12/11 WWE NXT Takeover R-Evolution Live Coverage: Sami Zayn vs. Adrian Neville for the NXT Championship, Bálor and Itami vs. The Ascension, Women's and Tag Title matches, and Kevin Owens debuts

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12/11 WWE NXT Takeover R-Evolution Live Coverage: Sami Zayn vs. Adrian Neville for the NXT Championship, Bálor and Itami vs. The Ascension, Women's and Tag Title matches, and Kevin Owens debuts
2014-12-11 18:30:00

By Zack Zimmerman

WWE NXT Takeover III: R-Evolution
December 11, 2014 at Full Sail University

Pre Show

In the lobby of the Full Sail Arena, Renee Young, Alex Riley, and Jason Albert welcomed viewers and hyped the show. They began by previewing the main event match which led to an "Ole" chant from the crowd outside. Albert said Zayn is a changed man going into tonight and Riley said Zayn can't handle the pressure.

Renee shifted the focus to Hideo Itami and Finn Bálor vs. The Ascension. A video package recapped the entirety of this feud stemming back to Itami's encounter with The Ascension at the last Takeover special. There was emphasis on Bálor saying that he's bringing something they've never seen before. A-Ry called Itami and Bálor unproven, while Albert went to bat for them...

An interview clip aired of Sami Zayn where he said he's reached this point of sink or swim and he's removed his safety net... [C]

Renee Young threw to a video package of Corey Graves and he had joined them at the table when it ended. He said that he's wanted to be a pro wrestler for his whole life and a few years back WWE gave him the chance. He said that he's received multiple concussions in recent history and he's been advised by the doctors that his in-ring career should not continue. He officially announced his in-ring retirement while fighting back tears. He then announced that he would be joining them as a regular member of the NXT commentary team.

Renee said that Graves would begin tonight and one of his first calls would be involving the debuting Kevin Owens. They then threw to a new Kevin Owens vignette recapping the previous ones and bringing them all together. He said tonight is his evolution and he's going to revolutionize NXT. "Tonight, Kevin Owens takes over."

Renee Young announced that Kevin Owens would be kicking off the show tonight. Albert said he'll make the most of this opportunity. Graves agreed, and A-Ry said he's coming in with a chip on his shoulder. Renee read a message from Seth Rollins putting Owens over.

Another Sami Zayn clip showed him saying that this isn't a contractual thing, it's a personal thing that he's using as motivation... A video package aired hyping tonight's NXT Tag Title match... Rich Brennan interviewed The Lucha Dragons. Kalisto said lucha means fighting for your dreams, and tonight they'll show everyone that they're "Lucha! Lucha! Lucha!"

A video package aired hyping Charlotte's upcoming title defense against Sasha Banks... A-Ry interviewed Sasha earlier about people calling her the underdog. Sasha questioned who those people are. Bayley walked in and said Charlotte wouldn't lose. Sasha said the best part is that Ric Flair will be watching. She suggested Bayley watch her back when Becky ran in and blindsided Bayley. Renee Young said that Bayley's MRI revealed no serious damage and she'd be back in the ring next week...

An interview clip aired of Adrian Neville saying that he doesn't want Sami putting his career on the line, but his priority is winning and he won't bear Sami's burden...A video package recapped Sami Zayn's year-and-a-half build to the title, beginning with the cheap loss to Bo Dallas last year...Alex Riley said he feels like Sami Zayn is backtracking on the career stipulation already. Graves said A-Ry is out of his mind and Albert agreed (and I did too).

They went to final predictions and everyone predicted Sami Zayn except for Alex Riley. They had Graves show off a tattoo that said 'Revolution' before wrapping it up and throwing to the start of the show...

NXT Takeover

The show opened with the start of a Kevin Owens video which transitioned into all of the guys on the show talking about how this is their night. It closed with Kevin Owens vowing to take over... Inside the arena, the crowd chanted "NXT" and the commentators welcomed viewers...

