Segunda Caida

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Tuesday, June 07, 2016

NXT Takeover 5/29/14 Review

NXT 223 was just a hype special getting us all jazzed for this show, the first NXT Takeover, which on paper doesn't sound like a good sounding show. It seems like a normal episode of NXT, just much longer. But pleasant surprises are always welcome in life.

1. Adam Rose vs. Camacho

I really liked Camacho in this, he feels like a guy who got the short end of the stick during his time in WWE. But we all knew this was going to be all about announcers fake laughing about how uproarious Rose is. It makes me sad when Regal does it too. It makes me feel like Sideshow Bob howling "TV's bottomless chum bucket has claimed Vanessa Redgrave!" At least Camacho controlled most of this, even if it was structured like an 80s WWF babyface showcase (babyface sells for 3 minutes and then just hits signature offense for last minute). To his credit Rose has an awesome spinebuster, and Camacho really leaped into that thing. So you had Camacho flying into it, Rose planting it, and really that was enough to make this work for me. A lot of Rose's actual work is acceptable, but that personality and facials are just immediate hard passes for me. The announcers working overtime to tell me how fun he is only adds to it.

2. The Ascension vs. El Local & Kalisto

We got some hastily built contenders in the couple weeks leading up to Takeover, contenders that nobody could rightfully believe would be going over the Ascension. Kalisto worked fine as FIP Mysterio throughout most of this, which was all good as he's a guy who can make Ascension look devastating. He had an awesome comeback spot where he was tangled in the ropes facing the outside, with his legs dangling towards the floor, and he managed to catch Viktor in a headscissors and drive him face first into the ring apron. Never seen that before, and it worked great. It would be silly as a regular spot, but loved it here. Things fell apart when Local flubbed his hot tag. He came in throwing some okay back elbows, but then slipped and fell short on a springboard whatever and then hitting an ugly and overly cautious moonsault. Kalisto took a super fast bump to the floor down the stretch, but it should have been Local doing that as Kalisto could have made the Fall of Man look better. Overall match was decent, but Local stunk.

3. Sami Zayn vs. Tyler Breeze

This was the one on paper match that I was interested in, and it delivered. It got tons of time (only 5 announced matches on a 2 hour show, so I imagine the next two matches will be going broadway) and Breeze is really good at pacing these NXT matches. Zayn has some fairly implausible offense and Breeze always makes it look good. Look at how he whips himself into the floor on Zayn's moonsault and flip dive. Breeze is really smart about setting up his spots that hit and more importantly his spots that miss, and really smart about setting up Zayn's misses so that they actually looked like moves Zayn thought he would hit but just naturally missed. Watch Breeze drop down in the corner at the last minute so Zayn crotches himself on a yakuza kick. He timed it so last minute that the announcers got tricked into thinking the kick just landed and Breeze bumped it early. They were selling the impact of the kick and then had to backpedal and go "Oh wait a minute...". Zayn's comeback spots always land big, and I dug their silly convoluted Blue Thunder Bomb set up. It didn't quite work but I appreciated the "big show" ambition. This was a real smart 15 minutes, no bloat, smartly laid out, and both guys came out looking strong. Zayn keeps up the role of lovable hard-working loser, a guy who is right on the cusp but keeps falling short.

Rusev and Lana come out and do their thing, and they're interrupted by total zero Mojo Rawley, who says he's going to stick Rusev's flag straight up his "Putin". He then sprints to the ring and gets flat out leveled by a Rusev superkick, which was totally awesome and unexpected. Rawley gets totally steamrolled here while Lana laughs in his face, and it was such a treat to see this low rent Jim Duggan get flattened. It actually made me excited for a Rawley/Rusev match. I think Rawley will be more interesting against a guy his size rather than in a squash match.

