NXT TakeOver: San Antonio Play-by-Play Recap & Review
The camera pans around and it looks like a legit sell-out. This is also the same arena that apparently hosted the infamous This Tuesday in Texas event in 1991.
Match #1: Tye Dillinger v. Eric Young
Dillinger is out first and the crowd is hot for him, as usual. Corey Graves is calling the event in his last appearance with NXT alongside Tom Phillips and Percy Watson. Eric Young makes his entrance with Alexander Wolfe and Killian Dain (no Nikki Cross). At the start, Young tosses a jacket toward Tye to give him a final chance to join Sanity. Tye slowly picks it up and throws it in Young’s face and it’s on.
Tye whips Young into the corner and clotheslines him on the rebound. Young bails out of the ring to regroup. Back in the ring, Young goes to the eyes out of the referee’s view and dumps Tye outside. With the referee again distracted, Dain flattens Tye with a running cross-body on the floor. Back in the ring, Young hits a top rope elbow to the back of Dillinger’s neck and follows it up with that second rope dragon sleeper move. Young hits a neck breaker and then goes for a second dragon sleeper in the corner, but Dillinger blocks. Young head butts Dillinger off the ropes and goes for a double axe-handle, but is met with a mid-air drop kick.
Dillinger fires up with forearms, chops, and a back-body drop. Dillinger sends Young into the corner and hits a running chop. Another Irish whip and Young does a Ric Flair flip and runs to the top rope. Dillinger meets him on top and nails an overhead belly-to-belly for a near fall. Dillinger stomps on Young in the corner until Alexander Wolfe climbs onto the ring apron.
Dillinger pulls Wolfe in and hits him with the Tye-Breaker. Dain comes into the ring and runs into a super kick. Young tries a Youngblood, but Dillinger counters into a pin for a near fall. Dillinger is up first and hits Young with the Tye-Breaker. Wolfe gets Young’s foot on the bottom rope just in time to break the count. Dillinger responds with a cross-body over the top to take out Wolfe and Dain on the floor.
Dillinger comes off the top with a cross-body to Young, who rolled through for a 2-count. Dillinger comes off the ropes and takes out Wolfe and Dain again, this time with a baseball slide. Dillinger skins the cat to get back in the ring, but gets caught in position for the Youngblood. Young hits it and picks up the win.
Winner: Eric Young via pinfall.
Thoughts: Good opening match. The crowd was hugely into Dillinger for most of the match. Dillinger doesn’t look bad taking the loss simply because he was essentially fighting 3 men. On the other hand, Dillinger never gets that big win, so you never really expect that he’s going to win. Young continues to look like he’s spent the last 15 years at sea. Funny thing is, it actually works for the Sanity character.
Crowd Shot: Samoa Joe is shown ringside in a suit pretending that he’s going to sit ringside for the night. He’s got a Royal Rumble to prepare for tomorrow.
Match #2: Andrade Almas v. Roderick Strong
There isn’t much back-story for this match. Just a couple of guys fighting to be title contenders and I’m fine with that. What has more heel heat: Almas’ hat or Sampson’s – everything?
The match starts out with some back and forth. Strong hits an early back breaker. Almas comes back with a brutal chop and some kicks in the corner. Almas slaps Strong in the face – hard. Almas locks in an arm bar of sorts while hanging upside-down outside the ropes. Almas kicks Strong in the ear and focuses on the arm with a Fujiwara arm bar. Strong eventually breaks it and hits an Angle Slam on Almas after a missed feint springboard moonsault / standing moonsault into a double knee attempt. Strong fires up with chops, forearms, kicks, and a gourd buster. Strong hits a running knee and nails Almas with a perfect drop-kick to the face followed by a cradle back-breaker.
Almas comes back with a bridging German suplex for a near fall. Almas then dead lifts Strong and hits him with a powerbomb. Both guys are up and exchange chops and forearms. Strong hits a knee out of nowhere. Both guys reset again and trade blows again. Strong ends up with Almas in the cradle back-breaker again, but now on the top rope. Strong drops Almas right into the top buckle. That looked brutal.
