I’ve always hated how wrestling announcers always seem to say “We are witnessing history in the making!” Tony Schiavone was famous for this kind of thing. Every WCW Monday Nitro (Now available on the WWE Network!) was the biggest one of all, or we just witnessed the most amazing match of our entire lives, and even as a 15-16 year old kid, I knew that was horse manure.
Plus (and this is me just being a pain), EVERYTHING is history. I went out this morning to pick up breakfast for my family, which was, technically, history in the making. It’s just not a history anyone would want to read.
So I usually get my Teacher’s knickers in a twist about that kind of thing. . .
However. . .
On Thursday night, we saw history in the making.
NXT Takeover: Fatal 4 Way was, in my opinion, the best WWE event of 2014, and I dare say we could go back even further. On Thursday night, we saw a group of relatively unknown talents show Randy Orton, Roman Reigns, and yes, even Mr. #KidsAndTroops himself, John Cena, exactly how a wrestling card should be done.
From top to bottom, there wasn’t a weak link. I know this because even the part I liked the least held my interest. As evidenced by the bruising on my remote’s “fast forward” button, the same can not be said for the last few months’ of Monday Night RAW.
What does this mean, exactly, for the future of NXT and WWE? I’m not really sure. All I know is I’m as excited to be a wrestling fan as I’ve been since WCW and ECW were actually on television.
As I sat and watched the event in the wee hours of Friday morning, I jotted down some notes. As I sit here and re-watch it today (a phrase I have not uttered in quite some time), I’ll jot down some more. I submit to you, dear students, some idle musings and comments on “history in the making”, NXT Takeover: Fatal 4 Way
– I like how NXT took over the “Then Now Forever” piece. Cool way to start off a show.
Lucha Dragons vs. The Ascension
– Super impressed with the quick development of the now named Lucha Dragons. The new bright blue outfits are awesome, the matching masks are cool and I’m even willing to forego my usual disdain for the use of the springboard in the entrances, because it looked badass. You could tell right away that the Dragons were primed to win the titles, as obviously a lot of work had been put into fleshing out their image.
-The Ascension’s entrance is still something I have a problem with. If you’re there live, you would totally be able to see them ducking out of camera range! Hopefully when they are full time WWE guys, they rise from the floor like The Brood did.
– Speaking of which, I now need to listen to Gangrel’s theme music, arguably one of my favorites in wrestling history.
Random Thought Experiment: Has there ever been a stable where the leader was completely outshined by his “cronies” as much as The Brood? Edge is a HOF’er, Christian might be too, and nobody ever talks about Gangrel anymore.
– I’m going to keep mentioning it every time I see the Ascension – Viktor looks exactly like Christopher Daniels.
– Wonder if the massive NXT build for The Ascension will actually do them more harm than good in WWE. They absolutely ran roughshod over the tag division at Full Sail, looking huge and dominant. What happens when they wrestle Big Show and Mark Henry? Or Harper and Rowan? If they are anything but equally dominant in WWE, won’t that be a let-down?
I’m also concerned, as many are, with their size. Konnor, the big man of the team, doesn’t look THAT much larger than Sin Cara. You can’t have a monster that looks UP at most opponents.
– There are people on Twitter who think NXT guys won’t get recognized or appreciated when they make it to the WWE roster. I think that idea got proved pretty much wrong with the tag match we saw on RAW, as I heard more than a few “Ole!” chants.
Consequently, when you see Ascension on Monday nights, Konnor is going to get his “Yahhh” chants. Count on it.
– I like that Kalisto is going to get the hot tag. He is going to be the big star of this tag team. In fact, before Takeover, I predicted Kalisto would get the biggest bump based on his performance.
I, like everyone else, didn’t see Baron Corbin coming.
– I’ve been watching the first year of Monday Night Raw, and one of my favorite parts is, of course, listening to Bobby Heenan. In between all the #Heenanisms, he actually discusses strategy, specifically when it comes to tag team wrestling.
