How was NXT Takeover London?
Triple H began the show in similar fashion to NXT Takeover Brooklyn, standing in the middle of the ring with spotlights, while the rest of the audience was blacked out. I really liked that Triple H addressed the beating he suffered at the hands of Roman Reigns back at WWE TLC, and that he said he’d have to be dead in order to not be at Takeover. He talked about NXT being our brand, that it’s our time, NXT’s time, because “We are NXT.
Asuka vs Emma was the opening match, and rightfully so, because they put on a brutal, unforgiving tried and true wrestling match. There was an evolved story line being told throughout, each woman had the chance to get in their fair share of offense, and at no point did it truly look like one had the match in hand over the other. To get this out of the way, because it’s somewhat of a small gripe, I didn’t like that Asuka did the Rearview move three times, but one of them was done off the apron to the outside, and it was amazing:
It’s typically a big no-no to do the same move multiple times during a match, because it makes things feel repetitive, unless it’s a Finisher, in which case it’s exciting due to the match possibly being over. Outside of that, I liked everything else this match had, the back and forth story, the physicality, the emotion, all of it, and if you were paying even the slightest bit of attention, you know the crowd was liking it as well. The crowd wasn’t quiet for more than a couple seconds at a time, yelling out almost non-stop, including a ton of Asuka chants, and the coveted “this is wrestling” chant. The fact the crowd was so into this match, spoke volumes as to the quality; and sure, it was the first match, so they had loads of energy to give, but nothing was forced, they were into it because it was genuinely good.
Asuka and Emma took us on a ride, but when it seemed like it was all over, they upped the ante, momentarily taking the referee out of the match, with Emma shooing the ref behind the two women so Emma could slam her and Asuka’s bodies back into him, shoving him into the corner. This allowed Dana Brooke –who was ringside in support of Emma– to toss in a weapon, a leather strap with buckles and chains on it, which almost got Asuka DQ’d, but the referee let it go when Asuka willingly gave it to him. Emma went for a rollup attempt, Asuka kicked out, countered it, and put Emma in the Asuka Lock, but Brooke distracted the referee long enough for Emma to tap out without the ref seeing it, and Asuka released the hold to get rid of Brooke. The referee tossed Brooke, Brooke refused to go, Asuka approached the ropes, Brooke hopped down, Emma got a hold of the weapon and tried to hit Asuka with it, but just like we saw the last time these two tried to distract Asuka long enough for someone to try a sneak attack, Emma got blown up with a spinning kick to the melon:
Asuka picking up the win, despite Emma and Brooke’s best efforts to cheat to win, was a sight to behold. Asuka right now is as untouchable as they come, and she’s being built in a way that puts her at the top of the division, where she belongs. Triple H has called her the “Silent Assassin“, a moniker that plays off her stunning power, but makes it so she doesn’t have to speak much, as she’s still learning to speak the English language. You can try to set her up, you can try to cheat, but in the end, Asuka is going to kick your face off and pick up the win.
Enzo Amore and Big Cass got a great promo video leading into their match, recapping their journey so far as NXT’s resident tag team veterans. If that didn’t make you smile, I don’t know what could; it sent goosebumps up and down my arms, and really made me want to see them finally capture that elusive Gold. Then Enzo and Cass cut one of their great promos heading to the ring, where Enzo brought out one of his more classic lines, where he usually references having Zero Dimes, but seeing as how they were in the UK, Enzo pulled out a British Pound, and said, “If I had a Pound for every time me and Big Cass got knocked down and didn’t get back up, I’d have zero Pounds” and then tossed the British Pound to the side. This match continued to prove that the London crowd was one of the best we’ve seen/heard in a very long time, regardless of the wrestling promotion. Case in point? Them singing the tune, Hey Jude, but replacing the name with Big Cass.
