TakeOver: Brooklyn III is coming up on August 19 (Happy birthday to me), so I thought it may be a good time to rank the 10 best matches in the event’s somewhat short history beginning in 2014 at the original NXT arRIVAL through May’s TakeOver: Chicago. Despite there only being 16 NXT special events (formerly known as PPVs) with only 5 to 6 matches per card, it is surprisingly hard to narrow down 10 of the best matches. Many of these will be expected, but maybe a few will be surprises.
Also as a disclaimer: These are my opinions. What one considers a great match is very subjective based on the person’s tastes. I personally prefer when there is a good story being told which makes me actually care about the outcome. After that, I do appreciate a great wrestling match with great crowd investment (which is linked to the story) as much as the next person.
Honorable Mentions: Asuka v. Bayley (TakeOver: Dallas), Adrian Neville v. Tyson Kidd (TakeOver), Finn Balor v. Kevin Owens (TakeOver: Brooklyn), Bayley v. Sasha Banks (TakeOver: Respect), Shinsuke Nakamura v. Samoa Joe (TakeOver: Brooklyn II), Authors of Pain v. #DIY v. Revival (TakeOver: Orlando).
- Kevin Owens v. Sami Zayn – NXT Championship (NXT TakeOver: Rival / 11 February 2015)
Yes, we have seen Kevin Owens/Steen face Sami Zayn/El Generico a million times and watched them do every spot imaginable, so what made this one a special match? Quite simply, it was the story of Sami Zayn. Just 2 months prior, Owens had made his much-hyped NXT debut. Within 2 hours, he had gone from that high to assaulting his best friend moments after he achieved his dream of winning the NXT championship. The build-up was so amazing as it built off a practically decade-long feud and the heel goading the proud babyface into defending the title in a match he most definitely didn’t deserve.
The match itself was something we’ve seen many times, but the key in this one was Zayn’s selling. After selling a head injury after a dive to the ramp, Owens proceeded to power bomb Zayn over and over. At one point, Zayn managed to kind of turn to his side to ‘kick out’ of a pin, refusing to quit despite being seriously injured. Owens proceeded to continue the power bombs until the referee finally stopped the match and awarded the title to Owens. It was a shocking ending to the match and amazingly effective due to Zayn being one of the best sellers in WWE. I think this was the first of several matches that guaranteed Owens’ success on the main roster.
- American Alpha v. The Revival – NXT Tag Team Championship (NXT TakeOver: Dallas / 01 April 2016)
American Alpha had one of the best build-ups in NXT history for a tag team. If you remember, it all started out with a heel-like Jason Jordan looking for a suitable tag team partner and always being disappointed. During that time, Chad Gable kept bugging him to team up and Jordan would brush him off. They finally teamed up and started getting wins, but Jordan was still not 100% committed. It was during this time that they started to really get over. Their backstage promos were excellent with Jordan initially refusing to take part in the ‘Ready, Willing, and Gable’ catchphrase. It was also a good formula: Gable had a very Kurt Angle-like move-set and background and could sell until the bigger Jordan got the hot tag and cleaned house.
Getting to the match, it was the first match on a loaded card on WrestleMania weekend. To say the crowd was hot would be understating it immensely. This was a great match that ended with the baby faces conquering The Revival and winning the tag team championship. This match is often overlooked due to the rest of the card being so strong, but it set the bar for NXT tag team matches moving forward.
- Sami Zayn v. Adrian Neville – NXT Championship (NXT TakeOver: R Evolution / 11 December 2014)
Once again, this match being on the list has little to do with in-ring wrestling. Although this is Zayn and Neville, so it was excellent in that regard as well. As with the other Zayn matches, this is largely all about him. There’s a saying in wrestling that the money is always in the chase and NXT proves this simple thing over and over again. In this case, Sami Zayn was the underdog who always came up short in the big matches. Neville had enjoyed a decently long title run and played the part of an arrogant baby face (Think of Asuka currently). After being called ‘too nice’ to win the big match, Zayn asked for one more shot at Neville’s championship. If he didn’t win, he would quit NXT.
So now the biggest underdog in the world says he’s leaving the company if he doesn’t beat Neville. Naturally, it was a great match that told a great story. Zayn worked to resist the urge to cheat and compromise his morals when he had the opportunity, but also didn’t allow himself to get beaten by dropping his guard afterward. The icing on the cake was the shocking double-cross by Kevin Owens after the match and the rest, as they say, is history.
- Finn Balor v. Samoa Joe – NXT Championship (NXT TakeOver: Dallas / 01 April 2016)
Balor and Joe always had great chemistry in NXT, but this match stands out for me. The main reason is simple: blood. To be sure, there were other factors: WrestleMania weekend, large and hot crowd, Linda and Stephanie McMahon in the front row (along with other wrestlers scattered around). It had a big match feel. Very early on, Joe and Balor butted heads and Joe was split open. I know there are arguments for and against blood in wrestling, but that added so much extra drama. An enraged and bloody Joe was a genuinely intimidating thing.
You could feel their frustration every time the match was stopped to try to clean up Joe’s face and the match was very physical. There was great drama and both guys looked and acted like they’d just been in a shoot fight after the match. If I’m trying to promote Joe as an equal to Brock Lesnar, I’d be showing clips from this match. This is undoubtedly my favorite match of both Joe’s and Balor’s in NXT.
