Finally the title of this NXT TakeOver special was explained. And there were two debuts I very much enjoyed. Here is what I have to say about NXT TakeOver: The End.
Like I already did for the previous and first NXT special show in 2016, NXT TakeOver: Dallas, I’ll write down what I thought about the matches of the newest NXT special show, NXT TakeOver: The End. I also rate the matches in three categories, wrestling style, story telling and overall. Of course, those ratings are highly subjective. So, if you feel like I’m doing someone injustice, just scroll down to the commentary section and leave your mark.
But before I come straight to the matches, I have to talk about the strange title of this special event. A few days after NXT TakeOver: Dallas, there was the mention of NXT TakeOver: Revenge. Now, I’m not sure any more if it was my hearing fault and I got REVENGE confused with THE END. At least, ‘revenge’ seemed to be fitting enough as I thought that maybe for the next TakeOver show, the tag team championship would get the nod for the main event. And as things played out, it would have been a great finish to the show, much better than the first ever cage match in NXT.
But anyway, it wasn’t ‘revenge’, it was ‘The End’ and some people started to wonder if it was the ‘the end’ of NXT, given the brand split of RAW and SmackDown. But those headlines from dirt sheets and ridiculous wrestling sites were just click bait because why would you close a sidekick / developmental company with a great training facility to create new stars for the main roster? So, of course ‘the end’ didn’t implicate the end of NXT but ‘the end’ of the feud between Samoa Joe and Finn Bálor. Now, this knowledge took away a bit from the main event itself, since basically everyone knew that Samoa Joe would retain the NXT Championship, so Finn Bálor would be free to join the WWE main roster at any time.
Right at the start of the show, ‘The End’ was accompanied by ‘… of the beginning’. That obviously was done to counter the stupid click bait pages and simply announce a new chapter, not the end of everything. And now, let’s start to get a little deeper into the matches and foreshadowing of future events.
- Match duration: 6:21 minutes
- Winner: Andrade “Cien” Almas
- Wrestling style: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥
- Story telling: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥
- Overall: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥
When I first saw the previously faceless (sin cara) Andrade “Cien” Almas making his entrance for his first match in NXT and the first match of NXT TakeOver: The End, I was almost annoyed. Because with his white clothes – including a hat – and the smile on his face he almost looked like a good looking No Way José. I find No Way José highly annoying and not enjoying at all. But I was willing to give the new boy a chance. And from the moment he put away his white clothes and the match started, everything clicked and went on its road of greatness.
Now the funny fact about this match between Tye Dillinger and Andrade “Cien” Almas was – actually there were quite some funny facts – I’m starting again. One of the funny facts of this match was that Tye Dillinger is supposed to be the babyface in this setting. I already said that I find his character annoying but I feel the need to explain this further in here. All this rating of a person is supposed to be a US-American thing. I only got to know about it through “How I Met Your Mother”. So, the Perfect 10 is the ultimate perfect person, everything below fails in some parts. It’s a stupid concept really because it’s an arrogant subjective way to rate people and put them in categories. So, every wrestling character based on this gimmick, is an automatic heel for me. Like the Real Americans couldn’t ever be babyfaces to me. I also have to point out that since Breaking Ground I quite like and respect the guy who’s behind Tye Dillinger. He’s actually great backstage and seems to be a likeable pal. Not his gimmick though. And NXT seemed to have acknowledge that recently for their England tour. Tye Dillinger wore a Man United shirt in Liverpool and that’s a clear heel concept!
But back to this match. When Tye Dillinger was the heel, Andrade “Cien” Almas had to be the babyface. Otherwise it had to be a boring match for me. Now I already said that I saw annoying similarities with No Way José during his entrance. But first impressions may fool you. So, you should never depend on them. Having the nickname “Cien” already got me on his side. It means one hundred and that’s ten times better than “Ten”, so he mocked the gimmick of Tye Dillinger in the best possible way. Andrade “Cien” Almas also took his time after the bell rang to prepare for fighting. He made Tye Dillinger wait for the first confrontation and that’s a nice arrogant heel behaviour. If done right, I like it more than boring face behaviour – like enjoying a great played villain in a movie.
