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WWE “NXT Takeover” Live Report
August 22, 2015
Brooklyn, N.Y. at Barclays Center
Report by Justin James, PWTorch contributor
The new in-ring announcer gets a name on the pre-show: Dasha Fuentes. The other notable item from the pre-show is that Lita (one of the panel members) teased getting involved in the Tag Team title match to contain Alexa Bliss.
My picks for the night are The Vaudevillains over Blake & Murphy, Apollo Crews beats Tye Dillenger, Samoa Joe to break Baron Corbin’s long winning streak, Bayley captures the NXT Women’s Championship, and Finn Balor to retain against Kevin Owens. The Tyler Breeze-Jushin Liger match is a toss-up, but I am leaning towards Breeze.
Triple H kicks the show off in a darkened arena, in-ring with a spotlight. He talks up the “NXT Revolution.” He ends and the lights come on. Insanely hot crowd. “WE ARE NXT!” and he drops the mic.
Doing the taping and an extended set of dark matches was a great strategy to get the crowd of hardcore fans cranked to the max.
Like “Takeover: Unstoppable,” Tyler Breeze’s entrance features a fashion show. The ladies are dressed in New York themed things like a taxi and the Empire State Building. Breeze seems totally unfazed by facing Jushin Liger, lounging in the ropes. Liger comes out dressed like a Power Ranger.
1 – JUSHIN “THUNDER” LIGER vs. TYLER BREEZE
They pace the ring and lock up. Shoulder block puts Liger on the ropes and Breeze poses like a hammock to show off. Breeze gets tripped up, and Liger lounges on the ropes to mock him. Liger with a surfboard, then rocks back to stretch Breeze out. Breeze escapes and stomps Liger. Liger re-applies the surfboard, lifting Breeze in the air. Monkey flip sends Breeze across the ring, and Liger poses with Breeze’s selfie stick. Breeze charges, Liger throws the selfie stick, Breeze catches it, and Liger capitalizes. But, Liger runs right into the Supermodel Kick for two.
Breeze delivers kicks in the corner, risking a disqualification. Breeze starts to wear Liger down. “Gorgeous sucks!” from the crowd. Liger manages to get some separation to reset the match. Rolling kick in the corner stuns Breeze, then a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker. Liger to the top, but Breeze gets knees up. Crucifix gets Breeze a two count – that’s a new move for him. Breeze is getting more support from the crowd as he demolishes Liger in the corner. The ref admonishes Breeze letting Liger nail a palm strike. Breeze rolls away and out of the ring, so Liger hits a cannonball from the apron. Liger Bomb and Breeze is out.
WINNER: Jushin Thunder Liger AT 8:42. Good crowd warmer that won’t outshine the main events. I think Breeze could have used a win over a legend, but perhaps this means that Liger will do more with WWE or NXT in the future?
-Sean Waltman, Kevin Nash, and Scott Hall are shown on the front row.
-Backstage, Bayley is nervous and gets a hug from Charlotte and a handshake from Becky Lynch.
-New vignette. The women’s wrestler talks about how she isn’t like most girls. Greatness is her destiny. She is Nia Jax.
-The Vaudevillains have top hats and long coats to play up the circus vibe. How will they keep Bliss under control? The champions and Bliss have Iron Man-themed outfits. Pre-match promo from Bliss. She isn’t surprised that The Vaudevillains couldn’t get help, because they are pathetic. They manage to not get slapped. The crowd wants Blue Pants. And it is Blue Pants, wearing a Vaudevillains shirt to help out the contenders. The crowd is nuts for Blue Pants. The development of Blue Pants from a one-off jobber to a recurring character is a perfect example of NXT listening to the audience and using them to organically grow the product.
2 – NXT tag champions WESLEY BLAKE & BUDDY MURPHY (w/Alexa Bliss) vs. THE VAUDEVILLAINS (AIDEN ENGLISH & SIMON GOTCH w/Blue Pants) – NXT Tag Team Championship match
Gotch and Blake to start. “Blue Pants City” from the crowd as Blake and Gotch trade holds. Quick schoolboy gets Gotch a one count. Unique rollup into an armbar, but Blake transitions it into a cover to get a break. Another armbar from Gotch. English tags in and keeps Blake grounded. Graves calls the use of Blue Pants a hipster ironic thing. English fends off a double team, and flexes his biceps while locking in armbars. Blake trips English from behind to let Murphy tag out.
