Welcome to KB’s Old School (and New School) Reviews. I’ve been reviewing wrestling shows for over ten years now and have reviewed over 5,000 shows. Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, I’ll be posting a new review here on Wrestlingrumors.net, starting today. It could be anything from modern WWE to old school to indies to anything in between. Note that I rate using letters instead of stars and I don’t rate matches under three minutes as really, how good or bad can something that short be?
Takeover: The End
Date: June 8, 2016
Location: Full Sail University, Winter Park, Florida
Commentators: Tom Phillips, Corey Graves
The subtitle for this show is both confusing and a little worrying. What exactly does The End mean? The last match in the Balor vs. Samoa Joe feud? Well maybe, but there’s always the chance that WWE will make a much bigger change that could mess up NXT for a long time to come. Hopefully the show is at least good. Let’s get to it.
The opening video looks back at the early days of NXT, including the days of Seth Rollins, Paige and the Wyatt Family. Those names all came up to the main roster to find major success and a new generation took their places. It is inevitable that all things must come to an end, which takes us into the build to tonight’s card. The voiceover says tonight a new era begins and this is the end of the beginning, which at least makes it sound like they’re not closing the promotion or anything.
Tye Dillinger vs. Andrade Cien Almas
To say Dillinger’s entrance is over would be the understatement of the year. Almas comes to the ring without a mask, which isn’t exactly what I had in mind based on the videos that hyped him up. Above all else, when you think about lucha libre, you think of the masks. If nothing else the fans are happy to see him. That being said, they immediately go into a LET’S GO TYE chant as the feeling out process begins. A rollup gives Tye two and he cartwheels into the TEN pose.
Almas hits a running hurricanrana to send Dillinger outside but poses in the ropes instead of following him out. Back in and Tye gets one off a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker but gets elbowed in the face. Almas misses his top rope moonsault but immediately snaps off a standing moonsault for two instead. Cool spot. A handstand in the corner is blocked with a hard superkick for two and the fans are WAY into that one. The kneepad goes down but the Tyebreaker is broken up. Instead it’s a pair of running knees in the corner to rock Tye. Almas does it again for the pin at 5:22.
Rating: C+. Almas did some good stuff here but I’m not sure how much it’s clicking. The lack of a mask hurts him as you just kind of expect one on a luchador. They were smart to keep the match short here as Tye isn’t the biggest star in the world and it makes sense to have Almas shrug him off and hit his stuff for the win. Not bad, but it’s not the most thrilling stuff.
One of those matches that would be very different today:
Tag Team Titles: Revival vs. American Alpha
Alpha is defending. Gable starts for the champs against Dawson and it’s already a four way standoff in the first thirty seconds. The fans are WAY behind Gable here, even as Wilder wristlocks him down. It’s back to Dawson who forearms Gable down as the pace picks up (which you don’t often see with Dawson). A flying headscissors takes Dawson down and it’s off to Jordan for those scary high dropkicks. Another staredown turns into a fight with Alpha getting the better of it and slapping on stereo ankle locks.
After a double rope grab, Jordan suplexes Wilder down and it’s back to Gable. For once this goes well for Revival, as Dawson uppercuts him out to the floor. Back in and Jordan offers a distraction so Gable can hit a top rope double clothesline into a double dropkick to send Revival outside. That sequence was so smooth it could have been out of a Rock N Roll Express match. The referee gets rid of Jordan so Wilder can snap Gable’s throat across the top rope to take over.
It’s off to an armbar but Dawson misses a series of elbow drops. Gable dives over but Dawson cuts him off with a spinebuster for a sweet counter. Wilder comes back in and slaps on an armbar, only to have Gable send him outside. Dawson gets the tag though and shoves a diving Gable out of the air to block the hot tag AGAIN. Sweet goodness they’re milking the heck out of this and it’s awesome.
Dawson and Wilder both come in but Gable slips out of a slam and goes through all four legs to FINALLY get over to Jordan. The crowd is all awake again as Jordan spears Wilder in the corner and gets two off a suplex. A top rope sunset flip with Wilder taking Gable down (and Jordan’s singlet coming down) gives Dawson two. Gable tags himself in for a German suplex/dropkick combination for two on Dawson.
There’s the ankle lock on Dawson and he reaches for the rope, which certainly looks like a tap but doesn’t count. Instead it’s Dawson kicking him into a shot from Wilder and Alpha is in trouble again. Dawson loads up a powerbomb for a top rope clothesline from Wilder but Gable reverses into a belly to belly suplex (ala Rick Steiner back in the day) for two of his own. Grand Amplitude is loaded up but Gable gets sent outside, leaving Jordan to walk into the Shatter Machine for the pin and the titles at 15:52.
