That was something special.
To be blunt, I have come to expect a certain caliber of event when it comes to the NXT events. This seems like a high bar to set for a brand that has had mainstream exposure for less than a year. Regardless, each NXT special starting with Takeover last March has been phenomenal, with well-paced, exciting matches and feuds that are worth caring for.
REvolution has proven to be no different, putting on a balanced event that managed to introduce new stars, establish a few old ones, and generate excitement within the brand for the year to come.
Former NXT star Corey Graves joins the commentary team tonight, along with Alex Riley, Rich Brennan, and Jason Albert.
KEVIN OWENS (DEBUTING) VS. CJ PARKER
That is exactly how you make an incoming Superstar a big deal.
Kevin Owens, known as Kevin Steen in the independent circuit, was a signing that made just as much noise as the acquisitions of KENTA and Prince Devitt. Despite this, many were wondering how a performer known for aggression and being a hard heel would fare when called to the “big leagues.”
After tonight, I don’t think there is any concern about how Kevin Owens will fare. This match was everything you could want from a premiere. The crowd was buzzing after every move and Owens had energy to spare, putting everything he had into his move set. I joked on Twitter that Owens is the fastest “fat” guy I’ve ever seen in the ring, but its true; Owens has amazing speed for his stature. Look no further than that suicide tope plancha he busts out after Parker–the NXT punching bag of the stars–tries to flee the ring for some space.
Just when things couldn’t possibly get better for Owens’ presentation, CJ Parker hits the mark a bit too well with a stiff palm strike. Owens is busted open and the crowd feeds on it like nothing else. I may not care for the powerbomb as a finisher, but Owens being covered in blood as he threw the hippie down made for a great look. I expect great things from Owens.
The Finish: Owens gets busted open by Parker’s palm thrust, who immediately destroys the Eco-Warrior with an inverted pump-handle slam (the Steen Breaker) and a push-up powerbomb for the pin.
The Time: 3:14
The Good: Owen’s offense, from the running corner senton, to the plancha, and a vicious-looking powerbomb.
The Bad: Bookers probably didn’t want this to be a squash, but Parker got too much offense in for my liking.
The Rating: **1/2 out of *****
THE LUCHA DRAGONS (C) VS THE VAUDEVILLAINS (NXT TAG TEAM CHAMPIONSHIPS)
Both of these teams are missing something. Don’t get me wrong, I love them both. I am glad to see Sin Cara and Kallisto carrying on the luchadore tradition in the WWE and the Vaudevillains are entertaining each and every week. Despite this, both teams lack a spark that left this match feeling flat.
I have said before that the Vaudevillains have not had a match of real length or worth, and it showed in this match. Gotch and English looked sluggish, and while this may just be the style they have landed on as heels, the match was left with a meandering, prodding pace.
For the Lucha Dragons, this match was merely another reminder that Kallisto needs to be in the WWE, and soon. Each of the team’s matches plays the “face in danger” card until a hot tag to Kallisto can occur. Kallisto is pure excitement and feels like a waste as an NXT tag-team member.
While this match wasn’t anything horrible, it also wasn’t all too different from both teams usual work. Here’s hoping we see Kallisto go off on his own sooner than later.
The Finish: English saves Gotch from a double suicide dive, only for Gotch to get bopped with Kallisto’s S.D.S. for the win.
The Time: 6:40
The Good: I really enjoy watching Kallisto; English’s chivalry in saving Gotch, and the amazing crowd chant that followed.
The Bad: Nothing we haven’t seen before from either team. A very paint-by-numbers affair.
The Rating: ** out of *****
BARON CORBIN VS TYE DILLINGER
Yawn. Beast gets fed. Other, just as hungry but far uglier beast watches from crowd. Beast stares at beast. Me am hungry.
The Finish: Corbin hits the Fall of Man, Bull Dempsey considers stealing a hot dog from a child.
The Time: 0:40
The Good: I like Corbin’s look and his finish is always executed to perfection.
The Bad: I hate Bull Dempsey, this feud makes the baby Jesus cry, and Corbin needs a real match sooner than later.
The Rating: SQUASHED
HIDEO ITAMI AND FINN BALOR VS THE ASCENSION
Finn Balor is a much bigger deal than Hideo Itami, but you didn’t hear it from me.
