New-Watcher’s Thoughts On NXT TakeOver: Rival

Let me begin this post by stating that I have absolutely no problem with NXT, I actually agree with the majority that believe the show is often of a higher quality than either Raw or SmackDown. The one issue I have with NXT is getting into the swing of things, I’d say it’s because I haven’t purchased the Network yet, but that isn’t really an excuse as it’s available in England now and is even free during February. I’m not exactly sure why I haven’t taken an interest in NXT; when I started watching Raw again back in February of 2013, it was easy, I remembered John Cena, Randy Orton and CM Punk from when I watched in 2007. Whereas with NXT it’s a brand new promotion that is brimming with new talent I’m unfamiliar with, it’s overwhelming if anything, but that is absolutely no excuse.

This is my second ever post, so I don’t exactly know how to structure this, I’ll give my opinions on the show as a viewer who has only seen around six episodes of NXT. Not someone who is a die-hard fan, not myself with a similar knowledge of NXT as I do to other WWE programming, but just as a wrestling fan who wants to enjoy NXT. Due to me not regularly watching NXT, my knowledge of the show and its characters are very limited. I barely saw the build to Rival, I didn’t see the number one contender tournament, I had no idea why there was a diva’s fatal four-way and I had only seen the original powerbomb on Revolution. But that really didn’t taint the experience for me, I got to watch the show for the wrestling, and was exposed to the stories through the pre-match promos.

I’ve tried watching NXT about four times now, the first two were unsuccessful, as it just didn’t click for me, the third was with TakeOver: Revolution and that left a huge impression, but not enough to completely hook me. Rival was my fourth attempt and because of a few reasons, I can say I will be tuning into next week’s episode. Whether that will be enough, I’m unsure, but I can honestly say that I enjoyed Rival just as much, if not more than the regular WWE pay-per views.

NXT Rival

I’ve never really liked Tyler Breeze, similar to Ziggler, in my opinion it’s their arrogance, it just doesn’t really resonate with me when you’re gimmick is based around being the best, or a show-off, but you lose a majority of your matches. Don’t get me wrong they both do fine by me in the ring and the way Tyler played off the fan  interference at the beginning was perfect, he stood there and let it seem like it was all part of the plan (It may well have been scripted, I don’t know enough about his entrance to be sure). One of the reason’s I enjoy Hideo’s matches is his style, it’s well-paced, strongly offensive, and seems really easy for other wrestlers to work with. I didn’t see him fight as Kenta, but I have seen him since his debut with Finn and it only impresses me more and more by the way he adapts to the other wrestlers, as well as the “WWE” style. The GTS tease always has me marking out as hard as the fans do and I am really looking forward to the day when the stars align and we see Daniel Bryan vs. Hideo Itami featured in WWE programming. The match was based around Tyler Breeze attacking Hideo Itami, I think it was because Itami beat Breeze, but then lost against Balor, so Breeze was frustrated, that’s the story I gathered. It was the culmination to their little feud and it was interesting to see Hideo wrestle; the only problems are his English and adaptation to a different cultural style. Once he’s got those out of he way, the jets will be set on his feet to match the speed of the other new recruits, Kevin Owens and Finn Balor.

I didn’t see a lot of the build to Baron Corbin vs. Bull Dempsey, I believe they’d fought a few times before, but I’d only seen their initial stare off and some of their squash matches. However, to me, the match seemed kind of rushed, the no-disqualification wasn’t really used and was only put in place to make both competitors look strong. Dempsey looked far too over-zealous, he’d improvised after the failed falling over the ropes spot and made the flying headbutt look extremely ineffective. He was rushing around a lot, making it seem like he’d been booked to look weaker, which didn’t really help add to the effect of both of these men being indestructible tanks. The finish however, was quick and clean; Corbin slid into position, hit The End Of Days and planted Bull into the mat. The physicality of the finisher mixed with the weight of Dempsey was definitely something to witness.

