Location: Full Sail University, Florida
Commentators: Rich Brennan, Corey Graves and Byron Saxton
This was a good choice for the opener, both because it featured big names and in the sense of it being part of a tournament throughout the night. While you’d expect Bálor and Joe to be the obvious favourites in the match, Finn played a great face-in-peril which made Dawson and Wilder into more of a threat. Bálor sold the leg perfectly throughout, even making reference to it after hitting the Coup de Grace from the top rope. I feel like Bálor’s insistence on being in the spotlight even when injured could be leading to a big NXT Championship match with his partner in the future, though it’s still very subtle at this point. This was a solid match that hyped up the crowd to start the show, though nothing particularly mind blowing.
Result: Samoa Joe & Finn Bálor via pinfall (Muscle Buster/Coup de Grace combo)
Rating: Above Average
I’m ready to hand in my IWC card, but I actually preferred this match over the first semi-final. I think it helped that the teams felt more evenly matched. I’ve been very openly critical of Baron Corbin in the past and although I’m still not completely sold, he did definitely hold his own. Chad Gable was surprisingly popular too, though he didn’t really show too much character on this occasion. They managed quite a frenetic pace, while still knowing when to slow things down for the build up. Rhyno was perfect for this period of the match, as he’s always been good at playing the heavy. It was the home stretch that really shined here however, as a constant exchange of near falls really kept the crowd on the edge of their seats.
I’ve said that tag team wrestling is the weak link of NXT. Well, this one-two punch of the night’s opening duo of matches goes some way to changing that perception. A really solid encounter.
Result: Baron Corbin & Rhyno via pinfall (End of Days)
For me, Asuka is a very unique prospect. Not only is she a colourful character with the most memorable entrance since Finn Bálor’s demon, but she also seems to be a real buzz-saw in the ring too. Many people consider Japanese pro wrestlers to be handicapped by an obvious language barrier when they come to the States. On many occasions they are. But the former Kanna exudes a presence that transcends language. You have to watch her. And my God, did she make me glad that I did!
Dana Brooke was an obvious sacrificial lamb in this situation. The audience knew she didn’t have a chance and they revelled in that inevitability. Brooke is still relatively green, but she really wasn’t meant to stand out. Asuka was impressively fluid in the ring. She hit her kicks with ferocity and transitioned into submissions very smoothly. The fans ate it up with a spoon. Of course, Dana was allowed some token offense, though Asuka never seemed in danger. Eventually, the rampage continued, Asuka started tying people in knots and a victor was quickly declared. As a match, this was exactly as expected, but as a moment it will be remembered for quite some time.
Result: Asuka via submission
Apollo Crews. Here’s a man that I can see limitless potential in, yet can’t quite sign-off on. He obviously has charisma and mixes power with agility effortlessly. But he just seems to be missing something that keeps him from the upper echelon. I’m more than happy to watch his progression though, as this match was perfectly watchable. Breeze definitely helped in this regard too. He’s been underutilized for months now, with him struggling to find any traction.
Like I said, the match was okay. Apollo managed to show what he’s capable of with a bigger star, while Breeze got in a couple of near falls that the crowd at least somewhat bought. There were no serious botches and the match told a decent story of Crews persevering to victory. It was unfortunately just the most forgettable match on the show.
Result: Apollo Crews via pinfall (powerbomb variation)
Rating: Above Average
Here we have three veterans and an improving rookie. The match was as rock solid as you’d expect. After Finn picked up a dinged wheel in the opening contest, the story was built around whether his leg could hold up under the pressure of a second match. This was a clever idea, as it planted the seed that Bálor’s bravado could lead to his downfall and tension with Joe. Finn once again was on the defensive for most of the match, with the crowd begging for Joe to get his moment in pretty short order. Rhyno and Corbin managed another solid performance, and the home stretch was made more tense by the fact that they were allowed to be equals to what would be classed as an all-star team.
I found it interesting that Bálor still insisted on getting the pin even after two matches’ worth of damage to his leg. I’m sure this is going to lead to some dissention down the line, though it’ll be interesting to see how.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the perfect trophy ceremony and speech from Cody Rhodes. This bittersweet moment made the tournament worth it and this match was a very fitting conclusion.
