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Chairshot Classics: NXT TakeOver Toronto (2016)

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NXT TakeOver Toronto
On the eve of NXT TakeOver: War Games II, we look back at a previous November TakeOver event with TakeOver: Toronto

Open: “Toronto, the birthplace and proving ground for some of the greatest Superstars from the ‘Great White North’. For over three decades, the host of some of the most memorable moments in WWE history. Now, it’s NXT’s turn to takeover Toronto.”





Match #1: ‘The Glorious’ Bobby Roode vs. ‘The Perfect 10’ Tye Dillinger
We have a staredown at the bell, Roode slowly starts to circle Tye and he starts to strike a ‘Glorious’ pose. Dillinger strikes with left hands, Bobby goes to a side headlock, quickly gets pushed off to the ropes, scores with a shoulder knockdown, then goes back to the ropes. The Perfect 10 catches him with a back elbow and clotheslines him to the outside, throws him back in, clotheslines him back out the other side, then steps out and fires away with stinging chops. The Glorious One sneaks in a right hand to stop the onslaught, irish whip into the barricade is reversed, Tye elevates him with a back body drop off the rebound and Roode smacks off the floor.

Dillinger sends him into the ring and Bobby tries to beg him off, The Perfect 10 mocks him and stomps away at the fingers, flashes a ’10’ in his face, avoids a chops and scores with one of his own. He puts The Glorious One in the corner, climbs to the 2nd rope and lets go with stiff lefts, irish whip to the ropes is reversed, Roode ducks down for a back body drop, Dillinger catches him with a kick, charges and gets deposited over the top to the outside. The Glorious One slides out the opposite side, clobbers Tye with a forearm from behind, drops him chest-first across the top of the barricade, then drapes him across the apron. Bobby comes down with a clubbing shot to the sternum, drives him down into the apron, pushes him in and chokes him in the corner with the bottom of his boot.

Roode with heavy knife-edge chops, shoots The Perfect 10 hard into the turnbuckles, follows in with a clothesline, then heads to the 2nd rope for a shot across the back of the neck. The Glorious One is supremely confident now, hooks Dillinger for a neckbreaker, Tye surprises him with a backslide and gets a count of 2. He starts to build some momentum with chops, irish whip to the corner is reversed, The Perfect 10 hits the turnbuckles hard and Roode follows with a neckbreaker for a 2 count. He drops a knee across the chest, rakes his bootlaces across the eyes and starts toying with Tye as he pummels him.

Roode puts him in the corner and goes to the 2nd rope to right down punches, gets a little to confident and The Perfect 10 powers him out into an inverted atomic drop. Dillinger gets a rush of adrenaline and battles to his feet, irish whip to the ropes is reversed, Tye ducks a clothesline and scores with multiple flying forearms. He delivers a knee lift, flattens Roode with a clothesline, stomps away in the corner and then exposes the knee for the Tye Breaker. The Glorious One sees it coming, rolls outside and starts walking to the back, Dillinger goes out in pursuit, throws him back in the ring and slides in, Bobby catches him with a spinebuster and nearly puts it away.

He props Tye on the top turnbuckle and sets for a superplex, plants The Perfect 10, rolls into a cover and only gains a near fall. The Glorious One starts to look puzzled, stands over Tye and flashes a ’10’, then exposes his knee and tries for a Tye Breaker of his own. Dillinger slips out of it and looks for a superkick, Roode ducks it, goes to a schoolboy, puts his feet on the ropes, but the official sees it and stops at 2. Bobby can’t believe it and argues with the referee, The Perfect 10 surprises him with a schoolboy for a near fall, both guys up  quick, he connects with the superkick, but still can’t finish it.

Both guys stagger to their feet and exchange fists, The Perfect 10 gets the better of it, powers Roode up for the Tye Breaker, The Glorious One escaping and hooks him for the Glorious Drop. Tye avoids it, Bobby attempts a sunset flip, The Perfect 10 rolls through it, slaps on the Sharpshooter, but Roode is able to crawl to the ropes. Tye stumbles back up, tries to pick The Glorious One to his feet, gets caught in a small package for a 2 count, counters to one of his own off the kick-out, but still only gets 2. Roode staggers to the corner and Dillinger comes charging in, The Glorious One side-steps out of the way, drives him shoulder-first into the steel post, spikes him with the Glorious Drop and that’s all she wrote.
Winner: ‘The Glorious’ Bobby Roode (Glorious Drop)

  • EA’s TakeI think about what it must be like to be Bobby Roode walking into the arena, to a packed house and a massive pop compared to his previous situation in TNA. I have made my feelings on Dillinger clear before, the man is a future champion and I stand by that. This was the best way to start this event off. The match was well paced and the two men worked together wonderfully. The crowd was high energy which only heightened the already great match’s intensity. Roode getting the win makes sense. He is set to advance into the title picture imminently. My boy Tye however, got to show what he could do and look as good as you can in a loss. Good luck to the rest of the card because these two just set an epic tone to start the night.

