Wow is all I have to say about NXT Takeover: Rival. Ok, I have a lot more to say about tonight’s event on The WWE Network but if you’re just looking for one word to sum it all up then “wow” will certainly do it.
This review will be unlike most on the Internet. First of all; I do no not do play-by-play of moves because it bores me. Second of all; this review will include no match results. Yes you read that right, no spoilers. What I am going to do is analyze each match focusing mainly on individual performances and the overall quality of the show itself. So let’s get on with it.
The opening match pitted Hideo Itami against Tyler Breeze. Breeze has come a long way in the last year. He plays the role of a modern-day male model well and his in-ring skills are constantly improving. Itami, as the name suggests, is Japanese and spent almost all of his career wrestling a different style in his home country. He was considered one of the best at that style but has had some growing pains since coming to America as he has had to adjust to the American style of wrestling. But on this night, he was able to put it all together and blend Japanese/American style wrestling into his repertoire. Breeze and Itami were able to have a fun, energetic opener that kicked the show off with a bang. They are fully capable of having something more but on this night that was all that was asked of them.
The second match of the evening was a No-Disqualification Match between Baron Corbin and Bull Dempsey. This match wasn’t pretty, but it wasn’t supposed to be. It was a fight between two large men and as that it worked for what it was. Both are projects that are far from ready for the main roster and they do not bring out the best in each other so I do hope this is the end of their feud.
The third match was a Tag Team Championship Match between the champions Wesley Blake and Buddy Murphy and their challengers The Lucha Dragons. Blake and Murphy recently won the championships from The Lucha Dragons out of nowhere so I still haven’t seen enough of them to tell if they’re good or not. This match was ok but the challengers work a high-flying Lucha style and the champions are very green Americans so the clash in styles, experience levels, and size differentials led to this match being something of a car wreck at times. They tried a lot of innovative moves but the timing was off on many of them. I wouldn’t call it a bad match, and it was never boring, but it never made its way to being considered good either. The Lucha Dragons are a good team and will probably make their way to the main roster soon. The jury is still out on Blake and Murphy but they didn’t do nearly enough wrong here to not give them more of a chance in future matches.
The show really picked up from here…
Match number four was an outstanding contest between Finn Balor and Adrian Neville. Both are Europeans who have traveled the world wrestling for years before ending up in NXT. They’ve wrestled before and will likely wrestle again and again because they have great chemistry with each other. Finn Balor’s entrance has such a cool, creepy vibe to it and Neville did a great job looking as if it wasn’t getting to him at all. These 2 exchanged so many big, high-impact maneuvers it makes me especially glad that I don’t do play-by-play but I did love every second of watching it. Both guys have an incredibly bright future ahead of them.
Match number four was a Fatal Four Way for the NXT Women’s Championship featuring Bayley, Sasha Banks, Becky Lynch, and the champion Charlotte (Ric Flair’s Daughter). This was the best women’s wrestling match I’ve ever seen. It blew away almost every women’s match that has ever taken place on the WWE main roster. The four ladies looked like they were in a fight for something important and at various points in the match they sucked an old cynic like me into believing that they really were too. And as an adult wrestling fan of over 25 years who has seen everything there is no greater compliment that I can give a wrestling match. I’ll break down my thoughts on each lady…
Charlotte- she was born to be a wrestler. She is the complete package and has the potential to be the best women’s wrestler in WWE history.
Bayley- Her character until tonight has been a happy go-lucky girl who just wants everyone to be her friend and give them all hugs. Tonight, her character developed a mean streak and she showed a toughness that had been lacking. This was her finest performance to date.
Sasha Banks- she has the most contemporary character in all of wrestling and she has proven herself to be a great wrestler. Her character displays a unlikeable attitude while still being cool. She is also a ready for WWE TV complete package although it appears she is sticking around NXT for the immediate future.
Becky Lynch- The woman who had showed me the least before tonight really stepped up tonight. She is still a step or two behind the other three but she looks like she will catch up sooner than later. It also helped that she changed her look and some of her mannerisms. I feel that her original character and look bared too much resemblance to former WWE Diva Lita so a change is good for her.
The main event was Sami Zayn defending the NXT Championship against Kevin Owens. These two also have a long history of travelling the world together and have spent most of their careers teaming with or feuding with each other. The WWE decided that they should continue to be linked together in NXT. This match did not quite follow the previous two matches but it wasn’t supposed to. It was more about telling a story that would lead to an even bigger rematch between the two. Both guys performed well in their role. Owens was the bully Zayn was the hero that just wouldn’t die and kept fighting back. The action was good but not great. They’re obviously saving great for a later date and that’s ok because they have a great story behind them and their great match will mean more one it is built up huge. I look forward to watching this story progress.
In closing, this was an amazing, must-see show if you are now, have ever been, or even possibly could ever be a wrestling fan. If this show doesn’t make you a fan then wrestling truly isn’t for you. The WWE Network is available free for the remainder of February for new subscribers so there is no excuse not to give it a chance.