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PWTorch NXT contributor Justin James reviews this month’s “NXT Takeover” special from London, England featuring Finn Balor vs. Samoa Joe for the NXT Title and more title matches…
WWE “NXT Takeover: London” Report
December 16, 2015
Aired live on WWE Network
Report by Justin James, PWTorch NXT contributor
Darkened arena, and the lights come up to reveal Triple H. He nods along to an NXT chant. He acknowledges the beating he took on Sunday from Roman Reigns, and says that it won’t stop him from coming to London. “This is your brand and now is your time!” Throw to a hype package, set to “Ace of Spades.” Nice, fast-paced video package here. Wow, that is one big arena for NXT. The camera pans around and there is one taped off section next to the ‘Tron. This is a “Takeover: Brooklyn” level event.
Asuka is out to get things going. Great reaction to her. Greg Hamilton is the ring announcer. Tweaked presentation for Emma, who has Ray Bans, and Dana Brooke has a new outfit as well. Recap of their feud as Emma and Brooke come to the ring. Brooke enters the ring with Emma. “Asuka’s gonna kill you!”
1 – ASUKA vs. EMMA (w/Dana Brooke)
Asuka ducks a punch, then Emma ducks a roundhouse and hides in the ropes. This crowd loves Asuka. Asuka with a Cheshire Cat grin as she stalks Emma. Chain wrestling ensues. Asuka out-wrestles Emma for the most part. Emma looks like she is going to lose an arm as she crawls to the ropes. Asuka clobbers Emma with kicks against the ropes.
On the outside, Asuka rolls Emma into the ring, then takes the time to intimidate Brooke. The pause gives Emma the time to recover and kick Asuka back to the outside. The crowd is none to pleased at Emma’s offense. Back in the ring, Emma with a unique hold. Asuka tries to get out, but Emma transitions her momentum into a two count. Emma cranks the aggression with encouragement from Brooke. Brooke yells at the ref. The crowd manages to chant “Asuka” to the Sami Zayn “Ole!” tune.
Asuka finally rallies – backslide for two. They maintain the hold, and a lariat drops Asuka into a nearfall. Asuka gets tossed hard into the turnbuckle and Emma and Brooke jaw at her. Asuka screams in rage and pain, then blocks a whip, but Emma slaps her to the mat. Asuka suddenly jumps into the turnbuckle, then turns around into a missile dropkick and the ref starts a double count.
They fight from their knees. Emma hits the ropes, then runs into a dropkick. Asuka is fired up hard. Rapid-fire attacks up and down, and Emma can’t stop it. Asuka is selling neck pain and rolls into Yes! kicks. Emma catches one, then they both duck swings. Jackknife two for Emma. Asuka sends Emma to the mat again, then a hip attack gets two. Emma breaks free of Asuka to get to the corner, then dodges and attacks. Dil-Emma in the ropes to a four count. Butterfly suplex pitches Asuka into the turnbuckle. Emma-Mite Sandwich for a nearfall. Re-cover for two.
Emma wants the Emma-lock, but Asuka transitions into an anklelock that looks sick, then transitions into a German suplex. Jumping knee for a nearfall. Asuka calls for the end. Emma is reeling. Asuka wrangles Emma, and Emma fights the Asuka Lock. The ref gets bumped into the turnbuckle and the crowd starts booing. Emma signals for Brooke to do something. Brooke rolls an object to Emma, and they tussle over it. The ref comes to and sees the object in Asuka’s hand. He takes it from her, then Emma with a roll-up, but Asuka kicks out and transitions into the Asuka Lock! Brooke comes in, the ref misses the tap out, and ejects Brooke. Emma sneaks up on Asuka, but Asuka turns around with a roundhouse for the win.
WINNER: Asuka in 14:47. This was a great match. Emma has always delivered in the big matches, and this was another one for the scrapbook. They threw a few false screwball finishes in, and Asuka looked great for not losing despite the Eddie finish, the ref bump, the missed tap-out, and the sneak attack. Asuka is such a great talent, I’m looking forward to seeing her face Bayley, Charlotte, Becky Lynch, and Paige in the future.
In the crowd is Johnny Saint.
Earlier today, Finn Balor, Enzo Amore, and Colin Cassady entered the arena. Then, Samoa Joe came in separately.
Video package on Enzo Amore and Colin Cassady. Lots of clips of their success, until Dash and Dawson took them out a few weeks ago. Dash and Dawson are brutish bullies – Shatter Machine, Shatter Machine, Shatter Machine. Cassady and Amore are presented as super-credible here.