English just can’t get a tag. Giant double in-air neckbreaker gets a nearfall for the tag champs. English is struggling, but gets boots up in the corner, kicks Blake into Murphy, and dives to Gotch. Gotch takes out Murphy and Blake. Gotch drops his strap and continues to take on both opponents. English tagged, but Murphy gets away from Gotch and crotches English to overcome the team finisher.
Murphy wants a superplex, then Blake joins him, but Gotch sneaks in for a double powerbomb. Swanton Bomb from English but Murphy kicks out. Gotcha tags in, but Bliss gets n the apron. Blue Pants tears her off, chases her, Bliss in the ring. Blue Pants takes her out, then slaps her. Double leg takedown, and they brawl out of the ring. Murphy tries to sneak a win, but Gotch kicks out. Whirling Dervish for the win before Blake can break it up.
WINNERS: The Vaudevillains in 10:16 to capture the NXT Tag Team Championship. A little overbooked at the end (the ref should have thrown the match out a few times for too many people in the ring for too long), but there was a ton of energy here. Alexa Bliss has done such a fine job getting heat on Blake and Murphy that it was easy to emotionally invest in The Vaudevillains.
-Shots of Finn Balor arriving at the arena, accompanied by Neville, and met by Cesaro.
-Rick Rubin is shown in the front row of the audience.
-Tye Dillenger is out to meet Apollo Crews (the former Uhaa Nation). Let’s hope Crews doesn’t get his nose broken. Dillenger and Enzo Amore must have the same barber, as he has “10” shaved into his head.
3 – APOLLO CREWS vs. TYE DILLENGER
Dillenger sends Crews to the corner, does a cartwheel then flashes “10”‘s to the crowd. Crews with a headlock, then cartwheels and does handsprings. Insane for a guy his size. Dillenger runs into a dropkick. Dillenger with offense in the corner, then stalks Crews. Crews fights off a sleeper attempt, but is still grounded. “This is why I’m a perfect 10!” shouts Dillenger.
Fireman carry but Dillenger slips out, Crews counters the reversal. Kick to Crew’s jaw and a pair of two counts for Dillenger. Dillenger wants another big kick, but Crews blocks and hits an enziguiri. Jumping clothesline, then Crew kips up. Gorilla Press, then standing moonsault for the win.
WINNER: Apollo Crews in 4:43. Fantastic debut from Crews. He showed an amazing combination of strength and agility. Crews immediately cemented himself as a top player in NXT. Dillenger did a very good job for his part, too.
-Backstage, William Regal thanks us for watching. He thanks Dusty Rhodes, and announces the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic, a tag team tournament. It will start September 2 and wrap up October 7 at the next “NXT: Takeover” event.
-The Tough Enough finalists are shown in the front row.
-Next is a video on the Baron Corbin-Samoa Joe match. Corbin talks up how he doesn’t care about anyone else and his history of winning. He hates hardcore fans and the independent wrestlers in NXT. Joe says that it may have only taken a call from Corbin to go to NXT, but Joe got called by NXT.
The crowd is hot for Joe as expected.
4 – SAMOA JOE vs. BARON CORBIN
Lock-up is unproductive. Barlon wants a punch, but Joe captures the arm and locks in an armbar. Kokita Clutch attempt, but Corbin slips out and outside the ring. Corbin paces the ring, then Joe wants to take him, but the ref stops it for some reason. They pace in the ring, Corbin with a kick intead of a lock-up. Corey Graves on commentary: “These are two legitimate dudes right here.” Joe dropkicks Corbin right out of the ring. Joe wants a suicide dive, but Corbin cold-cocks him on his way through the ropes.
