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?

NXT Takeover: R-Evolution
Date: December 11, 2014
Location: Full Sail University, Winter Park, Florida
Attendance: 400
Commentators: Rich Brennan, Alex Riley, Corey Graves

This should be a big one as we have a huge showdown in the main event for the NXT Title with Sami Zayn getting his rematch against champion Adrian Neville after a screwy finish to their last match. Other than that we have the long awaited debut of Kevin Owens and Hideo Itami teaming with Finn Balor to face the Ascension. Let’s get to it.

The opening video features most of the people in the main events talking about how it’s their evolution. Owens on the other hand says he’s taking over.

CJ Parker vs. Kevin Owens

The fans are VERY happy to see Owens here. Parker has his big sign with him as usual. Owens charges at him in the corner at the bell, drops him with a corner clothesline and debuts the Cannonball. The sign is broken up and Owens does a huge flip dive over the top rope, likely shattering the record for the best first thirty five seconds of a wrestling career of all time. Parker finally gets in a side kick for a breather, followed by the palm strike for two (and a legit broken nose for Owens). That’s just fine with Kevin who grabs his pumphandle backbreaker before debuting the Pop Up Powerbomb for the pin on Parker at 3:14.

Rating: B. This was about making Kevin Owens look like a monster who is going to make a huge splash from the start. In a word, I’d say it worked as perfectly as anyone could have dreamed. Owens is the kind of guy who just grabs your attention and runs with it, which you just can’t assign to someone. This was an outstanding debut and one of the best in wrestling history.

Corey Graves is welcomed the announcers’ team.

Earlier this week, Neville sat down with Michael Cole to talk about tonight’s title match. Neville doesn’t want to have Sami’s career in his hands but this is all about the title because that’s what matters to him.

Video on the Lucha Dragons.

Tag Team Titles: Lucha Dragons vs. Vaudevillians

The Dragons are defending. Cara and Gotch get things going with Sin dropping him off a middle rope standing moonsault. Both villains (also known as the Vaudevillians) are armdragged at the same time, allowing Cara to wheelbarrow Kalisto into a backsplash. English is knocked to the floor but pulls Cara outside to give the challengers control for the first time.

We hit the neck crank on Cara for a bit before a belly to back suplex gets two for Gotch. Cara finally flips over English and makes the tag off to Kalisto as everything breaks down. Kalisto rolls around and kicks Gotch in the head before English is backdropped over the top rope to take out his partner. The double dive only hits English as his partner abandons him (Riley: “I think his mustache started curling there.”), leaving Gotch to take the Salida Del Sol and retain the titles at 6:40.

Rating: C+. This was a run of the mill TV title defense and there’s nothing wrong with that. These teams have chemistry with each other and told a good story of the Vaudevillians trying to slow things down with their old school style but getting outclassed by the much faster Dragons. This wasn’t a classic but it didn’t need to be, which is something that is so often forgotten.

Baron Corbin vs. Tye Dillinger

It’s a bit longer this time as Corbin takes a full 41 seconds to hit End of Days for the pin. Also of note, Bull Dempsey was shown watching from the front row.

Corbin stares at Dempsey post match.

Sami Zayn says he’s working without a safety net tonight and wants to be NXT Champion before he leaves for the main roster.

We recap Finn Balor/Hideo Itami vs. Ascension, which boils down to the Ascension being bullies to Itami, who brought in Balor to help him out.

Hideo Itami/Finn Balor vs. Ascension

Everyone comes out….and Balor debuts the Demon entrance, crawling down the aisle with the full head/chest paint and freaky hair while completely blowing the collective minds of everyone watching and many that aren’t. This is WAY more of an entrance than anyone was expecting and it really did live up to Balor’s promise of bringing something Ascension had never seen.

It’s a brawl to start (of course) with Ascension getting pounded down in the corners as the fans are still raving about the entrance. Itami takes Viktor down to start before it’s off to Balor for some running chops in the corner. Konor comes in and catches Itami in a big old flapjack for two as Ascension takes over for the first time. A kick to the ribs slows Konor down but it’s WAY too early for the hot tag to Balor.

