We already knew that the special NXT events are indeed always special. But every other time all the wrestlers involved are even able to top themselves from the previous event. And they easily put every WWE Pay-Per-View into a dark corner of shame. The time for cheap talk is over. These shows are wrestling shows and that’s what’s best for business.
HIDEO ITAMI vs tyler breeze
Without any big introduction we started the show right with a match between Hideo Itami and Tyler Breeze. Every match had a meaning and also this one hadn’t been set up without previous events that finally led to this match. But the reason for Tyler Breeze attacking Hideo Itami backstage probably was the least reasonable one. So Tyler Breeze was upset about Hideo Itami’s loss in the #1 contendership tournament, so he attacked Hideo Itami? I’m still not entirely sure if I just missed one important point about that attack. But the match was on and it was the first one of this show. It already had a decent length and quite some good high flying moves. But the most impressed I was about the Figure-Four by Tyler Breeze on the steel post (as you can see in the Gif on the left).
The entrance of Tyler Breeze was already hilarious with him carrying a selfie-stick with him and then being “attacked” by a female fan. They will probably do a stalker angle with him and the female fan probably actually was part of NXT, otherwise the cameras wouldn’t have caught that scene that long until security got her and took her away. And the beginning of the match were really funny when Tyler Breeze tried to hide behind the referee. It also was refreshing (as always) to hear the NXT audience chanting “Let’s go, Hideo! Let’s go, Tyler!” instead of the (usual) WWE audience that shout “Let’s go, Cena! Cena sucks!” (basically regardless which opponent he’s in the ring with) or “CM Punk” chants during Divas matches (but that ceased to be fortunately as of late) or these YESSS!!! chants at any given (and mostly unfitting) time. The NXT audience appreciates every wrestler because every wrestler out there deserves his or her spot and is able to show it. Almost every wrestler in WWE has got their moveset reduced (minus the ones who already have got a limited moveset but somehow are the chosen golden boys, so others have to have limited movesets, so it’s not that obvious that the golden boys aren’t really golden boys).
But enough for complaining about WWE. Because this is about NXT and the first match that Hideo Itami won in the end. A good, decent start to this show.
bull dempsey vs BARON CORBIN
(4:11min) | No Disqualification match
As enthusiastic I was about Baron Corbin in the beginning, as slightly bored I am about him right now. Yes, he’s got presence, his entrance is good but this match was the low point of NXT TakeOver: Rival. It should have been a No Disqualification match which basically means: TOYS!!! But apparently Baron Corbin and Bull Dempsey thought that “No Disqualification” means “we fight it out outside of the ring”. But I’m also still bored about Bull Dempsey. And now since Kevin Owens has arrived, Bull Dempsey is just a lame blueprint of him: same stature but far less qualities. At some point right at the end of this short match, Bull Dempsey grabbed a chair, carried it into the ring but just for Baron Corbin to counter him with the End of Days for the victory. The audience showed their displeasure here because they wanted at least a bit of chair use and not the way Baron Corbin used the chair after his win: with sitting on it to watch a beaten Bull Dempsey in front of him. Like I already said: I was quite disappointed with this match.
lucha dragons vs BLAKE & MURPHY
(7:33min) | NXT Tag Team Championship match
Up next was the re-match between The Lucha Dragons, Sin Cara and Kalisto, against Blake & Murphy, Wesley Blake and Buddy Murphy, for the NXT Tag Team championship. I’m still not really into Blake & Murphy because they are just too ordinary for my liking. They are all hyped and they do indeed some decent wrestling. But I kind of miss the edge, something special. I can’t even put it into the right words. Because just to say I’m bored about them, also isn’t the right point of view. But it maybe says a lot about my preferences when this little interference you can see in the Gifs, right when Blake & Murphy celebrated their win after the match, was my highlight of this segment. It’s quite obvious that Salomon Crowe (former Sami Callihan on the Indies and former tag partner and good friend of Dean Ambrose) will be introduced next week on television but it’s still a good, mysterious teaser.