Match #2 – Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic Finals with Paul Ellering Suspended Above The Ring In A Shark Cage: The Authors Of Pain (Rezar & Akam) w/Paul Ellering vs. TM61 (Shane Thorne & Nick Miller)
The cage lowers, Ellering holds a quick conference with The Authors, the official locks him inside and it is raised above the squared circle. Akam & Miller to kickoff the action, Akam immediately drives Miller into the corner at the bell, shoots him across, Miller puts on the brakes and fires back with forearms. Akam blocks a whip and sends him to the ropes, Thorne tags in on the way through, delivers a big boot to send Akam to the outside, Rezar hits the ring and runs into a double dropkick. TM61 clothesline him to the outside, Thorne spills to the outside, Miller builds a head of steam and flies over the top with a somersault plancha onto Akam.

Rezar looks up at the support structure for the shark cage, powers Thorne onto his shoulders and starts to climb up with some devious plans in mind. Shane kicks him away, climbs to the top of the structure, jumps off with a somersault and takes out The Authors Of Pain. He throws Akam back in the ring and climbs onto the apron, Miller slides inside, the official tells Miller he’s not legal and works to get him back to the corner, Rezar taking the opening to sweep the legs of Shane on the apron. He climbs up to the apron and tags in, sends Thorne into the squared circle and covers for 2, bludgeons him with big right hands and stomps, then rips away at the face. Akam tags in and comes off the 2nd rope with a combination stop/side slam for a count of 2, Akam hammers Shane with heavy shots, hooks the leg and gains another 2 count.

He looks to ground Shane now with a rear chinlock, Thorne works his way to a standing position, Akam launches him across the ring, lateral press and another near fall. He measures Thorne in the corner and rushes in, Shane side-steps out of harm’s way, Rezar gets the tag and knocks Miller off the apron, picks Thorne up and gets surprised by a dropkick. Miller pulls himself back to the apron and tags in, cracks Rezar with forearms, slams Akam coming in, delivers a corner clothesline to Rezar, then hits an exploder suplex on Akam. He plants Rezar with a back suplex, smashes them both with basement flying forearms, goes to the top turnbuckle and executes a moonsault, but can’t finish it. Akam & Thorne get back involved and every pairs off in opposite corners, TM61 with in-sync punches from the 2nd rope, The Authors look to counters into the Clink Powerbomb, but Thorne & Miller reverse with hurricanranas.

Shane gets a tag, TM61 plant Rezar with Thunder Valley, Thorne hooks the leg, but Akam is there to make the save. Miller dumps him to the outside, slingshots over the top with a crossbody, Thorne follows with a somersault plancha, the official takes in the chaos and Ellering drops a chain into the ring from above. Rezar wraps it around his fist, tries to clock Thorne climbing up to the apron, Shane blocks it, the chain flies into the crowd and he rolls Rezar up for a near fall. He pops back to his feet, Rezar delivers a spinebuster, tag to Akam, they take out Miller on the apron and deliver The Last Chapter for the win.
Winners: The Authors Of Pain (Akam/The Last Chapter)

  • After The Bell: The cage lowers and Ellering is freed to raise his guys’ hands. NXT General Manager William Regal & Triple H come down to the ring along with Dustin Rhodes, presenting The Authors with the Dusty Cup and posing for a photo-op.
  • EA’s TakeI called AOP to win this tourney before it began. It just made too much sense as hard as they have been pushed. The way the match was completed fits into the idea that Ellering always is involved in some way. TM61 kept the pace of the match where it needed to be. It was bogged down in spots, but not so much so that it made the match plodding. Both teams should look to be competing in the title picture in the aftermath of this event. Also, I hope no one got hit by that chain that went into the crowd….jeez!

Match #3 – 2 out of 3 Falls for the NXT Tag Team Championships: #DIY (Johnny Gargano & Tommaso Ciampa) vs. NXT Tag Team Champions The Revival (Scott Dawson & Dash Wilder)
Gargano & Dawson to begin, Dawson with an arm drag off the opening lock-up, Johnny with a headscissors to escape, scores with an arm drag of his own and Dawson returns the favor with the headscissors. Quick pace to start, Johnny Wrestling with an early 2 count off of a roll-up, Dawson collects himself, they tie-up again and Dawson backs Gargano into the corner. No clean break and he goes to the breadbasket with a fist, snapmares Johnny over, hits the ropes for a shoulder knockdown, goes back in, puts on the brakes and sends Gargano to the ropes instead.

Ciampa gets a tag, Johnny Wrestling catches Dawson with an inverted atomic drop, Tommaso follows with a running forearm, connects with one for Dash stepping in, DIY then scoring with in-sync dropkicks. The Psycho Killer covers for a count of 2, goes to a wristlock, Dawson rakes the eyes to break it, brings Wilder in and he clubs Ciampa down to the canvas. He tries to drive Tommaso head-first into the top turnbuckle, The Psycho Killer blocks it, returns the favor, irish whip across is reversed into a knee, Dash tagging out. Dawson delivers a body slam and brings back Dash, drops him into a leg drop on Ciampa for a 2 count, Wilder grabs a side headlock, looks for a running bulldog and gets pushed away into the opposite corner.