Result: Samoa Joe & Finn Bálor via pinfall (Muscle Buster/Coup de Grace combo)
Rating: Very Good
This was everything an Iron Man contest should be. Sasha Banks and Bayley should be extremely proud of what they accomplished this night. When you can make a little girl cry, you know you’ve done something iconic. Going into this, I was concerned that 30 minutes was too much. I thought that the match could drag and this would be forever known as a chance blown.
Was I ever wrong and glad to be so.
Bayley is the epitome of the underdog. She is unbelievably likeable. Sasha Banks knows exactly what to do to embody the ultimate cocky b*tch. Put those two together in a scenario designed to give them time to tell a story and you get a masterpiece. The two began at a deadlock. Then, Sasha used nefarious, intelligent tactics to gain a fall. When Bayley managed to pull things back, Banks went into heel overdrive. She did everything to obliterate the champion and was happy to regain the lead in any way possible. When you manage to get the NXT crowd to disapprove of your actions, you know you’ve done a pretty damn good job. As we got to the second half, these women gave it their all to prove who was the best, harkening back to their previous encounters expertly. Finally, the winning fall was decided in the closing seconds, the entire crowd enthralled. This was something truly special that should not be forgotten anytime soon.
Result: Bayley retains 3-2 after expiration of time limit
Rating: Near Perfect
This was a rock solid card from top to bottom. The Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic delivered 3 strong tag matches while Asuka opened eyes with her debut against Dana Brooke.
Then we have the main event. If you only have 45 minutes of time to watch professional wrestling – you need to watch this Iron Man contest! When the dust settles, this will take its place as one of the best Iron Man matches of all-time.
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Bayley vs Sasha Banks has been the WWE/NXT feud of the year. Hands down. Dare I say they might even get match of the year. I found it very ironic that Stephanie was in the front row chanting “Women’s Wrestling!” along with the rest of the crowd. The irony there is the crowd wasn’t chanting “Divas Sports Entertainment!”. I wonder if she gets it now, even if her father and Kevin Dunn don’t.
-Revolution- makes ppl expect something out of the ordinary..something groundbreaking..something that rocks the pillars and initiate change..
which is, why WWE must cringe cos no such thing’s happening in the (so called) main roster’s Barbie division..although, I’m more and more sure, they themselfs can not see the wrong-turns after wrong-turns they are doing.
But..WWE is of course more than wrestling today, so they can always rely on those very “thoughtfull, insightfull and groundbreaking” reality tv shows, which follows the same recipe as all other “reality”-garbage shows.
As great as the weekly NXT shows are, I enjoy the TakeOver events most because of all the build, hype. attention those events are given. It even outshines the main PPV’s, including (sometimes) WMania. TakeOver is the WM of NXT and what the main roster WM should be start to finish.
I was at TakeOver: Brooklyn and will attend the next two TakeOver: Brooklyn events in 2016 and 2017 respectively. Bayley vs Sasha Banks at the Brooklyn event was great, one of the true highlights of that great show. As great as it was, they topped it with the Iron Man match that rightfully closed out Respect, Enjoyed every match on Respect, mostly the Iron Man match.
Asuka was impressive. As a Japanese wrestler, can’t expect any less from such talent.
Dusty Rhodes would’ve been proud of the Tag Team Tourney named after him. Kudos to all involved.
Tyler Breeze, an SWA graduate from what I understand has been sadly underutilized lately. I hope that changes soon. Apollo Crews got what I feel he deserved, an NXT Title shot by winning the Battle Royal. It’d be fitting for him to have the shot, especially if WWE plans on having him win at Takeover: London because prior to NXT, that’s where he was wrestling if I am correct.
Screw the Diva’s Barbie-Revolution.. Women’s wrestling is NxT….
….untill they arrive to the RAW and Smackdown!
I never been a huge fan of females wrestle, but the way these 2 ladies can tell a story in the ring, must make especially Nikki Bella cringe! But of course..she’s the doll of company’s face…a face, that to my knowledge yet has been out and congratulate for hell of a match!
and please, WWE: do NOT waste the talents of Bailey and especially Banks on Total Divas!
I cant say which match between sasha and bailey I liked better. To me they both were perfect. They both had a different geel to it. I loved sashas heel antics, it added so much more to the match. Sorry for the long comment. But that match reminded me why I LOVE wrestling so much.
I’s rate the Asuka match a little higher, but other than that agree with your review.
That was something I pondered for quite a while. The reason I stuck with that rating was that it was basically just a very well executed, extended squash. I definitely wouldn’t argue with someone who decided to bump it up a notch though. Thanks for reading.