NXT and their live specials tend to deliver, so there's always high hopes for these. Hideo Itami was forced to miss the show thanks to a shoulder injury so the Number One Contender's match was changed to a singles bout. Finn Balor always gets a special entrance for these, but Tyler Breeze was allowed one also. It gave this a WrestleMania like feel. The match itself was the usual fun stuff that these two deliver. I appreciated Finn leaping from the new stage. We also got some cool near falls as Finn is one of the few people to kick out of the Beauty Shot. They got a little more than eleven minutes to deliver and they put on a good show. Finn was able to win with the double stomp. I enjoyed this and it was a good choice to open. ***1/2
For the first time on an NXT live special, we are treated to two Divas matches. And why not? These girls, sans Dana Brooke, have all earned it. Bayley and Charlotte teamed up against Brooke and Emma. This was a blast. It wasn't the best tag team match in history, but it was exactly what it should have been. Absolute fun. Bayley is always a joy to watch in the ring and she played the sympathetic face in peril to perfection. The hot tag to Charlotte was well done too, since she's been billed as pretty unstoppable in NXT lore. Even Dana Brooke didn't look too bad here. The fans enjoyed it and so did I, but I do know that the ladies of NXT can do better. They have set a very high bar. **1/2
Baron Corbin is someone that I happen to see potential in, but he's been working squashes. Not just squashes, but really quick squashes and for too long. Here, he faced off against the veteran Rhyno. Baron has been better against vets who know the business and Rhyno certainly fits that mold. However, Baron is at his very best against smaller guys as far as I've seen. This wasn't bad but maybe eight minutes was a bit much for them. Early on, they seemed to just be killing time. I think this should have had more of an ECW feel or something to make it different from the rest of the card and play off the Rhyno stuff. Baron continues to improve and hopefully we see more against vets from him. **
Unfortunately, the NXT Tag Team division has always left a little something to be desired compared to the rest of the brand. Blake and Murphy have potential as champions but they've had to flesh out more of a personality, which they've been doing lately. Enzo and Cass are incredibly over but lack in the ring. Enzo must have heard me mention this and came out on his game. He busted out some moves I didn't expect and looked far better than I've ever seen him in the ring. Cass looked better than usual too. I expected Carmella to turn on Enzo and Cass, but it was Alexa Bliss who came out to attack her and cost Enzo and Cass the match. She has aligned herself with the Tag Team Champions and turned heel. Not sure how that will work but I'm interested. The match itself was solid and better than expected. **3/4
I have expressed my love for Sasha Banks as a performer for a long time now. I like Becky Lynch too, but she hasn't gotten a chance to fully shine yet. This was her chance and both girls delivered like never before. I say it at every special, but I never know how these girls will best themselves the next time. After that sick Four Way earlier this year, these two bested it. The psychology was outstanding as both girls worked the arm in tremendous, but different ways. The selling was on point, the match was fluid and everything just completely clicked. Sasha won via the Bank Statement in a classic. Becky sold the arm work even after the match and the disappointment of losing while getting a standing ovation. Seriously, this was the best singles match in the WWE this year. Absolutely incredible. ****1/2
If you didn't see the show, you're probably confused at the picture to the left. The main event was indeed Kevin Owens vs. Sami Zayn. It was told perfectly. Owens, the beast that he is, was overwhelmed by Sami coming out firing. Sami beat him up around the arena and in the crowd. This was perfect. However, it only takes a second for Owens to change that, and he does it with a popup powerbomb onto the apron. I love that the move is being sold as such a big deal. Officials checked on Zayn but Owens wouldn't stop. Not even William Regal could get him to stop. So some unfamiliar music hit and Samoa fucking Joe appeared. He is even called by that name and has a shirt supporting it. He gets into a staredown with Owens, but the NXT Champion leaves. Great match here that told the story it needed to. ***3/4.
As for the overall show, it wasn't quite on the level of the past two TakeOvers but that's not a bad thing. I gave those shows a 10/10 and 9/10. This one is slightly below, earning an 8.5/10. Sasha Banks and Becky Lynch is a must see if you're a wrestling fan, Samoa Joe's debut was well done, the opener is fun and the show moves briskly. NXT delivers yet again.