Welcome one and all to your NXT TakeOver: London play by play, right here at TJRWrestling. I am your host for the evening and I could not be more excited to cover my second TakeOver event for the site. We have five huge matches with all three titles being defended. No matches bigger than Samoa Joe vs. Finn Balor for the NXT Title. No chit chat tonight, it’s a big night and let’s get right to it!
Much like at TakeOver: Brooklyn, the show starts with the arena in the dark and then the spotlights go to the ring and show the COO Triple H standing in the middle of said ring. The crowd roars its approval. Triple H says he got his ass kicked on Sunday, it wasn’t the first time nor will it be the last time. But he would’ve had to have been dead to miss this show. The fans demanded this event and they got it. He tells the fans to scream with him, WE ARE NXT! Very cool opening.
Opening video for the show now comes on and it’s a cool preview of all the matches tonight, set to the tune of “Ace of Spades” by Motorhead.
Asuka vs. Emma (w/Dana Brooke)
No surprise to see this match start the show and Asuka gets a big ovation as she comes out first. I really like the set up of this arena. It looks huge and intimate at the same time. “Asuka’s Gonna Kill You” chants start immediately as the women circle each other. Asuka almost drops Emma with a spinning heel kick and Emma goes to the ropes to get some separation. They go back to the middle and feel each other out and then trade armbars. Emma is sent to the ropes and stops herself as Asuka falls to the mat. Pin attempt is unsuccessful and now Asuka has a hammerlock on. Both women repeatedly reverse the hammerlock until Emma elbows Asuka. Emma goes to the ropes and gets caught in a reverse cross armbreaker. Emma gets to the ropes but Asuka just kicks her until she goes to the outside. Asuka runs off the apron and hits a leaping Rear View onto Emma on the floor. Emma is thrown back in the ring and Asuka stares down Dana. She goes to get back inside but Emma dropkicks her back to the floor. She clubs Asuka on the apron and then gets back in the ring and stomps a mudhole in the corner. Front dropkick to Asuka and Emma gets a two count off of it. Now Emma starts working the arms of Asuka. Emma now chokes Asuka in the ropes and then follows that up with a snapmare and kick to the spine. The crowd starts an Asuka chant to the tune of “Ole! Ole! Ole!”
Emma stays on the attack however with a full nelson. Asuka with a series of back elblows and then gets a backslide but only a two count. Emma reverses another attempt and hits a stiff clothesline. Two count again. Asuka now sent hard into the turnbuckles. I love that they’re letting Emma show her new mean streak. Asuka tries to reverse another whip into the corner but ends up getting slapped hard for it. Emma sends her there anyways and Asuka jumps to the second rope and hits a dropkick. Both women get to their knees and trade blows. Emma runs off the ropes but gets hit with another dropkick. Now a series of kicks and forearms by Asuka and she has the momentum. Another Rear View by Asuka and then Daniel Bryan kicks to the chest of Emma. Emma catches one and both women miss punches and Emma gets a pin attempt but only two. Asuka catches Emma hard with two spinning back fists that legit look like they knock Emma loopy. She hit’s a third Rear View but Emma still kicks out. They get to the corner and Emma is able to hook the Tarantula for a few seconds. She follows that up with a Butterfly Suplex into the corner and then an Emma Sandwich but now Asuka kicks out! Emma rubs her face into the mat as she starts to get frustrated. She starts to lock in the Emma Lock, but Asuka gets out and hooks on the Ankle Lock. Emma gets to her feet somehow but Asuka just turns it into a German suplex. She follows that with a Shining Wizard but again Emma kicks out at two. Now Asuka wants the Asuka Lock but Emma is fighting it. Emma grabs the ref and pulls him behind them and then she rams Asuka in the ref, who takes the bump in the corner. Asuka goes to kick Emma in the corner but Emma now has some sort of belt. I guess Dana gave it to her, but I missed that. Asuka takes possession and the ref sees her. He questions her on it while Emma comes from behind and tries to steal a win but Asuka turns it into the Asuka Lock! Now Dana Brooke distracts the ref while Emma taps out. The ref doesn’t see it but Asuka lets go of the hold. Dana is sent to the back as Asuka asks the ref what’s going on. Emma tries to grab her from behind but Asuka turns and hits her spinning heel kick and Emma is out cold. Asuka hooks the leg and picks up the victory!
