It wasn’t the end of NXT, just the end of the beginning…whatever that meant (and also the end of the epic Joe/Balor feud!)!
Tye Dillinger vs Andrade ‘Cien’ Almas
Will Tye Dillinger always be fated to lose to debutants on NXT? He’s worth so much more than that! He’s proficient in the ring. His gimmick has clicked with the masses. He has ‘the look.’ What more does he need to become a top star in NXT? However, he seems comfortable with his place and always makes the debutant look special. Well, Andrade Almas didn’t need anyone to make him look special. From his first match, he looks like he’ll be a great component of NXT. His lucha libre style is perfect for NXT and the NXT crowd. I feared they would boo him and cheer Dillinger at first, but Almas soon gained favour with the crowd. Landing on his feet after a second rope moonsault and doing another moonsault was brilliant! One of the spots of the show was on display here, when Almas did a top rope headstand and Dillinger hit him with a superkick. Of course, Almas was always going to win, but that move made me think otherwise. Almas’ double knee finisher looks brutal. A short match that could have done with another five minutes, but a very good opener nonetheless.
WINNER: Andrade ‘Cien’ Almas
VERDICT: 7/10. Could have done with an extra five minutes, but as an opener it was almost perfect. Introduced us to a great lucha libre wrestler and confirmed that Dillinger deserves better!
American Alpha (c) vs The Revival (NXT Tag Team Championship Match)
Match of the show? Yes! Tag team match of the year so far? Yes! This was tag team wrestling at its finest, pitting the wrestling duo of American Alpha against the rough and ready duo of The Revival. Their styles complement each other very well. Right from the beginning, there was a healthy pace to the match. An early sequence that culminated in a double Ankle Lock on The Revival by American Alpha was worthy of a standing ovation. Of course, it wouldn’t be an Alpha match without Gable being beaten down before giving the hot tag to Jordan, but this deviated from the typical Alpha match (which is entertaining enough anyway!). In another spot of the show, Dash had Gable into a held powerbomb position so that Dawson could leap off the top rope onto Gable (the spot they botched at Dallas). However, Gable caught Dawson and turned it into a belly to belly suplex! So much could have gone wrong with that spot, but it looked beautiful. The finish was shocking, as I didn’t expect Alpha to lose the titles so soon. Does a main roster call beckon?
WINNERS: (and new NXT Tag Team Champions) The Revival
VERDICT: 9/10 Tag team match of the year so far! Just an awesome match, replete with great spots and intense drama.
Shinsuke Nakamura vs Austin Aries
Disappointment of the night? Every time Nakamura wrestles, I am expected something of the calibre of his debut against Sami Zayn. That’s my fault, of course. It was a very good match. Aries looked the best he has since he debuted at Dallas. However, the match was all about Nakamura, even though Aries dominated most of the match in a heelish manner (is he preparing for a turn?). Was Aries legitimately injured? Even though he looked good, he seemed hesitant and nervous at times. The crowd were having none of Aries. It’s all about Nakamura to them. He’s has STAR written all over him. Every move he executes has the crowd going crazy. Aries managed to get a cheer after a bonecrunching Death Valley Driver on the apron towards the end of the match. Yet another spot of the show! However, even though both wrestlers worked hard and brutalized each other, after the end of the match I felt short-changed. I expected something unbelievable, but what I got was merely very good.
WINNER: Shinsuke Nakamura
VERDICT: 7/10. I hovered between 7 and 8, but towards the middle of the bout I was getting fidgety. This dream match didn’t turn out to be a dream match. Well worth watching, but nothing special.
Asuka (c) vs Nia Jax (NXT Women’s Championship)
What a weird and disjointed match! It was all about Nia Jax looking dominant, hurling and slamming the as yet-invincible Asuka around the ring. Jax looked better than ever, simply putting Asuka down time after time. They even repeated the same spot we saw at the contract signing, where Asuka tries a roundhouse but Jax grabs her legs and lifts her into a powerbomb. No doubt it was a decent match, but I think Bayley carried Nia Jax to better ones (even though Jax looked her best here). Maybe Asuka isn’t as great as we thought she was? Naaa, that can’t be true! Her kicks looks legitimately painful, especially one to the side of the head at the end of the bout. The match reminded me of Asuka’s match against Bayley; entertaining, but very disjointed. There was no rhythm to anything! However, Asuka won…will we see the rematch between her and Bayley next? Who else is there to face Asuka?
VERDICT: 7/10. A peculiar match that lacked any flow. Jax looked great, and Asuka played the valiant babyface well. But like the match before, my concentration kept wandering…
Samoa Joe (c) vs Finn Balor (NXT Championship Cage Match)
Is it just me, or have these three matches between Samoa Joe and Finn Balor never reached high expectations? Each one has been on the verge of greatness, but something has been absent in each one. This was the most stunted of the three matches, due to the limitations of the cage match. Still, it represents the end of a feud, and it felt like a fitting climax to their epic feud. It’s not a match I’d hurry to rewatch, but it capped the night off rather well. I just don’t really know what to say about the match! It ticked all the boxes, but never did anything more than that. However, the finish was perfect. Joe executed the Muscle Buster from the second rope inside the cage for the pinfall victory! It felt like the right way for the Demon version of Balor to lose. And it looked devastating. So, both wrestlers will move on. How long will it be before Balor goes to the main roster? And is Joe going to face Nakamura the title? We shall see…
WINNER: Samoa Joe
VERDICT: 8/10. A solid match, but once again Joe and Balor fail to blow our tiny minds. Maybe they just don’t gel well together? However, they made the most of the cage setting (especially with the stunning finish).
OVERALL VERDICT: 7/10. The tag team match of a contender for match of the year, but everything else fell slightly under expectations. Nakamura and Aries only produced a very good match. The women’s match was disjointed. Balor and Joe tried hard, but only produced a solid main event. One of the most underwhelming NXT Takeovers yet? Quite possibly, but that means it was still pretty good!
Leave your thoughts/comments below!
Click here for my recap of WWE NXT Episode 332-337