The SmarK Rant for NXT Takeover: London
Live from…I wanna say…London?
Your hosts are three guys who sound exactly the same.
HHH joins us to start, and he’d be dead before he wouldn’t be here tonight.
Emma v. Asuka
Dana Brooke’s new outfit and makeup is actually a big improvement. The crowd is immediately rowdy for Asuka, booing Emma’s hammerlock and then chanting for Asuka’s reversal. Nice bit as Emma tries to roll out and Asuka rolls with her, then takes her down into a Fujiwara armbar before Emma makes the ropes. She bails to escape, so Asuka hits her with a butt butt off the apron. Asuka gets distracted by Dana and Emma takes over, however, and gets a dropkick for two. Emma chokes away on the ropes and adds a kick for two, then takes her down with a full nelson while the crowd does some wacky soccer chants using Asuka’s name. That’s pretty impressive. Asuka comes back with a backslide for two, but Emma gets a clothesline for two while Dana Brooke gives advice at ringside. “NICE STRENGTH!” she yells for example, while posing. Emma whips her into the corner while Dana gives her the trash talk, but Asuka suddenly snaps off a missile dropkick and makes the comeback with kicks. A LOT of kicks. Emma takes her down with a jackknife rollup for two, but Asuka wipes her out with another running butt butt for two. Asuka misses a blind charge and Emma gets the Tarantula while Dana stays positive and yells encouragement (“Good girl, Emma! You stay on her!”) and suplexes her into the turnbuckles for two. She goes for a wacky submission move, but Asuka violently reverses into an anklelock and then kills her with a german suplex and shining wizard for two. Asuka fights for the Tazmission, but the ref is bumped during the skirmish and that gives Dana the chance to throw her belt in. The ref sees Asuka with the belt and threatens reprecussions, but Emma rolls her up and Asuka reverses to the submission hold. Dana distracts the ref AGAIN and he misses the tapout, but Asuka just kicks Emma right in the face instead and pins her clean at 14:51. I love that they played with all the potential screwjobs at the end and then just had Asuka win because she was better. Great opener. ***1/2
NXT tag team titles: Dash & Dawson v. Enzo Amore & Colin Cassady
Enzo math: If they had a pound for every time they got knocked down and didn’t get back up, they’d have zero pounds. Enzo is immediately pulling down the straps on his weird outfit, so you know he means business. And as usual he gets caught in the heel corner immediately and beat up. He clips Wilder and hits a neckbreaker for two, however, and Cass comes in with some clubbering forearms to take over. Enzo works the arm while the crowd does an inventive “Hey ho, Enzo” chant. Soccer hooligans have the best chants, you have to give them that. How Cass didn’t crack up while they were chanting for him to the tune of “Hey Jude”, I’ll never know. Cass gets double-teamed, but presses Wilder onto Dawson and the champs bail. So Cass hurls Enzo onto them, but Enzo confuses the legal man and gets laid out by Wilder. Back to beating up Enzo and all is right with the world again. Dawson with a hammerlock suplex for two and a slingshot suplex for two. Dawson stays on the arm, and Wilder does an awesome job of cutting off the tag and hits a gourdbuster for two. Nice touch as the ref won’t let them switch behind his back, and thus Enzo was able to kick out. Finally Enzo comes back with a DDT on Wilder and it’s hot tag Cass as he runs wild. Bossman slam gets two on Dawson. He dumps Wilder, but the champs go after the bad knee and Wilder gets an inverted figure-four. Dawson takes out Enzo, but Cass makes the ropes and they clean house. Rocket Launcher gets two as Dawson makes the save and the crowd is PISSED. And then poor Cass goes into the post, and Enzo tries a flying something off the top and lands in their finisher at 15:01. Much like Roman Reigns, they’re always the bridesmaids. ***1/4 Hopefully they’re building something with Enzo & Cass.
Baron Corbin v. Apollo Crews
Corbin informs Crews that he’s in the wrong house, but ironically it is Corbin who leaves soon after. Back in, Crews works him over in the corner, but charges and gets backdropped onto the stairs. Ouch. Corbin feels like this is proof Crews should have stayed in Ring of Honor. Back in, Corbin pounds away in rather dull fashion for a while, but Crews comes back and they brawl on the floor, where Crews hits him with a moonsault off the apron. Back in, Corbin comes back with the End of Days, but Crews escapes and hits the enzuigiri and moonsault splash for two. Corbin escapes a powerbomb, however, and finishes with the End of Days at 11:49. Huh. Not feeling this one, but I guess they’re going all the way with Corbin. **1/4
NXT Women’s title: Bayley v. Nia Jax
Nice bit of setup with Asuka silently interrupting Nia’s pre-match promo backstage. Bayley tries to evade her to start, but gets tossed around in dramatic fashion. Poor Bayley gets ragdolled on a cobra sleeper, but fights out with a dragon sleeper before getting slammed again. Finally Bayley dropkicks the knee and throws flying elbows, but Nia just swats her down again. Bayley tries a triangle choke from the ground, but Nia dumps her on the top rope and they slug it out up there. Bayley wins that one and follows with a senton for two, but gets tossed out of the ring on the kickout. Back in, she walks into the samoan drop for two. Jax adds two more and the legdrop, but it gets two. Maybe use more than one foot next time, genius. Avalanche and Jax just launches her across the ring, and another pair of sloppy legdrops gets two. This is totally Sting v. Vader and it’s great. Bayley keeps fighting to her feet and Jax adds another avalanche, but Bayley hooks a guillotine choke until Jax drops her on her head to break. Jax goes in for the kill, but Bayley grabs another choke, so Jax dumps her again. And she stupidly goes in AGAIN, and Bayley chokes her down AGAIN and this time cranks on it like crazy and Jax taps at 13:25! This was AMAZING as an underdog comeback story. And it’s such a simple story to tell and yet WWE never does it any more. ****
NXT title: Finn Balor v. Samoa Joe
So in the most brilliant bit of gimmickry yet, Finn Balor is in fact the Jack the Ripper from the video package. Balor throws kicks and dropkicks Joe out of the ring, then dropkicks him into the stairs. Balor misses a double stomp onto the stairs, however, and Joe slams him on the floor to take over. On Takeover. Back in, Joe goes to work, and tosses Balor and follows with a suicide dive. Back in, powerbomb into the crab follows, and Joe turns it into the crossface, but Balor rolls him over for two. Joe grabs his wrist and wrenches it away from the ropes in nasty fashion, but Balor gets a foot on the ropes instead. Finn with a DDT and he slugs away to make the comeback, then follows with running chops in the corner. Blind charge misses and Joe goes up, but Balor knocks him down with an enzuigiri and follows with a tope. Back in, double stomp to the back gets two. Finn hits the Sling Blade , but whiffs on the corner dropkick and Joe suddenly hits the senton and Muscle Buster, which Balor reverses into a rollup for two. Pele Kick and both guys are down, but it’s a slugfest and Finn loses that one. Joe catches another Pele Kick and hooks him in the choke, but Finn makes the ropes right away. Joe drags him back in and tries it again, but Finn rolls out of it and double stomps him to make the comeback. Sling Blade and the corner dropkick works this time, but now Joe is really pissed, so Balor dropkicks him again and goes up. Joe keeps coming with an enzuigiri on top and they slug it out on top, but Joe goes down and Balor hits the Coup de Grace to finish at 18:30. This was everything we expected, I’d say. ****1/2
Another great Takeover show, with only the Corbin-Crews match being a bit of a drag. Especially check out the shockingly great Nia Jax-Bayley match, but it’s all worth checking out. Strongly recommended.