For a more detailed recap, check our live results post here.
Peyton Royce def. Nikki Cross and Liv Morgan to earn a spot in the Fatal 4Way for the Women’s title at the Houston TakeOver. Royce pinned Cross after repeated interference by Taynara Conti - at Undisputed Era’s urging - distracted her and the SAnitY member ran into a kick and suplex from the Aussie.
Not the result I was expecting, or at least Pey’s win didn’t come about the way I expected it. Conti’s involvement was a very nice touch as it accomplished several things beyond giving Royce a heel win that didn’t involve her Iconic partner Billie Kay for a chance.
It provided a way to remind us about Undisputed Era’s involvement with SAnitY and keep the Scottish Psychopath involved in that story, and in a way that put over Adam Cole and company as master manipulators. If you watch this fallout video, the angle also establishes them as complete $#!+heads, and raises the possibility Taynara could strike back at the trio at an inopportune moment - like next week’s six man tag. The Brazilian Natalya/Renee Young look-a-like’s presence also served to further Nikki’s chaotic good/neutral character (they used the standard Triple Threat trope of alternating team-ups to drive this point home, too, with Cross allying herself with Morgan at first before working through all the possible pairings) whose instability can get the better of her.
Overall, this was a solid match. Liv disappeared after the Tower of Doom spot, but kept up with two of the more seasoned workers in the division. That’s a good sign, even if as her inconsistency is probably frustrating to trainers. Royce’s acting ability is fantastic and really shone here; I’m hoping her inclusion in another title match is her NXT swan song, because she’s gonna be a hit on the main roster. And Nikki’s Nikki... she’s probably one of the most popular acts in NXT right now, and performances like this will only cause fans to love her more.
So far, while I didn’t love the way they wrote Asuka off, her exit is livening things up as expected.
Velveteen Dream def. Lio Rush via pinfall following Purple Rainmaker. Dream continued to demand attention and acknowldgement from Aleister Black in the aftermath. Lars Sullivan def. Danny Burch via pinfall following a side spinebuster.
About as entertaining a pair of squashes as you’ll find. Both clock in around the three minute mark, but as with the opener, they not only entertained in and of themselves, but they worked as building blocks for the folks involved and their overall angles.
Of the two, I was a little disappointed we didn’t get any Oney Lorcan action in Sullivan’s smashing of Burch, but this pre-show video of the brawling buddies explained that and made their friendship even more endearing. Danny did exactly what he was supposed to... show no fear, then learn what a mistake that was. Now bring on the handicap match!
The standout item in the showdown between the former MCW Tag champs was how quickly the crowd got behind Rush. Part of that is a testament to his offense - and if they liked this sample, wait until Full Sail sees the rest of it. A lot of it owed to Patrick Clark’s charisma. Even through a dubious gimmick, he’s got us reacting how he wants us to. This win helps position him as a little more of a threat to Black, but more importantly, it did nothing to diminish what’s intriguing about their conflicting personas.
Street Profits def. These Guys via pinfall following the spinebuster/frog splash combo. Next week’s line-up includes an interview with NXT champion Drew McIntyre, our second Triple Threat Women’s title qualifier between Ruby Riot, Sonya Deville and Ember Moon, and a six-man tag of SAnitY vs. Undisputed Era.
I bring the swag like nobody can
Don't mean to brag
What about it yeah (What about it yeah)
Sorry, I was over here popping for everything Montez Ford does. 4 - 0! Be careful though, man. Don’t piss off the Empress...
Everything for next week sounds really good, but I’m still kind of in shock this will be the first we’ve seen of Ember since Asuka’s farewell. And still no sign of former tag champs The Authors of Pain since Brooklyn! Hmmm.
Andrade “Cien” Almas def. Johnny Gargano via pinfall following a hammerlock DDT. Zelina Vega’s #DIY distraction didn’t rattle Gargano this time, but it did buy time for her associate to survive a submission before the finishing sequence.
Add these two to your “worthy of ‘Fight Forever’ chants” list. They’re going on mine.
Ranking them would require a re-watch of both, something I hope to do, although there’s so much wrestling I haven’t had a chance to see once (not to mention other things I want to check out like movies, books, a quiet meal with my wife...) I’m not sure when it will happen. Regardless, I can say I unequivocally loved both this showing and their opener from the last TakeOver.
This one would have fit on a TakeOver, that’s how good it was.
In addition to the fact they’re two of the best in-ring performers in the world, the things they’re good at are so complementary - and not just the heel/face dynamic. Almas doesn’t care at all, Gargano cares too much. Andrade is a dirtbag, Johnny is virtuous to a fault.
At times I forget Vega is there during matches, which is a credit to the wrestlers and her ability to add to the performance without taking it over. When she’s needed to smack the tranquilo out of her associate or unveil her secret weapon, Zelina makes her presence known. Otherwise, she doesn’t get in the way.
The story of Cien’s rise since her arrival isn’t anything intricate, but it really works and I’m pumped to see where it goes now that Johnny Wrestling is (temporarily, I hope) in their rearview. Gargano’s story is still interesting, too. Vega’s sexier reveal of her #DIY callback strategy may not have rattled him as much this time, but his positive self-talk about not needing a partner and being able to compete with the big dogs as a singles wrestler hasn’t turned into wins yet.
WWE released another cool post-show video for this angle, with General Manager William Regal giving Johnny a pep talk and telling him he’s sending him back into the ring in two weeks. Part of me wishes they’d found a way to get all these extras on the show this week, because they’re all fairly important. This episode was pretty great as is, though - and they’ll probably show them in coming weeks, anyway.
With the exception of the opener, this week was mostly transitional story beats. Nothing was set in stone for the show that at this point in continuity they’re still calling TakeOver: Houston, even though we all know better. But every minute of it was entertaining, and it wrapped up with a killer main event.
Thank you, NXT.