By Jason Powell
NXT Takeover: San Antonio
Aired live on WWE Network
San Antonio, Texas at Freeman Coliseum
The event opened with a video package that focussed on the various matches… Tom Phillips, Corey Graves, and Percy Watson were on commentary…
1. Tye Dillinger vs. Eric Young (w/Alexander Wolfe, Killian Dain). Dillinger received a huge pop and “ten” chants when he made his entrance to open the live show. The bell rang and Young took off his jacket and made one last attempt to recruit Dillinger, who picked up the jacket looked to the crowd, and then tossed it at Young before punching him. Dillinger jumped out to the quick start and tossed Young to ringside.
Back inside the ring, Dillinger started to throw punches in the corner while the crowd chanted ten, but Young raked his eyes to break it. Young sent Dillinger to the floor where Dain performed a running cross body block as Young distracted the referee.
At 6:00, Dilinger went for a siuperplex, but Young blocked it and headbutted him off the ropes. Young leapt off the ropes, but Dillinger caught him with a dropkick. Dillinger and Young traded punches while the crowd cheered and booed accordingly. Young caught Dillinger with a nice punch, but Dillinger grabbed his beard. Dillinger worked over Young and tossed him into the corner. Young ran up the ropes, but Dillinger was there to belly-to-belly suplex him off the ropes and cover hm for a two count. The other Sanity members teased entering the ring before Young kicked out.
A short time later, Dillinger had Young pinned, but one of the Sanity members put Young’s foot on the bottom rope. Dillinger responded by diving onto Wolfe and Dain. Dillinger threw Young back inside the ring and went up top for a high cross body block, but Young rolled it over for a two count. Dillinger kicked Dain into Wolfe under hte bottom rope. Young grabbed Dillinger performed a neckbreaker and got the three count…
Eric Young defeated Tye Dillinger in 10:55.
Powell’s POV: The broadcast team played it up as though Dillinger became too concerned with the Sanity numbers advantage. Graves laid it on thick by saying that Dillinger should hang it up and get a job making boots or sweeping the floor of the Alamodome. The match was fine for the opener with Dillinger getting the crowd pumped up. By the way, I’m filling in for Zack Zimmerman on NXT coverage tonight. Zack is at the Beyond Wrestling show and you can check out his report on the show tomorrow morning. He’ll also be attending Sunday’s Beyond Wrestling show.
After a WWE Network video aired, a shot aired of Shinsuke Nakamura warming up backstage… Samoa Joe was shown sitting in the crowd dressed in a suit…
2. Andrade “Cien” Almas vs. Roderick Strong. Strong tossed Almas toward the ropes. Almas caught himself in the ropes and posed in a cocky manner while hanging between the top and middle rope. Strong a nice kick to the head of Almas and covered him. A short time later, Almas was standing on the floor when he pulled Strong’s neck over the middle rope and then took offensive control. Almas ran toward the seated Strong and stopped, then slapped him across the face.
At 4:25, Strong came back with a Strong Toss to retain offensive control. Strong performed a nice clothesline and a gordbuster before connecting with a running kick in the corner. Strong followed up with a nice dropkick at 5:15. The fans responded to the nice sequence polite clapping, then a “Roddy” chant broke out for Strong, who performed a backbreaker onto his knee, which led to a two count.
At 7:15, both men traded forearm shots, then Almas kicked Strong. Almas went to the corner and charged at Strong, who caught him with a knee to the head. The wrestlers slowly got ot their feet and traded forearms shots again. Strong kicked Almas, who no-sold it. Almas went for a kick of his own, but Strong blocked it and set up for a suplex, but Almas escaped it. Almas applied a submission hold, but Strong reached the ropes. A “this is awesome” chant started and went nowhere.
Almas slowly went up top. Strong cut him off. They traded shots on the ropes, then Strong performed a backbreaker onto the top turnbuckle and got a two count. Watson put it over by talking about how there’s a steel bolt on the turnbuckle. Almas went for a hammerlock DDT, but Strong powered him into the corner.
