WWE NXT TakeOver: Respect was all about one thing – history. From start to finish, it delivered just that in possibly the best and most consistent NXT Special of them all. Every match was excellent and despite having to rank all the performers from worst to first, there truly were no bad performances.
9: Dana Brooke
Dana Brooke competed in her first high profile match and she played her part spectacularly. In a match where she was completely dominated from start to finish, Brooke did an outstanding job of making Asuka look good and she also managed to keep up with the veteran, despite her lack of experience. It was a great performance by the ever improving Brooke, but I wonder how such a heavy loss will impact her push as, there’s no other way to put it, she was annihilated by Asuka.
Tonight wasn’t prince pretty’s best night. On a card where two matches unexpectedly lept up and stole the show, it was Breeze and Crews that paid the price slightly when their match didn’t quite reach that top gear. There were some good moments, but the fact that the two were thrown together without any build up hurt the match. If there was a medal for greatest servant of NXT, Tyler Breeze would be the front runner for the award. He’s been a part of NXT since its inception and has always been around the main-event scene, but he has never gotten that big win to put him in the spotlight. It’s time for Breeze to come to the main roster.
7: Scott Dawson and Dash Wilder
These two are supremely talented. They stepped foot in the ring with two of NXT’s biggest stars and looked right at home. They set the tempo from the beginning and put on a great match. Scott Dawson in particular is as good as they come. The NXT Tag Team Division is loaded right now.
6: Baron Corbin and Rhyno
The semi-final clash between these two and Jordan and Gable was the best match of Baron Corbin’s NXT career to date. The crowd were right into it and these two men did exactly what they had to do, and that’s act like the monsters they are. The final against Finn and Joe wasn’t quite as good as the semi-finals, but they did make the finals, so good on them. Questionable having them win ahead of Jordan and Gable though who, given it is developmental, could have been launched into stardom with that win.
5: Apollo Crews
As mentioned before, the match with Breeze didn’t quite live up to expectations, but you can see the raw talent this man has. You have to remember that he’s going to need some time to adjust to the WWE way of doing things, but once he gets his feet, this guy could be the next gem to come out of NXT.
4: Finn Balor and Samoa Joe
They teased us so badly. We all went into this pay-per-view expecting Samoa Joe to turn on Balor and begin a run at the NXT Championship and they appeared to be going down that path with Finn’s injury angle, but instead of a Dusty finish, we got a heart-warming speech from Cody while the victors celebrated and that’s fine with me. There’s plenty of time for storylines and this was as real as it gets. As far as the matches went, both of these men were steady, but not necessarily spectacular, they both had hot tags and did their thing. They knew the show was not about them tonight.
Beautiful murder – Is the only way I can summarize what we just saw this woman do to Dana Brooke. That was a chilling performance and the best NXT debut match of any of the high profile TakeOver debuts. Get a manager to cut promos for her and she could become the slayer of the Four Horsewomen, I’m genuinely excited to see her face off against them.
2: Jason Jordan and Chad Gable
It’s amazing when you see that one moment when everything clicks for a superstar or in this case, a tag team. Chad Gable has incredible charisma and Jason Jordan is just plain incredible, it’s been obvious from day one that these two were going to be special, but that was something else. Yes, they lost, but they arrived at NXT TakeOver: Respect and they’ll be your next Tag Team Champions, bank on it.
Sidenote: The NXT crowd coming up with chants for Chad Gable on the spot was amazing.
It would be unfair to split them. Yes, Bayley got the win, but that was 30 minutes of perfect in-ring psychology coupled with outstanding wrestling. A couple of spots didn’t quite go to plan, but you could tell both women were a little nervous. Their match at Brooklyn was special and was a moment in time that will never be recreated, but this, as the sequel to that match was absolutely superb. While Brooklyn might go down as the better match, this was exactly what the follow up needed to be and both women delivered to perfection. I was hoping it would go into overtime, but the intensity of those last three minutes as the two traded submission moves was brilliant. It would’ve been that much better if Sasha had been able to freely tap out to the move, allowing the crowd to immediately react instead of being caught off guard by the bell, but it’s that gritty, fight to the death feel that made this match feel incredible. As far as main-events go, it was the equal of any in NXT history and better than any of its WWE pay-per-view counterparts in 2015, cementing that women’s wrestling is just as good as men’s when treated properly. If that was Sasha Banks’ last match in NXT, then it has been a pleasure watching her grow and Bayley’s reign is only just beginning.