Bull and Baron

I have no knowledge of Buddy Murphy or Wesley Blake, but their tag-team match with the Lucha Dragons was flamboyant to say the least. Buddy and Wesley were clearly able to retaliate against the Lucha Dragons’ high-flying offense, who came out with some quick, fast-paced maneuvers. Unfortunately, that wasn’t enough and we saw the first of three title changes of the night. This was then followed by a strange message which stated that the takeover wasn’t over. I, as well as probably most other viewers have no idea what this means, it’s caught my interest and is one of the reasons I’ll be watching NXT next week. The part I didn’t like about the “Hacker” tease was how poorly the commentators played it off. They weren’t shocked, they weren’t intrigued, they weren’t anything, it was just “Eh, I thought something went wrong with my monitor”.

Finn Balor and Adrian Neville are possibly my two favourites in NXT; Neville just possesses this absolute top-quality and skillful wrestling style, while Balor has an equally empowering presence about him. It’s a presence you know he’s worked on his entire life and that really shows, particularly as it’s something that even top-card superstars struggle to master. This was arguably my most anticipated match on the show, and rightfully so. Neville and Balor’s styles merged perfectly together, both of them are high-flyers, but they like to go about it in different ways. A drop-kick through a barricade, clothesline that turned Neville inside out and second-rope corkscrew were just a few of the moves these men went through. However, even though all of those favored Finn, it was he who was struggling to gain offense throughout the match. It was only at the end when the sequence of a countered Red Arrow, devastating running dropkick and two feet to the chest of Neville managed to claim Finn the victory. Meaning that Finn Balor is now next in line to face the NXT champion.

Adrian and Finn

The only issue I had with the diva’s match was the lack of employment of Becky Lynch; understandably, Charlotte took the brunt of the beating due to being champion, Bayley gave the offense and Sasha played the sly heel who stole the victory. What did Becky really do? Besides that pump-handle suplex, she seemed to take the part of “Bayley’s landing cushion”. I’d heard a lot about Bayley, she loves hugs, is adored by fans and epitomizes what a squeaky clean baby face should be, which is why I was so shocked by the intensity she showed during the four-way. Come on, a Belly to Bayley off the top-rope, that’s impressive and the exact opposite of what I expected from a character like Bayley, it had me rooting for her throughout the match. However, The Boss, Sasha Banks prevailed and walked out the NXT women’s champion after defending the ring from Becky and Bayley, allowing her to hit Charlotte with a combination of submissions, followed by a pin. My one gripe with the match would be Becky Lynch, I felt she wasn’t utilised enough throughout and that made it seem like the match could have benefited from being a triple threat. I’m not sure if that’s an unfair statement to make, but that’s the impression I got from seeing just the fatal four-way.

Brutal, that’s the word I’d use to describe the main event of NXT TakeOver: Rival. Graphic, visceral and extreme are a few others, once again, I don’t know too much about either Owens nor Zayn, but I can say that the match was executed very well. Firstly, although everyone in NXT has talent, some might even have “It”, Kevin Owens is something else. His intensity is similar to what we saw in Goldberg and that we still see in Brock Lesnar today. Sami really knew how to work with Owens, which makes sense, I mean, what do we expect? As the promo stated, they’ve been working with and alongside one another for a decade now and it’s only fitting that they get to headline an NXT event for the title. The match really played to both competitors’ strengths, whether it were the chops, the forearms, the Irish whips or the suplexes, Owens was made to look like an unstoppable and merciless monster who couldn’t care less about his former “friend”. While Sami Zayn on the other hand was the always-fighting champion who didn’t give up by his own merit, it took two doctors and the referee to come to the decision that enough was enough, crowing Owens as the NXT champion. I don’t know if I’d compare this to John Cena vs. Brock Lenar at SummerSlam 2014, or that of an actual UFC fight, it was relentless and I loved every second of it.

Sami and Kevin

I can say only good things about NXT TakeOver: Rival, we saw some cool moments. Three championships changed hands, Baron Corbin smashed Bull Dempsey’s head into the mat, Kevin Owens eviscerated his opponent, becoming the new NXT champion and Finn Balor stepped up as the number one contender who will fight Kevin Owens for the title. I’ll be watching next week and if that doesn’t grab me, I’ll definitely be watching the next special.

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