Strong charged at Almas, who hip-tossed him into the corner. Strong avoided double knees, but Almas caught him with a clothesline. Almas hit the double knees in the corner. Almas went for the hammerlock DDT, but Strong blocked it again. Strong threw another knee to the head and followed up with the Sick Kick for the win…
Roderick Strong defeated Andrade Almas in 11:40.
Powell’s POV: An entertaining back and forth match. The fans like Strong, but they didn’t seem invested in the outcome as much as they reacted to moves. Almas just hasn’t clicked as a heel yet, but he has made progress.
The broadcast team hyped the Royal Rumble and then set up a “Remember the Rumble” video featuring Shawn Michaels… A shot of the Alamo was shown while they plugged the sponsor… A shot aired of Bobby Roode looking very serious and letting out a big sigh before taking off his suit jacket… Michael Hayes was shown sitting in the crowd and received a nice reaction from the crowd… A video package set up the tag title match…
3. Johnny Gargano and Tommaso Ciampa vs. The Authors of Pain (w/Paul Ellering) for the NXT Tag Titles. The tag champs held up their titles in front of the AOP members, who shoved and jawed at them. The ref held the tag titles up between the teams. Rezar and Ciampa started the match. Ciampa ducked a clothesline from the charging Rezar, who went to the corner and choked Gargano briefly.
The tag champs delivered a really nice offensive flurry around 3:00 that popped the crowd. The challengers regrouped and isolated Gargano until he made the hot tag at 7:10. Ciampa worked over both members of AOP and performed German suplexes on both men for a big ovation from the crowd. Ciampa hit a running knee to the head of Akam for a two count.
Ciampa running kicks to the head of Akam, who kept calling for more. Ciampa ran the ropes for another, but Akam clotheslined him and covered him for a two count at 9:15. Gargano tagged in at 9:50 and then he and Ciampa performed a double spear through the ropes that led to a two count. Gargano sold back pain from the earlier beating he took.
Later, Gargano and Ciampa applied double submission holds. Ellering pleaded with his men not to tap. One of the AOP members powered Gargano up and slammed him on Ciampa and his own partner to break the hold. At 14:00, AOP hit powerbombs on both opponents, then they hit the Last Chapter on Ciampa and pinned him…
The Authors of Pain defeated Johnny Gargano and Tommaso Ciampa in 14:30 to win the NXT Tag Titles.
Powell’s POV: A good match with AOP hitting some cool power moves and the team of Gargano and Ciampa doing a good job of taking a lot of punishment, yet coming back with nice offensive flurries that popped the crowd. The tag title change isn’t a huge shocker to me simply because AOP are cast as the dominant tag team, and a case can be made for Gargano and Ciampa being better off chasing them. They could always break up Gargano and Ciampa, but I don’t think the tag division would be very good without them.
After some commercials, the broadcast team spoke about the tag title change. Seth Rollins suddenly appeared in the ring and called out Triple H, saying he knew he was backstage watching everything. Rollins said he would not leave the ring until Hunter came out and made him.
Triple H walked out dressed in a suit. Hunter motioned for security. Three security guards headed to the ring and then Hunter walked backstage. Rollins easily disposed of the three security guards and then headed up the aisle to go after Hunter, but several security members mobbed him. A brief “Let him go” chant started. Rollins was escorted out by security…
Powell’s POV: That was terrific. It gave the show a nice surprise and some star power, and it breathed some life into the Rollins vs. Hunter feud. A really nice touch.
The broadcast team set up a video package on the women’s four-way title match…
4. Asuka vs. Nikki Cross vs. Billie Kay vs. Peyton Royce in a four-way for the NXT Women’s Championship. The broadcast team noted during the entrances that Cross came out without the other members of Sanity. Kay and Royce held hands in one corner before the bell. Cross tossed her jacket around. Royce and Kay acted afraid and rolled to ringside to avoid being between Asuka and Cross.
The heel duo tried to pick a key moment to attack. They were successful briefly, but they ended up taking a clothesline/bulldog combo from Asuka, who then squared off with Cross. Kay and Royce once again attacked before Asuka and Cross could go at it. Asuka performed a double German suplex on Kay and Royce.