Corbin with a string of clotheslines in the corner, but a cover barely gets a one count. Corbin slows the pace down. Joe turns around on Corbin and delivers strikes. Joe with a crucifix, but Corbin kicks out, which Joe turns into a half-crab. Joe slides around into a crossface, but Corbin gets near the ropes. Joe grabs his hand and yanks it back, but Corbin gets his leg on the ropes for a break. Corbin sends Joe through the ropes. Corbin runs the apron but Joe takes his leg out, then throws him into the barricade. A bunch of fans in the new “Balor Club” shirts demand that Joe rip Corbin apart.
Corbin with a surprise heelhook. Corbin knows a hold that isn’t a chinlock or headlock? Joe gets to the ropes while selling the hold like mad. Joe is stumbling, but lands a massive chop. Joe runs into a slam, but slips out. Superkick from Corbin, then an enziguiri plants Corbin, but Joe can’t follow up. Joe peppers Corbin with jabs, then Corbin throws bombs.
Joe with elbows, but Carbin responds. Joe kicks, Corbin catches it. Backfist from Joe knocks Corbin to the corner. Corbin shrugs off a Musclebuster attempt, and hits a big boot. Front suplex gets Corbin two. Corbin keeps beating Joe in the corner and comes close to being disqualified.
Corbin wants the End of Days, but Joe ducks and locks in the Kokita Clutch. Corbin gets out. Joe kicks out of a cover, and catches Corbin with the Kokita Clutch as Corbin pops off him. Corbin fades, the ref calls the match.
WINNER: Samoa Joe in 10:09. Corbin showed a greatly improved moveset here. Good to see that he has been able to improve this much since his last long match against Rhyno. I loved the last few moments of this match as it hit high gear. Nice to see Joe have a longer match to tell a story.
-Kana (spelled Kanna by NXT – is that a Rhyno/Rhino style renaming?), Ric Flair, and Sergeant Slaughter are shown in the front, then Tamina Snuka and Naomi.
-Stephanie McMahon comes out and gets a pop in the weird alternate universe of NXT. She claims attendance of 15,589. She says the energy is palpable and they are making history. She references the Divas Revolution on Raw, but says it started on NXT with the extraordinary women of NXT. Triple H said that he does “put them in the main event,” “they are the main event.” She introduces the first “main event” tonight, Sasha Banks against Bayley, “the ultimate underdog.” Cut to a video package featuring Bayley’s #1 fan from FSU. Lots of clips of everyone who went to the main roster betraying Bayley over the years, as Bayley gets cut out of the picture. NXT champ Sasha Banks has no compassion, and Bayley is getting tired of being stepped on by everyone else. Really good package here.
-Bayley has a Dusty Rhodes polka-dot headband on tonight, a tribute to someone she clearly thinking about. Banks gets a ride in a Cadillac Escalade to the ramp, surrounded by giant men with sunglasses and tight shirts. Security opens the ropes for her, then lifts her up to the apron. Great entrance. Banks gets right in Bayley’s face with the title. Bayley gets a good pop with some boos, and Banks gets the mixed reaction.
5 – NXT Women’s champion SASHA BANKS vs. BAYLEY – NXT Women’s Championship match
Banks kind of struts over to Bayley, then makes fun of her tribute to Dusty Rhodes. Bayley immediately takes Banks down, they tussle on the floor. Hot, hot start. Running elbows to the seated Banks for a two count. Bayley puts Banks in a Tree of Woe, then hits a springboard elbow drop as Banks tries to lift herself out for a two count. Banks with a schoolgirl attempt. Banks can’t retain control. Banks rolls outside, then Bayley stalks her for the dropkick through the corner. Bayley eats a knee returning to the ring, but slips out of the ropes before double knees can connect. Banks wants a superplex, but Bayley punches her away. Banks takes out Bayley’s knee and Bayley lands outside the ring. Bayley back in the ring, but Banks keeps her grounded. Banks mocks Bayley’s moveset, then hits a nasty slap for a two count.
