NXT Takeover Unstoppable Recap
Our four weeks of Pay Per Views hit their half way point as NXT takes a turn on the WWE network. NXT Takeover: Unstoppable graced our screens with much to live up to, not necessarily because of hype or promotion, but because prior events have been just that good. Its a sad job to report that Unstoppable falls quite short of its predecessors.
Many factors play into the disappointment that a fan could experience in this event, one of which ties back into the main roster. As mentioned earlier, Unstoppable is the second of four Pay Per View events in a four week period, something that has never been done before... and for good reason. While this may be a jaded viewpoint, there is such a thing as, “too much of a good thing.” Consider for a moment the amount of programming that one ingests during this period as a wrestling fan. Assuming you don't watch Ring of Honor or Impact, twelve hours of Raw, eight hours of Smackdown, three hours of NXT and now for the next four weeks, nine additional hours of premier programming on top of that. God forbid you take in the occasional classic network program, or that your wife or girlfriend wants to watch Total Divas. Jesus Christ that's a lot of wrestling.
I'm a wrestling fan through and through, and NXT has produced great work, but Takeover Unstoppable felt like a chore for most of the event. Match outcomes were predictable and contained little ring work that we haven't seen before. At odds with that statement though would be a surprising performance from Enzo Amore, and a huge twist in one match that I wouldn't have guessed even if my crystal ball wasn't in the shop. Welcome back to Full Sail as NXT Takesover... Unstoppable?
Finn Balor vs Tyler Breeze
The first of our marquee matches gets decided right away as Finn Balor and Tyler Breeze hit the ring for a previously advertised Triple Threat match. Hideo Itami initially was included in this contest, however, a shoulder injury has sidelined him, likely until July. The injury has been kept under the rug by WWE brass, especially in the face of Sami Zayn's very public and visible injury.
Both were given unique entrances for the occasion, Balor in his truly awesome Dark Passenger makeup, and Breeze with a crappy but nice to see entrance featuring supermodels clad in Tyler Breeze gear which included his carwash wiper boots. The match is a typical Breeze affair full of false finishes and hard hitting dropkicks.
Although spending much of the match on defense, Balor would take part in a couple of interesting spots. The first of which would see Balor leaping from the ring apron to deliver a double stomp to the small of Breeze's back. Balor's hard hitting stomps are usually cringe worthy. This one was more so as Breeze appeared to take the brunt of the force below his shoulders.
The second spot was a tad less exciting, as Breeze and Balor take the fight to the entrance ramp. Balor would ascend to the top of one of the entrance landings. The crowd goes nuts as Balor dives to the ramp below, sending Breeze crashing to the ramp. For people who only watch NXT, this is the best they're gonna get due to the constraints of the Full Sail Arena. However, for us veteran watchers, the spot amounts to someone leaping off of a barber's chair.
Breeze would eventually come up short, missing a Beauty Shot and falling to the Coup de Gras after an accidental four count from the ref. The action was certainly present in the match, however, without the inclusion of Itami, there was a certain amount of passion missing. While it was likely that Itami's absence was known for some time, the pair appeared to be working a typical match, making sure to hit their crowd pleasing antics. We would see Itami written off in very lame fashion before the match, falling victim to an “attack” from an unknown assailant in the parking lot earlier in the afternoon. That video package sets the tone for the match, and its tough to get that taste out of our mouths.
Dana Brooke and Emma Vs Charlotte and Bayley
Out of the four competitors, Bayley would enter to the biggest fanfare in this shoe in contest. Right out of the gate, I'll warn you... this match is worked more akin to a main roster style women's match than the type of work we're used to from NXT, and certainly less than what we've come to expect from Charlotte and Bayley.
The match itself features few spots or standout moments from either team, although a hard fall takes place as Bayley would ascend to the top rope. Rather than pulling Bayley's legs out from under her, causing her to straddle the turnbuckle, Emma pulls her legs in a fashion that causes the back of her head to land on the turnbuckle. In fairness the former is more effective on the male side of the roster, mostly due to most male wrestlers possessing a cock. The spot, even if planned, was very dangerous, as a false move would have sent Bayley's head onto the metal part of the post.
Replace any of your four favorite wrestlers with the women in this match, and the excitement level wouldn't be any higher. Due to the uninspired roots of the feud (a stolen headband and an alleged subpar body) everything in this match feels forced, from the wide smiled bear hug Charlotte and Bayley share both pre and post match, to the imitation Flair strut the pair perform afterward.
There were some great shades of talent on the face side of the team. Charlotte executes a great reversal off a crossbody, turning the momentum into a Figure 8 lock. The submission was about to be broken by Emma, however Bayley would save the day, sliding under Charlotte's bridge and hitting a Bayley to Belly suplex. This move seemed to further irritate the back of her head. Charlotte would get the pin over her new nemesis, Dana Brooke, via Natural Selection. If this feud is to continue, there needs to be a more sinister motive driving the heels, as both are having a tough time selling their anger.
Rhyno vs Baron Corbin
On a personal level, this was the match that I was most excited for. Rhyno is a personal favorite, and Baron Corbin seems to have the hearts of the NXT universe, a group which collectively, I seem to constantly find myself at odds with. Baron Corbin was billed as an unbeatable monster, one that can't be bothered to compete in a match for more than thirty seconds. This match showcases some improvements that Corbin has made in the ring, although by now, at least for most, people it should be clear that this NFL washout has no prior wrestling experience.
Of course, even without a background in the craft, Corbin deserves a chance to grow and expand his talents. The issue is that Corbin is nowhere near ready to be in the same locker room as a veteran who's career spans twenty years and looks like it could go another twenty. With his lack of skills, and relatively weak move set, Corbin is not yet ready to carry a match this highly anticipated, especially in a Pay Per View environment.