Analysis: Wow, that was tremendous. I said in my preview that I wasn’t sure how Bayley and Nia Jax would go since the fans are so used to tremendous in-ring competitors. Well Asuka and Emma picked up the slack. That was a great match. Asuka’s best showing by far. I really liked that it was competitive and there were even moments where Emma was dominating. The belt gimmick came out of nowhere so that was a little clunky when the match was picking up steam, but that’s nitpicking. Awesome work by both women. Emma definitely deserves a second chance at the main roster now.
UK Legend Johnny Saint is in the building tonight. We also see Finn Balor, Enzo and Cass, and Samoa Joe entering the arena.
NXT Tag Team Title Match: Dash Wilder and Scott Dawson (c) vs. Enzo Amore and Colin Cassady (w/Carmella)
Before the match we get a video package showing how this match came to be with the champs taking out Big Cass’ knee. The challengers come out to a HUGE ovation. No surprise there. Carmella is looking particularly “hot as hell” tonight. The challengers go through their normal entrance but there’s definitely a serious tone to it this evening. Once in the ring, Enzo says they can assure the champs that there will be pieces of them left in this ring when the match is over. They wanted a fight and they’re getting one. If he had a pound for every time him and Cass got knocked down but didn’t get back up, they’d have zero pounds. That was funny. Cass says he promises them that they will not walk out the same way they walked in. Him and Enzo will walk out the NXT Tag Team Champions. To prove to everyone that there’s only one word to describe the champs, SAWFT.
Enzo and Dawson start off. They attempt to tie up but they end up just brawling around the ropes until the ref breaks them up. Enzo is wearing leather overalls and he drops the straps to show the Union Jack underneath. That gets a huge ovation. Dawson kicks Enzo in the gut and gets a headlock. Enzo throws him off but Dawson comes back with a shoulder tackle. Now Dash is tagged in and he and Enzo trade blows. He sends Enzo to the ropes and Enzo gets a drop toe hold and then face plants Dash again. He gets Dash to his corner and now Big Cass is tagged in. Cass gets him in the corner and goes to town. He tags back in Enzo and Enzo sends Dash to the ropes but Dash stops himself and goes to the outside to regroup. Enzo follows him out there and stays on the attack. He gets a hammerlock and drops the knees into Dash. Cass tags back in now and starts to work on the left arm of Dash. The crowd are making up chants for Enzo and Cass, I think one of them was to the tune of a Beatles song actually. Dash is sent to the corner but Dawson pulls him out of the way. Cass tries to go after Dawson but Dash hits him from behind and now the champs have the momentum. The champs send Cass to the rope but he runs through a double clothesline and ends up gorilla press slamming Dash into Dawson. Enzo and Cass go for the Air Enzo finisher but the champs roll to the outside. That doesnt stop Enzo and Cass as Cass sends Enzo sky high over the top rope and he crashes down onto both Dash and Dawson.
