12/16 WWE NXT Takeover: London live review - Finn Balor vs. Samoa Joe for the NXT Championship, Bayley vs. Nia Jax for the NXT Women's Championship, Dash Wilder and Scott Dawson vs. Enzo Amore and Colin Cassady for the NXT Tag Titles, Asuka vs. Emma, Apollo Crews vs. Baron Corbin
By Zack Zimmerman
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WWE NXT Takeover: London
London, England at SSE Arena
Inside a darkened arena, dark blue lights blared on and revealed Triple H in the middle of the ring while the fans chanted "NXT." He said that Sunday night, he got his ass kicked, but you're crazy if you think he wouldn't be there for this. He had the fans scream "NXT" with him and then a video package kicked in with Motorhead playing in the background. It spent a bit of time hyping all of the featured matches on the show...
Asuka kicked off the show to a big pop from the London crowd. Emma was out next, flanked by Dana Brooke as usual. Good heat for Emma. A replay showed Emma attacking Asuka by running through the crowd a couple of weeks ago, and another showed Asuka knocking out her opponent despite Emma's distraction last week.
1. Asuka vs. Emma (w/ Dana Brooke). The crowd chanted "Asuka's gonna kill you" and "Let's go Asuka" early, while Emma managed to avoid an early knockout attempt from Asuka. Asuka missed a dropkick and Emma briefly took control, but Asuka got it right back and rolled through on several hammerlocks along with Emma. Asuka caught Emma in a Fujiwara Armbar for a fun little false finish early.
Things went to ringside where Asuka flew off the apron with a diving hip attack to wipe Emma out. Asuka stared down Dana Brooke however, which allowed Emma to take control with a baseball slide. Emma aggressively choked Asuka in the corner and hit a running short dropkick for a quick two-count. Emma continued to get the better of Asuka while the crowd continued to rally and chant for Asuka by singing her name to the tune of "Ole."
Asuka managed to halt Emma's momentum with a tricky backslide, but Emma came right back with a wicked short-arm clothesline for a near-fall. Emma repeatedly whipped Asuka hard against the buckles, and then slapped the hell out of her. Emma whipped Asuka into the corner once again, but this time Asuka sprung off the second turnbuckle with a missile dropkick and both ladies were down.
Asuka began to rally with a series of kicks and strikes which she finished off with a running hip attack. She hit Daniel Bryan-style kicks to a "Yes" chant from the crowd, but Emma reversed into a quick jackknife pin attempt. Asuka popped out and hit a couple of backfists and wiped Emma out with another hip attack for a near-fall. Asuka continued to roll until Emma caught her in the DilEmma tarantula hold. Asuka ate an Emmamite Sandwich for two deep two-counts.
Emma looked for the Emma Lock, but Asuka reversed with an ankle pick into an ankle lock. Emma made it to her feet before Asuka reeled her in with a German suplex. Asuka nailed her with a Shining Wizard for a good near-fall. After a brief back-and-forth, there was a ref bump in the corner and Dana Brooked tossed something to Emma in the ring. Asuka grappled it away from her, and when the ref came-to, he caught Asuka with the object in-hand and Emma down. He didn't DQ her, but Emma caught her with a surprise roll-up for a great falsie.
Asuka popped Emma up and caught her in the Asuka Lock, but Dana Brooke jumped up on the apron and distracted the referee while Emma tapped. Emma tried to capitalize, but Asuka hit her with a wicked spinning back kick for the clean win.
Asuka defeated Emma in about 14:45.
Replays aired and Asuka celebrated her win... The legendary Johnny Saint was shown in the crowd.. Finn Bálor was shown arriving to the arena, as was Samoa Joe...
Zim Says: Excellent match. I had set my expectations high knowing what both ladies are capable of and they delivered in every way. Great way to open the show.
A video package recapped and hyped the NXT tag team title match. The challengers Enzo Amore, Colin Cassady, and Carmella were out first to a big reaction. Enzo was in a glorious red leather and cheetah print jacket, and I could do an entire other live coverage article on his hair and jewelry and general accessories.
He did their usual intro with a bit more intensity, and in the ring, he said that they're going to leave every piece of themselves in the ring tonight. He said that if he had a Pound for every time he and Cass got knocked down and got back up, he'd have zero Pounds. Casually promised that Dawson and Dash will not walk out the same way they walk in. He said that he and Enzo will walk out tag team champions and prove to everyone that Dash and Dawson are S-A-W-F-T. Dash and Dawson were out next. The crowd chanted "who are ya?"
