Looking at The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly of NXT Takeover
Posted by Justin Watry on 05.29.2014
NXT Takeover is in the books! How was the live special on the WWE Network? Is Adrian Neville still NXT Champion? Who is the new #1 contender? Could Charlotte defeat Natalya for the NXT Women's Title? All this and much more!
Before we get to NXT Takeover, let me state that the NXT ArRIVAL event from February was off the charts amazing. For somebody who is a "casual" fan of the product and rarely keeps up with much outside of Raw/Smackdown, it was completely eye opening. The two hour live show was stacked from top to bottom and would be insanely tough to top. The bar had been raised so much that anything else that followed was sure to disappoint. Now that Takeover is over, were those claims true? Could NXT really best their ArRIVAL efforts? Using my classic Good, Bad, and Ugly format, how about we take a look?
WWE Network Stream - Real quickly, I just want to state that the entire thing ran perfectly. So far, the WWE Network quality has been exactly as promised. Yeah, there have been minor issues from the past three months but never during the actual live shows. Kudos to WWE for that.
The Build All Week Long - WWE had a media conference call earlier in the week. The WWE Network ran a special on Wednesday evening. There were come really cool behind the scenes Youtube videos done (see below). Raw and Smackdown gave the NXT some promotion. Then to further it one last time, Triple H held a Twitter question and answer session Thursday afternoon, just as he did for ArRIVAL in February. I follow the KISS Method with wrestling. Keep it simple stupid. Build up a good card, showcase the great talent, and inform your audience when it will air. Straight forward and to the point. So easy.
Adam Rose - As usual, the entrance was well done. A catchy theme song with a lively crowd can only help. His victory over Camacho was nothing to write home about, but it was not planned to be anything more than that. These two did not go out there looking for a five star classic or "steal the show" at NXT Takeover. If you accept the match for the sole purpose of giving Rose a nice win, then it was more than acceptable. Good start to the show. Final note: I loved the small touch of having the party bus arrive at the end of the pre-show.
TYLER BREEZE WINS! - Wow, upset of the night there. First of all, Sami Zayn vs. Tyler Breeze was very good. No surprise there. Outside of a few miscues and dangerous looking moves, everything felt 'right' about this. The crowd was going wild. There was a clearly defined face. An obvious heel. Plus, something on the line: #1 contender's spot to the NXT Title! All the makings of a quality outing. The ending, though, shocked me. I thought for sure this whole thing was designed for Zayn to climb the mountain to the NXT Title. Guess not. Should be interesting to see how far NXT decides to go with Breeze going forward. Could he really be the next NXT Champion? Really thought Zayn would win.
Rusev Crushes Mojo - Not really a fan of Mojo Rawley. Now really a fan of Rusev. However, Lana was out there. That is good enough for me. Rusev destroyed Mojo in a quick segment. No harm, no foul. Did its job I suppose...
NXT Women's Championship - I liked the way Paige delivered her promo, kind of transitioning from her title reign in NXT to the next. Nicely done. I was skeptical at first of having Bret Hart and Ric Flair out there, but they did not overshadow the match, so props to them. Ultimately, this came down to Charlotte and Natalya in the ring fighting for the vacant NXT Women's Championship. Really, there could only be one winner. Nattie is on the main roster; Charlotte is not. After a great back and forth 20 minute match, Charlotte finally won the title. Ric Flair (crying after the match) is a proud man. Now, we shall see what Charlotte can do as champion in NXT.
Adrian Neville VS. Tyson Kidd - The NXT Championship match has not main evented both live specials. That is an excellent precedent. Top prize in the top spot. Like previous title match, I am unsure how many people actually thought the main roster wrestler had much of a chance. I fully admit to not giving Tyson Kidd much of a chance, if any at all. Well, he and Adrian Neville made me a believer (not, not a boliever). With plenty of time to work with and two skilled performers, this was the perfect way to cap off the evening. Neville retains and is STILL your NXT Champion. Kidd seemed frustrated with the loss and certainly teased being a heel, so I guess that may be his new character on the main roster. Regardless, a clean win for the champ in the main event...nothing beats that.
Tag Team Scene - In February, The Ascension defeated Too Cool at NXT ArRIVAL. A full three months later, it is The Ascension beating Kalisto and El Local. This is not a knock on Kalisto. Nor is this a knock on El Local. Both are talented in the ring and were decent opponents for The Ascension at NXT Takeover. However, there was nothing that grabbed my attention. Even as a casual fan of the brand, I know the tag team scene is The Ascension...and everybody else. Is there an indy tag team out there on WWE's radar? Or a tag team from Ring of Honor? Get some need blood in there for the tag scene. Hopefully, by the time we get another live NXT special in a few months, it will feature an intriguing match for The Ascension.
Raw And Smackdown In Comparison - Talk about ugly. I know it is the annual post-WrestleMania downturn. I know Memorial Day was on Monday. I know there are other things going on right now. No excuses though. The NXT live specials just blow the main roster out of the water. It is not even funny. While the comparisons are not entirely fair (NXT has a live quarterly special, Raw/Smackdown must air every week), the point stands. The Red Brand has been 'decent' for the past few weeks. Smackdown has crawled back into its 'Raw recap' mode instead of delivering solid episodes every Friday night. Then comes NXT Takeover to do exactly that : take over! If there is one thing to truly get from these live NXT specials, it is hope. Not to be corny or cliched, but NXT gives all of us hope that there is something amazing from WWE. Hope for a new and fresh wrestling presentation. Hope for Triple H building the future. Hope for the young stars in NXT. Hope for championships belts to be promoted as more than just props. Hope for a better WWE.
Summary: Not quite as awesome as NXT ArRIVAL, but that always seemed like an impossible benchmark. Still a very good live show. Make no mistake, without the inevitable comparisons to the February special, this MORE than stands on its own. Well worth the two hours and if any new eyeballs were put on the WWE Network, even better. Recommend watching NXT Takeover to all of those who (for whatever reason) missed it.