Saturday, April 23, 2016

WWE NXT TakeOver: Rival Review

Sami Zayn & Kevin Owens reignite their storied rivalry!!

WWE NXT TakeOver: Rival
Winter Park, Florida 2/11/15

1.) Hideo Itami vs. Tyler Breeze: ***1/2

The show kicks off with Hideo Itami taking on Tyler Breeze, who makes his entrance with a selfie stick decked out in crazy furs. I thought this was a really good opener. This was arguably Itami’s best singles match in NXT, up to this point, and it’s really the best he’s looked thus far in NXT. He really felt more like KENTA here, which is good. Breeze was also solid here as well. You can always count on him to deliver quality matches on these specials. After some very good back & forth action, Itami would score the victory over Breeze.

2.) No DQ Match - Baron Corbin vs. Bull Dempsey: **¼

So the story here is that these two have been built as the two monsters of NXT. A lot of the build had surround Corbin & Dempsey having numerous squash matches, to the point where it was a race to see who could beat their opponent in the quickest fashion. Corbin then went on defeat Dempsey twice (once in the #1 Contender’s Tournament), so they’re having this third clash, and it’s a No DQ Match. This match was ok, but it wasn’t exactly “terrible”. Given the skills of both guys, at this point, it was probably about as good as it was going to be. By the standards of a No DQ Match, it was pretty tame. They brawled on the outside for a bit, and a chair came into play, but in the end, Baron Corbin would get the win.

3.) NXT Tag Team Titles - Blake & Murphy vs. The Lucha Dragons (Kalisto & Sin Cara): **

On a recent episode of NXT TV, Blake & Murphy unseated The Lucha Dragons in a shocking upset to capture the NXT Tag Team Titles. Here we have Kalisto & Sin Cara getting their rematch against the team that has garnered the nickname “Dubstep Cowboys”. I thought it was easily the worst match on the show. A lot of that had to do with the fact that the match was just a really sloppy spotfest. The Lucha Dragons seemed off, while Blake & Murphy are the definition of “just two guys”, and didn’t do much for me here. This match just didn’t work. Blake & Murphy would defeat The Lucha Dragons here to retain the NXT Tag Team Titles.

4.) #1 Contender’s Tournament - Finals - Adrian Neville vs. Finn Balor: ****

This was the Finals of an Eight-Man Tournament to determine the new #1 Contender to the NXT Title. Once again, Finn Balor has a spectacular entrance, fully decked out in his Demon Warpaint. The whole entrance really makes Balor come off like a huge star. This was the first truly great match on the show. Both guys are just so good, and they brought it for this match. Lots of great back & forth action in this one. Balor would eventually score the win over Adrian Neville, making him the new #1 Contender to the NXT Title.

5.) NXT Women’s Title - Fatal Four-Way Match - Charlotte vs. Bayley vs. Becky Lynch vs. Sasha Banks: ****

Charlotte & Sasha Banks had an incredible match for the NXT Women’s Title at NXT TakeOver: [R] Evolution. This time around, Charlotte is defending her title in a Fatal Four-Way Match against Sasha Banks, Bayley, and Becky Lynch, who is making her first appearance on a NXT TakeOver. I thought this was a pretty great match! The women of NXT once again put on an amazing match, but this time under totally different circumstances. I think all four ladies worked really well together in this environment, and we saw a lot of cool stuff in this match. Everyone got a chance to shine, and everyone had a shot to win. In the end, Sasha Banks would capture the NXT Women’s Title!!

After the match, Sasha Banks & Charlotte hugged, in a sign of mutual respect.

6.) NXT Title - Sami Zayn vs. Kevin Owens: ****1/4

I think just about everyone was excited for this match. Everyone knows of their history outside of WWE (mainly their partnership and subsequent blood-feud in ROH), but they’re writing a new chapter of this story in NXT. Back at NXT TakeOver: [R] Evolution, Sami Zayn finally captured the NXT Title, but his moment was ruined at the very end of the show when Kevin Owens showed his true colors, attacking Zayn and taking him out with a powerbomb on the edge of the ring apron. Now, Owens is challenging Zayn for the NXT Title.

I thought this was a fantastic match, just edging out Balor vs. Neville and the Fatal Four-Way for the NXT Women’s Title as the best match on this show. Every time these two square off, they never fail to disappoint. While it wasn’t a MOTYC by any means, it told a great story, as for the most part, Owens (who had said he would do whatever it took to win the NXT Title, even if it meant destroying his former best friend) punished Zayn throughout the match. There was some really good back & forth action throughout this match, but I would say Owens had more offense here than Zayn. Eventually, after a series a powerbombs to Zayn, the referee called for an end to the match, meaning that Kevin Owens captures the NXT Title via referee stoppage!! It felt like an odd finish at the moment it happened, but as it sunk in, I think people (myself included) really liked it. Having the match end like that is something we really haven’t seen in NXT (at least on these Network Specials), so while it was unexpected, it was different, and it worked. Owens stands tall over Zayn to close the show.

Overall: 8.75/10

This was a really strong outing from NXT. While you had a really good opening match in Hideo Itami vs. Tyler Breeze, the middle of the card (with Corbin vs. Dempsey and the NXT Tag Team Title Match) did bring the show down a little bit. Thankfully, the final three matches were all great, and it really lifted up this show. Balor vs. Neville was an incredible back & forth contest, the women of NXT continue to prove themselves with another impressive showing, and the Main Event was another fantastic chapter in the Kevin Owens/Sami Zayn story. NXT has definitely kicked off 2015 on a high note.

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