Rating: B+. This was a blast with some old school NWA style tag wrestling and a breakneck pace for a long time. They were moving here for about sixteen minutes and I bought more than one near fall as the finish. American Alpha are some glorious hybrid of the Steiner and the Rock N Roll Express while the Revival are as close to a modern Arn Anderson/Tully Blanchard as you’re going to find. Great stuff here and all kinds of fun.
Post match the Revival leaves and two unnamed monsters come in to destroy American Alpha. Hall of Fame manager Paul Ellering (Legion of Doom’s manager) comes out to the stage to look on approvingly.
Meet your new monsters:
We recap Austin Aries vs. Shinsuke Nakamura. There’s not much of a personal issue here but they both want to prove that they’re the best. I’ve heard of far worse reasons for two top names to face off.
This is how you make an entrance:
Aries is coming in with bad ribs. The fans sing Nakamura’s song for the cool moment to start the match and are WAY behind him, even though this is face vs. face. They take their time to start with neither being able to get very far off a wristlock. A low dropkick misses Nakamura and it’s back to a stalemate. Nakamura seems ready to put his head on Aries’ chest and swing his arms but Aries isn’t pleased.
Now the basement dropkick connects but it’s too early for the Last Chancery. Aries tells him to bring it and Nakamura….I think smiles? His facials are always hard to read. A front facelock keeps Aries down and the fans are behind Nakamura all over again. There’s Good Vibrations but Aries blocks another attempt and nails a shinbreaker. It’s time to focus on the knee and a running dropkick in the corner bangs the knee up even more.
A middle rope elbow to the back gets two and we hit a neck crank to keep Nakamura in trouble. Aries stays on the neck/back with some more knees and a nerve hold as the fans are all over him. You can see Aries morphing into heel mode and really, that’s the best move for him in a match like this. Nakamura is back up with a spinning kick to the head and the running knee in the corner for two of his own. Not to be outdone, Aries knees him right back, followed by a hard shot to put him on the floor.
The always awesome suicide dive sets up an NXT chant and gets two. Back in and Aries adjusts his tape, allowing Nakamura to pull him into a triangle choke. Aries makes the rope in a hurry but the damage seems to have been done. Nakamura unloads on him with knees to the head but Kinshasa is reversed into the Last Chancery. That’s broken up as well and the fans are behind Nakamura all over again.
The running corner dropkick puts Nakamura down but Aries has to bail out on the 450. They slug it out on the apron until Nakamura charges into a Death Valley Driver, knocking him even sillier than he was before. That’s not enough for Aries so he tries another suicide dive, only to slam into the barricade. Back in and a middle rope knee to the head sets up Kinshasa for the pin on Aries at 17:06.
Rating: A-. Now that’s what I was looking for. We had a long, hard hitting match with a great story and the right person winning. What more could you ask for here? The ending makes perfect sense as Aries was getting annoyed by the fans cheering for Nakamura so he tried to take him out and silence the fans once too often. He had the match won, or at least very well in hand, with the Death Valley Driver. One step too far though was enough for Nakamura to put him away. That’s great storytelling and you can figure it out the entire way. Awesome match too.
We recap the Women’s Title match. Asuka is the new queen of the division and needs a first challenger, so who better than the monster Nia Jax? There’s not much more to it than that: Asuka is facing a big dragon and has to slay her.
Women’s Title: Nia Jax vs. Asuka
Asuka is defending and goes for a single leg to start, which Nia blocks without much effort. The wristlock fails as well and Nia LAUNCHES Her across the ring by the head. Reality sets in really quickly for Asuka and Nia makes it worse by driving shoulders in the corner. Some fans try to chant for Eva and are shouted down in very short order. Thanks for that, intelligent fans.
An Octopus Hold is reversed into a backbreaker for two on the champ but she grabs a guillotine choke (Nia’s Kryptonite). This time it’s reversed into a suplex though and Asuka is in even more trouble. A triangle choke is broken up with a buckle bomb as Asuka can’t get anything going so far. Nia bends Asuka’s back around the post and of course that means a bearhug. That’s reversed into a kneebar but Nia is too close to the ropes and Asuka is cut off again.
