I’ve been asked a few times over the last month about why I’m a wrestling fan, even at 21 years old. I always get annoyed at the question but I answer it as I’ve always answered. I enjoy wrestling like you’d enjoy a television show like Game Of Thrones, Walking Dead or Breaking Bad. These stellar shows are successful due to incredible story-telling and how emotionally attached to the characters you can get. Even though it’s not real, you’re still on the edge of your seat with your eyes glued to the television. It’s that encapsulating of a programme that you don’t care if it’s fiction. You certainly aren’t going to watch Game Of Thrones and complain about it not being realistic enough!
It’s scripted entertainment just like WWE is scripted entertainment. It’s scripted entertainment just like Lucha Underground is scripted entertainment. It’s scripted entertainment just like ROH is scripted entertainment. It may be scripted, but it’s still entertaining. The only difference between WWE and Game Of Thrones is simple. When the battle scenes go down in Game Of Thrones, it’s usually choreographed and played out by stunt doubles. When battle scenes go down in WWE, it’s choreographed and played out by the characters themselves. They take the bumps in the ring. They put on a show for the viewers. They are that night’s entertainment. They tell their story in the ring. That’s why I’ll always have respect and love for wrestling when it’s all set and done. If you want a good reason for why I watch wrestling… watch last night’s NXT TakeOver main event with Bayley and Sasha Banks…
These two women demonstrated the main reason why I love wrestling, even with the knowledge that it’s scripted. The storyline between Bayley and Sasha has been very well told on television and in segments, but the stories they tell in the ring is on a completely different level. With call-backs to their match at Brooklyn, Sasha Banks just being awesome as a heel and the fans being true stars themselves, everything about that match just came together to produce an atmosphere and a premise like no other. Even if you’ve never seen NXT before, you could tell how monumental this match was. Everybody played their part. The commentators played their part. Stephanie McMahon and Lita at ringside played their part. Charlotte and Becky Lynch played their part. The fans played their part. The wrestlers in the ring played their part. Rarely does a match have the level of expectation that this match had and completely surpassed those expectations exponentially.
It was just everything about this match that just made it so special. I think just because of the background behind the match, the roles of everyone involved, just the sheer athleticism and skill shown by both of these women and the story itself… if I were Dave Meltzer, I’d give it a five star rating.
Dave Meltzer is one of the most respected journalists in wrestling. If a match ever gets a five star rating from him, it’s rare. He has incredibly high standards for matches and for good reason. He’s been watching wrestling for years. He’s watched so many matches in his life that for a match to truly standout to Dave, that’s an incredible feat.
I’ve watched wrestling for more than ten years. There’s a lot of times where I’ve just completed hated the product, there’s a lot of times where I’ve liked the product but only a few matches have ever existed which have surpassed such high expectations that it blows me away. Bayley vs Sasha was one of them.
Anyway, let’s run down the card. We kicked things off with the Dusty Rhodes Classic Tag Team Tournament, where Finn Balor and Samoa Joe took on Dash Wilder and Scott Dawson. Dash and Dawson were a great heel tag team during this. As it was pointed out during the Bryan and Vinny Show, they weren’t lazy heels that just tried to waste time. They were constantly on the attack, especially when Finn Balor’s knee got hurt. It was a good tag team match. Samoa Joe got the hot tag and ran wild. He went for the Muscle Buster but Finn demanded that Joe tag him in. Joe tagged him in, hit the Muscle Buster and then Finn hit the Kudagra for the win. However, he hit the move and furthered knackered his knee. This was a great set up for the finals of the match, with the commentators teasing whether Finn Balor would be able to compete.
This also was a great advancement in the Finn Balor/Samoa Joe storyline, which may be the next NXT title feud. I haven’t read the NXT spoilers, so I don’t know who won the #1 contender battle royal. I know one thing, but only because WWE announced it on social media which we’ll get to later. Anyway, Joe had the match won but his partner demanded the tag so he could get the glory. To me, it was a little hint towards dissension as Finn wanted the glory but could have easily cost himself and Joe the tag team the tournament in the process. As Vinny pointed out in the Bryan and Vinny show, either guy could turn on the other and it could have made sense. Finn could have thought that Joe was dead weight and felt that he, as the champion, needed to carry the load. Joe could have thought that Finn was a glory hound and turn on him, wanting to take away his NXT title to PROVE that he was better than Finn. Great and simple story-telling.
