As Royal Ramblers will know, we have taken a keen interest in WWE's NXT promotion, which is run on the WWE network and soon to be available on these shores. We asked out resident NXT expert, Alex Leventhall to review the most recent NXT pay-per-view, Takeover II and his blog follows.
On Thursday September the 11th, WWE's developmental federation NXT produced it's third live spectacular for the WWE Network, NXT Takeover: Fatal 4 Way. With two previous successes, there was added pressure for the NXT show to deliver. As a result, WWE had the four men involved in the NXT main event showcase their skills on RAW. This move indicates that WWE is now firmly behind NXT not just as a developmental territory for new stars, but also as a main selling point for the WWE Network.
The show itself was very good, albeit a tale of two halves. It kicked off with NXT Tag Champions 'The Ascension' (Konnor and Viktor) defending the title that they have held for close to a year against 'The Lucha Dragons', a team made up of main roster talent Sin Cara, and developmental Luchador Kalisto. This was a fun match to kick off the show which saw the high flyers take both the win and the titles. Kalisto in particular, showed signs of being a future Rey Mysterio in the making!
The second match of the night saw newcomer Baron Corbin squash The Eco Warrior CJ Parker. Put together on the pre-show, this lasted just 30 seconds. Corbin has a great presence and look and based on this match, he has a bright future.
Match three was the hair vs hair match between Sylvester Lefort (with Marcus Louis) against fan favourite Enzo Amore (with Big Cass). These two have been feuding for over a year although Enzo was out with a broken leg for much of that time, and this looked to be the big pay off. The match finished when Lefort was distracted and Enzo rolled him up for the three. The crowd is sold on the smaller but charismatic Amore (and larger Cass) and I think they'll succeed on the main roster. Sadly we were deprived of Lefort being shorn and instead his wingman Marcus Louis had a bucket of 'hair removal solution' poured on his head.
Next up was the much hyped debut of KENTA in NXT. WWE did very well to present this as a major event and aired a well-produced promo video. NXT General Manager William Regal introduced him and Kenta played to the crowd before revealing his new name, 'Hideo Itami', not that this stopped the KENTA chants! The segment continued with the disgruntled Ascension coming out to (unsuccessfully) attack Itami, who stood tall.
The first hour ended with a match between Bull Dempsey and Mojo Rawley. To my surprise Bull Dempsey beat Rawley in under two minutes. This seemed odd considering that Rawley has enjoyed a six-month push but in truth, neither of them impressed and I doubt their futures.
As the second hour began, we were treated to the first of our two main events, a match for the NXT Womens Championship between Bayley and the champion Charlotte (Ric Flair's daughter). This was a fantastic match that had the crowd enthralled throughout. Bayley played her role as the underdog to perfection and whilst Charlotte delivered a messy moonsault before hitting her finisher for the win, it took nothing away from the quality of the match. After the match Charlotte's former partner Sasha Banks came down to attack Bayley, but Charlotte saved Bailey, which will likely set up a triple threat match at the next live special. NXT is particularly good at building up the women's matches and should be commended for it.
The Fatal 4 Way main event for the NXT Championship followed. This was a fantastic match and for me was the first time in all three NXT specials where the main event was match of the night. There were plenty of near falls and the match included a couple of very memorable spots including a four man double-suplex power bomb from the top rope!
Some exceptional sports from Sami Zayn had the crowd on their feet, certain their fan favourite was about to win the title. However, an astute Adrian Neville pulled the referee out of the ring before the three count. After neutralizing Zayn, Neville climbed to the top rope and hit the 'Red Arrow' on Tyson Kidd to retain the NXT Championship.
This was a fantastic match from four young hungry wrestlers and seems to set up a huge match between NXT standouts Adrian Neville and Sami Zayn for the NXT Championship at the next live special which will probably take place late this year or early next year, before they inevitably move up to the main roster.
Whilst NXT Takeover: Fatal 4 Way probably wasn't the strongest of the three specials, the second hour more than made up for the first it with two fantastic wrestling matches.
HHH has done a fantastic job with these shows and has really managed to make NXT stand out as it's own unique brand. As the tagline says, 'The Future Is Now'.