NXT TakeOver: Respect
October 7, 2015
Full Sail University

The eighth NXT special, NXT TakeOver: Respect, was an important show for WWE’s developmental brand. After withstanding numerous injuries, call-ups to the main roster and a general malaise with it’s TV, NXT got back on it’s feet and has done more to create and build new stars than the WWE main roster has in years. The main event, a historic women’s Iron Man match, saw Sasha Banks, one of NXT’s homegrown stars (now a member of the WWE main roster) against Bayley, a homegrown NXT star who will now be the backbone of the lauded NXT women’s division. What resulted was one of, if not the best all-around NXT specials ever, one that showcased a number of young talents ready to take the reigns from their departed brethren.

Let’s meet our review team:

  • Alex Wendland (@AlexWendland): Voices of Wrestling’s grammar guru and the current reviewer of NXT television.
  • Warren Taylor (@WarrenETaylor): One of Voices of Wrestling’s elder statesmen and current indie wrestling reviewer.
  • Larry: It’s Larry. For better or for worse, he’s been here from the beginning. Currently, Larry focuses on NXT special reviews and Pro Wrestling Guerrilla.
  • Rich Kraetsch (@VoicesWrestling): Co-owner of Voices of Wrestling, he’s all been here from the beginning.

Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic Semi-Final
Finn Balor & Samoa Joe def. Dash Wilder & Scott Dawson

Alex Wendland: This was exactly what you look for in an opening match, and especially and they told the right story for later in the show. The whole match sold Dawson and Wilder (aka Brainbusters 2K15) as a proper, full-time team whereas Finn Balor and Samoa Joe are exceptional individual stars who happen to be wrestling together. Of course, the right team won, but the stage was set for the champion’s side to have issues, whether that’s injuries or something more, in the final. Good storytelling, high intensity and a helluva performance. ***3/4

Warren Taylor: I’m a firm advocate of the theory that all a match needs to be entertaining is a simple story. That’s exactly what we got here, The Mechanics’ spent most of the match working over Balor’s knee until Joe got the call to wreck some fools. Balor The tiny hint of dissension between the two was a nice touch as well. Dawson & Wilder really impressed me their teamwork and I think the two can be solid hands in the NXT tag division going forward. ***1/2

Larry: I am loving the evolution to the Finn Balor character. No longer relying on DEE MOAN Balor. The Real Rock N Rollah, Balor Club, Finn Balor has a ton of potential, especially with that title in a heel run. There are more potential good matchups ahead against faces than there are against a weak group of main event quality heels in NXT. Anyway, this match develops into a lil more than your standard in-and-out WWE two-star special with an extended Mechanics control period over the champ. The match was given time and succeeded as establishing the Windbreaker Boys as a good, strong team, while also starting some dissension between Joe and Finn while also giving them a handicap going into the finals. Complete storytelling and good work. ***1/4

Rich Kraetsch: This match had far too many parallels to the infamous “kicked his leg out of his leg” Owen Hart/Bret Hart vs. Quebecers Royal Rumble 1994 match not to be foreshadowing someone’s turn later in the night. Unlike that Rumble 94 match, Finn was smart enough to eventually tag out after having his leg worked over but I’m still sensing something big will happen in the Finals. Finn was still noticeably limping at the end of the match. Oh and the match, it was exactly what you want out of an opener. It felt a lot like a late 80s-early 90s, pseudo-Southern Style WCW/NWA tag opener. Some may take offense to Balor using the Coup de Grâce despite his injured knee but he sold it well as the move happened and afterwards. Great way to kick off the show. ***¼


Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic Semi-Final
Baron Corbin & Rhyno def. Jason Jordan & Chad Gable

