NXT TakeOver: San Antonio


Arnold Furious: January 28, 2017. We’re in San Antonio, Texas. Hosts are Tom Phillips, Corey Graves and Percy Watson. Corey is making his final Takeover appearance before permanently graduating to the main roster.


Tye Dillenger vs. Eric Young
Tye is over huge with the Perfect Ten gimmick and I’m confused as to why he’s gotten no discernable push in NXT whatsoever. As soon as that “TEN” gimmick caught on he should have been pushed hard. With EY, I’m glad he’s been given something to do as all the former TNA boys are struggling to differentiate themselves. With SAnitY there’s at least something different happening. I also approve of Big Damo’s re-branding as Killian Dain. It’s weird that Eric is backed, entirely, by European wrestlers. I’d be fully in favour of Tommy End kicking Young out of his own stable and turning it into a filthy Eurograps ensemble. SAnitY play the numbers game and somehow Young isn’t disqualified for all the heels running into the ring during the match. At least Tye gets the clean win with the Tyebreaker and the visual pinfall, even though SAnitY cheat to keep EY alive. Tye comes across like a genuine star and has the presence of one right up until Young pins him, which is a great move for SAnitY but not for crowd reactions. Personally I think Tye has been treated horribly during his time in NXT. If this is it for him and he’s away to the main roster I wish him all the best.
Final Rating: ***1/4


Speaking of main roster; Samoa Joe is ringside.


Andrade Cien Almas vs. Roderick Strong
Roddy is probably too good to be jobbing around in NXT. However he’s so good that he’s one of the guys who can get over someone who’s struggling like Almas. For what he lacks in adapting to American wrestling Almas certainly has the personality to succeed as a heel. It’s almost ridiculous that they tried him as a face first. Presumably because he’s so devastatingly handsome. They tell a tidy story with Strong going after backbreakers and Almas using innovative lucha counters to avoid more of them. Almas really ups his game here, backed into a corner by Roddy’s violence. I love a hard-hitting match and this is that in spades. Roddy survives being kneed in the face and hits the Sick Kick for the win.
Final Rating: ***3/4


NXT Tag Team Championship
#DIY (c) vs. The Authors of Pain
This is a major challenge for Gargano and Ciampa. Authors of Pain have looked good in short matches but have yet to be tested in a major match. The champs tell an intriguing story where they try different tactics to take over the match. Whether it’s technical wrestling, countering, quick tags or hitting and moving. It’s really well done as they try such a range of tactics but nothing works. The match slows down with AoP actually take over on offence but because it’s a long match they’re not their usual aggressive selves. Everything has to slow down and it removes a lot of what makes AoP fun to watch. Ciampa gets all fired up with German suplexes and that shows a crack in AoP’s gruff exterior. If you’re running the ‘Road Warriors’ gimmick you can’t show much ass but this is enough, to show they’re human. It opens the window of possibility. The biggest shock is that this is a great match. It relies heavily on #DIY and their workrate and creativity but AoP are no slouches. They do fine work in running their big spots and having the champs make desperation escapes. The double submission spot is a nice call back to Toronto and #DIY’s title win. This time it doesn’t get the job done. AoP power out, avoid the double strike and bully Ciampa into the pin. This was shockingly high-quality and it’s Authors of Pain first truly great match. I’ll need to see them wrestle other teams at this level to be convinced they belong here but it takes two (or four) to tango.
Final Rating: ****


Promo Time: Seth Rollins
“Show’s called Takeover right? Well I’m taking over”. He gets a huge pop for coming out of the crowd, grabbing the microphone and calling Triple H out. It was only a matter of time before main roster feuds crept into NXT and I like how this was presented. The crowd do too, which is a good sign. Wouldn’t it be weird if Hunter forced Seth to wrestle in NXT for a while?


NXT Women’s Championship
Asuka (c) vs. Nikki Cross vs. Peyton Royce vs. Billie Kay
The money match here is Asuka vs. Nikki but putting the two Australians in here allows us to tease that match without delivering it. Nikki Cross looks totally nuts. I love her character. She’s easily the best character in SAnitY. The two Aussies help each other out but even that’s no use against the skills of Asuka. It’s Nikki who takes it to Asuka and their sequences are a delight. Cross even lays Asuka out with a neckbreaker off the apron. The Aussies remove Nikki from the match though, ending the best part of it, with a suplex off the announce table. This allows them to double team Asuka. The Aussies don’t take advantage and Asuka kicks them both in the head to retain. Peyton eats the fall but it could have been either. I thought Peyton looked the better of the two Australians in personality terms and for work.
Final Rating: ***


Video Control takes us ringside where UK Champion Tyler Bate is seated. That’s not the money shot though as behind him is Matt Riddle, wearing a Progress scarf, giving the thumbs up, bro.