Enzo has been getting used in way better of fashion for the last 4-6 months, where instead of just being fodder for their opponents to run through, Enzo’s been able to have actual matches, where his offense is effective, and he doesn’t just look like a jobber:
When Big Cass got in the first time around though, he wasn’t screwing around in the slightest, wiping out the competition with a massive Clothesline and followed it up by picking up Dawson and throwing him at Dash:
When Enzo got tagged back in after that though, Dash and Dawson went to work on Enzo, injuring Smacktalker Skywalker‘s left shoulder, and focusing on it for the rest of the match, making sure that if Enzo was going to be involved in the match, he’d be without the use of one arm. Just when it looked like Enzo was about to tag Cass back in, Dawson took Cass out, and used the distraction Cass created by arguing he was supposed to be in the match to make the tag for Dash to be in, and then hit Enzo with a unique looking Gourde Buster tag move:
When Dash tried for the pin though, the referee yelled at Dash and Dawson that he didn’t see them make their tag, so Dash jumped out of the ring, Dawson got back in, but by that point it was enough for Enzo to gather the energy to kick out. Enzo found a way back to Cass, got the big man back in, but it didn’t take long for Dawson to pop Cass with a shot to Cass’ knee:
Cass powered through the submission hold he was put into, laid out both foes, tagged Enzo back in, shot Enzo into the air off the top rope for their Tag Finish, which looked to be the conclusion we all were begging for:
Problem is, Dash was ready to spoil things for Enzo and Cass, yanking Enzo out of the ring before the three count was finished. When Dash tried to use Carmella as a human shield, it seemed to spell doom for the NXT Tag Team Champions, but when Dash tossed an attacking Big Cass to the side, got in the ring, stopped Enzo from trying to hit whatever top rope move Enzo was loading up for, and then launched Enzo into the air for Dash and Dawsons Tag Finish, which looked nasty as hell:
Dash and Dawson picking up the win wasn’t really a surprise –to me, I talked about Dash and Dawson retaining in my predictions,– but it was a disappointment for sure. I’m really hoping this means we’re going to see Enzo and Cass get the call to move over to the WWE Roster in time for WrestleMania, where they can capture the WWE Tag Team Championship on the Grandest Stage of them All.
NXT really screwed up by having that tag match, and then showed Bayley arriving to the arena…with Carmella by her side, and acting like Bayley was just now getting there, even though Carmella was literally just ringside moments before they cut the feed to the back.
Apollo Crews and Baron Corbin was an intensely physical bout, which clearly told the tale of two characters that hate each other and want to destroy one another until there’s nothing left, which is precisely what I was hoping for. Corbin drew out the worst in Apollo, and Corbin got more and more angry as this feud developed, so them being lit sticks of dynamite, ready to have an explosive moment at any time was exactly what this match needed. Corbin kept talking about how it was his house and how Apollo should have stayed home, which was a generic thing, but effective, until he said that Apollo should have stayed in Ring of Honor, that Apollo should have stayed in those little gyms performing in front of no one. Corbin saying that completely took me out of the moment, because Apollo wasn’t ever in Ring Of Honor, he was in Pro Wrestling Guerrilla.
It was spectacular to see a match feature more of Corbin’s athleticism, since we rarely get to see Corbin get tested by someone faster than him. Corbin held his own and showed that he’s gotten a lot better over the year. Corbin did have a flub towards the middle of the match, where he went to counter out of a move and ended up falling to his knees rather than landing on his feet, but he quickly rebounded, ran at Apollo, and Apollo chucked Corbin through the ropes out of the ring. Good wrestlers respond well to mess ups, great ones turn it into something that helps make the match more interesting, and Corbin made things look more interesting. I won’t say he’s great yet, he’s still got a bit to go, but the guy has been taught the necessary things to be great, and he’s beginning to work them into his matches. When Apollo countered out of an End of Days, hit an Enziguri that put Corbin on his back, and Apollo finished it off with a Standing Moonsault, I was sure it was all over, but Corbin Kicked out, only to have Apollo continue the assault. I nearly jumped out of my seat when Apollo lifted Corbin onto his shoulders, looking to do Apollo’s Lifted Sit Out Powerbomb, but Corbin held on to the top rope, prevented Apollo from getting Corbin into the air, Corbin fought out of the move, shoved Apollo across the ring, and when Apollo charged at Corbin, it was End of Days time:
My jaw dropped, I couldn’t believe that Apollo actually lost, couldn’t believe that Corbin was the one to be the first to defeat Apollo, but I was happy about it. We haven’t seen Apollo look vulnerable yet, so this is something for him to learn from, to build from, and now we all know he’s not an unstoppable baby face good guy. Meanwhile, Corbin looked like a million bucks being able to keep up with Apollo, and then looked even better after picking up the win. The crowd may have been ruthless with Corbin –screaming f*** you, Corbin at one point,” but it was all worth it when he was able to walk up the ramp as the victor.
Nia Jax was doing a backstage interview when she noticed that Asuka was standing off to the side, approaching Asuka, and asking what Asuka was looking at:
I really dig that NXT is already setting up something for both of them to do after Takeover, and it being against one another is a fascinating thing. Jax has run over everyone and Asuka has been a buzz saw, chopping down everyone who dared challenge her; so the two of them colliding has promising potential.
