The SmarK Rant for NXT Takeover: Respect

The SmarK Rant for NXT Takeover: Respect

ALL RIGHT ALREADY. Geez. Luckily for you, the Blue Jays game was in the afternoon and I’m caught up on the third season of Wentworth, so I’m free tonight. It’s a Thanksgiving miracle!

Dedicated to the memory of Dougie.

Live from Orlando, FL

Your hosts are Rich Brennan, Bryon Saxton and Corey Graves. That’s Corey Graves of the RAW Pre-Show, you know!

Dusty Rhodes Classic Semi-Finals: Finn Balor & Samoa Joe v. Dash Wilder & Scott Dawson

That “Balor Club” shirt deal is kind of a brilliant stealth way to ween the nerds off their Bullet Club shirts and make some money off it. Joe pounds away on Wilder in the corner, but Dawson uses the good old eye-rake on the ropes to take control. You can definitely see the Brainbusters influence in that kind of stuff. Plus the jackets, of course. Over to Finn for some running chops on Dawson and a dropkick to put the Mechanics on the floor, followed by a dive to lay them both out. Back in, the corner dropkick sets up the double stomp, but Wilder saves his partner and the Mechanics go after the knee. Of course Graves is like “Oh yeah, I used to do that to set up MY finish…” Yeah, you used to a wrestler, Graves, we know. The heels go to work on the knee in classic Anderson manner, but Finn powers Dawson out of the ring, only to have Wilder sneak up and take out Joe to cut off the hot tag. Back into the heel corner for a Demolition Decapitation that gets two on Balor. Dawson charges and hits the post, but Wilder dives in and cuts off another tag, until Finn fights him off and makes it. Joe runs wild with a powerslam on Wilder for two and the uranage out of the corner, but Balor wants the tag. Muscle Buster into the double stomp finishes at 9:03. Nice touch with Finn selling the knee after the finisher, too. ***1/4

Dusty Rhodes Classic Semi-Finals: Jason Jordan & Chad Gable v. Rhyno & Baron Corbin

Jordan does some nice mat control of Rhyno, and Gable sunset flips in for two while the crowd manages to sing his name to the tune of Kurt Angle’s theme. That’s pretty witty. Rhyno puts him down with a shoulderblock for two, but Jordan & Gable work on the arm and hit a double suplex for two. Gable holds an armbar and Rhyno dumps him to escape, but Gable hangs on with an armbar from the apron! That’s nasty. Corbin finally just beats him up to break it up, and gets two. Rhyno works the neck and the crowd is really, deeply into Gable. Rhyno goes up and misses a flying splash (?!) and it’s hot tag Jordan, which is actually a really good position for him. Backdrop suplex for Corbin and the STRAPS ARE DOWN. I love that they’re so shameless here and that no one minds. Gable walks into the End of Days for two, but Jordan saves, so Rhyno gets rid of him. Gable keeps coming with a rolling german suplex on Corbin for two, but Rhyno hits the GOAR on Jordan and Gable tilt-a-whirls right into the End of Days at 11:00. Jordan & Gable should have gone to the finals because they’re clearly the future of the tag division, but they got a really good match out of the oddball Rhyno/Corbin team. ***

Asuka v. Dana Brooke

I don’t like Dana’s chances here. Asuka takes her down with a rolling hammerlock, but Dana bitchslaps her, and that proves to be unwise. Asuka fires off the kicks and does the Dana Brooke Pose in tribute, then takes her down with a Fujiwara armbar and chases her out of the ring with kicks. Emma trips Asuka up long enough for Brooke to get a cheapshot in, however, and she drops an elbow for two. Dana with a bodyscissors, which Asuka casually escapes into a kneebar, then jumps into an armbar in terrifying fashion. She lets go and puts Emma down for good measure and finishes with a Tazzmission at 5:38. Well that was impressive. **1/2 I love that Asuka was smiling with joy while destroying Dana the whole way. That is a woman who loves her work.

Nia Jax is STILL not here yet. Jesus, is she walking to Orlando or something? She was “coming soon” at the last Takeover special!

Apollo Crews v. Tyler Breeze

Breeze gets nowhere on offense, and Crews gets a very long delayed suplex for two. Breeze tries a rollup and Crews blocks that, so Breeze dumps him and runs him into the LED board. That’s gotta hurt. Also, those things are EXPENSIVE. Back in, Tyler works on the back and reverses a slam attempt into a Sharpshooter in a nice move, but there’s too much MEATY THIGHS and Crews powers out. Breeze pounds away in the corner, but walks into an enzuigiri and gets knocked silly. He comes back with the superkick for two and goes up, but lands in a powerslam for two. Crews with the gorilla press, but the moonsault hits knee and Breeze cradles for two. He keeps coming with forearms, but Crews puts him down with a big boot and powerbombs him for the pin at 9:40. I kind of feel like they could have ended the winning streak there and people would have bought into it, but this was still really good. ***

