It’s the shortest time since Takeover specials in NXT history, and it’s a big one. They’re back at Full Sail University for the first ever 30-minute Iron Man match featuring women in the main event – it’s NXT Takeover: Respect…
Show opens with a video package that puts over the main event, and highlights that this show is all about respect. It shows archive clips from famous feuds like Bret/Shawn, Rock/Cena and Dusty/Flair. This was all pretty great. When they cut to Full Sail, we see Dusty on the main screen to lead the crowd in chants for him. Triple H said that this night would be very focused on Dusty.
1. Finn Balor & Samoa Joe vs. Dash & Dawson in a Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic Semi-Final
I said in my preview for this event that this match would be hard hitting and physical, and I was not wrong. Right out the gate, Dash & Dawson look like they have something to prove by knocking Finn off the apron and taking it to Joe. Samoa Joe fights back however with some STIFF punches and slaps. With a clever double team move, Dawson manages to take over the match. This team is superb. But while the match was going great, it sort of fell apart when Joe got the hot tag to Balor. The tag itself was great, but then Dash & Dawson were out of position for almost every move they were doing. It looked like the match was going to be over quickly when Balor goes to the top for the Coup de Grace, but Wilder breaks up the move with a chop block and the heels take over again. Once Dash & Dawson take control and ground Balor, the match finds its feet again. They work over the leg that Wilder chop blocked to great effect. This crowd is RED hot tonight. There’s an awesome spot where Finn is going for the hot tag, and Wilder pulls Joe off the apron which PISSES THE SAMOAN OFF. This leads to a double team elbow from the top that creates a fantastic near fall. Balor creates some space by knocking Dawson out of the ring, but Wilder drops out and throws his partner back in to tag him. Balor still manages to get the hot tag to Joe who runs WILD on Wilder. This was so awesome. Joe hits all his trademark moves including a back splash that flattened poor Wilder. Real story of the match came at the end however, when Joe sets him up for The Muscle Buster and Balor asks for the tag. Joe reluctantly gives it to him because Balor can barely stand. Balor crawls to the top, hits the Coup de Grace and Joe looks worried as Balor sells it. He manages to recover however and get the win as Joe fends off the attacks of Dawson. A great finish for what will likely play into the main event. Balor is hurt – and can Joe rely on him? Joe is great in selling the worry about Balor’s injury.
Backstage, we see Sasha getting ready for her match by putting on her knuckle dusters. We get clips from NXT touring a music festival with Bring Me The Horizon. This was fine.
2. Jason Jordan & Chad Gable vs. Rhyno & Baron Corbin in a Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic Semi-Final
This will be interesting as it’s a heel vs. heel dynamic. Jordan & Gable kick the match off by pulling out some classic wrestling moves. They are dominating this match and the crowd is super into Gable. They start chanting Gable’s name to the Goodbye song. That was weird. Finally Rhyno cuts off Gable with his brute strength, but Chad still manages to out wrestle the Man Beast and tag in Jordan. Rhyno again tries to power out, but Gable uses an armbar over the ropes to stop him in his tracks. These guys rule. With that said, Rhyno kicks Gable as he’s trying to get into the ring and tags Corbin, who is boo’d out of the building. He throws Gable into the ring apron hard. Crowd are really hating on Baron Corbin. Corbin and Rhyno go to work over Gable, leading the crowd to really get behind him. They start doing the New Day’s ‘save the tables’ chant, but replacing table with Gable. Very clever. At one point, Corbin has the match won but Jordan is distracting the ref. Not sure if that was a planned spot or if Jordan was just out of position. Eventually Gable gets the hot tag to Jordan who runs wild on both Rhyno and Corbin. He’s never looked better. He spears Corbin in the corner and tags in Gable, but Corbin recovers and hits a shortarm clothesline on Jordan and then wipes out Gable with a spinning slam for a near fall that Jordan breaks up. Rhyno is back in and gives a belly-to-belly to Jordan. Ryhno rolls out of the ring to leave Gable and Corbin alone. This doesn’t look good for Chad. Crowd is ALIVE. In an amazing moment, Gable runs Corbin into the corner and hits a Chaos Theory Suplex on the big man for a near fall. That was spectacular. Jordan is back in, but gets cut off by a Gore. This leaves Chad and Corbin alone in the ring again. Gable runs at him and Corbin spins him round into an End of Days out of nowhere for the win. A great finish to a really fun match. Crowd did not like the result.