New music played and Kevin Owens walked out to a big reaction from the crowd. He's wearing the same type of thing he's always worn except his shirt bears a "KO" graphic. Owens was pumped up and the crowd was too as they chanted "Fight Owens Fight!" CJ Parker was out next to the dismay of the fans. His sign of the week says "My fight matters." Owens was pacing in anticipation.

1. Kevin Owens vs. CJ Parker. Owens dropped Parker as soon as the bell rang. He hit a clothesline in the corner and followed up with his cannonball senton. He broke Parker's sign as the crowd chanted "Fight Owens Fight." Owens hit a tope con hilo and A-Ry said he was like a flying cow. Dick.

Parker took control with a Booker T kick during an unfortunately timed replay, which then required a replay of its own. Parker missed a jumping senton attempt, but connected with a hard palmstrike for a near-fall. Something opened Owens up and the blood began to flow from around his eye. Parker hit a double knee strike in the corner, but Owens launched himself with a clothesline to regain control. Owens hit his pumphandle neckbreaker and followed up with a pop-up powerbomb for the win...

Kevin Owens beat CJ Parker in about 3:15.

NXT Champ Adrian Neville was shown stretching backstage and the same interview clip from the pre show aired...

Zim Says: I'm not sure going 50-50 in a match with Parker was the best way to show off Owens, especially when he took control immediately after the bell. It may not be the impactful debut that a lot of people hoped for, but he's here and I was entertained for what it was. Looking forward to what's to come from him.

A video package hyped the NXT Tag Team Champion Lucha Dragons... Back in the arena, The Lucha Dragons made their entrance. The Vaudevillains were out next.

2. The Lucha Dragons vs. The Vaudevillains for the NXT Tag Team Championships. Sin Cara came out with a springboard headbutt and a springboard moonsault. He got the better of both Vaudevillains with a fancy headscissors move and then hit the tandem wheelbarrow senton with Kalisto. Cara hit a Michinoku Driver as the crowd chanted "let's go Gotch."

English blind tagged himself into the match and then yanked Cara to ringside. The crowd approved with "that was manly" chants. English stomped away at Cara in the ring and the heels began to get the heat on Cara. No heat from the crowd, however, who warned the champs to "put your dukes up."

English again sent Cara crashing to ringside and then dropped Kalisto for good measure. The Vaudevillains continued to isolate Sin Cara and quelled several tag attempts. Cara finally made the hot tag and Kalisto came in firing. He hit his springboard tornillo and no-handspring kick, among other things. The Dragons attempted a double tope con hilo, but Gotch managed to avoid it leaving English to bear the brunt. Moments later, Kalisto managed to connect with the SDS on Gotch in the ring for the win...

The Lucha Dragons defeated The Vaudevillains to retain the NXT Tag Team Championshops in about 6:40.

Sasha Banks was shown getting her ring jacket on backstage...

Zim Says: Decent tag while it lasted. Ultimately nothing memorable. Perhaps a level above the standard NXT tag match, but still not up to the caliber of match I'd like to see coming from the tag division.

Tye Dillinger made his entrance and it was hyped that Kevin Owens would be interviewed for next week's episode of NXT. Baron Corbin was out next.

3. Baron Corbin vs. Tye Dillinger. Corbin hit snake-eyes, a big boot, and End of Days as the crowd chanted the match time aloud.

Baron Corbin squashed Tye Dillinger in about 0:40.

Bull Dempsey was shown sitting in the crowd. He and Corbin went face-to-face as Corbin was leaving...

Zim Says: Well, that happened. Keep in mind this is all Corbin has done since his debut at the last special. Poor Tye Dillinger. He's criminally under-utilized.

Sami Zayn was shown backstage and another interview clip aired... A video package recapped and hyped the Itami and Bálor vs. Ascension match...

Back in the arena, The Ascension made their entrance. Hideo Itami was out next to a pretty good reaction. He has a new sleeveless yellow ring jacket which is a good look. The lights cut out and a heartbeat sounded as red lights flashed. Smoke filled the stage and Bálor crawled through the smoke painted like Carnage. His music finally hit and he rose from the smoke to reveal his paint and red and black tassles hanging from his head and armbands. Holy shit this is cool. The crowd agreed as they hailed him.