Strong is still selling his arm, but counters the hammerlock DDT. Almas misses the double knees in the corner, but rebounds with a lariat that turned Strong inside out. Almas finally hits the double knees in the corner, but Strong again counters the hammerlock DDT into a rising knee. Strong hits the ropes and KO’s Almas with the Sick Kick. That’s good for the win.
Winner: Roderick Strong via pinfall.
Thoughts: This match could be the surprise show-stealer for the night. I really enjoyed it. Strong is in a good spot to continue a slow build to a potential title contender. As for Almas, I’m not sure what’s next for him. I don’t ever picture him as a championship contender, at least with this character. This was, by far, my favorite match of his since he joined NXT, though.
Crowd Shot: Michael Hayes is in the crowd this time looking like only Michael Hayes can.
Match #3: NXT Tag Team Championship: #DIY © v. The Authors of Pain (w/ Paul Ellering)
The Authors of Pain (AOP) are out first with some sinister masks covered with a black veil. Truth: I don’t know Akam from Rezar, but I’m going to try. There’s a big DIY chant before we get started. Rezar and Ciampa start off and end in a stalemate. Gargano tags in and tries a little hit and run on the big man. Ciampa makes a tag to get back in and DIY clears AOP from the ring with a clothesline over the top and a super kick.
Gargano hits two dives on one AOP while Ciampa comes off the ring apron with a knee strike on the other. Gargano finally gets caught and launched into the ringside barrier. Akam carries Gargano up the stairs and deposits him over the top and back into the ring. AOP take turns beating Gargano down in the corner while Ellering taunts him. Gargano escapes a standing back-breaker submission and hits an enziugiri. The AOP shrug it off and set up Gargano for a double team inverted curb stomp.
Outside the ring, Akam eats the ring post while trying to murder Gargano. Gargano finally makes a hot tag and Ciampa comes in on fire with knees, elbows, and clotheslines. Ciampa hits both AOP with German suplexes and the crowd comes unglued. Ciampa connects with a huge running knee for a 2-count. With Akam on his knees, Ciampa chops and kicks him repeatedly. Akam asks him for more, so Ciampa chopped him so hard that his spirit might have left his body for a moment.
A low bridge sends one AOP out of the ring while Ciampa and Gargano quickly hit a double spear on the other for a near fall. There’s another DIY chant from the crowd. Gargano is all the sudden hobbling around holding his back. Akam counters a double team and Ciampa ends up getting caught in the powerbomb neck breaker for the longest 2-count in wrestling history. Good lord, what a near fall.
AOP fail to hit the Last Chapter and Ciampa ends up locking Akam in the bridging Fujiwara arm bar. Gargano locks in the Gargano Escape on Rezar – just like the finish of the TakeOver Toronto match. This time, Rezar powers up, dead lifts Gargano up, and body slams him onto the bridging Ciampa. This elicits a Holy S**t chant from the crowd.
They reset with all 4 guys on their knees in the middle of the ring trading punches (5 DIY punches, then a single knock down punch from AOP). DIY counters the Super Collider and they go for the Meeting in the Middle. AOP catch them both and hit the Super Collider. Heavy booing from the audience, as they know it’s over. Ciampa gets crushed with the Last Chapter and we have new Tag Team Champions.
Winner: The Authors of Pain via pinfall and new NXT Tag Team Champions
Thoughts: I was admittedly a little disappointed with the outcome here. One thing I’ve noticed with the NXT Tag division is that Triple H seems to like having the baby faces chase the titles against a very dominant heel team. I mentioned previously that I thought it was a little early for #DIY to lose them, but now I see that’s just how it works. Or maybe #DIY gets a huge upset win over AOP WrestleMania weekend? Anyway, a good match. Ciampa and Gargano can work against anyone and in any style and it showed tonight.