I mention this because Heenan would have done a dance of joy seeing the way Konnor held Sin Cara down, keeping him from tagging Kalisto, then (very creatively) forcing him back to the Ascension’s corner.
This might be the way that they get over in WWE – They become the most complete tag team. Double teaming moves, cutting off the ring, frequent tags – all the things that are sometimes lacking in today’s tag matches.
– I imagine that Kalisto is to many fans what Rey Mysterio was to me in 1996 – something I had never seen before. There is a natural grace and style to his moves that immediately make you take notice. Plus, he’s got polish. The sunset flip powerbomb was botched a bit, but he recovers so smoothly I imagine most people didn’t even care.
– Never seen a springboard double corkscrew bodypress. Never seen the step-back enziguiri Sin Cara did to Konnor. Never seen one opponent hold the ropes open with his feet so his partner can dive through them. I love this team.
– The camera angle where it looks like Sin Cara is diving through the ropes into your living room is an excellent feature. Reminds me of when Cactus Jack used to do the apron elbow and look like he’d crash through your TV set.
– OK, I’m speaking directly to Renee Young here. I love your work and think you belong on RAW, but when something is “the biggest upset in tag team history”, your voice needs to express that emotion, and not sound like you’re a news anchor describing the events of the local county fair.
– I hope that, since everyone said the future starts now, it starts with new title belts that don’t look like they were purchased at Party City.
– Watching the Adrian Neville vignette on Thursday, all I could think about was how he is going to need someone to speak for him when he gets to WWE. This time, however, I’m listening to what he’s saying instead of how he sounds, and maybe it’s hindsight being 20/20, but you can hear the beginnings of a heel turn in what Neville says. He’s untouchable, he’s undefeated, he can’t be stopped. A little foreshadowing, perhaps?
CJ Parker vs. Baron Corbin
– I was fuming when I saw CJ Parker make his entrance. He’s easily my least favorite NXT character (I even like Mojo more), so I was flummoxed to understand why they would give Parker the time of day, let alone a match.
Then I saw his opponent.
Obviously Baron Corbin was one of, if not THE, showstopper of Takeover, and a whole lot of that had to do with his finisher, which I give you was amazing. However, I would argue that the most impressive part of Corbin wasn’t the move, nor was it anything that actually happened during the match.
Go back and watch when Corbin is introduced. Look at his face. There is literally no expression. None. He doesn’t look angry, or fired up, he’s not excited to be there or nervous or. . . ANYTHING. That’s when I took notice. Immediately, I was glad to see CJ, because I knew he was about to get his ass kicked. I became a Baron Corbin fan based on that look alone. His little smirk at the end sealed the deal. I’d buy a Baron Corbin t-shirt right now if they were for sale.
– OK, I blew past it earlier, but I will say again, that finisher was excellent. I do, however, give a lot of credit to Parker (Don’t mind the talent, can’t stand the character), because there’s a whole lot of that move that relies on the person who is on the receiving end. Parker sold that like RVD used to sell the Pedigree, where it looked like he literally died.
– Tweeted about this earlier, but I loved Tyson Kidd’s vignette – I don’t know if he’s ever going to get a legitimate shot in WWE again, but between his promo and his performance in the Fatal 4 Way, I have a whole lot more respect for Tyson Kidd than I did a few weeks ago.
Enzo Amore vs. Sylvester LeFort
– OK, this was going to be the part of the show I skipped. Enzo vs. Sylvester. I get that Enzo and Cass are way over, but part of the reason I’m not such a big fan is that I can’t understand what Enzo is saying half the time. Plus, and I’m sorry if this offends some of you, but I just get super annoyed by the “in your face, yippy chihuahua” type people. I actually think those two would work better as heels, because it would be expected that I should be annoyed, but I digress. What I will not deny is that they are super. . .SUPER. . .over with this crowd.
Also, Big Cass looks like Edge’s younger brother.
– I’m not a big Legionnaire fan either, but I will say two things. 1. I like that their entrance music isn’t “Le Marsaillaise”, the French National Anthem. 2. Sylvester’s tights are pretty cool.