Alex Wendland: This went from good, to “getting a bit too long” and then back to so much more awesome than it was starting out. Also, holy shit Chad Gable is over. I think everyone in this review was actively rooting for Jason Jordan & Gable, which is notable for two reasons: 1) we don’t always have major rooting interests here in the reviews and 2) we agree even less often than we root. This match got awesome from the second Jordan brought the straps down and didn’t stop until Baron Corbin hit the End of Days outta nowhere. Even Corbin was good in this match! This may not have done more for Jordan & Gable than winning the tournament would, but they were the stars of the bout, far and away, and I can’t wait to see what they’re up to next. ***1/4

Warren Taylor: Jason Jordan and Chad Gable have the potential to be a very special tag team. They have excellent chemistry and a unique amateur based offense. The portions of the match where they were in control were fantastic. Corbin and Rhyno drug the match down in the middle with their rest hold seminar but shined as a team once the action picked up again. Young Chad Gable was the star of the match. The crowd was behind him the entire way and his deadlift German suplex was a thing of beauty. ***1/4

Larry: If JJ and Chad Gable didn’t win this match, I was #ReadyWilling&Gable to get right out of this review. With that said, this match was pretty dreadful throughout the opening stages with a long Corbin control period working over Gable. Then it breaks down into a melee and the crowd is on their feet and I’m buying it. I’m almost all in. Then Corbin hits the End of Days. Readers…you’re lucky Rich begged me to stay…or I’d be right fucking out. **

Rich Kraetsch: Though I was upset at the result (#ShootNation 4 life), this match was fantastic. It took awhile to get going and I even remarked to our review team that this match was “getting long in the tooth.” My patience paid off in a big way as the slower start only made the Jason Jordan babyface comeback that much sweeter. The crowd was insane for Chad Gable throughout, like legitimatelly nuts even chanting his name to the rhythm of Kurt Angle’s famous “You Suck” chants. 2-for-2 tonight, folks. ***½



Asuka def. Dana Brooke 

Alex Wendland: Asuka, as predicted, restored order to the lower levels of the NXT women’s division and was as awesome as advertised. Any worries about the level of competition following Sasha Banks’ full-time move to the main roster should be quelled after watching Asuka’s debut. She has exceptional strikes and a brutal submission game. It’s hard to say that Dana Brooke improved here since she got her ass kicked for the better part of 10 minutes, but she played her part and sold her ass off. The best part of Brooke’s performance? We didn’t have to hear her talk. Asuka won with the debut of her Crossface Chickenwing that she calls the Asuka Lock which, ironically, was probably the least believable of the many submissions she used tonight. ***

Warren Taylor: Folks, Asuka has arrived. The Japanese import demonstrated she has all the tools to succeed in NXT, great in ring skills and a tremendous personality. Dana Brooke has a long way to go in the ring but her presence is light years ahead of many newcomers. Her condescending manner was a perfect contrast to Asuka and it was easy to want to see Brooke take the beating she received. This was a tremendous performance by both women and I look forward to seeing what both do in the coming weeks. ***

Larry: I’m certain the directive in the back was “Dana…just stand there and let Kana work…” As a result, Asuka just buzzed around the ring, getting her shit in and popped the crowd throughout the entire match. It was a really good showcase against a girl that might not have been up for a back and forth, but she went along for the ride and the match was better for it. It is the best Dana has looked ever in an NXT ring up to this point and was the first time she looked like she has real potential as a heel worker. The dollar store Narcissist-era Lex Luger style never did much for me, but here, she looked like she took a step in the right direction. Asuka comes off as a complete badass. Great debut. ***

Rich Kraetsch: This was as much a showcase for the debuting Asuka as it was the coming-out party for Dana Brooke. Dana’s heel persona has been festering for quite some time but this was the first time she was able to display it on a major stage. More importantly, while I predicted Asuka would win in 30 seconds with an armbar, Brooke was able to escape a lot of the submissions and appeared to hold her own. It was only after her backup, Emma, was taken out that Dana eventually tapped to the Asuka Lock (Crossface Chickenwing). ***