- Sami Zayn v. Cesaro (NXT arRIVAL / 27 February 2014)
Look who is on this list again: Sami Zayn. This was the very first match on the first NXT special event and also the very first live event to air on the brand new WWE Network. No pressure, right? Cesaro and Zayn had feuded the year prior to this with Zayn getting the first win, but then losing out to Cesaro several times after that. This match was the first I’d ever seen of NXT and it blew me away. The announcing style was so much different from the main WWE shows and I remember it being so refreshing.
In the match, Zayn played the role he is best at as the underdog. It saw him absorb a ton of punishment and continue getting up to fight after Cesaro urged him to stay down. There were several believable false finishes before Cesaro finally got the win. Post-match, Cesaro and Zayn hugged, which proved that Zayn had earned Cesaro’s respect after all. It was a simple story and both guys look like a million dollars after the match. This is easily Zayn’s second best match in NXT.
- Asuka v. Bayley –NXT Women’s Championship (NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn II / 20 August 2016)
In Dallas, Asuka had beaten Bayley via technical knockout/stoppage after Bayley had passed out in the Asuka Lock. There was also the added intrigue of Bayley not being on the main roster along with the other members of the Four Horsewomen and would this be her last NXT match? So while I think everyone knew that Bayley was not going to beat Asuka, no one knew what exactly was going to happen. I thought this match was even better than their Dallas match and was also enhanced by having Charlotte, Becky Lynch, and Sasha Banks in the crowd to watch.
In the end, Bayley managed to fight out of the Asuka Lock, but she was ultimately beaten decisively in a scene that sort of reminded me of Shawn Michaels’ retirement match against the Undertaker. She kept telling Asuka to bring it and she went down swinging after a knockout blow. After the match, Bayley got a big send off from the crowd and the Horsewomen in the crowd. It was a very cool scene and a fitting end for the female version of Sami Zayn and the best female baby face maybe ever.
- Tyler Bate v. Pete Dunne – UK Championship (NXT TakeOver: Chicago / 20 May 2017)
This match is an example of a match basically revolving around winning a championship. There was no pre-match drama or deep storylines coming into this match. Adding to the big match feel, Jim Ross was on commentary. This is just 15 minutes of unbelievable wrestling. There isn’t much else I can say other than to go watch it.
- Bayley v. Sasha Banks – NXT Women’s Championship (NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn / 22 August 2015)
This match was the true epitome of the women’s revolution around the time the main roster shows were starting to coin the phrase. Once again, what made this great wasn’t just the wrestling, but the storyline. This was also the first televised event outside of Full Sail, so there were about 15,000 in attendance rather than 400. Bayley had been in a storyline a lot like Sami Zayn had in the previous year where she was always too nice and always came up short in the big matches.
In Brooklyn, Bayley and Sasha proceeded to set a bar that arguably hasn’t been topped since. I love Asuka and she’s had some matches come close to this, but nothing has ever topped it. Once again, Bayley’s triumph proved that old saying once again: the money is in the chase.
- #DIY v. The Revival – NXT Tag Team Championship (NXT TakeOver: Toronto/ 19 November 2016)
This match used the same formula as American Alpha versus Revival in Dallas earlier in the year. The difference being that #DIY was a much more relatable team with a little more personality. Once again, #DIY came in chasing the tag titles as the underdogs. Once again, the underdogs heroically win and the crowd loses its mind. On top of that, this is probably the best tag team match I’ve ever seen in WWE, period. I was actually sad for them because it would be my match of the year if not for #1 on this list.
- Sami Zayn v. Shinsuke Nakamura (TakeOver: Dallas/ 01 April 2016)
You probably expected this. There were so many things going for this match. It was likely Sami Zayn’s last NXT match and it was WrestleMania weekend. Zayn, now the NXT veteran, was full of pride and wanted to defend his home base against the debuting Nakamura, who was only one of the biggest wrestling stars on the planet. I said at the time that this was the best WWE match since Undertaker and Shawn Michaels at WrestleMania 25 and I still stand by that assessment in 2017. This was 20 minutes of hard-hitting drama and emotion that ended with the crowd’s send off for Sami Zayn. Just an unreal spectacle and words cannot do this justice.
In putting together this list, I noticed a few things about NXT. First, the storylines are very simplistic. That’s not a bad thing at all because it works. The baby face is almost always the underdog and is always chasing the heel champions, but never all the championships at once. They usually will focus on one at a time so the others don’t get lost in the shuffle. It just works. Second, Sami Zayn is the best wrestler in NXT history. He delivered again and again and again with every opponent he worked with. He makes his opponents look amazingly good while at the same time getting you emotionally invested in his well-being. It is a total shame to see how he seems to be used on RAW when we have all seen what he is capable of given the opportunity.
NXT Retro Review Episode 11: An inaugural NXT Champion is crowned
Retro NXT Episode 11 – Original air date – August 29, 2012
Coheed and Cambria welcome us to the show. Byron Saxton and William Regal are on commentary. Saxton hypes up tonight as the first NXT Champion will finally be crowned!