NXT Championship
Shinsuke Nakamura (c) vs. Bobby Roode
Roode is over on entrance and music alone. Tonight he’s not accompanied by a choir but he does have eight valets. Eight! Nakamura is relatively low key by comparison. My expectation levels are quite low for this because Nakamura has been coasting a little in NXT and Roode doesn’t do much for me. We were debating Roode in the office and the general feeling is that he’s a vessel, largely empty coming into WWE, and has allowed himself to be filled with WWE ideas. There’s no baggage here, which is why he’s been so successful. I don’t buy into Roode besting Nakamura in a straight up fight so they wisely create injury angles to sell the match up. Nakamura does good work in selling the shoulder but it doesn’t really impact the match. The match picks up when Nakamura stomps the piss out of Bobby and catches him with a flying armbar. This is the match I wanted to see. Roode running largely generic heat wasn’t. Nakamura injures his own knee doing a flying knee on the apron and that changes the match. Nakamura generally doesn’t sell his knee, even if it’s been worked over, so this is a change of gears for him. It’s interesting that it happens on an offensive move and looks like a fluke. The match from then is totally different with Roode destroying the knee in brutal fashion. It helps massively that Nakamura sells everything and even looks like tapping out. Roode can’t get a submission but the Glorious DDT finishes and Bobby takes the title.
Final Rating: ***1/2


Summary: A rock solid outing from NXT. I probably went into this Takeover at my least hyped for a major NXT show but it did deliver. Especially in the tag title match, which blew my expectations out of the water. I should probably never forget that whoever is competing on NXT is young (mostly) and hungry and want the exposure. That’s as true here as on any other show they’ve put out.
Verdict: 92

NXT TakeOver: Orlando



Arnold Furious: Pre-show is hosted by Charly Caruso, Nigel McGuinness and Sam Roberts. We get footage of No Way Jose getting jumped at Axxess earlier today. This means he’s out of the six-man tag.

In the building the introduction is done by Triple H. “This is WrestleMania week but tonight is our night”. Following that are some video packages. Asuka sitting by a pool, like a modern day Ric Flair, is pretty awesome. Hosts are Tom Phillips, Nigel McGuinness and Percy Watson.

NXT TakeOver: Toronto


Arnold Furious: We’re in Toronto, Ontario. Hosts are Tom Phillips and Corey Graves.


Bobby Roode vs. Tye Dillenger
Both these guys are Canadian and therefore over, because Canadians love their own. Bobby has his own choir. It’s suitably glorious. If his entire gimmick was just the entrance he’d be one of the best guys in the company. Unfortunately he’s mediocre in the ring. Tye is slightly better in the ring but massively over because of the Perfect Ten gimmick. Ten is as easy to chant as “yes”, he’s got a big future. This match has the kind of style that reminds me of wrestling from the past. It’s extremely heated and fast paced but there’s not much going on in terms of moves. However that’s irrelevant when Tye is stomping on Bobby’s hands to make him do Tye’s own Perfect Ten taunt. The whole ‘ten’ thing screws up the referee’s counting because the crowd scream “Ten” constantly instead of all numbers. In some way that’s more endearing that the Brit Wres ‘counting ahead of the ref’ deal. It serves to irk Roode, doing the ten-count punches, as the crowd scream “ten” with each one. The match goes a lot longer than expected, over fifteen minutes, and allows Tye to get all of his shtick in. Roode doesn’t really have shtick, to speak of. Other than stealing Tye’s shtick. Dillenger could get over on the main roster now. It’d take one show to get his gimmick over. The finish comes with Tye getting run into the post and the Impaler finishes. Solid work from both guys, made better in front of a heated crowd. I’m not sure why Tye can’t get wins but can take comfort in being relatively job-proof.
Final Rating: ***

NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn II


Arnold Furious: We’re in New York City. We get flashbacks to last years astonishing Brooklyn show to start. This may be the most hyped up TakeOver show since that one. There’s a cool opening package where all the workers get to talk up tonight’s show by referencing the last one. It’s pretty nifty. Hosts are Tom Philips and Corey Graves. Them doing the intro doesn’t match up to Hunter doing the in-ring introduction last year.

NXT TakeOver: The End


Arnold Furious: This is one of the weakest builds we’ve seen on an NXT TakeOver show for quite some time. Perhaps there’s uncertainty over the futures of various talents, Triple H saying so himself on a conference call this week, with the roster split looming. However the lack of excitement doesn’t overwhelm a strong card featuring some potentially great matches. Also the outcomes are rather intriguing with the brand split coming up. If you lose here, are you more or less likely to be taken up to the main roster? Who’s to say? It should be an interesting month or so in mainstream wrestling.