Asuka and Cross threw punches. Asuka bot the better of it, but Cross headbutted her and then dove on top of her. Asuka recovered and performed a German suplex into a bridge for a two count. Kay and Royce climbed onto the apron only to be dropkicked to the floor by Asuka. Cross performed a neckbreaker on Asuka. A short time later, she performed another neckbreaker that pulled Asuka from the apron to the floor. Cross ended up performing a dive off the top rope and onto Royce and Kay on the floor.
Later, the match spilled onto the floor and Cross ended up brawling with Royce and Kay near the broadcast table. She took them both down and then climbed onto the broadcast table, but Kay snuck up behind her and tripped her. Kay and Royce teamed up to suplex Cross through a table that was conveniently set up next to the broadcast table, but it was good enough for a “holy shit” chant from the crowd.
With Cross down from the table spot, Kay and Royce headed back to ringside and worked over Asuka, who was still selling at ringside. Royce hit a Widow’s Peak neckbreaker on Asuka, who bridged out of a pin. Royce showed frustration. Royce toyed with her by shoving her face a couple times. Asuka caught her with a kick to the head, then hit Kay with another. Asuka kicked Royce again and then pinned her…
Asuka defeated Nikki Cross, Peyton Royce, and Billie Kay in a four-way in 9:55 to retain the NXT Women’s Championship.
Powell’s POV: A fun match with the unique dynamic of Kay and Royce working together rather than turning on one another. Cross was protected nicely in terms of being away from the finish and they didn’t give away much of Asuka and Cross working one-on-one so that’s something they can still go back to. The four-way approach was the right way to go as it led to a ton of speculation that Asuka would drop the title without actually being pinned.
Following commercial breaks, the broadcast team hyped Triple H appearing on Facebook Live after the show. Phillips said he might get in trouble, but he planned to ask Hunter about Rollins… WWE UK Champion Tyler Bate was shown in the crowd… Separate shots aired of Nakamura and Roode walking backstage, then a video package played to set up the main event…
Bobby Roode made his “glorious” entrnace between six women who were wearing identical dresses. They all joined arm in arm and escorted him to the ring. The women also stood in the ring with Roode as he mugged for the crowd. Nakamura rode a small platform with strobe lights to the ring and did his Nakamura moves while doing so as the crowd sang along with his music..
Powell’s POV: Great entrances. I don’t know if they can top Nakamura entering with the solo violinist while he’s in NXT, but this was really cool.
5. Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Bobby Roode for the NXT Championship. Ring announcer Mike Rome delivered in-ring introductions for the main event. The fans were still singing Nakamura’s song after the opening bell. The fans stopped and there were dueling chants for the wrestlers. Nakamura threw a kick to the leg of Roode for the first contact. Roode followed up with another kick to the side of Roode’s leg. Roode took Nakamura down, but Nakamura caught him in a head-scissors, which Roode escaped and then applied a headlock.
At 3:00, Nakamura motioned to Roode to bring it. Roode responded with a “glorious” taunt. A short time later, Roode caught Nakamura against the ropes, teased a clean break, and instead elbowed him in the face. Roode worked the left arm of Nakamura, who eventually summersaulted and cartwheeled his way out, but Roode caught him in a head scissors. Nakamura escaped and went for a stomp and then a kick that Roode avoided. Roode smiled and did the glorious bit again, but this time Nakamaura kicked in the gut.
Roode caught Nakamura’s leg, but Nakamura kicked in him the head with his other leg. Roode rolled to ringside. Nakamura followed him and took a couple shots along the barricade before rolling him back inside the ring. A short time later, Nakamura tried to kick Roode while seated on the top rope, but Roode caught his foot and dumped him to ringside. Nakamura sold neck pain. Roode ran him into the steps a couple times before tossing him back inside the ring.
Roode targeted the neck of Nakamura with kicks and holds. The dueling chants started up again. Nakamura threw a couple punches at Roode, who grabbed him by the hair and threw him down aggressively. Later, Nakamura connected with a kick from the apron, then performed a running knee to the head of Roode, which was hanging over the apron. Nakamura followed up with a guillotine legdrop.
