Happy Saturday Everyone!
Today we’re reviewing a show that I’ve never seen before, as it either wasn’t shown in the UK back in the day or it was and I just missed it. I believe the next Takeover was where I started following the show on a regular basis because we finally got WWE Network over here in early 2015 and it made watching NXT a heck of a lot easier. As the name might suggest, NXT Takeover Fatal Four Way is Main Evented by a lingerie battle royal.
Oh we like to have fun here don’t we?
In all seriousness, Takeover Fatal Four Way has Adrian Neville defending his NXT Title in a Fatal Four Way, so like Ronseal Wood Stain this Takeover is doing what it says on the tin! Elsewhere, we’ve got Charlotte Flair and Bayley hooking it up, and The Ascension are defending the tag belts against The Lucha Dragons.
If you’d like to view the card for Takeover Fatal Four Way, you can feel free by clicking below;
The event is emanating from Winter Park, Florida on the 11th of September 2014
Calling the action are Byron Saxton, Renee Young and Tom Phillips
In a neat bit, they have the “Then. Now. Forever” thing interrupted by the NXT Intro, because tonight they’re TAKING OVER!!!
NXT Tag Team Titles
Champs: The Ascension (Konnor and Viktor) Vs Los Dragones De La Lucha (Kalisto and Sin Cara)
This would be the Hunico version of Sin Cara as opposed to the Mistico version. And boy, was Mistico ever a flop in WWE eh? The Ascension are the living definition of the “Power and Paint” gimmick on EWR, whilst The Lucha Dragons are masked high-flyers, so this would be a perfect stylistic match up if we were playing GM mode on a 2K game. The fans seem to like The Lucha Dragons, as they’re all doing the taunt with them to start. They apparently had a tournament to decide who got the Title shot, with Lucha Dragons beating Blake ‘N’ Murphy, Sami Zayn and Adam Rose, and then finally The Vaudevillians to advance to the Title match.
Sin Cara shines on Viktor to start us out, with Viktor taking some nice bumps for it as he was the working wrestler of his team. Konnor eventually gets involved and that leads to Sin Cara taking a tumble to the floor for the cut off. The fans seem to be giving Konnor the Hack Myers treatment, as they yell something whenever he throws strikes. They refrain from yelling a swearword when anyone hits him back though, which I’m sure the WWE Network censors were grateful for. Sin Cara sells well whilst getting worked over and the crowd claps for the hot tag.
Sin Cara eventually manages to evade The Champs long enough to make the tag, leading to Kalisto running wild by using the power of LUCHA! Dives follow, with them doing a good job of telling the Power Vs Speed story. That one almost always works, and this bout is no exception. The Champs prep to kill Kalisto with infinite death, but Sin Cara takes out Konnor and that allows Kalisto to get an Asai DDT for the three count and the Titles.
WINNERS AND NEW CHAMPIONS: LUCHA DRAGONS
Thoughts: Solid opener there, as they worked the formula competently and everyone did what they needed to do in order to get the fans invested in the finish. No complaints from me
Lucha Dragons do the big celebration following the match, which makes the belts seem important and worth winning, which is always a positive. Renee Young does a quick interview with the new Champs on the ramp and they are pumped to win.
We have a video package for NXT Champ Adrian Neville, where he talks about how he hasn’t lost in 2014 and he wanted a Fatal Four Way tonight because he wanted to challenge himself. This was a decent video package and it suggested that some arrogance might be creeping in to the Champ’s attitude. It always baffles me how good NXT was at the little things like that during this period when the main roster was normally so awful at it.
CJ Parker Vs Jeremy Baron Corbin
Parker was doing the Eco Warrior thing at the time and would eventually go on to greater success in New Japan as Juice Robinson. Corbin was doing the generic tattooed tough guy biker gimmick at this stage and I don’t think they’d really settled on an alignment for him yet. Indeed, Corbin doesn’t even get an entrance here, as he’s just standing in the ring waiting for Parker. I always thought the “There is no Planet B” line was pretty clever when it came to Parker’s gimmick actually. Corbin quickly hits the End of Days and gets the three and a babyface pop for good measure. I’m not sure when they pivoted to make him a Heel actually, as they were kind of Goldberging it with him to start and it seemed to be working.