Bayley tries to fight off the mat but can’t. They tangle in the corner, then Banks sets up top-rope double knees, which is good for a nearfall. Even Corey Graves gives Bayley credit for her resolve. Bayley crawls to a corner and Banks yells at her. Bayley shuts her up with a boot, then trips her face into the turnbuckle, then trips her again and beats her head in. Bayley to the apron and Banks slams her arm on the ropes. Bayley to the outside, then Banks locks in an armbar, and tears off Bayley’s hand brace.
Banks rolls Bayley to the ring, then tosses her out again. Banks slams Bayley’s hand on the ring steps. Banks traps Bayley’s hand between the ring steps and the apron, then kicks the steps. Banks rolls into the ring and the ref leaves the ring to check on Bayley. He stops Banks from following up, then leans through the ropes to talk to Bayley, but Banks runs, jumps over the ref and over the ropes, and lands on Bayley. That was CRAZY.
Huge slap from Banks, she wants Old School, but Bayley shoves Banks off the ropes. Banks is recovering on the outside while Bayley lies in the ring clutching her hand. Banks rolls back into the ring instead of retaining by count-out. They trade elbows from their knees. Double axe handles take Banks down, but the moves hurt Bayley, too. Bayley with her offensive combination. Suplex into the corner. Bayley cinches the headband, charges, but Banks meets her and blocks the Bayley-to-belly.
Banks DDTs the arm, then applies the Bank Statement mid-ring. Bayley crawls to the ropes, but Banks kicks her hand over and over, then kicks the ropes to roll over. Suddenly, Bayley rolls onto Banks and puts the Bank Statement on Banks. Bayley almost pulls Banks’s head off, but Banks get to the ropes for the break. Bayley-to-belly, but Banks kicks out right at three.
Banks is dead weight as Bayley muscles her to the corner. Bayley wants a top-rope Bayley-to-Belly, but Banks punches Bayley to the mat. Bayley with a leaping forearm, then tries a huracanrana, but Banks pushes Bayley off, and Bayley hits the mat hard. Banks with double knee drop from the ropes right into a cover for a nearfall. Great move.
Banks is in tears with frustration. Banks puts Bayley on the top rope facing outside the ring, but Bayley elbows her off. Banks pops up and goes up top, but Bayley has elbows for her. Reverse huracanrana from the top and Banks is out. Bayley charges, Bayley-to-belly, and it is OVER.
WINNER: Bayley in 18:22 to capture the NXT Women’s Title. Wow. This was a physically brutal, emotionally powerful match. Not a moment was off. Banks was at a level we’ve never seen. Bayley’s character is so easy to emotionally invest in despite it being “kiddie.” Seeing Bayley get the win after two years of trying, overcoming obstacles, and opponents was so satisfying.
-Post-match, Bayley is in tears as the audience explodes for her. Charlotte and Becky Lynch charge the ring, hold her up on the air, and hug her. Even Banks returns to the ring, hugs Bayley, then a group hug. Banks holds Bayley’s hand up. They flash the Four Horsemen “four” for a bit of a curtain call moment.
-WWE World Hvt. champion Seth Rollins is shown in the front row. Rich Brennan announces a foreign tour for NXT, they will be going to the U.K. They show clips of Triple H “earlier tonight” announcing the tour. it will be December 10-December 16. Tickets go on sale August 28.
-Video package on Owens – Balor. Owens gets a good pop in Brooklyn. Lots of fire from Owens when he hits the ring. It seems like the crowd is even more insane for Balor. Of note, the match doesn’t even start until nearly 11:00 p.m. EST, but a pure-WWE Network show means that time limits on the event are irrelevant. That’s something I never considered before and is a huge plus. No more cutting a show short because someone else went over time. Owens is just lounging in a chair by the announcers as Balor makes his way out.
6 – NXT champion FINN BALOR vs. KEVIN OWENS – NXT Championship Ladder match
Owens taunts Balor as Balor eyes the title. Owens shoves Balor and heads for the ropes, but Balor brings him in and unloads in the corner. Knee to the middle stops Balor, but Owens runs into a dropkick. Back elbow drops Owens, and he follows with a senton. Owens wants a pop-up powerbomb, but Balor blocks and hits a double foot stomp. Owens to the outside and clobbers Balor before he can come outside. Cannonball splash. They are pacing for a very long match.