Speaking of tights, I can take Enzo a lot more seriously when it doesn’t look like he’s wearing leopard print yoga pants.
– Random question, but do you think we’ll see the Bella feud end in a hair vs. hair match?
I know, me neither. . .
– This match is far more entertaining than I expected it to be. Nothing fancy, nothing overly technical, but a well-told story from beginning to end.
– Look, I get that Cass and Enzo are hugely popular, and I did appreciate the Dudley Boyz nod, but do they need to play to the crowd THAT much?
– I loved how Sylvester ran off in a cartoonish manner. There is potential with his character. Doing a little bit of Wikipedia research I discovered LeFort is a graduate of Lance Storm’s Wrestling Academy, so I immediately take him a bit more seriously than I did before.
– Do you know who else is a Lance Storm alum? One Tyler Breeze, and its time for his vignette. I still maintain he has the most complete character in all of NXT, and while I hope he gets his title run, I also wouldn’t be surprised to see him graduate first, especially since Neville and Zayn seem to be heading down the path to an extended feud.
The debut of Hid . . . . Kenta, damn it, his name is Kenta!
– I’m glad Flair isn’t the one introducing Kenta. There isn’t a connection between those two, and besides, as NXT’s GM, Regal should be the one introducing Kenta.
– OK, time for a mini rant. Done it on Twitter, so bear with me.
Look, I understand that WWE wants to market the name, more specifically, to market the name AFTER these wrestlers leave the company. That’s why Bryan Danielson is Daniel Bryan, that’s why C.M. Punk became CM Punk, I get it.
But. . . This guy is Kenta. We all know this. Having him change his name ENTIRELY is a ridiculous notion. You heard the “Kenta” chants; they aren’t going to go away. I don’t care that it’s a tribute to his hero, I don’t even care that Itami is Japanese for ‘pain’. The man’s name is Kenta. Come up with some version of that, please. K.E.N.T.A. would have been fine. Add an extra ‘n’, or an ‘h’. Just don’t insult our intelligence, WWE.
This is going to keep happening, you know. Devitt and Steen will have different names, now. Vince McMahon and WWE think that because they are essentially the ONLY major wrestling company, they can fiddle with history. If they want to bury a guy (Punk), it’s going to happen. If they want to change a name, or a result, or ignore an entire era in wrestling, they’ll try to do it.
The only thing standing in their way is you, the fans. Call out WWE when they’re being stupid. At the very least, you’ll feel better.
There is but one way I would have accepted a name change, and that is if Hogan had totally botched it during the contract signing some months ago.
“Ladies and gentlemen, I give you. . .Kendo! Kintar! Kaptain Krunch! What’s this guy’s name?”
– Outside of the name change, it was as good a debut as you could ask for. (The chair sit was a particularly nice touch).
The Ascension looks even weaker now that they’ve lost the titles and got beat down by a small guy in a suit, but Kenta (I won’t call him anything else) is a major player in NXT.
Here comes the Itami!
Bull Dempsey vs. Mojo Rawley
– Shh, be quiet. Bull Dempsey is on.
Look, I’ve accepted that I can’t be objective about Dempsey. I just can’t.
Yes, there are issues with his character and look (though I’d much rather he just put longer tights on than those who want him to tone up a bit). Yes, the finish to this match is supposedly (haven’t yet watched it a second time) botched big time. I just don’t care. I enjoy Bull Dempsey far too much, and want him to succeed.
Look, his feud with Mojo is 2-3 weeks old, and we already saw a darker, less “hyped” Rawley on NXT a few weeks ago, so Dempsey is causing positive changes everywhere he goes!
So here’s a disclaimer: I will likely be very high on Bull Dempsey, almost certainly TOO high.
Again, I’m watching a lot of ‘93 WWE, so I’m drawing a huge comparison to Bam Bam Bigelow with Dempsey, and that was even BEFORE the diving headbutt. Total smash-mouth style, VERY stiff (as evidenced by Mojo getting cut open by a Dempsey right hand), always moving forward.
