I’ve been away from NXT for a while, due to a lack of money and time for the WWE Network. I’ve kept up with some of the ongoings with NXT, so it was nice to be able to see how they would play out in this latest Takeover.

I was not disappointed at all.

Here are some takeaways from each match:

WARNING: some spoilers, especially with the Tag Team Classic. 

“Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic” Semi-Finals:
The Mechanics (Scott Dawson/Dash Wilder) vs. Finn Balor/Samoa Joe: B+

  • This was the first time that I saw Dawson and Wilder in the ring and I was pretty impressed. They reminded me slightly of “The Enforcers” (Arn Anderson/Larry Zybyszko) from the early 1990’s: not much flash, but a solidly-build, pretty clean, pretty physical tag team. They will factor into the Tag Title chase very soon.
  • It was odd seeing 2 top-tier single wrestlers in the semi-finals of a Tag Team tournament.
  • Samoa Joe may not be fast… but he is still deceptively quick.
  • Finn Balor took a good deal of punishment. If there had been an NXT “Money In The Bank” briefcase, Wednesday night might have been a good time to cash in….
  • As the match wrapped up, Samoa Joe set up Dawson for a Muscle Buster, only for a hobbled Balor to demand to tag in. Joe looked annoyed… but tagged Balor in for the finish, after hitting the Buster. Balor hits the Coup de Grace for the win. Would that hesitation play in later…? *cue dramatic music*

“Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic” Semi-Finals:
Rhyno/Baron Corbin vs. Jason Jordan/Chad Gable: A

  • The fans stole the show during this match. Their chants for Chad Angle Gable were pretty clever.
  • The last time I saw NXT, Rhyno and Corbin were beating the crap out of each other… so, imagine my surprise when I not only see them in the semi-finals but they looked like a cohesive team. I wonder if NXT is planning on keeping these two together in the short-term….
  • Jason Jordan and Chad Gable are superstars in the making. They were dialed in during this match. There was a great blend of power (Jordan), speed (Gable), technical wrestling (both), and even some good move reversals (Gable)
  • Baron Corbin has expanded his move set since I last saw him. He has a NASTY-looking arm-switch, 360 Black Hole Slam that could be a perfect Signature move (I don’t know if it has a name or not). Gable probably wants no part of that move again.
  • Rhyno, meanwhile, was Rhyno: bruiser, power moves, absorbed more punishment than I thought he would
  • The final few minutes of this match had me, the friend I was watching it with, and most of the Full Sail arena, on edge. Gable tried to reverse another big power move from Corbin; instead, his reversal was reverse into the End Of Days. Corbin and Rhyno go to the finals.
  • If I have one (minor) complaint about the entire event, it’s that the final 2 teams were made up of mainly single wrestlers, including the NXT Champion. Oh well, the 2 “young” teams had good showings!

Asuka vs. Dana Brooks: A-

  • 5 seconds into the match, the crowd was chanting “Asuka’s gonna kill youuuu!”
  • Dana Brooks needs some credit for this match. She kept up the ‘mind games’ with Asuka: a slap to the face here, denying an opening handshake there, taunting here-and-there…
  • …until she put in the first of many arm breakers.
  • I honestly believe that Asuka was muting her wrestling style in this match, and that’s not a bad thing. She put in a few of her trademarked kicks, but nothing quite as stiff or head-centered as she might have done in, say, Shimmer. Instead, Asuka displayed a multitude of arm submissions, leg submissions, and lets-bend-Dana-into-a-pretzel submissions.
  • This actually was a good match. Dana Brooks put up some decent offense and Asuka got to showcase some of her move set to a new American audience. There is a hilarious/creepy backstage video of the fallout of this match. (Hint: Emma made eye contact. Poor Emma.)

Apollo Crews vs. Tyler Breeze: B-

  • Tyler Breeze had put together a string of amazing “Takeover” performances, leading into this match with Crews. It is odd for me to say, then, that this match was the “low point” of Takeover. Don’t get me wrong – it was a solid match but it was a “meh” match
  • Breeze was ultra-aggressive in this match
  • Crews had a few insanely-impressive moves but not much else went on with him
  • I’m not sure where Crews and Breeze go from here. I guess Crews solidifies a spot in line for the NXT Title; Breeze? He continues to wear the “One Who Can’t Win The Big One” label.

“Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic” Finals:
Rhyno/Baron Corbin vs. Finn Balor/Samoa Joe: B+

  • Finn Balor played up the injured-leg angle throughout the match
  • Joe and Rhyno should spend 5 minutes just beating the crap out of each other, if they are ever in a match together again
  • Joe, out of concern for Balor, took about 95% of the punishment for his team. For some reason, that was a little shocking and refreshing. Usually, HE’S the one getting the Hot Tag, not making it to Balor
  • A ton of action and intrigue in this match, especially the last few minutes. It wasn’t the scientific classic that Jordan/Gable put on about an hour before, but it was entertaining
  • At the Trophy Presentation ceremony, the Rhodes family showed up. I don’t know how Cody (“back from vacation”, I guess) kept his composure during his speech. It was a nice end to the Classic. I don’t know what it means for the winners: perhaps a Tag Title shot? I also smell something fishy with the winners… 😉

NXT Women’s Championship:
Bayley(c.) vs. Sasha Banks: A+

  • This was the main event – heavily hyped, after their MOTY match 2 months ago
  • The first 2-3 minutes were slow – expected – but did the match ever pick up after that…!
  • If you don’t know who “Izzy” is, Google her. She wears a silver bow to ringside, whenever Bayley is wrestling. Well, Sasha went full JERK-FACE HEEL by snatching her bow off Izzy’s head, while Bayley was recovering on the stage (making her cry), wearing it in the ring, taunting Izzy, then throwing it at her (making her BAWL!). Such a great psychological moment in the match!
  • Bayley responded by turning the intensity up to 15
  • Tons of back-and-forth action, including: a Poisoned Rana that was reversed, a top-rope Belly-To-Bayley, and a Bank Statement that didn’t… quite… lock… in… and… OH CRAP BAYLEY REVERSED MY HOLD AND MY HAND MIGHT BE BROKEN AND I’M GETTING KICKED IN THE BACK OF THE HEAD REPEATEDLY.
  • If you want to see how much that match meant to both superstars: the entire NXT roster, including Sara Amato, Jason Albert, and the rest of the trainers, along with Triple H, Stephanie McMahon, and Lita, came out to give an ovation; Stephanie and HHH presented each wrestler with a bouquet of flowers. When Sasha realized that the bouquet that Stephanie was holding was for her, she collapsed in tears. Post-match, Sasha made a sweet gesture to Izzy (and Izzy had a cool response):
    Sasha and Izzy

This was a HIGHLY entertaining NXT show! If you are a wrestling fan and haven’t watched Takeover:Respect yet, I’d recommend that you do so. You won’t be disappointed!