Dusty Rhodes Classic Finals: Rhyno & Baron Corbin v. Finn Balor & Samoa Joe

Balor actually starts despite his bad leg, because he’s a MAN, and he still manages to beat on Corbin for a bit before Joe comes in to pick up for him. Joe gets caught in the heel (?) corner and Rhyno gets a belly to belly for two and chokes away on the ropes. Brennan makes a weird comparison about how you’re watching a football game and then you find out later that a guy was playing with a broken leg and how you respect that or something. Uh, no, in fact misrepresenting injuries is quite often against the law, and Manny Pacquiao’s promotional team is currently in the midst of a lawsuit about it. Unless I’m not understanding the point he was going for, which is also likely. Joe fights off Corbin and brings Balor in, and he fires off kicks on Corbin before Rhyno clips the knee again. Well, that was kind of the obvious move. Corbin with a spinning slam for two as the announcers get into argument about something and I feel like I’m watching the Ray Romano/Kermit the Frog/Harold Ramis bit from Family Guy. THEY ALL SOUND EXACTLY THE SAME! Balor fights back with a Sling Blade on Corbin and it’s tags on both sides, as Joe lays waste before walking into the GOAR. Balor breaks it up and DDTs Corbin, but Rhyno knocks him off the apron. He tries another Goar on Joe, but Joe blocks him, hits the Muscle Buster, and the double stomp finishes for the tournament win at 11:15, thus proving once again that TOURNAMENTS ARE AWESOME. I thought this was the weakest of the tournament matches tonight, but still good power wrestling. ***

NXT Women’s title, Iron Man: Bayley v. Sasha Banks

Continuing the dialogue about why Bayley would be the John Cena for little girls on the main roster, the local car wash had their grand opening this weekend and put up a Wacky Waving Inflatable Arm Tube Man in the parking lot, which my 5-year old daughter thought was the GREATEST THING EVER and spent the next two days telling everyone about it. So obviously Bayley knows her demo. On another topic, even though Straight Outta Compton was an awesome movie, I feel like it grossly under-represented the role that Sasha Banks had in the rise of Death Row Records via her cousin Snoop. I mean, they didn’t even MENTION her! Sasha gets some quick rollups on Bayley for two, and Bayley gets her own for two. They trade armbars and battle to a stalemate when they try their finishes, and Sasha backs off. Bayley offers a hug, so Sasha turns on her with a takedown for two. Bayley comes back with a corner clothesline and drops elbows, and they fight to the floor where Bayley gets the advantage. Back in with a bulldog for two. Sasha uses the hottest new finisher in WWE, the THUMB TO THE EYE OF DEATH, and rolls up Bayley to take a 1-0 lead at 8:35. Bayley comes back and pounds away in the corner, but Sasha sets her up for the double knees and misses. Bayley to Belly ties it up at 10:50. Sasha takes a break on the floor, but suckers Bayley into a slam into the stairs, and that gets two in the ring. Back out for more punishment on the stairs, and that gets two. Nice touch with Sasha putting the badmouth on Izzy at ringside for extra marks. Back to the floor and Sasha sends her into the LED clock for the countout at 14:15 to go up 2-1. Bayley makes it back in and Sasha goes to work on the back as the crowd is once again torn on whether Sasha is ratchet or not. Sasha showboats too much, however, and Bayley rolls her up to tie it at 2-2 at 17:40. Sasha keeps going with a double knees attempt, but Bayley blocks it and comes back with a sloppy bulldog for two. Back elbow gets two. She hangs Bayley in the Tree of Woe and drops an elbow for two, but Sasha comes back with her double knees for two. Another try with Bayley in the corner, but Sasha misses the charge and hits the post. So now Bayley goes after the hand in retribution for Brooklyn, running it into the stairs and working on the arm in the ring. Back to the floor and Bayley hits a clothesline off the stairs, but Sasha sends her into them and follows with a dive, which Bayley catches and turns into the Bayley to Belly on the floor! Back in, that gets two. It was awesome and totally safe. Bayley keeps coming with a top rope Bayley to Belly, but Sasha has her foot on the ropes and it only gets two. Back to the top and Bayley does the reverse rana off the top, but Sasha lands on her feet and hits the Bank Statement with time running out. Bayley rolls out, but Sasha goes back to it again with 1:00 left. But Bayley grabs the injured hand to break, reverses her into a double-arm submission while pulling on the injured fingers, and kicks Sasha in the face until she taps with 2 seconds left to win 3-2. Now THAT is some killer instinct! I like the pure emotion of the Brooklyn match better because the big underdog win is always more satisfying than the followup, but this was on the same level. ****3/4

The Pulse

OK, is everyone happy now? Except Dougie, of course.