NXT Takeover: The End
Orlando, FL – Full Sail University
June 8, 2016
Going in, we knew that the upcoming brand extension meant there were even more questions around NXT and Takeover: The End. Tonight, we may not have gotten answers, yet, but the questions were proven just.
Who would walk out with gold, and who’d be sent to the back of the developmental line? And would Andrade Cien Almas make the most of his debut? This and more on tonight’s NXT Takeover: The End review with your VOW panel…
- Aaron Bentley (@AaronBentleyVOW): VOW contributor & inconsistent columnist.
- Alex Wendland (@Alex Wendland): VOW NXT columnist & unabashed journalism nerd.
- Rob McCarron (@ShakeThemRopes): VOW Contributor & Host of Shake Them Ropes.
Andrade “Cien” Almas def. Tye Dillinger
Aaron Bentley: You have to admire Tye Dillinger. He appears unlikely to ever advance beyond NXT enhancement talent but that hasn’t obviously dampened his spirit. He’s committed totally to his character, worked very hard, and gotten himself over with the NXT Universe. And he proved his value here; he does a very good job of making people look good. This match was choppy at times but it made sense and accomplished its goal. Almas was able to hint at the abilities that make him special and leave us wanting more, which is what NXT normally does with debuts. Good opener. **1/2
Alex Wendland: This match served its purpose to a tee. Andrade Almas showed a fraction of what he’s capable of and Tye Dillinger got just enough in to require Almas to show resiliency. The best part about this as a debut match is that it doesn’t diminish what Dillinger has accomplished in 2016 in terms of organically getting over. We know who Almas is now, that’s great. There was never any drama in this match, Almas was never going to lose it. Now let him loose. **3/4
Rob McCarron: Tye Dillinger, going in, was the absolutely perfect opponent on paper for the debuting Andrade Almas. He’s a pro, a veteran of WWE that knows how to make others look great. One issue… super babyface Andrade Almas was overshadowed by even super-er babyface (meant to be a heel) in The Perfect 10. This crowd gobbled up some Tye Dillinger. In the end, it took a bit of the shine off Almas. I dare say Tye even looked better in the match, too. Luckily, Andrade will likely have an entire Cruiserweight Classic to win everyone over. **1/4
NXT Tag Team Championship
The Revival def. American Alpha (c)
Aaron Bentley: I think I’m the only guy left in the world who doesn’t adore these two teams. I actually do adore Jordan & Gable; I just haven’t liked their matches very much in some time. This match scared me for the first half, thinking I would have to be the super low man again. It was filled with silly spots and so much pointless limb work from both teams, but once the heat segment got started, I was intrigued. The rest of the match was outrageously fun and well-worked. If the teams had earned that payoff with a first half story, this would have been a great match. As it was, it was still quite enjoyable. Two guys attacked Jordan & Gable afterward and I literally have no clue who they are. I kind of enjoyed that, as NXT debuts have recently all been indy/international guys I knew all about and knew they were coming. We’ll see if they can go in the ring. They’ll have to in a program with American Alpha. ***1/4
Alex Wendland: Wow. The Revival is so, so far ahead of everyone else for tag team of the year at the halfway point. The next team behind them is probably American Alpha and while I love Jason Jordan and Chad Gable, Dash and Dawson work perfectly in tandem. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a team as well oiled. Like Aaron, I thought the first act of this match left a lot to be desired. It seemed like they were going through the motions, but I’m actually fine with that considering how much these two teams have interacted. Two-thirds of the way through the near falls convinced NXT might actually have The Revival win. In the end, I think their first match was better, but I loved this match and I’m absolutely in love with WWE’s tag team future. I’ll reserve judgement on the debut of Gzim Selmani and Sunny Dhinsa (and Paul Ellering’s involvement) until we learn more. ****
Rob McCarron: The immediate reaction to this match on social media was that of praise and joy. Rightfully so, this was the best match of either team’s NXT TV careers, in my view. They’ve been working together on live events forever, so thankfully they took the best of their history and put it together to create an excellent presentation on Takeover. ****
After the tag team title match, two Performance Center trainees made their TV debut in an attack on American Alpha. The team, seemingly now lead by WWE Hall of Fame-er Paul Ellering, consist of Sunny Dhisna and Gzim Selmani. On live events, they’ve gone by the team name, “Authors of Pain.”