2. NXT Tag Team Champions Dash and Dawson vs. Enzo Amore and Colin Cassady (w/ Carmella) for the NXT Tag Team Championships. Enzo is wrestling in baggy leather and cheetah overalls with a Union Jack on the inside when he drops the straps. Amazing. Enzo got a bit over-excited when the crowd was singing "Go Enzo" to the tune of Seven Nation Army, which allowed the champions to work him over early. Cass came in and regained control for his team before bringing Enzo back in the mix.
At ringside, Enzo avoided a clothesine and Dash clotheslined the ringlets instead, which Enzo then wisely targeted back in the ring. The crowd sang "Big Cass" to the theme of Hey Jude when he entered the match. Before long however, Dash and Dawson were illegally beating down Cass in their corner. Cass fired up and press slammed one onto the other and both took a powder to ringside. Cass wasted no time launching Air Enzo over the ropes onto both of their opponents at ringside with impressive hang time.
Back in the ring, Enzo was focused on the illegal man which enabled the legal Dash to take advantage and knock Enzo out of the ring for a near countout. Dawson targeted Enzo's arm and hit a nice hammerlock northern lights suplex for a two-count. Enzo continued to take the heat while the crowd rallied for him. Dash and Dawson hit a nice assisted low dropkick and Dawson followed up with a slingshot suplex. A short time later, Enzo nearly made the hot tag, but Dash broke it up at the last second and the champs hit a nice assisted gordbuster on Enzo. There was some awkward miscommunication as to who the legal man was however, so the referee wouldn't count the pinball attempt.
Enzo finally hit a wicked diving DDT and made the hot tag to Big Cass who came in and rolled through Dawson before planting him with a Black Hole Slam. He disposed of Dash to ringside, but he turned into a chop block from Dawson on his bad knee. He screamed like there was damage done and Dash took advantage, locking in the same leglock that won them the tag titles. Cass struggled and struggled before finally reaching the ropes, but the damage was done to his knee. The champs set up their diving knee breaker, but Enzo broke it up.
Cass managed to hit a big boot and they connected with the Rocket Launcher, but Dawson pulled Enzo out of the ring at the very last instant. There was a scuffle at ringside where Carmella slapped Dash, but Dash subsequently sent Cass flying into the ring post. Inside the ring, Enzo was caught on the top rope and the champs hit a super Shatter Machine and scored the pinfall.
Dash and Dawson pinned Enzo and Cass in about 15:00 to retain the NXT Tag Team Championships.
Dash and Dawson celebrated their win while the commentators pushed that the tag team resurgence in NXT is being headed by them.. Baymella were shown arriving at the arena... A Nia Jax vignette aired...
Zim Says: That was better than I think anyone could've expected. The action was very solid and told a compelling, fluid story. Certainly the best match we've seen from either team thus far on NXT programming. As much as the story would be nice to see pay of with an Enzo and Cass win, I think the upward progression of the tag division remains with Dash and Dawson defending in quality matches against some of the bright upcoming teams in NXT.
The commentators talked about social media before turning to a brief recap of the Apollo Crews and Baron Corbin feud. Back in the arena, Baron Corbin made his entrance. Apollo Crews was out next.
3. Baron Corbin vs. Apollo Crews. Corbin had the size advantage and backed Crews into the corner, but Crews overpowered him and drove him all the way across the ring into the opposite corner. Corbin took a powder and had a mini tantrum at ringside. Crews got the better of him on re-entry and the two performed a nice sequence into a Crews dropkick. Moments later however, Corbin sent Crews up and over in the corner, and Crews took the bump at ringside hitting the ring steps on the way down.
Corbin yelled that Crews "should've stayed in Ring of Honor." Back in the ring, Corbin worked over Crews in the corner with shots and repeated clotheslines, finishing up with a running boot. Corbin remained firmly in control. He caught Crews diving off the ropes, but Crews managed to cradle him for a quick two-count. Corbin regained his control with a hard whip into the corner. The crowd began becoming obnoxious with the nonstop songs and chants.
The match broke down into a scrappy brawl with Crews shooting in for repeated double-legs and raining shots down on Corbin, but Corbin ducked out to ringside. Crews was soon to follow with an impressive moonsault off the apron onto Corbin at ringside. Back in the ring, Crews began to roll, but Corbin caught him running the ropes and planted him with a big swinging back suplex slam. Corbin looked to put Crews away with the End of Days, but Crews evaded and hit a big kick to the head and followd up with the standing moonsault for a good near-fall.
Crews looked for his new powerbomb finish, but Corbin held onto the ropes and slipped out. Corbin reeled Crews in and nailed the End of Days out of nowhere for the win.