Cassady is looking fierce. Amore is wearing black pleather overalls with cheetah print straps. And a Michael Jackson jacket with cheetah print added. Amore rolls right into his routine and the crowd is loving it. Amore looks crazed. Amore with some serious threats. He has almost enough gold chains on to be Mr. T. More threats from Cassady. The crowd spells S-A-W-F-T for him. That was a lot of promo time but there aren’t many matches on the card.
2 – NXT tag champions DASH & DAWSON vs. ENZO AMORE & COLIN CASSADY (w/Carmella) – NXT Tag Team Championship match
Amore and Dawson start. Fierce action on the lock-up, and this is a real brawl. Amore drops the straps of his overalls, and he has a Union Jack on the inside of the flap. Dawson flattens Amore and covers. Amore hits the ropes and clips Wilder’s knee. Running blockbuster & neckbreaker of sorts. Cassady is in and all business. Wilder blocks a snapmare, holds the ropes, and slides outside. They brawl outside. Wilder hits the ringpost. Amore works the injured hand. Really hot pacing here to emphasize the personal feud.
A distraction lets Wilder get the upper hand. Cassady gets cornered and double-teamed badly. Double clothesline, then Cassady picks up Wilder over his head and throws him into Dawson. They set up Air Enzo, but Dawson rolls out of the ring. Amore hits the ropes, runs hard, and Cassady sends him over the top into Wilder and Dawson. Blindtag, then Wilder ambushes Amore.
The tag champs look happy to settle for a count-out win as Amore sells his left shoulder on the outside. Amore rolls in at 9, and right into Wilder’s offense. They go nuts on Amore’s left shoulder. Northern Lights into a cover for two. Cassady is frustrated on the apron. Amore almost breaks free, but Wilder tags Dawson and grapevines Amore until Dawson comes in. Slingshot suplex into another nearfall. “Shades of Tully Blanchard” compares Dawson to a Four Horseman member who isn’t Arn Anderson. Enziguri, then Amore dives to Cassady, but Wilder clears Cassady. The ref misses a tag yelling at Cassady. The gordbuster should win it, but the ref sends Dawson to the apron for the missed tag. Giant DDT and Wilder and Amore are down.
Cassady is finally in. Dawson is also in. Dawson can’t slow Cassady down. Dawson ducks a big boot, but runs into the East River Crossing. Wilder breaks up a pin, then gets sent to the outside. Chop block from Dawson and Cassady is screaming in pain. Wilder makes a tag, sets up a leg hold, and the crowd tries to rally Cassady with a rendition of “Hey Jude.” Amore wants to break the hold up, but Dawson takes him out.
Cassady’s long arm finally gets to the ropes. Dawson to the top to kill Cassady’s knee, but Amore pushes him off. Roll-up from Cassady – kick out. Big boot, Air Enzo, and Dawson yanks Amore out of the ring just before three. On the outside, Dawson hides behind Carmella. She hits a back elbow, but Cassady goes head- first into the ringpost. Back in the ring, Amorse goes to the top, but Dawson him there to set up a Super Shatter Machine.
WINNERS: Dash and Dawson in 14:58. What a crazy good match. The Super Shatter Machine looked amazing, and the heat was off the charts. Good to see Cassady taking the beating for a bit to break the formula up a bit. I loved seeing Carmella break the mold by knocking Dawson silly. The reversals and turns of fortune in this match really made it enjoyable.
Earlier today: Bayley and Carmella enter the arena.
Nia Jax video. Nia Jax just looks like a beast in this package.
The announcers tout attendance of 10,079 at the sold-out arena. The empty area was 100 percent empty, indicating that the seats weren’t for sale.
Recap of the Corbin-Crews feud. Light boos for Baron Corbin; good reception for Apollo Crews.
3 – APOLLO CREWS vs. BARON CORBIN
Corbin shoves Crews into the corner on the lock-up. Crews runs back into the lock and gets put into the corner again. Corbin shoves Crews, who picks him up, runs across the ring, and rams him into the ropes. Corbin rolls out and takes a powder. Crews is in the corner, then turns it around and attacks in two corners. Corbin fights out of the third corner, then takes Crews to two more corners. There’s some back-and-forth. Back body crop sends Crews flying high out of the ring and he hits hits his head on the ring steps. Corbin rolls Crews into the ring, but he looks stunned.
Corbin sends Crews back out of the ring. Crews tries to fight back into the ring, but slingshots into a big right hand. Corbin continues to attack Crews’s head. Crews gets caught, but transitions into a small package for two. Crews gets thrown hard into the turnbuckle and sells his back. Corbin soaks up the boos. Backbreaker into a stretch, and Crews eventually kicks himself out.
