It’s common knowledge that the NXT Takeover specials outshine WWE PPVs on a regular basis. NXT Takeover: Unstoppable came after the very entertaining Payback (read my review of Payback here). In pure wrestling terms, both events were of a similar nature. Most matches were good, but Payback didn’t contain a match like Sasha Banks vs Becky Lynch. I thought that The New Day vs Tyson Kidd/Cesaro at Payback wouldn’t be matched for a while…well, I was wrong! Banks and Lynch was the WWE Match of the Year thus far (if NXT counts?!?!?). The main event, due to Zayn’s injury, couldn’t top it. But the post-match shenanigans brought the house down…
Tyler Breeze vs Finn Balor
The entrances of both wrestlers were the most impressive aspect of this match. That is not a knock of the match, however. It was a hard worked effort from Breeze and Balor, but the lasting memory will be both entrances. Breeze came out in a catwalk! And many phones, not just his phone, were focused on Breeze. Hilarious, fitting and absurd all in one go! Balor’s entrance was something else. Dressed as a bat creature with spikes coming out of his spine, he prowled down the ramp slowly and deliberately, almost as if he is creeping into the mind of his opponent. His body paint was awesome as well. The crowd chanted ‘That was Awesome!’ after it was over…
As for the match, it was good, but nothing special. I’ve never seen Breeze in a great one on one match. He is the oddity among the NXT main eventers: WWE-trained from the beginning. He doesn’t mesh well with those from the independent scene. His matches are always watchable, don’t get me wrong. But apart from the entrances, the only memorable moment of the match as Balor’s leap on Breeze from the entrance ramp. From that point on, the ending was a foregone conclusion. Balor is once again the number one contender for the NXT Championship. It’s obvious that Itami was being built up for the win, but his injury meant a change in plans. Owens vs Balor II? I’m up for that!
VERDICT: 7/10. A good match to kick off the PPV, like the opposing Ziggler vs Sheamus match at Payback.
Emma and Dana Brooke vs Charlotte and Bayley
A decent tag team match, but seemed out of place on NXT Takeover. What was at stake? Why not one on one matches between Charlotte/Brooke and Bayley/Emma? It looked like a basic weekly NXT tag team match. Brooke’s time in the ring was thankfully limited. Charlotte and Bayley looked impressive, as ever. Emma took a step up, and actually looked aggressive against Bayley. Considering her character, the aggression has been a long time coming! Charlotte pinned Emma, which doesn’t really add to the storylines involved in the match. If Bayley pinned Emma or vice versa, it would progress their feud. If Charlotte pinned Brooke, or vice versa, it would do likewise. But Charlotte pinning Emma? What does that do for anyone?
WINNERS: Charlotte and Bayley
VERDICT: 5/10. Average tag team fare. Charlotte and Bayley tried their best, and Emma showed some potential. But Brooke is awful in the ring. God help Charlotte when she faces Brooke one on one…
Rhyno vs Baron Corbin
Rhyno’s past it, and Baron Corbin is still as green as grass. There was no appeal in this match for me at all, kind of like Bray Wyatt vs Ryback. The latter match was a pleasant surprise. The surprise in Rhyno vs Baron Corbin was that it wasn’t terrible. That’s pretty much all to say about it! Baron Corbin defeated Rhyno after the End of Days. The right call to make, no matter how much I dislike Corbin. He needed to defeat Rhyno. But I don’t look forward to their rematch, if they have one…
WINNER: Baron Corbin
VERDICT: 5/10. Another average match. Not terrible by any means. Rhyno can still drag a decent match out of a lesser opponent. Maybe I’ve been too harsh on him…
Enzo Amore and Big Cassady vs Blake and Murphy (c)-NXT Tag Team Championship
Which one is Blake? Which one is Murphy? The one with two ponytails is…errr…Murphy? I imagine they met in a plot similar to Dostoevsky’s The Double. Blake saw Murphy, a doppelganger, and followed him…but instead of the depressing ending, the two lookalikes decided to team up together. They haven’t set the tag team scene in NXT alight since they won the titles. Call them Bland and Bland Inc instead. Amore and Cassady, on the other hand, aren’t brilliant in the ring, but are on the mike (well, Amore is!). The two teams constructed an above average match, centred on the Blake and Murphy beatdown on Amore. They beat him down for so long that the tag to Cassady, when it came, was red hot. He cleared house with the greatest of ease. However, just as he was on a roll, he tagged in the battered Amore to execute their double team finishing move. Cassady had to pull Amore on to the top rope. Why not just win the match without Amore’s help? Anyway, that point was made moot when Alexa Bliss interfered and took out Carmella. She then pulled Amore off the top rope. After a weak looking fall, Blake/Murphy pin Amore. Apart from the weak looking ending, the match was pretty good.
