NXT Takeover: London
SSE Arena, Wembley
December 16, 2015
Watch Free: WWE Network
For the first time, WWE presented NXT Takeover live from outside of the United States. NXT Takeover: London featured not just a hot crowd, but also a unique start time for those across the world. In the US, a 3pm EST start meant some had to alter schedules in order to watch live, or were making plans to watch on a delay. We’re interested in how you chose to watch NXT Takeover: London, and would love your feedback in our Forums!
Join our interactive post-show on YouTube after the event, as Rob & Jeff of Shake Them Ropes talk all things NXT Takeover: London. You can watch and chat along with others on YouTube, and/or interact @ShakeThemRopes!
Meet the review panel…
- Alex Wendland (@AlexWendland): You know this guy from the NXT Takeover: London preview! He’s back to take a look at all of the predictions he made correctly.
- Warren Taylor (@WarrenETaylor): Warren is our featured “Big Independents” reviewer, including EVOLVE, ROH, and others. Warren takes a break from the stars of the independents to review a show featuring… well, stars from the independents.
- Bryan Rose (@br26): One of our lead NJPW contributors, Bryan has a history with WWE from writing about Raw here on Voices of Wrestling. Tonight, NXT is the dish, and Bryan’s serving results sizzling hot.
- Rob McCarron (@ShakeThemRopes): Host of Shake Them Ropes, and Chad Gable’s 3,029th biggest fan!
The show began with Triple H in the ring, welcoming the viewers at home to the SSE Arena for NXT Takeover: London. After a brief introduction video, we were ready for action!
Asuka defeats Emma w/ Dana Brooke
Alex: Jesus, if this match sets the tone for the entire show we’ve got the best Takeover NXT has put on yet. I think we mostly expected Asuka to roll through Emma in the preview, but Emma was put over huge, even in a loss. Based on this match alone, the NXT women’s division has to be Bayley, Asuka, Emma, and in that order. This was a legitimate four-and-a-half-star match that was dragged down by a little schmozzyness in the final stretch, but even then all four participants – Drake Younger included – performed exceptionally. This was harder hitting than anything outside the opener and main event at TLC. You know the NXT women’s division is properly maturing when they’re setting the tone for the show in the opener and having these kinds of matches outside of the title picture. Exceptional. ****1/4
Warren: I love it when a match fits perfectly into the established narrative of a feud. For the entirety of her rivalry with Dana Brooke & Emma, Asuka has outclassed both of them in the ring. Emma & Dana in turn have used a blend of caution and ruthlessness to fight back. That was the story of the opener, Emma worked a conservative approach designed to simultaneously punish Asuka and keep her contained. Whenever Emma tried to open up her offense Asuka quickly put her into a world of hurt. The overabundance of heel antics at the end fit the match so I didn’t mind it. Overall, this was a fantastic opener to cap off an enjoyable feud. ***1/2
Bryan: Really great opener. Asuka is just at another level that no other woman in WWE right now can touch. Everything she does looks great and there’s a confidence level to match. Emma held her ground here very well and it turned into an awesome back and forth match. I could have done without the ref bumps or Dana Brooke getting involved towards the end, but I guess they needed to do a tease. I think it’s effective even more because while NXT doesn’t do those kind of finishes often, WWE does them all the time so you can buy that there will be screwy finishes up and down the card. Thankfully that didn’t happen here as Asuka just laid her out with a kick and pinned her. Very good stuff. ***3/4
Rob: Holy guacamole, what an opener. The match I most anticipated delivered and then some. False finishes that worked, Dana Brooke’s inspiring encouragement at ringside towards Emma, Asuka’s struggle to fend off two opponents, and Emma’s take-no-guff behavior finally being showcased in a long, high profile match: This match had everything it could have had. Will it be the “best match” of the night? Probably not, and that is more than okay. Just pure fun, and this show began on a high note! ****
NXT Tag Team Championships
Dash Wilder & Scott Dawson © defeat Enzo Amoré & Colin Cassady
Alex: Not that Enzo and Big Cass really needed it, but for the second match in a row, the match did more for the losers than the winners. I believe in Super Serious Enzo and Big Cass now. And this was a proper closing stretch. I thought it could’ve ended either way a handful of times starting with the inverted figure four all the up until the actual end of the match. I let out an audible “oh my god” when Dash and Dawson hit the Shatter Machine from the top rope, and scared the dog a little bit. Dash and Dawson, for their part, do all of the little things right. When they take a weird bump, they sell it weird. They both make sure every hold, strike and slam look picture perfect. They’re technically proficient. I don’t think Enzo and Cass need the titles in NXT, but the new version of their team would fit nicely on the main roster now. I think they’ll be called up sooner than many expect. ***1/2
