This is my review of the WWE TakeOver event from London this past Wednesday. I had the chance to go to the event, managing to grab myself a floor ticket. This review then will be a bit different, combining both what the network saw as well as my own personal experiences from the show. Hopefully it comes across well.
WWE NXT TakeOver London begins with the lights down. They rise to a figure standing in the ring: Triple H. The crowd cheer loudly to him. Trips acknowledges the beat down he received Sunday but says nothing was going to stop him being in London tonight. He opens the show with a very brief promo. Asuka opens the show.
Asuka vs Emma
From the very moment Asuka appeared, the crowd were in awesome volume for her. Her icon on the Titantron brought a very loud cheer for her all around the arena. Emma then came out, accompanied by Dana Brooke, and I couldn’t help but notice: how AWESOME did Emma look with the sunglasses? Seriously, she really looked the part. As soon as Emma’s music cut off, cries of “Asuka’s gonna kill you!” rung around. Asuka immediately tried to hit a spinning kick but Emma dodged it. Asuka locked Emma’s arm behind her, preventing Emma from reversing it every time she tried. Emma run into the ropes but Asuka followed her, confusing Emma, and Asuka locked in an arm bar. Emma finally got to the ropes and rolled out. Asuka then hit a running hip attack from the apron that looked a spitting image of the move Naomi uses… AS A FINISHER! Emma takes control after Dana distracts Asuka on the outside. Aggressive submission hold by Emma, pushing on Asuka’s shoulders with her feet while pulling her arms back. She ups the aggression by strongly rocking the move. Asuka rolls back to escape but ends up in a roll up which she manages to kick out of. Popular chant of “Let’s Go Asuka” went up, rivalled by a small minority of about three people in my section who were singing “Let’s Go Emma”. Asuka produced her first strange scream of the night. A backslide ended up with the two back to back, which Emma countered into a very strong clothesline. Chants of “This is Wrestling” broke out already. Asuka again screamed. A third scream was met with an attempt to stop Emma, but Emma hit a slap that sounded huge at the arena. She finally rallied following a dropkick of the top. The ref began counting as both women were grounded, and this was the first moment the crowd began to chant one ahead of the ref (the reason why will be explained in a later match). Asuka found some offence with a rapid flurry of kicks and punches. Asuka hit two roundhouse hits, the first looked like she really caught Emma in the mouth. Emma dodged a move in the corner to lock in the Dilemma. She then hit a suplex into the turnbuckle before the running clothesline into the corner got her a two count. Emma set up the Emma Lock, but stalled in doing so, allowing Asuka to reverse a lock in an Ankle Lock. Emma managed to get up, but Asuka hit a German Suplex that the crowd fully appreciated. She then hit a running knee that all but looked to have ended the match, but Emma kicked out. Asuka tried to lock in her Asuka Lock, but Emma ended up pushing Asuka into the ref, flooring him. It was immediate that Dana would now play a huge part. Dana launched something to Emma which turned out to be a belt, something that was only evident on TV. We in the crowd had no clue what had been passed in. Emma laid down and feigned that Asuka had hit her with the object as the ref got up, teasing a very underwhelming finish. The ref paused, and Emma rolled up Asuka. She got a two count, and Asuka rolled it through to lock in the Asuka Lock. Dana distracted the ref as Emma tapped, but she was thrown out for her troubles. Emma picked up the belt with the ref’s back turned, but Asuka landed a spinning kick to win by pinfall.
Result – Asuka wins
Notes – Fantastic. My personal match of the night. I thought it was going to be more one sided but it wasn’t. Both women looked like stars. They put on a brilliant match. Asuka was incredibly over. The crowd was fully behind her. It was interesting to see the tease of some shenanigans ending the match, including a false DQ, for it to end in a pinfall victory. Emma in defeat lost absolutely nothing. She looked amazing. It was a brilliant match to open the event.