Corbin looks like he wants a powerbomb, but Crews throws Corbin through the ropes. Take down, then Crews jumps on Corbin, and again. The action heads to the outside. Moonsault off the apron, but Crews runs right into a spinning slam. End of Days attempt, but Crews escapes. Enziguri into a standing moonsault for two. Huge forearm from Crews. He wants to follow with a powerbomb, but Corbin spins him over and grabs the ropes. End of Days, and it is over.
WINNER: Baron Corbin in 11:40. Crews was held back by Corbin, and there were some slow spots to the match, but it was definitely Corbin’s best work to date. He continues to grow as an in-ring performer, and is clearly taking advantage of the learning opportunities at NXT.
Video on Sami Zayn. Stirring music. Clips of Zayn’s debut and rise to the top of NXT. His injury, Kevin Owens attacking him, his surgery. He is announced for next week.
Backstage “earlier today” Greg Hamilton interviews Nia Jax. Jax says that she will wreck Bayley like —– then she sees Asuka, and stops. She gets in Asuka’s face, who just grins and licks her lips a bit, then leaves. Jax returns to say she will dominate and destroy. Why does that sound like a left-over from a Roman Reigns promo?
Video package on Bayley and her journey to the top of NXT, as she reads her essay from when she was a kid. Clips from Takeover: Brooklyn, then Takeover: Respect. All of the women who have bashed her, attacked her, and insulted her. But, they all ate the Bayley to Belly.
Jax gets booed on her way out. She has some sci-fi outfit on – it looks like she raided the old “Dune” costumes. Bayley gets a big pop. Bayley has red lipstick to give her a bit of an older appearance. Dim arena and a spotlight for the NXT championship match introduction.
4 – NXT Women’s champion BAYLEY vs. NIA JAX – NXT Women’s Championship match
Bayley is all smiles out of the bell. She ducks an elbow, then another. Bayley slides down Jax, but can’t bring her down. Bayley’s speed puts Jax in the corner. Jax catches Bayley on a back elbow and tosses her across the ring. Headbutt wipes the smile off Bayley’s face. Jax with a hold to slow Bayley down. Bayley is struggling, then breaks free. Dragon sleeper hold, but Jax runs backwards into the turnbuckle. Bayley returns to her offensive algorithm.
Jax picks up Bayley, but Bayley escapes and dropkicks a knee. Jumping back elbow and Jax is still on her feet. And again. Jax isn’t going down. Jax pushes Bayley out of the air on the third attempt. Bayley with a curious hold, then tries to move into Hell’s Gate, but Jax stands up and puts her on the ropes. Headbutts stun Bayley. Jax wants a superplex, but Bayley fights her off and sends her down. Bayley with a rolling senton for a nearfall, and the kick out is so strong that it sends Bayley through the ropes.
Bayley sells an arm, then slips into the ring and runs right into a Samoan Drop for two. Jax can’t believe it was only two.Jax hits another Samoan Drop, sends Bayley into the ropes, and lands another. Leg drop. Jax stands on Bayley to cover, but Bayley kicks out. Bayley looks half dead on the mat. Big splashes in the corner, then throws Bayley across the ring by the hair. The ref shoos Jax away as he checks on Bayley. Leg drop to Bayley’s arm, then a leg drop on Bayley’s back. Bayley isn’t even reacting to the punishment. Another leg drop, cocky cover, and Bayley kicks out at the last moment. Bayley crawls to the ropes as Jax stalks her. Bayley can’t even stand.
The ref holds Jax back until Bayley gets to her feet. A big splash puts Bayley on the ground again. Graves is calling for a ref stoppage. Headbutts on the turnbuckle, then a Super Samoan Drop attempt, but Bayley locks on a guillotine choke. Jax, stunned, runs into the center ring for some reason instead of taking a rope break. Jax slams Bayley off her and Bayley is out of it. Surprise guillotine on the mat, and Jax stands up; so does the crowd. Jax slams Bayley to the mat again.
Jax sells the hold for a long time after breaking free. Bayley shocks her again with the guillotine. Jax is on her knees, then sits down, leans back, shoulders almost to the mat. Bayley torques so hard that Jax is bent in half. Jax with a handfull of hair, but Bayley holds, Jax taps.
WINNER: Bayley in 13:24 to retain the Women’s Title. Classic David vs. Goliath match. The pacing was slower than we expect from a Bayley match, but the match was loaded with excitement and emotional investment. Sadly, a notification from the WWE app on my phone during my workday spoiled the outcome. I have to figure out how to change that alert. Even still, I found myself holding my breath throughout the last few minutes. Jax has proven that she belongs here, and Bayley added another great match to her book. Bayley is an A+ student at the Sami Zayn school of being the ultimate babyface, making you really buy into her.