The bell never sounded, but Itami and Bálor went right after The Ascension. They hit their tandem hesitation dropkicks and The Ascension retreated to ringside. The crowd was chanting "marking out" and "we're not worthy." The bell finally sounded after The Ascension re-entered the ring and the match was underway.

4. The Asension vs. Hideo Itami and Finn Bálor. Bálor wore Viktor out with chops as the commentators discussed Bálor having found a new darker place in his mind. The Ascension appeared to take control but Bálor rocked Konnor with a dropkick and tagged in Itami.

Itami went after Konnor with a series of kicks, but Konnor planted him with a flapjack and The Ascension took control. They isolated Itami with their usual uneventful stuff for the next several minutes as the crowd attempted multiple rallies for Itami. Itami showed some fighting spirit, but he continued to get beaten down. Around the eight-minute mark, there was a good hope spot where Itami knocked both opponents to ringside, but they knocked Bálor off the apron before he got the tag.

Bálor finally got the hot tag just shy of the nine-minute mark. He hit a dropkick on Konnor after springing off Viktor's back, and then followed up with a Slingblade on Viktor. Bálor knocked both members of The Ascension to ringside and hit a big flip over the ropes which elicited a big 'NXT" chant from the crowd. Bálor was not able to connect on the stomp, but he hit a big lifting reverse DDT (or inverted Bloody Sunday).

Itami took himself and Konnor out to ringside, but Viktor put Bálor down with a hard STO. Itami entered the ring and teased a GTS on Viktor and the crowd went banana. The Ascension avoided it however and set up The Fall of Man. That was broken up also and Bálor connected with his Pelé Kick. Moments later, Itami and Bálor hit tandem diving double stomps and scored the pinfall.

Hideo Itami and Finn Bálor defeated The Ascension in about 11:30.

Zim Says: That was more of a fun spectacle then it was a great match, but there were some very cool things about it. Bálor's paint deal was very well done and the entrance was visually impressive. The hot parts of the match were very enjoyable as well. I want to point out how reflective the match was of this program overall though, as Itami was the weak link of the match who was carried to the win by Bálor. Maybe that's something they can address down the road. And don't get me started on The Ascension's work when they isolate a guy. That's the worst. Overall though, fun segment.

Backstage, Renee Young interviewed Roman Reigns. She asked him about winning the Slammy for Superstar of the Year and asked why he was here tonight. He said he's here to scout the future, and speaking of his future, he's going to be the first NXT guy to win the WWE Championship...

Backstage, Ric Flair was shown with Charlotte before her match. A video package hyped the upcoming Women's Championship match...

Backstage, Renee Young interviewed Roman Reigns. She asked him about winning the Slammy for Superstar of the Year and asked why he was here tonight. He said he's here to scout the future, and speaking of his future, he's going to be the first NXT guy to win the WWE Championship...

Backstage, Ric Flair was shown with Charlotte before her match. A video package hyped the upcoming Women's Championship match...

Back in the arena, Sasha Banks made her entrance. NXT Women's Champion Charlotte was out next. WWE referee Charles Robinson is in there for this one.

5. Sasha Banks vs. Charlotte for the NXT Women's Championship. Charlotte got the better of Sasha early and began to wear her out with chops to the chest. Sasha rolled to ringside and then took control with a kick when Charlotte went after her. She sent Charlotte hard back-first into the ringsteps and began to go to work in the ring.

Sasha wore Charlotte out in the corner and hit her double-knee strike on Charlotte who was hung between the turnbuckles. The crowd was split, but the Banks contingent seemed a bit louder. Sasha did a little Flair strut and a short time later, she hit a tilt-a-whirl into a straight-jacket backbreaker which she held in a modified surfboard submission. Impressive.

Charlotte backed Sasha into the corner, but Sasha grabbed a handful of hair and yanked Charlotte to the mat to retain control. Sasha then settled into Charlotte's own figure-four headlock in the middle of the ring, complete with facebusters. Charlotte managed to work her way to her feet with Sasha on her shoulders and dropped her with a big electric chair. Both ladies were down to the count of eight.