Hunico and Camacho vs. Jason Jordan and Mike Dalton
They showed footage from four weeks ago, when in their first time together, Dalton and Jordan beat the Smackdown team when Dalton caught Camacho in a hurricanrana. Regal talked about how he was sure Hunico and Camacho got made fun of in the barrio for that loss. Oh man. Little touches like that are what makes Regal such a great commentator.
Camacho and Dalton start the match off. Camacho throws some punches, but Dalton ducks them and catches him with a wristlock. He comes over and makes the tag to Jordan, who comes off the top with a double axhandle on the arm, then applies his own wristlock. Camacho nails him with a few forearms to break it, then tosses him into the ropes, but Jordan nails him with a pair of shoulder blocks and a dropkick. Jordan goes for a big right hand, but Camacho ducks, and catches Jordan on the rebound with a spinebuster. Camacho choked him over the second rope and hit him with some rights, then distracted the ref so Hunico could nail him from the apron. Camacho nailed him a nice back suplex, then bodyslammed him and tagged in Hunico so he could hit a slingshot senton bomb. Hunico nailed him a quick kick to the back, then covered him for a two count. Jordan tried to fight back with some bodyshots, but Hunico grabbed him by the hair and hit some knees to the gut. He went for a whip, but Jordan reverses it, but Hunico sidestepped his charge and caught him with a schoolboy, but then turned into an awesome one arm powerbomb but Jordan kicked out.
Hunico pounded Jordan in one corner, then brought him into his own corner and tagged Camacho, who continued pounding Kurt Angle’s son. Camacho then hit a double arm suplex, followed by a high legdrop for a two count. Camacho then went for another back suplex, but Jordan flipped out and caught him with a dropkick. Tags both ways! Prince Pret-er-I mean Mike Dalton came in and a pair of flying forearms on Hunico, then a big spinning heel kick followed by a nip up. Hunico tried to catch Dalton charging with a pop up powerbomb, but Dalton countered Billy Kidman style into a hurricanrana, but Hunico kicked out this time. The announcers did good to remind us that was the move Dalton won with last time.
Dalton went for a whip, but Hunico reversed it, but Dalton floated over the top, caught Camacho with a boot to the gut, then hit Hunico with a shoulder to the gut, then came off the top with a missile dropkick, but Camacho broke up the pin with a hard blow to the back of the head. Jordan came in and decked him with a right, and the ref then made a big show of getting him out of the ring. Camacho took the opportunity to snap Dalton’s neck across the top rope and Hunico caught him with an Angle Slam (Irony!) for the three count, as Camacho grabs Jordan’s leg to stop him from making the save.
Winner: Hunico and Camacho via pinfall
They announce, finally, that Seth Rollins will face Jinder Mahal in the Finals of the Gold Rush Tournament to determine the first NXT Champion!
BFC, The Usos came out. No Haka, Jimmy grabbed the mic and talked about the last time they were at Full Sail, they met the Ascension, but it became clear that they were not interested in a match, that they wanted a fight, and now they had unfinished business. He then called the Ascension out for a fight. The lights went out and the Ascension music and video began to play, but no one came out. Instead, Cameron and O’Brien came from behind. O’Brien throw Jey onto the top turnbuckle and he fell to the floor. They then isolated Jimmy, and threw him shoulder first into the post. They went to the floor and laid out Jey with their Total Elimination move. They then went back in the ring and O’Brien held who so he could take the move next. The Usos were laid out, as Saxton speculated that this rivalry was far from over.
Then we get the Raw Rebound, a staple of the show in these days. They showed a confrontation where CM Punk, in the midst, of his record breaking WWE Title reign, and Jerry Lawler, who said that Punk had turned his back on the WWE Universe when he attacked The Rock at Raw 1000. Then we got the famous Punk kicking Lawler in the head that inspired a Gif that is popular to this day. We then see Punk cut a scathing promo criticizing Lawler and saying Lawler was jealous that he had never been champion and wanted to fight him. Lawler then challenged to him a fight, which then was voted by fans to be a Steel Cage Match. This is the last cage match in WWE, with blood (Punk bladed) and was shown entirely in black and white. Punk ended up tapping Lawler with the Anaconda Vice to win the bout. Raw GM AJ Lee (damn, that was a thing) then announced that Punk would be facing John Cena at Night of Champions for the WWE Championship. Punk responded by locking the cage and demanding Lawler call him the Best in The World. Lawler refused, so Punk hammered until John Cena came out and ordered the cage lifted so he could make the save…
Big E Langston vs. Chase Donovan
Regal puts over Langston’s strength and viciousness, as Saxton lists his weightlifting credentials. They lock up to start the match, and Langston powers him to the mat. Donovan, who’s maybe 6’2, 230, tries to recover but Langston gets some speed and nails him with a bodyblock. Langston then pulls down the straps and hypes himself. He hits the Big Ending and that’s all she wrote.
Winner: Langston via pinfall
For whatever reason, Big E stays on the pin for much longer than necessary before finally getting up.
BFC, the NXT Roster began to pour out on the stage in anticipation of the title match.
Then Briley Pierce, well, tried to interview Big E. Pierce said that he had been pure devastation and if he felt his winning streak would continue. E just breathed hard and stared a whole in Pierce, who quickly got the message and walked away.