Baron Corbin pinned Apollo Crews in about 11:40.
A visibly winded Corbin smirked about his win and slowly backed up the ramp and out of the arena while Crews was down at ringside... A Sami Zayn vignette aired about him being an inspiration and proving to the people who believe in him that they're right. He was hyped to be returning next week...
Zim Says: Woohoo! Anyways, that was a very nice showing for Corbin, who hung with Crews the whole way. Now, Corbin was far more exhausted by the end than Crews, who probably could've gone another 20 minutes, but the match was just what it needed to be and I think they went with the right finish. Crews can bounce right back and Corbin can gain some legitimacy and character ammunition with this win.
Backstage, Greg Hamilton was standing by with Nia Jax. Jax began to talk about her strategy before Asuka walked onto the set and stared Jax down. Asuka slowly walked away and Jax closed by vowing to dominate and destroy Bayley... A video package aired with Bayley reading the letter that she wrote to herself when she was a child spliced in with her winning the Championship and defending against people like Sasha Banks and Eva Marie and Alexa Bliss. Bayley said respect is earned...
Back in the arena, Nia Jax made her entrance. They paused to let anticipation swell before Bayley made her entrance to a huge reaction from the fans in London. Both ladies received formal in-ring introductions. Big boos for Jax and Monster ovation for Bayley, as expected.
4. NXT Women's Champion Bayley vs. Nia Jax for the NXT Women's Championship. The crowd was serenading Bayley with some song that I couldn't quite make out, but Bayley seemed appreciative. Bayley evaded Jax early and even managed to land a few shots, but Jax overpowered and outmatched Bayley at nearly every turn. Jax hit a kneeling shoulderbreaker and then whipped Bayley around in a Cobra Clutch. Bayley fought out and slipped into a mounted dragon sleeper, but Jax once again powered out.
Bayley hit several of her signature back elbows in the corner and then hit a dropkick to the knee. Bayley hit a Chono-style shining front kick and came off the second turnbuckle several times with diving back elbows, staggering Jax repeatedly but not toppling her. Bayley caught Jax in a triangle from the bottom, but Jax stood up, hoisted Bayley up, and placed her on the top turnbuckle with ease. The two battled up top with Bayley finally sending Jax plummeting to the mat before following up with a flipping senton bomb off the top. She looked for the pin, but Jax just sent her flying through the ropes to ringside.
Back in the ring, Jax caught Bayley and planted her with a hard Samoan drop for two. Jax hit a second Samoan drop, and then whipped Bayley off the ropes and hit a third. Jax followed up with her standing leg drop, but Bayley managed to kick out before three. Jax continued to ragdoll Bayley around before hitting a Rocker Dropper style shoulder breaker. Jax followed up with three super weak looking leg drops to the back of the head and the crowd let her know that they were not okay. It looked like the end, but Bayley once again kicked out. The crowd continued to sing for Bayley, but Bayley continued to be abused by Jax.
Jax hoisted Bayley up to the top rope and looked for a super Samoan drop, but Bayley slipped into a guillotine choke. Bayley sunk the hold deep mid-ring, but Jax whipped Bayley down with the spinebuster. Jax wasted time and knelt in, allowing Bayley to slip in the choke once again. But once again, Jax planted her with a spinebuster. Rinse and repeat with Jax failing to capitalize and Bayley slipping in the choke. Bayley sank it in so that Jax was seated and Bayley was sitting on her lap with body scissors sunk in deep, and after a lengthy struggle, Jax finally submitted.
Bayley forced Nia Jax to submit in about 13:20 to retain the NXT Women's Championship.
The commentators put over Bayley's resourcefulness and heart in becoming the first person to defeat Nia Jax. Replays aired and Bayley was still selling the effects of the match in the ring. Jax walked out under her own power and left the ring to Bayley... Blake and Murphy vs. Jason Jordan and Chad Gable was hyped for next week... Samoa Joe was shown preparing backstage... A video package hyped the main event title match...
Zim Says: There were points where repeating the same spot over and over pushed my boundaries, but it never quite reached the point where it became an issue. Rather, I think it skirted the line where they did a really effective job making Bayley fight super hard from way underneath to squeeze out the win. It's interesting in that it really doesn't leave Bayley with any other worthy title contenders aside from Asuka, and I'll be curious to see how Jax bounces back as a character. Good story, good match.
