In case you forgot this was the TakeOver: San Antonio fallout show, it opens with a video package recapping last Saturday night, when that event went down.
It’s a very nice video package.
Tom Phillips, flanked by the departing Corey Graves and Percy Watson, informs us that United Kingdom champion Tyler Bate will be in action tonight, then we go to the introductions for our first match - Ember Moon vs. Aliyah.
The Texas crowd is firmly behind Dallasite Ember, who takes control with a suplex after her opponent goes for an early pin attempt. Moon locks in a painful looking abdominal stretch, but Aliyah gets free with a hip toss and follows that with a neckbreaker. After another takedown and a bicycle kick in the corner, Aliyah bridges out a Northern Lights Suplex for a two count. Following a moonsault from Ember, Aliyah gets another cover off a head scissor, but Moon rolls through and nearly takes her head off with a clothesline. The Eclipse follows for the win in just over three minutes.
Eric Young’s win over Tye Dillinger from Saturday is recapped, followed by SAnitY’s fallout interview (you can see all of those in our TakeOver playlist from the weekend here). There’s then a lengthy look at the Perfect Ten as the tenth entrant in the 2017 Royal Rumble match, including the post-match interview with Tye you can watch here.
The Women’s title match gets the same treatment, followed by Cathy Kelley’s interview with Asuka where she asks if Ember works in NXT. Kayla Braxton interviews Moon after her match with Aliyah, and Ember says she’s glad Asuka won at TakeOver, because she wants to be the one to take down the Empress. When their war is over, Asuka will know who she is.
- Been telling myself not to fly off the handle about NXT commentary in the wake of Graves’ announcement from Saturday, but it seemed like he was trying to be quiet during the opener to let Percy drive and MY WORD, IT WASN’T GOOD.
- We have to wait and see how Nigel McGuinness fits in, but he and Tom have their work cut out for them. Alright, back to trying to not fly off the handle.
- Solid opener, which did what it needed to in terms of elevating the winner. I especially liked that Ember showed more of a mean streak in her comeback - she’ll need that and more to convince us she’s a threat to the champ, since we’ve mostly only seen her win quick matches.
- Aliyah looked okay. Nothing too out of place and she continues to progress in fits and starts similar to the way Liv Morgan is developing. Corey had to cover for her kick in the corner a bit, and I’d like to see her (or production) not make it look so obvious she’s catching/bracing Ember as part of the Eclipse, but she did her job.
- The SAnitY and Dillinger stuff was okay and didn’t give away too much regarding future plans (Rev’s got your spoilers from last night’s Full Sail taping here, if you want stuff given away) - all depends on where we go next. If Tye’s staying, I’m curious to hear him talk about the Rumble as it relates to his ongoing NXT story.
- Building to Asuka vs. Ember is all well and good - love the champ not knowing who the werewolf woman who’s challenging her is and love more that it somehow doesn’t come across too heelish. “Oh, she does work here? Cool, cool, cool. I’ll fight her. Okay, bye.” Moon was better just delivering a straight forward promo and not trying to look out of the side of her eyes and be mysterious.
- My issue is, I’m much more interested in Nikki Cross and where things stand with her and Asuka. We’ll get that starting next week, I know, but, I’m not sure it’s great that I’m preoccupied with that while you’re selling me this.
- Also, could we get Kelley on interview duty more often? I honestly find her kind of grating on that “this week in Superstars’ Instagram” (or whatever) YouTube show she does, but she’s great interacting with the wrestlers. I like her better in this role than pretty much anyone not named Renee Young.
Oney Lorcan represents the U.S. in battle with the UK champ. Bate backs Lorcan into the ropes when they start with the test of strength. After some posturing, the referee gets a clean break, but Tyler raises his right hand to distract Oney so he can bop him with the left. The Brit goes for his finisher, but an angered Lorcan tosses him into the corner and starts clubbing on the champ, followed by chops and uppercuts. Bate fires back with an array of strikes of his own, eventually leading to his airplane spin spot - including tiring out and firing back up. Cool bit where Lorcan sends the smaller man flying with a running uppercut, but Tyler rebounds right back and spins into a bicycle kick. From there, it’s Tyler Driver 97 time, and the visiting titleholder gets his hand raised after five minutes of action.
