The TakeOver Pre-Show panel features Renee Young, Corey Graves, Jason Albert and Byron Saxton. I’m already happy at the lack of Alex Riley. As they hype the Sami Zayn/Kevin Owens match, the crowd behind them is split between “OLE” and “Fight Owens Fight” chants. Time for highlights from the excellent Number One Contender’s Tournament and build for Adrian Neville vs. Finn Balor. Great video package and I love that NXT goes back to the history these guys have. We get some rather short build for Hideo Itami/Tyler Breeze. I wish this got more build since its two really good talents. Build time for Baron Corbin/Bull Dempsey, though with their two matches having gone a combined three or so minutes, I can’t really get behind him. We’re rapidly moving as it’s time to promote the NXT Women’s Championship match. Byron Saxton is kicked off the panel and replaced by Charlotte. They grill her on her friendship with Bayley but she understands Bayley taking her out a few weeks ago. As she runs down her list of accomplishments, the fans chime in with “FACT”. I love it. Byron has moved to the crowd, asking for predictions for the main event. Four fans are split on their predictions. So am I. The incredible Zayn/Owens video package plays to close things out. Renee, Corey and Byron pick Owens, while Albert picks Sami.
The opening video package is brilliant as usual. It focuses on the three big matches (Women’s Title and Zayn/Owens).
Hideo Itami vs. Tyler Breeze
If their first round match in the Number One Contender’s Tournament is any indication, this should rock. Tyler Breeze is out with a fuzzy selfie stick. A girl jumps the guardrail and jumps on him, which was odd. Itamia goes for early kicks but Breeze shields himself behind the referee, He gets in a cheap shot but eats a corner clothesline. Itami misses two boots but connects on a knee and a loud kick. Tyler gets a breather outside. Inside, Tyler tries a cross body, but gets dropkicked. Every time that Tyler seems to try something, he eats a kick of some sort. Tyler finally gets in some leg work, which is wise since it’s most of Itami’s offense. Breeze relentlessly attacks the leg for a bit now, wrapping it around the ring post. That’s a rather old school spot that I miss. He goes all 1997 Bret Hart and does the corner FIgure Four. Badass. He goes to an interesting submission (might have been a single leg crab but couldn’t tell) but Itami makes the ropes. Itami gives us the GTS tease again, but Breeze gets out and gets two with a school boy. Big boot from Itami, but Breeze hits the Supermodel Kick for two. Split chants from the crowd now. Tyler fires away with some right hands but Itami is fired up. He eats them like he’s Hulk Hogan before firing away with a combination of chops and kicks. Big kicks to the chest and he’s still selling the leg, which is appreciated. Breeze is seated in the corner and gets the hesitation dropkick. Itami finishes off with the running kick.
Winner: Hideo Itami in 8:13
Really good opener. It was given the right amount of time and both guys worked hard. Targeting the leg is old school psychology and I loved it. ***1/2
No Disqualifications: Baron Corbin vs. Bull Dempsey
Baron Corbin charges the ring, which is different from his usual entrance. He attacks, as the “Rival” name of the show seems fitting. They go to the ramp and Bull nails a suplex on it. Bull continues to attack before going for a weapon, but not finding one. The crowd boos at that. Bull has officially lasted longer tonight than ever before against Baron and we just hit the two minute mark. Inside, big spinebuster from Corbin gets two. A clothesline is supposed to take both guys over, but only Baron goes over. Instead of fixing the spot naturally, Bull throws himself over late to boos. He throws Baron in and hits the diving headbutt but only gets two. They sell it as a big deal. He stays on the offensive and grabs a steel chair. As he swings it though, he is caught in the End of Days to finish this.
Winner: Baron Corbin in 4:10
I expected Baron Corbin to win, but this was underwhelming again. The No Disqualifications stipulation barely played a part. *1/2
It seems like Baron Corbin may use the chair after the match, but he just sits in it for a bit. We cut to a Fast Lane promo after seeing William Regal talk to Sami Zayn. I didn’t mention it before the last match but they also spoke to Kevin Owens. We see Becky Lynch and Bayley both getting prepared.
NXT Tag Team Championship: Blake and Murphy (c) vs. The Lucha Dragons
Double leap frogs from the Champions open this before Sin Cara hits a springboard moonsault. The crowd doesn’t seem as into this as they should be. Cara botches like he’s still Mistico on a head scissors. Cara shrugs it off and hits one now. Kalisto now messes up a dive outside. He recovers and hits it. Cara has Blake up top and hits a nice victory roll bomb of sorts for two. Murphy and Kalisto tag in. The former champions work stereo kicks and a wheelbarrow senton for two. Quick tags from the champions, who hit a sweet popup neckbreaker for a near fall. Blake kicks away on Cara in the corner before tagging Murphy, who front flips in for a one count. Kalisto is tagged and he gets in a nice kick before SPIKING Murphy on a hurricanrana. He tries his finisher but it’s countered, only for him to reverse a powerbomb into an arm drag for two. Series of pinning combinations get a ton of near falls, ending in a double pin with both partners making the save. Dual tags as Cara hits a cross body that Blake rolls through for two. Suplex countered into an inside cradle for two. Sin Cara tries his amazing school boy bomb but that is also countered for two. He does hit a bomb but only gets two. Cara hits an arm drag and we get a tag that Cara missed. Murphy nails a running suplex before Blake comes in with a nice frog splash to retain.
