NXT really pulled out all the stops tonight, putting together two of the most thrilling hours of wrestling television in recent memory. An absolute home run from beginning to end, NXT Takeover was an overwhelming success on every level. This didn’t feel like a developmental show, this felt like a vitally important event in wrestling history. Payback doesn’t stand a chance of living up to this. –Scott Strandberg
Adrian Neville def. Tyson Kidd by pinfall to retain the NXT Championship
Match Rating: A-
Kidd used early snapmares to set up some mat-based exchanges, showcasing the versatility of both wrestlers. Neville hit an arm drag, followed by a beautiful half-nelson suplex. Kidd responded with a shoulder tackle and tried for a backstabber, but Neville landed on his feet and the two exchanged arm drags. Both men simultaneously attempted dropkicks and then kip-ups in perfect unison.
Kidd delivered a huge forearm to the face to gain the advantage and assaulted Neville in the corner, hanging him in the tree of woe and connecting with a dropkick to the face. Kidd followed up with a back elbow, following up by dropkicking Neville out of the ring and hitting a plancha to the outside. Back in the ring, Kidd hit a knee drop but ran into a boot from Neville. Both men attempted simultaneous crossbodies off the ropes, again referencing their similar “mirror-image” styles.
The two exchanged shots in the middle of the ring, with Neville regaining the advantage with a kick to the head. Neville hung Kidd in the tree of woe and repeated the same sequence Kidd used on him earlier, finishing with the same dropkick to the face. Neville hit a top-rope springboard battering ram for a near-fall. Neville dropkicked Kidd out of the ring and attempted to mimic Kidd again with a plancha, but Kidd caught him with a kick to the head.
Kidd climbed the turnbuckle, but Neville caught him with a forearm smash and both men climbed to the top rope. Kidd tried for a sunset flip off the turnbuckle, but Neville sprung up in the air, flipping over and landing on his feet in the center of the ring. With a look of disbelief on his face, Kidd ran into a massive powerbomb from Neville for a near-fall.
Neville tried to springboard off the second rope, but Kidd met him on the rope and executed a side Russian leg sweep off the ropes for a two-count. Neville hit a sunset flip for a near-fall, but Kidd hit a dropkick to the face. Kidd attempted a suplex, but Neville reversed it, suplexing both Kidd and himself over the top rope and down to the floor.
Both men returned to the ring at the referee’s count of nine, and Kidd locked in a sharpshooter. Neville squirmed out, but Kidd applied a dungeon lock. Neville finally reached the ropes to break the hold, but got caught up in the ropes. Kidd climbed the turnbuckle and hit a front flip leg drop, slamming Neville down to the mat for another very close two-count.
Kidd climbed to the top yet again, but Neville met him on the top rope and hit a hurricanrana. Neville climbed to the top and hit the Red Arrow corkscrew shooting star press for the pin. This was just great. An absolutely top-level main event that somehow actually lived up to the Breeze/Zayn match from earlier in the card. After the match, Neville tried to shake Kidd’s hand, but Kidd refused, shoving his way past Neville and walking back to the locker room. Kidd planted more seeds for a heel turn on the post-show, so it will be interesting to see where he goes from here.
Tyler Breeze def. Sami Zayn by pinfall to become the #1 Contender to the NXT Championship
Match Rating: A
Both Zayn and Breeze had new entrances; Zayn’s was just okay, Breeze’s was tremendous. His new theme is hilarious. After some early chain wrestling, Zayn hit three arm drags, grounding Breeze. Zayn followed up with a heel kick and a back elbow before climbing to the top. Breeze threw Zayn down to the floor and he returned to the ring at the seven-count. Breeze continued his onslaught, with furious kicks to Zayn in the corner.
Breeze hit a knee drop, but Zayn fought back, planting Breeze face-first on the mat. Zayn tossed Breeze from the ring and hit a top-rope seated springboard moonsault to the outside. Zayn got Breeze back in the ring and hit a top-rope crossbody for a near-fall. Zayn hit a beautiful blue thunderbomb for another near-fall but ran into a DDT from Breeze for a two-count.
Breeze hit an incredible powerbomb, pulling Zayn off the ropes and catching him in mid-air. Breeze assaulted Zayn in the corner with repeated strikes, but Zayn fought back with an exploder suplex that sent Breeze flying into the turnbuckle. The two men exchanged shots in the middle of the ring until Breeze rolled Zayn up for a near-fall. Zayn tried for another blue thunderbomb, but Breeze countered with an unreal superkick for another near-fall.
Zayn tried for his double pump-handle orange crush bomb for the first time in WWE, but botched it. As it turns out, their botch was our reward, as Zayn picked up Breeze, flipped him in mid-air and transitioned into a powerbomb for another very close two-count. My god, this match. Breeze rolled out of the ring, and Zayn hit an insane plancha to the outside. Back in the ring, Zayn tried for a running knee into the corner, but Breeze ducked it and got his forearm up to protect his face, hitting Zayn in the crotch as a result. Breeze hit the Beauty Shot spinning heel kick for the surprising pinfall victory.