Both the Andrade “Cien” Almas vs. Roderick Strong and Authors of Pain vs. #DIY bouts from TakeOver are highlighted, with post-match comments from the victors - Roddy, and Paul Ellering speaking for new tag champs Akam & Rezar.
The NXT title match gets some time next, with a recap of Bobby Roode’s victory followed with new footage of Shinsuke Nakamura being helped to the back, where a trainer checks on him and he chats with Matt Bloom, Triple H and KASSIUS OHNO! That not-so-young Knockout Kid sympathetically tells “Shin” his injury sucks, and follows him to the trainer’s room. Then we get Booby Roode’s fallout interview where he snaps at Braxton, and Phillips tells us next week will be the new champ’s “Glorious Celebration” back at Full Sail.
- Fun match, and the only wrestling on this episode I’d recommend to folks who are pressed for time.
- Will probably just write this here every time he gets on TV (which is happening with some regularity, so that’s a positive) - push Oney! Not to the title scene or anything, but he’s too good in the ring and has too natural a connection with fans to only use him as this jobber-to-the-stars guy.
- Saw enough of other sites’ reports on the Feb. 1 taping to know we’ll be getting more Bate and other United Kingdom Championship Tournament participants on Wednesday nights, at least in the short term. That’s great, as I like watching them (and it opens the door for more of William Regal sneering at Pete Dunne), but I worry they’ll take up time which could/should be used building up characters and angles for the folks who are already in NXT.
- NXT’s second rollout of Ohno has been the strangest damn thing. It’s not bad, because they really have me hooked for whatever they’ll finally do with him, but leaking the taping appearance then never including it on the show, followed by bringing him to San Antonio to... express concern while wearing a suit? That’s one way to do it.
Tom again reminds us it’s Corey’s last night, and - even though he knows Graves doesn’t want the attention- intros a video recapping the Savior of Misbehavior’s time with the brand. You can watch that here.
Main event time, and Elias Samson asks San Antonio if they want his song. Before he can strum his guitar, No Way Jose’s music hits and the crowd grooves as he makes him way to the ring.
They get right to it, with the Drifter hitting Jose with a drop kick at the bell, and No Way coming back with a clothesline before transitioning to strikes. He starts into his dancing offense, but Samson rolls out. The big Dominican follows him with a baseball slide and a forearm that takes us to a quick WrestleMania 33 commercial. When we return, Jose’s been crotched on the top rope, allowing Elias to connect with a leaping knee strike, then a clothesline to get to his rest holds. No Way muscles his way free and caps his comeback with a neckbreaker. He winds up for his baseball punch, but Samson dodges - only to rebound into the pop-up punch, which ends it in about six minutes.
- Feel like I’ve written a lot but not enough on what Graves has meant to NXT, and by extension, to me. Our shared hometown aside, my first regular assignment as a wrestling blogger/writer was to cover this show when the only legal way to watch it here in the States was on Hulu, so this chronicle of his time with the brand also covered my “career” in wrestling. Not sure what my point is, but this one hit me in the feels. At the same time, I almost feel proud, too - although I’m not sure that makes sense.
- Anyway, Corey’s great at his job and I’m glad he’s gonna get to do it on a bigger stage even as I’ll miss him on this littler one. He’s also an inspiration to never stop trying to be the best at whatever opportunities life gives you, even if they’re not the opportunities you wanted. And now my eyes are watering again. Moving on...
- Regular readers know there’s nary a match-up they could throw at me I’d have less interest in than Samson/Jose. This was mostly inoffensive, and it seemed like the Freeman Coliseum crowd enjoyed it.
- But for me, the joy here was in hearing Corey’s frustration that he’d have to deal with Samson one more time. At least now he’s free of this, even if I’m stuck with it.
Pretty typical post-TakeOver fare, elevated by a neat Lorcan/Bate encounter and the added weight of being the last Corey Graves-called show.
Meet you back here next week, Cagesiders.