Nia misses the legdrop and a heck of a kick to the head puts her down. A middle rope missile dropkick has Nia in trouble and some spinning backfists set up the hip attack for two. Another kick is countered into a powerbomb though and Asuka is down one more time. The cover is reversed into a seated armbar but Nia powers out. With the submissions not working, Asuka KICKS HER IN THE HEAD twice in a row. Nia screams at her, so it’s two more kicks to knock Nia cold for the pin to retain at 9:11.
Rating: B. This was very similar to the Bayley vs. Nia Jax matches with Asuka hammering away until Nia just couldn’t stand up any longer. It shows how versatile Asuka can be as she chopped Nia down and survived everything Nia threw at her. Unfortunately this is turning into the default version of Nia: she dominates most of the time but collapses under the pressure of the title match. You can only do that for so long and she’s done it more than once now. Still though, good performance in the Sting vs. Vader formula.
Earlier today, William Regal was talking about tonight’s show when Bobby Roode (who appeared at Takeover: Dallas) walked into his office. Regal had to leave and talk to him.
The cage is lowered.
We recap the NXT Title match. Finn Balor defeated Samoa Joe in London and Dallas but lost to him at a house show in Lowell, Massachusetts. Tonight is the final match, inside a cage, which has never been used before in NXT.
NXT Title: Samoa Joe vs. Finn Balor
Cage match with pinfall, submission or escape to win. Balor is challenging and since this is the big stage, the Demon is here in full. This time there are pieces of cages in front of the entrance and Balor shoves one over to start crawling into the arena. We get a great visual of Balor crawling on the floor and pulling himself up to look through the cage wall. Feeling out process to start with Joe making a very early attempt at the door.
Balor kicks him down but can’t send Joe into the cage. A chop sends Balor near the door but you know Joe isn’t letting it happen that easily. One heck of a kick to the head brings Joe off the top, only to have him send Balor hard into the cage. Another toss sends Balor bouncing off the steel and it’s time to slow the pace down a bit. Balor gets beaten down in the corner and Joe uses his boot to scrape the paint off his face. A shot to the face isn’t enough to get Balor out of the door and Joe just ENDS him with a German suplex for two.
Joe goes for a climb but Balor brings him right back down, giving us a double crash. Balor ducks a charge to send Joe into the cage, followed by some running chops to the chest. That’s enough for a climb up the cage but Balor has to kick Joe in the face, sending him into the ropes to crotch Balor back down. The Muscle Buster is broken up and Balor scores with the Pele for a double knockdown.
They go up again and this time it’s a super Sling Blade to drop Joe for a delayed two. Joe is right back with the running backsplash as the pace picks up in a hurry. Now the Muscle Buster (how Joe won the title) connects for two and Joe can’t believe it. Balor sends him into the cage a few times and scores with another Sling Blade as Joe is rocked.
The Coup de Grace gets two (you don’t see that very often) and now it’s Balor’s turn to be stunned. Joe slaps on the Koquina Clutch but Balor climbs the corner to roll out and hit the double stomp. Balor gets up over the top but Joe is up and grabs a leg. Joe rams him into the cage and hits a SUPER MUSCLE BUSTER to retain the title at 16:10.
Rating: A-. There was no way that wasn’t going to be the finish as it would have been ridiculous for Balor to kick out at that point. It’s also interesting to see the Demon lose (first time ever) and makes Joe look like that much more of a killer. Joe is now the biggest thing in NXT by a mile and he vanquished Demon Balor clean. What more can you ask from him? Very good match too.
They’re both down for a long time after the match. Joe gets up and walks to the stage as trainers check on Balor to end the show.
Overall Rating: A. And somehow, that might put it on the lower end of the Takeover series. As usual, there wasn’t a bad match in sight with the opener, which was completely watchable, being by far the worst thing on the show and it only lasted about five minutes. NXT has perfected the formula for these things and this was another classic with one great match after another. Balor losing opens the door for Nakamura to go after Joe next, which should make for some awesome, hard hitting fights. Great shot here, but do you really expect anything else at this point?
Thomas Hall has been a wrestling fan for over thirty years and has seen over 50,000 wrestling matches. He has also been a wrestling reviewer since 2009 with over 5,000 full shows covered. You can find his work at kbwrestlingreviews.com, or check out his- Amazon author page with 30 wrestling books. His latest book is KB’s Complete 2004 Monday Night Raw Reviews.
Get the latest and greatest in professional wrestling news by signing up for our daily email newsletter. Just look below for “GET EXCLUSIVE UPDATES” to sign up. We are proud to offer our popular Wrestling Rumors app and encourage you to download it for an optimized user experience. It is available for Android and also on iOS. Thank you for reading!