It was one of the most highly-anticipated nights in NXT’s short but remarkable history, as the first live special of 2015 took place. After the massive impression left by the previous Takeover event in December last year, expectations were sent soaring for this night. Triple H’s brainchild has been making positive headlines across the wrestling world, and every competitor has been pushing themselves to the limit to make a huge impact.
The main selling point of the card was undoubtedly the main event bout between Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens for the NXT Championship. Built around their personal history together and Owens’ relentless desire to make a better life for himself and his family, this was bound to be a match for the ages. If their time in ROH is any indication of what the fans would get at Takeover, the crowd was in for a considerable masterclass. Yet that match was merely the tip of a stacked card. Finn Balor and Adrian Neville would battle for the right to become number one contender for the NXT Championship. The NXT Women’s Championship would be on the line in a Fatal Four-Way match, and the NXT Tag Team titles were also up for grabs. Bull Dempsey and Baron Corbin would clash in a No-DQ match, and more to make this one of the most exciting nights of the year thus far.
- Hideo Itami defeats Tyler Breeze
- Baron Corbin defeats Bull Dempsey
- NXT Tag Team Champions Blake & Murphy defeat The Lucha Dragons
- Finn Balor defeats Adrian Neville
- Sasha Banks defeats NXT Women’s Champion Charlotte, Bayley and Becky Lynch (New Champion)
- Kevin Owens defeats NXT Champion Sami Zayn (New Champion)
Hideo Itami vs. Tyler Breeze
In an early appetizer for the feast of wrestling about to take place, two of the most capable wrestlers on the roster would square off in the opening contest. Tyler Breeze was slightly put out over losing to Hideo Itami in the opening round of the number one contender’s tournament. So, with neither yet having a match scheduled, what better way to get them involved than in a match opposite one another. Both known for lethal kicks to finish off opponents, who would be left lying on the canvas with the taste of the other’s boot in their mouth?
The addition of Breeze’s selfie stick and screaming fans is an excellent touch to his character
These kicks from Itami look so painful, and Breeze is selling them expertly
Breeze applying the Figure Four Leglock wrapped around the ring post
An interesting submission that looks like an inverted sharpshooter by Breeze
Breeze responding to a big boot by Itami with the Supermodel Kick
Great idea to use punches of opponent to get Itami fired up, really suits his character
Crowd really getting behind Itami during the match – maybe people are too eager to dismiss his connection with the audience
Both superstars eventually get sections of the crowd behind them after their solid work
Besides not featuring a GTS, the only low point was really the finish coming about a little suddenly
Itami connects with a running kick to the face to defeat Breeze
A really solid opening to the night with these two excellent performers. Though people continue to point towards Itami’s trouble acclimatizing to the WWE style, I think the fans are getting behind him well and he looks really good in the ring. Breeze’s selling though really helped in that process, as he took every shot and made it look like he’d been kicked by a horse. If this “feud” had a little more story behind it, it could become a major feud, because the chemistry between the ropes certainly is there in abundance.
Rating – 3.5/5
Baron Corbin vs. Bull Dempsey
Two behemoths with a severe dislike of the other, Baron Corbin will be looking for a measure of revenge against Bull Dempsey after his actions last week. Dempsey cost Corbin his match against Adrian Neville in the number one contender’s tournament with a mid-match assault. The animosity has brewed into this no disqualification match, where Dempsey will be desperate to pull out a victory after two consecutive defeats to the mysterious Corbin.
Hefty suplex by Dempsey on Corbin up the steel ramp
Huge Arn Anderson spinebuster by Corbin on the sizable Dempsey
“We Want Tables!” – prepare to be disappointed then “Botchamania” – following a poor clothesline spot
Dempsey teasing getting a weapon, not picking anything up, and forgetting about it altogether Corbin attempts to clothesline both himself and Dempsey out of the ring, but they mess up the spot
Finish was a little sloppy
Basically the no disqualification rule had no bearing on the match beyond allowing them to be outside the ring longer
Corbin blocks an attempted chair shot with the End of Days to beat Dempsey
I was not a fan of this match I’m afraid. Sometimes it just doesn’t click, and sometimes you just botch a few spots with very little interesting taking place. The fact it was no disqualification had no effect on any aspect of the match, as a steel chair was only brought in at the climax and not used at all. Add to that some of the sloppy spots and the brevity of the bought, this was undoubtedly the low point of the evening by a considerable margin.