WINNERS: Blake and Murphy
VERDICT: 7/10. The interference killed the ending, but up to that point it was a well-worked, heated match.
Sasha Banks (c) vs Becky Lynch-NXT Women’s Championship
Wow. Just…wow! The women did it again and put the men to shame. How do they keep bettering themselves?!?!?! Full of top-notch psychology and flawless (almost) execution, the match was a cracker from start to finish. Banks’ focus on Lynch’s arm was the perfect plan to garner heel heat, but of course, it didn’t work. The crowd loved both of the women, regardless of face/heel distinction. The middle part of the match was a mat-based game, with Banks grinding Lynch (and her arm) down. It came after Banks yanked Lynch down onto the ring apron and reversing a kick. Lynch hit front-first with impact. It looked brutal. Banks took control after that. At times, it was actually hard to watch, in particular an arm wrench and stomp (reminiscent of Daniel Bryan’s submission repertoire). Lynch rolled out of an arm lock and hit a massive back drop to start a comeback, but it was quickly cut off. However, in the final five minutes of the match, Lynch fired off suplexes left and right. But, as she sat perched on the top rope, Banks grabbed her and fell backwards, striking Lynch’s bad arm with her knees. With the Bank Statement locked in, Lynch had no choice but to tap out. Banks was applauded for her victory, but Lynch also got a standing ovation. What a match. What a match!
WINNER: Sasha Banks
VERDICT: 9/10. Match of the Year candidate without a doubt. Watch it! Now!
Kevin Owens (c) vs Sami Zayn-NXT Championship
The rematch we were all waiting for! Their first match portrayed Zayn as out of Owens’ league. Zayn had come up against a brick wall. Zayn’s thirst for vengeance had defeated him. His anger had only heightened here…but it worked, for most of the match. Knowing that Zayn was legitimately injured made me wonder what the two could do in the match. And while it couldn’t match the previous women’s match, it was still an enthralling brawl. Zayn dominated the match, much like Owens dominated their previous encounter. The action spilled out onto the outside, and even into the crowd. We’ve never seen Owens take a one-sided beating like the one doled out by Zayn. Half nelson suplexes, Blue Thunder Bombs, Exploder suplexes…Owens took a battering. However, it was to be over all too soon. Zayn hit an Exploder Suplex on the outside, and set up for the Helluva Kick as Owens lay against the ring steps. But in the midst of his run, Zayn was caught with Owen’s Pop-Up Powerbomb…onto the ring apron! It’s painful to watch! That took Zayn out of the match. There was confusion about the end of the match as referees came down to stop Owens further beating up Zayn. Had Owens won by stoppage? No bell was rung to end the match.
WINNER: Kevin Owens?!?!?
VERDICT: 7/10. Zayn was working injured, but to his credit, he put on a show. A short but sweet match. But it was all about the post-match shenanigans…
Owens threw Zayn into the ring to finish what he started. Regal came down to stop Owens, only for Owens to butt him. Owens picked up a steel chair, and entrance music hits…SAMOA JOE! I imagine thousands of ROH/TNA fans fell out of their chairs at that moment. I sure did! Samoa Joe, not Umaga Jr. or Filipino Philip! An wrestler entering WWE with his proper wrestling name? A happening unknown since CM Punk! After almost coming to blows, Owens left the ring. He came back after a few minutes, but retreated again.
WWE have hit a home run with Samoa Joe. He was one of the wrestlers that defined early TNA. He defined ROH. He lost his motivation in his last years at TNA, becoming out of shape and lethargic in the ring. But he looked in good condition at Unstoppable. And Owens vs Joe will be THE spectacle over the summer. Forget about Summerslam!
OVERALL VERDICT: 7/10. An NXT Special that once again proved that women can wrestle even better than the men. Along with Mad Max: Fury Road, Lynch vs Banks should be a crowding point for feminism! Banks and Lynch put on the match of the night, and maybe the match of the year. The men struggled to keep up! Most matches, apart from the Women’s Tag Team match, carried storylines along very well. The main event, whilst short and hindered by Zayn’s injury, still had much to enjoy. And the arrival of Samoa Joe has shaken things up in NXT by a factor of x!