I have already watched quite some debut matches – mostly in NXT – that were just showcases to present the new guy and demonstrate what he or she is capable of. I usually miss the storytelling. But not this time. This match very much told the story of “Ten” vs “Cien”. So, a little arrogant in both of their ways, each of them tried to out showcase the other. Tye Dillinger with his “Ten” gesture – and the crowd joined in with the Ten Chant – while Andrade “Cien” Almas mocked Tye Dillinger with some brilliant moves, like hanging within the ropes or pulling off a handstand in the corner twice. First time worked, second time Tye Dillinger smelled the arrogance and kicked his opponent off the ropes. It was a highly enjoying back and forth mocking game to see what’s really better: “Ten” or “Cien”. At the end maths triumphed and made Andrade “Cien” Almas the deserved victor in his debut match in NXT. One of my new favourites already. And I hope it turns out to be a good move for him.
The Revival vs American Alpha
NXT Tag Team Championship match
- Match duration: 15:53 minutes
- Winner: The Revival (new and first two time NXT Tag Team Champions)
- Wrestling style: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥
- Story telling: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥
- Overall: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥
This re-match for the NXT Tag Team Championship was the only match of the card I didn’t know about the outcome. Everything else was pretty clear, so it took away a bit of excitement and suspense, if you are someone who likes sports and don’t want to know before a match who’s going to win. So, I hoped that American Alpha would retain because that would have meant they’d stay a little longer in NXT. I certainly didn’t know about Auld Vinny Mac personally asked / demanded for American Alpha to lose their title belts. Now, since the story of American Alpha vs The Revival was basically told with American Alpha having reached their ultimate goal in NXT, the story of this second match wasn’t as good as at NXT TakeOver: Dallas. It was more of a showcase of what American Alpha is capable of – a highly choreographed match with some great spots and moves but also a bit of arrogance shown by American Alpha. The Revival didn’t come off as nasty as they could and should have been.
So, for the first half of this match, American Alpha basically toyed with The Revival. They dominated as champions, didn’t respect the former champions and just mocked The Revival for the enjoyment of the audience. Jason Jordan also got much more time than usual. And while Chad Gable usually has to suffer at some point early in the match, he was dominating as well. Just one thing, Jason, please cut off those Reigns’ imitating hype gestures. Because if you continue, there are already TM-61 waiting in line to be my favourite current tag team. During the second part, almost everything was business as usual again: Chad Gable had to take a lot, got a few comebacks but couldn’t get the tag to Jason Jordan. Also, the referee was highly distracted during the whole match, and this led to some disadvantages for both sides.
When the hot tag did finally happen, straps came down very early for Jason Jordan but he couldn’t get the job done. Instead, The Revival came back impressively, esp. with the spear through the ropes from inside to outside the ring. The other way round spear that Johnny Gargano puts off is also impressive but the one by Dash Wilder is more risky, so kudos to him for that. The finish was basically a tag fest but good performed, also with the surprising finish of Scott Dawson countering American Alpha’s finish right into The Revival’s Shatter Machine for the win and The Revival now being the first ever two time NXT Tag Team Champions.
What happened next would have been perfect for the end of the show. But since that was reserved for the steel cage match, it had to happen at the end of the first third of the show. Out came two black clothed monsters who beat up American Alpha who were just receiving some much deserved applause from the audience. When they were finished, Paul Ellering appeared on ramp side, calm and with much authority – the boss of The Authors of Pain, like this team is called. The names of the two “monsters” are Sunny Dhinsa and Gzim Selmani and at least Gzim Selmani is Albanian, not Samoan like some dirt sheets have already written. As much as I like American Alpha, I also enjoyed this debut. I also called them The Shield 2.0 when I first saw them because having a two men tag team, led by a charismatic authority figure who clearly isn’t fighting, is much better than having a three men tag team, at some point arguing about who’s their leader. I’m very much looking forward what going on with this team.
