Friday, 9 October 2015

Live Special Review: WWE NXT Takeover: Respect

I usually write a little intro for my reviews, you know, talking about the background of the show and such. But instead, I'll use this intro to say, if haven't watched Sasha Banks and Bayley's Iron Man match yet, go and watch it. Don't waste time reading this review when you could be watching Bayley vs. Sasha Banks for the first time. Then come back and read this review. It's quite good also.

Match 1
Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic Semi-Final
Scott Dawson & Dash Wilder vs. Samoa Joe & Finn Balor 

This was a solid opener, that told a simple story but did it well. Dash and Dawson focusing on a body part worked great for their characters, and brought to mind a number of tag teams from yesteryear, as they cut off the ring. Finn Balor's selling was spot on throughout, and really sold the danger that his team might be in, with some well-crafted hope spots, before finally making the tag to Samoa Joe. Whilst Joe has struggled to have a stand out match in NXT, so far, he may have found his niche in the tag team division. His offence looks very effective as part of a hot tag and the crowd ate it up, as he ploughed through the heel duo. Having Balor win with the Cout de Grace (following a Muscle Buster from Joe) was an interesting choice of narrative, due to the injured leg, but with Balor taking his time before getting the pinfall, I think it was just the right side of believable. There was potential for the sides to go a little bit longer here than they were given, but with Balor & Joe scheduled for competition later in the night, it's clear to see why this one was kept to just under 9 minutes.

Samoa Joe & Finn Balor via pinfall 8 minutes, 45 seconds

Match 2 

Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic Semi-Final 

Baron Corbin & Rhyno vs. Chad Gable & Jason Jordan

How over are Chad Gable and Jason Jordan? In particular, the crowd seems to adore Chad Gable and showered him with chants throughout the match, that were both amusing and creative. The crowd definitely gave this match a different feel to it, as the performers seemed to respond to the raucous Full Sail Arena and really put on a show here. With the teams going back and forth throughout the match, the final three minutes were electric. Lots of well-done near falls made for a thrilling viewing, with a German Suplex from Gable and the superb tilt-a-whirl into the End of Days from Corbin that would finish the match stand out as particular highlight. It was a shame that we didn't see a legit tag team make the final, but with Dash and Dawson defeating the Tag Team Champions, The Vaudevillains in the Quarter Final and the sheer crowd support behind Jordan and Gable, the future of the tag team division in NXT has never looked brighter.


Baron Corbin & Rhyno via pinfall in 10 minutes, 15 seconds

Match 3
Dana Brooke vs. Asuka

As someone who was unfamiliar with Asuka's work prior to joining NXT, I thought this match presented her well, getting over her in-ring style and personality, with a crowd that was quick to warm to the former Pro Wrestling WAVE star. With Dana Brooke having her strongest appearance to date, the newcomer's various strikes and submission looked even better. Just long enough to allow Dana to continue to grow, but allow Asuka to be instantly pushed into the positions left by the likes of Charlotte, Becky Lynch and Sasha Banks.


Asuka via pinfall in 5 minutes, 25 seconds

Match 4


Apollo Crews vs. Tyler Breeze

Another quality bout, that used storytelling to it's advantage and made every move matter. Apollo Crews' bump into the apron looked nasty, but in a good way, as Crews made sure that the move looked like it killed him, which in turn made Breeze look strong when Prince Pretty made the injured back a focus. There were some lovely moments of psychology on display, like Crews flipping over Breeze from the apron to the inside, only for the injured back to stop him from capitalising, allowing the latter to hit a sweet Super Model Kick for a strong near fall. Breeze grabbing Crews' leg to stop the Standing Moonsault part of Dragon Gate star's finishing combination was also a lovely touch. For me, having Crews win with a powerbomb was a little too similar to Finn Balor's earlier Cout de Grace with the injured leg, but that's hardly a criticism of what was an enjoyable, breakout contest for Apollo Crews. Out of any of the bouts on the show, I'd have liked this one to go a little long, to really allow the pair to push themselves just a little further.

