Today’s TakeOver came to us from Jolly Old England, as some people apparently say, so rather than an 8 PM date with WWE Network, I was able to come home after work, run a couple errands, make some nachos and then settle in with the talent of NXT.

Well, not Jordan and Gable. . . Or Tye Dillinger, despite the three of them perhaps being the most popular guys on the roster. . . Or Sami Zayn, set to make his highly anticipated return to NXT. . .Sigh. . .

Anyway, since I was starting the show right as it ended in real time, I decided to stay off of social media, and since many of you fine NAIborhood residents asked for a column instead of live tweeting, I pulled out my trusty looseleaf notebook and got to writing.  The following is a running diary of my thoughts during the show.

NXT TakeOver: London

I’m glad Triple H played a little kayfabe with his introduction, admitting to Sunday’s beatdown by the NEW World Heavyweight Champion, Roman Reigns.  Though, I have to say, “Scream with me” was a little silly.

Opening Video Package

I completely forgot about the tag title package going into this show, though in my defense, I didn’t care one iota about Enzo and Cass until about a week ago.

What in the world is #ApolloNation?  Is that a thing?  Do people say that?  Come on, NXT, I gave you absolute gold for Apollo!

#CrewsShip!

I’m officially done with Demon Balor. . . In fact, I’ve been done since about the second time he came out.  Really hoping for something different this time around.

Every time I see this Jack the Ripper silhouette, I can’t help thinking about how great Simon Gotch would look with that gimmick.

Asuka vs. Emma

A few weeks ago on #DDTWrestling, Doc Manson and I discussed the definition of “Mark Out Moments”.  I decided to keep track of what I consider “MOMs”, and the first one happened when NXT decided to open their show withAsuka.

I like the mask on the video screen more than I like the actual one, though I did think it was cool that she wore it all the way to the ring.  Though how does she see?

Emma comes out with those stupid, stupid gloves and some new shades.  Apparently she is trying to channel Big Bossman circa 1990.

As for Dana Brooke, Natalya is going to want her outfit back after the show.

The opening of this match was a little rough.  Emma should not try to match speed and technique with Asuka, since it’s never going to work.

Mini MOM (hereby known as MMOMs) – Asuka’s spinning Fujiwara armbar.  Just so good!

I’m not a fan of the hip attack most commonly known as ‘Rear View’. . . Like at all. . . But at least the one from the apron to the floor looks like it would hurt.

There’s a guy with an Asuka mask in the crowd.  Did she toss it to him or are they for sale?  Did I just find Doc Manson’s Christmas present?

More of Emma trying to be Dean Malenko.  I’m reminded of those adorable nature videos where a lion cub is wrestling his daddy, trying to be all big and bad.  Papa lion is sitting there humoring his son, when you know full well Papa could easily just reach out and swat his baby across the savannah.  Emma’s the baby. . . Asuka is Mufasa.

I dig this London crowd, especially when they found a way to turn Zayn’s “Ole” chants into Asuka ones.  Well done.

This just in from the #NAI150 – I miss the full nelson.

Ok, help me out, NAIbors. . . Why does Asuka scream so much?  I get that she’s trying to overcome a language barrier, so primal noises are better than half-learned phrases, but I don’t need the constant bellowing.  It’s the one thing about her I don’t like.  Am I wrong?

MMOM – Emma slapping Asuka. I chortled with glee thinking about what was going to happen next.

The crowd likes to continue the referee’s count for him. . . Odd, but kind of cool.

This just in from the #NAI150 – Emma has been getting a lot of love from NXT fans, listing her as one of the best female talents on the roster.  This match officially sold me on her as a talent.  I still don’t think she should be trying to match Asuka in catch-as-catch-can style grappling, but I really liked the Tarantula and the butterfly suplex into the turnbuckle.  The girl can wrestle.

MOM – I had a mini-moment for the ankle lock, but that turned into a kicking my feet with glee reaction when she turned it into a German suplex.

