NXT TakeOver: Respect – The Review!

NXT TakeOver: Respect took place at Full Sail University in Orlando, Florida. It featured a solid card, from top to bottom. The biggest, most-hyped battle on the show was, without a doubt, the main event – Sasha Banks vs. Bayley in a 30-Minute Iron Man match for the NXT Women’s Championship. That’s right, two women were the main draw of this wrestling show, and they absolutely killed it.

We’ll get there. For now, let’s start at the beginning.


Before I go into the match, let's take a second to admire this picture. (Courtesy of WWE.com)
Before I go into the match, let’s take a second to admire this picture. (Courtesy of WWE.com)

This was the first match of the semi-finals for the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic. It wasn’t bad, by any means. There was no Dusty Finish. It was a straight up wrestling match. There was physicality, which is always appreciated when it comes to the squared circle. More importantly, there was in-ring psychology. It was well-worked, too. Dawson and Wilder picked apart Finn Balor.

During the match, Balor was distracted, causing him to catch a chop-block to the knee. He took it hard, of course, creating an injury for his opponents to concentrate on. That’s exactly what they did. Until, finally, Samoa Joe got tagged back in.

He came in hot, and helped put Dawson and Wilder away. He hit the “Musclebuster,” and as he was about to get the pin, Finn called for the tag. He was hesitant, but Joe tagged him in. Balor immediately went to the top, and delivered the “Coup De Grace.”

From there, the NXT Champion got the pin, allowing his team to advance to the final round of the Dusty Classic.


Prepare yourself. The following will be absolutely dripping with praise (Courtesy of WWE.com)
Prepare yourself. The following will be absolutely dripping with praise (Courtesy of WWE.com)

I was completely caught off guard by this match. I thought it’d be good, but I didn’t think it’d be fantastic. I’ll give credit where credit’s due: Rhyno and Corbin put in solid performances, but Jordan and Gable were on fire. They were all over the place.

The whole match was full of highlights, but there’s one in particular that I’d like to talk about. It happened deep into the match. Things had become clear chaos, by this point. Corbin and Gable were in the ring. That’s when Chad Gable rolled Corbin up, but didn’t go for the pin. He took it all the way through, and then hit a big German Suplex. That’s not where it ended, either. Rather than let go, Gable held on, and hit a beautiful bridge. It got me out of my chair.

Honestly, Jordan and Gable should have won. Once Corbin and Rhyno did, I knew how the finals were going to play out.


Kick her, Asuka! Don't ever stop kicking her! (Courtesy of WWE.com)
Kick her, Asuka! Don’t ever stop kicking her! (Courtesy of WWE.com)

I hate Dana Brooke. Can’t stand her face, or her voice. That’s why I was absolutely hyped when I found out Asuka (F.K.A. Kana) would be wrestling The Total Diva in her very first NXT match. For those who don’t know, Asuka is infamous throughout the world for kicking heads off. She works a very strong style.

It went something like this –

“Dana Brooke is wrestling Asuka? Good, maybe she’ll get her teeth kicked down her throat.”

That didn’t happen, unfortunately. Instead, we got a complete display of what Asuka is capable of. She basically toyed with Dana, until Emma got involved at ringside. That gave Brooke the upper hand for a few moments, and then Asuka took it right back. She’s something else to watch. Her transitioning, from hold to hold, is some of the smoothest I’ve ever seen. The sudden submission holds were also incredible, especially the “jumping armbar.”

I assume she’s going to be pushed to the title scene. I know there are other girls already in NXT, but straight up – they’re not better than her. Bayley vs. Asuka is the next logical step, and I can’t wait to see it.


Tyler Breeze locks in the Sharpshooter! This was a rally cool moment (Courtesy of WWE.com)
Tyler Breeze locks in the Sharpshooter! This was a really cool moment. (Courtesy of WWE.com)

Apollo Crews is still being handled beautifully. He didn’t roll over Tyler Breeze. He had a straight up match, which he ended up winning, because – well – look at him. That dude is a specimen.

Enough has been said about Apollo, though. Let’s talk about this wonderful narrative that they’re pushing for Tyler Breeze. They keep focusing on how he’s been in NXT since the beginning. He was in FCW, even. It works great, but in real life, I hope he has a mentality like Finn Balor. If you’re unaware, the NXT Champion is super proud to be leading the pack. So much so, that he doesn’t want to move up to the main roster.

Breeze should definitely feel the same. He’s helped build something that, frankly, is much more interesting than the typical WWE program. Also, if he does go up, there’s only one of two ways that it’ll go: he’ll either do very well, or he’ll completely bomb. There’s no in between right now. The mid-card of WWE is already packed to the gills. His best bet, for the time being, is to stick around NXT, and reap the rewards of his hard work.


Baron Corbin goes after Finn Balor's injured leg (Courtesy of WWE.com)
Baron Corbin goes after Finn Balor’s injured leg (Courtesy of WWE.com)

This was a very good match, don’t get me wrong. All four men worked the hell out of it. It was physical, chock-full of psychology, and had some solid spots. Everyone was on point. Unfortunately, I had the wind knocked out of my sails a bit.

I got insanely invested in Jordan and Gable during their match, and I never got past them losing. Once that happened, the final round became very predictable. Of course Finn Balor and Samoa Joe won. The heels weren’t going to win. Put face against face, Gable and Jordan vs. Balor and Joe, and I would’ve been on the edge of my seat the whole time.

After the match, Dusty’s family presented Joe and Finn with their trophy. Cody and Dustin were there, too, and out of makeup. Then Cody gave a beautiful speech about his father.

RIP Dream – you’ll forever be missed.

On a much less sad note: after they won the trophy, this happened:


Sasha Banks, Bayley
Sasha locks in the Bank Statement (Courtesy of WWE.com)

This was absolutely incredible. It lived up to every bit of its hype, and more. Bayley and Sasha Banks were the first females to main event a major WWE special event, and they went out, and proved why. I mean, holy shit.

If you haven’t seen this yet, then you need to go and change that. Bayley was great as the face of this encounter, but DAMN! Sasha is the best heel in the company. After this match, I will happily argue that point to anyone who disagrees. The woman made a child cry in the audience. Not just any child, either – Izzy – Bayley’s super fan. After beating Bayley up for minutes on end, she took her over to the big LCD screen in the entrance way, and smashed her into it.

Bayley took the bump hard (Courtesy of WWE.com)
Bayley took the bump hard (Courtesy of WWE.com)

Then she walked back into the ring, and took a decision by count out. Of course, on her way back, she snatched the headband off of Izzy, put it on in the ring, and then mocked the little girl for crying.

It was the best heel move I’ve seen in a long time. Sasha took a ton of inspiration from her hero, Eddie Guerrero. She lied, she cheated, and most importantly, she stole. Unfortunately, it didn’t get her the win.

They went back and forth, decision for decision, until this happened, in the final 30 seconds:

What a match! The bar has now been raised for all women in the WWE. Frankly, the men should be paying attention, too.

Sasha vs. Bayley II was the best match of the year.


Joseph Finnegan