Now, a note on the finish. I know a lot of people think it was botched, and I haven’t asked for reasons why, but I don’t see it. I think Dempsey’s headbutt is going to be aimed at the mid-section, for safety purposes only. We’ve seen the dangerous possibilities of a head-to-head collision one too many times. I’m OK with Bull aiming a little lower.
Was Mojo too far away? Maybe. Is it going to improve over time? Of course.
Where’s my Bam Bam Dempsey shirt? I want one!
– OK, OK. . . So Enzo and Cass ARE entertaining. Good banter, good facial expressions. I’ll admit, perhaps I have been missing the boat on. . . Do they have a name as a team yet?
I still don’t know the name of the other Legionnaire (Marcus Louis, thank you Enzo), but I give him credit for doing what he’s done so far. Hope we see him with some obviously painted on eyebrows. And a beret. . . Definitely a beret.
Charlotte vs. Bayley
– Must say, I’ve never really “got” Bayley. Being so happy all the time isn’t a gimmick – in my mind, its a sickness. Having said that, I have bought into Bayley a little more thanks to that vignette, which is exactly what those things are supposed to do. She’s pretty legit.
Having said that. . . Charlotte is. . . Should I say it? Do I dare? Indeed I do.
Charlotte is THE BEST women’s wrestler in WWE right now. I almost wonder if she’s being kept in NXT (if that is in fact the plan) because she would instantly outshine every other Diva on RAW or Smackdown.
She’s been very good for a very long time, but these little additions of the Flair persona. The “learn to love it” quote in the vignette, the (as Michael Cole would put it) “vintage Ric Flair” moves dropped in now and then. . .Oh, and of course, the “woo”s. Those take her over the top.
Seriously, folks, nobody can touch her. AJ and Paige have a good feud going, but Charlotte is the real deal. At some point, Charlotte is going to need some sort of “Nature Girl” robe variation. Or she’s going to make the “Four Horsewomen”, along with Steph, Nikki Bella and Tamina (though Ronda Rousey would be cool, too.).
– I like Bayley’s new look, and having now heard Tom Phillips giving the proper name of the wave-y things, I can even appreciate that a little more.
– Do we really need the “sparkle” sound when the women’s title icon is displayed? Seriously.
I’m not alone in thinking that this match was the match of the night. Honestly, when was the last time an NXT women’s match stunk? Not since I’ve been watching. On RAW? 2 weeks ago.
Bayley hits a diving rear elbow to a seated Charlotte’s back. Charlotte counters a backslide into a neckbreaker. Everything these two wrestlers do is polished and with purpose.
– Rolling Figure Four Headscissors. Move of the night so far.
This is going to sound absolutely insane. . . But what if Ric isn’t the best Flair?
– One day I would like to have a referee mic’d. I’m sure he’s just giving time updates to the wrestlers, but it would be neat to hear the “inside baseball” stuff.
– Polished and with purpose. I give Triple H a ton of credit, because obviously there is a lot of focus on the “little things” in NXT.
For example, Bayley rolls up Charlotte, who kicks out at 2, and Bayley pounds the mat in frustration as she gets up to try to attack again. You don’t always see those things in WWE.
– This match had the perfect finish. Charlotte has the answer for everything Bayley does, but Bayley won’t quit. Camera in perfect position for the look on Bayley’s face, almost daring Charlotte to keep going. Charlotte hits Natural Selection (excellent name for her finisher, by the by), and that’s the ball game.
I’m not saying I told you Charlotte would retain. . . . But I totally did.
– Haven’t read the NXT spoilers (this show is too good to ruin), so here’s what I’d do from here.
Charlotte comes out and essentially forfeits the title, saying she has nothing left to prove in NXT. She’s beaten everyone who is anyone. Sasha comes out, pretending they’re still friends and assuming Charlotte will surrender the belt to her. Charlotte says that after Takeover, she knows Bayley is the second best women’s wrestler in the company, so she wants her to have it. Regal books a match between the two for the title (since Alexa Bliss and Becky Lynch, the only other two women’s wrestlers I can name in NXT, aren’t ready).