I know I spent a lot of 2014/2015 singing the praises of Charlotte as perhaps the greatest female talent in history, and the latter half of this calendar year has gone out of its way to prove to me how wrong I was. . . But Asuka is on a level that I’m not sure I’ve ever seen before.

Dana Brooke did very little for me in this match, which goes along with her track record so far in NXT.  Her cheering on of Emma was annoying and she was as blatantly obvious a cheater as I’ve ever seen.  Please, get her off my television.

MOM – That counter into the Asuka Lock.  Just. Too. Good.

This was an excellent match to start the show.  The storytelling was spot on; there were a couple of moments where I really thought Asuka was going to lose, totally ruining my #PreDCtion from last week’s DDT show where I claimed she’ll go undefeated throughout her entire NXT run.  I really liked this contest.

Interstitials

It’s a shame William Regal couldn’t be a part of this show.  Health comes first, it’s true, but he could have had an all-time moment.  I hope Regal doesn’t even fall victim to the “What If’s” of his career and spends his time realizing what a HALL OF FAME talent he truly is.

Tag Team Title Match Promo

This video really gives me the impression that Enzo and Cass are WWE bound.  This looked more like a career retrospective than anything else.  If they don’t win the titles, I really think we’ll see them on the main roster before too long.  With my worries that New Day are starting to lose their luster, any potential feud with Enzo and Cass needs to happen ASAP.

Enzo and Cass vs. Dash and Dawson

I am missing the stage for these entrances.  They don’t seem as ‘big time’ as they should.

It’s good that Shawn Michaels dug into his closet and let Enzo borrow one of his 90’s Heartbreak Kid jackets.

I neither enjoy nor do I really get this weird Carmella dance.

There’s nothing like a good cheap pop for me, so Enzo pulling a pound out of his pocket. . . Even if he struggled to do so. . . Made me chuckle.

I’m glad Big Cass doesn’t stutter anymore doing the SAWFT thing.

I absolutely love the jackets that Dash and Dawson are wearing.  They are such a breath of fresh air for me.

Um. . . Why is Enzo Amore wearing overalls?  Is he auditioning to be a member of The Godwinns?  Ahhh, OK, he just wanted another cheap pop showing off the Union Jack.  Got it.

Based on what I’ve seen from Enzo and Cass lately, the WWE Performance Center must have had a recent class on crazy eyes.

This just in from the #NAI150 Corey Graves is getting a lot of love on multiple parts of the survey for his announcing work, and his line about Enzo not knowing where England was until they got there was very Heenan-ish.  Good for him.

Huh. . .This entire time I thought Dash was Dawson and Dawson was Dash.  Go figure.

I like that Enzo and Cass spent some time working over the arm of. . . Damn, now I forgot which one was which again. . . The one with the hair.

The crowd is now chanting random things, or at least things I can’t understand.  I’m being taken out of the match.  I hate that.

Air Enzo – The outside the ring one – Requires a whole lot of trust on the part of Amore.  There’s been some good wrestling from these two, which is rare for me to say.

A Tye Dillinger “Ten” chant just broke out.  I like the crowd again.

Ok, we need to stop the running diary portion of this column so I can gush about how much I love Dash and Dawson.  Heavens, they are something else.  Hammerlock Northern Lights Suplexes, Reverse Figure Four Leglocks, an assisted Gourdbuster – Moves I’ve ever never seen or haven’t seen in ages.  PLUS, one of my favorite moves of all time. . .The slingshot suplex.

THE SLINGSHOT SUPLEX

Talk about your moves from the past that need to be brought back. . .This just in from the #NAI150. . . I leapt out of my chair for that.  A true Mark Out Moment

We now return you to your regularly scheduled running diary…

These first two matches have been excellent.  Great storytelling, great ring work and true false finishes (oxymoron much?).  I seriously thought Enzo and Cass had the titles won, until. . .

MOM – A top rope. . . Whatever you call Dash and Dawson’s finisher?  Holy Toledo, that was cool.

Dash and Dawson retain.  These were the only belts I figured could possibly change hands, so this means everyone keeps their belts, I’m guessing.