As Rhyno and Corbin celebrate by the Dusty Rhodes trophy, we see Kevin Nash in the crowd.
3. Dana Brooke vs. Asuka
Corey Graves says that he’s been waiting weeks for this match. The match was made last week. Asuka’s entrance and music are fantastic. The match starts fast and fierce with some wicked offense by Askua. Match really kicks into gear when Dana pats Asuka on the head and then slaps her. Crowd start chanting, “you fucked up” at Brooke which was awesome. They’ve done such a good job of Asuka that the crowd already know what she’s capable of before she’s even stepped foot in the ring. Asuka answers back with some punches, slaps and kicks before she mocks Dana’s poses and entrance. This girl is dripping with charisma. Dana rolls to the outside and Asuka gives chase. She kicks her hard which Brooke fails to sell. She rolls Dana back into the ring, and then distracts the ref so Emma can interfere. I’m not sure if Asuka got caught in the apron, but she didn’t fall down. Whatever the case, Dana recovered quickly and dropped Asuka on the ropes. Dana does some more of her athletic offense like the handstand elbow drop and handstand foot choke. I can hear Bryan Alverez screaming in annoyance. Dana locks in a body scissors but Asuka reveres into a knee bar. She then locks Brooke up and German Suplexs her out of her boots. As Dana chares back, Asuka locks in a jumping armbar. This is awesome. Emma jumps up on the apron, but Asuka responds with a wicked looking spinning slap. Emma went down like a sack of shit. She turns her attention back to Brooke with a running knee to the face. Crowd is chanting, “Asuka City”. Finally Asuka locks in what we’re told is the Asuka Lock (a modified chicken wing with body scissors) and Brooke taps out. Asuka looked like she had a lot of fun. And as I predicted in my preview of the show, this was the best match of Brooke’s career so far. After the match, Brooke tried to disrespect Asuka again, so she kicked her in the face. She rolls out to the outside and Emma goes to confront her, but Asuka scares her off by just looking at her.
We get a recap of the Balor & Joe vs. Dash & Dawson match which highlights Balor’s injury. Backstage, we see the trainer attending to Balor while Joe looks on worried.
We get another Nia Jax promo. Only this time, we learn that she debuts next week. FINALLY.
4. Tyler Breeze vs. Apollo Crews
This match was set up in a random backstage segment, so there’s not a lot of heat going in. The commentators are putting over how Breeze is constantly being left behind in NXT. Fast back and forth action to kick things off. Breeze dumps Crews out of the ring and gets the heat by launching him into the ring apron (didn’t we just see the spot in the tag match?). And I mean, LAUNCHED him. Crews tries to fight back, but Breeze keeps cutting him off. He locks in the Sharpshooter and Crews teases tapping out. The crowd is kind of dead for this match. Breeze gets Crews into the corner for a Ten Punch spot, but Crews reverses it into a powerbomb, that Breeze reverses himself. Crews finally creates some space however with a huge dropkick. Crews tries to dive over Breeze, but his back – that Tyler had been working over – plays up and Breeze hits the Super Model Kick for a near fall. Tyler tries to dive off the top rope, but Crews catches him with a powerslam. Crews hits the Gorilla Press, but Breeze holds his foot before he can hit the Standing Moonsault. Crews kicks him off and hits it, but Breeze gets the knees up. He rolls him up for a small package for a great near fall. Tyler mounts some offense with some running dives into the corner, but Crews answers back with a kick to the face on the third one. He picks Breeze up and then spins him round for a powerbomb for the win. Finish came out of nowhere really. This was a TV match, but a bloody good TV match. Poor ol’ Tyler continues to be jobbed out.