We go back to the arena and the stage is now full of the men and women of NXT. (Right behind the belt is a much more different looking Emma, and you can see Charlotte hiding in the background a little bit. Then Dusty Rhodes, the commissioner of NXT, comes out and grabs the belt and walks to the ring.
Then we are shown Jim Ross joining Saxton and Regal on commentary and they even have Howard Finkel doing the ring announcing. Mahal comes out first, and then Rollins.
Seth Rollins vs. Jinder Mahal (Gold Rush Tournament for the Inaugural NXT Championship)
Finkel does introductions for both men. Dusty holds up the title before handing it to the ref. He shakes Seth’s hand and goes to shake Jinder’s, but Jinder refuses. What a good heat getter! The crowd stats chanting for Dusty, and Seth briefly joins in. In short, they are doing everything here to make us believe this is a big match.
They go to lock up, but Seth ducks under and grabs a waistlock. He takes Jinder down and gets about a second of riding time before Jinder gets up to his feet, but Rollins takes him down again. Jinder gets back to his feet and goes to the ropes to break the hold, and then catches Seth with a backelbow on the break. Jinder works him over a little on the mat, then slams his head into the turnbuckles and hits some kicks in the corner. Mahal whips him to the other side, but Seth kips over him, rolls over a dropdown, and catches Jinder with a pair of dropkicks, then slams his head into the opposite corner.
Seth grabs him and slams his head in on the other side before nailing him with a chop, followed by a spinning back kick to the ribs. Seth goes for the Blackout, but Jinder avoids it and tries to toss Seth over the top, but Seth lands on the apron and catches him with a forearm, then low bridges Jinder over the top to the floor. Seth faints with a pescado and goes for a running kick from the apron, but Jinder catches it and slams him chest first into the apron, then gathers him up and gorilla press slams him over the apron and onto the ramp! Jinder gets him back and the ring and covers, but gets only the first two count of the match. Commercial Break.
BFC, Mahal has Seth bent back in a modified surfboard, but Seth refuses to tap, so Jinder rakes the eyes from that position. Seth tries to get back to his feet, but Mahal takes him over with a little judo trip and hits a kneedrop. Seth tries to fight out from underneath with some bodyshots and he goes for a suplex, but can’t get Mahal and comes up selling his lower back. Mahal clubs him in the back and taunts the crowd, which is into this match. Not Takeover into it, but into it. Jinder whips him into a side backbreaker for a two count, whips hard back first into the turnbuckles. Jinder dropped a knee to Seth’s back and chokes him using the bottom rope, as the fans chant “Let’s Go Rollins.”
Jinder hit a double arm suplex for a two count, then bodyslammed him and hit a vertical suplex for a two count. Jinder applied a kneeling abdominal stretch, but Seth managed to get to his feet and fight out with some rights, but charged right a flying knee from Jinder. Jinder hesitated just a bit before covering for a two count. Jinder then went for the camel clutch, but Seth managed to get to the ropes before the hold was applied.
Jinder responded by dropping knees to the injured back of Rollins. Jinder tried to pull Seth away from the ropes by both legs, but Seth managed to land on his feet and catch Jinder with an enziguri! Both men came up slowly and Jinder went for a right, but Seth blocked and fired back with series of rights, but Jinder cut him off with a knee to the gut. Jinder went for a backdrop, but Seth kicked it away and hit a spinning back kick to the ribs. Seth dropped Jinder twice with right hands, then caught him with the running one leg dropkick. Seth pounded the mat to hype the crowd and went for a flying forearm in the corner, but Jinder ducked and tried to backdrop him out, but Seth landed on his feet. Jinder went for a high knee in the corner, but Seth ducked and Jinder went over the top to the floor. Seth then went up and hit an awesome plauncha to the floor. The fans exploded and started chanting for “Rollins.” Seth then threw Mahal in the ring and went up top, but Jinder crotched him, then went up and hit a big top rope superplex. The fans are chanting “This is awesome” was we got to a second commercial break.
BFC, both are struggling to their feet in the center of the ring. They nail each other with a right hand at the same time, then come up trading strikes. Seth gets the better of it and hits a spinning back kick to the ribs, but Jinder catches him in the ribs with a boot to the gut. Jinder charges, but Seth catches him with a body kick. Seth charges, but Jinder catches him with a modified Michinoku Driver for a great false finish. Jinder goes for the Full Nelson, but Seth blocks it, so Jinder softens him up with some shots to the brain stem and goes for the Full Nelson Slam, but Seth counters into an armdrag. Seth charges, but Jinder backdrops him to the apron. Jinder misses a shoulder to the ribs and avoids a kick, but Seth catches him on the rebound with an enziguri, then hits the springboard knee to the head! Seth scrambled for the cover, but Mahal kicked out. Seth stomped the mat to build the momentum for a flying forearm in the corner, then hit a Flatliner into the turnbuckles. Seth then hit the Avada Kedavara superkick for a great false finish. That’s really what they called it in ROH and FCW, by the way.
Seth then went up for a Phoenix Splash, but Jinder cleared the way! Jinder then hit the Full Nelson Slam, but Seth kicked out! Jinder went for the camel clutch again, but Seth grabbed the ropes before he could get it on again. Jinder pulled him to the center and went for it again, but Seth escaped out the back door and rolled him up for a two count. Jinder went for a right, but Seth rolled with it and lifted him up for a powerbomb, spinning and holding him before hitting the running powerbomb into the turnbuckles. Seth then got sky-high for the Blackout for the three count! Seth Rollins is your first NXT Champion!
