NXT Takeover, a show internally described as a home run (from PWInsider via WrestlingInc), may have set the standard for a wrestling show in 2014.
Match for match, the special event lived up to the excitement surrounding it. With WWE Payback, which mostly reads like a rerun of recent pay-per-views, airing this Sunday, fans have already dictated that this will be a tough act to follow:
— Christine (@WWE_Yankees91) May 30, 2014
The reaction is hardly surprising since they align with sentiments headed into NXT Takeover. Here are some of the pre-show tweets as a hot NXT show was set to air:
I'm more excited for NXT Takeover than I am for Payback. #truth— Golan and Globus (@CannonAction) May 29, 2014
It was a sports-entertainment tour de force that flawlessly rooted compelling storylines with strong wrestling. NXT Takeover didn't feel like a tagline, it felt like a culture.
Sami Zayn's match against Tyler Breeze wasn't billed as strongly as the NXT Women's championship, or the NXT championship, but the two up-and-comers stole the show—thereby taking over. Despite being slotted into the first hour, the two delivered a main-event caliber match.
It wasn't perfect (there seemed to be miscommunication during Zayn's Orange Crush maneuver), but the efforts by Zayn and Breeze captivated the live crowd.
Zack Zimmerman of Prowrestling.net lauded the match, saying the two "put together a very entertaining match with some great high spots."
Only one top-rope spot was needed to draw a "this is awesome chant" from the NXT arena during a wrestling clinic between Charlotte and Natalya.
The NXT Women's championship match was as good as any women's wrestling contest WWE has ever put forth. Many fans take pride in the fact that Hall of Fame Divas Trish Stratus and Lita once main-evented Raw, and rightfully so.
What made Natalya and Charlotte's championship match more impressive was that their iconic relatives—Charlotte's father Ric Flair and Natalya's uncle Bret Hart—were at ringside, yet the Divas were the stars of this match by a landslide.
Following a 16-minute masterpiece (Trish and Lita went about eight minutes), the legacies of Hart and Flair almost immediately transcended to their descendants.
A poignant post-match celebration feature cemented the fact that women's wrestling isn't on its way back in the WWE, it's knee-deep in a renaissance. Hart and Flair can now be readily associated with Natalya and Charlotte.
They're taking over.
Even Rusev's weekly hostile takeover was given meaning. The budding nationalist heel laid waste to popular NXT star Mojo Rawley. Rawley established himself as more of a fan favorite with a spirited patriotic promo. Then he was (Rusev) crushed. It was a simple and effective takeover that fit Rusev's character of an anti-American wrecking machine.
Rusev will now return to the main roster, where he is scheduled to face Big E at Payback. Without the electricity of NXT's intimate crowd setting, which will be replaced by a jaded Chicago fanbase, Rusev may join WWE fans in appreciating NXT more than Payback.
Here's a brief rundown of familiar matches and segments ahead of Sunday's pay-per-view:
- John Cena-Bray Wyatt for the third time in three pay-per-views
- A Paige-Alicia Fox rematch from Raw
- A Sheamus-Cesaro rematch from Raw
- The Shield-Evolution for the second time in two pay-per-views
- Bad News Barrett-Rob Van Dam rematch from the Intercontinental championship tournament finals
- El Torito-Hornswoggle for the second time in two pay-per-views
- Another confrontation between Daniel Bryan, Brie Bella and Stephanie McMahon
New stars and fresh matchups currently surround the NXT product. With WWE seemingly content with rolling out a pay-per-view filled with rematches, one must truly ponder whether NXT can outdraw WWE Payback, especially with both events available for free on the WWE Network.