Warren: Here was another match that took its story cues from the feud. Cass & Enzo came to kick ass and get revenge, not just win the titles. Dash & Dawson did their best to pick apart Enzo’s shoulder and Big Cass’s bum knee to no avail. Only some questionable tactics by the champions were enough to give them the victory. The hot London crowd really helped this match and made it feel important. I’ve got a feeling this feud is far from over and I can’t wait to see the next chapter. ***1/2
Bryan: Surprising win as I thought Enzo and Cass were due to win the titles for a while. But this was some very good stuff. Dawson and Dash are a very good tag team and Enzo and Cass aren’t bad. Crowd were totally into the faces the whole time and this added to the match a ton. Interesting tag scene right now in NXT as these two teams are over, as well as Jason and Gable so it’ll be interesting to see where they go here. Overall a really cool match highlighted by the work of Dash and Dawson, who are very good, but who knows if they ever get a call up under this gimmick…which is two guys who work really well. Something tells me they’re here in NXT for the long run. ***1/2
Rob: So Dash & Dawson weren’t the quick transitional champions I thought they were. Both teams put on a strong performance, probably the best of each team’s year, honestly. The story, outside of the tag champs retaining, was the continued work on the leg of Big Cass. Between the story of a healthy Cass coming for the tag titles at a later time, and the less than super clean finish, it seems Cass & Enzo are in line for a shot in the near future to go for the gold again. ***1/4
Baron Corbin defeats Apollo Crews
Alex: Baron Corbin must be plugged into Joe Gagne’s weekly podmass and found Kevin Owens’ explanation of the advice he got from Stone Cold Steve Austin: “Just keep talking.” I’ve said it over and over again, but the new, Breaking-Ground-inspired Corbin is a vast improvement over 22 second victory Corbin. This match was a decided slow down from the frantic pacing of the first two matches on the card. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing, however, that’s the pace that Corbin works best at. And Corbin truly controlled the entire match. This was a chance to pull Crews back down the card and get some more work in before running up to the top of NXT once again. NXT doesn’t have enough TV time to warrant a secondary singles title, but that would be the perfect territory for Crews at this point. Given Crews’ impressive stature and athleticism, I’m surprised he spends so much time in every match getting his ass kicked. ***
Warren: Two things stood out to me during this match: the tremendous trash talk of Baron Corbin and Apollo Crews’ sensational selling; seriously, that bump onto the ring steps. I thought this was a fun match that had a lot of great action considering that both men are still works in progress in the ring, but this matchup catered to both of their strengths and the end result was another enjoyable match. ***
Bryan: I’m surprised Corbin won in such a clean fashion, but they made it clear here that Corbin’s probably in line for a main event run soon and a clean win over a babyface like Crews makes sense. This was interesting as I thought the match was just alright. I don’t know what it was designed to be, but it wasn’t supposed to be what they last two matches were, which were great work rate matches, because this wasn’t that. Corbin COULD be called up now, and probably could be something once called up, but still needs a way to go. Crews I think was fine in spots, but didn’t stand out like he has in other matches. I think this match proved that Crews probably needs a while in NXT, and so does Corbin. It was fine, but things seemed off and the crowd wasn’t as into it as they were in other matches. **1/2
Rob: Baron won! While I’m not surprised by the result, as both Jeff Hawkins and I thought this was a potential Crews loss, it is still a bit of wave in the NXT fan universe. A solid, albeit nothing special, match that focused on the best of Baron. More than anything, I thought the result foreshadowed the main event result. ***
NXT Women’s Championship
Bayley © defeats Nia Jax
Alex: What a story. What a clinic in ring psychology. What a testimony to the Bayley character. What a match. Bayley completely adapted her style to make this work. It was clear that Nia Jax (did you know The Rock is her cousin?) was too strong for Bayley to rush in on, so Bayley had to out-smart her. Bayley decided she had to wear Jax (did you know Roman Reigns is her cousin?) down through various sleeper holds, and it worked. For awhile. Until Jax (did you know Jey Uso is her cousin?) started thrashing the champion. I thought the three straight Samoan drops were a lot, but between the leg drops and various slams, it felt like Jax (did you know Jimmy Uso is her cousin?) controlled the match for half an hour. Bayley, ever perseverant, latched on a desperate guillotine choke – a move she had to fight for and reapply three times to drag Jax (did you know Rikishi is her..uncle? Right?) to the ground. Yes, Bayley changed her style to match Jax. And yes, Bayley marshalled the match from beginning to end. But this was an great outing from Jax as well. She was THE story of the semi-main event on a high pressure Takeover special after being on TV for less than a quarter of 2015. ***1/4