Both guys crawl to tags, Gargano slingshots in with a kick to Dawson, levels him with a clothesline, ducks a shot from Wilder and tosses him with an overhead belly-to-belly. He lines The Revival up in opposite corners and charges in with running chops, pulls Dash out for a running bulldog and clotheslines Dawson in the process, plants him with a leaping neckbreaker and almost gets 3. Johnny Wrestling charges Dawson in the corner, gets elevated over the top, Wilder makes a tag, Gargano lands on his feet on the apron and Dawson clocks him with a right hand. He hits the ropes to build a head of steam, Johnny looks to slingshot back in with a spear, Dawson counters into the Shatter Machine and Wilder covers for the fall.
First Fall: The Revival

Gargano staggers to his feet, Wilder tries to attack him from behind, gets surprised by a roll-up for a near fall, but Johnny can’t capitalize. Dawson tags in and ties Johnny up in the ropes for heavy shots, Wilder clotheslines him back into the ring behind the ref’s back, Dawson follows with a slingshot suplex and again gets a count of 2. Dawson shoves him into the corner, Dash tags in and the champions pound him with clubbing shots, Wilder with some words for the crowd, then Dawson re-enters the match. Dash sends Gargano to the ropes for a drop toe hold, Dawson follows with an elbow drop for a 2 count, then looks to ground Johnny Wrestling with a body scissors. Gargano works to a vertical base, Dawson switches into a Gory special, Johnny slips out of it, takes a shot at Dash on the apron, but gets clocked by Dawson.

Wilder steps in, Gargano charges, grabs Dash for a tornado DDT, kicks Dawson in the process, crawls to his corner and reaches for the tag. Dash grabs Ciampa from the outside and then slides in the ring, the official is distracted as Gargano tags out, the ref doesn’t allow it and The Revival double team Johnny in the corner. Tommaso has had enough and chases Dawson around the ring, the official cuts him off as they slide back in, the champions hit Gargano with a Hart Attack, Dawson covers and nearly finishes it. Wilder re-enters the match and props Johnny on the top turnbuckle for a super back suplex, Johnny Wrestling switches the weight in mid-air, lands on top and gets 2. Dash tags out and Dawson quickly tries to prevent Gargano from reaching his corner, Johnny clocks him with an enzuigiri, leaps and finally tags out.

The Psycho Killer hits the ring off the top with a dropkick, crushes Dawson in the corner with a running knee, then drops him with back elbows. Dawson ducks under one and shoots him to the corner, rushes in and meets a boot to the chin, Tommaso runs out with a Famouser, covers and only gets a count of 2. Wilder rolls into the ring and gets dumped back outside just as quick, Dawson takes the opening for a roll-up from behind, Ciampa rolls through it, delivers rolling german suplexes, scores with the Running Knee for a near fall. He calls for Gargano to climb back on the apron, Dawson clobbers him from behind, pulls Johnny into the ring and The Revival set for a spike piledriver.

Ciampa knocks Wilder off the top turnbuckle, Johnny blocks the piledriver, Tommaso comes off the top with a crossbody, but still can’t find a 3 count. Dash slides in again and Ciampa cracks him with a high knee, the referee forces Wilder back to the apron, #DIY lineup for the Combination Superkick/Running Knee to Dawson and Tommaso covers to tie it up.
Second Fall: #DIY

Dawson rolls to his corner and tags out, Dash steps in, has some words for Ciampa and they trade-off shots. The Psycho Killer gets the better of it and measures for a discus clothesline, Dawson makes a blind tag, sneaks into the ring and ducks it, but Ciampa picks the arm and goes into the Bridging Fujiwara Armbar. Dawson reverses into a roll-up for a 2 count, Gargano makes a blind tag, decks Dawson with an enzuigiri from the apron, Tommaso following up with a rope-assisted reverse STO. He looks to dive outside onto Dash and gets surprised by an uppercut, Wilder charges around ringside after Gargano, Johnny laying him out with a kick from the apron. He slingshots into the ring and spikes Dawson with a DDT, stacks him up for a count of 2, then looks around wondering what to do next.

Dawson rolls out to the apron, Johnny hooks him for a suplex back inside, Dawson slips out of it, waistlock by Gargano and he pushes him towards the ropes for a roll-up. Dash hangs onto Dawson from the outside to block it, tags himself in, Gargano battles them both off, looks for a tornado DDT on Wilder, but gets thrown off. The champions plant him with a combination clothesline/german suplex, Dawson hooks both legs, but The Psycho Killer just barely breaks it up before 3. Dawson drives Ciampa shoulder-first into the ring post, goes back to the apron to tag in, then trades shots with Gargano. Johnny gets the upper-hand, Dawson ducks a shot for a backslide, Gargano counters out, kicks Dash in the process of rolling up Dawson with a small package and almost steals it.

Wilder goes to the timekeeper’s area and grabs one of the titles, slides back into the ring, Ciampa meets him with a clothesline and they both fall over the top to the floor. The official is distracted, Dawson grabs the championship, blocks a Gargano kick with it and then slaps on an inverted figure four. Johnny Wrestling struggles to hold on, scratches and claws his way to the bottom rope and forces the break, but the damage has been done. Wilder calls for a tag and gets it, they mock #DIY and go for their combination finisher, Gargano ducks it, Dawson gets clocked by a superkick, #DIY hit Wilder with a Shatter Machine, but Dawson is able to stop the count before a finish.