They go to get back in the ring and Enzo does a sunset flip on Dawson but he’s able to tag in Dash without Enzo realizing it. Dash sends Enzo to the outside as they try to catch a break. Enzo gets back in at nine but now the champs work over the arm. Dawson hits a Northern Lights suplex while hooking the arm they work on but Enzo kicks out on the pin attempt. Dash tags in and hits a double ax-handle off the middle rope. Dash goes right back to the arm and then tags back in his partner who kicks Enzo right in the head and then hits a legdrop. Enzo kicks out again. Dawson hits a slingshot suplex as the announcers so appropriately mention is shades of the great Tully Blanchard. The crowd really rallies behind Enzo to get a tag and he manages to get a knee lift to Dawson but before Cass can tag in, Dash takes him out. The champs then hit a double team goardbuster to Enzo but the ref doesn’t allow the pin because he didn’t see the champs tag in. So Dash stays in the match and puts Enzo on the top rope. Enzo sees a moment of space and hits a leaping DDT on Dash. He finally gets to Big Cass and Dawson is tagged in as well. Cass is the proverbial house of fire and hits Dawson with the East River Crossing. Dash breaks up the pin though. Cass sends him over the top rope but ends up getting chop blocked by Dawson in his bad knee. Dash now tags in legally and hooks on a version of the Indian Death Lock. At least I think that’s what it’s supposed to be. It’s been so long since I’ve seen that move! Enzo tries to break it up but Dawson comes in and lays him out with a huge lariat. Cass is still trapped but somehow makes it to the ropes. Now the champs go for the move that originally took out Cass, but Enzo knocks Dawson off the top rope. Dash goes after Enzo but Enzo moves and Cass rolls up Dash but only a two count. Cass hits a big boot though and tags in Enzo and it’s Air Enzo time… but Dawson pulls Enzo off! I thought we had new champs. Dawson goes to hide behind Carmella on the outside now and as Cass goes after him, he gets sent right into the turnpost. Enzo goes to the top again to go after Dash who is the legal man, but Dawson climbs the ropes and the champs end up hitting a massive Shatter Machine off the ropes and the champs have retained their titles.
Winners: Still NXT Tag Team Champions, Dash & Dawson
Analysis: Man… I’m not sure I agree with that decision. It was time to give Enzo and Cass the titles. The crowd wanted it and they were ready to blow the roof off on that near fall at the end. Dash and Dawson are outstanding at what they do and I love their old school approach, but if it’s not now for Enzo and Cass, when is it? Nonetheless that was a very good “NWA 1980’s” type tag match. Story was great and so was the psychology.
Bayley is shown entering the arena with Carmella from earlier tonight. Baymella forever.
We get another video package before the match showcasing Nia’s path of destruction since she’s arrived at NXT.
We then get a social media recap of the week NXT has had in Europe.
Apollo Crews vs. Baron Corbin
We see how this match came to be before either man comes out. The announced attendance was 10,079. Outstanding job NXT. Apollo is next in line for huge ovations as he comes out. I’m not sure how much time has been between the last NXT Tapings and tonight but Baron looks leaner and in really good shape for this match. Perhaps preparing for a main roster move finally? They tie up to start and Baron forces Apollo in the corner. Baron pushes Apollo and starts talking noise. Apollo runs at Baron and carries him into the other corner. Apollo wants to take the fight to Baron but Baron goes to the outside to get some space. Once back in, Apollo works him over in the corners with shoulders to the gut. Baron manages to get a knee lift in and slams Apollo into the top turnbuckle and now is on the advantage. Baron sends Apollo to the ropes but Apollo keeps reversing him and finally hits one of his beautiful dropkicks. Apollo charges Baron in the corner but Baron back body drops him over the top rope and Apollo hits the steal steps on the way down. Baron tells Apollo he should’ve stayed in the indies and living with his parents while he’s down on the outside. Now he sends him to the outside on the other side of the ring and tells him he should’ve stayed home and not come. Apollo tries to rebound but a stiff right hand stops him in his tracks and Baron then proceeds to stomp a mudhole.
Baron hits a series of clotheslines in the corner and then a big boot. Apollo kicks out though. Baron rakes the eyes of Apollo. Now hits a series of headbutts and another stiff right hand. The crowd proceeds to chant “F-ck you Corbin”. He’s not their favorite. Apollo is in the corner and gets some separation but gets caught when jumping off the second rope. Corbin taunts Apollo while he has him up and Apollo manages to get a small package out of it, but Corbin kicks out and goes right back to the attack. Corbin hits a backbreaker on Apollo and then turns it into a submission. Apollo hits a few knees from that position to get out of the move, but Baron goes for a powerbomb. Apollo slides out and Baron trips and then gets sent to the outside. He gets right back in but Apollo takes him down and unloads with rights and lefts. Corbin goes back to the outside but this time Apollo follows him and beats on him some more. Apollo jumps on the apron and hits a fantastic moonsault off the apron onto Corbin. He sends Corbin back in, ducks a clothesline, and hits a couple of his own. Avalanche splash in the corner but Corbin comes back and hits his version of the Black Hole Slam. Apollo kicks out at two. Corbin goes for End of Days but Apollo does a full back flip out of it and then hits an enziguri followed by his standing moonsault but Baron kicks out! Very cool sequence. Apollo wants to whip Baron off the ropes but Baron blocks. They trade shots and then Apollo wants to go for his back suplex powerbomb but Baron blocks that as well. He shoves Apollo out of the way, Apollo comes running right back but runs right into End of Days and Baron gets the win!