Shinsuke Nakamura def. Austin Aries
Aaron Bentley: It is exceedingly rare that Nakamura is outclassed in a wrestling match but Austin Aries was unquestionably the star here. Sometimes, it felt like these competitors were in two separate matches as Aries stubbornly focused on Nakamura’s neck while the King of Strong Style mostly refused to let on that Aries had ever touched his neck. Despite that, Aries’ sheer determination ensured this match can’t be considered anything other than great. Aries’ lone mistake, which was enough to cost him the match, was a perfect denouement for his story in the match and for Aries’ character in general. If Nakamura had brought his A-game, this could’ve rivaled Zayn/Nakamura. ****
Alex Wendland: Shinsuke Nakamura wins the match, but Austin Aries got the vast majority of the offense in this match. The last 5-7 minutes were spectacular, but the rest of the match lacked flow. The Death Valley Driver to the ring apron from Aries was brutal and actually had me believing that “The End” meant all of the odds on favorites we’re headed north for the brand split. The stakes didn’t feel as high as Nakamura’s debut, and the result wasn’t in the same stratosphere as that match. This was, however, a good indication of how Aries’ role might be defined in the future of NXT. ***3/4
Rob McCarron: Very good. I can see the main criticism tomorrow being that this bout wasn’t as good as Nakamura vs Zayn. No duh, Zayn is better than Aries. The match had a very hot end, which is about all that matters for a mid-card showcase match. The live crowd loved it, I enjoyed it, hopefully you did, too. This sets up Nakamura now as the top contender for the NXT Championship, no matter who walks out tonight with that championship. ***1/2
NXT Women’s Championship
Asuka (c) def. Nia Jax
Aaron Bentley: I loved this match. Nia also had a very good match with Bayley at TakeOver: London but this told an entirely different story. Asuka’s strikes and submissions weren’t nearly as effective on Nia as they have been on the rest of the NXT women’s division. Even when Asuka was able to find purchase with her offense, Nia could turn it around in an instant with her unmatched power. However, eventually, Asuka’s vicious kicks did Jax in. Jax needs to improve on offense but she has shown a wonderful ability to fit in even with great wrestlers. It’s going to take time but she has a very high ceiling. ***3/4
Alex Wendland: The best match Nia Jax has had in her young career. She decimated Asuka in much the same way she decimated Bayley a couple of weeks ago, but Asuka isn’t Bayley and this is Takeover. I was certain that Asuka would go into this match attacking Jax’ legs, trying to chop her down. In the end, Asuka didn’t seem to have much of an offensive strategy at all. Not that she had much time on the offensive until her final flurry. The topper on this tremendous outing was that Asuka didn’t win with some sort of gimmicky move to overcome Jax’ size and strength advantages – she just kicked her in the head until she didn’t get up again. ***3/4
Samoa Joe (c) def. Finn Bálor
Rob McCarron: A very good match, but not the best of their three Takeover battles. This entire cage story was built on the fact that these two brawled throughout the building on a live event and couldn’t be contained. So, Regal tries to contain them with the cage. Yet, in a match where we shouldn’t have seen escapes unless Joe was scared to death that he might lose if he doesn’t get out of there, we instead got early escape attempts. Not the biggest criticism, but I could have done without that small mis-attention to detail. In the end, Joe wins, the right man wins. What’s next for Balor? Probably not joining The Club still, friends. ***1/2
Aaron Bentley: Balor and Joe put on a match that I’m sure all the Performance Center coaches loved. It felt eerily like a main roster WWE main event. For me, those are not terribly positive things. Nothing really stood out and, worst of all, it just didn’t feel like a match worthy of being The End. There was too much focus on escaping, especially for a feud that was billed as two guys who genuinely didn’t like each other. You would expect them to want to prove their dominance in the middle of the ring. Both guys worked hard, my man, but the layout of the match ultimately did not serve the participants or the audience very well. ***
Alex Wendland: Boy, am I torn on this match. This had all the pieces, including Samoa Joe being a total monster, constantly advancing forward. Finn Balor was sticking and moving as well as I’ve ever seen him do it. I also loved their other Takeover match. Additionally, I actually prefer the traditional steel cage to the Hell in a Cell alternative, especially when the finish happens in the ring. The cage is to contain the action, not for escape. But the match didn’t feel like it was building towards a feud defining climax. It’s time to move both Joe and Balor onto new things whether that’s in NXT or the main roster; the story between these two has been going on for nearly a year. The match was very good, but didn’t rise to the level of a year long blowoff. ***3/4