One week away from the latest live special, NXT Takeover: Rival, the roster are building towards the event and stacking another impressive card. The main event of Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens was placed on the back-burner, as the potential of this match essentially sells itself to the pure wrestling fan. So, instead focus was shifted to beyond their title encounter, with the semi-finals of the NXT Championship number one contender’s tournament. Adrian Neville looks to chop down the mighty Baron Corbin in the first match. And then in another wrestling fan’s fantasy come to reality, Finn Balor fights the man who brought him into NXT, Hideo Itami, in the main event.
The other half of the card is afforded to the talented ladies of the developmental territory. Bayley battles Becky Lynch in the build up to both being part of the NXT Women’s Championship Fatal-Four Way. With Charlotte and Sasha Banks likely scouting their opposition, which of these two could build momentum heading into the title match? And in the night’s opening contest, Carmella looks to respond to her shock loss to Blue Pants in a match with the bubbly Aussie Emma.
- Carmella defeats Emma
- Adrian Neville defeats Baron Corbin
- Bayley defeats Becky Lynch
- Finn Balor defeats Hideo Itami
Carmella vs. Emma
It’s always a pleasure to see the comedic duo of Enzo Amore and Colin Cassady, who have kind of been lost in the shuffle in recent weeks as NXT heads into Takeover. However, they are only here in support of their favorite hairdresser turned wrestler, Carmella. The Queen of Staten Island can work the microphone like her Jersey buddies, but has yet to demonstrate a great deal of talent in the ring. The potential is there, but in her brief time between the ropes it is still hard to judge. And after a shock defeat to Blue Pants in her last outing, Carmella will be looking to get back to winning ways against Emma, making a triumphant return to NXT after a really difficult time on the main roster.
Got to be impressed by Carmella’s charisma and the way she employs her character to full effect
Crowd getting behind Blue Pants early on, but she was nowhere to be seen
Strong reaction for Emma on her return, nice to see she still carries a strong fan base
Carmella seemed to be pretty vocally calling spots during the match, needs to be a bit more subtle
Another very short outing, and both ladies were not given ample opportunity to shine
Carmella forces the submission of Emma with her yoga stretch headscissors.
This match was a rather indifferent way to start the broadcast, with an incredibly brief match between the two ladies. Emma is funny and a solid grappler, but as time has worn on her shtick has become stale, and is going to result in her release long before a push it saddens me to say. Carmella certainly has a lot of character and charisma, but is clearly still learning before she is set on the top women on the roster.
Rating – 2/5
Adrian Neville vs. Baron Corbin
Although Kevin Owens might have jumped the queue in receiving an NXT Championship match against Sami Zayn at Takeover, the quest to determine the next challenger reached its penultimate stage. The semi-finals of the eight-man tournament to find the new number one contender begin with a David vs. Goliath battle. Adrian Neville overcame longtime rival Tyson Kidd in an excellent wrestling encounter. However, the former champ will require every benefit of his quickness and agility to inflict a first defeat on Baron Corbin. The huge loner defeated rival Bull Dempsey with ease last week, and will look to exploit his considerable size advantage to ground Neville and keep him down.
Corbin staring down his opponent alone is an intimidating sight to behold
Huge clothesline from Corbin takes out all the fight of Neville’s early offense
Nice looking suplex that transitioned into a slam by Corbin
Excellent springboard dropkick by Neville sending Corbin to ringside
One woman in the crowd in particular was very much behind Corbin – pretty loud support
Seemed to be a slightly misinformed attempt by Neville to avoid Corbin in the corner, but nothing too awful
Bull Dempsey threw Corbin into the ringpost when the referee was distracted, and when he returned to the ring Neville pinned him following a Red Arrow.
This match has helped me alleviate any fears of Baron Corbin simply being good enough for squash matches. Whilst it wasn’t particularly long, there were enough elements contained within it to suggest he can hold his own with some of the biggest names on the roster. His presence is impressive, and shows a good variety of power moves. Neville was as good as usual, but kind of recognized this was a platform to get Corbin over whilst winning himself. In a way, I’m kind of disappointed Corbin was pinned after Dempsey’s attack rather than counted out, which sounds odd to say, but I feel it would have made more sense to keep his streak alive for now.
Rating – 3/5
Bayley vs. Becky Lynch
In the night’s second women’s match of the evening, the build-up to the NXT Women’s Championship match at Takeover is on the agenda. Charlotte has been placed against difficult odds in her bid to retain her coveted title, as she faces three tough challengers simultaneously. Two of those competitors face each other a week prior to the Fatal Four-Way, as Bayley looks to reclaim a measure of revenge on Becky Lynch for a number of unwarranted assaults. But both will be looking first and foremost to weaken the competition and build momentum heading into the big match next Wednesday.
Lynch’s persistent assault on the damaged leg of Bayley is good storytelling from prior assaults
Lynch also has a really nice European uppercut
Like seeing Bayley turning the tables and unleash her own attack on Lynch’s leg in response
Both ladies were pretty popular with the crowd, Bayley slightly more due to her babyface status
Some of the spots could do with some more polish, but overall a good showing by both women
Sasha Banks threw Lynch back into the ring from the outside, and the Irishwoman was pinned following a Belly-to-Bayley. Banks and Lynch showed some discontent in their ranks, and Charlotte came out to stare down all her rivals for the belt.
A decent match between the pair, showing some good storytelling and continuation from the injury story of Bayley. I would have liked to have seen more of Lynch’s arsenal at work, whilst Bayley was limited due to the selling of her damaged leg. However, the importance of the match and its conclusion was creating a rift between Banks and Lynch, which added to the fractious Charlotte/Bayley friendship makes for a much more compelling match for the title at Takeover.
Rating – 2.5/5
Finn Balor vs. Hideo Itami
The main event is the penultimate match of the NXT Championship number one contender tournament, and should be a moment to savor in its own right. Brought into the company at very similar times, Finn Balor and Hideo Itami have introduced their unique styles to the NXT fans, and they have responded very well. Originally aligned against the Ascension, now they stand as rivals for an opportunity at the biggest prize in NXT, and will not hold back despite their great mutual respect.
Just the sheer speed and crispness of the chain wrestling is a sight to behold
Wonderful dropkick by Balor, nearing the status of the magnificent AJ Styles on that occasion
Interesting take on an Octopus stretch by Balor on Itami
Side kick to the head of Balor by Itami immediately countered by the Pele kick
Excellent delayed dropkick in the corner by Itami
That running dropkick by Balor on Itami that flung him into the turnbuckle looked amazing – fantastic selling by the Japanese star
This is one of the rare times I have heard a “This is Awesome” chant before the bell rings
“We’re not worthy” – fans are in reverence of what they are witnessing right now
“Better than RAW” – doesn’t take much these days; if NXT had Brock Lesnar it’d be perfect
The pop of the crowd into sheer disappointment when Itami teases the GTS is enthralling
This might just be a personal thing, but I got tired very quickly of Alex Riley constantly interviewing Adrian Neville at the announce table, rather than concentrating on the flow of the match
Balor ascends to the top rope and connects with the Double Foot Stomp to secure the victory. They shake hands following the match, as do Balor and Adrian Neville.
A terrific match between the pair, blending their tremendous chemistry on the independent scene and NJPW with the added facets of the WWE style. It was constant counters and reversals, the way a face/face battle should be, and really brought the crowd to their feet in admiration for what they were witnessing. But now the dust has settled, we are left with Adrian Neville vs. Finn Balor for a shot at the NXT Championship, and that will be another match that any passionate wrestling fan cannot afford to miss.
Rating – 4.5/5