Warren: There is nothing more compelling than a monster heel vs. an underdog babyface. Bayley and Nia Jax worked this age old formula to perfection. Credit Bayley for bumping and selling for Jax in a way that no one else has. I thought Nia was great in her role and her facial expressions when she was in the choke were great. This was definitely more story than match at times and I loved that. Every now and again fans need to feel as well as appreciate good work rate. ***3/4
Bryan: This was very good. They not only booked this the right way, but the performances by both women were really something. Nia Jax has a ways to go, but she looked like a dominant monster here and worked that to the best of her ability. This was a match where Bayley had to call the shots and was a really great ring general. She also played her part excellently in being the babyface in peril for a majority of the match. They worked that submission at the end really well too. Way better than it had any right to be and told an excellent story. Not a out of this world workrate match like other women’s title matches this year, but still good in a completely different way. ***1/2
Rob: So Bayley can work with anyone, right? Certainly seems that way. In a match all about story going in, the match delivered that and more. I don’t care if you have one month to work on the match at the WWE Performance Center or not, this business is about execution in the ring and these two did just that. Hopefully those watching give credit to Nia where it is due. ***
Finn Bálor © defeats Samoa Joe
Alex: Before getting into the match we have to talk a little about Finn “Jack the Ripper” Balor. It isn’t something that offends me personally, but it isn’t smart. And I understand why someone else would be. Any time you have the opportunity to draw the comparison between your babyface world champion and an infamous, sexually charged serial killer from 127 years ago…you should probably let that one go.
As for the match itself, there was a lot here. Finn Balor and Samoa Joe packed a 40 minute match into 25 minutes. And it worked. Balor surprised Joe to start the match by going on an aggressive offensive and it took Joe awhile to rebound, but when he did he was essential Samoa Joe. The strikes, the submissions, it was all here. That said, you’ve probably seen it before. This is exactly what I would’ve expected from the Joe-Tomasso Ciampa match on NXT a couple of weeks ago if it was allowed to reach its natural conclusion. This whole show was on fire. The crowd was insane, the matches were fierce and the pace was incredible. This was the fastest two hours of wrestling I remember watching and I would’ve been thrilled with two hours more. ****
Warren: I enjoyed the match and I enjoyed Finn Balor’s entrance. This was a good main event match that showed Samoa Joe still has a lot of gas left in the tank. I didn’t hate the finish; I’ve seen it on the indies a million times. ***3/4
Bryan: This was good stuff. There were two things that bugged me, however. There was one spot in this match that annoyed me. There’s this thing that I’ve been seeing more in WWE TV where someone gets completely laid out, their opponent goes to the top rope (as was the case here), then that person gets up and sprints over to do their next move. No, do not do that. That’s annoying. Sell like this is actually real. Also, for a match that was supposed to be about a friend backstabbing another, we didn’t get any real emotion here. It was two guys having a really good match. No real drama to it aside from some good near falls towards the end. That seemed like a disconnect to me.
All of that aside, this was a great match. For all that talk that Joe was a guy you couldn’t do anything with after years of stupid TNA booking, he’s been proving everyone wrong. All it took from him was to get out of that shitty environment. Balor is great in main events and proved that once again here. Where they go from here I’m not sure (I was actually expecting a Joe title win) but there’s two great talents here. From the match I saw, this might be the start of something, it might not be, but this match had a little more dramatic flair, it probably would have been amazing as opposed to just great. ****
Rob: Finn Balor has retained his championship, and the future of NXT is now bright. Also, more clear. With NXT running split crew shows in Florida and the midwest US next month, it’s clear Finn Balor is here to stick around as a national NXT headliner. Yeah, the Royal Rumble debut probably isn’t happening, unless it is a one-off. With Baron Corbin winning earlier, we may have been given an idea on the next Balor challenger.
The main event match was highly predictable, at least, regarding how it’d go. Samoa Joe dominated much of the match, with Balor coming back in the end to hit his finish for the fall. The crowd stayed hot for the entire thing, everything felt like a big deal, and Joe lost nothing in the loss. The match cemented what was a very strong showing in NXT Takeover: London. Months from now, if you’re looking for an NXT 2015 show to rewatch, Takeover from the UK will likely be a strong option for many. ****