The second semi-final of the Dusty Classic took place, with the winner taking on Samoa Joe and Finn Balor. Baron Corbin and Rhyno took on Chad Gable and Jason Jordan. I thought this match was better than the opener. Not to take away anything from Joe or Balor, but we have come to expect a great performance from them every time they’re in the ring. We don’t expect guys like Baron Corbin to pull off great matches. These four had a great match which the crowd just loved. The star of the match though was Chad Gable. He was awesome in this match and the crowd were SO into him. Chad hit the rolling suplex on BARON CORBIN which was an incredible feat of strength. The finish was that Chad was going for some tilt-a-whirl move but Corbin countered it into the End Of Days for the win. Hell of a finish! I don’t think the fans really wanted Gable and Jordan to lose but that got the heat on Rhyno and Corbin for the main-event. Again, a great match.
Dana Brooke vs Asuka. Asuka was GREAT in this match. I haven’t seen a lot of Dana Brooke, so I can’t really say for sure whether she’s good or not. However, she and Asuka had a great match. Maybe that was down to the effect of Asuka, but Dana held her own and actually looked decent against her. Having said that though, Asuka was such a star. This was my first time seeing her and she was just incredible. This was an awesome debut for Asuka and an awesome way to introduce her to the NXT audience. Loved it.
Apollo Crews vs Tyler Breeze. This was a GREAT back and forth match. With Apollo only starting out, this sort of match is usually for just putting Crews over and showing the fans how great he is. However, Tyler looked great in his own right. This was a damn good match in which Tyler was shown to be on par with Apollo. There was a lot of great near-falls until Apollo got the win.
Then we got to the finals of the Dusty Rhodes Classic final. Finn Balor and Samoa Joe vs Rhyno and Baron Corbin. I don’t think this was as good as the two matches earlier. However, this was still a darn good final. Joe and Balor won in the same way they won the first one. It was a lovely finish to the tournament, with Dusty’s family all coming out. Cody Rhodes delivered a great speech and it was just a lovely finish to this tournament. I know a lot of people were expecting a turn but I’m very happy that it finished like it did.
The main event may have been my favourite match in all of 2015. Brock vs Taker from Summerslam was one of my favourites for a lot of reasons. Sasha being the greatest heel of time was one of them. A lot of the action on the outside was done right in front off Bayley’s biggest fan Izzy! Therefore when Sasha was just beating on Bayley and slamming her into the steep steps, Izzy had the best (or in her case, the worst) seat in the house as her favourite wrestler was in trouble. Sasha didn’t care. After Bayley was counted out, Sasha grabbed Izzy’s headband and danced around in the ring! The fans were just gasping at what she did, just in unbelievable shock. Izzy was reduced to tears on the outside but Sasha just kept going on and on! That only fuelled the fire for Sasha. Do you remember when Triple H made a kid cry at a WWE event a while ago? Triple H immediately apologised and tried to console. NOT SASHA!
As it turned out, Sasha ended up apologising to Izzy after the match. However, her in-ring antics shifted the crowd support which had mostly been even until that point. Now, everybody was rooting for the champion to retain. The finish was incredible. People have told me that Bayley shouldn’t have been in the Bank Statement for as long as she was locked in it at the end. However, I think it was just the right amount of time. It was too long that it seemed that they were just wasting time but long enough to show off just how tough Bayley was. I thought this was probably the best finish to a match all year.
Ultimately a quality match to end an incredible NXT TakeOver event. Sasha broke down after the match as it was a sad moment for her. With this being her title rematch, this would be her last night in NXT. She might make a few appearances in the future but now, she’s ascended to the main roster. Sasha’s been in NXT for years and has developed bonds with the rest of the roster. But now, she must take to the road on the main show. It would have been an emotional night for the boss. However, her last night in NXT ended with a bang. These two put on a stellar match.
Before we finish, I do want to mention the news that James Storm debuted in NXT this week. This came during the NXT tapings that took place the night after TakeOver I believe. This may seem as a spoiler alert but WWE already announced Storm’s arrival via social media. I won’t mention much about what he did but I’d like to say that it’s awesome to see him on NXT. If it’s a permanent deal for Storm, it’s a great coup for the company. Sorry about your damn luck…