Back on their feet, Charlotte began to fire up. She hit an impressive move where she dropped a suplex into a spinning neckbreaker. Moments later however, Sasha sent Charlotte crashing to ringside and followed up with an impressive tope suicida which popped the crowd. Back in the ring, the ladies went blow for blow until Charlotte hit the ropes and hit a spear which Sasha sold big-time.

Moments later, the two traded finisher reversals until Sasha connected with the Bankrupt neckbreaker for a great near-fall. The crowd spoke up with a chant of "this is awesome." Charlotte came back with a scoop suplex throw and then went up to the top rope. Sasha avoided the moonsault, but Charlotte landed on her feet and hit a flipping senton onto Sasha for another near-fall.

Charlotte set up for a crucifix powerbomb, but Sasha slipped out and sent Charlotte face-first into the turnbuckles. The crowd chanted "like a boss" as Sasha tried to set up a superplex. Charlotte managed to knock Sasha down to the mat and she followed up coming off the turnbuckles with the Natural Selection for the pinfall...

Charlotte pinned Sasha Banks to retain the NXT Women's Championship in about 12:10.

Zim Says: Well damn, that was frickin awesome. I came in with pretty high expectations for these two and they far exceeded it. What an impressive showing. Bravo to both.

A video package did a great job of recapping the program between Sami Zayn and Adrian Neville leading to tonight's main event... Sami Zayn was shown walking into Gorilla position. His music hit and he made his way to the ring with full crowd support. The sight of Adrian Neville walking to Gorills drew boos from the crowd which carried on through his entrance. Neville's music ended and was replaced with loud "Ole" chants from the crowd. Both guys got formal in-ring introductions. Zayn got loud cheers and a "Sami" chant. Neville got loud boos and a "Sami" chant.

6. Sami Zayn vs. Adrian Neville for the NXT Championship. The two waited things out as the crowd chanted "Lets go Sami – Neville Sucks" through the opening minute. They then switched to the "Ole" chants which died down when the two finally began feeling each other out. The two traded matwork and armlocks leading to a stalemate.

They carried on in first gear with more of the same, however Neville slowed things down by grounding Zayn in an armlock. Zayn tried to counter with an arm wringer, but Neville just did a handspring and popped right back to his feet. A short time later, Neville used his up-and-over series of handsprings, but Zayn caught him running the ropes and hit a big tilt-a-whirl backbreaker. Neville rolled to ringside and Neville followed up with his Arabian moonsault to the floor.

Neville used all of the ten count before re-entering the ring, but when he did he ate a jumping heel kick from Zayn. Neville managed to halt his momentum and began to take control following a snapmare into a dropkick. Neville once again slowed the pace by settling into a grounded chinlock. Zayn managed to roll out, but Neville rocked him with a running uppercut in the corner for a two-count.

Neville worked at an unfamiliar methodical pace with a jumping knee drop and then went right back to a chinlock. The crowd tried to rally behind Zayn, but Neville caught him with a missile dropkick for another two count. Neville mocked Zayn with weak kicks to the head and then hit a harder series of kicks. Zayn fired back out of nowhere with clotheslines and his flapjack dropkick. Neville went to ringside and after a brief exchange, Zayn connected with his big flip over the ropes.

Back in the ring, Zayn followed up with a high crossbody for a two count and looked to take things into the next gear. There was a series of reversals which ended with Zayn tossing Neville off of his shoulders and catching him with the Blue Thunder Bomb for a good near-fall. The crowd chanted for Zayn, but Neville used a jawbreaker to stun Zayn and he followed up a short time later with a rebound German suplex for a near-fall of his own. Zayn avoided a powerbomb attempt initially, but Neville avoided the rope-run tornado DDT and planted Zayn with a sit-out powerbomb for a near-fall.

The crowd mockingly chanted "Neville" as he fired off forearm shots on Zayn which ended up firing Zayn up. They traded shots and Zayn turned Neville inside-out with a clothesline. Neville hit a high kick out of nowhere and went to the top rope as the crowd chanted "No!" Neville leapt off with the Red Arrow, but Zayn got his knees up and transitioned right into the Koji Clutch for a great false-finish. Neville managed to get his foot on the bottom rope.