Winner: Rollins via pinfall
After the match, Dusty Rhodes was the first one there to hug Rollins after his victory. Rollins did his mosh pit belt waving celebration, the same he did after his win at Wrestlemania 31, and the babyfaces hit the ring to celebrate and lift him on his shoulders as the show ended.
Frank’s Take: As good as it goes. This was an excellent episode of the show. Not just because of the twenty-minute main event between future World Champions, but just the whole show was great. It had one thing that last week’s show lacked-continuity. The opening match was a rematch of a previous angle, a first for the show. The Ascension and The Usos advanced their rivalry. Big E Langston had another quick squash, and this tournament, which ended with the top babyface meeting the top heel over the last ten weeks, you really can’t ask for more. It is even more fun when you realize these two guys had a rematch on a house show in Vancouver a few months ago. Gotta love it.
But enjoy it while it lasts, because if I’m remembering right, things are about to go off the rails.
WWE NXT #404 (8.2.17) Play-by-Play and Review
You can scroll to the end for a TLDR recap of the show. Tonight, Asuka addresses Ember Moon and Johnny Gargano returns to the ring. Also, Bobby Roode has something to say and Aleister Black is going to beat someone up.
Match #1: Johnny Gargano v. Raul Mendoza
The #DIY music plays for Gargano and he does a double take before his new music plays instead. Gargano and Mendoza start out with some wrestling and reversals. Gargano seems to have the upper hand. Mendoza nips up from a shoulder block and the two trade pinning attempts before Gargano does his roll-up into a head kick spot. That was just flawless execution of that whole opening sequence by both guys. Mendoza recovers and nails Gargano with a leaping kick in the face.
Mendoza lights up Gargano with some chops and the two trade forearms. Gargano gets out of the way of a springboard attempt by Mendoza and then flattens him with the slingshot spear through the ropes. Gargano hits a huge clothesline and a running forearm in the corner, but Mendoza follows him out and delivers a brutal enzuigiri. Mendoza goes for a 450 Splash, but Gargano rolls him into the Gargano Escape and Mendoza has to tap.
Winner: Johnny Gargano via submission
Thoughts: Good match for both guys. Mendoza showed flashes of some character and is really talented in the ring. Gargano was Gargano and smooth as always. I think everyone is just waiting for Ciampa to come back for this feud to continue. I know I am.
Recap: We see a recap of the Authors of Pain/SAnitY brawl from last week. Not surprisingly, the Authors will be defending the Tag Team Championship against SAnitY at TakeOver. Paul Ellering tells SAnitY to be prepared because monsters are real.
In-Ring Promo: NXT Women’s Champion Asuka is out to the ring not dressed to wrestle. Asuka has been champion for 487 days and counting. Asuka says she’s beaten Ember Moon before and will do it again. She says Ember is not ready for Asuka. Ember Moon’s music hits and she heads to the ring.
Ember has a microphone. She says she knows she is ready and the people know she’s ready. There’s a dueling chant and it’s about 60/40 Ember Moon. Moon says Asuka isn’t ready for her. Asuka wants to shake hands, but pulls it away as Moon reaches. Asuka then slaps Moon across the face! Moon unloads with forearms on Asuka, but Asuka fights back up and nails Moon with a head kick. Asuka tries to throw Moon out of the ring, but she hangs on and surprises Asuka with the Eclipse. Asuka sells being knocked out cold as the segment ends.
Backstage Promo: NXT Champion Bobby Roode has demanded time to address both Roderick Strong and Drew McIntyre. Roode is asked how he feels about his allegedly disgusting behavior toward the Strong family. Roode uses a lottery analogy about people from the trailer park playing the lottery and trying to get rich. He says Strong lost the Bobby Roode lottery.
Roode says he heard Drew McIntyre’s comments last week. He says maybe Drew really is a changed man. Roode says he has an idea: He and McIntyre get in the ring next week and have a sit-down conversation.
Roode says he’s done, but Roderick Strong tries to get to him from off-camera. Several people are holding Strong back while Roode runs away. William Regal storms in and yells at Strong and says this isn’t the right way to handle the situation. Strong asks what he’s supposed to do when someone insults his family. Strong says he wants Bobby Roode. Regal says his hands are tied because Bobby Roode and Drew McIntyre are wrestling at TakeOver. Strong storms off and Regal looks disgusted that he had to turn down Strong’s challenge to Roode.
Vignette: Street Profits are finally debuting on TV next week.
Match #2: Sonya Deville v. Jenna Van Bemel
I don’t have any insight on Van Bemel aside from that fact that she’s a body builder. Deville shows off her speed against the much larger Van Bemel. She puts her hands behind her back and challenges Van Bemel to hit her and she cannot. Deville levels Van Bemel with a clothesline and then several knees and strikes.
Van Bemel reverses an Irish whip and crushes Deville with an avalanche in the corner. Deville leaps out of the corner and takes Van Bemel down with a flying triangle submission. Van Bemel has to tap.
