“The Champ Is Here”
NXT: Takeover- Unstoppable just finished up a little while ago and I have to tip my cap to the guys and gals in NXT because they delivered once again. Highlighted by the WWE debut of Samoa Joe, NXT Takeover: Unstoppable ha everything you can think of from surprises, to great matches and everything in between. It seems that with every NXT special they find a way to top themselves. I’m going to start right at the top and take you all the way through the NXT: Takeover Unstoppable live special. Lets get right into the highlights,
1) The Preshow- I’ve said it before the NXT preshow taking place on campus, while the fans are filing into the arena is great. It reminds of like an MTV Spring Break Special I used to watch as a kid where everyone seemed so young and cool that I couldn’t wait to get to Cancun, Mexico. The excitement of the fans in the outdoor beautiful Florida weather does a great job in getting, at least me, ready and excited for the special. As an aside I should also say that Corey Graves is quickly becoming a modern day Michael Hayes with that suit In any event, I also like the way they explained the Hideo Itami injury and teased that perhaps Kevin Owens had something to do with it. Imagine six months from now Itami comes back for revenge against Owens on the main roster?
2) Unstoppable- The opening for this show may have actually been the best non Wrestlemania open to a pay per view/ live special in years. They did a great job in showing how fast the brand was growing with footage of fans who’ve attended shows mixed in with legends putting over the brand and then NXT’s presence at Wrestlemania. Then as they hyped the show, every match seemed important especially being showed over the great Motionless In white track properly titled “Unstoppable”. Great stuff all around.
3) Finn Balor vs. Tyler Breeze– These two guys could be up on the main roster as big time stars for WWE right now. Both entrances were top-notch from the special effects to the attire. Finn Balor, in particular, continues to add so much to his costume design that I say we’re only a year or two away from a breath-taking entrance from him at Wrestlemania. As for the match itself, it was such a fun opener and both men left it all out there. Balor going up for the dive off the top of the set was both insane and awesome. I was actually glad to see this match start off the show as it kicked off the event with a bang and allowed for the two not to get lost in the shuffle the rest of the night.
4) Divas Tag– Let me start off by saying that you can tell that Bayley is really a sweetheart. When she made her entrance she threw something to a fan and continued to walk to the ring but when she saw that it fell on the floor, walked back picked it up and made sure the fan got it. The match itself was solid and Emma took Charlotte’s finisher right on her head, it was absolutely brutal looking. Good for her for going back to NXT, trying to reinvent herself and showing a different side to her character.
5) Rhyno vs. Baron Corbin- Good stuff outta the big guys in this one. I like that NXT offers something for everyone from high flyers to athletic divas to brolic brawlers, to me wrestling has a place for all types of wrestling. I feel that Corbin continues to improve everytime out and working with a veteran like Rhyno (who hasn’t lost a step) has only helped him. It makes sense for Corbin to get the win as Rhyno’s role is clearly to be the veteran to help elevate the young guys and make them look good. He’s been a great addition to the NXT roster and continues to get a ton of crowd support.
6) Tag Title Match– I can tell you from expeience that Enzo and Cass’ entrance is as fun for the live crowd as it looks. That said I’m a pretty big fan of Blake & Murphy. I like that they were given the titles out of nowhere and continue to improve as tag champs. Their new entrance is way better than the raw dubstep music as well. The double team powerbomb/backstabber combination was absolutely hideous and I’m a sucker for double team moves from tag teams. Some will say this was the time to pull the trigger and give Enzo and Cass the belts but I disagree. Enzo and Cass are so over they don’t need the titles whereas I feel that the titles make Blake and Murphy at this stage of their careers.I also like Colin Cassady has to be a frontrunner for most improved wrestler of the year, he was so great in their comeback.
7) Becky Lynch vs. Sasha Banks- Holy crap talk about giving Divas a chance. When was the last time you saw a divas match get not only a hype video package but also the old backstage hype music as the contender and champion enter the arena? By the time this match started I could not wait to see it…and boy did it deliver. It’s truly amazing how well the women deliver when they are given the time. The omen continue to be a highlight of every NXT show and a focal point of the NXT brand. This, for me was the match of the night and deserved every “this is awesome” and “this is wrestling” chant they got all night. This was unquestionably the coming out party for Becky Lynch, who was made into a bona-fide star even in a losing effort. Sasha Banks should be the diva that WWE is planning to build around, she plays her character so well, has great theme music and is great in the ring, she’s the complete package. The ending was so realistic with Becky having no choice but to tap out to the Bank statement despite wanting it oh so bad. Then at the end it made sense for Becky to get emotional as it shows how much the NXT Womens title means. The crowd then singing Becky’s theme song while giving her a standing ovation, really magnified how great of a performance she had.
8) Sami Zayn vs. Kevin Owens- This is my early choice for feud of the year, just look how good that video package was. What a great story they told leading up to this match with Zayn returning home to Montreal to find himself following losing his title, fantastic stuff. Kevin Owens showing up with the US title “champ is here” John Cena shirt was so good that even Sami had a hard time not cracking up and then Owens throwing the shirt on the ground was even better, He is a great heel! I’m not sure if Sami Zayn was hurt but if he was he isn’t human. These guys absolutely tore the house down! This was a fun brawl that went all around the NXT arena and was only amplified by a great hot crowd. The caught pop up powerbomb onto the apron was the spot of the night as I just don’t know how ya take that. It made sense for the officials to stop the match right then and there. It’s amazing that Kevin Owens has been right in everything that he’s said he was going to do as a heel. Owens is quickly transitioning from the guy just trying to do all he can to support his family even if that means turning on his friends to a maniacal villain with zero compassion whatsoever. To have things get so out of hand that Owens even put his hands on William Regal lead to the perfect time to debut Samoa Joe. Joe looked like an absolute killer that the crowd was genuinely shocked to see. This was also a great way to write Sami Zayn off of NXT, whether he’s getting called up or if he’s going to have to take time off to heal his injuries, and transition to Samoa Joe. It also made sense not to have Joe and Owens touch as Joe did enough just by showing up. The only person Kevin Owens has backed down to at all since debuting was Samoa Joe and that automatically made him a big deal.
Well I’ll tell you, I was had! Triple H did such a great job downplaying any Samoa Joe rumors during his conference call that I didn’t even mention it during my spotlight on the call. It truly a great debut magnified by the storytelling in which Kevin Owens was built up as a complete remorseless monster and the NXT roster needed a savior, Samoa Joe was that savior. It’ll be very interesting to see if Samoa Joe is going to keep his name because he was referred to as Samoa Joe several times during his appearance. To me Joe is the last big name guy, other than AJ Styles, in North America who’s never been in WWE and now finally is. Overall, I was left feeling really optimistic following this show and can’t wait to see what happens next at NXT.