By Zack Zimmerman
Dot Net Members are listening to Jason Powell’s 33-minute NXT Takeover: Respect audio review. Access all Dot Net audio content on the ad-free version of the website by signing up today via the Dot Net Members’ Signup Page.
NXT Takeover: Respect Hits
Finn Bálor and Samoa Joe vs. Scott Dawson and Dash Wilder: This match was a fitting opener. It was a fundamentally logical tag match which told a story around Bálor’s knee and the fresh Joe, and allowed Dash and Dawson to gain some credibility for hanging in as long as they did. While this match earns a Hit, I’d be remiss not to mention that this match, along with the other semi-final match, created the narrative that two teams of thrown-together singles guys are more effective than two established and rising tag teams. See more on this in the “Misses” section
Baron Corbin and Rhyno vs. Chad Gable and Jason Jordan: How good is Chad Gable? He’s technically sound, creative on offense, a believable seller, and the movement he makes adds so much to the matches he’s in. Plus the guy has clearly caught on in a big way with the Full Sail crowd. Jason Jordan is a really nice counterpart and between the two of them, they got quite an entertaining match out of the unexciting team of Corbin and Rhyno. The result of this match is perhaps the biggest miss of the show. I think it would’ve been wise to put a hot team like Gable and Jordan in the finals of the tournament and let them gain some real credibility in the finals against the stars Bálor and Joe.
Asuka vs. Dana Brooke: This was one of the more impressive debuts for an incoming talent on NXT. Asuka brings a very unique charisma to the division, and really looked and carried herself like a star in the ring. Dana Brooke still has a long way to go. The charisma, character, and look are right on track, but she still appears to be far from fluid in the ring. She wasn’t a severe hinderance to the quality of the match and Asuka shined despite the inexperience of her counterpart, but there was a discernible difference in experience and presence which didn’t do Dana any favors. I’m looking forward to the prospect of Asuka vs. Emma in the near future, and bigger picture am very optimistic about Asuka’s run.
Apollo Crews vs. Tyler Breeze: Barely a Hit, but not a Miss. A perfectly passable match that didn’t exceed my expectations one iota. Crews is impressive and is clearly on the rise, but it just feels like he hasn’t quite hit that jet stream which will propel him to a rightful spot at the top of the card yet. Breeze is officially cemented as the upper-mid card guy who will be a stepping stone for everyone they have plans for. I’m concerned he’s reached his ceiling. He may be relatively teflon, but his credibility and momentum are certainly not trending upward.
Finn Bálor and Samoa Joe vs. Baron Corbin and Rhyno: I maintain that Bálor and Joe facing Gable and Jordan would’ve resulted in a higher-quality match and would’ve given a certain level of recognition and legitimacy to an existing team that is gaining real momentum. That said, this match was not a Miss. It was completely competent, but generally unspectacular. I’m curious to see whether or not this knee injury is used in the story that will lead to Bálor vs. Joe or if they’ll continue to take it ultra slow. Quite frankly, I’m surprised that there has been such little indication of miscommunication to this point, aside from a few indicative moments in backstage promos. The involvement of the Rhodes family was a nice touch as well.
Bayley vs. Sasha Banks: Splendid main event. In the interest of full honesty, I’ll admit that I think I liked their match from Brooklyn a bit more, but that was likely do to how truly organic and awe-inspiring that match was. The time cap that accompanies the ironman stipulation takes something away from the natural nature that the prior match had in abundance. Within those constraints however, these two ladies told an intense, believable, and emotionally captivating story. The nature of the match allowed Bayley to fight from underneath while still holding her own as a top-level competitor, and it played perfectly into Sasha Banks’s skills as a worker and character. The finish was superb. Additionally, Izzy added a really relatable and heartfelt element to the match. Perhaps I’m being a bit crass, but I felt like the “women’s wrestling” chants, the crying and flowers, and the on-stage roster gathering were a bit patronizing as a whole. I emphasize “a bit” because I’m not disparaging the significance of this match on this show nor the crowds intended support, I just couldn’t help but have that thought cross my mind several times. Overall though, this was a well-deserved position for these two ladies to be in and they delivered in every way. Oh, and are you aware that Sasha went back down and gave her flowers to Izzy after the show went off-air? Isn’t that heart-melting?
Overall show: I just have to give credit to how interestingly put together this show was. The format was so starkly different from what they’ve done with the NXT Specials in the past and as a result it stood out in a really positive way and flew by.
NXT Takeover: Respect Misses
Hype: No, this miss has NOTHING to do with the absence of Mojo Rawley. In fact, that probably deserves to be a “Hit” itself. Jokes aside, perhaps it’s because I’ve been out of the wrestling bubble since moving to DC, but this show felt lacking in hype and buzz leading in. There was clearly intrigue and excitement for the ladies in the main event, but the build to Respect never ramped up to the level of most-if-not-all of the previous Takeovers and Arrival.
Tag Tournament narrative: I have expressed this throughout my analysis above, but I just have to reiterate. I really like the idea of the Dusty Rhodes Classic and enjoyed the way they mapped it out. However I think it was a mistake to have two teams of thrown-together singles wrestlers compete in the finals of a tournament that included several top-notch, relatively established, and hot teams. It just doesn’t seem well thought out to me, though admittedly it’s an unfortunate reflection of what the tag division in NXT represents to this point.