4. Charlotte vs. Natalya

Natalya's promo work for this was probably the best she's ever done. As the most insufferable person on Total Divas, a show rife with insufferable people, her sounding interesting really stood out. She does more to establish Charlotte's credentials than any of Charlotte's dead eye promos did. And this match was not at all what I was expecting. It was really, really good. I mean really good. Better than any match I have seen involving either Charlotte or Natalya. I was fully expecting the entire focus to be on Bret and Flair at ringside, and the bulk of the match be taken up by each person laughably aping the signature offense of their respective cornermen. Instead, they somehow filled an engaging 17 (!) minutes of time that never felt like it was dragging, felt like either woman could win, and left me totally impressed. Charlotte working a tribute act to her corpse father on Raw has been really bad this past year, and seeing her here doing none of that was eye opening. The match felt different right away, with tons of simple but really great matwork. It all felt really snug and felt like they both had to fight over holds. It all looked exhausting. Natalya pulls out a tricky single leg and every tight headlock or waistlock or kneebar or body vice felt like it meant something, and pretty soon Charlotte has Nattie in a nasty figure 4 choke, just squeezing those legs around her neck, and she stands up with it, doing a forward roll that sends Nattie flipping over and slamming onto her tailbone, and I am now totally in love with this grind. Natalya was making all sorts of great faces during the mat portions, grinding in elbows, laughing over her shoulder at Charlotte. We build to a figure 4 spot that could have felt derivative but I don't think did. It felt like a logical peak of the match, with both reaching out to slap and scratch at the other, both stubbornly refusing to back off, apparent it was never going to end the match but was merely taking them through to a struggle none of their prior matches have shown. Then rolling to the floor off it was a cool bit of desperation and being out of strategic ideas. It felt like when a fighter abandons his gameplan and just starts following the mood of the fight, often a poor choice. Natalya takes a big bump into the steps and back in Charlotte starts going for the figure 4 again, but then throws side eye at Bret before locking on a Sharpshooter. Natalya does a realistic looking counter but gets kicked in the face trying to get too cute and lock in a Sharpshooter of her own, and this leads to Charlotte hitting her rolling blockbuster. This match shot so far past my expectations, just totally unexpected. This really felt like it elevated the Divas title, which is a funny thought in the history of WWE. But this felt like two people who wanted nothing more than to win that belt. Lovely to see no involvement from Ric and Bret, outside of encouragement. They even had a showing of respect afterwards which was nice.

I really liked the quick moment backstage where an exhausted Natalya still found fit to give Tyson a quick, familiar but loving kiss and a quick "I love you" before his match. Felt really unforced and spur of the moment.

5. Tyson Kidd vs. Adrian Neville
Another match I wasn't excited for that exceeded expectations. I especially liked Kidd here as he displayed a grumpiness I haven't ever really seen from him. This also continued the trend of simple but effective and tightly worked matwork to start a match on this show. Kidd grounding Neville with a wristlock was one of the nastier moments of the show, and when guys are willing to do matwork with no light showing it can only help to have Regal on commentary. He really gets over the fine points of why a side headlock takeover is painful, and it was a treat hearing him put over Kidd grounding Neville with a headlock (and it was a wrenched in headlock indeed), pointing out how it looks like Neville is just lying on the mat but he is in fact completely debilitated, in plenty of pain AND having his air supply cut off. We get a silly kip-up dropkick mirror sequence that was unnecessary and very out of place for the mood they had established, but Kidd makes me instantly not care by feinting going into the ropes, and instead smashing Neville with a forearm. All the forearm strikes in this were nasty, from both guys, but I especially loved that first one Kidd threw. He then starts amping up the dick behavior by hanging Neville in a tree of woe and kicking at his back (Neville gets to return that favor later in a nice callback). We hit some nice big spots as well, with Kidd hitting a fast flip dive, Neville catching him with a sitout powerbomb that Kidd took at a wild level, a crazy vertical suplex to the floor with both guys going over, and more nice strikes. I lost a bit of interest when they went through any of the fighting on the top rope portions, but it still felt like a real good main event title match. Kidd especially really impressed me and was one of his finer performances I've seen from him. Not only ringwork, but the added character depth (even after when he left in a huff after being the one early in the match to show respect). A real pleasant surprise.

Well, this show looked like a real snoozer on paper. And then the last three matches really delivered and made this show an easy one to recommend. Tough to say whether this or Arrival was the better show, as the Zayn/Cesaro match is still the best NXT match I've reviewed, but I thought Charlotte/Natalya was stronger than the ladder match on that show, which was on par with the Neville and Breeze matches on this show. Either way, so far NXT is 2 for 2 on their specials.


NXT EPISODE GUIDE





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