NXT Takeover: The End is a show that was, heading into the night, more about the question of “What’s going to end?” than the matches on the card.
The questions circled throughout the IWC. Was this the end of NXT as a TV show on the WWE Network? Would it move to USA? Was this the end for certain talents — due to the upcoming draft? Was this the end of Samoa Joe vs. Finn Balor?
The question wasn’t really answered definitively. And you know what — who cares! This was an excellent Network exclusive. Every match clicked in all cylinders, and NXT proved once again that it knows how to put on an entertaining card from top to bottom.
Match #1: “The Perfect 10” Tye Dillinger vs. Andrade “Cien” Almas: This was the debut match for the artist formerly known as CMLL’s La Sombra. Dillinger is NXT’s good soldier, and this isn’t the first time he’s put over the new NXT signing (see his match versus Apollo Crews in Brooklyn). However, things are different from last summer because Dillinger is crazy over right now. The Perfect 10 gimmick seems kind of silly, but Dillinger has put his entire being into it, and the people have responded. He’s so over that it seemed, at least in the beginning, that he was the wrong guy to put against Almas. The crowd just wanted to see The Perfect 10 win, and not the newcomer. Luckily, Almas overcame an early onslaught by Dillinger, and terrible ring gear (The Godfather called for his hat back), and impressed with his lucha-centric move set. His top rope hand stands were highly impressive, as was his double jump moonsault (missed the first, landed on his feet, then hit a second standing moonsault). Alma finishes Dillinger off wit an impactful running double knee strike in the corner. Winner: Andrade “Cien” Almas
Match #2: American Alpha vs. The Revival for The NXT Tag Team Championship: This match came straight of Jim Crockett Promotions circa 1989 – and I mean that in the best way possible. This was tag team wrestling as it was meant to be — false finishes, hot tags, double team work, and best of all — a clean, logical finish. American Alpha are truly a junior incarnation of The Steiner Brothers, from their moveset to their ring gear. Jason Jordan has evolved so much since he was doing the j-o-b for everyone last year. He really came off like a major star in this match. Chad Gable is a charisma machine. The Revival are simply amazing. They get everything about being a team. They understand the little things, their double team is perfect, and their heel personas, are dare I say, a Perfect 10. There were so many amazing spots in this match, including Gable turning a potential Blockbuster and turning it into a belly-to-belly in mid air. Amazing. The Revival wins it by knocking Jordan out of the ring as Alpha was going for their finish, and hitting The Shatter Machine, which is an amazing finisher. Winner: The Revival – NEW Tag Team Champions.
Seriously, I can see these two teams wrestle forever. They need a 2 out of three falls match at NXT Takeover: Brooklyn. However, I think that may be delayed…
Post Match: Two MAMMOTH dudes come out of the ring and annihilate American Alpha with some pretty impressive double team moves. At this point I began to think, “Man, I wonder if they’ll pair these two with a heel manager.” And out of the back comes…PRECIOUS. PAUL. ELLERING. The manager of The Road Warriors. One of the best managers in the history of pro wrestling is going to be the mouthpiece for these two bad asses. Also, since Ellering’s daughter has done some NXT work, wouldn’t it be cool if her dad managed her as well?
Match #3: “The Greatest Man Alive” Austin Aries vs. “The King of Strong Style” Shinsuke Nakamura: Holy hell. While this match does match Nakamura vs. Zayn, nor some of Aries classics in ROH, this was absolutely off the damn charts. Austin Aries needed this match, and if he won it probably would’ve propelled him further. Regardless of the outcome, Aries looked like a god in the ring, executing all his moves with viciously calculated precision. His chemistry with Nakamura was phenomenal, and even when a few spots were botched, they pulled it off as if the mistake came out of the sheer brutality of the match, not a mental faux pas. Nakamura is other worldly. He isn’t going to wow you with flashy moves, but everything he does just has you captivated. His moveset is so unique, that you can’t help be beguiled by this lanky Japanese guy in red leather pants. The ending told a great story, Aries was so desperate to win that he went for a tope and it cost him. Nakamura capitalized and hit signature moves for the Big W. Winner: Shinsuke Nakamura
Will the King be challenging the title soon, or will he be a high draft pick for RAW or Smackdown? That’s my big question.
Match #4: Asuka vs. Nia Jax for the NXT Women’s Championship: This one surprised me. I was certain that Nia would win. My thought process was Nia wins, Bayley gets healthy, becomes the #1 contender, and she defeats the unbeatable giant at NXT Takeover: Brooklyn. Well, guess I was wrong. Nia Jax has come a long, long way from her debut. She’s much more savvy in the ring, and is using her presence in her psychology so much better. Asuka remains an ass-kicking machine, and it was cool to see the near unbeatable wrestler feel like she could legitimately lose, and be intimidated. Winner: Asuka
Backstage: BOBBY ROODE walks past William Regal. The It Factor needs to debut soon, particularly with the draft coming.
Main Event: Samoa Joe vs. Finn Balor for The NXT Championship: To be honest, the Balor/Joe feud has never really done much for me. Something has always been off. In their London match it seemed like other matches stole the crowd energy, and their chemistry was off. In the second match the injury to Joe hampered a potentially good match. Tonight however, inside a steel cage, both men broke their asses and everything clicked. Joe looked his most monstrous since he debuted staring Kevin Owens down a year ago. His moves reminded me of his glory days in TNA when he would just tear through people. Finn, outside of his entrances, has been a little stale in the ring (for me), but here he shifted into an amazingly charismatic and visceral gear. The finish was phenomenal. It seemed like the match was telegraphing Finn to go to the top of the cage to nail his double foot stomp, but instead Joe hit a SUPER MUSCLE BUSTER. Jeeeeeeeeezus. Great match. Winner: Samoa Joe.
Overall: Hot damn that’s why I love wrestling. NXT knows how to employ everything that made wrestling great back in the day, and combine it with modern, cutting edge wrestling. The tag title match was pure ’80s psychology while Aries/Nakamura was modern, cutting edge Japanese strong style. Outside of Takeover: Dallas and Brooklyn, this ranks as one of the top Takeover specials in the company’s history.
TV Recap: NXT Takeover: The End is currently airing on WWE Network.