Prior to the event, during the TakeOver kick-off show, we found out the results of the NXT Awards, and so I figured I’d begin this article with the results of them.
Match of the Year: DIY vs. The Revival (2 out of 3 Falls/TakeOver Toronto)
Breakout Star of the Year: Peyton Royce & Billie Kay
Tag Team of the Year: The Revival
Woman of the Year: Asuka
Male of the Year: Shinsuke Nakamura
NXT Superstar of the Year: Shinsuke Nakamura
NXT Takeover events have been a high quality time and time again in the last few years, and with NXT currently going through a “rebuilding” stage on its roster, with new talents coming in and well-known ones gone to the main roster, its an interesting time. Still, regardless of the stars that have departed NXT in the last few months, there are still plenty of men and women to get excited about, and we’ll be seeing some of them in San Antonio here at TakeOver.
The show is being built around its main event, a match pitting the charismatic, enigmatic and brilliant Shinsuke Nakamura against the glorious Bobby Roode. Still, there are some other intriguing matches here, so let’s get into it.
NXT Takeover: San Antonio began with Eric Young, along with his Sanity cohorts, taking on the very over Perfect Ten, Tye Dillinger. The match was enjoyable, with back and forth action, some nice signature spots, and Tye constantly fighting off Sanity in order to try to beat the veteran, Young. In the end though it was Dillinger who got hit with Young’s neckbreaker finish for the three count. This was a pretty protective loss for Tye. While he lost the match, he overcame Sanity many times during it. Young going over makes sense too, if Sanity are to be taken seriously as a threat going forward.
The second match of the night was heralded by Corey Graves as “the dark horse” match, and potentially the “show stealer”. Twenty year veteran Roderick Strong took on Cien Almas, and it was a top notch showing for both of these guys. Neither Strong nor Almas have shown just what they can do in NXT yet, but this match was a great start at doing so. The action saw Almas in full-heel mode, and Strong as babyface, and the crowd, as they were all night, helped make the match dramatic with their loud reactions. It was a great match with some awesome spots, specifically a backbreaker from Strong that used the top rope as an offensive weapon. Strong picked up the victory in a match in which both men looked fantastic.
Match number three was one that I was kinda dreading. I am personally a very big fan of Tommaso Ciampa and Johnny Gargano, known as DIY in NXT. Their recent feud with The Revival was nothing short of spectacular, so when The Authors of Pain, two lumbering rookies who have done little to impress since their debut a few months ago, were announced at DIY’s opponents, it was a bit of a let down. The match wasn’t as bad as I expected, but I really was expecting something really bad here. Ciampa and Gargano pulled the Authors to their best match yet, and in the process of a passable encounter we saw new NXT Tag Champions crowned. I am disappointed in DIY being dethroned as champs, but I’m hopeful that they will hold the gold again.
Before the next match could begin Seth Rollins, from RAW, stormed out of the crowd and into the ring, grabbing a microphone. He cut a promo on Triple H, taunting him to come out and face him. The fans ate this up and it was a really cool way to build the Rollins/Trips rivalry as we head to WrestleMania. Triple H did eventually come out but he brought security with him. The security and some referees took Seth out of the building before he and Triple H could face-off. Good heat building moment.
The fourth match then began, with NXT Women’s Champion Asuka, still undefeated in NXT, taking on challengers Peyton Royce, Billie Kay and Sanity’s Nikki Cross (formerly Nikki Storm). The fans wanted to see Cross/Asuka here, but they kept them apart for much of the match, allowing them only a short time to battle in the ring without the two Australian women, Royce and Kay, being involved. It was pretty obvious who was winning here. Royce and Kay put Cross through a table neat the commentary team, and went back to the ring to find themselves kicked into defeat by Asuka. It wasn’t a bad match but it wasn’t on the level of women’s matches we’ve seen in NXT in the past. Hopefully we’ll see Asuka defend in singles matches against Cross and Ember Moon going forward, those could be top notch.
The main event was now upon us. Bobby Roode, along with eight women in glittery ball-gowns, came to the ring to his super-over ring music (GLORIOUS) followed by Nakamura whose tried and tested entrance is still as great as ever. This was match of the night for sure. In my view this surpassed Shinsuke’s matches against Samoa Joe from recent TakeOver’s. The two worked their arses off to create a really entertaining, slow-building match. Nakamura sold his knee like crazy and Bobby Roode revelled in being the dastardly heel. With kicks and knees and slams and DDT’s being thrown around like they were going out of fashion, we were treated to something special. In the end, after the referees asked Nakamura if he wanted to continue because of his knee and he told them he did, we saw Roode hit a couple of flatliner DDT’s on the Champion before getting the three-count and claiming his first NXT Title. Roode winning opens up many possibilities both for him and Nakamura. It will be interesting to see what happens now in NXT.
A really good TakeOver yet again then. The main event and the Strong/Almas matches being the best on the card, but no matches being worthless. It was another awesome production too, it looked and sounded as great as it always does. It will be exciting to see the build as we head towards WrestleMania and the next NXT Takeover special in Florida.