In-Ring: They cut back to the ring and Seth Rollins is in there with a microphone. Well, this was unexpected. Rollins says Triple H took everything from him and knows he’s sitting in the back and to get his ass out here. Triple H emerges (no music) in a suit and looking annoyed. Triple H then motions for security to get Rollins out of the ring. Rollins beats up the first 3 or 4 guards, but he then gets mobbed in the aisle by more guards (HHH is gone at this point). Rollins gets dragged out to the side of the stage as the crowd chants Bulls**t and We Want Rollins.
Match #4: NXT Women’s Championship Fatal 4-Way: Asuka © v. Nikki Cross v. Billie Kay v. Peyton Royce
Nikki Cross is out first, alone. Next out are Billie and Peyton together. Finally, Asuka makes her full entrance. Asuka has been champion for 301 days. Tom Philips throws out the old ‘1 in 4 chance of winning’ line, as though all 4 are equal and – whatever, I won’t make you listen to why his math is awful. Also, Nikki Cross is completely insane.
Early on, Billie and Peyton (The Aussies) want no part of a 2-on-2 match-up, so they bail and let Asuka and Nikki face-off. They try a sneak attack, but Asuka hits a running bulldog / clothesline on them. Just as Asuka and Nikki are about to fight, they are again interrupted. This time, Asuka hits a double German suplex on Billie and Peyton at the same time. Crazy.
Asuka and Nikki finally brawl. Asuka hits a sick bridging German for a near fall. Asuka hip bumps Billie and Peyton off the apron, but misses a kick to Nikki. Cross then connects with a straight jacket neck breaker to Asuka, followed by an inverted DDT. Cross then connects with a swinging neck breaker on the floor to Asuka. Nikki turns her attention to the other two and comes off the top rope with a cross body to the floor. The numbers catch up and soon, Billie and Peyton are beating Nikki up the ramp and over to the platform with the announcer’s desk. On the desk, Billie and Peyton deliver a double suplex to Nikki and drop her through a second table. Nikki Cross is out.
Realizing their opportunity, Billie and Peyton race back to the ring to take advantage of Asuka, who is still down outside the ring. Asuka kicks out of a double pin attempt. Billie eats a kick to the head, but Peyton catches Asuka in a Widow’s Peak. Asuka bridges out of the pin like Kayako from Ju-On/The Grudge or something insane. Peyton can’t believe it and doesn’t capitalize. She starts to taunt Asuka and gets her head kicked off. Billie takes another head kick for good measure. Finally, Peyton eats one more head kick and she’s KO’d. Asuka covers for the win.
Winner: Asuka via pinfall to retain the NXT Women’s Championship
Post-Match: Nikki Cross is being tended to by referees over by the broken table, but manages to give Asuka a sadistic smile while she was laying there in a daze.
Thoughts: This was a fun match and better than I expected. Asuka and Nikki Cross had some interaction, but not too much. That was perfect as it leaves that feud open knowing that Cross had Asuka seriously hurt at one point. Billie and Peyton don’t lose much since you expected them to not be able to hang with Asuka. They did take Cross out and had some near falls on Asuka, so I see it as a win for them. Judging by Ember Moon’s performance on the pre-show, she still has a ways to go before she’s ready to really carrying the division, at least from a promo standpoint.
Crowd Shot: United Kingdom Champion Tyler Bate is ringside doing a very gentlemanly wave.
Match #5: NXT Championship: Shinsuke Nakamura © v. Bobby Roode
Bobby Roode is out first with his illustrious theme song. There are no choir singers, but he’s going to be accompanied by 8 models in purple sparkling dresses to match his robe, which is on point. Out next is the champion to a huge pop. Nakamura is riding a platform fitted with strobes that is carrying him to the ring like a mini version of WrestleMania VI. There are dueling crowd chants, but Nakamura is the clear baby face during pre-match introductions. Was that NXT title strap dark purple to match Roode’s purple robe? Hmm.
Slow start as both men give the crowd time to get all their chanting out of the way. The Roode chants seem louder than they were earlier. A little bit of chain wrestling and Roode going for rope breaks to stall. These guys are pacing for a long match. Roode finally scores with a cheap elbow after forcing a rope break. Roode works on the arm, but Nakamura counters, then Roode counters into a head scissors. Roode mocks Nakamura’s mannerisms, which pisses off Nakamura.
