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Random thoughts about NXT Takeover: Rival

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Yesterday the first NXT Takeover show of the year was broadcast live on the WWE Network. Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn continued their ongoing feud from their Ring of Honour days with Zayn’s NXT Championship on the line, and also the tournament finals to determine the number one contender for the NXT Championship would be contested between Finn Balor and former champion, Adrian Neville. This article contains SPOILERS so if you don’t want to know the results piss off now.

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Hideo Itami def. Tyler Breeze via pinfall

No Disqualification match: Baron Corbin def. Bull Dempsey via pinfall

NXT Tag Team Championship: Wesley Blake & Buddy Murphy© def. The Lucha Dragons (Sin Cara & Kalisto) after Blake pinned Cara

#1 Contender match: Finn Balor def. Adrian Neville via pinfall

NXT Women’s Championship: Sasha Banks def. Charlotte ©, Bayley and Becky Lynch after Banks pinned Charlotte.

NXT Championship: Kevin Owens def. Sami Zayn © after referee stoppage.

***Random Thoughts***

Right off the bat I’ve got to say that the crowd was awesome. They were obviously an older crowd but they reacted at the right time for all the right moments. Sometimes a crowd can make a good show amazing. This was proved here at Rival.

Excellent main event! This was very much like the Brock Lesnar vs. John Cena match from SummerSlam of last year, in that Owens was basically squashing Zayn throughout the first several minutes of the match. The story of the match was that Zayn suffered a concussion while attempting a springboard moonsault on Owens on the floor. Zayn tried to continue but it was clear that he was in no fit state to do so hence why the doctors would keep checking on him, but Owens would continue to beat on him without remorse. Kevin Owens was such a heartless bastard here. Once he saw the condition Zayn was in it was like a red rag to a bull. He didn’t care what the fans thought about his tactics, he just wanted the NXT Championship much like the way Rock & Austin panned out at WrestleMania 17 with all those chair shots at the end. That’s how you make a dominant heel and a sympathetic babyface. Great booking! This was the kind of match you which makes you wish Jim Ross was calling.

As things stand, the fatal four way match is my pick for match of the year. That’s a pretty bold statement to make considering it was a divas match! All four girls worked extremely hard with each one of them having a shining moment.  Sasha Banks going over was the right call in my opinion. I think she’s excellent. She’s so talented and at only just 23 years of age, she’s got a very bright future ahead of her. With Charlotte no longer the women’s champion, I expect her to be promoted to the main roster real soon.

Speaking about people with a bright future, Finn Balor has all the tools to be a major player. What a match he had with Adrian Neville. So many false finishes throughout with both guys going all out for the win which made competing for the NXT Championship seem like a big deal. I had a hunch Balor would win since Neville is rumoured to called up to the main roster so he can play Mighty Mouse (for fuck’s sake). Listen to those reactions he gets. He’s mega over. Once he gets promoted, I hope to God that Vince believes in him the same way Hunter does and he doesn’t become another victim of bad booking. Please don’t repackage him as Finny O’Devitt the dancing sailor man, let him continue doing what he’s doing now.

Minus a few mistakes, the tag match was solid. Blake and Murphy remind me so much of an old school babyface tag team and the Lucha Dragons have great chemistry.  I hope these rumours about Kalisto getting repackaged as a gay hairdresser aren’t true. Let him be that replacement for Rey Mysterio that Sin Cara was originally supposed to be. Vince sure as hell loves his camp gimmicks, right?

I think Cory Graves is a pretty good commentator. It sucks that he had to retire because I felt he had more to offer but as they say, one door closes another one opens. I won’t be surprised if he ends up on either Raw or Smackdown within the next year or so.

Overall Show Rating (out of 10): 9

Fantastic show from start to finish. NXT rekindles that feeling I used to have for wrestling when it was the early Hulkamania days or even the Attitude era in the sense that it was must see TV where everyone had a unique gimmick and the storylines were great. It’s unique and the matches are a breath of fresh air compared to those we see on Raw & Smackdown.  For all the hate Triple H gets, you can’t deny that he has a passion for the business and, like me, wants it to return to its former glory.  I have no worries he’ll do a good job once he takes over from Vinny Mac.

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