Rating – 1.5/5
Blake & Murphy vs. The Lucha Dragons (NXT Tag Team Championships)
A fortnight ago, Wesley Blake and Buddy Murphy pulled out a shock when they defeated the Lucha Dragons for the NXT Tag Team Championship. Their rapid ascent to the top of the tag team division in NXT has not been unwarranted, as they have proven excellent hands in the ring with great synergy as a tandem. However, they would still have to prove tonight that their victory over the masked competitors was not a fluke, as they defend their belts for the first time against the Lucha Dragons.
Finally! Blake & Murphy have a new entrance theme and look like a genuine tag team
Victory roll slam off the top rope from Sin Cara on Blake
Excellent teamwork by Blake and Murphy, lifting Sin Cara high in the air and dropping him with a neckbreaker
A low hurricanrana by Kalisto driving Murphy’s head into the canvas
Nothing really of note, crowd seemed a bit subdued/confused by this match
A missed headscissors spot by Sin Cara early on
Kalisto attempting some kind of springboard dive to the outside slips on the middle rope
A running suplex by Murphy on Sin Cara is followed by a Frog Splash by Blake for the champions to retain.
I remember watching this match and somebody commenting on Twitter that both teams appeared to be trying too hard, and I completely agree with that assessment. Of course, such work ethic and determination should be commended, and they did produce a lot of action during the contest. But in their attempts to show their ability to the fullest it ended up leading to some mistakes and a less than ideal flow to the match. It was still good, but the timing could have been improved.
Rating – 3/5
Finn Balor vs. Adrian Neville
In a match that was bound to be a genuine contender to steal the show, Finn Balor and Adrian Neville would contest the right to challenge for the NXT Championship. Balor defeated Curtis Axel and Hideo Itami on their way to the finals of this tournament, as he rapidly becomes one of the most over members of the roster. Neville in his pursuit to regain the coveted title overcame Tyson Kidd and Baron Corbin to earn a match with Balor. After a number of amazing matches these two have had on the independent scene, this was a classic in the making with big implications.
Balor’s entrance – just wow
Excellent mat-based offense and asserting dominance by both superstars early on
Dropkick by Neville catching Balor whilst attempting a springboard
Enziguri from Balor knocking Neville off the top rope to the outside, followed by a tope con hilo
Running dropkick by Balor smashing Neville through the barricade
A Pele kick by Balor into the superkick by Neville
Unbelievably quick German suplex by Neville right on the back of Balor’s neck
Phoenix splash by Neville from the second rope – take that Seth Rollins
A lariat by Balor that turns Neville inside out
Balor blocks the Red Arrow with knees, into a small package which Neville somehow kicks out of
“NXT! NXT! NXT!” – these are the matches and moments that get the crowd going “This is awesome” – the standard chant of the NXT fan these days
Nothing to see here
Balor hits a dropkick that sends Neville into the turnbuckle, followed by a double foot stomp to become new Number One Contender.
Awesome match between the pair, and was the clear match of the night in terms of quality of the action. Balor has entered NXT on fire, and is really yet to produce even an average match. His ability between the ropes has really endeared him to the passionate wrestling fans at NXT, and that makes him a worthy number one contender. Neville pulled out another stunning performance as well, and I think it is now time to accommodate for his transition to the main roster.
