Sami escapes a powerbomb, but tries a ropewalk and Neville reverses into his intended powerbomb for two. Neville throws forearms, but Zayn gets more fired up and comes back with a lariat. Heluva Kick misses, however, and Neville goes up, but the Red Arrow hits knee and Zayn hooks the Koji Klutch. Sadly, he makes the ropes. The ref gets bumped “accidentally” by Neville, and he hits a superkick and crazy inverted rana for two. How do you even take that bump? They slug it out and Zayn drops him on his head with a suplex, so Neville bails. Zayn follows with the diving DDT through the ropes, and back in the ref gets bumped AGAIN. Neville grabs the belt while Zayn wastes time checking on the ref again, but this time Sami gets the belt and contemplates using it. Sami finally decides that he can’t win it that way, so Neville rolls him up for two. Zayn has had enough and comes back with the exploder into the corner and Heluva Kick to FINALLY WIN THE BIG ONE at 23:13. And the crowd LOSES THEIR MIND. What a cool morality play, with Zayn getting tempted and beaten down, but finally learning that hard work and fair play can triumph in the end. **** And Kevin Owens comes out for a big tearful manly hug with his best friend. Neville also gives him a hug as we get the celebration with the entire locker room and Owens comes out for one more hug to end the show…and then FUCKS HIM UP WITH A POWERBOMB ON THE FLOOR. While the end graphic was on the screen no less! Well there’s your next challenger. The Pulse Easily the best, or at least more purely enjoyable, show of the year thus far. All killer, no filler. Even if the weekly show has been pretty weak as of late, everyone came out trying to steal the show and more than a few succeeded. Three great matches to close the show, in three totally different styles, makes this a giant thumbs up.