Saturday, January 28, 2017
San Antonio, TX
I want to start with an announcement that I am approaching my reviews differently in 2017. I have decided to focus less on breaking down the match, and switch to providing more of my thoughts (which had been increasingly more prominent with each review anyway). I also decided to no longer do star ratings. I agree with the star rating system, however, my opinion changes frequently with either each viewing, or by simply mulling it over. A great match is a great match, and those won’t change, but I find certain booking decisions affecting the outcomes tends to knock it down at the time. Then, it will turn out it was the right decision (or vice versa) and I want to change my rating. Plus, Dave Meltzer’s haphazard rating of a Kenny Omega match has tainted the meanings of star ratings, in my eyes. This isn’t the Wild West. It should be five stars as the top. Period. You can’t just start handing out six stars all willey nilley. It’s anarchy! What’s next?! Seven star matches?! Eleven and a half stars! Why stop there?! I will say though that I am open to input, so if anyone wants to see me implement the star rating system again, I will gladly consider it, so please tweet me your thoughts @kevwilds. I enjoyed rating them, as it helps me stay focused on the match, but I don’t know. Ok, enough of that. I need to get off this box I keep my soap in.
The expectations going into this Takeover event have been lower than usual, contrary to their past outings. It seems as if with each passing show, the star power is less apparent than the last. The perception that the only true stars are Bobby Roode and Shinsuke Nakamura, combined with the theory that the women’s and tag team divisions have been gutted, creates a level of anticipation that is different than previous Takeover specials. I remain positive, however, in regards to the future of NXT, as with the way WWE signs talent these days, the moment a star is plucked from NXT to move on to the main roster, another indie darling is put into their place. Roderick Strong, Chris Hero/Kassius Ohno, SANITY, No Way Jose, amongst others will steer the ship in the right direction. I will say there are a few new names floating around that leave me looking at my watch (Kohna Reeves, I am looking at you), but it is a developmental system for a reason, so there is nothing stopping this new young crop in finding their identity. With that said, let’s get to it.
Corey Graves, Tom Phillips and the Takeover debut of Percy Watson are your announcing team. It took a second, but NXT finally succumbed to the three man booth formula. The one thing WWE stays consistent on is this? It’s fine. Small potatoes (mmm, small potatoes. *drool*). As usual, I love the set. A nice little touch has the Takeover logo being raised to show the entrance, where it will stay the rest of the show. Quick aside: This is one of the first occasions where I not only love the Takeover theme song, but I have actually been a fan of the band for years prior. Ghost are a Swedish band that mix the harmonies and melody of Blue Oyster Cult and the imagery of Mercyful Fate into a nice little evil package. But, I do love my metal, so I just had to share. Did I lose you? Back on track I go.
Tye Dillinger vs. Eric Young (with Alexander Wolfe and Killian Dane of SANITY)
Tye got a big ovation and it does appear that the gimmick is over like rover. He is a solid worker too, so that helps. That old adage, good things come to those who wait has never applied more to someone than Tye Dillinger. He has earned this. I still say that Killian Dane is not a good name at all. Each name on its own is fine, but together, it’s a thumbs down from me. It reminds me of a South Park episode where they ridicule Family Guy and how they likely write their shows. It involved a Manatee. It basically picked apart how random the cut away jokes were in the show. I feel that way about the NXT method of picking names. Most of them have worked rather nicely. Lately though, it just feels generic with no thought to who the individual assigned to the name is. Anyway, this was a really solid opening match. Much better than I anticipated actually. Likely, the best Eric Young match I have seen, and you can tell he is motivated and feels re-charged with a change of scenery. I am surprised that Tye lost again, as the guy can’t get a break, but I assume it is building to something. I am intrigued where this will lead. Of course, you need to keep SANITY looking strong and since Tye was distracted with the other members at ringside, he has an out.
Andrade “Cien” Almas vs. Roderick Strong
Strong’s music is kind of 2004-ish generic. It doesn’t stand out to me, but maybe with time, it will grow on me. Almas has a renewed vigor, and the heel turn was exactly what he needed. It’s really clicking right now, as his initial face run debut was uninspired. It is a prime example of the glaring differences in booking philosophies of NXT and the main roster. They could sense Almas wasn’t working, and turned him before more damage was done. Booking 101. This match was Stiff City (about 20 miles south of Suplex City. I hear they have a new Micro Brew that will knock your socks off). These two beat the hell out of each other. I loved it! Almas was able to do some of his trademark high flying, without it feeling out of place. There was great psychology throughout. The finish was a bit anti-climactic, but Strong going over was the right call, and I have a feeling this feud may not be over.
Oh, I almost forgot to mention that they showed Samoa Joe in the crowd looking irritated, as only he can look. I have butterflies at the thought of him winning the Royal Rumble now. I really shouldn’t set myself up for that. It’s on me if I am disappointed.
What the hell?! Seth Rollins enters the ring and is all fired up calling out HHH. He is passionate and shaking, making this come across much more legit and awesome. HHH heads out (sans music thank god), stares at Rollins and signals for the indie talent security crew. Rollins takes them all out but is eventually overtaken by them when he begins to walk up the aisle and is carried away kicking and screaming. This was tremendous. Great crossover angle to show some good storyline continuity. I wanted this to happen, but never expected it would. Well done. I also believe Rollins is a more over babyface now than anything RAW has booked him to be.
