Last night, NXT presented its third quarterly special, Takeover: Fatal 4 Way, which aired live on the WWE Network from Full Sail University in Winter Park, FL.
Below are some of my observations from the show.
As I’ve mentioned in the past, one of the things I enjoy most about NXT is the intimate atmosphere. Since it’s always taped at the same venue, you get a far more passionate audience than you see every week on Raw or SmackDown. In many ways NXT is reminiscent of the old ECW.
The preshow featured simple, yet effective video packages and interviews focusing on the key matches.Renee Young, Albert, Alex Riley and William Regal were on a panel discussing their predictions for the evening. The post-match fallout show was just as good with Tyson Kidd, Adrian Neville, Charlotte, Bayley, and Sasha Banks delivering strong promos.
The announcing team of Renee Young, Byron Saxton, and Tom Phillips was excellent throughout the show. Unlike the Raw crew, NXT’s announcers actually care about getting the matches, and not themselves, over.
The big two:
This was a two-match show built around Charlotte defending her Women’s Championship against Bayley and Neville defending his NXT Championship in a Fatal 4 Way against Kidd, Sami Zayn, and Tyler Breeze.
The latter match was one of the year’s best. It was as fast-paced of a Fatal 4 Way that you will ever see. Most important, each individual delivered a standout performance.
The conclusion saw Zayn unleash an unreal level of offense. He laid out Neville with a sick suicide dive and followed it up by delivering a nasty tornado DDT onto Breeze through the ropes outside of the ring (this was the spot of the match). He got back in the ring and planted Kidd with a Helluva kick. As the referee was counting to three the unthinkable happened-Neville pulled the referee outside the ring. A stunned Zayn went out to confront his friend and received a kick to the jaw for his troubles. Neville capitalized on the moment by executing his Red Arrow onto the prone Kidd for the victory.
Words cannot properly describe how brilliant this finish was. Despite Neville emerging victorious, I have to think that everyone involved significantly raised their stock within NXT. This was among the best four-way matches in WWE history and a definite match of the year candidate.
Once again, NXT proved why their women blow away the WWE Divas inside the ring. Instead of using lesbianism and Jerry Springer catfights as a crutch, Charlotte and Bayley showed us that women can produce matches just as compelling as their male counterparts. While this wasn’t Charlotte vs. Natalya in terms of overall drama and execution, it probably ranks right behind it as best WWE women’s match this year.
Bayley is one of the most likable characters in wrestling today and is perfect at playing the underdog role (similar to Zayn and Daniel Bryan). Charlotte may be well on her way to becoming the greatest American female wrestler in history.
Hideo Itami’s introduction:
William Regal introduced Kenta, now going by the name of Hideo Itami. Before he came out they played a really cool video hyping him up. You can clearly see that the mentality they have for pushing him is clearly different from that of any other international star they’ve signed before.
Itami spoke a lot of Japanese and a few words in English before being interrupted by the Ascension. He fought both of them off while the crowd loudly chanted his real name. This was a great introduction.
The rest of the card:
The Lucha Dragons beat the Ascension to become the new NXT Tag Team Champions. The final moments were all action as Sin Cara and Kalisto performed an array of dazzling aerial maneuvers. Their win was pushed as a big deal since the Ascension have held the belts for nearly a year.
Enzo Amore beat Sylvester Lefort in a match where the stipulation was that the loser would have to have their head shaved bald. Lefort bailed and his partner Marcus Louie ended up having a bucket of hair removal cream poured all over him. Enzo and Big Cass have natural chemistry and are entertaining.
Baron Corbin destroyed C.J. Parker in his debut. Apparently, Corbin previously wrestled in NXT under another name. C.J. Parker may be my least favorite NXT wrestler so I was glad to see him get beat in such dominating fashion.
Bull Dempsey beat Mojo Riley in another squash match. Dempsey gives off an old-school vibe and the fans have taken to him. I expect him to soon be in line for a championship shot against Neville.
Final Thoughts: Another phenomenal show. NXT continues to be the most consistently entertaining and rewarding wrestling product in the North American market.