Winners and Still NXT Tag Team Champions: Blake and Murphy in 7:32
Could have been better but it wasn’t bad. It started off rough with all of the botches but picked up near the end. **1/4
We get weird hack stuff with the video feed, saying the TakeOver isn’t done and to tune in next week. I guess Solomon Crowe is coming.
#1 Contender’s Tournament Final: Adrian Neville vs. Finn Balor
Finn Balor is sporting the body paint again. It’s slightly different than last time. We start with a headlock takeover from Adrian Neville. Shoulder block by Neville before we go back to the headlock for a bit. They work a series of counters before Balor shoulder blocks him down. Sunset flip attempt by Neville is countered by a dropkick from Balor. He goes out for a breather and Balor tries a dive, but Neville comes in, only to eat a dropkick. He goes back outside and the dive is blocked again. Neville springboards in with a dropkick for two. Back to the headlock for a bit. Neville gets Balor seated in the corner and chokes him with his boot. Neville works the mat again, which is wise since Balor has such a high impact offense. He fights out and chops Neville hard. He tries a springboard but eats a dropkick. He suplexes Balor in for two. Neville goes up top but Balor connects on an enziguri to knock him outside. Balor nails the front flip dive outside this time, but is selling the work Neville has done so far really well. Neville retreats inside and rolls outside, while Balor creeps around to follow. It’s a great play into the dark character. He hits a big dropkick that knocks the guardrail over. Inside, he nails a SICK diving double stomp to the back of the head but somehow only gets two. Forearm shot from Neville followed by his kick combo. Balor ducks the last two and nails the Pele but Neville hits a huge superkick before both men hit the mat. Adrian is up first and hits a big German suplex. He picks him up from the mat for a second that only gains a near fall. Neville goes up for a second rope Phoenix Splash but it also only gets two. Big shots from Neville but Balor busts out the Slingblade to stop his momentum. Enormous lariat from Balor that Neville flips inside out on. Bloody Sunday connects but that isn’t enough. Balor goes up but Neville latches onto his leg to stop him before a bit enziguri. He slams Balor to the mat and climbs up to “No!” chants. Balor gets up but gets kicked back down. Red Arrow is blocked by Balor’s knees right into an inside cradle but that still only gets two. Sick dropkick to the corner from Balor who now goes up himself. A second diving double stomp is enough to make him the number one contender.
Winner: Finn Balor in 13:28
Match of the night so far. The methodical start made sense before they just went balls to the wall. Great series of near falls without overdoing the false finishes and both guys looked excellent. Phenomenal stuff. ****1/2
Post match, we get a handshake from both men, though Adrian Neville looks a bit frustrated or disappointed in himself.
NXT Women’s Championship: Charlotte (c) vs. Bayley vs. Becky Lynch vs. Sasha Banks
Everyone is sporting relatively new attire tonight. Charlotte gets jumped at the bell but she double clotheslines Team BAE. Bayley school girls her for two. Charlotte does a nice corner bump to save herself but Team BAE takes her down. Sasha drives her back first into the LED apron, which breaks. Team BAE now double teams Bayley. They work a sweet cradle swing spot that sends Bayley into the corner. Double pin leads to the obvious friction from Team BAE. Becky hits a sweet pumpshandle suplex on Sasha and follows wiht a series of leg drops on Bayley for two. Becky goes to Bayley’s injured leg with a dragon screw before applying a nice submission. Banks breaks it up and they go at it. Becky goes up top after dodging the Sasha knee drop and hits a nice missile dropkick. Charlotte breaks the pin and hits a neckbreaker. Charlotte gives a neckbreaker to Sasha too but Becky breaks the pin. Charlotte is delivering neckbreakers left and right as another nearly does it but only gets two. Sasha and Charlotte trade forearms in the middle of the ring. Sasha steals the “Woo”. She dodges Charlotte’s rebound Spear and sends her into Becky. Charlotte and Bayley do a wheelbarrow lungblower combo that looked like it hurt. Sasha is up though and sends Charlotte shoulder first into the post. Sasha drives Becky into Charlotte and sets them up on the ropes before driving the knees into Charlotte which drives her onto Becky. She covers both girls but can’t get the pin. Suplex from Bayley takes her out and she hits Charlotte with big elbows. She sets Charlotte on the top and connects on a top rope hurricanrana. Belly to Bayley hits but Becky pulls her out of the pin. Bayley sends her into the apron and nails a nice baseball slide similar to the Sami Zayn post DDT. Sasha nails them with a suicide dive as this has been non-stop action. Charlotte is in teh ring and does a plancha out onto all three ladies. She rolls Becky in who comes back with a knee and then an Exploder suplex for two. She now sets Charlotte up top. Bayley gets involved and German suplexes Becky. She follows Charlotte up for a second rope Belly to Bayley but Sasha breaks the pin. Banks covers but only gets two. Bank Statement is locked in but I doubt Charlotte will submit. Sasha breaks it to knock the other two girls away and goes back to the submission. Charlotte gets close but Sasha rears back hard and rolls her up for the win!