The Vaudevillains, Blake & Murphy, Jordan & Gable, and The Hype Bros. are advertised for next week in a fatal four-way tag team match.
Video package on Finn Balor vs. Samoa Joe. Joe acknowledges that he was wrong, but he had to do it to rise to the top. Lots of shots of Joe putting Balor to sleep with the Coquina Clutch. Just a great package here. Balor’s ‘Tron package includes the “Takeover: London” Jack the Ripper, and he comes out dressed like Jack the Ripper, with the Demon underneath it. Slow strut to the ring. Super hot match here. Intense stare down during the ref’s instructions.
5 – NXT champion FINN BALOR vs. SAMOA JOE – NXT Championship match
Some feeling out, then almost a lock-up. Joe kicks Balor’s legs out. Joe muscles Balor to the ropes, then sends him onto the mat. The crowd is 50/50 here. Balor kicks Joe into the ropes, then dropkicks him through the ropes. Baseball slide to the outside. Running knee from the apron. Balor rolls Joe into the ring, then Joe rolls through and to the outside. Balor follows. Hesitation dropkick sends Joe into the steps. Joe catches Balor with a one-arm slam.
Flurry of strikes in the corner, then Balor responds with elbows and chops. An elbow from Joe sends Balor hard into the mat. They trade elbows and forearms until Joe runs Balor over. Snapmare, chop, kick, and knee drop sequences gets Joe a one count. Joe with a Running Corner Boot and Balor is dazed. The ref checks on Balor. Balor suddenly no-sells and fires up, but runs into an atomic drop and a big boot. Senton whiffs and Balor recovers in the corner.
Enziguri from the apron, but Joe cuts off a springboard move, then hits a sick suicide dive. Balor is flattened. Joe rolls Balor into the ring for a two count. Knees to the face, then a powerbomb into a cover for two, but Balor kicks out, so Joe transitions to a Boston Crab, then slides into a crossface. Balor drags himsef to the ropes, Joe drags him back into the ring. Balor forces a cover, but Joe goes back to the crossface, then a wrist hold, and Balor gets a foot on the ropes. Surprise DDT buys Balor a moment to recover.
Balor gets boots up in the corner, then delivers strikes. Balor lands corner-to-corner chops, but runs into a back elbow. Joe to the second rope, and an enziguri sends him to the outside. Running flip dive over the top rope to follow. Joe rolls into the ring, and Balor goes to the top for a double stomp to Joe’s back for a nearfall. Enziguri and Joe is staggered. Slingblade. Balor wants the hesitation dropkick, but Joe dodges and hits a senton. Musclebuster, but Balor slides down and covers for two. Pele Kick and they are both down. Double count.
Balor gets Joe into the corner, but jabs get Joe out of the corner. Discus elbow from Joe, Pele Kick, then Coquina Clutch, but Balor gets to the corner before it is cinched in. Enziguri, then Joe catches Balor and drags him into the ring. Standing Coquina Clutch. Joe brings Balor to the mat, then Balor slips out. Double stomp for another double count. They recover at 8 and Balor hulks up. Slingblade, hesitation dropkick, then again.
Joe hulks up now. But, a hesitation dropkick to his back puts Joe on the canvas again. Balor to the top, where Joe pops him in the mouth. Musclebuster attempt, but Balor fights out. Enziguri stuns Balor. Joe to the top. He sets up a Super Musclebuster, but Balor chops him to the mat right in position for a rapid-fire Coup De Grace to finish Joe.
WINNER: Finn Balor in 19:27 to retain the NXT Title. Lots of exciting, back-and-forth action here. The big issue was that the match didn’t feel personal enough given the feud. Balor started the match without the fire that you would expect from someone who felt this wronged. It was an excellent match, but the story called for a fight.
Post-match, Balor can’t even stand. The ref hands him the title while he recovers in the corner. Joe needs a trainer to get up the ramp and is bleeding from the mouth and looking furious. Balor can’t get out of the ring. He gets partially through the ropes and he sits down in the corner and a trainer comes over. Balor makes hand motions like he is dizzy. The trainer and the referee help him to his feet so he can hold up the title in the ring, and he indicates that he is okay.
Final Reax: All of the matches were super-hot tonight, with the exception of Crews-Corbin. Really happy to see how well Nia Jax handled herself in a long match with Bayley. If you didn’t know the story behind Joe-Balor it was an amazing match, but the pacing just felt wrong for the feud they have been having. I hope that Balor was not injured after that match. Amore and Cassady really had a break-out night tonight, showing why many feel that the tag division is NXT’s strongest facet right now. Asuka’s amazing, and the match with Emma was nearly perfect. She pulled off the Super Cena routine without it feeling heavy-handed.