Winner: Sonya Deville via submission
Thoughts: Well, it was what it was. The goal is to try to get Deville over as an MMA grappler. Is it working? I don’t know. I’m not really feeling it right now. Van Bemel, in what might have been her first match ever, didn’t do a whole lot. I don’t know if that’s a good thing or a bad thing.
Backstage: Hideo Itami is standing by and is asked about his actions last week. Itami says no one is giving him the respect he deserves, so he will not do the same. The interviewer tries to cut him off and go back to the ring, but Itami grabs the microphone and walks out the side door and into the arena. The referee tells Itami to get out of the ring, but Itami says he deserves respect.
He tells the crowd not to disrespect him. He still has a cheering section. To be fair, he’s being a heel, but it’s hard to dislike him since he’s also a bad ass. Itami says he doesn’t care who is next and then Aleister Black’s music hits – holy s**t. Oh, please make this match for TakeOver. Itami is still in the ring, by the way. Black and Itami face off briefly before Itami appears to back down and go to leave the ring. He tries to attack Black from behind but Black just devastates him with a Black Mass and Itami is out cold. Black sits in the ring and the referee tries to figure out what to do with Itami’s corpse as NXT goes to break.
Main Event/Match #3: Aleister Black v. Kyle O’Reilly
There’s a big O’Reilly chant early on for the former ROH World Champion. O’Reilly goes for some strikes before Black stuffs his takedown attempt. I’m not even going to attempt to break this down because it’s basically an MMA fight. Black counters a triangle attempt and works a hammerlock. O’Reilly nails a big forearm and a body kick, but Black absorbed it. O’Reilly goes for another high kick, but Black sweeps his legs and takes a seat next to him. Black stays seated and goads O’Reilly into missing another kick. Black nips up and catches him with a knee off the ropes. O’Reilly is in trouble as NXT cuts away.
Back from break and Black cuts O’Reilly in half with a high kick, but can only get a 2-count. O’Reilly comes back with a leg kick and several strikes before hitting a leg sweep of his own. O’Reilly transitions a back suplex into an Achilles lock, but Black counters with slaps and kicks to the face to break the hold. Black gets taken down again and tries to play defense from his back. O’Reilly jumps over into side control and briefly transitions into ARMageddon. Black doesn’t let him extend the arm, though. O’Reilly and Black exchange more kicks, but O’Reilly gets him down again with a hammerlock and delivers some vicious looking knees. Both guys are resetting as NXT goes to commercial again.
Back from break and O’Reilly is just laying it in. Black comes back with more kicks in the corner and a snap suplex. O’Reilly isn’t done working on Black’s arm, though. He continues to torque Black’s arm while delivering the occasional strike. Black finally fires up with multiple high kicks and a springboard moonsault for a 2-count. Black uses his foot to stand up O’Reilly for the Black Mass, but O’Reilly locks in an ankle lock. Black breaks it with a big knee, but then takes a leg kick as he tries for another springboard. O’Reilly hits an axe kick and a stiff forearm, but still can’t pin Black.
For the finishing sequence, they take turns pummeling each other with kicks, knees, and slaps. With both guys selling exhaustion, O’Reilly finally slips up and runs right into a Black Mass and that is the end.
Winner: Aleister Black via pinfall
Thoughts: Wow, another really good match. What else can you say? They both brought it and didn’t disappoint. This was one of the only times I can remember seeing Black really extensively dominated as well. Is Kyle O’Reilly sticking around? Was the Hideo Itami thing a one-off or will he and Black feud after the Kassius Ohno storyline plays out? A lot of questions coming out of the last 1/3 of the show.
- Johnny Gargano beat Raul Mendoza
- Ember Moon KO’d Asuka with an Eclipse
- Roddy Strong continued to try to get to Bobby Roode
- Sonya Deville beat Jenna Van Bemel
- Aleister Black KO’d Hideo Itami
- Aleister Black beat Kyle O’Reilly
Advertised for Next Week
- Bobby Roode and Drew McIntyre ‘sit-down conversation’
- Street Profits are in action
- Andrade Almas versus No Way Jose
NXT Retro Review Episode 10: McGillicutty & Curtis vs. Kidd & Gabriel
NXT Retro Review Episode 10 – Original air date – August 22, 2017
Coheed and Cambria welcome us to the show.
Byron Saxton and William Regal are on commentary.
Antonio Cesaro (with Aksana) vs. Derrick Bateman
They locked up to start the match. Cesaro takes the arm and nails Bateman with some body shots, then takes him over with a hip throw. He follows right up with a headbutt to the chest and brings him over in the corner. The ref forces a break and Bateman comes out of the corner and hits a chop and lit him up with a series of right hands, then whipped him into a dropkick for a one.
Bateman followed right up with a snap suplex for a two count. Bateman went for another whip, but Cesaro blocked it and caught him with an awesome looking hotshot. Cesaro then hooked both arms and rocked Bateman with a series of headbutts, before taking him over with a double arm suplex for a two count, then covering again for one. Cesaro snapmared him and dropped a forearm to the back of the neck for a two count, then went to a rear chinlock. Bateman fought to his feet one time, but Cesaro pulled him back down by the hair. Bateman got up a slower the second time and managed to pull off a back suplex.