Before getting into the match, I’ve got to say that Jax’s cape addition –used in her entrance only– was pretty cool:
Bayley finding a way to be just as physical as the larger and far more imposing Jax was impressive, but when Bayley spent a good two minutes trying everything she could think of to knock Jax off her feet, it became clear after Jax swatted Bayley like a fly, that Bayley’s strength just wasn’t enough:
The move that finally put Jax on her back was Bayley shoving her challenger off the top rope, after Jax was giving Bayley a pounding. Jax’s kick out was a bigger moment than Bayley shoving Jax off the top:
What transpired after that was ill-conceived in my opinion, where Jax did at least a half dozen of her Leg Drop Finishers, but Bayley kept kicking out. If that’s someone’s Finisher, it’s supposed to be the end, and if they have to hit it several times, it certainly is over after three or four, otherwise it makes your Finisher look weak. Bayley might be the Champ, but she is still significantly smaller than Jax, so it reasonably should have been enough to put Bayley away. Jax put Bayley back up on the top rope to try and hit a big time move, but Bayley locked on a Guillotine submission hold, and would keep finding ways to get the hold back in, despite Jax slamming Bayley out of the hold a couple times. The last time Jax attempted to lift Bayley up for Jax’s Signature slam, Bayley put the hold back in again, only this time Jax would fall to her butt, and Bayley would sink in the submission hold until Jax would shockingly tap out:
Going in to the match I never would have guessed that it would end in submission. I even talked about how I thought it would end with Bayley finding a way to do the Bayley To Belly, but Bayley did what a lot of people suggested, she found a submission hold, and it proved to be just as devastating as the other members of the Four Horsewomen. Bayley beat Jax, Jax is moving on to Asuka, so what’s next for Bayley? Was Eva Marie not being around a sign of some kind? Is she getting another chance? Or is Alexa Bliss returning to the Title picture?
The main event, oh the main event, but before I get to that, let’s talk Finn Bálor‘s entrance:
Finn Bálor…Jack The Ripper…eh, same person apparently. Bálor’s Demon paint is something I think all NXT fans look forward to seeing, but this time around, not only was he done up in the standard Demon paint, but he looked like a straight up pissed off Demon to boot:
The Jack The Ripper themed back painting was also really cool, along with all the stitch work that was done all throughout the body paint. It was also really cool that Bálor stuck to his roots, where every time the paint changes, the persona in the entrance changes as well. The way he moves, the way he plays to the crowd, it all changes, even in subtle ways. Enough of the entrance though, let’s get to the match, shall we? It was a slow paced affair, where Joe dominated for 80% of it, and every time it looked like Bálor was about to turn the tide, Joe responded with something to put Bálor back down. It wasn’t until after Joe went through a series of submission attempts on Bálor, but Bálor kept fighting through them, finally breaking it by getting his foot on the bottom rope, that Bálor was able to mount some offense. After sending Joe out of the ring, and hitting a Suicide Dive on the big Samoan, Bálor went to the top rope to do a standing Double Foot Stomp to the back of the neck, something we haven’t seen in quite a while:
Bálor controlled things for about a minute, before loading up for a Corner Dropkick, but Joe side stepped it, landed a back drop, set Bálor up for a Musclebuster, but Bálor slid out, went for a pin, Joe kicked out, and the craziness continued. The two top level talents would start unloading everything in their arsenal, anything they could think of that could help seal it, but when Bálor rolled out of the Coquina Clutch, hit Joe with not one, but three Corner Dropkicks, and went for the Coup De Grace, I thought we’d be able to call it a day. Joe got to his feet before Bálor could get airborne, fighting the Champ, trying to shift Bálor into position for the Musclebuster, but couldn’t get the Champ to stop fighting. Bálor eventually knocked Joe back down, and took the opportunity to quickly lift off for the Coup De Grace win:
Surprisingly, there was nothing after the match, just a bloodied Joe being helped to the back, dead staring Bálor while the Champ celebrated in the ring. Takeover going off air with our last image being Bálor getting evaluated, and him repeatedly pointing to his head wasn’t the best sign, I hope that wasn’t as serious as it looked.
Takeover being at an abnormal time probably hurt the booking of the overall event, where NXT didn’t want to have too many shocking moments, because a lot of their typical viewers weren’t able to log into the WWE Network to tune in Live. There were no Title changes, no debuts, no returns, and only one surprising win. The matches were good, creating the next story line for a couple talents for after Takeover was a good idea, but when compared to other Takeover’s, London fell a little flat. I think we’re –I’m– just spoiled by what happened for so long at these events, but even with that said, I have to give NXT Takeover London a:
+ Nearly every match was good to great
+ Asuka and Emma absolutely brought it
+ Every match had passion, intensity, and ferocity
– Nia Jax vs Bayley wasn’t as good as the other matches on the card, and didn’t come close to the Women’s match that opened the show
– No Title changes, no debuts, and no returns was frustrating to a point, but in all fairness it made the normal episodes where these things do happen, seem more important
That’s The Lowedown on what I think will happen at NXT Takeover London, thanks for reading, make sure to let me know what you think is going to happen by voting in the polls, and remember to watch more wrestling!
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The future is bright and full of suplexes!