Ciampa tries to roll back inside and the ref forces him back to the corner, Dawson switches out without making a tag, surprises Gargano with a roll-up, the official turns around and counts to 2, but notices it’s not the legal man in the ring. Wilder rams Tommaso into the ring post on the outside, Johnny deposits Dawson through the ropes with a superkick, Dash slides in from behind and takes Gargano out at the knees. He sets for the inverted figure four, Gargano counters into a small package for 2, they exchange roll-ups for near falls, Johnny finally hooks on the Garga-No-Escape, Ciampa cuts off Dawson and slaps on the Bridging Fujiwara Armbar, Wilder tapping out.
Winners and NEW NXT Tag Team Champions: #DIY

  • EA’s TakeIs it just me or did this whole feud get undersold and was not well built up? I picked The Revival to win this one mainly because I am so used to seeing them win at these TakeOver events. I am glad to have been wrong. #DIY looked great, as did The Revival. There were a couple of sloppy moments, but they were few and far enough between and the match was still quite good. #DIY I am sure will be seeing The Authors of Pain very soon. As for their counterparts, RAW’s Tag Team Division has become quite stale and to steal a quote from my editor, could use a “Revival”.


Let us know what you think on social media @theCHAIRSHOTcom and always remember to use the hashtag #UseYourHead!

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Chairshot Classics

Chairshot Classics: PROGRESS Chapter 5 – ‘For Those About to Fight’

Chapter 5 of the Progress time machine checks in! Harry breaks down the action, the stories and much more!

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Chapter 5 of the Progress time machine checks in! Harry breaks down the action, the stories and much more!

Greetings and salutations, everyone. Welcome back to the return of ’What I Watched’ now under the Chairshot Classics banner. The first four chapters of PROGRESS as well as Slammiversary and Bound for Glory 2018 from Impact Wrestling are available in my archive, which you can reach by clicking my name at the top of this article. To update everyone on future plans for What I Watched, obviously we’ll be continuing to cover PROGRESS. Eventually, I’ll get to a somewhat modern show. For other companies, once I hit 2005 on my watching of CHIKARA, I hope to start cover those here as well (the pre 2005 shows don’t have commentary and are (for me anyway) much harder to get through). 

That brings us to why we’re here today. PROGRESS has just crowned a new champion at Chapter 4 in El Ligero, who tapped Nathan Cruz in the main event. Rather then do the immediate rematch, PROGRESS’ brass decided that instead they would do a bit of a ‘pick your poison’ situation as Ligero picks Cruz’s opponent and Cruz picks Ligero’s. There was another match revealed before the show as well, but I’ll save the mention of that for a bit later. In addition, the ‘Natural PROGRESS’ tournament continues, but we don’t know the participants for this Chapter. Beyond that, I don’t have a clue what to expect for this show, so it’s looks like we’ll find out together. With that said, it’s into the way back machine once again, as we head to January 27th, 2013 as “What I Watched” presents ‘For Those About to Fight’ or PROGRESS Chapter 5.

WRITER’S NOTE #1: My reviews will not be a play by play recap. I’ve done that style in the past and honestly, I don’t especially care for it. Instead, it’ll be more of a stream of consciousness review as I talk about the wrestlers, the matches, the storylines and whatever else happens to pop into my head while I watch.

WRITER’S NOTE #2: As much as I’d like to let everyone make their own decisions on the matches, giving away match results in the review will be a necessary evil. The reason being is that I will discuss what I think everything means going forward and maybe even doing a little fantasy booking of where I would go from where they presently are. I will still post the results as one big listing at the end of the articles as well as my ratings for the contests. The final show review will be after that as well as the ‘Final Reaction’ for the show. Going forward, I’ll have an archive to all of my previous reviews here on the Chairshot if you click on my user name.

MY RATING SCALE: Excellent, Very Good, Good, Above Average, Average, Below Average, Bad, Very Bad, Terrible and SKIP. Some matches will occasionally get a ‘N/A’ rating as well. That will be reserved for matches that I feel don’t warrant a rating.

PROGRESS Wrestling Chapter 5
For Those About to Fight…We Salute You’
From: ‘The Garage’ in Islington, London, England
Date: January 27th, 2013
Run Time: 1:55:53 (Demand PROGRESS)
WITH SPECIAL THANKS: Ian Hamilton for some of the research that I did while working on this review. (http://www.backbodydrop.com)

*OPENING VIDEO: The first match that the opening video reveals is the London Riots (James Davis and Rob Lynch) taking on the Leaders of the New School (Zach Sabre Jr. and Marty Scurll). That should be a lot of fun…RJ Singh has an open challenge as well…finally, we get highlights of the title match from Chapter 4 to show how El Ligero won the title and then it’s revealed that Nathan Cruz has picked Dave Mastiff to face El Ligero, while El Ligero has selected the debuting Rampage Brown as the opponent for Nathan Cruz.

*GENERAL NOTES: We return to the scene of the first three shows but with what appears to be a different setup. You can’t see any monitors in the frame, but the lighting is absolutely awful. Will not make a fun review if I can’t see stuff that happens…EDIT AT MATCH 3: the lighting gets a bit better as the show goes on, but still not what I’d call great.

*Once again, either Smallman doesn’t have an opening welcome promo or we skip it on the show. Shame, really. As I said time and time again, I really enjoy those in the future Chapters.

