WWE NXT TakeOver: London
London, England 12/16/15
The show kicked off with Triple H standing in the center of the ring. He did mentioned what happened to him only a few days earlier at TLC 2015 at the hands of Roman Reigns, but says that he would’ve had to have been dead to miss this big event. He hypes up the crowd and finishes by getting them all to say “We Are NXT!”.
1.) Asuka vs. Emma (with Dana Brooke): ****1/4
After Dana Brooke was defeated by Asuka back at NXT TakeOver: Respect, Emma is now getting her chance to go up against “The Empress of Tomorrow”. I had a feeling that this was going to be good, but it blew away my expectations. This was a fantastic women’s match! Asuka was great, of course, but Emma more than held her own here. Obviously Asuka and The Four Horsewomen of NXT get a lot of hype (deservedly so), but I don’t think Emma gets enough recognition. She’s a great wrestlers, and is pretty underrated, if you ask me. There was some great back & forth action throughout this match, and some of the false finishes towards the end of the match were really good. Dana Brooke tried to get involved, but the interference backfired, and ultimately, Asuka scored the victory here in this fantastic opening match. I know a lot of the focus of this show going in, with regards to the women, was the NXT Women’s Title match, but this opening contest between Asuka & Emma really set the bar high here at the start of the show. This was pretty awesome!!
2.) NXT Tag Team Titles - The Revival (Scott Dawson & Dash Wilder) vs. Enzo Amore & Colin Cassady (with Carmella): ****
On an episode of NXT TV several weeks prior to this show, The Revival captured the NXT Tag Team Titles from The Vaudevillains. They’re making their first title defense on a TakeOver against Enzo Amore & Colin Cassady, who’ve been so close to capturing the NXT Tag Team Titles on a couple of occasions. Of course, Enzo & Cass were awesome during that entrance (their shtik never gets old), and the crowd loved them. I thought this was a great tag team match! While there wasn’t necessarily a ton of action here, what made this match work so well is the story they were able to tell. There were some really cool false finishes here, where Enzo & Cass came very close to winning the titles on a number of occasions, but The Revival just managed to stay alive. Enzo & Cass played great babyfaces, and The Revival did a fantastic job in their role as heels. If you’re someone who’s into that southern style of tag team wrestling, then I feel like this match will certainly be one you’ll enjoy. Eventually, Cass got taken out on the outside, and The Revival hit their finisher, Shatter Machine, off the top rope to retain the NXT Tag Team Titles! This show is off to an incredible start.
3.) Apollo Crews vs. Baron Corbin: ***
The former Uhaa Nation made his debut back at NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn, and he’s had a solid first few months, but he soon got into a feud with Baron Corbin, which led us to this match. This was really the first downturn in the card, but I wouldn’t take that as a criticism, as it was still a very solid match. I think it says a lot about a show when what was the worst match on the card (by a rather big margin, in my opinion) was still relatively good. The match slowed things down a bit, but after what we saw in the first two matches, I don’t see that as a bad thing. One of the funnier highlights of this match saw Corbin unleash some hilarious banter on Apollo Crews. At one point, he yelled audibly at Crews to “go back to Ring of Honor” (which is hilarious since Crews never wrestled for ROH). It was interesting that Corbin got the win here in such a clean fashion, but in the long run, I don’t think it mattered too much, since both would end up on the main roster following WrestleMania.
4.) NXT Women’s Title - Bayley vs. Nia Jax: ***½
Nia Jax recently made her debut in NXT, and coming into this match, posed one of the biggest threats that any NXT Women’s Champion has ever faced. I think a lot of people were curious as to how this match was going to go, considering Nia Jax has just made her debut, and didn’t have a ton of experience. Fortunately, this turned out to be a pretty good match. It wasn’t close to previous matches for the NXT Women’s Title on TakeOver specials, but considering the challenger was pretty inexperienced, it turned out about as good as it could have. A lot of the credit for this one goes to Bayley. First of all, before I even talk about the match, I should say that the crowd was really into her. At one point, they sang “Hey Baby, I wanna know if you’ll be my girl”, but used Bayley’s name instead. As for the match, what made it so good was the story they were able to tell. Bayley knew that Nia Jax had a big power and size advantage, so she went with the strategy of trying to take her out with sleeper holds and guillotine choke. Jax landed some big shots of her own, nearly putting away Bayley away on a few occasions, but ultimately, it was the guillotine choke that led to Bayley successfully retaining her NXT Women’s Title. Again, this was a lot better than anyone was expecting, and most of the credit has to go to Bayley.
5.) NXT Title - Finn Balor vs. Samoa Joe: ****¼
Finn Balor & Samoa Joe saw some brief success as a tag team, winning the first annual Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic at NXT TakeOver: Respect. However, that partnership didn’t last long, as Samoa Joe later turned on Finn Balor, making it clear that he wanted the NXT Title. That led us to this match. In addition to his usual demon war paint, Balor had a Jack The Ripper-inspired entrance. As far as the match goes, I thought it was an awesome main event! Both guys are so good, so it should be no surprise that this match was great. The action was very strong from start to finish. Balor was aggressive at first, and that really set the tone for the rest of the match. Joe was, of course, great here as well, as we saw a lot of what makes him such a great performer. After nearly eighteen minutes of intense back & forth action, Finn Balor was finally able to put away Samoa Joe to retain the NXT Title!! Once again, I thought this was a fantastic match!
After the match, Balor celebrated in the ring while an irate Samoa Joe looked on from the entrance way as the show came to a close.
NXT TakeOver Specials always manage to deliver, and this one was no exception. Part of what made this particular show so awesome was the crowd in London. They were raucous throughout the entire show, and were into pretty much every match. Great crowds can really help shows like this, and on this occasion, they made good and great matches even better. As far as the card, the main event between Finn Balor & Samoa Joe delivered in spades, but it wasn’t the clear Match Of The Night, as Asuka & Emma delivered a fantastic opening match. Apollo Crews vs. Baron Corbin was a fine undercard match, and the other two title matches (for the NXT Tag Team Titles and the NXT Women’s Title) exceeded expectations. I don’t think I would call this the best NXT TakeOver Special ever, but with the amazing atmosphere and the great wrestling, it was definitely one of the strongest we’ve seen thus far.