Location: Barclays Center. Brooklyn, New York
Commentators: Corey Graves, Byron Saxton and Rich Brennan
Tyler got a special catwalk entrance similar to the last Takeover. The main difference this time was that the models were dressed as goofy versions of New York landmarks. I preferred the previous version. Although Liger didn’t get the borderline racist stock oriental music that I was half expecting, he also didn’t get his true entrance music either. I’ll mark that as neutral.
This was a really solid opener. Liger is in his 50’s at this point and anyone aware of that fact wouldn’t expect a cruiserweight style classic. However, the veteran definitely showed that he still has plenty in the tank for big shows like this. The pace was kept brisk at the start, with Jushin beginning as the proverbial “house of fire”, much to the approval of the 13,000-strong crowd. Breeze was allowed to look good once he gained the advantage too though, grounding the WCW and NJPW veteran for an extended period, while never letting the match slow down to a completely uninteresting crawl.
Perhaps the most eye-catching aspect of this match was the chosen victor. Personally, I’m torn on the whole thing. Jushin “Thunder” Liger picked up the “W” after landing the Liger Bomb. I’m open to a legend winning against someone who is still essentially a rookie, but it does leave us with the quandry of what exactly is next for Tyler Breeze? If WWE is not careful, we could see an essentially dead character on our hands. With that said, this was a fun, energetic contest that the crowd was really into.
Winner: Jushin “Thunder” Liger via pinfall (Liger Bomb)
Prior to the match beginning, Bliss ridiculed the challengers for not being able to find female backup. After a chant asking for her, Blue Pants entered to the roar of an appreciative audience.
I’m going to be totally honest. I’ve always felt that the tag team division is the weakest part of NXT. While nearly every other aspect is firing on all cylinders, this area of the promotion seems to struggle with a lack of depth and generally flat matches. Tonight was a notable step in the right direction.
The whole match seemed to have more energy to it. While I’m sure this lively crowd helped, there was a lot more crispness than usual for the devision. After the standard hot opening for the babyface challengers, the champions settled into a decent length weardown portion. I was concerned at this point that we could be introduced to “chinlock city”, but the growd was kept alive both by an impressive tandem move by the champions and a well executed false hot tag.
It was the home stretch that really sold this match to me, as it was frantic without seeming pointlessly drawn out. I liked the tease of the “tower of doom” spot, as anything that toys with the cliches of modern pro wrestling is refreshing to me. Finally, we got the payoff to Blue Pants as the neutraliser, with her effectively taking out Bliss in the closing moments. It was here that the challengers cementened their victory and first championship reign with the Whirling Dirvish. The crowd was completely behind the title change. There may have been an outcry when Enzo & Cass missed out on this spot, but at this moment, on this night, this really couldn’t have come off much better, in my mind.
Winners: and NEW NXT Tag Team Champions The Vaudevillains via pinfall (Whirling Dirvish)
This was a mildly competitive match that was purely here just to showcase the debuting Crews. The former Uhaa Nation definitely looked promising with undeniable athleticism and obvious charisma. I rarely rate squash matches above average though and that’s the same case here. Apollo Crews looked good, but this hardly stood out as an actual match. I guess it accomplished what it set out to do. Also, props to Tye Dillenger for the Barry Horowitz reference.
Winner: Apollo Crews via pinfall (Gorrilla Press/Standing Moonsault Combo)
NXT GM William Regal was shown backstage where he announced The Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic, which will take place over the next two months, starting September 2nd. A classy move.
I don’t like Baron Corbin. There, I said it. That’s not to mean that I don’t think he has potential, but I personally feel that a man with a build like a beanpole just struggles to portray a badass biker character. Especially when you factor in just how little true charisma the guy has. However, this was the most interesting match that the guy has probably had.
The story was pretty simple. You had the cocky rookie against the grizzled submission specialist. The match was kept relatively short, but was coherent. I think it says it all that Corbin showed more character by busting out a simple heel hook than he does with all of his brooding. Just showing the arrogance to try and beat a “submission machine” at his own game at least meant something. It was obvious that those in attendance came to see the Couqina Clutch though, and the match was built around that fact. Once the hold was locked in for the victory, the crowd erupted. I just hope that Baron Corbin can take advantage of working with numerous veterans and really start to improve, because he really comes across as bland amongst these hot Takeover cards.
Winner: Samoa Joe via submission (Couqina Clutch)
Verdict: Below Average
I can honestly say that in all my years of watching wrestling in all its forms, that is the first time I’ve ever gotten goosebumps from a hype video for a women’s match.
I’m a firm supporter of the “divas revolution” currently happening on the main roster. For all its flaws, I’m still convinced of it being a move for the better. However, this match showed us all what a true revolution can be.
The story here was simple and classic. Bayley is the underdog who never quite manages to make it. Sasha Banks is the cocky champion who just wants her challenger to accept defeat. While Bayley has a naturally bubbly character, she hardened her edges here and showed a truly determined fire throughout the match. Of course, for any true underdog to work, they need to overcome odds and the utilization of a past hand injury was done just about perfectly.
The pace built to a truly frantic crescendo, but nothing felt out of place with the story told. Both women did themselves proud in this match and truly managed to bring 13,000 people to their feet. If the main roster can eventually evolve to tell stories like this, we could legitimately enter a golden era for women’s wrestling even beyond the days of Trish Stratus and Lita.
Bayley was made tonight and the women of NXT just added another show stealer to their resume.
Winner: Bayley and NEW NXT Women’s Champion via pinfall (Belly-to-Bayley)
We’ve had a lot of good to great wrestling on this show. This was just a fun, intense, chaotic brawl. There were numerous nods to the history of both men. There was also a decent amount of originality when using the ladder too. Perhaps the best thing in general was that they built to the more high impact situations. The match started as a simple brawl, then slowly integrated the ladder into proceedings. The fact that they did save the big spots for the end stopped the match from extending past its logical end point, as a lot of spot-laden matches can tend to do. I also liked the false finish after the big ladder fall spot. This could have fallen into the trap that I just mentioned, but the fact that Owens sold the damage while using his last ounce of effort to still hinder his opponent was a nice touch. Also, Bálor essentially “won” the match with a super variation of his finisher, which works.
With that said, I personally feel like this match did suffer from some predictability. Although it didn’t stop it from being a very fun spectacle, it did dampen some of the attempted drama. Some will be unhappy with Owens losing, but I believe the ladder stipulation was added to protect him from a “proper” loss, while helping to maintain the aura of toughness that he’s helped to build up in NXT. I don’t see it as a major issue at all.
Overall, this was a very strong match that was just missing something to be truly great.
Winner: Finn Bálor and STILL NXT Champion via belt retreival
Verdict: Very Good
The women definitely stole the show tonight. However, that isn’t to say that the show wasn’t pretty much solid top-to-bottom. Breeze/Liger started off the show with some good energy. The tag title match really got the crowd going and was much less botch-filled than we’ve seen from the division in the past. Joe/Corbin and Apollo Crews’ debut were a bit more flat, but completely inoffensive. I think I’ve said enough about the Women’s Championship match, but needless to say that you should go out of your way to watch it. Finally, the main event capped off this extended 2.5-hour event with a very fun, chaotic brawl. If you’re short for time, watch the last two matches. Otherwise, the whole show should be fairly easy to watch.
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