*Match #1: Stixx (1-2 as a singles competitor) vs. Danny Garnell (1-0 as a singles competitor)
The Who: Stixx is coming off a loss in the triple threat at Chapter 4, where he was pinned by Dave Mastiff. He had split a pair of matches against Lion Kid before that. Danny Garnell was not at Chapter 4. His most recent match was a loss in a tag match at Chapter 3 where he and Darrell Allen were defeated by the London Riots. In his only previous singles match, Garnell defeated Jimmy Havoc at Chapter 2.
The Why: I haven’t a damn clue here. Makes zero sense to me. If Jimmy *cough cough* Barnett mentions something on commentary, I’ll be sure to pass it along.
The Match: Before the match gets underway, Stixx lets everyone know that he, like Garnell, is originally from London but he moved away because London ‘is full of a bunch of pillocks’. Somewhere, William Regal smiles…opening bell goes here and gets a rousing ovation…Stixx impressed me in his last match against Lion Kid, but the first one was less then appealing. Garnell had a surprisingly good match with Havoc at Chapter 2…first topical reference from 2013 gets explained by Barnett and given the PROGRESS fan base, it’s no surprise that it makes light of a death. Highs and lows of these crowds…the ‘crowd counts the next number’ has run it’s course now but was still pretty fresh when this show happened…not the opening match you’d come to expect but technically proficient thus far…heavier shots finally start getting fired around the five minute mark. This is more what you’d expect from these two…first crowd expletive based chant at six and half minutes into match one. I would have had the under there…cravat with knee strikes and that’s more what I expect from this match then the opening five minutes where they basically stayed on the mat. Not saying they can’t do it, but not what you expect or want to see with two guys this size. You expect more ‘Hoss Fight’ here…Garnell busts out a nice looking Northern Lights for two…slingshot neck snap by Stixx. That was new and very nice looking. Also not what you’d expected from a guy who’s probably closer to two fifty then two hundred…I’ve never seen a crowd response so favorably towards exploder suplexes. It doesn’t happen but the crowd was ready to, pardon the pun, explode for it…Stixx gets two with a Black Hole Slam. Which I think was the move that did pin Lion Kid at Chapter 3…I don’t mean this is a terribly negative way, but this match has been pretty long for an opener…Garnell goes for a tornado DDT off the second buckle, but Stixx is able to counter. A series of reversals leads to Garnell attempting that same tornado DDT a second time and this time hitting it, which gives him the pinfall at 14:52…technically proficient, sure. But not especially enthralling. The match had it’s moments where I went ‘ooh’ and ‘aah’, but to me, it seems like it may have been a mistake having these two go this long in the opener. Closer to the first Lion Kid match then the second for Stixx and Garnell looks like just another guy here. Call it AVERAGE and mildly disappointing at that. (AVERAGE)

Post-match:

*Match #2: ‘Natural Progression’ Quarterfinal: Lord Jonathan Windsor (debut) vs. ‘Wild Boar’ Mike Hitchman (0-1 as a singles)
The Who: Lord Jonathan Windsor debuts here, looking like a very British Chuck Taylor. Not sure if that’s a compliment or not. Anyway, he appears to have a Blue Bloods gimmick a la 1995 WCW Bobby Eaton or William Regal. Mike Hitchman we saw before when he challenged Mark Andrews for the BWC Starlo Scholarship. He was unsuccessful in that match but he and Andrews had a barnburner. Happy to see Hitchman back for another opportunity.
The Why: Speaking of Mark Andrews, he advanced to the semifinals at Chapter 4. This is the second of the four quarterfinal matches. The winner of which will join Andrews in the semifinals and maybe face him. No release on the brackets to my knowledge.
The Match: Hitchman is now on WWE TV as part of NXT UK, but if you didn’t know it was the same guy, you’d never be able to tell. He looks so different here…opening bell goes and Windsor takes time to fold his robe…Barnett points out there’s nothing wrong with a Blue Blood gimmick as in twenty years time, you could be married to Jim Smallman’s daughter and own part of PROGRESS. Okay, that drew a legit chuckle from me…not sure if Windsor is big or Hitchman is just really small even by Indy standards…Hitchman gets tired of Windsor’s stalling and it leads to a DDT on the apron. Not sure that’s a spot I’d use in match two, but okay then…we go to the crowd brawling in the second match as well. It’s like an ECW show broke out…Windsor seems more concerned about posing then wrestling. I get that you are new, but this is a company that prides itself on ring work…fans seems to remember the Package Piledriver that Hitchman used against Andrews because they respond every time he goes for. So far, Windsor has had the counter, but one feels that won’t be the case forever…Hitchman once again goes the for the Package PD, but Windsor counters with a backdrop over. Hitchman hooks the legs on the landing and goes for the sunset flip, but Windsor sits out with a deep cradle and that’ll be a three count at 11:24…can definitely say I don’t agree with the who won here. Hitchman had a cracker against Andrews in his first appearance and if the winner of this match was to get Andrews in the semis, I’ve had loved to see them run it back. Windsor did absolutely nothing for me as the gimmick is just basically cheap heat and there’s not a lot of steak to go with the sizzle. Call this BELOW AVERAGE and it’s two matches, two misses thus far for PROGRESS Chapter 5. (BELOW AVERAGE)

