Out of every Takeover special, this may have been the one with the least amount of build, but that didn’t stop it from being entertaining. The stars of NXT put forth a great effort on this card, and that made it feel as if these feuds have been going for a while.
Tye Dillinger vs Eric Young
The opening spot was brilliant in terms of telling this story and setting the tone. Even though they haven’t been feuding for long, it was a great way to remind fans of why this all started.
This San Antonio crowd was hot for Dillinger, and the two competitors made the most of that right away. With Young taking immediate advantage over his opponent, it made the fans cheer for a comeback from the beloved babyface. At the same time it made Eric Young look as strong as he could in his Takeover debut. It was crucial that he made an impression with NXT fans, as I’m sure there are some that still aren’t familiar with him or his work outside of the WWE.
I thought the last few minutes of this match were executed perfectly. It was so intense, and I legitimately started to doubt my predictions at one point. Excitement aside, the finish was done the best way it could’ve been. Eric Young made an impact, and Dillinger still looked like a credible threat. It was the best booking decision for both characters. Overall, I’d say this was an awesome way to open the show.
Andrade “Cien” Almas vs Roderick Strong
These two walked into this match with a serious handicap, and that was having no real feud to work with. Well, they did the best that they could with what they had to work with. They simply had to rely on their pure wrestling skill to get themselves over.
From start to finish, Strong and Almas did a good job at working a ton of fast paced spots. This could’ve easily been the match where the audience died out, but that wasn’t the case. Each competitor gave this live crowd a reason to stay loud and keep the chants alive. Almas especially knew how to work with the fans, as he was generating the most reactions.
Once everything was said and done, I believe they went with the right finish. Roderick very much needs to establish himself as a threat, so it only made sense for him to win. Also, in defeat, Cien proved that he can put forth a smooth match while garnering heat from the crowd. In a way, this was a win-win for both of them.
DIY vs Authors of Pain
The Shield would be so proud of the AoP entrance. Jokes aside, I truly think they could’ve done without the swat vests, because it certainly felt like a poor rehash.
It was obvious that this match heavily relied on the selling of DIY, and that’s all it felt like in the first few minutes. While they sold the beat down, the AoP didn’t come across as presence on screen. It also didn’t help that this live crowd had zero reaction towards the heel tag team in the opening minutes.
While the first half of the match fell flat, it certainly picked up in the second half. Not only did DIY manage to get a solid match out of AoP, the challengers managed to look impressive with the use of their strength. Along with that, there were a few great spots that perfectly teased DIY conquering the monster heel team. Personally, I thought the finishing sequence was the strongest tease and best spot. In short, this entire match did a 180.
It’s appears that there’s an appetite for DIY beating the AoP, so the title switch was a smart decision. I for one am very excited to see Ciampa and Gargano chase the titles.
Seth Rollins Promo
For weeks, the joke online has been “Seth should go to Takeover to find Triple H”. I’m surprised they actually decided to execute it to a certain extent. While we didn’t get to see Rollins get his hands on Hunter, this was an amazing tease for the Royal Rumble PPV. I don’t think there was a fan in the world that didn’t want to see the two get into some sort of brawl.
Asuka vs Billie Kay vs Peyton Royce vs Nikki Cross
The second Asuka’s music hit, there wasn’t anything more I wanted to see than her run through the competition. Thankfully, that’s exactly what they went with in the opening part of the match. Similar to a Brock Lesnar, there’s just something about her dominate style that’s satisfying to watch.
Asuka may be fun to watch, but one of the anticipated spots in this match was a showdown with Cross. In that sense, fans wanted to see an equal fight, which was done quite well. It lets us know that there is in fact other female talent that can hang with the champ.
One thing I didn’t expect in this match was Kay and Royce dishing out as much damage as they did. Who would’ve thought the only table spot on the show would involve those two? It was a surprise, but it was fresh. Even though it didn’t lead to them winning the title, I’m sure in the moment some fans thought otherwise.
After this match, WWE/NXT fans should be excited for the next crop or female talent coming up. While Asuka did win, this was the first time in a while she didn’t need to be the main focus.
Bobby Roode vs Shinsuke Nakamura
I didn’t like the idea of Nakamura having a special entrance again, but I may have changed my mind on that. The entrance they gave him for this show was easily the best one he’s had since they started the ones with extra theatrics.
In terms of pacing, this took a while to pick up, but it needed to happen as it set the tone. I liked the idea of them taunting each other, because it’s only something these two characters would take pride in doing in the opening seconds of a match. Once that was over, these two really showed how well they can gel.
For Nakamura, everything about this was fresh. This was quite different from his matches with Joe, as it moved at more of a technical pace, as opposed to a stiff one. With Joe, he always played the underdog, and that wasn’t as much of the case here. While he did have a few comeback spots, him and Bobby were fairly equal. That alone allows for more chemistry.
When they worked the injury angle with Shinsuke, it was difficult to feel sympathetic for him because he essentially injured himself. I thought this made him look like a complete idiot. Why couldn’t Roode just work on his knee, then hit it with a chair (without the ref looking)? That way at least Bobby would gain some kind of heat with the crowd. Aside from that complaint, it was only wise for that angle to lead to a title change. A quick comeback from Nakamura would’ve only cheapened his amazing selling and intensity of the moment.
Once again, the NXT roster and writing team proved that they can still stand out when the main roster has all the excitement going for it. From start to finish, I honestly don’t think there was a dull moment on this show. It never dragged, and there was zero use of meaningless filler. At the same time, each match complimented the next one, and due to that, the crowd never died down. The one low point may have been the first half of the tag match, while the high points consisted of the second half of that same tag match, and the women’s fatal four way. Overall, this show deserves a 8.5/10.