Monday, July 31, 2017

WWE NXT TakeOver: The End Review

Finn Balor & Samoa Joe settle their rivalry inside of a Steel Cage!!

WWE NXT TakeOver: The End
Winter Park, Florida 6/8/16

1.) Andrade "Cien" Almas vs. Tye Dillinger: **3/4

The show kicked off with the debut of Andrade "Cien" Almas, who was formerly La Sombra in CMLL as well as in New Japan (he was actually part of the original Los Ingobernables in CMLL) take on "The Perfect 10". The majority of these NXT TakeOver events usually feature a match featured the debut of a new talent, and this opening contest continued that trend. I thought this was a decent match that served its purpose well. Almas did look good here, but this crowd in Full Sail loved Dillinger. This really marked a turning point in Dillinger's career, when you look back at this show in hindsight. Prior to this, Dillinger had been seen as a solid hand that would help the new stars get over, but the fans eventually fell in love with his "Perfect 10" gimmick, and that would (in time) lead to his rise as a singles babyface. Andrade "Cien" Almas would get the victory here (as everyone predicted), but Dillinger would come away looking even better.

2.) NXT Tag Team Titles - American Alpha vs. The Revival: ****1/4

Chad Gable & Jason Jordan captured the NXT Tag Team Titles from Scott Dawson & Dash Wilder back at NXT TakeOver: Dallas in a great encounter, and this rematch was just as good, if not a little bit better. I thought this was awesome!! It was easily the best match on the entire show, in my opinion. These two teams have some amazing chemistry, and they put together another classic bout for the NXT Tag Team Titles. There was entertaining tag team action throughout, both sides played their roles perfectly, and the fans were into it. The second half of this match, in particular, was especially great. Ultimately, The Revival managed to score the win to become the first team to hold the NXT Tag Team Titles twice. I would've liked to see American Alpha have a longer run with the titles, but given that they would soon get called up to the main roster (via the WWE Draft), I guess that just wasn't going to happen. Plus, The Revival are perfect as the heel champions, and it would lead to an even better series of matches with another babyface team down the road.

After the match was over, American Alpha were attacked by the team who would soon become known as The Authors Of Pain. Paul Ellering (who managed The Road Warriors back in the day) came out on the entrance way, and essentially revealed himself to be the manager for this new, monstrous team.

3.) Austin Aries vs. Shinsuke Nakamura: ***3/4

These two were arguably the biggest NXT signings of 2016. Austin Aries made his debut in NXT in January, and immediately got into a feud with Baron Corbin. Meanwhile, Shinsuke Nakamura had a spectacular debut at NXT TakeOver: Dallas, as he had a ***** classic with Sami Zayn. This particular encounter was built as a "dream match". While I wouldn't go quite that far, it was still a highly anticipated match. In the end, it wasn't great, but it was still very good. The first half of the match was good, but nothing really stood out until the second half, when the action picked up significantly. There was some great back & forth between the two in the final few minutes, until Nakamura eventually won after hitting Aries (who had his ribs taped up) with the Kinshasa. This was by no means a MOTYC, but as a special showcase match, it delivered.

4.) NXT Women's Title - Asuka vs. Nia Jax: ***1/2

Nia Jax first challenged for the NXT Women's Title back at NXT TakeOver: London, where she came up short against Bayley. This time, however, Asuka comes into the match as champion. As a whole, I thought this was a very good women's bout. It wasn't on par with some of the other women's matches we've seen on previous NXT TakeOver events, but it was easily the best match of Nia Jax's career (up to this point). That just speaks to how good Asuka is. Nia was in control at various points, and it appeared that she might walk away as champion, but Asuka was resilient, and never quit. In the end, it would be Asuka's devastating kicks that got the job done, as she was able to keep Nia Jax down for the count. Again, this wasn't spectacular, but this was the probably the best possible match they could've put on.

Before I get into the main event, I should mentioned that they aired a brief backstage interview with NXT General Manager William Regal that ended with him entering a meeting with former TNA World Champion Bobby Roode.

5.) NXT Title - Steel Cage Match - Samoa Joe vs. Finn Balor: ***3/4

I believe this was the first-ever Steel Cage Match in the history of NXT. These two had been feuding for around nine months or so, and they've had a number of great matches. While Balor successfully retained his NXT Title against Samoa Joe at the previous two NXT TakeOver events in London & Dallas, the "Samoan Submission Machine" shocked the world when he won the NXT Title from Balor at a NXT Live Event in Lowell, Massachusetts several weeks prior. This mean that, for the first time in the rivalry, Samoa Joe was the defending champion, while Finn Balor (who was, of course, in his demon war paint) was the challenger. This wasn't as a great as could've been, but it was still a strong main event, in my view. You can never go wrong when you put these two in a match together. The biggest criticism of this one is that they focus too much on trying to escape the cage, especially in the first few minutes. WWE really relies heavily on this particular rule in most of their Steel Cage matches, and no matter how good the match ends up being, it tends to hurt it. That rule was definitely out of place in this case, when this feud has been built up as two guys who want to tear each apart, but I digress. This one still featured some very good action from start to finish. There were some great moments throughout, and both men played their roles well. The biggest spot of the match (by far) occurred at the finish, when Joe got the win after hitting Balor with a Muscle Buster off the second rope!! That was a crazy spot. Samoa Joe celebrated with the NXT Title on the ramp as the show came to a close

Overall: 8.0/10

This certainly wasn't the strongest NXT TakeOver, but it was still a pretty good show with plenty of great matches. American Alpha & The Revival stole the show with their battle over the NXT Tag Team Titles, and even though neither were truly great, both Austin Aries vs. Shinsuke Nakamura & Samoa Joe vs. Finn Balor in a Steel Cage proved to be very strong matches. Elsewhere, Nia Jax had arguably the best showing of her career in a losing effort against Asuka, while Tye Dillinger stole the spotlight from the debuting Andrade "Cien" Almas. Again, this show wasn't amazing, but there was still a lot to like throughout the card.