By Graham "GSM" Matthews
Jushin "Thunder" Liger def. Tyler Breeze
Breeze always gets fancy entrances at TakeOver, but never wins. Poor guy. Anyway, what a thrill it was to see Liger in his first WWE match in person. The crowd loved both guys and Liger even got a "Holy shit!" before the bell ran. They wrestled a very nice match, but not too great a match that it took away from the rest of the show. Breeze was the perfect opponent for Liger in his in-ring WWE debut, and people who haven't followed his career at all or don't know who he is would never guess he is 50-years-old given what he can get done in the ring. I know there were some complaints about Liger beating the NXT regular, and Breeze definitely deserves better, but it was a feel-good moment for Liger in what might be his only WWE match ever.
The Vaudevillians def. Blake and Murphy to Win the NXT Tag Team Championship
Admittedly, I was never sold on The Vaudevillians, but seeing them for the first time in person made me a fan. Their gimmick is goofy, sure, and there is a definite question of whether they're going to get over on the main roster, but fans love the act and they're very good workers to boot. Then again, not everything in NXT works on Raw and SmackDown, so time will tell. As for this match, it was probably the best tag match I've ever seen in NXT, and I'm not just saying that because I witnessed it live. They put forth an excellent effort, though you had to know it wasn't going to end until the women got involved at ringside. Speaking of whom, Blue Pants was over BIG TIME and received one of the loudest pops of the night. I can't explain why people love her so much; they just do. The finishing sequence was well done and it's about time we crowned new tag team champions. I still have no idea why Enzo Amore and Colin Cassady weren't in those spots instead, but at least they were involved in a match that was taped before the show went live.
Apollo Crews def. Tye Dillinger
Yes, I was thinking the same thing all of you were when you saw Crews make his entrance: "Damn, this guy looks a lot like Bobby Lashley!" It's not a racist thing, either; the similarities in appearance are uncanny. That said, he's ten times better in the ring and the crowd absolutely loved him. He's super athletic and pulled off things I've never seen from a guy of his size. If he can talk half as good as he can wrestle (which I get the feeling he can), then this guy is going to be a star in no time. As for Dillinger, I'd like to see him used better in NXT, but he was a fine fall guy for Crews here.
Samoa Joe def. Baron Corbin
Obviously, this was the "weakest" match on the card in-ring wise, but that's not to say it was bad by any stretch. Joe was unsurprisingly beloved by the Brooklyn crowd, whereas Corbin was unanimously booed. It was slow early on, but the crowd never turned on the match. It gradually got better went on, so it wasn't as much of a dud as I thought it was going to be going in. Joe winning was the right move as he has much more potential than Corbin does at this point in my opinion. I'm sure this is only the beginning of the feud, but Corbin didn't lose much seeing as how this might have been his second ever loss in NXT and he didn't tap out.
Bayley def. Sasha Banks to Win the NXT Women's Championship
Nothing I write here will do this match justice, but I'll say this much to start off: this match served as a reminder of why I love not only women's wrestling, but wrestling in general. This was beautiful and everything a match should be. The video package was incredibly well done and I was pleasantly surprised they brought up how the rest of the Four Horsewomen were called up to the main roster when Bayley wasn't. Banks has such a knack for being a great heel it's incredible. Most heels nowadays don't do anything to elicit heat or turn the fans against them, but it's the little things Banks does (such as stomping Bayley's hands away from the ropes as she had the Bank Statement locked in) that make her an exceptional heel. The match was outstanding from start to finis and the underdog story with Bayley was phenomenal because she had the crowd fully behind her the whole way through. That finishing sequence was fantastic, including the brutal reverse Frankensteiner off the top rope from Bayley, because it was something you typically never see from the women. The moment of Bayley finally capturing the belt was a long time coming and all of the Four Horsemen celebrating the win together was a sight to behold. Just stellar stuff all around.
NXT Champion Finn Balor def. Kevin Owens in a Ladder Match
I know there was no topping the Women's title match for most people, but this was still a great Ladder match in my opinion. The story wasn't as strong, but the action was entertaining and it had to be one of the best Ladder matches I've seen in some time. There weren't any noticeable botches and the crowd was hot for both men. Balor and Owens hitting their finishers either on or off the ladder was awesome and ended the night on a high note (no pun intended). Balor retaining was the right move and I'd assume this spelled the end of Owens as a regular in NXT, but we'll find out in the weeks to come.
Every TakeOver special since the inaugural installment back in February 2014 has been good to great, but this is the only one that comes to mind that was near-perfect because there wasn't a bad/dull match on the entire show. Liger vs. Breeze was an enjoyable opener, the tag title match was very fun, Crews made an impact in his first match, Corbin vs. Joe exceeded expectations, the women's match was one of the best bouts of the year and the main event was great as well. Triple H opening the night in the fashion he did gave me chills and I couldn't be happier to have been part of such an environment and being able to witness it in person. Again, I don't mean to sound partial because I was there, but this just might be the best TakeOver special to date, and it made my first NXT experience an amazing one.