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NXT TakeOver: London event review

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Last week, the NXT brand went across the pond to London, England for a special WWE Network presentation and as a whole, the event could be an indication for the future of the brand itself. It should be noted that the British crowd really added to this show and it quite literally speaks volumes for the demand for pro wrestling in the UK. After years without well known promotions to capitalize on the market, European wrestling has seen a spark within the past year and independent shows throughout the region are currently drawing sell out crowds of a few thousand fans for each show. Rev Pro-UK, Progress Wrestling, and ICW have all done well recently with some tremendous young talent to fuel the resurgence in Britain. Mark Andrews, Marty Scurll, and Will Ospreay are some of the top talent that are helping to spotlight UK wrestling again so credit to them.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nLHyKNNcTNI&w=560&h=315]

As for NXT Takeover, the show opened with Asuka vs. Emma and throughout the contest, it became obvious that the competitor formerly known as Kana in Japan carried her opponent to a decent match. Asuka has had to wrestle down to her opponent’s level in recent NXT specials, first with Dana Brooke and now with Emma, but hopefully these matches are being used to establish her for something more important in the future because she has the ability to have some great matches when she’s booked with a capable opponent. In many ways, Asuka seems to be presented specifically for the NXT brand and I don’t see her transitioning to the main roster, which is fine if the WWE intends to establish NXT as a full fledged brand. Similar to Samoa Joe, Asuka provides a boost for the show when some of the younger talent gets moved to the main roster and if the money is right, there’s nothing wrong making a career in NXT. That being said, with the stiff kicks and style, Asuka as a heel would be money and a feud against Bayley could provide intriguing TV. Asuka won the match and hopefully, there’s a major angle for her in the future.

The tag team title match was solid and both teams worked well. Enzo is ridiculously over with the audience and the reaction his mic work received could be an indication that the team is ready for the main roster. However, considering the tag division is busy at the moment, WWE brass might not want to add another team to Raw to avoid them getting lost in the shuffle. Dawson and Wilder remind me of the Arn/Tully combination of the Brain Buster, and they work a similar style, which seems to compliment the NXT brand. Dawson and Wilder retain the belts, and it seems like they are going to get an extended run as the tag champions.

The Nia Jax/Bayley title match was solid, mostly because Bayley sold everything well and really enhanced the bout when Jax was trying to get heat during the match. Quite simply, Bayley is as good of a baby face as anyone in the business and if given the opportunity, she could be a major star for the company. The only downside of this contest was the portrayal of Jax and it tainted her “monster” persona somewhat in the process. Jax is relatively new to the NXT landscape and she was booked for a title feud almost as soon as she debuted so since she did the job in London, what now? While Jax was presented as a monster heading into the match in England, she didn’t sell like a monster and her frustration during the false finishes didn’t sell the gimmick either. Maybe I’m analyzing this one too far ahead, but if Nia Jax isn’t booked for something relevant following the title match, her NXT time could eventually be summarized as just being another opponent for Bayley for the Network special.

The Apollo Crews/Baron Corbin match was decent, nothing spectacular, but nothing terrible either. However, Corbin did some good heel work from a character prospective and such development adds some depth to the brand. Granted, NXT is based on the in ring product, which allows it to be an alternative to the main WWE shows, but well established heels are a good addition to any wrestling product. As for Apollo Crews, assuming he can continue to work on mic skills and character, he has all the skills to be a major success for the WWE. From an in ring stand point, Crews is the complete performer you would think the WWE tries to recruit, but as seen in the past, mic work is at least half the battle for success on a national stage. That being said, I think Apollo Crew will do well when he transitions to the main roster.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=buG3clqNd_w&w=560&h=315]

Samoa Joe vs. Finn Balor was a great match that helped elevate the brand and the NXT title itself because it placed an importance on the actual title instead of it being used as just a prop. It was a hard hitting, fast paced, and physical bout that was a good representation of the brand. As mentioned earlier, Samoa Joe will probably remain on the NXT roster and there’s nothing wrong with that, especially if the money is right. As I’ve mentioned before, it’s disappointing that Joe worked in TNA during the prime of his career because he has the ability to be a bigger star, which is why it’s good to see him get a run in the WWE. On the flip side, Finn Balor might eventually move to the main shows and if he does, he would have to be considered a potential main event competitor. Obviously, there are a lot of variables, but an eventual Balor/Rollins feud could be money for the WWE.

-Jim LaMotta

@jimlamotta

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