The results for WWE NXT TakeOver: Respect are in the bag, and I normally like to do my “Biggest Mistakes of the Night” article, but I found myself being unable to think of anything to really criticize this time around. Rather than forcing myself to be negative for the sake of it, I figured it was time to change things up and go a different route.
For the 3-Count of the Night, I’ll be taking a look at what I feel are the three biggest overall focal points WWE had in mind for the event, good or bad.
The Newbies – Asuka and Apollo Crews
During the pre-show, Dana Brooke interrupted an interview with Apollo Crews to talk about how she hated the amount of attention being given to the new people such as Asuka and Crews. It’s too bad for Dana that the general rule of thumb for recent additions to the roster is to book them as winners for at least a few months or so while they build up some credibility with the crowd.
Naturally, we saw Asuka handedly defeat Dana and teach both her and Emma a lesson. This was so one-sided that the feud may actually be over already, rather than continuing for the next few weeks on the regular episodes of NXT. It was a good showing for Asuka, as she looks like the threat she was touted to be. Credit where it’s due, this was also a good showing for Dana Brooke, who has never really shown anything amazing yet, but she was able to sell this match properly.
Apollo Crews had a little more trouble dealing with his opponent as Tyler Breeze was able to take the fight to him quite a bit. It may seem simple, but I think one of the highlights of the match was when Breeze threw Crews into the ringside screen with enough force for him to bounce back. Those screens are still a somewhat recent addition to WWE themselves and aren’t utilized all that often, so it’s nice to see a heel take advantage of how rough they must be to get slammed into. There was also a great spot where Breeze put his knees up to counter Apollo’s standing moonsault, which I bought into as the end of the match before Crews kicked out. Since he’s been around longer than Asuka, he was put to the test much more, but still pulled out the win nonetheless.
All in all, it’s not surprising that the newbies were victorious, but at least they competed in matches that were entertaining instead of just squashing some nobodies for the sake of getting a random win. Both seem to be getting decent responses from the crowd, so what WWE is doing is definitely working to help get them over in the right way.
Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic Tournament
If you read my Superstars Missing from the Card article, you know my thoughts on The Mechanics being in the semi-finals as opposed to The Vaudevillains or Enzo Amore and Colin Cassady. I didn’t quite understand their placement, and I honestly have to say that I still don’t see why they were chosen.
One theory I had was that Scott Dawson and Dash Wilder would look competitive enough in their loss to boost their credibility enough so they could be future challengers for the NXT Tag Team Championship. Some may argue that’s what happened here, but I wouldn’t agree. Finn Balor’s leg injury at the very beginning of the match and that ongoing story overshadowed any offense Dawson and Wilder would get credit for. It wasn’t that Dash and Dawson injured him and looked strong; it was that Balor was injured. I don’t think anybody is going to be talking about The Mechanics coming out of this event, so if this ends up being for nothing, I’ll definitely look back and wish another team was in that spot.
As much as I think Dash and Dawson didn’t look strong in their loss, the opposite applies to Jason Jordan and Chad Gable—particularly Gable. This was a damn good showing for them which made them seem like a team that should be taken very seriously going forward. They can still be fun and kind of goofy, but this proves that they’ve got the talent to go far. Working with Rhyno and Baron Corbin could be difficult considering the size difference, yet there were some moments where the tide changed and I felt luck was on Gable and Jordan’s sides. Also, let’s not overlook the crazy spins Gable and Corbin pulled off, which are sure to be .gif image material. While I was personally disappointed that Jordan and Gable didn’t win the whole thing, I wouldn’t view this as anything but a plus for them, while Corbin and Rhyno were also able to look like dominant beasts.
Heading into the finals, the power game of Corbin and Rhyno combined with Finn Balor’s injury pretty much detailed who the favorites were to win. Never count out the underdogs, though, especially if they’re the two biggest names on the brand and one of them is the champion. To an extent, I think this was the weakest of the three matches and a bit disappointing for what I was hoping for. The leg injury angle that was built up from the previous match didn’t quite pay off in any decent enough fashion, so that story fell flat. By no means was this a bad match or something to chastise heavily, but I think it could have been better.
Despite the weak ending for the tournament, I would say this tournament was a success. It was an interesting few weeks with a few twists and turns that went against the grain and weren’t as wholly predictable as things usually are. We could have gotten a card filled with generic singles matches and the usual feuds, but this was a refreshing change of pace. If this becomes an annual thing, I’m okay with that.
NXT Women’s Championship Iron Man Match
For anyone who argues that the WWE Universe doesn’t give the women of the company a proper shot, I’d point to this match as a perfectly example why that viewpoint is wrong. From the very start, this crowd was incredibly supportive of not only the two women involved in the match, but the fact that it was the main event. Instead of hearing chants of “you can’t wrestle” or “booooring” or anything else used to express annoyance at the Divas in the past, this audience chanted “women’s wrestling” as well as “this is wrestling” and “you deserve it.”