Winner and New NXT Women’s Champion: Sasha Banks in 11:53
Non-stop action. These girls continue to find ways to top each other each and every live special. The finish was amazing as Sasha pinned the Champion. All four girls looked great and this might have been the best Women’s match I’ve ever witnessed. ****1/4
Charlotte offers the post match handshake and Sasha Banks comes in for the hug. They get into a playful shoving match before Sasha “Woos” at her.
NXT Championship: Sami Zayn (c) vs. Kevin Owens
Sami Zayn is rocking new attire. “Lose Owens Lose” and “Fight Owens Fight” both come from the fans. At the bell, Kevin Owens goes outside as he did against Adrian Neville. It’s a good mind game from someone who knows Sami so well. Sami decides to leap over the referee and catch Owens with a front flip dive. Excellent! Inside, Sami continues the angry man role by firing away at Owens. Owens gets out of the corner and MURDERS Sami with a vicious clothesline. He does it again as Sami sells perfectly. He tosses Sami around the ring. He then chops Sami so hard that I felt it. Owens continues to pick apart Sami and gets some near falls. Sami tries to rally but runs into an elbow. Owens hits a slingshot suplex that Sami sells beautifully for. It gets two. Another sick Sami bump on a back suplex gets two. They go outside where Owens lights Sami up with more chests. He mocks the “OLE” taunt. Sami is a master at playing the resilient babyface as he takes a desperate swing at Owens. Back inside, even Owens’ stomps look brutal. Gutbuster and senton from Owens gets two again. A lariat from Sami connects as he shows fight. Two more hit with the last one sending Owens over and out. Sami follows and smashes Owens’ face into the steel steps. More clotheslines from Zayn outside before he runs into an elbow isnide. He ducks a swing and hits the Blue Thunder Bomb for two. Sami charges for the Helluva Kick but runs into a sick sounding superkick. Corner cannonball from Owens gets two. Sami looks dead on his feet as Owens hits the brainbuster on the knee. He covers but somehow Sami is able to kick out again! Owens tries a popup powerbomb but Sami blocks with a dropkick. Half nelson suplex from Sam is enough for a close near fall. Owens is on the apron as Sami lifts him and drives him into the post. Owens comes back with a stunner on the ropes. He climbs to the top but Sami is up and stops him. Owens headbutts him down and follows with a swanton bomb but Sami gets his knees up! Corner Exploder from Sami connects but Owens moves away form the Helluva Kick. They go outside and Owens tries the apron bomb but Sami gets free. He does the slingshot moonsault but whacks his head on the ramp. In the ring they go as Owens tries to get up in the corner. Sami charges for the Helluva Kick again but he’s disoriented so he stumbles. Owens catches him with the popup powerbomb but Sami gets a shoulder up. Sami is playing the “glazed look in his eyes” perfectly from the bump. They get to their feet and Owens just gets in vicious shots. He even hits a big uppercut as commentary is selling how little Sami has left. A trainer appears to help Sami but Owens pulls him away and hits another powerbomb. He lift shim for a second powerbomb. Owens puts his hands on Sami and covers but he instinctively gets the shoulder up again. More trainers are in to help him. Owens doesn’t give a fuck though. A third powerbomb comes as does a fourth. He tries a fifth but the referee stops this and calls for the bell.
Winner and New NXT Champion: Kevin Owens in 22:45
Storytelling at its finest. Kevin Owens just beat the hell out of Sami Zayn, who sold everything perfectly. Even the ending was great as the ref stoppage finish made Sami look resilient and Owens like a beast. The fans were silent after the match and Owens is now the beast of NXT. ****1/2
Overall: 9.5/10. So close to giving this the perfect score that I gave R Evolution but the Bull/Baron match wasn’t very good and the tag match underwhelmed. Everything else was fantastic. The opener was a hot start and Balor/Neville was a Match of the Year Candidate. Sasha Banks got her moment in an outstanding women’s match and the main event told a perfect story.