I can’t remember a time when I’ve watched an NXT: TakeOver event and felt underwhelmed by the end. Where I questioned the brand and its future and found myself sitting there thinking, “This is typical Vince McMahon booking”. Ok, so maybe it wasn’t that bad but this show felt more like a WWE show than an NXT TakeOver and that is worth calling out.
Silly booking. Pointless matches. Underdeveloped feuds and matches that ended and you question what the future of these performers on the brand actually is. There will be people who really enjoyed the main event. There was a lot of action. It was fast-paced. It felt like a human car crash at times, which can be fine and has its time and place in wrestling. The only story that was told though was that Karrion Kross was a superhuman that took the best that the top four contenders had and still stood tall. Again, that kind of story can be fine if you’re planning on Kross being your top guy for the next year, but are they? Did they just sacrifice four main event guys for someone who Vince could decide to call up at any time?
Let’s face it: WWE is in an erratic place at the moment. There’s been talent cuts left and right, with rumors of more coming, and advanced ticket sales for their first live events in over a year are way below expectations. If you have been following WWE for some time, when ticket sales are down, Vince debuts new characters and shoots hot angles with them. The only hot character waiting in the wings is Kross. Now, Hunter knows this and may feel safe at the moment to book Kross as his star, but who’s to say that right after SummerSlam Vince wants Kross on Monday nights? Kross just destroyed your entire main event scene and is now gone.
If WWE were in any kind of normal place right now, Adam Cole and Johnny Gargano would be getting called up to the main roster after tonight. Especially Cole, who is in dangerous territory of becoming stale and having nothing to do. There was literally no reason for Cole or Gargano to be in that match. If they’re going to stay on the NXT roster, booking them in matches to put over monsters harms them more than it helps the monster.
Pete Dunne might be the only guy, besides Kross, to get any kind of rub out of this match. He showed that he belongs with this group. There was probably a feeling that Kyle O’Reilly was also getting over in defeat but he absolutely didn’t. O’Reilly has already beat Adam Cole. The audience remembers that well. Having Cole in the submission at the end before getting choked out himself didn’t show that he could hang with Kross in a rematch. He’s not a viable contender for the championship coming out of this match, nor is anyone else involved tonight. The decision to book the four top contenders effectively wiped out anyone credible to challenge Kross, the established monster, next.
I should be clear in the fact that none of this is the fault of the workers at all. They went out there and had the best match possible. The issue is that the match never should have been booked to begin with. Where do any of these guys go from here? NXT has always been the brand that had a long term vision but last night, on easily the weakest NXT TakeOver to date, showed that isn’t the case right now.
The show ending with an angle, a “now you have to tune in Tuesday to see what Regal’s going to do!” cliffhanger, felt so shoehorned in and off-brand. The wrestling brand didn’t feel like the wrestling brand tonight. It felt like just another WWE brand. Maybe Regal is bringing in a muscular Assistant GM named Joe? Maybe he’s stepping down and we’re stuck with Todd Pettengill forever? A hologram Dusty Rhodes would be nice. The point being, no matter what they do on Tuesday, the angle is off to a poor start because of how they kicked it off. NXT shows end with a hand raised and in-ring emotion taking us home. Raw ends with angles and cliffhangers. Don’t lose your identity, especially on a night when everything else felt very “meh”.
As far as the undercard is concerned, everyone worked hard and the right people went over but there was a severe lack of emotion or meaning to anything. Everything felt like a “we have to put on a show so here’s some matches” scenario instead of the typical feeling of these matches being needed to settle conflict or because there are deserving challengers to championship gold.
Everything that happened tonight at NXT TakeOver can be corrected. Pete Dunne and Kyle O’Reilly can pick up some convincing wins and re-establish themselves. Adam Cole and Johnny Gargano are bigger concerns. It may very well be time for both of them to move on, as much as I hate typing that. Karrion Kross has nobody left to challenge him, so maybe they start teasing WALTER? Or perhaps a debut is waiting in the wings? I don’t know, but they need to think outside the box and do something special for the champ after he destroyed their top four guys tonight.
The biggest thing though is to let NXT stay NXT. Don’t let WWE corporate strangle the wrestling brand and turn it into Raw’s little sister. That’s what tonight felt like and well, it raised a lot of flags for me.
Thanks as always for your support of Sports Obsessive! Until next time my friends.