When Corbin cannot, Rhyno steps in to save the match. Rhyno dominates almost the entire time, hitting the hardest shoulder tackle in professional wrestling and an excellent spinebuster. Like Bayley prior, Rhyno would also take a hard fall from the top rope, spilling to the outside mat on his side. After that moment, the previously split crowd turns solely in favor of Rhyno.
Corbin would unfortunately get the pin via End of Days, only after getting the shit kicked out of him for seven minutes. In the end, most would say that Rhyno has had his time in the sun and that Corbin should be given the victory to advance his character. I disagree with this possibly non existent argument. Its not every day that someone with the age, experience and physique of Rhyno comes along. To come back after almost twenty years in the shape he's in and still be able to perform as he does is remarkable. Hopefully Rhyno's rekindled passion and talent will eventually be rewarded by allowing him to win some big matches, as there's no reason the future of the WWE can't contain some familiar faces.
Enzo Amore and Colin Cassidy Vs Blake and Murphy
An unexpected joy I've found in watching any match involving Enzo Amore, is the loud bemoaning of commentator, Corey Graves. As the pair's music started, again Graves can be heard groaning out an audible, “Oh no...”. I'm glad to see someone else shares my viewpoint. Regardless, Amore and Collin Cassidy enter the ring to huge fanfare.
While prior matches have involved Amore taking it to the jaw for three or four minutes, tagging in Cass, and scoring a pin via the Rocket Launcher. This match would not go down in that manner. Although a tad sloppy, Amore actually showed off some wrestling prowess. From the hard hitting crossbody press Amore hits from the end of the match, to the diving DDT from the top rope, Amore showed real improvement in the ring during the match.
An Amore and Cassidy victory seemed like a lock. Even during the match, where the Jersey duo controlled most of the momentum, victory seemed all but assured. However, a twist was thrown our way in a very big and unexpected manor. After Amore was rendered all but unconscious, Cass tagged him in and practically dragged him to the top turnbuckle to set up the Rocket Launcher.
As the set up was occurring, from the back appeared Alexa Bliss, interfering by knocking the already injured Amore from his perch on the turnbuckle. Blake and Murphy would capitalize and capture via pinfall, celebrating with the newly heel, Bliss. It was an unexpected finish to a match of unexpected quality. My engagement with all involved grew after this match. I can't wait to see what becomes of Bliss and her new attitude. Post match, I found myself asking, “Am, I wrong about Enzo Amore.”
Becky Lynch vs Sasha Banks
Up front, there is no amount of writing that can truly put the quality of this match in perspective. Few writers possess the talent necessary to convey to you through words how impressive the two of these women looked on Thursday. There have been men's main event title matches that weren't as good as this contest. Without a doubt, this was the best Women's wrestling match on NXT, even in contention for best match period.
Becky Lynch stole the show. End of story. In the short amount of time she's been on NXT, she has shot to the top of the roster in both quality of performance, and passion in the ring. Sasha Banks has proven to be the perfect mountain for her to climb on her way to the top. While the former friend angle has been done to death, Lynch and Banks have somehow added new life to the formula without really doing anything that different. That's the mark of a great performer, taking something you've seen a hundred times before and making you think its the very first time.
You must watch this match. Close this window and go to the WWE Network this instant. This is must watch material for any fan of wrestling. Becky Lynch and Sasha Banks on Thursday showed that there is a good chance they will be in the Hall of Fame someday. The match is honestly that good.
If that statement wasn't enough, then perhaps this will cinch it... Becky Lynch enters the ring dressed as Chandra Naalar. Go watch this match.
Sami Zayn vs Kevin Owens
Unfortunately for the pair, Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn are faced with the impossible task of performing after Lynch and Banks. With the very public injury Zayn had faced at the hands of John Cena, there was a huge cloud of uncertainty hanging over the match.
While Zayn was not written off the match entirely, his future was sent down river. Rumors had been swirling that Zayn would ultimately need surgery to repair his injured shoulder. Had that not hit the internet, the match would have seemed a lock for Zayn, or at the very least, it would have had you watching the match.
Zayn dominated almost the entire contest, often times bring Owens to his knees, begging for a reprieve from the onslaught he was suffering. Zayn brought all the stops in the match, hitting all of his signatures, only missing with the Heluva Kick. The match seemed all but a lock for Zayn, until Owens hit his signature powerbomb across the apron, setting up a Zayn injury.
During the commotion, several referees would attempt to assist Zayn, along with the ring doctor. While he lay motionless on the ground, Owens would several times interrupt the medical staff by repeatedly kicking and striking Zayn. This would go on for several long, uninteresting minutes, until another surprise, spoiled by the internet, came to fruition.
Samoa Joe would lumber to the ring to break up the fight the only way a debuting professional wrestler can... a silent nose to nose standoff. Owens would eventually turn tail to the locker room, leaving Joe to assist Zayn by playing to the energy crowd. Owens would return a second time, but wouldn't make it to the ring, seemingly scared away by Joe's presence. The screen would fade to black as Owens heists his belt in the air.
Revisit any commentary regarding an NXT pay per view event, and you will likely hear a similar statement. “The women's match stole the show.”. That statement rings true yet again. However, in this event, the remainder of the program was not able to carry the rest of the show. This is not to take away from what Sasha Banks and Becky Lynch accomplished, however, if you're on the fence about taking in this show, skip to around the half way point and experience the future of wrestling.
NXT Rating: 2 of out 5 Samoa Joes