Balor and Owens brawl mid-ring as the crowd busts out the “Ole” chants, then Owens mocks a shoulder injury to shut them up. Slingblade puts Owens down. Owens heads up the ramp, but he’s grabbing the ladder, not running away. Balor knocks him down and drags the ladder to the ring. Owens follows, then grabs the ladder, and drives Balor into the apron with it. Ladder to the chest. Owens traps Balor with the ladder, charges, and just punches Balor instead.
Balor recovers and takes the fight to Owens. They brawl on the outside, then over the barricade. They fight in the crowd. Owens wants a pop-up powerbomb on the concrete, but Balor back drops him over the barricade. Balor jumps off the barricade, but Owens catches him and throws him over the announce table. Owens nails Balor with the announce table cover, does the Balor arm spread on the table, and then points to the belt.
Owens finds a ladder under the ring as Balor recovers. Balor with a dropkick off the announce table, driving the ladder into Owens, but the ladder lands on Balor and his leg gets caught in it. Balor rolls the ladder into the ring but he’s holding his leg. The crowd demands tables. Owens yanks the ladder form Balor on the outside, but Balor responds with a flip dive. Balor is hobbling.
Balor sends the ladder into the ring and sets it up, but Owens pulls his leg and yanks him to the mat. Owens slams Balor’s face into the ladder then dumps him outside, Balor lands partially on a ladder. Owens is climbing, but Owens comes into the ring with a second ladder. He eats boots from Owens. Owens tries to hit Balor with a ladder, but Balor dodges and gets the Pele Kick. Owens is against a ladder in the corner, then Balor charges and runs into a clothesline. Owens swings a ladder into Balor, then drives it into him on the mat. Owens slams Balor onto the ladder, then hits a running senton. Balor is selling a lot of pain here.
There’s a ladder standing on its side. Owens wants to powerbomb Balor onto it, but he gets back-dropped onto it instead. Balor sets up the lader and heads up top, but Owens grabs him and slams him into the ladder in the corner. Cannonball, but Balor dodges and Owens lands on the ladder. Balor with the Coup de Grace to keep Owens down, then climbs the ladder. The ladder is shaky, and Owens grabs his foot and delivers a powerbomb.
Owens is half out as he climbs the ladder, but Balor springs to life and tips the ladder over. Owens lands back-first into the turnbuckle, then Owens rolls to the outside. Balor tries to set up the ladder, but Owens grabs him from the outside. Owens wants a pop-up powerbomb into the apron, but Balor grabs the ropes. Pop-up powerbomb into the apron. They are both down and out on the outside. Owens recovers and climbs a ladder, but Balor tips the ladder, only to have Owens land on his feet to hit a superkick.
Owens sets up the ladder and tells Balor to stay down. Another superkick. Another kick to the face. Owens climbs the ladder and drags Balor up with him. Owens wants a superplex off the ladder into the turnbuckle, but Balor blocks again and again. Balor hits Owens and smashes Owens’s face into the ladder. Owens falls off the ladder backwards and lands on a ladder suspended between the corner and the mid-ring ladder.
The ladder is too close to the ropes for Balor to get the belt. Balor eyes it, looks at Owens, then hits the Coup De Grace from the top of the ladder. Balor is going nuts clutching his ankle, Balor pushes a ladder to the right place, climbs, and gets the belt off to win.
WINNER: Finn Balor in 21:32. That was a really good match – hard-hitting and hard to watch. They picked their ladder spots wisely, didn’t let it become a total spotfest, and let the big moves breath. Tough to tell how much of Balor’s leg issues were legit, as a number of times it looks like he had a bad landing on it. Balor was put over hard, continuing a ladder match after taking a pop-up powerbomb into the apron, a move which usually puts people into a “medical facility.”
FINAL THOUGHTS: Good event on the whole, but it didn’t match some of the previous Takeover events. Going two-and-a-half hours worked really well, though. The women’s match had such an intensity and was so emotionally draining, it set a very high bar for the main event, but I think they pulled it off. The booking of the event was rather obvious, with the only question mark being the Breeze-Liger match.