A match of absolutely stunning quality, with tremendous pacing and some incredible spots. I legitimately had chills running up and down my spine for the entire second half of this match. I knew how good Zayn is, but had no clue that Breeze was such an elite in-ring worker in his own right. An instant classic and a definite match of the year candidate. This was one of those matches that you never forget your first viewing.
Charlotte (w/Ric Flair) def. Natalya (w/Bret Hart) by pinfall to win the vacant NXT Women’s Championship
Match Rating: A-
Natalya gained the early advantage with a snapmare, leading to some back-and-forth chain wrestling. The two exchanged submission attempts, until Charlotte attempted a facebuster, which Natalya reversed into a sunset flip for a near-fall. Natalya went for a cross-armbreaker, but Charlotte reached the ropes. The two exchanged chops in the middle of the ring, and Natalya rolled up Charlotte for a near-fall.
Charlotte hit a fantastic backpack stunner for a near-fall and repeatedly slammed Natalya face-first into the mat. Charlotte applied a figure-four headlock and used a headscissor takedown for another two-count. Charlotte locked in an abdominal stretch, but Natalya reversed it into one of her own. Charlotte fought her way out and hit a dropkick for a near-fall.
Natalya hit a gorgeous butterfly suplex and a snapmare followed by a dropkick to the face for a two-count. Natalya blasted Charlotte out of the ring with a forearm smash, but Charlotte used a leg whip to throw Natalya out of the ring as well, injuring Natalya’s knee. Back in the ring, Charlotte climbed to the top rope and attempted a moonsault, coming up empty as Natalya rolled out of the way.
Natalya hit a clothesline for a near-fall and locked in the sharpshooter. Charlotte reversed it into a figure-four leglock, and the two women repeatedly reversed the pressure of the maneuver. Charlotte finally reached the ropes, but neither woman would break the hold, falling all the way out of the ring with the figure-four still locked in.
Charlotte took out Natalya’s knee and tossed her back in the ring. Charlotte locked in a sharpshooter, staring Bret Hart in the eyes as his niece found herself in her uncle’s finisher. Natalya finally countered and attempted a sharpshooter of her own, but Charlotte hit her Bow Down To The Queen forward somersault cutter finisher for the victory. Charlotte, Natalya, Flair and Hart exchanged hugs in the ring as both Charlotte and Ric began to cry. An absolutely terrific match that highlighted the strengths of both women. This was a level Charlotte had never even approached before, and is likely in the small circle of Natalya’s very best matches as well. Goodness.
The Ascension def. Kalisto and El Local by pinfall to retain the NXT Tag Team Championships
Match Rating: B-
The Ascension attacked Local and Kalisto as the match started, but Local and Kalisto fought back with hurricanranas in tandem, sending Konnor and Viktor from the ring. Local and Kalisto attempted suicide dives, but ran into uppercuts from The Ascension. Tremendous opening sequence. Konnor and Viktor got Kalisto back into the ring and beat him down in their corner.
Viktor clotheslined Kalisto from the top rope down to the mat, but Kalisto used a headscissor to drive Viktor’s head into the ring apron. Kalisto hit a gorgeous top-rope reverse hurricanrana and finally reached Local, who hit a slightly botched second-rope springboard headbutt, followed by an enziguiri and a second-rope springboard moonsault, forcing Konnor to make the save.
Viktor finally reached Konnor for the tag, and they hit the Fall of Man legsweep/uppercut finisher to end a very solid tag match. It feels good to have another legitimate tag team in NXT, and I can’t wait to see more of Kalisto.
Adam Rose def. Camacho by pinfall
Match Rating: B-
The show began with the Exotic Express arriving at Full Sail, and cameras followed Adam Rose and the Rosebuds all the way into the arena and to the ring. Now that was an entrance! Some excellent comedy opened the match, as Rose fought out of a sleeper hold by gyrating against Camacho, then leapt into his arms as if they were just married. Rose’s goofy antics came to an end with a big clothesline by Camacho, followed by a gorgeous double-underhook suplex for a near-fall.
Camacho hit a stiff big boot for another near-fall, causing Rose to bleed from the mouth a bit. The crowd chanted “Party time all the time,” but Camacho hit a big leg drop and a headbutt before Rose recovered with repeated strikes and a fantastic spinebuster. Rose followed up with a bronco buster and hit the Party Foul snapmare driver for the pinfall victory. A fun, competitive match to open Takeover.
– Rusev attacked Mojo Rawley, repeatedly locking in The Accolade. Why? Because Mojo was holding an American flag, I guess. At least it was nice to see Mojo treated like the jobber he should be.
– The pre-show panel was very good, as Renee Young was complemented perfectly by Paul Heyman and Christian. Heyman and Christian couldn’t contain their legitimate excitement for the NXT Title match, and worked very well together. This made me want to see Christian as a Heyman Guy. The analysis from the panel was surprisingly insightful, and there were some great promo packages for Tyler Breeze, Sami Zayn, Charlotte and Adrian Neville. Michael Cole conducted a backstage interview with Natalya and Tyson Kidd, in which Cole pushed Kidd with some very tough questions about living in Natalya’s shadow.