Viktor stomps him down and yells a lot before Konor comes back in to stomp away in the corner. Hideo tries some forearms (well at least it’s something fresh) but a punch to the face puts him right back down. We hit ye olde chinlock for a bit before Konor’s running splash crushes Hideo in the corner. A WE WANT KENTA chant is quickly booed down as Viktor puts on another chinlock. Viktor finally misses a charge into the post but Konor is there to pull Balor off the apron for the save.

Back in and Viktor gets punched in the face, FINALLY allowing Itami to dive over and make the hot tag to Balor for a huge ovation. An enziguri puts Viktor on the floor (it’s a bad night for his head) and Balor does his huge flip dive over the top rope to drop Ascension. The top rope double stomp misses but the reverse inverted DDT gets two on Viktor. Itami dives on Konor but the GTS (his invention) is broken up. The Fall of Man is broken up as well and double top rope stomps put Ascension away at 11:38.

Rating: C+. I was a bit disappointed here but it was more than enough to make Balor’s first big match a success. Ascension losing here was as obvious as any result was going to be but Balor’s natural charisma and abilities were more than enough to make this work. It also helps that they worked a solid tag team formula match before they got to the hot tag and finishing sequence. Well done here and that’s what it needed to be.

Roman Reigns is here to say he wants to be the first NXT alumni to win the WWE World Title. That’s about all there is to this one.

We recap Sasha Banks vs. Charlotte which is all about Banks thinking she’s better and luring Becky Lynch to the dark side against the pure Charlotte. They used to be friends but Sasha left Charlotte’s side out of wanting the title and thinking she’s the best. Simple story to set up a good match.

Women’s Title: Sasha Banks vs. Charlotte

Sasha is challenging. They shove each other around to start and Sasha is sent face first into the buckle. For some reason Banks thinks it’s a good idea to get into a chop battle against Ric Flair’s daughter, earning herself some chops as well. It’s quickly taken to the floor with Sasha sending the champ into the steps.

Back in and the double knees to the ribs start up the dueling chants. Sasha even throws in a Ric Flair strut, allowing Charlotte to roll her up for two. A cross arm Backstabber sets up a choke on Charlotte but she twists out as probably only she can do. Sasha does the Figure Four neck lock and slams Charlotte’s face into the mat until an electric chair gets her out of trouble. Back up and Sasha sends her to the floor, followed by a big suicide dive to put both of them down. Charlotte is in trouble so she just breaks Sasha in half with a spear.

The Figure Four is countered into a small package for two as the crowd is getting more and more into every near fall. The moonsault misses again but Charlotte lands on her feet and flips forward into a splash for two as Sasha’s foot is on the rope. That’s the kind of natural skill that you just can’t teach. The moonsault into the splash, not putting your foot on a rope. Sasha loads up a headscissors in the corner but pulls Charlotte face first into the middle buckle. The fans are behind Sasha again but Charlotte breaks up a superplex and comes out with a super Natural Selection to retain the title at 12:12.

Rating: A-. Much like the first Takeover, this was a big surprise as Sasha wasn’t known as someone who could pull this off. It’s also the best match of Charlotte’s career as she’s gone from nothing to a master in the span of a few months. This is one of the instances where it was clear the women’s division was going to explode and was a lot more than a bright flash in the pan. It’s another great match and Sasha’s coming out party.

We recap Sami Zayn vs. Adrian Neville. It’s another simple story (an NXT trademark) with Sami wanting the NXT Title and Neville correctly saying that Sami can’t win the big one. Sami has put his NXT career on the line, which is an interesting stipulation for a change as he didn’t say his whole career, which could have opened the door for him to go to the main roster. They already had their showdown but Neville hurt his knee and used Sami’s distraction to grab a rollup and retain. Another important key here was neither guy turned heel. Instead it’s about two guys doing whatever it takes to be the best.

NXT Title: Sami Zayn vs. Adrian Neville

Neville is defending. The place EXPLODES for Sami’s entrance while Neville just isn’t that well received. Again it’s not that Neville is unpopular but it’s not his night in front of these people. Sami, sitting in the corner, gives Neville a little wave as he poses on the buckle. The OLE’S are out early here and they take a lot of time to get going. Neville’s front facelock and wristlock give him a meaningless early advantage. A sequence of headlocks into headscissors counters give us a standoff.

