Since the WWE Network debuted, the one consistently-growing phenomenon has been NXT. What started out as a wrestling alternative has turned into one of WWE’s best hours. Last night’s Takeover set out to prove that not, only are these future WWE stars, but they can carry a show today. Did it deliver? Read on to find out.
One area that NXT differs from Raw and Smackdown is with its sparing use of backstage hype. Last night was no different. There was a great moment with Natalya, Kidd, and Bret Hart just sitting around. Simple, but effective.
We also had a fantastic video package for Sammi Zayne hyping why he needed to win over Tyler Breeze. The interview formal told a heartfelt story, and did more to put Zayne over than those handicap matches ever did for Ryback. It gave us that much needed personal connection.
Mojo Rawley and Rusev did something. Of course Rusev went over because he’s Vince’s guy right now, but using Rawley as the sacrificial lamb was unnecessary for a guy who is so mind-bogglingly popular. I say “mind-bogglingly” because his catch-phrase is kind of dumb.
One final note… that pre-show and post-show could teach the Raw, Smackdown, and Pay-Per-View crew a thing or two. Entertaining interviews, and appropriate crowd interaction made the show seem even bigger, not hammy gimmick matches and an awkward social media room.
Talk about a great night of wrestling…. Sami Zayne and Tyler Breeze tried their hardest to steal the show. I’m not really down with Zayne losing again (he’s the most popular guy on NXT, and needs the momentum to carry even higher). Still, Triple H must be pretty high on Tyler Breeze. These guys tried some groundbreaking stuff and deserve major props for it. I thought the near-falls down the stretch became a little too much, but that’s being nitpicky. This is what I want on WWE Raw each week.
Charlotte defeated Natalya to prove what a 2014 women’s match should look like. Seeing Hart and Flair in their respective corners made this match feel major league, and Charlotte looked even more impressive by celebrating with ‘The Nature Boy.’ Plus, she deserved the victory. Her in-ring skills have come a long way since debuting on NXT, and I hope WWE sees fit to let her further refine her technique before moving up to RAW… doubtful with her last name, though. And let’s get Natalya back in the championship picture!
The reason Adrian Neville and Tyson Kidd (barely) scored my match of the night honors is because I didn’t expect as much as they delivered. The first five minutes of mat-based grappling had me geeking out. Impressive moves from both men, with a great build, and hot finish. I still don’t think Neville is a future main-eventer, but he fills this niche very well. And why has WWE been sitting on Tyson Kid for so long? He knows how to work the ring. At the very least, put Kid in a mid-card feud with Barrett for the IC Championship and watch a little magic happen.
Argh. Connection issues again. NXT Arrival had me worried about Wrestlemania, but with the successes of both Pay-Per-Views since then, I figured WWE had this streaming business figured out. I was wrong. Not only did my feed get caught up throughout the night, it killed the final match. And when I can’t fast forward, rewind, or exit, it makes me sour on the whole show.
I’m done with Adam Rose. His gimmick annoys me, his in-ring style is…fine, but unspectacular. And nothing about his match made sense. Rose looked weak in victory, which is never a good sign. Consider me a lemon, then.
Great announce team. Great freakin’ announce team. Major props.
Overall Show: 7/$9.99
When fans on Twitter are asking why your flagship shows, with all your established main-event talent, aren’t this good, maybe it’s time to reevaluate the business strategy. The bar has been set by a developmental show. Let’s see if Payback comes anywhere close to matching it.