adrian neville vs FINN BÁLOR
(13:30min) | #1 Contender for the NXT Championship match
And the match importance increased again with this one between Adrian Neville and Finn Bálor was the final in the #1 contender for the NXT championship tournament. The built-up to this match was already good, even if I’m not a huge fan of Finn Bálor’s three minute entrance. But Adrian Neville wasn’t intimidated at all, just annoyed and he showed it. Adrian Neville of course also was the former champion, so there was extra pressure on Finn Bálor. The main difference of this match to many WWE matches that are booked with both competitors kicking out of their opponents’ finishers was, that it wasn’t overdone here. When Finn Bálor stayed alive after Adrian Neville hit the Red Arrow on him, it was really shocking because – as far as I know – that didn’t happen before. It was something special and no-one could have expected this. When John Cena kicks out of his opponents’ finishers, it is boring because it happens in every single match and this is boring. But when it’s happening to a finisher that always leads to the end of a match, then it’s one of these moments that only happen once a year or so. In the end Finn Bálor could hit his own finisher Coup de Grâce on Adrian Neville for the win. So Finn Bálor will be one half of the next NXT championship match. But who’ll be the other half?
bayley vs SASHA BANKS vs becky lynch vs charlotte
(11:54min) | Fatal-4-Way match for the NXT Women’s Championship
I’ve always two hearts beating in my chest when it comes to women’s wrestling in WWE. What the fans could have instead of bathroom breaks in WWE, everyone can see in NXT and once again in this Fatal-4-Way match for the NXT Women’s Championship. Instead of putting nice faces / bodies who can’t wrestle right into WWE (and Total Divas), you could also call up women from NXT and put them into real matches with good storylines for longer matches than basically a bathroom break. Right now going from NXT to WWE for a woman (but also for men) isn’t promotion but degradation. NXT is a wrestling show while WWE more and more is only there to amuse the 5-year-olds. WWE is a waste of several talents while NXT is showing what wrestling is really able to do.
So, right here, in this Fatal-4-Way, all four women got a decent amount of time to shine. The focus was on their wrestling abilities, not the size of their boobs. And some of their moves were just breathtaking once again. Referee Drake Wuertz certainly had a very hard time catching pace all along. In the end it was Sasha Banks who was able to dethrone Charlotte from her 258 days run as NXT women’s champion. And with that Charlotte could be on her way to WWE. I feel already bad for her.
KEVIN OWENS vs sami zayn
(22:45min) | NXT Championship match
And then there was the main event, Kevin Owens vs Sami Zayn for the NXT Championship. And two months (to the date) after Kevin Owens made his debut in NXT, he murdered his former best friend on live television with the referee having no other choice but to stop the match and declare Kevin Owens the winner. This finish had shades of the second match between Dean Ambrose and William Regal but back then the referee declared this match as a no contest. So, Dean Ambrose didn’t win this match while Kevin Owens indeed did win the title here. William Regal had been killed then, Sami Zayn was killed here. I see no difference. Maybe someone feels free to explain. Apart from this finish, the match itself was a one-man-show all around basically. Because Sami Zayn did have a few shots on Kevin Owens but most of the time he sold the hell out of Kevin Owens’ moves on him. At some points I thought Sami Zayn overdid his selling just to make the murder total. A bit too much for my liking. In the end Kevin Owens also hit five powerbombs on Sami Zayn until the referee finally stopped the match. Two doctors had been already at ringside at this point. And also William Regal came out to check on him.
Now, Sami Zayn could have been carried out of the arena but this time he walked on his own despite having suffered worse than at the original attack by Kevin Owens two months (to the date) ago. William Regal also lifted his right arm and Sami Zayn looked like a man who just has his final goodbye. Could mean that also Sami Zayn now fully heads to WWE where he already did dark matches and Live Events. I will certainly miss the epic matches and the good booking. But good luck to you, Sami, you will need it.
PS. For everyone looking for the SmackDown review from last Thursday, there will be none. Because Dean Ambrose wasn’t part of it. He’s currently in Abu Dhabi for three days to work some live events there. Hopefully on coming RAW there won’t be just another short and easy win against Curtis Axel.
You all just can’t imagine how much I would give for Dean Ambrose teaming up with William Regal and / or heading to NXT for better gimmick use and entertaining matches.