Austin Aries vs Shinsuke Nakamura
- Match duration: 17:05 minutes
- Winner: Shinsuke Nakamura
- Wrestling style: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥
- Story telling: ♥ ♥ ♥
- Overall: ♥ ♥ ♥
I swear, I could punch Corey Graves right into his mouth every time he screams ‘KINSHAAASAAA’. It also makes me hope that Nakamura starts losing his matches. Or Corey Graves being replaced by someone less annoying – like JBL, for example. This match was just too long for my liking. Because I enjoyed Shinsuke Nakamura’s debut match in NXT against Sami Zayn but ever since my enjoyment for him went down continuously. I think it’s his style that’s basically all the same. Yes, every wrestler has got his spots that he shows off for the audience. But in his case his antics are too theatrically for me. I can’t explain it better.
In Austin Aries’ case it’s basically the other way round. He claims himself to be The Greatest Man That Ever Lived when there is simply nothing special about him. What’s his history? What’s his goal? What makes him tick? If he’s just the man who was outshone by Nakamura, then he won’t stay long in NXT.
Nia Jax vs Asuka
NXT Women’s Championship match
- Match duration: 9:11 minutes
- Winner: Asuka
- Wrestling style: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥
- Story telling: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥
- Overall: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥
Since Bayley was basically destroyed by Nia Jax, so she couldn’t fight her re-match, the story for this match was already told: would Asuka have a chance against the women’s monster of NXT? It was also a good move to get the audience behind Asuka. Because she basically beat the fan favourite Bayley for the NXT Women’s Championship and because of that came off as a little heelish ever since. Now she had to face Nia Jax, the destroyer of Bayley, so the babyface vs heel concept very much came into place. This is how you write your stories and your characters!
It was basically a female David vs Goliath. Asuka said before the match that she had no fear and during the early stages of the match, she mocked Nia Jax, laughed into her face and really didn’t show any fear. But this attitude changed when Nia Jax started toying with Asuka. Nia Jax threw her opponent around the ring how she pleased. And there was nothing Asuka was able to put against it. So, at first Nia Jax played out her strength, power and size. But during the match Asuka more and more figured out how to use her speed and holds to her advantage. In the end, three hard kicks by Asuka got her the win via pinfall. Maybe a little too fast performed finish but sometimes finishes are too long and you get bored. So, match time, story and finish were really well done.
As a little intermission before the main event of Samoa Joe vs Finn Bálor, General Manager William Regal had almost one minute of screen time when he was seen backstage. It was an earlier taped interview within Mr Regal told Andrea D’Marco that he was excited for the first ever steel cage match in NXT. During this short interview we saw someone stroll by from the back and somehow William Regal must have felt some unusual breath of wind in his back because suddenly he interrupted his talking and turned over. Someone whispered into his ear, and then he excused himself to Andrea D’Marco to follow the previously felt guy – Bobby Roode – into a room. That’s certainly a teaser for a new signing to NXT but nicely teased.
Finn Bálor vs Samoa Joe
NXT Championship steel cage match
- Match duration: 16:10 minutes
- Winner: Samoa Joe
- Wrestling style: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥
- Story telling: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥
- Overall: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥
The entrance of Finn Bálor as ‘the demon’ this time lasted for 3:10 minutes and this is always the most exciting thing about Finn Bálor for me, even though I always skip his entrance. I can’t help it but he’s still boring to me and it won’t change anymore, I’m afraid. He’s just too bad on the microphone and his selling or storytelling during matches isn’t anything stirring. He does have good moves and a well trained body but somehow I’m not able to connect with him. It just doesn’t click. I also can’t see a difference in his in-ring style as his normal self and as ‘the demon’. He should act more like his gimmick, should work in some movements into his match that he does during his entrance as the demon. But there is hardly anything connecting him with ‘the demon’ except for his body paint.
On the other side, Samoa Joe doesn’t have to do much to make me excited for him, especially beating up Finn Bálor. He used the steel cage to his advantage when he threw Finn Bálor into it. And Samoa Joe also pulled off a great Enzuigiri while standing on the top rope to prevent Finn Bálor from climbing over the steel cage. Another way to win the match had been walking or crawling through the doors. And this strategy both competitors went for a couple of times during the match. But in the end it was a clear pinfall by Samoa Joe after an impressive Muscle Buster from the second rope to retain his NXT Championship.
After the match nothing else happened, so Samoa Joe ended NXT TakeOver: The End celebrating with his title. For my liking it’s the perfect time for another battle royal to get his next challenger for the NXT Championship.