*Match #3: Nathan Cruz (3-1 as a singles) vs. Rampage Brown (debut)
The Who: Nathan Cruz is the former champion, looking for a bit of redemption against the handpicked opponent of the new champion. One could argue that Cruz has been the guy who has meant the most to the company thus far, so seeing him in match three on the night is kind of odd. Rampage Brown makes his debut here. I don’t know much about him other then he had a brief run with NXT in the US before going back over to the UK and a run with WCPW in the UK as well.
The Why: Discussed it earlier but to reiterate, it’s part of the ‘pick your poison’ series with Cruz and Ligero picking each other’s opponents for the evening.
The Match: Before the match, Cruz announces that he has hired a bodyguard to deal with his Marty Scurll problem named Fug. We don’t see him yet, but Cruz claims he’s seven feet tall and two hundred and eighty pounds. That would be a very skinny bodyguard…the chyron for Cruz has him listed at 3-2. I’m guessing there are including the tag loss from Chapter 3, which I do not in singles competition. If you guys would like, I can keep a running archive of records at the bottom of the reviews going forward. Let me know what you think and I’ll add it in the future if so requested…second expletive based chant of the night encourages Rampage to ‘fuck him up’…opening bell goes here…Rampage is well put together. It’s easy to see why he got a developmental deal with the WWE…for a bigger guy, Rampage is pretty adept on the mat. Cruz tries a sunset flip off the second turnbuckle, but Rampage is able to roll through and escape into a Crossface. Thankfully, no Chris Benoit chants follow this time…think the sound may be a little off on this Chapter from a technical aspect. Spinal Tap kick sound happens shortly after the kick occurs…Rampage dumps Cruz to the floor with a back suplex and the around ringside brawling commences where Cruz surprisingly gets the advantage…for as much crap as the PROGRESS fans give him, Cruz is one of the smoother guys on the roster. He wrestles like a wrestler, not just a guy trying to string things together in the attempt to tell a story…Cruz has gotten a good portion of this match. A bit of a surprise given that it is Rampage’s debut but with Cruz being the former champion, it’s also understandable…sliding dropkick gets a series of two counts. Standard basement dropkick, not the sliding kick he pinned both Ligero and Colossus Kennedy with back at Chapter 1…ugh, headbutts. So not a fan of those…huge back body drop by Rampage. Looked really good despite the slight delay going to it…Rampage looked for a powerbomb but Cruz got out into a chestblower. Cruz looks to follow up and gets countered into a good looking series of powerbombs, first standard and then sit out for a very close two…Cruz hits Show-Stolen and much like Ligero did at Chapter 4, Rampage kicks out. It also gives our first ‘This is PROGRESS’ chant of the night…Rampage catches a Falcon Arrow and looks to have the cover but doesn’t want it. That drives me nuts! 2 Cold Scorpio used to do that shit all the time and it’s stupid to me. The point is to win the match…Rampage then catches the Crossface a third time but Cruz finds his way to the ropes and then to the apron. Rampage tries to suplex Cruz back in, but Cruz lands on his feet and a O’Connor Roll with a hook of both the ropes and the tights gives Cruz the win at 15:27…that was more like it, PROGRESS. Very well contested match from the standard bearer of the company and a new guy who got a definite opportunity to shine. Cruz may pick up the win here, but the way he picks up the win is the story as it keeps Rampage looking good going forward for when he comes back. Rampage definitely impressed in what was I believe my first time seeing him and I look forward to seeing more, assuming he can curb the 2 Cold Scorpio aspect of not wanting the pinfall. Cruz bounces back nicely from the Staff loss and one assumes sets himself back up into title contention. GOOD match between these two here and finally something worth the time on the show. (GOOD)

*Post-match: We see Fug help Cruz to the back. He’s not nearly what Cruz claimed him to be. 6’8-6’9 maybe. The two hundred eighty pounds may be accurate though.