NXT Tag Team Champions DIY (Johnny Gargano and Tomaso Ciampa) vs. The Authors of Pain (with Paul Ellering) for the NXT Tag Team Championship
I got it! Ellering looks a tad like General Zod from the original 70’s Superman movie. Perhaps he always had, and I am just now figuring that out. I still am not exactly sure what the names of the Authors are. Akem and Razar? Akeem and Razor? I also don’t know which is which, even though they even have their names stenciled on their gear this time to assist me. I find it more fun to just keep the mystery alive. I wish they would just be Author # 1 and Author # 2. Why didn’t they just go for it and name them after actual authors? How interesting would it be to have the ring announcer introduce them as, “coming to the ring…Vonnegut and Twain! The Authors of Pain!” or “heading down the aisle, Hemingway and Ingalls-Wilder!” Although, I suppose since it’s “pain” they are authors of, King and Allan Poe would be more appropriate. But, I digress. The Authors of Pain win with after hitting their finisher on Ciampa and win the Tag straps. I know a few are down on this match. I can see both sides. On one side of the coin, DIY had some crazy momentum and legitimacy heading into this match, and have only had the titles for 2 months. The other side is the money is in the chase for DIY, and not all teams can be dominant like The Revival. It’s good to shake things up. They also had to keep The Authors of Pain looking strong. They sold well, and more than usual for this match, so I dig it. I also miss the big hoss tag teams, so it’s a welcome change. Besides, they are the Authors of Pain, not the Editors of Slight Discomfort. Moving on!
NXT Women’s Champion Asuka vs. Nikki Cross vs. Billie Kay vs. Peyton Royce
Fatal 4-Way for the NXT Women’s Championship
Now, I said on the inaugural episode of the Pro Wrestling Mothership Podcast that I am not that into Kay or Royce. I stand by that. They are just lacking something. It has nothing to do with their skills or talent. It’s a subjective art form, so I am entitled to not like performers for whatever reason, or lack thereof that I see fit. With that said, I actually thought they did a good job in this match, not once turning on each other and being a chickenshit heel tandem. It totally worked, and I can see them growing on me. I still do not see either of them as serious threats to Asuka’s title, and I can’t wait for the inevitable one on one match between Cross and Asuka. This was a well worked, thought out match and not the usual cluster that fatal 4 ways can be. Asuka gets the win after Cross was taking out by being suplexed through a table by the announce booth via Royce and Kay. Asuka retains, and she is quickly running out of opponents. Cross is magnificent and I can see her being a huge star in the division on the main roster. Her going nuts as part of SANITY is quite believable, even though it’s over the top. I can see Cross winning the title from Asuka at TakeOver Wrestlemania weekend and then transitioning into a feud with Ember Moon. Speaking of which, she was nowhere to be found on this show. Oh well, not everyone can be featured every week, which is why NXT seems so fresh most of the time.
Match 5/Main Event:
NXT Champion Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Bobby Roode for the NXT Championship
Let’s begin by bringing up the entrances. Oh, the entrances! Roode goes all 80’s Ric Flair, with full on sparkly robe and a chorus line of women on his arm as he slowly walks to the ring. Then, Nakamura trumps that by being led to the ring riding a cart with a stroke inducing strobe light. Both entrances took forever, but it was necessary. They started slow during the “feeling out process” all the while the fans were chanting and making noise, so it didn’t seem slow at all. The story they told throughout I really enjoyed, and there were no glaring style clashes that I was expecting. Nakamura did feel like he was going through the motions, but even Nak at half speed is perfectly acceptable, especially for this match. Nakamura sold his ass off (or knee off) once there was a spot that called for Nakamura to sell a knee injury and it played nicely into the ending sequence. Officials came out to check on Nakamura. Nakamura insisted on continuing the match, which led Roode to capitalize and hit his DDT, which Nakamura kicked out of at the last second. Beautiful! Nakamura being vulnerable and susceptible now, Roode goes full dickhead and applies the half Boston Crab to the injured knee, and now NXT head trainer, Matt Bloom/Albert/Tensai is out to check on him. Roode pulls Nakamura back from the ropes, into the middle of the ring, let’s go of the crab and hits his DDT again, and gets the three count to capture the NXT title. What was so great too, was the fact that Roode was punching Nakamura’s knee while he had the half crab applied. I always wondered why more people don’t do that. Such a great ending and overall match. Roode as champion is the direction NXT needs to go, and Nakamura desperately needs to get called up the main roster in order to cure his boredom. He was there a year, and now it’s time to move on. I do wonder what will come of the alleged forthcoming Kassius Ohno match with Nakamura now?
Overall, another good to great show that exceeded expectations. NXT continues to prove that even with a slightly depleted roster, they can still put on some of the best consistent professional wrestling shows in the country. Even though this show was another winner, in a long line of good shows for NXT, the Royal Rumble, at least on paper, may actually give it a run for its money. That is as long as WWE doesn’t troll all of us again, and have Shane McMahon win or something. Speaking of which, check back here for my Royal Rumble review.