Cesaro recovered in a corner but when he went after Bateman, Bateman was waiting with a pair of rights, then nailed Cesaro with a pair of clotheslines. Bateman hit a flying clothesline in the corner, followed by a modified STO. Cesaro crawled out to the apron, but Bateman hiptossed him back into the ring. Bateman went for a flying knee in the corner, but missed, and Cesaro was right on him with a gutwrench suplex. Cesaro followed up with the Neutralizer for the three count.
Winner: Cesaro via pinfall
They announce Justin Gabriel and Tyson Kidd vs Michael McGillicutty and Johnny Curtis in the main event and announce their will be a face to face staredown between Jinder Mahal and Seth Rollins. See what had happened was…
They showed an excellent video package where main roster superstars like Daniel Bryan, Kofi Kingston, The Miz, and John Cena talked about how important it would be to be the first NXT Champion and highlighted Jinder Mahal and Seth Rollins as the first two guys.
Tamina Snuka vs. Sofia Cortez
Despite being a babyface in her last two matches, Cortez comes out mocking Tamina, including doing the Superfly pose. Tamina responds by grabbing her by the hair and shoving her, then catching her with a Japanese armdrag. Sofia tried to catch her with a drop toe hold, but Tamina blocked it, so Sofia kicked her in the knee and took her over for a two count. Cortez followed up with a pair of body kicks, then brought her into the corner so she could work her over with more kicks to the ribs.
The ref warned Sofia and Tamina used the distraction to fire off a hard chop to chest. Sofia cut her off with a spinning back kick to the ribs, then took her back but instead of applying a RNC, she locked in a body triangle on the injured ribs, and then threw in some hair pulls. Tamina finally managed to stand up and back Sofia into the turnbuckle to break the hold. Sofia shoved her off, then charged right into a big right hand from Tamina. Tamina followed up with a trio of double chops to the chest, then took her down by the hair. Tamina flattened her with a superkick, but Sofia kicked out. Tamina followed right up with a big bodyslam, and hit the big Superfly Splash off the top for a three count.
Winner: Snuka via pinfall
After the match and the replay, Tamina was celebrating on the ropes, when Raquel Diaz came out and pulled her down hard from the second rope. Smart move. Raquel then used lipstick to paint an L on her forehead. Why has no one stolen that!
Kassius Ohno vs. Jake Carter
Carter was seen in the second episode of the reboot as Corey Graves tag team partner. Meanwhile, Graves has not been seen since. By the way, Carter could be The Miz’s stunt double. They could seriously be brothers. The smart crowd here is solidly behind Ohno. They locked up to start the match and Ohno grabs a headlock. Carter tries to shove him off, but Ohno switches to a cravate briefly before going back to the headlock. Carter finally drops back to the mat to break the hold, then catches Ohno with a shoulderblock for a one count, then a second shoulder for a one. He goes after Ohno in the corner, but Ohno pulls off the switch and hits him with a chop, but Carter switches on him and hits a series of bodyshots, then takes him out of the corner with a hiptoss. Carter follows up with a bodyslam and is going for something else, but Ohno rolls to the apron. Carter catches him with another bodyshot and chokes him briefly over the top rope, but when the ref breaks them and Carter goes “What?”, Ohno catches him from the apron with a boot to the face.
Ohno gets on him with a series of kicks to the ribs. Carter tries to fight back but Ohno catches him with an elbow to the head, then slams Carter’s face into his boot in the corner. Ohno followed up with a Yakuza Kick in the corner and Carter does a great sell. Regal loves the vicious streak from Ohno. Ohno then goes to the cravate. Carter tries to fight back with bodyshots, but Ohno pops him with a high knee, then kick to the head. Ohno goes for another Yakuza Kick, but Carter sidesteps him and catches him with a right, then hits Ohno with a snap suplex and a sidewalk slam for a two count. Carter goes for a whip, but Ohno reverses it and goes for a backdrop ,but Carter holds on and kicks the backdrop away. Carter runs the ropes but Ohno catches him out of nowhere with a roaring elbow to the chin (which Regal calls the DreamKiller) for the three count.
Winner: Ohno via pinfall
After the match, Carter is trying to pull himself up in the corner when Ohno catches him with a second roaring elbow in the corner. Ohno chokes him with his boot until Richie Steamboat makes the save. Ohno smiles from the rampway as Regal wonders Steamboat is doing out here….
Then we get a SummerSlam review video. 2012 SummerSlam, not so memorable.
We get a second video talking about what it means to be NXT Champion. It’s good stuff.
Michael McGillicutty and Johnny Curtis vs. Tyson Kidd and Justin Gabriel
Jim Ross has joined the commentary team for this main event. McGillicutty is somehow really over with this crowd. Kidd could not be more oiled up here. Regal tells a story about how McGillicutty and Curtis had been banned from all the Disney Parks in Orlando. That’s playing into how Curtis (now Fandango) gimmick was that he was a total weirdo. A bit of a PG Joey Ryan thing.
Kidd and McGillicutty started the match. They locked up and McGillicutty drove him into the corner. He feigned a clean break, and instead clubbed Kidd with an elbow and the crowd yelled “Ya!” McGillicutty followed up with a wristlock, clubbing the arm with some elbows, then into a hammerlock. Kidd did his old school walk to the apron and use the ropes to reverse it, but McGillicutty grabs the ropes to break it, then charges into an armdrag into an armbar. McGillicutty works to his feet, but Kidd holds in a front facelock, then tags in Gabriel so he can come in with a sunset flip for a two count.