WINNER: BARON CORBIN
Thoughts: Parker wasn’t long for the company I think, and getting crushed by a newbie who didn’t even get an entrance was probably a good example of that
Tyson Kidd video package. He wants to win later to prove that he’s more than just Nattie Neidhart’s husband. We see clips of Kidd defeating Sami Zayn when Nattie accidentally took a bump. This did a good job of getting across the idea that Kidd is a jerk who doesn’t appreciate his wife.
Luchas de Apuestas
Hair Vs Hair
Sylvester Lefort w/ Marcus Louis Vs Enzo Amore w/ Colin Cassady
Lefort and Louis are cocky French blokes who had shaved off some of Enzo’s beard, so Enzo has got some industrial grade hair cream ala The Freebirds and is looking for some revenge. I’m not exactly sure who the babyface is supposed to be here, although if it’s a choice between France and Italy then I’ll lean to France for the public transport system whilst leaning towards Italy for the food, so it’s mostly a draw. They’re both great countries though and well worth a visit. Enzo basically had his full spiel down by this stage, and some vocal folk in the crowd are getting quite into it.
Enzo actually throws a dropkick in the early going, and it’s a surprisingly nice looking one as well. Aside from that random flashy moment, this one is a pretty straightforward WWF 80’s prelim match, where they mostly punch, stomp and play to the crowd. Its fine for what it is, with the crowd getting behind Enzo when Lefort works some heat. Lefort does a decent job of getting gradually more intense as the bout progresses, with the idea that Enzo’s stubbornness to keep fighting back is getting on the better wrestler’s nerves.
Enzo does his usual ragdoll routine on the bumps, which has always been the best aspect of his in-ring work, and they forgo really giving him a proper comeback, instead going with Lefort getting distracted by a brawl outside the ring with the seconds, leading to Enzo getting a cheeky roll-up for the three count.
WINNER: ENZO AMORE
Thoughts: This was okay lower card stuff, with them telling a simple story well, which has been the trend thus far on this show. And hey, there’s nothing wrong with that. This is developmental where they’re supposed to be learning the basics, so you might as well keep the matches straightforward for the greener guys like Enzo
Sylvester Lefort flees rather than having his hair cut, but Marcus Louis ends up having The Freebird hair cream bucket dumped on his head, leading to him coming back bald at a later date. I’m not sure how I feel about that one actually. Louis taking the haircut for Lefort isn’t the worst idea, but I think you actually have to do the haircut on the show itself.
Tyler Breeze video package. He’s vain, but he also wins a lot too because he’s a good wrestler. He should be the NXT Champion because he’s so gorgeous, and every outfit he has works with gold. Breeze totally got how to play this character and he was hilarious when they let him do stuff like this.
NXT General Manager William Bloody Regal joins us, and he was still new to the role at the time but would go on to be an enduring character on the show until inexplicably getting released and going to AEW for a bit. Regal sends to a video package for KENTA, named as such as they hadn’t called him Hideo Itami yet. The package did a good job of making KENTA seem like a big deal. KENTA then joins us in a nice suit for some promo time. KENTA does a half-English and half-Japanese promo, saying that from now on he’ll be Hideo Itami, as a tribute to one of his hero’s. I guess KENTA is a big fan of Death Stranding? The Ascension ruin things though by coming down to the ring and flinging KENTA out of it before demanding that Regal gives them a rematch for the tag belts. KENTA isn’t pleased about their interruption and sends them both packing to set up his first NXT feud.
