Here is my very belated review of NXT Takeover: London! Blame the festive season…or just my laziness! As an inhabitant of England, I am truly upset that I did not get to see NXT on their tour of the U.K. Maybe next time, NXT! Also, I apologise for my lack of NXT reviews in general…blame that on laziness as well!
Asuka vs Emma
Match of the night? Quite possibly! Asuka and Emma were given plenty of time to construct of twisting, turning match that brought out the best in both women. They looked as good as each other. Emma pulled out all the stops, matching submission for submission and executing some brutal moves of her own, such as the double underhook duplex on Asuka into the corner! However, Asuka’s moveset will always steal the show. She added the Ankle Lock and a running hip bump off the apron to her ever-expanding repertoire. Although we all assumed Asuka would win the bout, we were in doubt throughout the match. However, even after interference from Dana Brooke, Asuka defeated Emma! Asuka’s best match to date, and one of Emma’s, too.
VERDICT: 8/10: Asuka looks better every time we see her in the ring, and Emma is always reliable. The match started off ‘Takeover’ to a grand start.
Dash and Dawson (c) vs Amore and Cassady (NXT Tag Team Championship)
After the heights of the women’s singles match, proceedings took a turn for the merely above-average with this tag team match. There just seemed to be no chemistry between the teams. Cassady’s knee injury came in to play infrequently during the match, which was something that brought me out of the match. Amore and Cassady simply aren’t as entertaining in the ring as they are out of it, or on the mike. As usual, Dash and Dawson dominated the match, which meant a lot of ground and pound action. It’s not in itself a bad thing, but I feel like I’m watching the same match over and over again with the tag team champs! There were a few good spots in the match, like Cassady chucking Amore over the top rope onto the tag team champs, and the hot tag to Cassady that was cut down almost immediately. And, of course, the end, which saw the tag team champs execute the Shatter Machine on Amore from the top rope! Easily the best part of the night!
WINNERS: Dash and Dawson
VERDICT: 6/10: Above average stuff from two decent tag teams, but nothing we haven’t see before.
Baron Corbin vs Apollo Crews
Corbin had his greatest singles match against Samoa Joe at NXT Takeover: Brooklyn. Here, however, he had one of his worse non-squash matches. The limitations of both Corbin and Crews were obvious throughout the bout. Corbin needs to be carried, and Crews needs guidance. Together, they didn’t really know how to construct a match. Not only that, but they started off the match with a tie up. A tie up? These guys have been attacking each other for weeks! Surely they’d start off the match with a brawl? There were botches dotted throughout (that brought on a great ‘Botchamania’ chant!), and the two wrestlers failed to produce much excitement. I was shocked by Corbin’s victory, but both men needed a victory tonight. We’ll see where Corbin goes after this victory…
WINNER: Baron Corbin
VERDICT: 3/10. Poor effort from both wrestlers. Crews’ worst match since joining NXT, and one of Corbin’s, too.
Bayley (c) vs Nia Jax (NXT Women’s Championship Match)
This match was a true test of Bayley’s abilities as champion; how would she fare carrying the very green Nia Jax to a respectable match? Bayley tried her best with Eva Marie, but the match descended into a joke. Nia Jax has shown little promise as she as run roughshod over her opponents. However, Bayley passed the test. She carried Jax to a very good match, with a simple story: Nia Jax battered Bayley, and Bayley would not stay down. It’s a wrestling story as old as time, but when it’s done well, it works like a treat. True, there wasn’t much to the match in the second half, which consisted of Nia Jax repeating moves two or three times, but the drama and the heat were palpable. Bayley would just not stay down for the three count! There were times I thought that Bayley would be defeated. It was a tense ten minutes or so as Nia Jax unleashed all of her finishing moves on Bayley, but Bayley kept on kicking out. Bayley used a simple sleeper hold to eventually make Jax tap out. I’m not sure whether making Jax tap out was a good idea or not: she’s been built as an unstoppable machine, but taps out to a sleeper hold? Maybe or roll-up or a quick pin could have saved Jax’s aura? However, Jax could not have won the championship. Like Eva Marie, she needs to stay away from it as far as possible!
VERDICT: 7/10: It’s easy to have a great match with someone like Sasha Banks, but Bayley passed the test as she carried Nia Jax to a fine effort!
Finn Balor (c) vs Samoa Joe (NXT Championship)
I feared that this match would copy the story of the women’s title match: Joe would batter Balor, but Finn wouldn’t stay down. However, it was more equal in terms of offence than I thought it would be. We were never going to receive anything less than a thrilling bout from these two brilliant wrestlers, and although they didn’t serve up a classic, they gave us a very good match. It just lacked something to elevate it to classic status, but I couldn’t put my finger on what exactly it lacked. After the match, trainers came to look at Balor, in an indication of a real injury. Maybe that explains why the match didn’t live up to the hype? No one could say that Joe and Balor didn’t tried their very best, and gave us a back and forth match full of great psychology and hard-hitting action. Neither gained the upper hand for more than a few minutes; Balor overcame the weight difference with his kicks and high-flying moves. But out of all the ‘Takeover’ main events this year, I think this one was the weakest. And that’s not to say I didn’t enjoy it: for the most part, I thoroughly enjoyed it. But like I said, it just lacked something…
WINNER: Finn Balor
VERDICT: 8/10: A strong match, equal to the quality of the opening women’s bout, that lacked a certain something to push it something greater.
OVERALL VERDICT: 6/10. The most disappointing ‘Takeover’ event of 2015. The English crowd loved everything (apart from Baron Corbin!), but the event sagged badly in the middle after an impressive opening bout. However, it was brought back to life by Bayley, and the very good main event (that lacked something to make it a classic). Are we seeing the first signs of weakness in NXT? I sincerely hope not!
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(Click here for my review of NXT Episode 309)