We see Funaki and Hideo Itami in the crowd. Won’t be long before he’s back in the ring.
Backstage, we see Bayley getting ready for the main event.
We get highlights from the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic Semi-Finals and the wins for Balor & Joe and Rhyno & Corbin.
5. Finn Balor & Samoa Joe vs. Rhyno & Baron Corbin in the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic Final
Eden Stiles introduces the match, and the commentators mention that she’s Cody Rhodes’ wife. Finn starts the match off, which surprises the commentators. He goes after Rhyno, but is much more ginger about his movements. This is great storytelling and the subtle selling from Balor was great. He won’t be doing that on the main roster, that’s for sure. Corbin tags in and keeps trying to go for the leg, but Balor avoids him. But the Corbin nails him with a kick, which forces Balor to tag in Joe who runs wild on Corbin. He hits back though with a Tree Slam and tags in Rhyno who grounds Joe with the patented NXT Chinlock of Doom. Corbin and Rhyno continue to work over Joe, until he fights back with a kick in the corner to Baron Corbin. He gets the hot tag to Balor, who uses Corbin as a platform to springboard off and dropkick a charging Rhyno. That was a cool spot. The leg doesn’t seem to be bothering him until he lands on it, causing that momentary delay to allow Corbin to attack. Great in-ring psychology here. Balor gets chop blocked by Rhyno from the outside, which allows Corbin to ram that leg into the ringpost. This match is being sold on respect by the commentators. Balor manages to fight back with a Slingblade out of nowhere, which gives him just enough room to get the hot tag to Joe. Samoa Joe runs wild on Rhyno, but a momentary distraction with Corbin allows Rhyno to hit the Gore for a near fall that’s broken up by the injured Balor. Corbin attempts an End of Days on Balor, but he reverses it into a DDT. Rhyno attempts another Gore, but Joe blocks hit and sets him up for The Muscle Buster. He tags in Balor, hits The Muscle Buster which Finn follows up with the Coup de Grace for the win. Balor & Joe win the tournament! No heel turns, no Balor Club, just a regular match. Interesting.
After the match, Balor & Joe are joined in the ring by the Rhodes Family – including Cody without the Stardust gimmick. Cody gets on the mic and puts over Dusty and how important he was to this business. Joe and Balor are visibly crying. Balor & Joe pose with the trophy to end off a very sweet segment. With that ending, the winners and lack of heel turns make a huge amount of sense.
We see Stephanie McMahon, Charlotte, Becky Lynch and Lita at ringside starting a “women’s wrestling” chant.
We get a promo video for the upcoming main event which is superb. It shows them training hard for this match as well as putting over their previous encounter. It just begs one question: why wasn’t this shown on Raw? I mean, it may have made people want to sign up for the WWE Network to see the match. And isn’t that the point of the Network? To get people to sign up and pay money to see their product?
6. Bayley vs. Sasha Banks in an Iron Man Match for the NXT Women’s Championship
Bayley is literally dressed like Iron Man. I feel like I’ve said it in my last several dozen NXT reports, but this company has something truly special in Bayley. She connects to kids the same way John Cena does. But not just kids, grown adults. Forget making Roman Reigns your next John Cena – Bayley is your next John Cena. Anyway, onto the match. Crowd are making their voices known by chanting, “women’s wrestling, “this is awesome”, “NXT” and “you deserve it” before they’ve even done anything. They stall for about two minutes. Sasha goes for several pinfall attempts in the early going, but Bayley reverses and attempts the same tactic. Bayley hits a couple of one-arm suplexes, one of which forces Sasha to drop hard on her head. That looked like it sucked for Sasha. They tease finishers, but both girls reverse. When Sasha is down in the corner, Bayley helps her up and they both hug – but Sasha drops her down hard. This changes the complexion of the match. It was felt like it was about respect early on, but now it’s about the desire to win. Sasha gets the first fall (0-1) at the 9 minute mark in a rather complicated spot which included her blocking the view of the ref and poking Bayley in the eye. Byron Saxton, in his usual awful way, complains about cheating. Bayley fires back, but Sasha drops her face first into the corner. Sasha goes for the double knees, but Bayley reverses it and drops her in the corner. Bayley ties up the score with a Bayley-to-Belly at 11 minutes (1-1). With Sasha on the outside, Bayley tries her sliding dropkick through the ropes, but Sasha reverses it and throws her head first into the steps. That was a wicked little spot. Sasha throws Bayley into the ring to get a near fall. When that fails, she throws her back outside and then drives her into the stairs a few more times. Sasha throws Bayley into the ring for another near fall. Bayley is again thrown to the outside and Sasha throws her into the big screen at the back for a count out win at around the 15 minute mark (1-2).