Bull Dempsey Vs Mojo Rawley
These two were a team in the tag tournament but Bull attacked Mojo following a loss, setting up this match here. Bull is kind of like a cross between Rhino and Taz when it comes to his look, as he’s a stocky bloke in a singlet that does power stuff, whilst Mojo is a hyped up former footballer who looks a bit like a cross between Razor Ramon and Claudio Castagnoli. This one is a brawl right from the off, as Bull attacks Mojo as soon as he gets in the ring and the two start trading punches. Bull ends up flying off the top with a head butt and that’s the win.
WINNER: BULL DEMPSEY
Thoughts: Too short to rate, but it was energetic whilst it lasted. It’s interesting that Bull was the guy they had go over here as Mojo looks more like someone they’d push and he ended up going to the main roster whilst Bull was cut from NXT before even making it there
Bull delivers another head butt following the match, just to be a jerk, but Mojo still manages to leave under his own power.
Enzo and Big Cass are looking around for Marcus Louis, and seemingly they feel similar to me in that they want to see someone bald on this particular show, leading to them finding Louis and bringing him to the ring so that everyone can see his gnarled head now that it’s missing clumps of hair. The punchline is that Enzo doesn’t know how to spell “Bald”, instead spelling it “BAWLD”, because gimmick.
NXT Women’s Title
Champ: Charlotte Flair Vs Bayley
Bayley managed to pick up two wins over Sasha Banks in order to become the #1 contender, but Charlotte isn’t taking her seriously as a challenger. Charlotte makes a comment about Bayley crying in the pre-match package, which is ironic considering that being able to cry almost on cue is something both her and her dad have been known for doing. I think only Astushi Onita might have shed more tears on wrestling shows than the Flair Family.
Bayley is aggressive to start, getting across the idea that she’s a credible competitor now, but after an opening flurry Bayley ends up taking a neck breaker from Charlotte for the cut off. Charlotte does a good job working the heat, especially when you figure in how comparatively inexperienced she was at the time, working holds and getting across her bullying persona. Bayley is great as a babyface fighting form underneath as well, doing a good job selling everything whilst still trying to find a way back into the match. Even when Charlotte locks Bayley in a hold, Bayley fights to get out of it, which makes it a working hold instead of a rest hold.
Bayley eventually manages to fight back enough to bust out a rana off the ropes for a double down, which wasn’t stuff you were usually getting in women’s matches in WWE at the time outside of rare situations when they’d let the talented wrestlers go in there and work a match. This match has been on par with what you’d expect from a good men’s match, which is much more normal in WWE now but was more of a rarity in 2014. Charlotte gets increasingly frustrated at being unable to put Bayley away, especially after hitting a Moonsault, but Natural Selection does eventually end it for her after a brave fight from Bayley.
WINNER AND STILL CHAMPION: CHARLOTTE FLAIR
Thoughts: This one felt like it had a higher gear it could have kicked into but it wasn’t really time to do that with Bayley yet, so instead they had her be a hard fighting plucky challenger who made Flair have to bust out the A Level offence in order to pick up the win, without really giving Bayley some truly big believable near falls yet. This was still an entertaining match though and an important part in the evolution of Bayley’s NXT character. It was also important in adding an extra dimension to Charlotte’s character, as we’ll see next
Sasha Banks comes down to the ring to attack Bayley following the match, but Charlotte Flair breaks that up and begins her babyface turn without fully going babyface yet.
We now get a Sami Zayn video package, talking about how he’s friends with Adrian Neville but he won’t let his friendship with Neville stop him from trying to win the NXT Title tonight. All four of these video packages have been good tonight.
Champ: Adrian Neville Vs Tyler Breeze Vs Tyson Kidd Vs Sami Zayn
Neville would be better known as PAC these days, and he’s ostensibly a babyface but he’s also kind of jerk to Sami most of the time. Breeze and Kidd are both clear Heels, whilst Zayn is the pure babyface of the contest. All four guys wrestled on Raw the previous week in order to hype this one up, although I’m not sure how many extra eyeballs it put on this one. As I mentioned earlier, we didn’t get WWE Network in the UK until early 2015 (Royal Rumble 2015 was the first pay per view I remember watching on it) but I think Sky Sports was showing the NXT regular weekly show. I think they were also showing the Takeovers as well, but they were on at random times and edited down, soon I missed a few of these early ones as a result.
