I actually haven’t been this excited for a wrestling show since the R-Evolution. Going into specials such as this one I believe fans can have high expectations because they’ll be met easily. Like every show, not every match can be perfect, but even then Takeover: Rival felt like a roller coaster of excitement, and I was sad that it had to end.
Hideo Itami vs Tyler Breeze
That fan had to be a plant, right? If it wasn’t, that goes to show you how popular NXT superstars are compared to others. I enjoyed the pace of this match, it wasn’t too one sided. There wasn’t a particular spot that stood out, but that kick exchange was awesome. Also, I think we can all agree that Itami has dawned the “kicking” gimmick. This was a good match to warm up the crowd. After hearing the crowd’s reaction for Hideo, it’s evident he’ll be a favorite for the years to come. I personally hope they take some time with his development and let him get used to all aspects of North American wrestling.
Baron Corbin vs Bull Dempsey
They actually let Bull look intimidating in this match, and I was surprised he actually got some moves over Corbin. In fact most of the match Corbin was on the receiving end of Dempsey’s offense. This was probably done to keep Bull’s stock up, because he was beginning to look like a jobber. Being the 3rd and most likely final match, this didn’t do anything for me because this feud has gotten rather boring within the past few weeks. Although they did let the match go over 5 minutes, it still felt like filler.
The Lucha Dragons vs Blake & Murphy
There were surprisingly a few botched spots in this match. Kalisto did make up for his earlier botch by putting on a great move sequence against Murphy .Other than the double team toss that lead into a neck breaker, I didn’t pop for much. Overall I didn’t find myself invested into this match, because there wasn’t much of a story going into it. The commentators did a great job at putting over Blake & Murphy. For a tag team that doesn’t have much credibility in the NXT world, the commentators made sure they looked important. Am I the only one that thinks they look too much alike? I know one has curlier hair, but when their wrestling it’s very tough to tell. A hair cut for one of them would do wonders for their identity.
Finn Balor vs Adrian Neville
There wasn’t any build for this match, but the opening video package did wonders for creating hype. It was clear that Balor was the fan favourite going into this match, the crowd popped big for him. Even at the very start, the crowd continued to cheer for Balor, which made it seem like Neville was a heel. When Neville was taking control earlier on, we witnessed some superb selling from Balor. The barricade spot was amazing, and it had me guessing this match would end early. I didn’t like how Adrian no-sold the pelay kick, it made Finn’s signature move look completely useless. As I predicted, these two exchanged some exciting near counts. I’ll admit, I marked out pretty hard after this match was done. These two put on an absolute clinic, and Balor was deserving of that spot. I’m sure the other NXT superstars and divas must have been scared knowing some of them would have to follow this match.
Divas Fatal Four Way
This match had explosive start, which was great considering how exciting the last match was. The idea to have Team Bae break up early in the match was smart; it would have been annoying to have 2-on-1s the entire match. Even once Sasha and Becky started wrestling , every move was hard hitting, I was impressed with how they each utilized multiple moves. The divas here knew how to wrestle a fatal four match, because they each properly timed their major moves. There are wrestlers on the main roster that can’t even wrestle a proper fatal four way .The spot of the match was easily Sasha’s turn buckle spot with Charlotte and Becky. Bayley is also due some credit, because half way through this bout I was convinced she would win .I was shocked the match ending would be that dramatic, I was on the edge of my seat wondering if Charlotte would tap. A pin from the Boss was a more respectable way for her to win. Sasha’s celebration was very emotional, I myself felt it, and I think we could all see that this was the end for Charlotte before she moves up the ladder.
Sami Zayn vs Kevin Owens
Owens decision to keep the fans waiting was great, because everybody really wanted to see these two go at it. I guess this match was meant to cement Owens as a top dog in NXT, because Zayn was almost overselling a lot of the moves. While Sami did eventually get in some offense, the match started to look like a Lesnar-Cena type squash match. I’m shocked the match was booked this way, because we were all looking forward to seeing these two put on a masterpiece. In the end, it was good for Sami to lose his title, especially if the match was being booked this way. I can’t remember a match that had such a realistic tone. As I referred to, Owens is meant to be a threat, and I’m scared for Finn Balor. Overall I found this entire bout to be effective and emotional. They could have went with a normal match, but this sent a bigger message .This has to be the opening for Zayn to head to the main roster, there would be no better way for him to go out.
All and all, this show was incredible. While fans were looking forward to Zayn vs Owens, I believe the divas four way and Balor vs Neville stole the show. We all knew Balor vs Neville was going to be good, but it’s the divas that shocked everybody. The results here are obviously setting up for some roster call ups, because this place might not have the room for all this amazing talent. I must also note, Finn Balor was heavily the most over superstar on this show. He got better reactions than any other face. Overall I give this special an 8.9/10 or an A.