*Match #4: ‘PROGRESS Championship Staff’ – El Ligero © (3-1 as a singles competitor) vs. Dave Mastiff (1-0 as a singles competitor)
The Who: El Ligero has just won the Staff at Chapter 4 as we established above. In doing so, he also got revenge on the only man to have pinned him thus far, as it was Cruz who eliminated Ligero from the four way at Chapter 1. Dave Mastiff has had two matches and two victories thus far in PROGRESS. A tag match at Chapter 3, where teaming with the now departed Greg Burridge, he pinned the then champion Nathan Cruz. Mastiff won a three way at Chapter 4, pinning Stixx after Cruz got involved in taking Marty Scurll out of the match
The Why: Two parts here. One, obviously, is that it’s for the PROGRESS Championship (Nazi) Staff. Second, it’s the second bout in the ‘pick your poison’ series for Cruz and Ligero, as Mastiff is Cruz’s handpicked challenge for the title.
The Match: It occurs to me that this is the fourth match and we’ve yet to see an inset promo on this show. They just vanished into a void of non-existence…hot start as once Ligero is introduced, he shotgun dropkicks Mastiff to the floor and follows out with a tope con hilo…Ligero goes for the guillotine early but Mastiff quickly escapes…once again, the PROGRESS fans encourage a good “Fing” up, this time in support of Mastiff…Mastiff counters a frankensteiner attempt into a powerbomb try but Ligero escapes into a second attempt at the guillotine. It’s about as successful as the first attempt…Barnett says that he described Ligero to an American friend as a mix of the ‘best of El Generico and the best of LowKi’. Not sure I agree that he’s at Generico’s level, but the point is understandable…wrecking ball dropkick by Ligero and he buries Mastiff under a pile a chairs, going for the count-out. Mastiff up at six and Ligero tries another dropkick, only to get flung wheelbarrow style into the ring post…stalling delayed vertical suplex by Mastiff goes for a full minute goes Mastiff brings down Ligero. Impressive in length but to be fair, El Ligero weighs like a third of what Mastiff does…Mastiff goes for a second but Ligero escapes into a rollup for two. Looked good…sound is definitely slightly off on this stream…sleeper (I think?) variation…out to the floor again, but only long enough for Mastiff to pitch Ligero back in. Smart. Can’t win the Staff by count-out. Wish more people would do that instead of letting opponents take the count…Mastiff goes for a Buckle Bomb but once again gets caught in the guillotine. Mastiff counters by putting Ligero on the top rope. The guillotine isn’t working, but bless his heart, he keeps trying…absolutely hate that corner hanging double stomp. Almost always looks so contrived no matter who is doing it…shotgun dropkick by Ligero is no sold and Mastiff hits one of his own, followed by a dead lift German to put Ligero on the floor again…Ligero finally gets the guillotine in with both guys on the floor and rolls back into the ring to try to take a count-out win. Mastiff breaks the count just before the ten…Ligero goes for the C4L but Mastiff stops him and gets a running Liger Bomb for a close two count and the second ‘This is PROGRESS’ chant…Into The Void (corner cannonball) misses and Ligero goes up, leaping into a sixth attempt at the guillotine. This time, Mastiff flings Ligero overhead with a belly2belly variation. Mastiff tries to follow up with another Liger Bomb, but Ligero counters back into the guillotine. Mastiff tries to power out once but collapses and it’s a KO victory for the champion at 18:18…solid big match vs. little man contest but to be frank, nothing special here. A couple cool moves and a very impressive bit of dogged determination from El Ligero but if I’m being honest, I never bought that Mastiff was going to take the title from Ligero. Ligero’s deal with Cruz isn’t over and Mastiff hasn’t been around long enough to really establish much of a name for himself in PROGRESS. The fans kinda responded the same way I did as they got involved in the match here and there, but never for any significant portion of time. The match itself was GOOD due to the efforts of both men, but not must see by any stretch of the imagination. (GOOD)

*Match #5: RJ Singh (2-0-1) vs. ‘Dazzling’ Darrell Allen (0-1-1)
The Who: RJ Singh comes in off consecutive victories, beating Paul Robinson and Rob Cage at Chapters 3 and 4, respectively. The draw is a no decision in a three way where El Ligero pinned Greg Burridge to become number one contender at Chapter 2. Darrell Allen is looking for his first victory here in PROGRESS as not only does he have the 0-1-1 singles record (tapped by Noam Dar (Chp2), no decision in three way where Xander Cooper pinned Zack Gibson (Chp1)), he was on the losing side of a tag match at Chapter 3 as well and completely left off Chapter 4.
The Why: This one I have an answer for as well. It is an RJ Singh ‘Bollywood’ Open Challenge here. Adding to the intrigue of this open challenge is info that Jim Smallman gives us before the match during introductions that these guys are usually a tag team known as the Bhangra Knights.
The Match: Pre-match, Singh reads Allen the riot act, stating that they promised to stay out of each other’s way in PROGRESS and that while Singh has thrived, Allen has been something of a loser. Allen says in his (Allen’s) hometown of London, why don’t we find out if Singh really is King (which has been RJ’s catchphrase during this PROGRESS run)…bell goes and we’re underway…Singh has the edge early but it is pretty evenly matched…this is going to come down to a classic story of aerial vs. technical. Allen is more of a flyer whereas RJ likes to stay on the match…Director and Boudica again get on the apron, but Singh tells them to get down once again. I thought that pairing dissolved at Chapter 4…Boudica and Director do find themselves ejected and in a moment that’ll make Vince smile, the ‘Na Na Hey Hey’ song accompanies them doing so…springboard kick to the midsection. Called an enzugiri. It wasn’t, but I don’t know what the technical name is…Singh catches Allen with a version of the Tyebreaker that gets two (fireman’s carry into spinning facebuster over the knee). It looked good…this may not be the most PC thing to say but every time Allen takes a big bump, it looks like he’s trying to fellate himself…crowd very wittily chants ‘This is Bhangra’ instead of ‘This is PROGRESS’. Dug that…Singh loads up for a superkick, preceding it with a ‘I’m sorry. I love you’. The crowd and Barnett pop. The move is countered but the thought that counts…Allen up top and distracted by Boudica and Director on stage. Singh pulls Allen up the top and hits Widow’s Peak. Singh looks to apply the ‘Ethnic Submission’ (Camel Clutch, obviously) but Allen is able to pull Singh forward and trap him in a cradle for the three count at 9:56…alright, so I had some doubts. Singh has been pretty basic up to this point. Allen had a good performance in the triple threat at Chapter 1 but both he and Garnell were kind of just there for the match with the London Riots. With all that being said, it actually turned into a pretty nice little match here. There was a good amount of action thrown in with the story that they told and most importantly to me, I like that the story actually played into the finish with Allen knowing the ‘Ethnic Submission’ and having a counter planned. Call this one a GOOD showing for both guys and the best match on the card thus far, in my opinion. (GOOD)