They cut to Izzy (the little Bayley girl) who is in floods of tears because Bayley is hurt. Remember what I was saying about her connecting with the crowd? Sasha locks Bayley in the Walls of Jericho, and kicks her in the hand and head like she did at Brooklyn. But while Sasha thinks she’s in control, Bayley quickly reverses her for a pinfall at the 18 minute mark (2-2). Sasha goes for the double knees again, but Bayley moves out of the way and runs wild on Sasha. She hits… some sort of botched move… which creates a near fall. It’s weird that they decided to focus on a back injury for Bayley when they did the same spot in the Tyler Breeze/Apollo Crews match. Bayley gets a near fall with a springboard elbow to Sasha while she was in the Tree of Woe. Bayley sends Sasha to the top, but Sasha reveres in and puts her in the Tree of Woe of her own to hit the Double Knees. Sasha posts herself while trying to attack Bayley and rolls to the outside. Bayley calls back to the Brooklyn match by slamming Sasha’s hand into the steel steps. Bayley is now targeting the left arm of Banks and drops her into the ring ropes. Bayley starts to move the ring steps, but Sasha stops her. Bayley shoves her off by smashing her hand into the steps again, and then runs up the steps to hit a diving clothesline. Sasha recovers quickly and kicks Bayley into the steps. With five minutes to go, she rolls into the ring to attempt another count out win. But with Bayley getting to her feet, Sasha does a tope to the outside, but Bayley catches her and hits a Bayley-to-Belly on the outside. Bayley rolls her into the ring to surprisingly only get a near fall. Amazing lack of drama in that near fall, it must be said. Crowd is chanting “Iron Woman”. Bayley hits a top rope Bayley-to-Belly but in the ensuring madness of rolling her up, gets Sasha’s feet into the ropes which breaks the count. Bayley goes for the Reverse Hurricanrana that we saw at Brooklyn, but Sasha rolls through and hits a Bayley-to-Belly of her own for a near fall. But at Bayley kicks out, Sasha rolls her into the Bank Statement and holds her in for a long time. As the clock begins to tick down, Bayley finally gets out of the hold at around 30 seconds and then locks in a submission of her own. The crowd start to count down the final 5 seconds and Sasha submits with about 2 seconds to go (2-3). The crowd didn’t see the submission however because Sasha couldn’t tap and her music didn’t play as the clock counted out – so they didn’t know how to react. When Bayley is announced as the winner, the crowd explodes. Little Bayley girl is VERY emotional. This wasn’t quite as good as their match in Brooklyn, and the finish felt a little flat, but it was still fantastic. If Brooklyn was ****1/2, this was ****.
After the match, the NXT roster pour out on to the stage and congratulate both girls. This will be Sasha’s last NXT show, and she is in floods of tears. She falls to the ground as Triple H and Steph give her some flowers. Triple H heads to the ring and holds up Bayley’s hand as the winner. This was a very sweet ending.
As always, NXT Takeover delivers in spades. The opening match was awesome, the following tag match was great, the Askua match was tremendous fun and the main event was awesome. The Tyler Breeze/Apollo Crews match felt like filler, but everything else was killer.
Luke Owen is the Deputy Editor of Flickering Myth and the host of the Flickering Myth Podcast. You can follow him on Twitter @LukeWritesStuff.