Sasha tries to cheat, Charlotte stops her, Bayley wins the belt. She and Charlotte hug it out, letting Flair leave with the same friend she entered NXT with, and also leaving it open for her to be a face or a heel when she makes her WWE debut.
– Somehow, I missed the Sami Zayn vignette the first time, so couple quick thoughts.
Bryan and Rollins clips were perfect. Both undersized guys who we question if they can win the big one (In Seth’s case, it’s the case. Will he turn it in against Lesnar? What if it expires on him?)
More allusions to the friendship between Zayn and Neville, which only makes me think said friendship has a countdown clock on it.
Speaking of which, Neville vs. Zayn in a Best of 7 series? Or a 30 minute Iron Man? TLC? As Kevin Smith is so fond of saying (and I’ll paraphrase for the kiddies out there), forget you – take all my money!
The Fatal Four Way
– Kidd’s entrance has gotten a lot better. The hooded jacket is a nice touch, and while I didn’t get the Beatz at first, the whole “drowning out the crowd noise” is a smart tweak for his character. Plus, he looks a little like Rick Steiner.
– Is it just me or is the crowd very quiet for Neville’s entrance? Don’t hear cheers nor do I hear boos. Do I detect ambivalence, or just loud entrance music?
– Get new titles *clap clap clapclapclap* get new titles *clap clap clapclapclap*
– Zayn taking a selfie on Breeze’s phone was excellent.
Lesson: We like characters who are funny, not funny characters.
DX, The Rock, Austin and Angle were so over because they had senses of humor, just as Zayn does by taking that picture. They are funny, and thus we like them.
Adam Rose, on the other hand, is just a funny character, in the same way Fandango is, just as Duke Droese and The Goon were before them.
Funny characters don’t work, unless they themselves are funny (Santino), and even then, its more about the person than the gimmick.
Ok, I’m done now.
– Why is the Koji Clutch not an official finisher for somebody?
– It’s sad that the guy booked the strongest (Kidd) is also the one least likely to make the main roster. I’ve said it before, but Tyson has done everything one could have hoped – improved mic skills, in ring ability, character. Yet I still fear its too late.
– Neville is definitely turning heel, and I like it. Stealing Zayn’s spot to do his own high-flying move was very cool, and (like all good turns) it is based in reality. Neville really is that much better than everybody else (save for maybe Kalisto) when it comes to high flying, so why shouldn’t he be cocky about it?
– That “This is Wrestling” Chant died quick when Zayn dropped Neville, or when Neville over-rotated. Whoever screwed it up, it done screwed up.
Still, that’s the perfect chant for NXT.
– Loved seeing Breeze try to pin Neville, then quickly move to Zayn, then throw a little tantrum. Passion. Polish. Purpose. The 3 P’s of NXT.
– Enjoy that the Punk chants were quickly drowned out by boo’s. It’s been done, folks. Drop it.
– The “tower of doom” (superplex and powerbomb) has been done over and over, but it never fails to pop the crowd.
– I like seeing Zayn checking to make sure he kicked out after Breeze stole Neville’s pin post-Shooting Star Press. Cool moment.
– Alright, getting on the logic train right here. Loved seeing Neville stopping Breeze from tapping, except Breeze has two hands. Why didn’t he just tap with his other hand?
– The ending of this match was booked beautifully. Whomever the agents were deserve credit galore.
– This is Zayn’s future, isn’t it? He’s always going to be the guy that ALMOST breaks up the pin. Did it in the tag tournament, did it tonight. Seriously, how can he NOT be booked as the underdog for the rest of his life?
– So there ends the best “PPV” of 2014. Looks like Neville is sticking around, showing signs of turning heel, setting up what will almost certainly be an amazing feud with Sami Zayn. If that becomes the “main event” of NXT, I might stop watching RAW altogether. They just can’t compete.
Hope you enjoyed the show Thursday and this trip down short memory lane.