NXT Takeover events have been consistently good, and this card promises to be no different. All three NXT titles will be defended, we have the debut of Ember Moon to look forward to, and two more matches which promise to be great.
Pre-show was the usual mix of terrible puns and incredible video packages. It wasn’t awful but apart from a brief interview with Billie Kay, I’m not sure what it added to the overall show.
Austin Aries defeated No Way Jose
Bobby Roode defeated Andrade Cien Almas
Ember Moon defeated Bille Kay
Bobby Roode defeated Andrade ‘Cien’ Almas
The Revival defeated Johnny Gargano and Tommaso Ciampa to retain the NXT Tag Team Championship
Asuka defeated Bayley to retain the NXT Women’s Championship
Shinsuke Nakamura defeated Samoa Joe to become the new NXT Champion
Austin Aries vs No Way Jose
No Way Jose made his entrance with a conga line of fans. His high energy vibe was perfect to get the crowd (who had already been treated to two dark matches) ready for the main show. The feud with Aries has allowed a bit more depth into Jose’s character, bringing out the darker, more aggressive side to balance his ‘life and soul of the party’ persona.
Aries backed off from Jose in the early part of the match, echoing his cowardly reaction to being attacked by No Way Jose a few weeks ago. No Way Jose slapped his face after shaking hands a few minutes in. The crowd initially didn’t seem to realise they’re not supposed to be cheering for Aries, despite his many attempts to play the cowardly, despicable heel. Early on this characterised the match with Jose chasing a retreating Aries. Once Aries got the upper hand, by jumping from the top rope and dragging Jose neck first onto the ropes that changed. Aries began displaying a vicious streak, rather than the technical skills he’s associated with.
No Way Jose broke Aries Last Chancery submission by getting to the ropes. Aries kicked out of No Way Jose’s TKO. And so it went. This match was back and forth in the best way, no-one had the upper hand for too long. Despite being the smaller man, something Aries is well used to, they traded blows fairly evenly throughout. No Way Jose appeared to be bleeding from the mouth from something.
Eventually, as No Way Jose was looking for a suplex from the top rope, Aries hit the Sunset flip, into the Last Chancery, and Austin Aries is the first winner of the night.
Really high-energy start to the night and in typical NXT style everyone looked good *** ½ (because I need somewhere to go up from here).
Post-match Aries again attacked No Way Jose and put him into the Last Chancery. Hideo Itami’s music hit and Itami appeared, in a suit and white slip on shoes. He removed his suit Jacket, was attacked by Aries, then retaliated with a series of chops and kicks, before the hitting the GTS. Aries vs Itami going forward I guess.
Ember Moon vs Billie Kay
The most anticipated women’s debut ever on NXT as far as I can remember (I’m not sure even Asuka got this build). ‘Freaky red contacts’ was my first impression.
I’m pleased they debuted her with a match rather than an interview. She certainly makes her point well enough in the ring. Billie Kay has been built strong in the last few weeks so, while she is still a relative newbie, beating her should mean something. And it was no squash match. Both these women are strong and athletic. Billie Kay has decent skills but Ember Moon is different class and she had an answer for everything Billie Kay threw at her. We’re not talking about ‘women’s wrestling’ anymore just women wrestling. Ember Moon is clearly the superior technician, and no-one was going to spoil her debut.
It wasn’t a long match, but that’s ok. Ember Moon picked up the win, as expected, with a vicious looking top rope stunner finisher – it was called the O face previously, but not sure if that is the plan as it wasn’t named by commentary. ***
Bobby Roode vs Andrade ‘Cien’ Almas
Not going to lie, my favourite thing about Bobby Roode is his theme tune. The ‘descending on a platform in his dressing gown entrance is weird but fits quite nicely with his delusions of grandeur gimmick.