#PreDCtion – Enzo and Cass make their WWE debut at some point before the Royal Rumble.  If the rumors are true that Smackdown is going to become a RAW / NXT hybrid, this would be an ideal place to do it.

Interstitial

We see a social media barrage of the week in the UK.  Only thing that matters to me is the picture of Bayley and Asuka together.  This is a sign of things to come, I think – We’re going to see these two take on Nia Jax and Eva Marie in the very near future.

Baron Corbin vs. Apollo Crews

Once again, the lack of stage hurts the entrances. . .But it’s Corbin’s, so I don’t care as much.

Speaking of Baron Corbin, is this a new look for him?  His outfit seemed more hobo patchwork than usual.  He also looks a little leaner as well, though #TheCrease is still there.  This might all be because I never watch him on the weekly NXT shows, so maybe he’s looked like this for months.

Fun Fact – Apollo Crews is listed from the same place as Jake “The Snake” Roberts.

My problem with Crews is that he’s so. . . Vanilla.  A supremely talented athlete, but he just comes across as bland.  I can’t bring myself to care.

Hmm, should #BaldingCorbin be a thing?

Full Disclosure: I stopped paying a lot of attention during this match.  It’s Corbin. . . I just can’t.  It had its moments, sure (Crews going over the ropes and hitting the stairs was pretty brutal), but otherwise, my mind wandered. . . To what, you ask?

What I thought about during the Crews and Corbin match

I wonder how many people have done #NAI150 since I checked last?  I wonder if Dash and Dawson or Emma will get some more votes based on today’s performance.

I really don’t want to watch Nia Jax beat up Bayley for 10 minutes.

Aren’t there 6 matches on this show?  I should list them to see which one I can’t think of. . . (This happened for 3-4 minutes.)

Man, Dash and Dawson were good.

Why is this crowd not making any sense?  A “Whoomp there it is” chant?  Really?

Apollo hits the standing moonsault and as he tries to pin Corbin, I blurted out, “Please be over.”  Not good.

OK, let’s talk about the best part of this match. . . In fact, it’s the best thing Baron Corbin has ever done in his life.  After Crews hits the stairs, Corbin climbs the ropes to taunt him, shouting down. . .

”You should have stayed in Ring of Honor!”

I.   Laughed.   SO.   Hard.   What a random and ridiculous thing to say!  Especially since, after some quick research, I’m fairly certain the once named Uhaa Nation never wrestled for ROH.  Ever.  I’m not sure if Triple H will care about Corbin name-dropping like that, but that was a highlight of the night for me.

As I was doing this quick research, Corbin hit End of Days and pinned Apollo.  I’ll be honest, I was SHOCKED.  If Enzo and Cass aren’t getting the next call-up, it’s probably going to be Corbin.   Hey, at least he’ll provide another snack / bathroom break during RAW!

Sami Zayn vignette

I’ve missed Mr. Ska, and NXT dropped the ball, I think, not having him be a bigger part of TakeOver.  Saving his return for the following TV show makes little sense to me.

Nia Jax promo

I haven’t seen the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie yet but I’m fairly sure Nia has Shredder’s shoulderpads.  Did she borrow them from Super Shredder himself, Kevin Nash?

AHHHH!! MOM!!!  Nia Jax and Asuka face-off.  This tag match is TOTALLY going to happen!

Bayley and Nia Jax vignette

Alright, I’m going into #HeelDC mode for a bit here. . . Bear with me. . .

I’m really tired of hearing all about Bayley’s lifelong love of pro wrestling.  I get it. . . You wrote an essay when you were a kid about wanting to be a wrestler.  It’s great, but it’s also tired.  You’ve read it to us too many times, and now it’s time to move on.  At least until you get up to WWE and we do this whole underdog story all over again. . .

Thanks for that.

The one thing I did realize during this segment was that Bayley definitely has her own Rogue’s Gallery.  For those who don’t have as much nerd cred as I do, in the DC Comics Universe, the major heroes each have a long list of villains trying to take them out, aka a Rogue’s Gallery.  That’s what’s happening with Bayley right now, and since I had the time and the inclination (I couldn’t get into this match either), I decided to flush this idea out a bit.