Dash and Dawson vs Enzo and Cass for the NXT Tag Team Championships
Not that it’s any surprise, but Enzo and Cass came out to a huge pop. The crowd were firmly behind them, reciting Enzo’s entrance lyrics with him. They cut a quick promo before the match, similar to the one from last week. Enzo produced a pound coin during his promo and got a huge cheer for doing so. Cass then went to spell out THAT one word, but he stopped after one letter, knowing full well the crowd would do the job for him. Dash and Dawson entered the arena to a chorus of boos. There wasn’t anyone that I saw or heard who cheered when they came out. That’s not a bad thing, by the way. It shows they are good heels. Enzo got another pop early on, dropping his singlet to reveal a British flag, something the camera missed. Enzo and Cass started well, working both their opponents. The first chants of “Which ones Dawson?” broke out, the crowd unsure of which one was Dash and which one was Dawson. It was a brilliant chant that done no harm to anyone. As Cass locked in a submission, he was treated to a personal variation of Hey Jude by the Beatles. Dash and Dawson isolated Cass in the corner and delivered a flurry of attacks on the big man. The champs attempted a double team on Cass, but he used his power to break out, and send both men packing to the outside. He then catapulted Enzo to the outside on top of both men that was an awesome spot. Enzo was caught out by a blind tag and was thrown to the outside, but he caught the rope on the way out and it looked like it may have hurt a little. As Enzo was on the outside, the ref counted again. He got to 9 as Enzo got back in, but the crowd were one ahead, and hit 10. As they did, the whole crowd erupted into a “10! 10! 10!” chant, referencing Tye Dillinger’s new gimmick. It was a running thing throughout, this being the first example that made it onto the live showing. The champs get Enzo near their corner as they strategically worked on his arm. As Enzo rallied, Wilder got the tag in, and seemed to be going for Enzo, but as he realised Enzo was close to a tag, he took out Cass instead. It is unclear whether he forgot he was meant to get Cass instead, but the timing ended up looking to perfection. Enzo finally hit a huge DDT so he could tag in Cass, as Dawson came back in too. Cass went on the attack, unloading on Dawson. Wilder broke a pin fall, but was thrown out of the ring by Cass. While distracted, Cass was then hit by a chop block by Dawson on the same knee that took him out a while back. Wilder then locked in a submission hold on that leg, and after Dawson took out Enzo, the end appeared to be near. Cass managed to get to the rope, but the champs then set Cass up in the corner to jump on his damaged leg. Dawson went up, But Enzo shoved him off the top. Another chop block attempt but Cass avoided any contact. He then hit a big boot on Wilder before setting up Air Enzo. Enzo took flight and hit the move. 1…2…. DAWSON PULLED HIM OUT! He then used Carmella to avoid Cass, but she elbowed him in the face (Surely, this was a DQ? She has made contact with him? But no… we are meant to look past that). Cass was then launched into the ring post, leaving Enzo all on his own. Enzo went up top, but Dawson met him, and set up a Shatter Machine from the top rope that was breath-taking. The champions retained.
Result – Dash and Dawson retain
Notes – Tag Team move of 2015, at least. That finishing move was sensational. To do that off the top looked amazing. Seriously. The match itself was really good. Dash and Dawson played the role of heels brilliantly. They are good champions, going by their business by just fighting people. Enzo and Cass were understandably immensely over, but their direction is now a little confusing. The broadcast didn’t pick up on it greatly, but Carmella was awesome on the outside as a face manager. She was really getting the crowd going. She is important part of this team.
Baron Corbin vs Apollo Crews
“This is my house. You can go back home.” Trash talk from Corbin. It was good from him. It added something to him. An early mistake by Corbin didn’t go unnoticed by the crowd, as he attempted to run back into the ring but slipped briefly on his way in. Corbin slowly beat down Crews in the opening stages, the only move of any real note was when Corbin threw Crews over the top and Crews landed with impact on the stairs. Corbin continued his trash talk, telling Crews “You should have stayed in Ring of Honor.” Let’s not go too much into that comment, because Uhaa won’t be happy. Corbin hit some wicked shots to the face and delivered some corner stops to assert dominance. A lot of the chants aimed at Corbin weren’t really friendly enough to write down. Crews finally got some offense back in, countering End of Days with a huge kick to the face before landing a Standing Moonsault. It seemed over, but Corbin surprisingly kicked out at 2. Crews attempted to set up a powerbomb, but Corbin countered into an End of Days for a 3 count.
