NXT Takeover: Respect felt like a strange show going into it. It was lacking the hype of previous NXT shows. Despite on paper, looking like it could be fantastic. It featured two women main eventing an NXT Special for the first time and the conclusion of the Dusty Roads Classic. Throw in the debuting Asuka and this show should have felt huge. Thankfully what it lacked in hype, it more than made up for on the day.
Samoa Joe and Finn Balor vs Scott Dawson and Dash Wilder
I really liked the story told in this match. It showed that one on one Joe and Balor had Dawson and Wilder’s number. But, when it came to tag-team wrestling, the natural team had an advantage. It was also smart to pin an injury on Balor. I think everyone saw them as the clear favourites for the tournament and it introduced an element of doubt. This was a really solid start to the show and set the theme for what would be a great night of in-ring action.
Jason Jordan and Chad Gable bs Rhyno and Baron Corbin
It says a lot about Jordan and Gable that they managed to drag a really good match out of Rhyno and Corbin. The comparisons to The World’s Greatest Tag Team are obvious but are also unavoidable. This was also the best I’ve ever seen Corbin look. Hiding his flaws in a tag match makes a lot of sense at this point. Despite that, I wish Jordan and Gable had gone over. Not only would it have made for a better final, but it would have meant that we didn’t have two established tag teams losing to stuck together singles guys. It could have easily happened too, surely a Rhyno and Corbin explosion would have been easy to pull off?
Asuka vs Dana Brooke (w/Emma)
Dana Brooke is still limited in the ring, but I’m a big fan of her and Evil Emma. They are natural heels and carry themselves brilliantly. This was all about Asuka though and it was a very assured debut. She brings something different to the women’s division with her Japanese style and already looked like she was having a blast in a WWE ring. Her and Emma and her and Bayley could put on some great matches and this debut served to raise my excitment for them.
Tyler Breeze vs Apollo Crews
I feel sorry for Tyler Breeze, he’s almost too good at his job. He makes everyone that gets in the ring with him look good and he’s become NXT’s go to guy for building up their main event talent. This match was no different. There is no denying Apollo Crews is impressive to watch, but he hasn’t quite clicked with me as a character yet. I want to know more about him apart from the fact he smiles a lot and hopefully that will be the next step. Bell to bell though this was an entertaining match and I liked Crews incorporating a new finish into his move-set as his other one feels like it won’t always seem natural to set up.
Dusty Rhodes Classic Final: Samoa Joe and Finn Balor vs Baron Corbin and Rhyno
This was a solid if unremarkable final to the Dusty Rhodes Classic. I love watching Joe and Balor work and for that reason I always enjoy their matches, but I really think they would have benefitted with a more mobile team across the ring from them. I was surprised more tension wasn’t teased between the pair of them as well, as this is surely heading towards a feud between the two. NXT seems to be going for the slow burn though and in the long-term that might be the best thing. The real highlight of this match was the presentation at the end, which obviously meant a lot for all involved and Cody Rhodes speech was a touch of class from a man who always seems to have it.
Ironman Match: Bayley (C) vs Sasha Banks for the NXT Women’s Championship
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, there isn’t a better story in wrestling right now than the rise of Bayley and her feud with Sasha. This was the perfect ending. Was it as good as their match in Brooklyn? Probably not, but then that’s the Match of the Year, but it still told one hell of a story. Sasha is a natural born hell while Bayley is just the greatest babyface on the planet. If WWE doesn’t screw her up she will be more important than anyone else in the so-called Diva’s Revolution, because she speaks to those young girls WWE has never spoken to. By the end of this match, I was on the edge of my seat and going in I would have bet my flat Bayley would come out with the title.
My only issues come from the crowd and the presentation at the end. Chants of ‘women’s wrestling’ and ‘you deserve it’ during a match are just a bit smug for me. It’s not women’s wrestling, it’s just wrestling and you never saw the crowd chant you deserve it while Daniel Bryan was starting his ‘Mania Main Event. The same can be said of handing out flowers at the end, as Triple H and Steph feel the need to shove their faces in. Let those women stand in the ring and soak it up the same way you would the men, that’s what they deserve. That is a minor quibble though and in no way blunts the best thing going in wrestling right now.
Respect was one of the most enjoyable wrestling shows I’ve seen all year. There wasn’t a dud match on the card and NXT continued their trend of delivering when it comes to these shows. Even as a card-carrying member of the cult of ICW, NXT manages to compete with them for my affections and if they keep putting on shows like this, they might even take the top spot.