Nia Jax is Bane – Supremely powerful, supremely confident, and usually the muscle alongside another villain.

Alexa Bliss is Poison Ivy – Sorry, Peyton Royce, but it’s not your time yet.  Bliss is seductive enough to have two guys under her thrall and dangerous enough to rock. . .Whatever that stupid thing on her hand is. . .

Eva Marie is The Penguin – Seems silly, I’m sure, but hear me out.  Of all the Batman villains, Oswald Cobblepot is the one that usually has the most corporate and government support.  That’s Eva Marie – the Corporate picked “champion”.  Plus, Penguin usually has lackeys – Eva has Nia Jax.  It works, just go with it.

Sasha Banks is The Joker – Batman’s biggest and most natural enemy.  Who better than The Boss for Bayley?

Bayley’s music makes me happy, though the lack of the stage hurt her entrance.  This is a problem.

The crowd is singing love songs to Bayley.  Very cute.

Oh man, I’m so bored right now.  I got up and walked around the room, I went out to visit with Mrs. Matthews, and each time I came back, Nia was beating up Bayley.  I get it already!

I wonder if someone could pull off a Rolling Samoan Drop, where they never let go of the person until they’ve done all three.  That’d be a cool move for Roman Reigns.

Hey, Nia did the spinning move they show people practicing during Breaking Ground.

So a lot of people compare Bayley to John Cena because of the Make A Wish possibilities but here’s another similarity we should all get used to – Bayley is going to kick out at 2. . . Every time.

Nia did a nice job taunting the fans.

That submission hold Bayley used only really looked effective once Nia was in a sitting position.  Otherwise it just looked like Nia was carrying Bayley around.

Has anyone ever begged, “Please, for the love of God, tap out!”  Would have been appropriate here.

Solid ending to a very predictable match.  The first 30-40 minutes of TakeOver was amazing – The second hunk. . . Not so much.

Samoa Joe vs. Finn Balor

I wonder if Samoa Joe stresses out about making sure the spaces between his sideburns and his goatee are JUST RIGHT.

I like that Joe doesn’t wear special outfits for TakeOvers.  He is who he is.  Deal with it.

MOM – FINALLY, a variation to Demon Balor.  That’s all I wanted, just something new.  The hat and the coat was really cool, and the back paint of the Tower of London was a nice touch.

I like the big fight lights during title match introductions.

Throughout this entire show, the commentary team faded to the background for me.  I barely noticed they were there.  Maybe that’s the idea.  One of them talking about Balor bringing along his “dark passenger” was the first time I had paid them any attention in close to an hour.

I am fading fast – Those 2 middle matches were hard to get through.  How do NXT fans handle 4 tapings in a row?  Seems exhausting.

Hey, I don’t know if you know this, but that Samoa Joe guy is pretty good.

I’m just going to leave this idea here. . . Samoa Joe vs. Bray Wyatt.

This just in from the #NAI150 – I get why Finn Balor’s corner enziguiri has some votes for ‘highest impact move’.  That looked like it hurt.

The problem with guys being so ridiculously good, like Balor and Joe, is that all of their matches are graded on a sliding scale.  This match is good but compared to other ones I’ve seen. . .

The benefit of guys being so ridiculously good is that when Finn misses a Pele, both he and Joe can recover easily.

I still haven’t figured out the crowd yet, but I’ll give them this – They cheer when people fall into perfect positions for finishing moves.

The tease of a “Super Musclebuster” is my last MMOM of the night as soon after, Balor retained his title.

Conclusions

Two excellent matches to start the show, two very difficult matches in the middle and one just fine match to end our night.  Not the best TakeOver I have ever seen, but not a bad way to spend an evening, especially when I had you fine NAIbors to write for.

Hope you enjoyed the running diary.  Be sure to share your thoughts and comments – I need the interaction.

Oh, and go vote in the #NAI150. . .   #Shameless

From the NAI Archive – December 16, 2015 – DC’s Diary – A running commentary on NXT TakeOver: London
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