They fight over a hammerlock with Neville taking him to the mat with an armbar. It’s still firmly in first gear at this point but they have a lot of time. Sami spins out into a wristlock but Neville flips forward to land on his feet and offers a finger wave at Zayn. Neville hits the ropes and walks into a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker for the first big move to send the champ outside.

Sami is right after him with a springboard moonsault and Neville takes his time coming back in. A dropkick gives the champ a breather and we hit the chinlock for a bit. Zayn fights up but gets pulled right back down into a second chinlock as Graves is right in there talking about how Neville is trying to take the crowd out of it. That’s the kind of analysis that a commentator should be adding instead of plugging stuff or arguing with the other people in the booth. Why that’s so complicated isn’t clear but that was a good addition from Graves and a good sign for his future.

Neville starts getting frustrated and hits the ropes, only to eat a hard clothesline. Sami loads up another dive but Neville slides back in and snaps off a hurricanrana, only to be put outside again so Zayn can hit that signature flip dive. The high cross body gets two on the champ and this time it’s Sami getting frustrated. Back up and Neville tries a cartwheel but winds up on Sami’s shoulders and is quickly spun into the Blue Thunder Bomb for a very near fall.

Zayn tries to climb the ropes into a wristdrag but Neville escapes and powerbombs Sami (who lands on the back of his head) for two more. A slugout goes to the champ until Sami turns him inside out with a clothesline. The Helluva Kick is blocked by a raised boot but the Red Arrow hits knees, setting up the Koji Clutch. Now THAT gets the fans going again until they’re brought back down as Neville gets a boot on the ropes.

Neville gets two off a rollup but more importantly the kickout sends him into the referee. Ever the good guy, Zayn goes to check on him and eats a superkick, followed by a reverse hurricanrana (again landing on his head) for a VERY near fall. The referee is fine again so Sami starts rolling some German suplexes, capped off by a half and half suplex (chicken wing/half nelson).

The Helluva Kick still doesn’t work as Neville goes outside, which allows Sami to score with the diving tornado DDT. Now the Helluva Kick connects but the referee gets pulled into the collision (with Neville possibly pulling him in). Neville throws the title in but Sami kicks him in the head and grabs it. He pulls it back but can’t go through with it in a scene reminiscent of Wrestlemania VIII with Bret Hart vs. Roddy Piper. Sami throws the belt down and gets rolled up for two. Back up and Zayn throws him into the corner with the exploder suplex, followed by the Helluva Kick for the pin and the title at 23:18 to blow the roof off the place.

Rating: A+. And that’s your match of the year. I don’t remember the last time a match was built up this well and then delivered with such a roller coaster of emotions. The fans wanted to see Sami Zayn win the NXT Title here and he did it in a classic match. Neville was right there with him every step of the way and there were multiple moments where it looked like he could hang onto the title. Just awesome stuff here and one of the best matches I’ve ever seen.

Sami celebrates for a long time as we look at the highlights. The locker room empties out with Owens leading the way and hugging the new champ. Even Pat Patterson is out there with them. Neville finally gets out of the corner as Sami’s music turns off. Neville looks at him with his hands on his hips but kicks Sami’s handshake away. Instead he hugs Zayn before leaving so Sami can have his moment. Everyone clears out so Sami can pose (and dance) on his own.

Sami finally leaves and gets another hug from Owens. The copyright logo comes up…..and Owens throws Sami head first onto the ramp to turn on him. A powerbomb onto the apron and a lot of shouting takes us out in one of the best surprise endings ever. The show was over and they squeezed that in in the last minute and a half to shock everyone. Well done indeed and something you only get in NXT.

Overall Rating: A. Sweet goodness what a show. This was one of the best specials I’ve ever seen with one of the best matches NXT has ever had to close it out. It’s certainly not the best show from top to bottom but the last two matches, which took up nearly the last hour of the show as well as the post main event issues are as good as anything I’ve seen in a long time. This was all about drawing emotion from the crowd and NXT did it to near perfection. It’s an outstanding show and everything it needed to be plus more.

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.

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