NXT TakeOver: San Antonio – January 28, 2017
Watch: WWE Network
Freeman Coliseum – San Antonio, Texas
Eric Young def. Tye Dillinger***1/4
Kicking off things for the Royal Rumble weekend, and more importantly TakeOver: San Antonio is Dillinger and Young. Young gives Dillinger one more chance to right the wrongs he made on NXT by joining Sanity, but Dillinger refuses and instead goes right after the perverse leader of Sanity. Tye keeps rolling to the outside to avoid the onslaught, but ends up being destroyed by Big Damo, now being called Killian Dane, before being sent back in the ring to be further dismantled by Eric Young. Dillinger attempts to weather the storm but the unorthodox style of Young brings whatever momentum he had to a screeching halt. Dillinger buys himself some major time by landing a picture perfect dropkick on an airborne Young. Dillinger throws Young to the outside after a comeback sequence, but Young attempts to scale the top turnbuckle. Dillinger sprints up the ropes and catches Young for an incredible belly-to-belly suplex. Dillinger readies for the Tye Breaker and delivers one to Alexander Wolfe while landing a superkick on Killain Dane, which gives Young enough time to take advantage of the situation. Finally, a Tie Breaker connects with Young and Sanity makes the save by making sure the foot is on the rope. Dillinger tries again to put away Young, but another distraction from Sanity paves the way for the wheelbarrow neckbreaker and a victory for Eric Young.
While this wasn’t the best opener, see TakeOver: Toronto, it did a very good job of setting the pace as well as making both men look good. SAnitY, of course, was heavily involved, and maybe I’m just more annoyed by outside factions interfering than most. Either way, these two had a job of firing up the crowd as the openers, and they did it very well. What’s next for Dillinger, after that loss, is anyone’s guess.
Roderick Strong def. Andrade Cien Almas****1/4
This has potential to be either really good or a trainwreck, and there’s no in between. If the banger that is Roddy’s theme is any indication of how the match will go, it should be a good one. Almas has gone from being a very bland and un-interesting performer to one of the better heels that NXT has to offer in a short period of time. I’m glad for him that he was able to find the right fit. Roddy is being an incredible match for Almas in this match, and the two of them are meshing very well. Almas’ point of focus thus far has been the left arm of Almas, catching him in the ropes in an armbar/armbreaker, and continuing to go after it as the match goes on. After taking a beating for the better part of the opening, Roddy comes out with an explosive comeback sequence. Almas and Strong are so incredibly even matched, which makes for an awesome match. Roddy hits a devastating top-rock backbreaker, driving the air out of Almas. Almas tries to connect with the Hammerlock DDT, but Roddy reverses and is hit with a hip toss into the corner forh is troubles. Almas connects with the double knees in the corner and tries again for the Hammerlock DDT, but Strong sets up and connects with a Sick Kick for the death bell of Almas.
That match was an incredible effort by both Almas and Strong, and went much better than I expected. Thus far, Almas hadn’t turned in very impressive performances on the TakeOver stage, but this night was much, much different. Corey Graves made a great point on commentary, in that even in defeat, Almas looked like a million bucks, and in victory Strong made everyone in NXT and everyone watching that he’s here to stay. I highly recommend taking a look at this match.
NXT Tag Team Championship: #DIY (Johnny Gargano & Tommaso Ciampa) (c) def. Authors of Pain (Akam & Rezar) (w/Paul Ellering)***1/2
The formula in the match is as expected: the bigger Akam & Rezar are dominating their much smaller opponents in Gargano & Ciampa. DIY connects with some high risk suicide dives to take down the big men, and Paul Ellering looks enraged. The Authors of Pain take over again in short order, to the surprise of nobody. There honestly isn’t much for me to talk about, as it’s just been domination by the Authors of Pain. Skip ahead a bit, and we see a Johnny Wrestling hot-tag, as the Psycho Killer Tommaso Ciampa is batting clean-up here on Akam and Rezar, taking both of the big men down with German suplexes. Ciampa is turned inside out after a brutal clothesline, and we’re more or less back where we started. DIY locks both of the Authors of Pain in submission moves in the center of the ring akin to TakeOver: Toronto, until Akam & Rezar turn the tides and suplex Gargano onto Ciampa. DIY looks to connect with the knee/superkick combo but are nailed with the double powerbomb combo, followed up by the Last Chapter. A three count later, and we have new NXT Tag Team Champions.