Everyone brawls to start, with Zayn even hitting Breeze with his own phone at one stage, and it’s fun stuff. There hasn’t been a lot of brawling on the show previously outside of that quick Bull Vs Mojo match, so it doesn’t feel overdone and retains its effectiveness as a result. The two Heels eventually suplex the babyface duo outside of the ring, with Neville getting suplexed up the ramp whilst Zayn takes his around ringside, which leads to Kidd and Breeze essentially working some heat on Zayn in the ring whilst Neville tries to get back in.
Zayn sells all of that well, whilst Kidd and Breeze look good on offence, so it’s an effective section of the bout. Eventually Kidd and Breeze fight over who is going to get the pin, and that leads to their alliance crumbling. Heels gonna Heel, am I right? Kidd ends up beating up Zayn all by himself in the ring whilst constantly attacking the other two wrestlers so that they can’t get in to prevent it, which is a unique way to working one of these matches and it’s working quite well. It’s got to be difficult to think of new ways to work an established match style, so kudos to the folks in this one.
Neville eventually manages to get in there to take out Kidd and then Moonsaults onto both Heels before Zayn can do a dive of his own onto them, leaving Sami with some serious blue balls in a good example of Neville gradually becoming more a of a jerk. We of course get Finisher Madness™ at one stage, where everyone comes in to hit a big move and get a near fall, with Breeze having a temper tantrum when he’s unable to exploit the situation for his own gain. Everyone has played their respective role really well here and it’s added to the match.
Zayn ends up getting a big near fall after powerbombing the other three in a Tower of DOOM spot, which the crowd was totally biting on and Zayn sells his dejection at it only being a two perfectly. I’ve just realised by the way that Neville is British and other three in this one are Canadian, making this a fully international bout, which you don’t always get in promotions based in the US, especially one like WWE. Breeze almost steals the pin on Zayn at one stage after a Neville high flying move, but Zayn kicks out in another great near fall. The timing on these kick outs have been fantastic and it’s really added to the excitement of the contest.
Kidd almost has it won with a Sharpshooter on Breeze following that, but Neville stops the tap out and Zayn then breaks up the hold, leading to Neville and Zayn going at it one on one finally after spending the whole match being kept apart. Zayn sends Neville to the floor and then sends him into the front row with a TOPE SUICIDA before running wild on everyone and seemingly having it won with the Helluva Kick on Kidd before Neville pulls the ref out of the ring before the three count, drawing Heel heat in the process. Neville lays out Zayn on the floor and then follows with the Red Arrow on Kidd to retain.
WINNER AND STILL CHAMPION: ADRIAN NEVILLE
Thoughts: Zayn’s quest for the NXT Title was an expertly told story, and is one of the rare instances of a babyface constantly failing actually working because it just made the fans want to see it more and more. I think an important aspect to it was that the fans kind of knew it was eventually going to happen because it was developmental and Neville had to be moving up to the main roster after a certain point, so they could afford to be patient in waiting for the big victory. It helped also that Zayn was so good at playing the character of the underdog who comes so close but JUST can’t quite secure the big win. This match was great fun, with some excellent near falls, some strong storyline advancement and some great wrestling on top of it. I think it’d be close to impossible for four wrestlers this good to not have a good match in 2014 in all honesty
Following the match, Adrian Neville celebrates whilst Sami Zayn is sad.
It’s not like there was a tonne of great wrestling on this show or anything but it was a breezy two hour watch and the last two matches were really good. There was nothing awful on the undercard to drag the show down as a whole, with even the so-so matches at least involving characters who were over with the crowd, which made up somewhat for the quality of the actual wrestling in those particular contests. Plus, NXT was more of a pure developmental brand at the time, so I feel it’s fair to grade this one on a bit of a curve as a result. NXT hadn’t quite cracked the Takeover formula yet, but this was still a decent early effort and a thumbs up overall.