Result – Baron Corbin wins
Notes – Easily the worst match on the card. The two seemed to have quite poor chemistry and the slow paced match didn’t suit Crews’ style of wrestling. A rather surprising result leaves Corbin still looking like a force to be reckoned with, and that is smart as he continues to improve in the ring. Not an amazing match but definitely two men who can have big futures if booked correctly.
A pre-taped interview with Nia Jax then aired. It seemed to be nothing more than an interview on her thoughts on tonight, but then Jax was distracted by someone in the background… ASUKA!!! The crowd again cheered seeing Asuka, even only on the big screen. Asuka vs Jax seems to be a feud coming next, but the question is… will it be for the NXT Women’s Championship?
Bayley vs Nia Jax for the NXT Women’s Championship
Name a catchier song in NXT than the two on display here and I’ll eat my words. Both of these theme songs are awesome. The second most over character of the night was definitely Bayley (wait until next week to find out who was first). The crowd LOVED her. Jax started the match by treating Bayley like a play-thing, throwing her all around the ring. Bayley’s first sign of any offence was a sleeper hold that was locked in for a mere 3 seconds. Bayley managed to hit a dropkick to Jax to take her to one knee, before hitting two flying back elbows trying to take her down fully. A third attempt was met with a push by Jax. Bayley managed to apply a submission from the ground, but Jax simply lifted her up and put her on the top rope. Jax met her on the top, but Bayley pushed her off and hit a senton bomb for a two count, Jax kicking out by throwing Bayley out of the ring. Jax managed to hit a Samoan Drop back in the ring for a two count. She then hit a second one before throwing her up for a pop-up Samoan Drop. Jax landed her finishing Leg Drop but only managed to get a two count, the first time the Leg Drop hasn’t beaten an opponent with that move first time. Jax then dropped Bayley before hitting not one, not two, but THREE leg drops to Bayley’s back (The microphone was rather close as Jax went for a pinfall after the second, but the ref, way too clearly, could be heard saying “one more one more”). 1…2… KICK OUT! I was certain that the match ended here, but Bayley incredibly kicked out. Jax then sat Bayley on the top rope and again met her up there, but Bayley locked in a guillotine submission. Jax managed to get out of it, but Bayley got it in again (The microphone was again too close as Jax was loudly heard telling Bayley to wrap her legs around her). After one more break and one more lock in, Bayley finally managed to get Nia to tap out.
Result – Bayley retains
Notes – Firstly, I was really shocked that Eva Marie didn’t appear once. I was certain she was going to be the difference maker. The match itself was really good for what it was. Jax isn’t on the level of Sasha Banks, but still got a good match with Bayley. The story was David vs Goliath and David rallied to win. Jax did hit four leg drops in the match and Bayley kicked out, which doesn’t help her finishing move at all. Jax appears to be heading towards a collision with Asuka next, but Bayley’s direction is unknown. She has beaten Marie, Jax and Bliss now. I am stumped with who will step up.