Winner: Baron Corbin
Analysis: WOW!! I know I predicted Baron winning, but I thought I was going out on a limb and I sure didn’t think he’d win that cleanly. That’s a huge win for him. This was a hard hitting affair and by no means a technical classic, but a really good showing by both men. After this result, I am VERY interested to see where Baron goes from here. Is that possibly a sign that Finn retains tonight and he gets Baron next after Joe?
Another great video package for the return of Sami Zayn is shown. He’s back next week on NXT!
Greg Hamilton is backstage with Nia Jax and asks her what her strategy is for tonight’s match. She says her strategy is the same it’s always been… and then cuts herself off and asks someone off camera is she’s looking at something. The camera pans and it’s Asuka. Nia walks up to Asuka, but Asuka just smiles and then walks off. Nia goes back to finish her thought and says she’s going to do to Bayley to any woman who gets in her path, dominate and destroy.
NXT Women’s Title Match: Bayley (c) vs. Nia Jax
A video package showing the rise of Bayley is shown before the match. Unfortunately there is no Red Queen of NXT alongside of Nia Jax. I know you all feel my pain on that. Nia looks ready for this opportunity. A monsterous ovation for Bayley. She’s wearing Carolina Panthers colors tonight, which obviously I support fully. Big match introductions in the ring for this one. The crowd with a really funny chant to the tune of “Hey baby, I wanna know will you be my girl?” but it’s Bayley instead of Baby. Good stuff. The bell rings and Bayley starts the match trying to avoid Nia. She goes for a sunset flip but Nia doesn’t budge and grabs Bayley and sends her to the corner. Bayley gets out of the ring and hits shot after shot on Nia but it doesn’t phase Nia and she tosses Bayley like a rag doll. Nia then hits a headbutt. She sends Bayley to the ropes and catches her in a shoulderbreaker. Now she locks on a Cobra Clutch and she shakes Bayley like she’s nothing. The size differential is amazing. Bayley somehow gets out and she comes off the ropes and tries her damndest to hook a Dragon Sleeper but Nia just rams her into the corner instead. Bayley won’t quit fighting and hits Nia in the corner but then Nia tries to drop Bayley with a Samoan Drop. Bayley gets out and kicks Nia down to one knee. Bayley goes to the middle rope twice with back elbows but Nia won’t fall down. Bayley tries a third time but she’s just shoved out of the way in mid air.
Nia goes to pick up Bayley but Bayley somehow hooks a triangle choke. Nia overpowers her though and lifts her up to the top turnbuckle. It looks like Nia wants to hit a superplex but Bayley fights her off and Nia is knocked off her feet finally. Bayley comes off with a Swanton Bomb and goes for a pin but she is launched off and to the outside. Bayley gets back and runs at Nia but Nia catches her and drops her with a Samoan Drop. Bayley manages to kick out. She picks up Bayley and hits a second Samoan Drop, followed by a third one after she sends Bayley off the ropes for extra force. Now she drops the huge leg and steps on Bayley for the cocky pin attempt and somehow Bayley kicks out! Bayley gets thrown to the corner and gets hit with a series of avalanche splashes and then is tossed down like a rag doll again. Nia grabs Bayley’s arm and hits a Rocker Dropper of sorts. Bayley is on her stomach and Nia hits three more legdrops in that position and this is really feeling like a title change but Bayley somehow kicks out! Nia is in disbelief and I am too a little bit. Bayley crawls to the ropes as the crowd tries to rally behind her. Another avalanche splash in the corner though. Nia puts her back on the top rope and after a headbutt, she’s going for a Samoan Drop off the top. But Bayley in a last ditch effort hooks on a front choke! Bayley is trying to tighten it but Nia just slams her off in a spinebuster type move. Nia goes to pick up Bayley but Bayley manages to hook the choke again! Same result again though, Bayley slammed to the mat. Bayley will not be deterred though and she’s got it a third time! Nia is down to a sitting position this time and Bayley is really cranking back on the choke. Bayley is screaming for her to tap out as she really has it hooked on and Nia Jax taps out finally!