Apollo Crews def. Tyler Breeze

Alex Wendland: Poor Tyler Breeze. He’s inarguably the top-third of NXT talent, but he’s oh-for-every-TakeOver-ever. This was the first match that Apollo Crews should have had this much trouble with, but it seems that Crews’ matches in NXT see him rising to just above the level of whoever his opponent is, kayfabe-wise. The match itself was serviceable, but we’ve seen Crews’ athleticism for years on the indy scene and we haven’t seen it outside of the standing moonsault since he’s come to NXT. This match was probably **¾ until Breeze became desperate towards the end of the match trying to put Crews away, which I loved. Hopefully we’ll see more of it until Breeze finally gets his TakeOver win. This could turn into the anti-Streak. ***

Warren Taylor: Tyler Breeze seems to have settled into the gatekeeper role that Adrian Neville previously occupied. He has enough credibility to be seen as a threat but can easily take a defeat without losing his momentum. That made him the perfect opponent to start the next portion of Crews’ NXT journey. Crews dominated all of his competition so far but his bout with Breeze was the first time he really had to work for a victory. Hell, he had to breakout a new powerbomb finisher to keep Breeze down. This contest was an excellent example of using a proven talent to establish the credibility of a newcomer. ***

Larry: I really hope Breeze hasn’t hit his ceiling as NXT gatekeeper. The man has really developed and found his stride with this character. His work has improved greatly and he’s gotten such a hold of his persona in this bubble, I’d love to see him get rewarded with a main roster run. Breeze turns this from your run-of-the-mill enhancement match into one that gets big pops from the Full Sail crowd. It is a solid back and forth that has potential to develop into something a little longer if they continue the program. Crews passes whatever test was in front of him here. Everyone looked good, but there wasn’t much to this match to take it to another level. **3/4

Rich Kraetsch: The back and forth nature of this match had me a little confused at first but my (and friend of the site Dylan Hales’) theory is this was a test for Apollo Crews to see if he can sell like a main level babyface. There was far too much selling on Apollo’s end to be a showcase match, so there must have been more here. If that’s the case, then I’m cool with this match structure. It means there are big plans for Crews, as there should be — he’s great. **3/4



Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic Final
Finn Balor & Samoa Joe def. Baron Corbin & Rhyno

Alex Wendland: The ceiling on this match wasn’t as high as it might’ve been if Finn Balor & Samoa Joe were going up against #ShootNation, but this match lived up to its potential. They sold Balor’s knee problems and that difference nearly brought Baron Corbin & Rhyno to the same level as Balor & Joe. The story was impeccably done and the tournament should’ve been won by a couple of wrestlers who were the face of NXT. Balor is as “face of NXT” as you’re going to get this side of Sami Zayn or Bayley at this point. If this tournament wasn’t going to serve as the launching point for a pair of future main eventers like Jason Jordan & Chad Gable, then this was the exact team who should’ve won the tournament. Also, we were all wrong about the Balor Club. ***

Warren Taylor: I questioned Rhyno & Corbin advancing over Gable & Jordan. The former #ShootNation’s technical expertise made them the perfect opponents for a wounded Finn Balor, and a win would have established them as important players in NXT. With that said, Corbin and Rhyno did an excellent job working Balor’s knee. In turn the NXT Champion sold his injury perfectly. I was confused that Balor and Joe prevailed but NXT’s slowburn booking is something that I’m not accustomed too so I will not complain about the finish. Overall, this was a well wrestled but very familiar feeling match. ***

Larry: This was the worst possible matchup for the finals of this tournament, in my opinion. I just hoped this tournament would have been used to put over an actual tag team, not be a cog in a singles program. To be fair, as of the result, it seemingly wasn’t, as any and all heel turns between Balor and Joe were held off the show and they played match and the pomp and circumstance after pretty straight laced. The bout was ok and the post-match stuff made the whole event feel special in retrospect. Just sayin — BAD LUCK CORBIN is comin. **1/2