Video Control kicks us off with a look at the history of stars in NXT and how they’ve gone on to main roster success. Most of the big stars on the main roster actually started out on this show. Even Roman, although they don’t show him here. They do show both Bayley and Balor’s title losses to emphasise that babyfaces big runs have to end at some point. It’s an interesting dynamic given the two big babyface title defences tonight. VT calls this “The End of the Beginning”. That gives me chills. We’re in Full Sail. Hosts are Tom Phillips (wearing a red leather suit jacket) and Corey Graves.

NXT TakeOver: Dallas


Arnold Furious: We’re in Dallas, Texas for the first of a multitude of WrestleMania weekend goodness. Not only are WWE running WrestleMania, the Hall of Fame, Axxess and this NXT show but EVOLVE are running two shows, ROH are running two shows, there are two supershows, CZW, SHIMMER, Queens of Combat and several other shows on top of that. If you’re in Dallas you have a metric tonne of wrestling to watch this weekend. Hosts are Tom Philips and Corey Graves.

NXT TakeOver: London


Arnold Furious: NXT has come a long way since it replaced WWE’s other feeder league Florida Championship Wrestling. It’s become a beloved brand and it’s own entity. Now complete with tours and a global fanbase, weaned on NXT by WWE’s own Network. The time has come when NXT can tour the UK and make a success of it, including a Network special airing live. The future is now!

Triple H opens the show, having sold injuries to miss RAW but this is his project so he’s in the UK babyfacing it up as NXT honcho. It’s literally the first time I’ve liked him since 2002. “Live in prime time in the UK” reminds Corey Graves. It’s nice to actually have a Network show airing at a sensible hour. It shows the company is beginning to realise its global potential. If business is down in the USA, give that business to other areas of the world.

NXT TakeOver: Respect


Arnold Furious: We’re in Orlando, Florida at Full Sail University. Hosts are Rich Brennan, Corey Graves and Byron Saxton. NXT specials have a tendency to be just that. It really helps the feeder promotion that big events are so far apart as it allows wrestlers to plan out big matches. I imagine Sasha Banks and Bayley have been working on their 30 minute match tonight for some considerable time. Probably since Takeover Brooklyn, over a month ago.

NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn


Arnold Furious: We’re in New York City at the Barclays Center and it’s a SELL OUT, meaning the WWE’s little feeder promotion sold 16,000 (15,589 officially) tickets to a show. The NXT title headlined a show in Tokyo recently but it was partially sold on Brock Lesnar wrestling; the show was even called “The Beast In the East”. This is NXT selling out a venue the size of the main roster. Triple H’s little side project is paying off in ridiculous fashion. Remember when the WWE tried to force a brand split where the fans could choose between two almost identical products? NXT is swiftly becoming a genuine alternative to the WWE, produced by the WWE. You can watch this show and see different styles, new characters and different booking. There’s still a degree of rebranding but you’ve got Samoa Joe and Jushin Liger alongside Apollo Crews and Finn Balor. What a time to be a wrestling fan.

A word on the pre-show. Several, in fact. Firstly it’s amazing to hear the crowd chanting twenty minutes before the show even starts. You can’t buy crowd participation like that. You have to earn it. Secondly; the shill video for Sasha Banks vs. Bayley is wonderful. The way they faded Bayley out of the picture of the Four Horsewomen gave me chills. I’m the biggest Sasha Banks mark in the world but if Bayley wins I may legitimately weep.

Interesting that they tease a few things too. Like suggesting Lita may take Alexa Bliss down a notch and showing Cesaro and Neville arriving with Finn. Even when they have a killer card, NXT teases delivering even more. Which is the difference between themselves and the main WWE roster. They’re not satisfied with delivering a ‘good’ card. They won’t take excuses either and despite suffering losses with Sami Zayn and Hideo Itami, both seriously injured, they’re prepared to push on. Every time an NXT card rolls around I’m excited about it not just because it’s good on paper but because they always deliver.

Hosts are Rich Brennan, Byron Saxton & Corey Graves.

NXT TakeOver: Unstoppable




James Dixon: WWE comes under rightful criticism for a lot of things, but NXT is not one of them. The way the group have handled their “development” league since Triple H took the reins of the project has been a joy to behold. Every single of the NXT Takeover specials on the WWE Network has been a hit, full of exciting happenings, logical storytelling and, most importantly, some tremendous wrestling. Tonight’s show is hotly anticipated after weeks of speculation over main event challenger Sami Zayn’s health, Kevin Owen’s decimation of John Cena two nights ago on Raw, and rumours of a rather momentous debut. The card is stacked and the crowd is as hot as ever at Full Sail University. Your hosts are Rich Brennan, Corey Graves and Byron Saxton.