Only two shows until Takeover (II: Your favorite ridiculous sequel subtitle here) on WWE Network. In the spirit of sequels, let's kick off with a quote from a man who you should never ask how he got his scars, "...and here we go".
- Tag champs The Ascension squash a couple of dudes, and cut a promo about how they're going to squash the winners of the #1 contender tournament, too.
- William Regal is announced as the new General Manager of NXT.
- Regal tries to make his first general managerial proclamation about who will challenge Adrian Neville for the NXT title in the main event of Takeover, but he keeps getting interrupted.
- Neville suggests a Fatal 4way between himself and the interrupters, Tyson Kidd, Tyler Breeze and Sami Zayn. His countryman thinks that is a capital idea.
- Veronica Lane interviews Regal backstage, where he recaps what we just saw and makes the obvious tag match for tonight's main event.
- Not sure if it's Stockholm Syndrome or just that Konnor & Viktor have them down to an artform, but I'll be damned if I'm not gonna miss these two minute beauties. The spot where Vik throws the legal man into his partner to force a tag and then hip tosses him into the ring is a personal favorite. I feel like they've made Fall of Man look more violent as well.
- Don't let them talk, though. The smaller man's by-the-book delivery is bad enough. By the time the big guy is trying to get the noise he makes when attacking people over as a punny catchphrase, they've lost all mystique they had. The Ascension either need a mouthpiece or they need to be a largely silent force of destruction - not Anni-YAH-lation.
- Haven't enraged any readers by talking about the crowd for a few weeks, so I'll say that "Let's Go These Guys" is a much better, more clever chant than "Let's Go Jobbers". Not only did tonight's sacrifices not get entrances, these dudes didn't get their names mentioned or put on screen. That's cold.
- Can't believe I didn't see the Regal reveal coming until it came up in the open thread. I'm excited and disappointed all at the same time - it's a great role for him, but I'm guessing this is officially the end of his announcing career for a while. He hasn't been in the rotation since Takeover (I: The Motion Picture). This is as good a time as any to point out that Rich Brennan is coming along nicely. I'm pretty sure he calls more moves than any other WWE announcer already.
- Wonder if we'll get any references to Regal's previous run as NXT authority figure? You know, when he had to fire Tyler Reks and Brian Myers for kidnapping Matt Striker and framing Fandango and Maxine (after she'd broken up with Ethan Carter III, of course)?
- All four men were solid on the microphone in setting up the Fatal 4way that I did see coming a mile away. The champ is confident if still bland, and Kidd has really found a natural flow to his delivery since joining the dark side. Am I the only sensing a switch in face/heel alignment from Prince Pretty and the Likeable One, though? Breeze's lines about Natalya deserving a title shot more than Tyson could have been heel-ish or WWE dickface, but the glare Sami gave Adrian as the segment ended seemed to have bad intentions.
- Being a fighting champ is great and all, but it seems kind of foolish to volunteer for a match where you can lose your belt without losing the match.
- Veronica Lane, who has been on the job for about three months, already has a much better understanding of how to react while interviewing that Devin Taylor, who has been on the job for at least a year.
- Sasha Banks got a rematch against Bayley, but it was brief due to her cockiness and an out of nowhere Hugplex from the #1 contender to the Women's title.
- The champ made her way down to the ring for a promo duel, but Charlotte may have gotten more than she bargained for from the Doctor of Huganomics.
- Bull Dempsey took care of business with Angelo Dawkins, and made his match with Mojo Rawley official for September 11th.
- Dig the Boss' new ring gear. Was this the first time we've heard this theme? I wasn't sure, but I'm definitely sure I don't like it as much as this one.
- Given that their last go 'round was one of my favorite matches in the amazingly strong run of shows NXT has been offering up over the last couple of months, I have a hard time not feeling let down by how short this rematch was. I'm also not sure I'm sold on the Belly-to-Bayley as a finisher. We see others do it without it the same effect, and I'm sure B has some other things in her toolkit that she could bust out.