Rich Kraetsch: I much prefered the Dusty Tag Classic semi-final matches but this one was fun regardless. We, unfortunately, worked ourselves into a shoot with the Joe/Balor breakup. I still think it’s happening at SOME point, just not here. Oh well. This match told an overall good story but never quite got to the level you would expect to end what was a magnificent tournament. **1/4


30-Minute Iron Man Match – NXT Women’s Championship
Bayley © def. Sasha Banks

Alex Wendland: I actually think the Ironman gimmick held the match back a little bit, but that hardly matters – these two women wrestled their asses off. Sasha Banks took her trademark brutality to an entirely new level, but, surprisingly, Bayley met her at the same level. There were great callbacks to their show-stealer from NXT: Brooklyn, but none of them felt like they were repeating spots and, in some instances, built on the chemistry they so clearly developed in their first classic. The spot everyone will be talking about, of course, is the reverse-granny spot that Banks pulled with Izzy. It took what was a marquee spot in the match – Banks tossing Bayley into the video board – and adding the frosting on the cake. The spot everyone should be talking about, however, is Bayley’s mean streak. Bayley has never showed that kind of aggression and it added miles of depth to her character. I said earlier that the Ironman gimmick held the match back a little, but that’s only because the last second ending was pretty predictable once we got within 5 minutes of the end of the match, but the story they told and the talent both wrestlers showed in this match was great. Every move meant something, not only to the match but to both competitors. The end of the show was touching with the whole roster coming out to congratulate both Bayley and Banks and I swear William Regal was crying. This didn’t max out as high as the first Bayley-Banks bout, but it’s still a classic match and one that will be remembered for years to come. ****1/4

Warren Taylor: With all due respect to Bayley, she played third fiddle to Sasha Banks and little Izzy. I knew The Boss was a phenomenal worker but her heel work during the match was tremendous. She STOLE Izzy’s bow and made her CRY. Something so simple and yet so effective in getting the crowd behind Bayley. Speaking of the NXT Women’s Champion, she dug down deep and found her inner animal. I thought her work on Sasha’s hand was superb and played well into the finish. For as much flack as the Iron man gimmick gets I thought there was enough of a style mix to keep things entertaining. This match was leaps and bounds above the Brooklyn bout. It was simply amazing. ****3/4

Larry: Maybe Bayley vs. Sasha was a victim of expectations or maybe the stipulation failed it. As a personal preference, having numerous falls littered throughout the 30-minutes exposes the weaknesses of the Iron Woman stipulation. I just like to see these matches go down to the wire without much more than (max) a decision or two. Once you get up to three, four, and five falls, I’m fading as the stakes of the go home just aren’t there. With all of that said, the work was quite good, but structure and booking of the match was poor. Despite some very strong moments sprinkled throughout the match – such as Bayley’s mean streak and the two minute Bank Statement spot – the match never got bigger than their last encounter. Still, the end was intense, leading up to a somewhat abrupt ending. It goes without saying, I loved the Izzy heat spot. That’s the right kind of heat right there. Anyway…the match was good, maybe really good in a future watch, but it wasn’t what I was hoping for. ***3/4

Rich Kraetsch: Any match that uses a child’s emotion to gain heat is a-okay with me. I love that kind of stuff, it’s what wrestling was made for, dammit! Anyway, onto the match, I know why they did the Iron Man stipulation but I would’ve much preferred a standard main event that lasted 30-40 minutes. There’s always limited intrigue in an Iron Man match since you know when the end is coming. With that said, they told a fantastic story down the stretch with Sasha teasing the Bank Statement with under a minute to go but Bayley reversing it into a submission of her own for the win. I enjoyed the closing stretch and many elements of the match throughout, it just didn’t have the same level of intensity and emotion that Becky Lynch vs. Sasha Banks or Sasha/Bayley from Brooklyn had. That’s not putting this match down by any means, it was still fantastic (albeit sloppy at times) and still one of the better women’s matches in WWE history. ***3/4