The crowd love Bobby Roode (which I’m pretty sure isn’t part of the plan). Almas is awesomely talented, and the crowd don’t care. After some initial 50-50 and a lot of posturing from Roode, Almas took control ran rings around Roode for a while, displaying his luchador background, and even got the crowd engaged with his antics for a moment. Roode got the upper hand by bouncing off the ropes, while Almas was up top, dislodging him.
Roode’s style is more power and submission based and this set the next part of the match. Roode kept control of Almas, not giving him a chance to take to the air. Almas had a brief resurgence after he kicked Roode out of the ring and followed him with a beautiful springboard corkscrew dive.
There was a period of back and forth, and it looked like Almas might have Roode beaten
Bobby Roode hit Almas with a spinebuster, and got the pin by following up with the Glorious Bomb.
I enjoyed the match, but I’m disappointed with the continuing lack of appreciation for Almas. I’m not sure this was the greatest match to showcase either of them. Their styles are so different that it was, at times, like watching two different matches depending on who had the upper hand ***1/2
The Revival (Scott Dawson and Dash Wilder) (C) vs Johnny Gargano and Tommaso Ciampa
NXT Tag Team Championship match
Gargano and Ciampa announced their tag team name before the match. They will apparently now be known as DIY.
This was non-stop action from the first second, you’d need at least two pair of eyes to catch everything. These are just a few of the highlights.
Lock ups submissions and reversals from Dawson and Ciampa to start the match, before Dawson took a break outside the ring, then straight back for more of the same. They each had an answer for every move the other tried. Gargano tagged in and hit double knees into the corner before pulling Dawson into a clothesline from Ciampa. Dawson tagged in Dash Wilder who was dominated by Johnny Gargano for a while before tagging Dawson. He gained the upper hand and The Revival beat on Gargano for a while.
It all broke down briefly Gargano and Ciampa set Wilder up for their finisher but Dawson pulled him out of the ring. Gargano and Ciampa then took out a Revival member each, outside the ring.
The Revival had a long period of dominance over Ciampa, with frequent tags and double teams. They cut the ring in half perfectly to prevent Ciampa making a tag and Dawson pulled Gargano off the apron to stop the tag when he got close.
Ciampa’s tag was missed by the ref, due to a distraction from Wilder. Ciampa kicked out of the Revival’s double team effort.
Wilder hung himself crotch first over the second tope trying to interfere and Ciampa made the tag to Gargano, who came in with the expected vigour. Dawson kicked out of several pin attempts, and the spear from Gargano.
Everyone kicked out of everything the other team had, repeatedly, in an awesome display of skill, speed and teamwork from both sides.
Dawson and Ciampa traded blows in the centre of the ring
Gargano and Ciampa delivered their kick/knee to the head finisher to Wilder, but he got his foot on the rope. Dawson pulled Ciampa out of the ring and threw him into the post to take him out of the equation.
Wilder did the first bit of damage to Gargano’s knee with a tackle, before they followed up with a double team, Dash Wilder jumping from the ropes onto the same knee. Dawson put the reverse figure four on Gargano and he had to tap out. ****3/4
Post-match Ciampa helped Gargano out of the ring as he apologised. Ciampa didn’t look happy so I don’t anticipate this tag team will last too long. Shame because they’re brilliant together.
This match stole the show for me. Nothing else to add.
Asuka (C) vs Bayley
NXT Women’s Championship match
Normal happy, smiley Bayley entered the ring, right until Asuka’s music hit, then new business bayley appeared. She looked apprehensive as the champ made her entrance, full of her usual easy confidence but as the introductions were made she relaxed. The initial square up left no doubt, both were here to fight.
Bayley took a knee to the face as she jumped from the second rope and took a break on the outside while Asuka smiled in the ring.
Frustration crept in for Bayley’s as her series of slams of Asuka’s head into the turnbuckle was countered by a single retaliation from Asuka, flooring her.
Asuka landed some of her vicious looking kicks, laying Bayley flat for a few moments. More heads off the turnbuckle followed, Asuka to Bayley first, then reversed. Asuka missed with the hip attack and Bayley dropped her across the middle rope before hitting her with a cross body from the corner.
