The latest NXT special is in the books, and like all the previous specials, it was pretty damn good, especially the second hour.
Before reviewing the whole show, I have to comment on how remarkable NXT is. Three years ago no one would have believed that Kevin Steen, El Generico, and Samoa Joe would have main evented a WWE produced event. NXT is a super-indy, with many of the best acts from the various independent promotions from the past several years now under its banner. HHH, for all his supposed hatred of internet wrestling fans, as gone and created an internet wrestling fans wet dream. I want to write more about this soon, but for now, I’ll stick to reviewing the show.
Number 1 Contenders Match: Tyler Breeze vs. Finn Balor. This match missed Hideo Itami. Breeze and Balor went out at had a good match, but the addition of Itami would have really cranked the intensity up a notch. Plus, I want to see what he would have done for an entrance. Both Balor and Breeze had Wrestlemania-style entrances, which increases it’s rating a bit for me. The weakest part of the match was Balor diving off the big screen. It just felt too contrived, one of those things designed to be shown on highlight reels instead of contributing to the match. The set up to the dive was awkward, but the rest of the match was really good, so this gets a solid ***
Bayley/Charolette vs. Emma/Dana Brooke. This was probably the worst women’s match on one of these NXT Takeover specials. And you have to blame the newcomer Brooke. She’s still very green, but to be fair, the others didn’t always seem on the same page either. Completely skippable *1/2
Baron Corbin vs. Rhyno. This should have been a hardcore match or something. This was another fine, unremarkable mach where nothing really stood out. They didn’t do anything wrong, but there wasn’t much to get excited about either. **
NXT Tag Title Match: Blake and Murphy (c) vs. Enzo and Big Cass. This match was a bit better then the others. Blake and Murphy do nothing for me, but Enzo and Big Cass I like. Enzo played face-in-peril very well, Big Cass cleaned house, then they had an incredibly stupid ending. But with the addition of Alexa Bliss to the feud, we’ll surely have a few more matches, and I’m willing to bet they can do better. **1/2
NXT Women’s Title Match: Sasha Banks (c) vs. Becky Lynch. People predicted this match to be awesome. And it was awesome. Really, really, really good match here. There was some really aggressive work on the arms, with nearly everything playing into the two women attacking each others arms and shoulders. This match is hard to rate. There was a bit at the end where Sasha did a dive and Becky tried to catch her that looked bad, and Becky tried to cover for it. It just didn’t work and didn’t really fit into the rest of the match. Everything else was great though. Sasha Banks makes every movement before, during, and after the match work for her. I feel like I might need to review this match again later, but for now, ****1/2
NXT Title Match: Kevin Owens (c) vs. Sami Zayn. Someday I’m going to gather all of the videos and gifs and photos of Kevin Owns being an awesome father. Until then though, there was this match. I couldn’t help but be a little disappointed in it. Like their first match, this was more about story then wrestling. This time it was Zayn who dominated, keeping Owens off balance until Owens countered with a pop-up powerbomb on the ring apron. Owens then proceeded to absolutely destroy Zayn until SAMOA FUCKING JOE came to the rescue. Samoa Joe! They let him keep his name and are selling Samoa Joe t-shirts! And they’re sold out of said shirts! The match was fine, but the match was largely irrelevant. It was about the story, writing Zayn out of TV for a bit, and Samoa Freakin’ Joe! ***
The difference between this and Payback are remarkable. Technically, Payback was a good show, but in the end, no one was talking about it, because it was unimportant. WWE throws so many PPV specials out there (another topic for another time), it’s no surprise they can’t make every one of them actually special. But NXT is able to take each show and deliver some great matches and huge moments.