Winner: Still NXT Women’s Champion, Bayley
Analysis: Even with Bayley winning, I don’t know what I expected in this match, but I know that wasn’t it. That was an incredible story told in that match. There is no doubt they had the crowd (and myself) believing that Nia Jax was actually going to become the new champion. Whoever came up with that match deserves a lot of props. I’m a little surprised they’d have Nia tap out this early in her career, but the way they got there made all the sense in the world, so I can’t really make a fuss about it. That was a lot of fun to watch and the legend of Bayley continues to grow.
Next week on NXT it will be a Fatal 4 Way Tag Team Match, The Vaudevillians vs. The Hype Bros. vs. Gable and Jordan vs. BAMF. That should be a lot of fun.
NXT Title Match: Finn Balor (c) vs. Samoa Joe
I feel like i’m repeating myself, but another great video package shown before this match showcasing the friendship these two men had and how Samoa Joe threw it away for a title shot. Joe had a great line in the package, “I’m not trying to justify what I did. What I did was a horrible, horrible thing. But when it comes to the NXT Championship, sacrifices must be made.” It’s amazing how NXT makes these title mean as much as they should. Just that one line puts so much more emphasis on how important this match is.
Oh man, Finn Balor is A BADASS ROCK STAR. There is just no other way to say it. His entrance is just awesome. He comes out as The Demon dressed as Jack The Ripper. That is just ten levels of cool. His body paint on the back is particularly great. Since I’m not watching this live, my timer tells me there’s 23 minutes left in the show. Just a couple minutes off the pace I thought they’d have of 25-30. This has every bit of a big fight feel as the crowd chants “This is awesome” before the bell even rings. Both men feel either out to begin with. Joe backs Balor into the corner and then trips him to the mat. Dueling chants for both men. I’m a little surprised by that actually. Balor back up and both men feel each other out again. Balor just straight kicks Joe and then follows up with a dropkick that sends Joe to the outside. Balor wastes no time and dropkicks Joe again through the ropes and then kicks him from the apron for good measure. Balor sends Joe back in, but Joe just rolls out to the opposite side. Balor follows right behind him though and chops him. Then he hits a shotgun dropkick that sends Joe into the steel steps. Balor lays Joe out on the steps and then goes for the Coup De Grace off the apron but Joe moves in the nick of time. Balor turns around and jumps towards Joe who catches the champ in a urinagi and slams Balor to the mat. Joe slams Balor on the steps and then sends him back inside.
Joe lays in his shots in the corner. Balor fights back, but Joe cuts him off. Hard chop by Joe. Joe hits his back elbow and enziguri in the corner. Balor gets back to his feet and both men trade blows but Joe cuts him off once more. Now Joe works over the head and neck of the champion. Joe snapmares Balor down, chop to the back, kick to the chest and big knee drop. Balor manages to kick out. Balor backed into the corner again and Joe punches him down until it’s time for the face wash. Balor gets a couple shots in, but Joe hits the atomic drop and big boot. Joe goes for the running senton but Balor moves. Joe charges Balor in the corner but Balor hits an enziguri. Balor tries a second one but Joe blocks it and sends him to the floor. Then Joe hits his suicide dive between the ropes, landing full force on Balor. They get back in the ring and Balor kicks out at two. Joe gets a couple knees to the head and then powerbombs Balor. Balor kicks out but Joe turns it right into his Boston Crab and then turns that into the Crippler Crossface. Balor wants the ropes and manages to flip Joe over for a pin attempt, but Joe rolls right back over into the submission. Now Joe turns it into a Rings of Saturn type submission but Balor reaches the ropes with his foot. Joe picks up Balor but Balor slides out and hits an around the world DDT. Balor goes to the corner and hits Joe with a boot and a couple shots. Joe sends him to the ropes and Balor comes back with a flying forearm. Balor runs at Joe in the corner and hits two loud running chops. Joe reverses another attempt and then hits a back elbow. Joe goes to the second rope but Balor jumps up and hits an enziguri of his own. Joe goes to the outside and Balor follows him out there with a front somersault dive over the top rope!