Bayley missed with a second cross body, got caught with a kick to the head, but kicked out of the pin.
Bayley managed to hang Asuka upside down in the corner and dropped an elbow which led to another failed pin.
An exchange of blows and submissions as each tried to get the better of the other. Bayley was in the ankle lock for a long time before she managed to turn and kick her way out.
A series of kicks to the head and body, reminiscent of the way Asuka finished Nia Jax, only seemed to fire Bayley up and they went blow for blow for a while.
Asuka got Bayley in the Asuka lock and it looked like history might repeat itself, but Bayley powered out and hit the Bayley to belly only for Asuka to kick out. Second attempt Bayley powered out again and countered to another pin attempt. Bayley took a kick to the head, stood up and slapped Asuka, but the second and third kicks were too much. Asuka pinned her and retained the NXT Women’s Championship. ****
Post-match Asuka helped Bayley to her feet and they hugged before Bayley dropped to her knees until the champ had exited. The crowd gave Bayley a huge ovation and thank you Bayley chants. Hugs from Bayley for Sasha Banks, Becky Lynch, Charlotte, her mum and Izzy. I guess Bayley is finally on her way to the main roster.
Samoa Joe (C) vs Shinsuke Nakamura
NXT Championship match
Nakamura’s entrance was accompanied by a violinist, it was quirky, kind of cool, very theatrical – very Shinsuke Nakamura. In contrast Samoa Joe just did his usual entrance, no messing, no hype, just Samoa Joe.
They started to go for each other pre-introductions but calmed enough for the match to start.
Slow-ish start with them testing each other’s strength and trading holds and strikes. They really sold the not liking each other aspect of the story early on. Samoa Joe looked like he’d like to knock Nakamura’s head off for real – but in fairness Joe always looks grumpy.
Samoa Joe exited the ring following a Good Vibrations in the corner and pulled Nakamura out to join him and they traded blows outside for a while before Joe threw Nakamura back in to beat the double count out. Period of dominance for Samoa Joe after Nakamura missed with the knee to the back off the apron and collapsed outside holding his knee Samoa Joe’s suicide dive knocked him back as he struggled to his feet.
Submission attempt from Joe only broken by Nakamura getting his foot on the rope but it was a temporary reprieve. Nakamura powered out of the second attempt and got a couple of knee strikes in before Joe powerbombed him and went back to submissions, ending in a crossface.
Nakamura went for the inverted exploder, after delivering double knees to the gut with Samoa Joe strung up in the corner, but couldn’t do it. Joe hit an inverted atomic drop, then missed with a back drop. A big kick from the second rope dropped the champ for a moment, they traded blows again before Nakamura was felled by a big lariat from Joe.
Nakamura attempted an arm-breaker but Joe locked his hands to prevent it. He then tried for the triangle but couldn’t lock it in. Joe reversed into a clover leaf but Nakamura got to the ropes Samoa Joe tried for Coquina clutch but Nakamura got out Joe kicked him in the head and covered him but Nakamura kicked out. Joe reapplied the Coquina clutch, but Nakamura made it to the ropes.
German suplex from Nakamura was followed by a powerslam from Samoa Joe, when Nakamura was going for the Kinshasa, Joe hit the muscle buster but Nakamura kicked out.
Samoa Joe kicked out of the Kinshasa (and now everyone’s finishers are meaningless). A big knee to the back of the neck and a second Kinshasa finally finished Samoa Joe, and a brutal, hard-hitting, big-kicking title match. Nakamura pinned him to become the new NXT Champion. ****
There wasn’t a bad match on this card. Roode vs Almas was, for me, a little disappointing, purely because I didn’t feel their styles made meshed well enough to give the match a decent flow. The tag team match was just brilliant. Both singles titles matched lived up to expectations and, although I would have liked a happy ending for Bayley, there really was nothing to complain about.