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Not enough attention is being given to perhaps the greatest wrestling show on television, so I’m working to fix that. Not only am I about to review NXT TakeOver: REvolution, but if it’s as great as I think it’s going to be, there’s going to be a regular podcast dedicated almost exclusively to this particular WWE brand. More on that later…

Kevin Owens

Seeing the NXT debut of Kevin Steen, now referred to in the WWE Universe as “Kevin Owens”, was a great way to start the show. The fans were into it, like they should be with a guy of Kevin’s caliber, and they didn’t rely too much on referencing things from Ring Of Honor. They seem to have bought into the “Fight Owens Fight!” thing, as I didn’t hear reference to “Steen” once from the fans. The way things transpired in the match was good as well. It wasn’t just a squash match by Owens, as CJ Parker DID get some offense in. The end of the match saw a couple of very impactful moves from the bloodied Owens, one of which (the setup move) was a sick looking pumphandle driver onto the back of Owens’ knee. Whether it’s that move or his lift powerbomb finisher, one of Kevin’s moves is going to incorporate “KO”, and the knockout reference is well deserved.

Corey Graves

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that Corey Graves has moved from the locker room to the announce desk, much to the disappointment of those who enjoy his in-ring work. Apparently he’s had too many concussions for the medical team’s taste, so he now gets to be involved in a new aspect of the business. I won’t go over his work on NXT TakeOver: REvolution, as it’s not really fair to predict how he’s going to do after just one night.

Tag Team Championship Match

The Lucha Dragons defending the belts against The Vaudvillains is a great match to feature in this event because it doesn’t feature the two best teams on the NXT roster, but the belts give us reason to care nevertheless. The Vaudvillains could have some potential in this business – perhaps more than The Ascension – because of their entertaining gimmicks. They need to do better about doing things in the ring to play up to the crowd, especially in big matches like this. That’s probably why the Lucha Dragons went over, so The Vaudvillains could take more time to “evolve”. On an interesting note, one of the announcers mentioned that Kalisto was pulling out some moves which would make Rey Mysterio jealous… and I don’t think that comment was impromptu.

Baron Corbin and Bull Dempsey

I didn’t care much about the match where Corbin destroyed some random opponent, but what I do like is how they used the aftermath to start something between Corbin and Bull Dempsey. It won’t be the full reason I tune in on Thursdays, but it all adds up to a show I don’t want to miss.

The Ascension vs Itami & Balor

balor-paint-widgetThis was the match I was most looking forward to seeing on the show. I’ve yet to be too impressed by The Ascension, mostly due to lack of competition. I’m a big fan of Hideo Itami’s work prior to joining NXT. And I’ve heard nothing but AMAZING things about Finn Balor. Though Finn crawling a lot during his entrance was a bit weird for my taste, his makeup, production value and attire were incredible. Seeing the way he’s done this before, I was a little worried that he wasn’t going to do this in NXT and I’m glad they did. The light work and the music and smoke were all top notch. The guy goes way beyond just being a wrestler, he’s a performance artist unlike many the WWE Universe have seen.

The match itself started out fast and exciting, and it showcased all four guys well. The Ascension looked like a decent team, which actually lead me to one of my favorite announcer comments of the night, where the question is posed “how do you beat these guys?!” and Corey Graves says “No, that’s why I lost my tag titles to them!”. Analysis like that is going to make it interesting to have Graves on the mic, as he’s been in the ring with a lot of guys on the NXT roster. The end of the match was fun, with a tease of Hideo Itami doing the Go2Sleep, which HE innovated before CM Punk started using it. Then they teased The Ascension doing their finishing move before showing some teamwork between Itami and Balor.

One thing I’m very curious about at this point is whether or not Itami and Balor will be a full-time tag team, or whether this was just a way to introduce both of them. The other thing that everyone should be wondering is whether or not Hideo Itami will be using the Go2Sleep, as it’s unlikely CM Punk will be back anytime soon now that he’s a part of UFC.

Charlotte: Flair or Not?

I like Charlotte, I really do. She’s super talented in the ring. She’s pretty. She can cut a promo. Having Ric Flair show up at her big matches is a really good thing for the young champion, as it really adds considerable credibility to the division as a whole. But why is it that she’s not listed as “Charlotte Flair”? She has the music that her dad used remixed in as part of her theme song. So why not just take the next step? During the hype videos for this match against Sasha Banks, I heard it mentioned more than once that Sasha Banks taught Charlotte everything she (Charlotte) knows”…. are we really supposed to believe that The Nature Boy didn’t teach Charlotte anything? It’s absurd and it partially detracts from the credibility of one of the top women in this business, if just ever so slightly.

As for the match, Sasha Banks’ submission hold, where she bends her opponent over backwards into an arc with their own arms crossed over their neck, is a sick move. Having Sasha Banks use Charlotte’s Figure Four headlock was a good idea. The last four minutes of the match were good enough that even guys who don’t typically enjoy women’s wrestling will probably enjoy it.

Sami Zayn vs Adrian Neville

Can Zayn win the big one? That’s what everything has been building up towards in all of Sami’s big event matches in NXT. It told a good story, it helped get people firmly behind him like a modern day Mikey Whipwreck, and now one of two things happen: either Sami FINALLY wins and it’s a big moment, or he turns heel. I don’t think NXT is ready for Zayn to head up to RAW or Smackdown just yet, despite the fact that Zayn is MORE than ready to be there.

Selfishly, I want to see Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens team up, even if it’s just a one-off thing.

This match was incredible, but you knew that. You knew going into this match that Zayn and Neville was going to feature some outstanding spots. In fact, there were a couple moves they did in this match that I’ve never seen done before. The German Suplex from Neville, where he shoved Zayne into the ropes chest first to give him more momentum on the suplex was one that probably won’t get much in the way of mention for its creativity, but it’s stuff like that which really adds some flare to wrestlers.

The ending to this match, having things finish out the way they did with the tease of Zayn potentially getting disqualified, then teasing him potentially getting tricked into a stupid mistake yet again, was perfect. They kept the emotion in the match, they kept the pace going at an unbelievable pace, and in the end we get a great moment…

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…followed by the start of the build towards the next top-tier feud in NXT, guaranteeing that I’ll be tuning in each week to NXT on Thursdays!

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