A video package hyping the NXT championship match from Osaka, Japan was shown before moving on to the main titles.
The opening of the show began with a mini celebration for D.I.Y who went into the crowd to celebrate and received a good ovation with the now obligatory ‘You deserve it’ chants. I was looking forward to a little bit live mic time for these two but they were quickly interrupted by Paul Ellering and the A.O.P, I’m not sure how everyone else feels about Ellering but I’m almost certain I heard the same sort of promos from him in 1992. The usual shtick from the challengers before the superb revival came out to a reception normally reserved for baby faces, including the crowd singing along, to remind everyone they are due a rematch with D.I.Y. The A.O.P took exception to some comment from Dawson, who I enjoyed hearing from, before shoving the Revival back and making them back off. Ellering finished by saying the Authors will be the next tag team champions.
I was a little disappointed with the segment as I was looking for more speaking time for the champs, Jonny Gargano still reminds me of CM Punk, but we got nothing from them and they looked a bit silly just stood there watching while Ellering chuntered on about chapters. The Revival continue to be the driving force of the tag division and I enjoyed the little mic time they got. I haven’t read the taping spoilers and my first thought was this is heading towards a triple threat title match down the line which would be interesting as both the Revival and D.I.Y are accomplished and the A.O.P are still working their way forward as a team.
Tom Philips and Corey Graves then gave some spiel about the Tag Team picture changing and the women’s division evolving before introducing Percy Watson as the new voice in the announce booth.
I’m not as concerned about the move to a three-man announce team as some are and not sure what other people feel about Phillips and Graves as a commentary team but I like them. The Tag team division is strong even after the losses of American Alpha and The Vaudevillians (remember them?) but in my opinion the woman’s division is still a long, long way from being competitive with Asuka being way above the rest of the women on the roster.
16 minutes into a 59 minute show and we get our first wrestling action in the form of No Way Jose and Rich Swann vs Sanity.
Nice ovation for No Way Jose and a strong reaction for Rich Swann (insert obligatory ‘you deserve it’ chant in here) before a three person Sanity entered the arena, with no sign of Sawyer Fulton. Eric Young was carrying the jacket of Fulton before slamming it to the mat and spitting on it before throwing it onto the ramp. After some nice early work from No Way and Swann, Sanity took over and Sloth, sorry Wolfe, entered the ring and did some form of dance that reminded me of my Dad when I spiked his beer with acid (Not a true story). Swann was superb off the top rope on to Wolfe on the outside. When the match broke down No Way was driven into the ring-post by Damo, who appeared from the crowd, before picking up the jacket and slamming it back down, is this jacket NXT’s version of James Ellworth? Sanity got the win around the 24 minute mark.
I can’t get around how much Wolfe reminded me of Sloth and I did enjoy the Sanity entrance and the weird mad max/wyatt family ring gear. I’m a big fan of factions as they provide a platform for talents who aren’t quite reaching their potential and to pair them with a well seasoned veteran, in this case Young. The match was ok and worked as a way to continue the mini feud between Sanity and Jose and set up Damo debuting. Again not clued up on what direction they are going with Damo but him joining Sanity would be a good fit.
William Regal time now and he announced a rematch between D.I.Y and The Revival with the winner facing Authors of Pain at Takeover San Antonio. Tye Dillinger walked in and appeared to be on the verge of apologising before Regal added him to a number one contenders tournament. The segment ended with Regal lovingly gazing at his brass knuckles.
Basic GM spot arranging the rematch and one which I’m looking forward to after their 2/3 falls classic. The tournament is clearly a showcase for talents they’re trying to get over and I wouldn’t be surprised at a Dillinger/Roode final. Regal loves those brass knucks but surely the amount of times they’ve been in his trunks the have the old sweaty penis smell?
Quick recap of Damo’s attack during the tag match before trying to get a word with Sanity, for some reason the women’s championship was just randomly left on a storage crate and Nikki Cross had a good look at it before Asuka showed up and grabbed the belt while smiling at Nikki.
Asuka vs Nikki appeals to me and will be a quality match when it happens. I assumed by her actions at takeover Asuka was heading towards a heel turn but if she faces Cross will this still be the case.
Ember Moon vs Kimber Lee was up next and they had a nice early back and forth that ended with Lee flying across the ring following a huge flip from Moon. Moon then hit some pretty big kicks that looked good on TV. The crowd was pretty quiet during this one and the match suffered mid way through and became dis-jointed, Moon’s finishing move sparked the crowd to life and she got the 1-2-3 in around 3 minutes.
Another basic match to showcase Moon but the match seemed a little awkward for a while but I enjoy seeing Moon. Corey Graves made a comment about their being no competition for Asuka and at the moment he’s right, the decision to draft Bayley, Alexa Bliss and Nia Jax highlighted the lack of established female stars in NXT. Hopefully we’ll see the likes of Ember Moon and Nikki Cross develop quickly into main event ladies as the division is crying out for them at the minute.
Tile match time now and after the ring introductions Samoa Joe vs Shinsuke Nakamura was under way, the pace was a little slower during this one. Nakamura hit a cracking german suplex before Joe reversed a kinshasa into an awesome looking bodyslam. The pace quickened up towards the end before Nakamura hit the KINSHASA to regain the belt in around 11 minutes.
I love the matches between these two because of the physicality and the intensity and I’m sure this one was cut down to fit into the time left in the broadcast as it didn’t flow right. Overall it was still an enjoyable watch, I’m not bothered about the title changing hands quickly between these two as they are the two top guys and surely as in any sport the dominant forces always produce big clashes and wouldn’t you expect an experienced wrestler to adapt and try new tactics to win the belt back? I know it’s not the wrestling norm but it’s different and brings about a realism to the championship, two top guys battling desperately to win the championship. I liked the lack of near falls in this match as well, but that could be down to the editing of the match.
At this point I will have to confess that this is my first article on wrestling but before you judge I’ve been a watching since the late 80’s and the only thing I regret is not watching more Japanese wrestling and missing out on a different style and different persona’s. I’m gutted that I haven’t seen Nakamura sooner as he’s the most charismatic and engaging wrestler I’ve ever seen. I hope they utilise Nakamura and Joe correctly when they move on to the main roster and don’t waste the talent they have a la Neville, Breeze and to an extent Sami Zayn.
Overall the show was average and feel like NXT needs a little boost at the moment, hopefully the tournament will provide that in the coming weeks.
Thanks for reading