Apollo Crews in 8 minutes, 50 seconds

Match 5
Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic Semi-Final 
Finn Balor & Samoa Joe vs. Rhyno & Baron Corbin

The continuation of the story of Finn Balor's injured leg is exactly why I love tournament wrestling. Here was an opportunity to tell a story that the four might not have gotten the opportunity to tell, if the Final was taking place on a separate night. Whilst Finn's selling was on point and the story accommodated for such, the physicality of the bout is also worth mentioning, with Rhyno and Baron Corbin looking great as a duo and Samoa Joe not holding back in what might be his best appearance since joining WWE. The near fall of Rhyno's Gore was also worked and timed to a tee, before Joe and Balor hit the same combination as their semi-final to get the victory. Personally, I would have liked to have seen this worked as a false finish, due to Balor's injury leg, before the gutsy Irishmen managed to claw out a victory, but I suppose you can't have everything.


Finn Balor & Samoa Joe in 10 minutes, 57 seconds

The presentation of the trophy was cracking little moment, that was tonally different to pretty much anything WWE has done over the last ten years. There was no smashing off trophies or shocking twist and the segment was all the better for it. Having Cody Rhodes out of the Stardust character, do an emotional speech before the presentation was a lovely touch that I'm sure had more than a few people reaching for the tissues. 

Match 6

NXT Women's Championship Thirty Minute Iron Man 

Bayley (C) vs. Sasha Banks 

If the rest of the show had been full of storytelling, Bayley and Sasha took things to the next level, bringing the show to an emotional climax. A spectacular rollercoast of a contest, it's a bloody good job this one went on last, because there is no chance that anyone would have been able to top this. Every moment was crafted perfectly, to suit the two characters and create sympathy for the plucky Bayley. The Bo$$ not getting a clean fall and Bayley having to fight from underneath throughout made for compelling television. Saving Bayley attacking Sasha's hand (a call-back to their bout at Takeover: Brooklyn) until the score was tied at two a piece was an inspired piece of booking, allowing the final ten minutes of the bout to take on a life of their own, whilst remaining believable. 

Sasha Banks is nasty piece of work, isn't she? How dare she steal that young girls head band and make her cry. She makes me so bloody angry with her actions and such. This is why she is one of the best heels that WWE has had in a very long time. Obviously, if Sasha was aware that she would be winning the match, then her actions would have been highly inappropriate, but with the knowledge that Izzy's hero would eventually pull out the victory and the fact that the majority of the NXT crowd loves Izzy, this was the perfect moment to pull such a trick. By the way, if you were one of the people still chanting for Sasha after that moment, you are a cold hearted son of a bitch. 

Whilst I wouldn't be the reviewer that I am without mentioning that there were points earlier on in the match that weren't quite as smooth as they could have been, I'll put into down to nerves of main eventing and the fact that two or three slip-ups in a thirty minutes match really isn't that much. Think how catastrophic a thirty minute Sin Cara match could have been? For the other 98% of the bout, the two were spot on, with some of the best wrestling you will see on WWE television this year. If you haven't watched this match yet (I mean told you to at the start of the review) then you need to take a long hard look at yourself in the mirror and then go and watch the fucking match.

Bayley, three falls to two

Order of Fall
Sasha 1 Bayley 0 - Pinfall in 9 minutes, 35 seconds
Sasha 1 Bayley 1 - Pinfall in 10 minutes, 55 seconds
Sasha 2 Bayley 1 - Countout in 14 minutes, 15 seconds
Sasha 2 Bayley 2 - Pinfall in 17 minutes, 25 seconds
Sasha 2 Bayley 3 - Submission in 29 minutes, 57 seconds


ATPW Scale Rating - 7.78

NXT Takeover: Respect goes into 2nd place on the ATPW Scale Leaderboard, only behind PROGRESS Chapter 22. It's becomes the highest rated WWE show on the leadboard (which began in July of this year) leapfrogging the previous NXT Takeover show, Brooklyn. 

This was another world-class effort from Triple H and his NXT brand. Bayley and Sasha Banks will be hard to beat in our Match of the Month poll for October, and I'd expect it to there or thereabouts in the Match of the Year poll as well. It really was that good. The Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic offered a great opportunity for tag team wrestling, whilst also giving the inaugural tournament two big name winners, which will give the tournament more weight, if it's bought back in 2016. Apollo Crews stepped up, putting a strong performance opposite, in my opinion, the most underrated guy on the NXT Roster, Tyler Breeze. Even Dana Brooke put on a decent performance, giving Asuka a solid platform on which to showcase her skills on her debut. 

If I wasn't already excited to attend NXT Takeover: London in December, this show may have tipped me over the edge. I'm very much looking forward to bringing you guys a live review from Wembley Arena. 

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