Balor showed tonight that he is ready for the main stage, with everything from his excellent entrance and mannerisms to the way the Irishman carries himself in the ring. A perpetual performer, Balor is going to be exciting to watch for a long time coming.
Itami once again provided backup as a very consistent, precise performer, playing the “face in danger” role at various times throughout the match. I think Hideo needs to be given more chances to create a character, which is where the stark difference between he and Balor stood out. The entrance robe was a nice touch.
As much as I would hate to say it, The Ascension were almost an after-thought in this match. While they held up their end of the bargain in this match, it was never going to be anything other than a steamroll. I might have this feeling due to the fact that this feud has been going on so long, but I’m glad to see it over and have The Ascension move on to bigger things.
NXT is going to see great things from Balor and Itami. Enjoy them both while they’re around because they won’t be for long.
The Finish: Double flying foot stomps from Itami and Balor put the match away.
The Time: 11:30
The Good: Balor’s bodypaint, Itami’s kicks, Itami teasing the GTS and sending the crowd nuclear, only to land a busiaku knee.
The Bad: They played their part, but you could have replaced The Ascension with cardboard cutouts and nobody would have noticed.
The Rating: ***1/2 out of *****
CHARLOTTE (C) VS SASHA BANKS (NXT WOMEN’S CHAMPIONSHIP)
I don’t think I have ever seen as stiff as a women’s match in a WWE product as this one.
It is refreshing, don’t get me wrong. All too often the Divas matches on RAW and Smackdown feel like the performers are wearing gloves, afraid to put force behind their strikes and moves. This match was not the case and showed exactly why the world needs both Charlotte and Sasha Banks.
I cannot say enough good things about Sasha Banks, who has consistently been entertaining and efficient in NXT. An agile wrestler with technical chops and a fierceness in every action she performs, Sasha is a special case that deserves the highest of praise. When combined with an absolute beast of an athlete in Charlotte, the two were destined to have a throw down that once again sees an NXT Women’s Championship match take the crown for potential match of the year.
This could have been the main event for the night and I would have been happy. Too bad both women will be on Total Divas this time next year, jobbing to Cameron and Alicia Fox. Sigh.
The Finish: Top-rope shenanigans leads to Charlotte hitting a flying Natural Selection on a kneeling and stunned Sasha Banks to retain the title.
The Time: 12:15
The Good: Charlotte’s moonsault spot, Sasha Banks saving what would have been an ugly botch and turning it into a backstabber and a visually stunning submission, women wrestlers hitting each other like Bob Holly vs Brock Lesnar.
The Bad: I wanted Sasha to win, but that is a personal complaint and doesn’t take away from this incredible wrestling match.
The Rating: **** out of *****
ADRIAN NEVILLE (C) VS SAMI ZAYN (NXT CHAMPIONSHIP)
NXT is a constant reminder of what I wish the main product of WWE would be; Excellent feuds with reasons to care about the characters and matches that tell emotional, revealing stories. Zayn and Neville have been feuding for close to five months now and not once have I become bored with the story. Compare this to Team Cena and Team Authority ending every RAW the same way for two months straight and the differences are apparent: Emotion matters. Motivations matter. Wrestling should be more than just “I want to win because winning is good.”
Wrestling should always be what this match was.
I cannot do this match credit by talking about it. Go watch it on the Network or YouTube if you have not. Zayn and Neville are worth your time. NXT is worth your time.
The Finish: Zayn fills his super meter, hits the diving outside corner DDT, and bops Neville with the Hulluva Kick for the win and the NXT Championship.
The Time: 23:20
The Good: Everything. The storytelling, the turmoil of Sami Zayn, Neville’s desperate attempt to win at any cost; Zayn’s Blue Thunder Bomb counter was incredible, as was Neville’s reverse ‘rana. The celebration at the end and Owens’ amazing swerve.
The Bad: That these guys aren’t main-eventing on the main roster.
The Rating: ***** out of *****
NXT continues producing the best content on the WWE Network, showing that wrestling can be more than steroid giants punching each other and the overcoming of odds. If you aren’t watching NXT at this point I have to assume that you do not actually like wrestling.
Watch this event. You’ll be doing yourself a favor.
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