Angi S., Here…
It was a huge night for WWE’s developmental brand NXT. NXT Takeover: R Evolution, shown exclusively on the WWE Network (just $9.99 a month if the rumors are true) from Full Sail University in Orlando, FL, was everything a wrestling show should have and could have been. Four times a year, the NXT Superstars are given the opportunity to showcase their talents live, and last night, they gave everything they had to entertain the fans. The pre show started with sad news as NXT Superstar, Corey Graves, announced his retirement from in ring competition. His reasons being medically based. Did that mean we would no longer see him, hell no, he also announced that he would be debuting that night as an NXT commentator! The energy of the evening was electric as the crowd took their seats and anxiously waited for the future to be showcased.
Kevin Owens Vs CJ Parker
Winner: Kevin Owens via pinfall
Kevin Owens Debut! Who is Kevin Owens you may ask? I don’t have time to delve into a history of the man, so I say to you. Look up his indy work. You have 14 years to go immerse yourself in and none of it sucks. As his vignettes told us, he’s worked against superstars like Seth Rollins, Daniel Bryan, and Sami Zayn. KO promised to fight anyone and everyone, and CJ Parker, NXT’s angry hippie, was the first one to take on the new comer. The match was extremely physical and high paced.
Kevin wowed the crowd with multiple feets of strength and holy crap this big man can move! From cannon ball splashes and flying over the top rope, Kevin Owens showed why he belonged in this squared circle. The resident moonchild however did not allow himself to be squashed. He put up one helluva fight. With a vicious palm strike to the face, he split Owens open (as well as himself but we wouldn’t find that out till later). In the end it was a blooded Kevin Owens who picked up the win in his NXT debut with a huge popup powerbomb. I can’t wait to see what they have planned for Kevin Owens. His physicality and agility are hungered for in the NXT Universe. As much as I would love to see him turned into a heel (I have a thing for the baddies), I think the best use for Kevin Owens would be as a face.
The angry destroy everything bad guy has been done before, over done even. It would be more interesting to me if the powers that be booked him against a powerful heel. I would like to see CJ Parker do more than lose though. The man is extremely talented and I love the pissed off hippie warrior gig. As his sign said, his fight matters, there is no planet B. But all I’ve seen him do is lose. To more effective they have to throw him a bone and be seen as a threat. How are we to take him seriously as a contender otherwise? MOONCHILD IS NOT A JOBBER! Parker did not come out looking weak in this match though, he looked like a legitimate threat that Owens had to fight in order to get the pin. I whole heartedly believe each man cemented why they are must sees in the NXT squared circle. Last night they had the first show stealing matches in a night of show stealing.
Lucha Dragons Vs The Vaudevillians
Tag Championship Match
Winner: Lucha Dragons via pinfall
Never was a match more debonair and manly than the match between The Vaudevillans and The Lucha Dragons. In the weeks leading up to the title match, we were treated to little skits spot lighting the superiority of The Vaudevillians against the likes of those dastardly Lucha Dragons! This match was highly anticipated and true to the hype, all four men delivered. Simon Gotch and Sin Cara started off the bout and a series of quick tags had the Dragons in the control early. But momentum changed as Aidan English made the blind tag and entered the fray. The NXT Universe were vocal in their support of the Vaudevillians through out the contest.
Chanting their encouragements and giving themselves over to the ups and downs of fight. In the end English proved that chivalry was not dead as he pushed his partner out of the way of a dual flying dive over the top rope by the Lucha Dragons. Simon Gotch then grabbed a recovering Kalisto, but Aidan’s sacrifice was for naught as the speedy luchadore was able to hit a Salida del Sol that allowed him to pick up the 1, 2, 3 on Gotch to retain the titles. An amazing match from amazing men. I would have loved to see the Vaudevillians win the titles. The Lucha Dragons are the only team that they have never gotten a win over. And I won’t lie, there is a huge part of me that just wants to see Simon Gotch prance down to the ring with the gold on his waist.
Tye Dillenger Vs Baron Corbin
Winner: Baron Corbin via pinfall
This match was probably the weakest of all the nights matches. That is not to say it was bad, I am just wanting to see more of Baron’s skills. These matches that only last 30 seconds do not do the man justice. How am I supposed to get behind him when all I’ve seen is a finishing move? However in the 40ish seconds that this match was, I did get to see a little bit more of what he is capable of. The exciting point of this part of the evening however was not from the match. Bull Dempsey, was ringside to witness the destruction of Tye Dillenger.
There has been a bit of a rivalry brewing between Baron and Bull. Both have a reputation of putting away their opponents in a one sided dominating fashion. The intensity of the star down that followed the Dillenger destruction, was enough to give one chills in anticipation of the match that NEEDS to happen between Bull Dempsey and Baron Corban. Baron is begging to be tested. His actions are pleading for someone to enter the ring that he can’t beat in less than a minute. Bull Dempsey is the NXT Universe’s answer to this. When these two men finally lockup, they better reinforce the ring because it is going to be brutal and glorious!