- What we got was swell, and the loss doesn't hurt Banks because she basically dominated and then got caught with a finisher. Being as there was no mention of her history with Charlotte, it's too bad someone else couldn't have served as a warm-up act. It's a reminder that, for as much enjoyment as we get out of it, the Women's division is five people deep and Sasha is the only heel not wearing a belt.
- Bayley crafting a promo around the "Hang in There" inspirational kitten poster might be the most wonderful thing I've ever heard, so it becomes hard to critique the rest of her performance. I think it was quite good, though. She shifted gears to "but, no, really, I'm gonna take that belt" smoothly and confidently, while still keeping something in reserve for later.
- Charlotte was better than usual, and I thought her best moments were the opening notes when she was heeling to the crowd. Not sure if it was when she got into more scripted content, or just when momentum clearly shifted to the face when B said, "Charlotte, I'm over here", but I thought she got more wooden as the segment went on.
- Regardless, I'm all kinds of excited for their showdown, so mission accomplished, ladies.
- Angelo Dawkins got his gimmick back. It didn't make a difference for him tonight and I don't think it makes much of a difference for him in the longview, but it's better than the jobber entrance, I guess.
- The match was mostly him getting beaten up by Bull, and wasn't very exciting. That, a by-the-numbers inset promo and a sloppy finish made this a step backwards for Dempsey.
- Thought it was interesting how much time Alex Riley and Jason Albert spent talking about Dempsey's workout regimen and the effects it was having on his physique. For some reason, I heard all of that as being directed at Kevin Steen.
Segment Three / Main Event
- Les Légionnaires spoke to Devin Taylor about Enzo Amore's challenge to Sylvester Lefort of a hair vs. hair match. Marcus Louis accepted on his partner's behalf.
- The tag main event let everybody get their spots in and then broke down in predictable fashion when a stray Helluva Kick to the champ allowed Tyson Kidd to earn a pinfall victory.
- Sami Zayn also hit Kidd with his finisher to end the show as the last man standing, and with an opportunity to consider the prize all four men will be fighting for at Takeover.
- Still not sold on the Frenchmen, but a lot of that may be residual scorn for Lefort's time as manager of dissonant tag teams. Both Sylvester and Enzo have a lot riding on their upcoming singles bout.
- Louis is just a ridiculous cartoony villain - someone I'd expect to see rampaging around a movie that Luc Besson produced but didn't direct. I forget what his injury was (broken arm? leg?), but I hope it's healing nicely so we can see more of how he brings that character into the ring.
- These main events where all four men get an individual entrance sure do eat up a lot of time. If we got more than 50-55 minutes per week, I wouldn't complain. But you're cutting into my NXT time, gentlemen! I may have to write a stern email to the new GM about this...
- Don't have a ton to say about the tag match - it was a ton of fun, and felt a lot like a indy match. Yet it still managed to advance each man's story, so it really was the best of both worlds, and NXT in a nutshell.
- So many spots worth mentioning, especially Neville's array of corkscrewing, rotating splashes. But I think the one that stuck out the most for me was Kidd's takeover neckbreaker thing. Breeze's superkick sure is something, too.
- The finish was predictable, but this was a good example of why that's not a bad thing. When we care about each of the characters, and the performers don't feel like they're just going through the motions, a trope can still be a really effective way to move the narrative along. This did that in exciting fashion. We've confirmed that Prince Pretty and Natty's wife will sell each other out in a second, and we're intrigued about how Sami is acting and how Neville will react to it.
- Maybe it's just because I want to see if he can pull it off, but I'm ready for evil Zayn. Much like John Cena, I think he's got one in him, if they'll let him.
This was a weird episode for me. A lot of necessary work went into building the next special and we got William Regal back in a "be careful what you wish for" way. The main event kicked ass, but everything else felt really slight, workrate-wise.
Your turn, guys and gals!