Nakamura blocked a punch, threw one of his own, then caught Rood with a kick. Roode got up and Nakamura kicked him again. Roode caught one leg, but Nakamura kicked him with the other. Roode avoided a charging Nakamura in the corner and then clotheslined him with the top rope. Nakamura bounced back and hit double knees to Roode, who was positioned on the top rope in the corner.
Nakamura suplexed Roode and then waited to deliver his finishing kick, but Roode didn’t get up. Nakamura showed frustration and then approached Roode, who rolled him up for a two count. Roode ducked a kick and performed a backstabber for another two count. At 17:15, Roode performed a spinebuster for a two count.
At 17:55, Roode set up for a superplex. Nakamura blocked it and ended up dropping Roode from the suplex position to the mat while remaining on the top rope. Nakamura followed up with a kick to the head from the ropes, then charged Roode, who caught him with both boots to the face. Roode covered and used the ropes for leverage, but the referee spotted it just in time and stopped his count.
Roode threw chops in the corner. Nakamura smiled at Roode and then said, “come on” while motioning him in. Nakamura threw kicks at Roode, including after he put his head over the bottom rope. Nakamura went for an arm bar, but Roode held his hands together to prevent him from locking it in. Nakamura countered into the triangle instead. Roode powered him up, but Nakamura rolled over him to avoid being slammed. Nakamura got up and caught Roode with a running knee and covered him for a two count. The broadcast team said he didn’t get all of the knee to Roode’s head.
Nakamura went to the second rope. Roode rolled under the bottom rope. Nakamura performed a flying knee while Roode was on the apron. Nakamura sold knee pain. Back inside the ring, Nakamura hit the Kinshasa Kick. With Roode out, Nakamura held his knee in pain. A trainer ran in to check on Nakamura, who tried to pull himself up and then fell down and cried in pain.
Roode recovered while the trainer checked on Nakamura on the floor. Graves said Nakamura indicated that he could still go and wanted to continue. Nakamura was still selling major pain while Roode sat in the opposite corner. Once Nakamura was back inside the ring, Roode ran over and performed a big DDT for a really good near fall. Roode acted shocked that Nakamura kicked out.
Roode grabbed the bad leg and put Nakamura n a half crab. Nakamura cried out in pain. Matt Bloom (a/k/a Albert) walked to ringside as the broadcast team noted that he was replacing William Regal, who was out due to illness. Nakamura nearly reached the ropes, but Roode pulled him to the middle of the ring. Nakamura kicked him from his back and went for the triangle again. Roode escaped and kicked Nakamura’s bad knee, then followed up with a DDT and got the 1-2-3…
Bobby Roode defeated Shinsuka Nakamura in 27:15 to win the NXT Championship.
Powell’s POV: A strong main event. They paced themselves with the storyline “feeling out process” early, but the crowd’s enthusiasm made that stretch fun. Nakamura sold the knee injury to perfection during and after the match. Roode winning the championship is a surprise. Does it set up a bigger surprise for the Royal Rumble now that Nakamura is no longer champion? Was the knee injury their way of telling viewers not to get their hopes up? Are they simply setting up a rematch for WrestleMania weekend between Roode and Nakamura? Where does this leave Kassius Ohno, who was expected to face Nakamura for the NXT Championship on the WrestleMania weekend show? Overall, while this won’t be remembered as the best NXT live special, each match was entertaining and it was an enjoyable show overall. I will have more to say in my member exclusive audio review later tonight.
Join us for Prowrestling.net on Sunday at 2CT/3ET at Blogtalkradio.com/prowrestlingdotnet. John Moore and I will be taking your phone calls and getting you ready for the Royal Rumble.
The Pro Wrestling Boom Podcast with Jason Powell features Jake Barnett co-hosting the Boom and Dot Net Weekly combo show. Jason and Jake discuss Becky Lynch announcing her pregnancy, Alberto Del Rio being accused of sexual assault, WWE's IC Title tournament, Mike Tyson appearing at AEW Double Or Nothing, Undertaker's Last Ride documentary, AEW Dynamite and NXT TV thoughts, and more...