Nakamura fires off knees to the body and a double knee drop. Roode counters Good Vibrations, but Nakamura spins around and catches Roode with a kick to the face. Roode absorbs several more knees to the body before placing Nakamura on the top rope, then flipping him backwards to the floor.
Nakamura gets sent into the stairs twice and is now favoring his shoulder or neck. Roode connects with an avalanche clothesline in the corner and a double axe handle off the second rope to the back of the neck. Roode works over the neck more and whips Nakamura to the mat – minus what I think was a chunk of hair. Roode continues the assault before performing Good Vibrations on Nakamura, who sells it like he’s being electrocuted.
Nakamura is mad again and kicks Roode in the head. He hits a running knee as Roode is draped over the ring apron and then drops a knee to the back of Roode’s head. Nakamura with more strikes and an enziugiri followed by even more knees to the body. Nakamura finally connects with Good Vibrations on Roode in the corner and then drapes Roode on the top rope. Nakamura misses the knee, but Roode misses the double axe handle. Roode counters the inverted exploder suplex, but eats another knee and then the running knee while draped on the top rope in the corner. Nakamura crushes Roode with the inverted exploder and that was brutal looking.
Nakamura sets up for the Kinshasa, but Roode isn’t moving. Roode was faking and tries to roll up Nakamura, but only gets a 2-count. Roode hits a backstabber, but can’t hit the Glorious DDT. Roode manages to catch Nakamura off the ropes with a spine buster for another near fall. Roode attempts a superplex, but it’s countered into a top rope gourd buster. Nakamura hits a flying jump kick to the chest. Roode counters the Kinshasa attempt into a pin, but the referee sees Roode’s feet on the ropes and breaks up the pin.
Roode chops Nakamura in the corner, but Nakamura plays mind games and tells Roode to bring it. Nakamura fires back with ruthless kicks to the face and back of the head. Nakamura goes for the arm bar, but Roode holds onto his arm. Nakamura turns it into a Triangle choke. Roode powers out and tries a powerbomb, but Nakamura sunset flips and hits a half-Kinshasa, which Roode is able to kick out of.
Roode rolls out onto the apron and Nakamura hits him with a jumping knee. Nakamura falls to the floor selling a serious knee injury. Nakamura gets back in the ring and obliterates Roode with a Kinshasa, but collapses in pain holding his knee and is unable to even make a pin attempt. The doctor hits the ring to check on Nakamura followed by a few referees. Meanwhile, Roode is back up. Nakamura finally crawls back in and Roode crushes him with a Glorious DDT, but Nakamura kicks out!
Roode sells being in total shock. Roode locks in a deep single-leg Boston Crab and Nakamura screams and bites his hand, but he won’t quit. Matt Bloom is now ringside as people are concerned about Nakamura’s leg. Nakamura turns the Boston Crab over and kicks Roode in the face. Nakamura briefly locks in another Triangle choke, but can’t hold on due to the knee pain. Roode capitalizes and hits another Glorious DDT and we have a new NXT Champion.
Winner: Booby Roode via pinfall to become the new NXT Champion
Thoughts: That was intense. The ending was a roller coaster. First, you think there will be a stoppage from the injury, then you think Nakamura will recover after surviving the DDT, then you think Nakamura will tap, then you think officials will stop the match, then you briefly think Nakamura will choke him out. I knew it was a work and Nakamura still made me believe he was hurt. This was a very good match, but the execution was glorious. I still feel like it was a mistake to have Nakamura lose the title to Joe only because it made him losing here a little less surprising. Does this mean Nakamura is triumphant at the NXT WrestleMania show? Are there any other baby faces ready to challenge Roode? How long will Nakamura be out with the kayfabe injury? Lots of questions leading into the next set of tapings, which is always a good thing.
Overall, this was a good show. I’d put it in the middle of the road for TakeOver events. No big surprise appearances (aside from RAW nonsense spilling over) or truly shocking events, but solid wrestling and storytelling.
image credit – WWE.com
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