Last night, WWE presented its second live NXT special on the WWE Network, NXT Takeover. Boy did this show not disappoint. If February’s NXT Arrival was any indication of what to expect from these quarterly specials then last night’s show was proof that the talent pool of WWE’s main roster has some serious catching up to do.
First and foremost, the atmosphere at Full Sail University is electric. The intimate feel is a throwback to the days of the ECW Arena and Impact Zone (when TNA was a hot product and not the garbage it is today). The hot crowd plays a big role in the overall presentation of the show.
The announcing team of Steven Regal, Tom Phillips, and Byron Saxton is the best in the business. They have perfect synergy and always get over the importance of the storylines behind the matches. While JBL and Michael Cole are an entertaining duo, they often take away from the action inside the ring.
The three major matches were promoted equally well with some phenomenal vignettes. If I were a newbie tuning into this show, I’d think that they are just as important as anything on the main roster.
The show opened with Adam Rose vs. Camacho. Adam actually began his entrance at the conclusion of the preshow. I can’t explain it, but I like his gimmick. It seems that he is having a blast and the fans enjoy it as well. Plus, a guy in a bunny suit is part of his entourage. How cool is that!
The Ascension beat El Local and Kalisto in a pretty standard match. There was nothing wrong with it. It was designed to put over the Ascension as a dominant force and it worked.
Tyler Breeze vs. Sami Zayn for the #1 contender’s shot was excellent. Zayn is the top babyface and best all-around worker on the roster. I hadn’t seen much of Breeze, but I was blown away at his performance. He matched Zayn hold for hold and took some amazing bumps. This match far exceeded my expectations.
There was a good segment involving Alexander Rusev attacking Mojo Rawley. Rusev showed more fire here than I’ve seen from him since being on the main roster. Is it just me or is Lana this generation’s version of Debra McMichael?
Charlotte vs. Natalya was an absolute classic. I cannot say enough good things about it. With all due respect to Trish Stratus, this was the best WWE women’s match I’ve seen. The crowd heat was off the charts plus there was the added drama of Ric Flair and Bret Hart both at ringside cheering them on. The ending was incredible as Charlotte had Natalya locked in the sharpshooter right in front of Bret. Natalya was able to reverse it before succumbing to Charlotte’s snap neckbreaker. The post match was just as memorable as you had Bret, Flair, Charlotte, and Natalya embracing in an ultimate showing of respect. It was even more notable when you consider the personal animosity Flair and Hart once shared for each other.
Tyson Kidd vs. Adrian Neville was also great. They were given a lot of time as they went on around 9:30. There was a lot of technical matwork early on and spots where both attempted to one up the other. The pace picked up and turned into something pretty fantastic. Neville won following a top rope frankensteiner and red arrow. The aftermath told a particularly juicy story as Kidd refused Neville’s handshake, thus signaling a potential heel turn.
Some people have unfairly criticized this match since they couldn’t touch the electricity of Charlotte vs. Natalya, but then again this match was still better than anything we saw this week on Raw.
The post show featuring Paul Heyman, Renee Young, and Triple H was well done. There were also appearances from Natalya, Charlotte, Kidd, Breeze, Zayn, Neville, and Rose.
Overall, I’d give NXT Takeover a 9/10 rating. Highly Recommended.