Finn Balor vs Samoa Joe for the NXT Championship
For years, I’ve heard many wrestling fans say you must see The Undertaker’s entrance live, because it gives you Goosebumps and it is just an incredible feeling. After last night, I say add Finn Balor’s entrance to that. It was electric. It was fantastic seeing it live, added to the fact he looked brilliant in his London dress-up. The scream at the start of his entrance genuinely made a lot of people jump. The stare down before the match gained “This is Awesome” chants, and it truly felt like a title main event match at that point. After a few lock ups, Balor hits a dropkick and a baseball slide to gain the advantage. Balor then hit a running dropkick into Joe that sent him into the steel stairs. He went to hit a Coup De Grace onto Joe on the steps but Joe avoided it before slamming Balor down onto the outside. Joe hit some rapid fire jabs to keep Balor in the corner, but he fought out with some quick fire attacks of his own. Joe then hit a splash in the corner before turning back and hitting a rapid kick to Balor’s head. Joe continued his attack with some strong chops and knee drop. Joe hit a running kick to Balor as he was sitting in the corner. A huge big boot looked to have stopped any momentum gathered by Balor, but he avoided a senton and hit a big kick to Joe’s head. Balor soon found himself on the outside, and Joe hit a phenomenal suicide dive to the outside on top of Balor. A powerbomb by Joe got him a two count, but he kept up the pressure with a submission hold. He transitioned that submission into a cross-face. Balor rolled it into a pin attempt, but Joe got straight back on it. Balor finally made it to the ropes. Joe attempted a clothesline but Balor rolled it through into a DDT. The crowd rallied as both men tried to get back to their feet. A lot of chops in this match, as Balor hits two running chops onto Joe. Joe hit an elbow onto Balor as he went for a third, and he went to the top, but Balor caught him with a kick and Joe fell to the outside. Balor then flew over the top, landing on Joe. Cries of “NXT” rang out, a chant that went up a lot less than I assumed it would. A double foot stomp by Balor on Joe’s back gained him a two count. It was essentially a Coup de Grace, but that won’t be mentioned. Balor then set up a running dropkick, but Joe swatted him out the air and hit a senton. He then set Balor up for a Muscle Buster, but Balor rolled through for a two count. A Pele kick grounded both men again. The ref counted to nine again, but the crowd had made it to 10, and cries of “10! 10! 10!” went around again. Both men tried to find energy to land some punches, and they exchanged punches and elbows. Joe got some of the Coquina Clutch in, but not all of it, and Finn escaped. Joe tried it again, on the apron, before dragging Balor back into the ring whilst keeping the move in. Finn rolled back, seemingly falling into the clutch fully, but instead he rolled through and delivered a double foot stomp onto Joe. What was funny was he landed with his foot on top of Joe, whose back was on the ground. But the ref didn’t count, and instead brushed Balor’s foot off of Joe. The Demon in Balor emerged, hitting two dropkicks into the corner, but Joe didn’t go down. Joe screamed in rage, but missed his attack, and got hit with a third dropkick and went down. Balor went up top, but Joe managed to get up and meet Balor up there. Joe attempted to set up an insane Muscle Buster from the top rope, but Joe fought him off, hit a Coup de Grace and picked up the victory with a pinfall.
Result – Finn Balor retains
Notes – Two established main eventers. Two fully established stars contesting a title. No need to put someone over or force the crowds who to support. It had a real main event feel and it lived up to what it should be. It was a brilliant match that went back and forward, divided the crowd and could have gone either way. Both men are true stars of the wrestling world.
Analysis – In an honest evaluation of the show, it was great at best. It wasn’t a classic, and it was definitely made better by the crowd being so invested. The matches were all lacking that something special to be spectacular, but were all still thoroughly enjoyable. My issue with the show was that it lacked something to be remembered by. At Brooklyn, it had Liger’s debut and a ladder match. Respect was a tag team tournament and a 30 minute iron man match. London simply had great matches and nothing else. It isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it may have made the event that bit better had it had a defining moment. Still, I had one of my best nights ever at a WWE event, and it was impressed still with the quality that was on show and how everyone can walk away from a special event looking like an absolute star. My match of the night was no doubt Asuka vs Emma, slowly followed by Balor vs Joe. I felt like I was watching true international superstars by the reactions, and felt like I watched a true main event. If NXT came back to the UK, I would recommend anyone to go to it. Also, make sure you check next week’s NXT, as the crowd reaction to a certain team needs to be seen.
Did you watch TakeOver London? What did you make of it? Better than my evaluation? How do you rank it amongst the other TakeOver specials? Let me know by commenting below or telling me on twitter @carlo_george