I’m about to drop an unpopular opinion here, but I didn’t really care for that match as much as everyone else did. Yes, it was inevitable that Authors of Pain would win the NXT Tag Team Championship, but I think DIY should have been able to hold on to the titles just a little bit longer. For whatever reason, NXT has an odd fetish with hot-shotting the titles off. The last team to really be able to hold on to those titles for a long time was The Revival, and both times, the teams that have beaten them, American Alpha and now DIY, have dropped them almost instantly. Speaking of things that make no sense, Seth Rollins is here. He’s calling out Triple H and saying he wants Triple H to make him leave his ring. The Game promptly responds by calling out security, who removes Rollins after a bit of resistance.
NXT Women's Championship: Asuka (c) def. Nikki Cross, Peyton Royce, Billie Kay****
To quote my good friend Skillcrane, it’s time for crimes to be committed in the center of that ring, likely against Billie Kay and Peyton Royce. We have never seen Nikki Cross and Asuka lock horns yet in an NXT ring, which gives us a fresh and impressive match-up. The Australian duo tries to take it to Asuka, but the champ is having none of it, as to be expected. Every time Kay & Royce try to use double team tactics, Asuka is one step ahead and destroys them for their efforts. Nikki Cross is the only person thus far in this match who’s been able to match the tenacity and viciousness of Asuka, which could bode very well. Nikki Cross is taking down by a devastating superplex through a table on ring-side, and the double team efforts of Peyton and Billie are finally paying dividends. Of course, no sooner do I say that does Asuka kick Billie Kay’s head right off her body. Peyton tries to capitalize by hitting the Widow’s Peak, but it has no affect on Asuka. Asuka proceeds to destroy Peyton with a kick and pins her for the victory to retain her championship.
The near-falls in this match were excellent, as was the table spot that eliminated Nikki Cross from the rest of the match. By doing so, Nikki Cross looks incredibly strong and ready for what will likely be her re-match on WrestleMania weekend in Orlando. Fantastic job to all of the women involved in this match. This is must-see material. Before we head to the main event, we get a view of the WWE United Kingdom Champion, Tyler Bate. Even better, Matt Riddle is in the shot too!
NXT Championship: Bobby Roode (c) def. Shinsuke Nakamura****
The last time I watched a TakeOver, I distinctly remember being mad about WWE putting pseudo-violinists in Nakamura’s entrance. It’s as if they heard those gripes and decided to piss me off even worse by forcing me and anyone who had to watch that on television or live to be subjected to a minor seizure. Thanks WWE. Anyway, now that the five star entrances are over, let’s talk about this match, as much as I’d rather not. The entirety of this match thus far has been foreplay on the mat and absolutely nothing more than that. Once we exit the mat foreplay section, we get Roode dominating Nakamura for whatever reason. I could not tell you what purpose that serves, aside from the fact that Roode is incapable of working from behind, ever. Nakamura finally is able to gain a head of steam, and Roode is out cold seemingly after an Exploder Suplex. Roode plays possum and plants Nakamura with a backstabber. Roode tries to connect with a superplex, but Nakamura forces him off and kicks him right in the chest, which does not produce the intended result. After Roode provokes Nakamura, the two engage in some hard-hitting action, with Nakamura busting open Roode on the back of his head ever so slightly. Just as the death bell is about to toll for Roode, he rolls to the outside, and Nakamura takes a MAJOR risk by hitting a knee strike on Roode while he’s on the apron. Nakamura is doing some ingenious selling here, with the doctor coming out to check on Nakamura after he delivered the Kinshasa and was unable to make the cover due to such severe agony. Bobby Roode connects with the Glorious DDT after Nakamura slides into the ring and NO! NAKAMURA KICKS OUT! The psychology of this is absolutely freaking beautiful. Roode locks in a half-crab on Nakamura, wrenching away at the knee. Nakamura tries to fight through the pain and lock in a Triangle Hold, but the pain is too much and Bobby Roode is able to plant Nakamura and become the NEW NXT Champion!
This match started off incredibly dull and the thing that made it was the level of psychology that was put into this. Towards the end, Nakamura and Roode both selled their hearts out, and added so much drama at the end with near falls and little bits of psychology. This had no right to be as good, nay, glorious, as it was, but in the end it ended up being both guys’ best matches since becoming a part of the NXT roster. It’ll be interesting to see what happens to Nakamura from here, whether he appears in the Rumble or he has a big send off at the net TakeOver.
NXT TAKEOVER: SAN ANTONIO (JANUARY 28, 2017)
Great - 8/10
For a show that had minimal hype surrounding it, TakeOver: San Antonio delivered on a massive scale.