NXT: TakeOver London – REVIEW & ANALYSIS

NXT TakeOver LondonAfter last weekend’s fantastic TLC pay-per-view, I think it’ll be difficult for NXT to live up to the standard that’s been set by the WWE roster. But with a potentially hot London crowd and some great performers scheduled, this could be yet another feather in the NXT cap of incredible live TakeOver events in 2015.

Let’s see how things went…

Asuka vs EmmaAsuka vs Emma

AsukaI can’t tell you how impressed I am with Asuka. She’s certainly not a “classic beauty” in terms of what a WWE Diva normally looks like, but there is something about the way she carries herself that I find hot as hell. Add to that sexiness an extremely unique style and some incredible in-ring ability, and I think you’re got the total package with her. She’s absolutely a future NXT Women’s champion and I can see her dominating the main roster, as well.

Emma & DanaEmma is still a work-in-progress, in my opinion. She’s been looking to feel comfortable in a heel persona for months now and only now seems to look like it’s a natural thing for her. She’s an incredible talented and beautiful woman, but you can tell that playing the heel isn’t something she’s great at yet. Once she can fully integrate the personality and gimmick to her character, she’ll be called back-up to the main roster because she’s got the talent and deserves to be there again.

I think having Dana Brooke yelling out at ringside was a good thing because she’s definitely a future star and needs to get more interaction experience under her belt because, right now, she’s a one-trick flexing pony. The more personality she can display the better.

Asuka v EmmaThe match itself was a really good way to kick NXT TakeOver off. The crowd was super into Asuka and both women were able to put on a great back-n-forth match. I thought that the match’s backstage agent had Asuka sell too much for Emma at first, but as the match went on it really made each of her comebacks pop the crowd more and more. I loved that when I thought this would end like a “normal televised match” after the big babyface comeback, the match just continued on and built more momentum.

I genuinely popped TWICE for the big false submission finish and the eventual 3-count. Having Asuka win was the right booking decision to make, but the match itself made Emma look REALLY strong…so this, really, was the perfectly booked match. A hot crowd certainly didn’t hurt.

Dash & Dawson vs Enzo Amore & Colin CassadyDash & Dawson vs Colin Cassady & Enzo Amore (NXT tag title match)

Enzo, Carmella, & CassRight out of the gate, you have to respect the hell out of Enzo Amore and Colin Cassady for how they’ve grown as a team in NXT over the past couple of years. They are, without a doubt, the most popular NXT creation (superstars like Sami Zayn and Finn Bálor were globally popular before NXT). Why these two haven’t been called-up to the main roster yet is beyond me. Hell…you only need to see how globally popular they are right now and you should know just what you can have on RAW and Smackdown. As expected, Enzo’s mic work was fantastic before the match. These guys are like the New Age Outlaws 2.0.

And I could on all day about Carmella‘s beauty and potential, but I’ll save that for another day.

Dash & DawsonDash & Dawson have been one of my favourite tag teams for a few months now. They are throwback wrestlers that remind me of Arn Anderson & Tully Blanchard and The Midnight Express. If they were facing any other tag team on the roster, I’d probably suggest they go over in this match to help put them over as a dominant tag team. As it stands, though, I really think the time has come for Enzo & Big Cass to win the big one.

Enzo vs D&DThe NXT Universe was absolutely incredible for this match. The chants for Enzo and Big Cass were entertaining as hell and helped the match immensely because, for the most part, it went as you’d have expect with Enzo playing the babyface in peril (the dude is almost Ricky Morton-esque with his “selling for heat” skills). The match itself was good, so I don’t want to say that having a “normal” Enzo & Cass match is bad.

Do I agree with the finish? Well…as much as it would be nice to see the popular team finally win the belts, I don’t have an issue with how the heels retained their championships. The finish was well booked and extremely well executed by both teams, which made for a realistic result.

Apollo Crews vs Baron CorbinApollo Crews vs Baron Corbin

BaronI’ve said it before and I’ll say it again…I don’t see the big deal with Baron Corbin. He’s got a nice entrance and he can stare at the crowd, I guess…but I don’t see “charisma” when I watch him. I see potential, but a lot of it is unrealized at this point. I just don’t think he’s developing as fast as WWE wants him to or as fast as HE thinks he is. I could be wrong, but I just think he needs a lot more polish before he can shine. And some hair plugs wouldn’t hurt.

ApolloApollo Crews just has “it”. Size, speed, agility, ability, and charisma to make a total package performer. I truly believe this man will be WWE champion at some point within the next decade. The guy just has it all. His mic skills aren’t WWE-ready yet, but he’s better than 90% of the NXT roster on the stick so he’s definitely well on his way.