Hideo Itami/ Finn Balor Vs The Ascension
Winner: Hideo Itami/ Finn Balor via pinfall
The Ascension, Konnor and Viktor, two of the most dominant men in sports entertainment, met their match in the pair of Hideo Itami and Finn Balor. Mind games started before the bell when Balor, who had promised that the Ascension would see something they never had before, entered the arena. He appeared as some glorious demon rising from the depths of another dimension to claim the souls of his opponents. I have never seen my beloved Ascension look more confused. I hate to use the word adorable but I just wanted to pat them on the head and promise that everything would be okay.
Of course, I would have been lying my ass off, but I didn’t know that at the time. The two teams began brawling before the bell rang. So that answered my unasked question of, what do the Ascension do when something confuses them? Try to beat it to a bloody pulp and call it a day. But Hideo and Finn answered every blow and strike with ones of their own and brought Konnor and Viktor down quickly with tandem corner drop kicks. And now the bell rings! The beginning of the match belonged to Hideo and Finn as they hit speedy high flying attacks that had the Ascension reeling. However, they weathered the emotional storm and took control and slowed the pace down grounding the angry Japanese man and the demonic Irishman.
It looked as if my boys would show the two NXT rookies who ran the yard when they set Balor up for the Fall of Man, but it was not to be as Hideo pulled Konnor from the ring. It went down hill from there and a twin double footstomp to the Ascension saw them fall. This win firmly puts Hideo and Finn on the NXT map of contenders. For what? Anything they want. If it’s tag titles, the Lucha Dragons better not get used to wearing the gold. If it’s the NXT championship? Well… Anything is possible.
Charlotte Vs Sasha Banks
NXT Women’s Championship Match
Winner: Charlotte via pinfall
What is it about NXT Women’s matches that are just superior to the Diva’s matches on the main roster? Is it that it’s a Women’s title and not a Diva’s title? Just one of those things to ponder as Charlotte and Sasha displayed what it meant to fight for a championship that held meaning. The athletic ability of both told a physical story of two former friends vying prove who was the better woman. The two grappled, applied submission holds, preformed high risk maneuvers and had a match that was better than more men’s matches than I’d like to admit. The Diva’s on the main roster need to really step up their game because the NXT WOMEN owned the night. It was a back and forth, and Sasha began with mind games and mockery, even to the point of doing her version of Ric Flair’s signature strut.
But antics such as this only fueled Charlotte’s fire and was the catalyst for her proving that she is simply genetically superior to the baddest diva (there’s that word again) on NXT. Charlotte hit a top rope version of her beautiful finisher, Natural Selection to retain her NXT Women’s title. I don’t think this rivalry is over. As much as I am begging WWE to call Charlotte up to the main roster (Gods know the Diva’s division needs a swift kick in the ass. And can you imagine the classics in the making between Charlotte and AJ?), I want to see her and Sasha wrestle again. This match left me begging for more and Sasha is still a real threat to the champion. The Boss will not take this defeat lightly.
Sami Zayn Vs Adrian Neville
NXT Championship Match
Winner: Sami Zayn
In a night filled with show stealing matches, the one with the most on the line, was easily the BEST match of the night. Sami Zayn clearly had a lot on his mind heading into the match. If he lost this match, Sami told us that he would leave NXT behind. Being everyone’s favorite underdog who could never win when it counted has been wearing thin on him and it was no longer about respect. It was apparent, Sami would have to change something in order to pull off a win against his long time friend, Adrian Neville. And that is exactly what he did. The Sami Zayn that stepped into the ring at Takeover, was not the same man that we have seen in the past.
He displayed a confidence and a channeled aggression that forced the man that gravity forgot to throw everything he had at his friend. From the onset of his entrance, the NXT Universe was 100% behind Zayn and he fed off of them. Everytime it seemed that Neville had the upper hand, Zayn fought back and took control again. This match was wrestling gold with its reversals, counters, high flying, high impact moves, false finishes and inner struggles. The story these two men told needed no words, no glitz and glamor, it just needed to be told in the ring, and Sami Zayn and Adrian Neville delivered the match of their careers.
In the end it was Sami Zayn with a Helluva Kick (the 2nd of the night, poor ref caught most of the 1st one) for the pin fall on the Champion. SAMI ZAYN IS NXT CHAMPION!! In this rollercoaster whirlwind of emotion that this match became, our winner has a moment of reflection as he asks himself and the universe if the title is his and then takes hold of the gold and screams that he is the f*cking man! Yes Sami, you are the F*CKING MAN!! I got caught up in this story they told with their bodies and so did everyone else. The locker room emptied to congratulate Zayn. His friend, Kevin Owens, Hideo, Enzo and Big Cass to name a few.
Sami was hoisted up to celebrate his win. And in the end, Adrian and Sami hugged out their differences, the road to NXT Takeover: R Evolution, a rocky one for the friendship of both men. I am woman enough to admit, it was at this point I got teary eyed. (And I’m woman enough to beat your ass if you bring it up >.>) The night was not over however. As everyone exited, Kevin stayed behind. And then to my not so secret glee, but kinda disappointment, Owens struck! Powerbomb to the champion on the ring apron. A thing of brutal beauty. And my little black heel adoring heart fell in love with Kevin Owens and excitement filled my eyes at the prospect of this rivalry. What does the future have in store? How long will Sami hold the championship with this target of gold around his waist? For a man who had issues winning the big one until last night, how will he fair now that EVERY match while he holds gold will be a big one? I’m definitely tuning into my WWE Network next Thursday for the aftermath.
– Angi S.