Samoa Joe made his entrance first. He got a good initial pop but the crowd seems to be buying him as the heel. The heartbeat sounded and the lights cut out. The familiar Jack the Ripper graphic appeared on the screen and slashed the screen, which then kicked into Finn Bálor's entrance. Finn the Ripper was out in a top hat and overcoat with the demon paint underneath. He made his lengthy entrance before both competitors received full in-ring introductions. Joe was booed roundly and the champion was heavily embraced by the UK crowd.
5. NXT Champion Finn Bálor vs. Samoa Joe for the NXT Championship. Joe overpowered Bálor to the mat early as the crowd dueled with chants for both guys, probably 70/30 for Bálor. Bálor nailed Joe with a dropkick early and as Joe looked to take a powder, Bálor pounced with a baseball slide and a soccer kick from the apron. Bálor looked to capitalize in the ring, but Joe rolled right through to the other side of the ring. Bálor pursued and sent Joe crashing into the ring steps with the shotgun dropkick. Bálor set Joe up on the steps and looked for the stomp off the apron, but Joe avoided it and destroyed Bálor with a ura-nage at ringside.
Joe teed off on Bálor back in the ring. Bálor showed some fight, returning several shots, but the larger Joe put him right back down with a hard shot and rocked him in the corner with an enzugiri. Joe remained in control, connecting with his trademark knee drop sequence a short time later. Bálor continued to show fight, but Joe hit a hard face wash kick in the corner and Bálor was selling like his eyes were glazed over. Joe continued to roll on offense before Bálor avoided a senton attempt from Joe.
Bálor hit a high kick from the apron and looked to capitalize, but Joe knocked him to ringside and then wiped him out with the elbow suicida. That was good for a two-count back in the ring. Joe hit a wicked powerbomb and held on, transitioning into the high-angle crab and then a crossface when Bálor kicked out. Joe sank the crossface in deep mid-ring and transitioned into an armbar stretch, but Bálor reached the ropes with his feet. Out of nowhere, Bálor caught Joe with a desperation DDT and both guys were down.
Bálor came flying into Joe with a hard forearm smash and followed up with running chops in the corner. Joe appeared to reverse, but when he went up to the second rope, Bálor sprang up and knocked him down to ringside with a high kick. Finn hit the ropes and wiped out Joe at ringside with a huge flip dive over the ropes. Finn waited for Joe to get to his feet before diving off the top with a wicked double stomp to the back of the neck for a near-fall.
Bálor hit a wicked spinning kick and then connected with the Slingblade, Bálor retreated and stalked for the Shotgun Dropkick, but Joe reversed and looked for the Muscle Buster. Bálor managed to slip out and connected with the Pele Kick to put both guys down for a nine-count. Back on their feet, the two traded wicked sequences of strikes. Joe avoided the Pele and looked for the Clutch, but Bálor ran him head-first into the turnbuckles to break it. Bálor looked to capitalize from the apron, but Joe caught him in the Clutch again and dragged him into the middle of the ring. Somehow, Bálor managed to fight out and hit a jumping double stomp for another double-down.
Joe charged, but Bálor connected with another Slingblade. Bálor hit two Shotgun Dropkicks, but Joe showed fighting spirit and fired up before taking a third shotgun dropkick to the back. Bálor went up top looking to finish, but there was a battle on the top rope. Eventually, Bálor knocked Joe to the mat and came down with the Coup de Grace for the win.
Finn Bálor defeated Samoa Joe in about 18:20 to retain the NXT Championship.
Bálor was selling the effects of the match and was handed his title. Replays aired and when they concluded, Bálor was finally able to make it to his feet. Joe was helped to the back by a trainer and had blood around his mouth. Bálor celebrated his win in the ring, but before he left the ring a trainer insisted he sit in the corner and they began to consult. Replays of the finish aired once again and the trainer was standing next to Finn while the ref held Bálor's hand up with the title. The show ended with Bálor continuing to celebrate in the ring.
Zim Says: Great main event to close a great show. The ending of the special felt a bit uneventful because it didn't really set a clear direction going forward, but that's me looking for something more rather than being disappointed with what I got. This match was super believable; a fun, hard-hitting, back-and-forth fight. Bálor showed fight the whole time and Joe looked like a monster capable of absorbing and dishing out massive punishment even in defeat. It appropriately capped off a show that can be adequately described as "all killer, no filler." We don't have many of the directions laid out clearly going forward, but they've hyped the Gable and Jordan vs. Blake and Murphy tag match and Sami Zayn's return for next week, so that's plenty to keep me content while they establish the framework of 2016.
As for me, I'm back in the loop full time now, so please feel free to engage me. Throw comments, questions, criticisms, or corrections @DotNetZim or DotNetZim@gmail.com; always happy to discuss.
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