Rating – 5/5
Charlotte vs. Sasha Banks vs. Bayley vs. Becky Lynch (NXT Women’s Championship)
The second championship match of the night would also be sure to give every other bout a run for its money, as the talented ladies of NXT get a chance to strut their stuff. Charlotte has been an unbelievable champion and pioneer for the division, but this would prove her toughest challenge to date. With three challengers desperate to wrench the title from her grasp, would her genetic superiority prove enough to retain her belt? Sasha Banks, Bayley and Beckly Lynch would hope not, but if that proved the case which one would get their hands on the valuable prize?
Charlotte thrown so hard into the apron by Lynch it turns off the video screen around the ring
Banks and Lynch throw Bayley into the turnbuckle with great force
Lynch with a pumphandle suplex on Banks that sends her flying halfway across the ring
A wheelbarrow slam by Charlotte that is joined by a knees to the face of Banks by Bayley
Banks connecting her double knee drop across the ropes on both Charlotte and Lynch
Bayley with a hurricanrana off the top rope on Charlotte
Great baseball slide by Bayley from one side of the ring to the other onto Lynch, which is then followed by a suicide dive by Banks and Charlotte vaulting over the top rope
Belly-to-Bayley off the second rope onto Charlotte
Crowd completely behind Bayley in the early going “This is wrestling” – I hope some of the ladies on the main roster are taking notes
Yep, nothing to report here either
Banks locks in her Bank Statement crossface on Charlotte, but instead transitions into a pin rather than force the submission to get the victory. Banks celebrates after receiving a brief respectful hug by Charlotte
Unbelievably great match between these four women. Maybe I shouldn’t be surprised that they continue to pull out excellent matches at every opportunity, but it was just so good. It matched what Balor and Neville were able to put on in virtually every aspect. The high-flying, physicality, athleticism, and charisma were all there. Banks deserves to hold the championship, and will hopefully prove an excellent champion. She has been a great success story, and whilst Charlotte soon ascends to the main roster, Banks can carry this talented division with a swagger.
Rating – 5/5
Sami Zayn vs. Kevin Owens (NXT Championship)
The main event that everybody has been waiting for since it was announced that Kevin Owens had signed with NXT, as he battles Sami Zayn for the NXT Championship. At the last Takeover event, Zayn achieved the dream by capturing the coveted title from Adrian Neville, and the first man out to congratulate him was his best friend Owens. That was until Owens powerbombed him against the ring apron, launching a bitterly personal feud and a much more aggressive side of the champion. In only his third match in NXT, can Owens achieve the unthinkable and capture the NXT Championship, or will the dream stay alive for Zayn?
After Owens spends the opening minutes on the outside, Zayn soars over the referee onto his former friend
Clothesline on Zayn in the corner by Owens that launches him off the ground
Suplex onto the top rope by Owens that once again sends Zayn flying
Zayn’s selling of Owens’ dominance is really impressive and putting his opponent over brilliantly
The frothing and spraying Owens does before a big move is really intimidating
Excellent move where Owens drops Zayn’s head across his knee after a pumphandle suplex
Zayn hits a springboard moonsault to Owens on the outside, but hits his head on the ramp – a tide turning factor
“Fight Owens Fight!” – a significant fan following for the challenger despite his malice – his ROH exploits are well regarded though “Sami! Sami!” – the majority of the crowd still behind the champion though
Some people would be understandably upset with the finish
After Zayn shows signs of a concussion, Owens unleashes a barrage of punches and powerbombs on the wounded champion. Eventually, with the doctors desperate to treat Zayn, the referee calls time on the beating, awarding the victory and championship to Owens.
Whilst I know plenty of people that will be less than enamored with the manner of Owens’ victory, I thought it was pretty much perfect. Although I expected a little more from the main body of the match, which I’m sure won’t be their last encounter, there is little way to make a superstar more dominant than the way Owens has been booked. Winning the title after only his third match and by referee stoppage of all things, he has been built up like no other superstar has on the roster. Zayn will get his opportunity again soon, as the real money is in him chasing the belt rather than wearing it against Owens.
Rating – 4.5/5