McGillicutty charged right into another armdrag into armbar and when he worked his way to his feet, Gabriel tagged in Kidd who came in with a sweet slingshot into a prawn hold for a two count, then ate a drop toe hold into an armbar. McGillicutty worked to his feet again, but Kidd tagged Gabriel and they whipped him into a double backelbow/double snapmare/sandwich round kick to the chest combo for a two count Gabriel went to a wristlock, only have it reversed and McGillicutty hit a kick to the chest and whipped him in, but Gabriel lept to the second rope. He caught Curtis charging with a flying back elbow, but McGillicutty cut him off with an awesome clothesline that turned Gabriel inside out for a two count. McGillicutty then applied a side headlock on the mat. Commercial Break.
BFC, Curtis had Gabriel in the corner and was pounding him shoulderblocks to the ribs. McGillicutty tagged in and hit some knees to the ribs, then tagged back in Curtis and held Gabriel open for the kick to the ribs. Curtis followed up with a vertical suplex for a two count, then locked in a rear chinlock. Gabriel punched and elbowed his way out of the hold, but Curtis caught him with a high fireman’s carry, then held him down so McGillicutty could come down and stomp Gabriel in the gut, then dropped a knee for a two count. Curtis tagged back in and pounded Gabriel in the corner, then snapmared him into a surfboard. Gabriel worked his way to his feet and hit some elbows to the break the hold, but Curtis caught him with a knee to the gut for a two count.
Curtis then slammed him and went for a corkscrew senton off the top, but missed almost wildly. Tags both ways! Kidd caught McGillicutty charging into an enzigiri, then hit a springboard dropkick. He then caught him with a leg kick to set up a spinning heel kick. Kidd hit a spinning back kick to the ribs, then a basement dropkick for a two count, but the McGillicutty caught Kidd with a drop toe hold into the turnbuckle. Curtis tagged in and they hit a sidewalk slam/slingshot legdrop combo, but Gabriel raced in to break up the pin. Curtis then crotched Kidd and went for a superplex, but Kidd fought him off and headbutted him to the mat. Kidd then went for a turnaround springboard moonsault, but botched and fell back into Curtis. Kidd managed to recover and hit a spinning neckbreaker that McGillicutty broke up, but Gabriel caught him and threw him to the outside. Kidd caught Curtis charging into a back elbow, and then tagged Gabriel and they hit a Bearhug/blockbuster combo for the three count.
Winners: Kidd and Gabriel via pinfall
We go to the back and we the shadow of Kassius Ohno throwing shadowbows. Briley Pierce comes up to him and asks him about Richie Steamboat’s challenge to him. Ohno replied that Steamboat apparently didn’t like seeing someone in pain, but it would be a lot worse when he was the feeling the pain, because Kassius Hurts People. He said he was on and ordered Briley out.
Then we get a video highlighting the Rollins/Mahal matchup, with analysis from the main roster guys. Daniel Bryan put over Rollins, Booker T put over Mahal.
Then Byron Saxton in the ring, introduced Mahal, then Rollins. He then asked them both what being the first NXT Champion meant to them. Rollins then cut a pretty good promo when he said that all he ever wanted to be was a champion and this meant everything to him.
He said that growing up wasn’t always easy and you had to find your purpose and how he had none until he found wrestling and WWE, but now he had a dream. He was now on the brink of achieving that dream and there was no way he was leaving Full Sail without being champion. Saxton then asked Mahal the same question. He responded by talking in Hindi, which got a fired-up crowd even more rilled up. He then said to Seth that it was a very touching story, but he sounded like a born loser like all of these people. He said that he was born into greatness and being champion was his birthrate. He said that Seth’s dream would be a dream and that he was a reality. Seth was about to respond when Jinder sucker punched him and pounded him. Mahal went to take off his jacket and Seth recovered and double legged him to the mat. Seth pounded him and Jinder went to powder, but Seth nailed him with a tope. Seth got back in the ring and dared Jinder to come after him, but the refs came in and separated them and that’s how the show ended.
Frank’s Take: I kinda loved this show. While certain episodes have felt like one hour episodes of Saturday Night or UWF, this felt like an old Wrestling Challenge Show. The first three matches were basically glorified squash matches and then we got a competitive tag match in the main event. Sadly, the match was ruined by the one botch by Tyson Kidd. The segment with Seth and Jinder was very good. I loved Seth as the punk rock babyface and as amazing as his career was about to get, part of me wishes that we could have seen more of this character.
But there are some places where you see things going off the rails a little bit. First, Bateman gets squashed. The storyline he had been doing with Bo Dallas has gotten completely scratched and he won’t be on the show for months. Then Sofia is a heel after being a babyface? No mention of her last match with Nattie. My guess is that Sofia was released after these matches were taped and this was a burnoff of footage with her. She has said that she was released for not “wrestling like a Diva.” A shame because how awesome would Ivelisse would have been with the Horsewomen. And then Carter as babyface when he was a heel before. WHATSUPWITDAT!
screenshot – WWENetwork
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