Zayn went for the corner exploder, but Neville rolled through and ended up crashing into the referee. Zayn showed sympathy and checked on the ref, and when he turned around he took a big superkick from Neville. Neville hit a spike inverted frankensteiner and made the cover for another great false-finish. The crowd fired up and chanted for Zayn as both guys were down. The two traded forearm shots in the middle of the ring before Zayn got Neville's back and hit two German suplexes followed by a half-and-half suplex.

Neville rolled to ringside, but he rolled right into position for Zayn to hit his torpedo tornado DDT on the outside. Zayn tossed Neville back in the ring and charged with the Helluva Kick; connecting, but also bumping the referee who was checking on Neville. With the ref down, Neville went to ringside and retrieved the title belt. Zayn kicked him in the head before he was able to strike, and then Zayn contemplated whether or not he should use the belt himself. He was visibly conflicted and even yelled at himself. The crowd chanted "No!"

Zayn dropped the belt and Neville snuck up from behind and rolled him up for a very close near-fall, however Zayn kicked out and immediately connected with the corner exploder. Sami Zayn retreated to the corner and charged; connecting with the Helluva Kick and securing the pinfall and winning the NXT Championship to culminate his year-and-a-half long chase.

Sami Zayn defeated Adrian Neville to win the NXT Championship in about 23:10.

Zayn celebrated the biggest win of his career with passion, intensity, and a few words that the censors had to blank out. Replays aired but the crowd could be heard in the background chanting "you deserve it!" and "thank you Neville."

The locker room cleared into the ring, but of course the first guy there was Kevin Owens who embraced Sami Zayn and both men welled up. The rest of the locker room celebrated with Zayn. Notable names including Pat Patterson and Solomon Crowe. They hoisted Zayn onto their shoulders and paraded him around the ring while confetti fell and everyone felt good inside.

Adrian Neville re-entered the ring and confronted Zayn. The crowd wanted them to hug it out. Zayn extended his hand, but Neville scoffed and kicked it away before pulling Sami Zayn in for a big hug. Everyone cheered before the ring cleared and Sami Zayn was left to celebrate with the crowd.

Kevin Owens walked back down to celebrate with Sami Zayn some more and the show appeared like it was going to end with them walking out together. However halfway up the ramp, Owens turned and drove the back of Zayn's head into the metal ramp. Zayn tumbled back to ringside where Owens hoisted him up and drove him into the ring apron with a wicked powerbomb. Owens picked up the NXT Championship and gave it a good look before Leaving the arena. William Regal ran down and ordered medical attention for Sami Zayn to close the show...

Zim Says: That was everything I hoped it would be. The match was absolutely excellent and the post-match angle slingshots things forward without having taken away from the awesomeness that existed in the moments around Zayn's big win. The referee bumps induced a bit of a groan from me initially, but they ended up playing really nicely into the story of the match and the excitement of the final minutes. I loved the teases to similar finishes from the past and cannot remark enough on the chemistry and innovation these two bring together. I loved everything about this and will be re-watching it the instant I post this.

As a whole, this show can be looked at in two halves; the first half was more 'neat' that it was particularly good or memorable, while the second half delivered huge in every way possible. The women's match really exceeded my expectations and deserves high praise, and my analysis of the main event speaks for itself. In a time where wrestling really fails at delivering consistent big builds and payoffs, NXT really stood out tonight. It feels like there are so few wholly feel-good moments as a wrestling fan, but tonight was one of the biggest feel-good moments I can recall as a fan. That was fantastic. And then to follow it up by setting up the most anticipated and desired feud NXT can offer. This show built very well and closed on a home-run note.

Be sure to check back tomorrow for myself and Will Pruett on the Dot Net NXT Takeover III recap podcast!

Throw comments, questions, criticisms, or corrections @DotNetZim or DotNetZim@gmail.com; always happy to discuss.




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