Three months ago, I gave rave reviews to NXT: Arrival, the first NXT special that had been aired. On Thursday night, NXT showed Arrival was no fluke as Takeover was a must-watch show.
Just like Arrival, Takeover was built around three big matches: Tyler Breeze vs. Sami Zayn in a No. 1 contender match, Charlotte vs. Natalya for the NXT Women's title, and Adrian Neville vs. Tyson Kidd for the NXT Title. And all three matches lived up to their billing.
It's interesting to see how NXT built this show, as opposed to a traditional WWE pay-per-view. With the exception of Adam Rose vs. Camacho, none of the matches were really built on storylines. Kidd won a No. 1 contender match two weeks ago to get his title shot, and there hadn't been much build between the two. The women's title was the finals of a tournament after Paige vacated the belt. Breeze and Zayn was the result of the two of them losing the No. 1 contenders match to Kidd. Even The Ascension vs. Team Lucha was just a random challenge from a couple of weeks ago.
But despite, or maybe because of, the lack of feuds or major backstories to the matches, they all just seemed to work for the show.
On a conference call earlier this week, Triple H said that he thought that these special shows would continue on a quarterly basis. I think this is a good idea to not let get it stale, while also allowing stories to play out on the weekly show. Many people, myself included, have said that NXT feels like a bit of an old-school show, and keeping the “pay-per-views” to just four times a year really helps with that feeling.
Unlike Arrival, where it was Zayn and Cesaro -- two wrestlers who had fought each other for years on the indy scene -- who shined, the two who impressed the most may have been Tyler Breeze and Charlotte, both of whom have been more or less homegrown by the WWE. Although both, particularly Breeze, have been putting on shows for the past few months on NXT, seeing them succeed on this big stage is a big step forward in both of their careers.
All in all, it was a great show that truly highlighted the talent that the WWE has coming through their system right now, and highlighted.
If you didn't watch the show, here's what you missed:
** WWE has done a great job at both major NXT shows of making them a big deal. One of the things that I like is that on both shows, a large majority of the wrestlers debuted new music. Except for the main roster guys (and girls), nearly every person got new music on the show Thursday night. Tyler Breeze's in particular is fantastic.
** Adrian Neville beat Tyson Kidd to retain his title. For years, we have been hearing about how good Kidd would be if given time, and he's been showing it in NXT over the past couple months. The match featured some huge spots, including Adrian Neville flipping out of a powerbomb attempt from the top rope, and then catching Kidd with a powerbomb of his own. At one point Kidd looked to have the match won as he put Neville in the Dungeon Lock, a submission you rarely see. However, Neville finally hit the Red Arrow for the win.
** Charlotte beat Natalya for the NXT Women's title. Charlotte had Ric Flair in her corner, and Natalya had Bret Hart in her's. Halfway in, the match started to go through exchanges of the Sharpshooter and the Figure Four. One part, which was the one negative of the match in my mind, was when Charlotte had the Figure Four on Natalya, and after rolling a few times, it didn't seem like they knew exactly who was supposed to have the advantage. Eventually Charlotte won with her finisher. Natalya congratulated her after the match, and Ric looked like he was absolutely overcome with emotion. Really strong match with a pretty special moment at the end.
** Rusev squashed Mojo Rawley, after Mojo came out waving the U.S. flag to defend the country.
** Sami Zayn and Tyler Breeze had a match that, while it didn't quite match up to Zayn/Cesaro from Arrival, still was an unbelievable match. The match started out a little bit slow, but it picked up when Sami performed an unreal move when backflip to the outside, and caught Tyler Breeze for a reverse DDT on the way down. There were a few more really nice spots throughout the match, which finally ended when Zayn missed a Helluva Kick and Tyler hit him with the Beauty Shot to become the No. 1 contender. It will be interesting to see where they go with Sami after this, after he's come so close to the title so many times without claiming it.
** The Ascension defended their titles successfully against Team Lucha (Kallisto and El Local, the former Ricardo Rodriguez). The Ascension continues to run over the NXT tag scene, and quite frankly, they're running out of teams to send at them.
** Adam Rose beat Camacho to presumably end their feud. I was actually fairly impressed with Camacho in this match, more than I have been in the past. I could see him going somewhere once he gets the stink of simply being Hunico's henchman off of him.