Balor gets Joe back in the ring and hits a double foot stomp to the back of Joe but Joe kicks out. The crowd is loving this as Balor tries to get Joe in a Reverse Bloody Sunday but Joe blocks it. Balor kicks Joe and Joe is out on his feet and Balor hits the Sling Blade. Balor now goes for the shotgun dropkick but Joe shoves him out of the way to the mat and hits a senton splash. Balor is placed on the top turnbuckle and it’s Muscle Buster time. Balor slides out though and gets a pin attempt but Joe kicks out at the last second. Joe grabs Balor but Balor hits the Pele Kick. Both men are down. This is just outstanding. Both men get up at eight and trade shots once again. They go back and forth, complete Japanese strong style. Balor goes for another Pele Kick, Joe gets out of the way and hooks on the Coquina Clutch! Balor gets out somehow and goes to the outside but Joe grabs him and drags him back over the top rope with the Clutch locked on still! Joe tries to take him to the mat with it but Balor rolls through and hits a double foot stomp. Both men down yet again. The champ fires up and hits another Sling Blade and hits two shotgun dropkicks but Joe won’t go down! Joe fires up and charges, Balor moves out of the way and hits a third shotgun dropkick to the back of Joe. Balor now goes for the Coup De Grace but Joe is up! Joe wants the Muscle Buster and kicks Balor right in the head. Joe is now up on the middle rope himself and tries a huge Muscle Buster but Balor fights him off. Joe falls hard to the mat and Balor comes off the top rope with Coup De Grace and the champion has retained!!
Winner: Still NXT Champion, Finn Balor
Analysis: I have to catch my breath after that match! 19 minutes of hard hitting, strong style, New Japan type, WRESTLING. However you want to describe it, it’s pro wrestling at it’s very best. There were no multiple finishes, the story was who would hit his finisher first and it ended up being Balor. Both men after the match show how much of a war they were just in as Joe even has a little blood trickling from his mouth as he’s helped back up the walkway. Balor gets looked at by the trainer in the ring, not sure if anything legit but he’s signaling to his head and neck. They show replays of the match and the show ends with the champ getting his hand raised, but the trainer right by his side seeing if he’s ok. I obviously hope Balor doesn’t have any sort of concussion, but there were definitely some stiff shots exchanged, so at the very least he may have been knocked a little fuzzy.
Final Thoughts: This show came into it with a lot of questions and a lot of possibilities. The questions were answered for the most part, but I think some of the possibilities that became reality will catch a lot of fans by surprise. I think there were two surprise decisions with the Tag Titles not changing hands and of course Baron going over Apollo. Chad Gable and Jason Jordan have to be next in line for a tag title shot, the question will be whether or not they wait to pull the trigger until WrestleMania weekend. There will be another TakeOver event between now and then, so we’ll see.
With Finn retaining, even with Apollo losing, it’s clear to see that we’re on a collision course for two HUGE face vs. face matches WrestleMania weekend. Finn vs. Apollo for the NXT Title and Bayley vs. Asuka for the Women’s title. That subtle little tease backstage would lead me to believe that Asuka will have Nia Jax to deal with in the meantime and Bayley will probably have to deal with Eva Marie again, if not either Emma or Dana Brooke.
I just wrote over 5100 words about this show and I feel like I could write another 5100. The crowd was red hot (if not slightly distracting a time or two) and the wrestlers really seemed to feed off that energy and probably the energy of this tour as a whole. The company takes another reset after this event and we’ll see starting next week where the new year will take us. I can’t wait.
Until next time, we can all try but we’ll never be as cool as Finn Balor.