I wasn’t expecting a lot from this match, if I can be honest. I think it lived up to my expectations. One thing I enjoyed was Corbin’s attempting to smack talk during the match. It’s not nearly as witty as Kevin Owens (who is a master) and just comes off as amateurish in its delivery. The other thing I don’t think he realizes is that his heat isn’t “we hate you” heel heat, but rather “we think you can’t wrestle” Eva Marie heat. When you’ve lost the respect of the NXT Universe, there is little you can do but roll with it and assume any heat is good heat (it’s not).

Apollo vs CorbinNot sure it’s ever a good sign to have your live crowd provide a “BotchaMania” chant during your match, but both Crews and Corbin appeared to be blown up halfway through the match-up…resulting in more than one spot looking sloppy and messy.

I gotta say…the finish was completely shocking. To have Crews lose cleanly by pinfall totally took me by surprise. That’s gotta be a good thing, though. I don’t like a predictable match or predictable finishes, so I can’t take anything away from the match because “the wrong guy won”. Credit where credit is due…they gave me a surprise finish out of nowhere.

Bayley vs Nia JaxBayley vs Nia Jax

BayleyI will be the first to admit that while I completely respect the ability of Bayley, I don’t understand the appeal. I know I’m not the desired core audience for Bayley, but I’m constantly shocked to see the crowds go insane for this girl. She is one of the most popular superstars in ALL of WWE, in spite of her awkwardness in public and inability to deliver a solid promo of any kind. Because of that, I absolutely respect the hell out of her for what she has been able to accomplish and the connection with the WWE Universe that she has been able to make at this point in her career.

NiaWhile I really loved the new entrance gear for Nia Jax, I’m not sold on her as a viable in-ring performer yet. I think there is a lot of potential there, don’t get me wrong. But for years WWE has looked for a larger woman who could wrestle the smaller women, and for various reasons Amazing Kong and Jessicka Havok (two women who can run circles around Jax) haven’t worked out. I just don’t know if hot-shotting Jax to a live title match is a smart idea.

Jax vs BayleyHaving said all that, after watching the match, I can’t lie…Jax has impressed me. Hell…she’s better inside of the ring than Eva Marie. Though Jax still has a TON of work to do, Bayley helped carry her to a more-than-passable match with a live (and potentially VERY hostile) crowd. The match was booked to play to Jax’s strengths and helped to hide her weaknesses. While not one of those incredible back-and-forth battles we’ve become used to, it was a dominating performance by the heel where the babyface-in-peril inspired the crowd with a last-ditch effort to win after escaping defeat multiple times.

Insane Bayley crowdI have to be completely honest…I thought that Jax was going to beat Bayley. I mean…wow. And the London crowd was so into it, they got on their feet…yes, literally a standing ovation…at the MERE THOUGHT that Bayley could make Jax tap out (pictured, right). After multiple attempts, it finally happened and the crowd went nuts. I mean, this was a great finish that the crowd ate up. Props to both women for an extremely believable match that had the crowd (and yes…me, too) cheering for the finish.

Finn Balor vs Samoa JoeFinn Bálor vs Samoa Joe for NXT Championship

Samoa Joe 4Where I am a new fan to the skills of “The Demon”, I’ve been a fan of Samoa Joe for well over a decade. To see him on NXT in a main event match on a live televised event gives me chills. The promo skills alone are better than 90% of the MAIN roster. Add to that his in-ring skills and you’ve got somebody who might be happy in NXT, but could do really well on the main roster, too.

FinnFinn Bálor is quite the spectacle. He’s unique and original and has the “sports entertainment” aspect already wrapped up. Some people tink he gets boring once he’s inside of the ring, but I believe his in-ring abilities are spectacular. If I could compare him to anybody, it would be Jeff Hardy…another “spectacle” who couldn’t really promo and wasn’t hugely muscular but still captured the imagination of the WWE Universe.

As much as I’m a fan of Bálor (and I loved his Demon paint/persona for the show), I’m actually hoping Joe wins the title in this match. Demon 3Demon 2 Demon 1

After watching the match, anybody backstage should be able to see the differences between someone like Samoa Joe and someone like Baron Corbin. The abilities that he provides is second to NONE…he can wrestle, he can brawl, he can fly, and he carries himself with such an “at-ease swagger” that the ring seems like second nature to him. Some people carry themselves a certain way as in-ring performers; others don’t have to because they just HAVE IT. Joe has it in spades (and yes, so does Bálor).Finn vs Joe

The main event was awesome and fully endorsed both men as being the future of NXT (and WWE, should those in power decide to allow it to happen). I honestly thought Joe might have a shot at winning, but I’m certainly not unhappy with how Bálor pinned Joe to win. Just a fantastic ferocious battle that has helped to cap off an amazing year for NXT. And can I say that the little touches of having doctors look at BOTH Joe and Bálor was just a bit of genius…whether it was a work or not. It just really helped make the match appear that much more hellacious.

I can’t wait to see what 2016 brings for the brand.

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