*Post-match: Singh offers the handshake and instead, he and Allen hug it out. Shah Boudica takes not kindly to this and attacks Allen from behind. Singh pulls Boudica off of Allen twice, before Boudica slaps Singh in the face. Allen then superkicks Boudica in the back of the head. Allen and Singh then team up as a Samoan Drop-Blockbuster combination (called the Bhangra Buster, but for point of reference look for Cryme Tyme’s G-9) and looks like the Bhangra Knights will be a thing going forward in the tag division….as the Bhangra Knights are making their way to the back, the London Riots make their entrance, so me thinks that may play a factor in a future Chapter.

*Match #6: London Riots (James Davis/Rob Lynch) (3-0 as a team) vs. Leaders of the New School (Marty Scurll/Zach Sabre Jr.) (Debut as a team)
The Who: London Riots are clearly the class of the PROGRESS tag division thus far. Wins over the Bastard Squad (probably done now that Allen is back with Singh), the Hunter Brothers and the Velocity Vipers (shame about Esmail’s leg) have led them to here, a main event level match. Leaders of the New School make their debut as a team here for PROGRESS, but it will not be my first time seeing them as a team. I remember getting into the European wrestling scene by watching wXw out of Germany and Scurll and Sabre Jr. were the wXw Tag Team champions for a while there. Scurll has been one of the biggest stars of PROGRESS thus far and in my opinion, Scurll vs. Sabre Jr. from Chapter 1 remains the best match in PROGRESS history to this point.
The Why: London Riots wanted competition, Jim Smallman decided to give them competition in the form of what many at the time considered to be the best tag team in Europe. Pretty straight forward here.
The Match: As per the usual, if I screw up Davis and Lynch, I apologize. They have stuck with the singlet and bikers gear, so once again, I should be okay…aw, Chris Roberts just got his first kiss. It was from Marty Scurll, but it still counts!…Davis is the one in the singlet. Now I know. Thanks Smallman, er, Barnett…Barnett lets us know that the Chapter 1 match between the Leaders was voted best match in Britain in 2012. That’s fair…Scurll spits his gum at Lynch. Well, with no Noam Dar on this show, someone had to be unhygienic…has that sit out butt drop worked for another then Rikishi in the last decade?…a little Poetry in Motion by the Leaders and then Scurll uses Sabre Jr. as a weapon to take out both Riots…off to an insane pace. Shit ton of action and we’re not even four minutes in yet…Scurll with a running bitch slap to Davis. Davis responds with a STIFF running body block. Don’t think he appreciated the slap…everything Sabre Jr. does is so fluid. With as many huge Indy names that ended up in NXT, I am stunned that Zach never got a shot there. I know he had a set of Japanese commitments, between NOAH and NJPW, but what could have been…believe the word to describe Sabre would be lanky. But he makes the most of it…apparently, I owe Rob Lynch and James Davis an apology. My Chapter 3 review got posted as I’m typing this and I apparently called them the Riot Squad during the course of that. They were facing the Bastard Squad and I just joined the names for a common WWE name. My bad…Lynch just knocks Sabre weak kneed with a forearm. Good lord…we’ve settled into a bit of tag formula here but as I’ve said before, it’s a formula because it works. Riots are hated and Leaders are loved. What better way to do this then to keep a member of the Leaders isolated and get the crowd to rally behind him…despite a pretty good experience gap, Riots are looking good in this match. Part of it is a master class from Sabre and Scurll as babyfaces, but Riots are more then holding their weight…I really hope Sabre Jr. is around more in PROGRESS in 2013. That war he had with Scurll at Chapter 1 was his only match for 2012. It would definitely make these reviews more fun to get to see more of the wizardry that Sabre possesses…tag finally made and Scurll comes in a house of fire…Scurll gets the Cesaro apron superplex that gets broken up by a bloody nosed Rob Lynch. A kick from Sabre caught him flush before the hot tag…gamengiri by Sabre Jr. into a DVD by Scurll gets two with another save by Lynch. It looked good…pop-up spear by the Riots and it looked really good. Last second save by Scurll…Riots look for the ‘District Line’ powerbomb but Sabre is able to get out and he chuffing loves putting people in cross-armbreakers. It’s broken up by getting Scurll powerbomb’d onto him…everyone down after a series of strikes and the crowd hits our fourth ‘This is PROGRESS’ chant…saves are coming hot and heavy here. I like it to a point, but let’s not get to the line of overkill…Sabre nails Scurll with a kick by mistake and the Riots take advantage with a really good looking Doomsday Device which Sabre kicks out of at two. That would have made for a good finish…shortly thereafter, the ‘District Line’ powerbomb does land (looking a bit rough but the point was there) and James Davis pins Zach Sabre Jr. at 20:07…VERY GOOD but not to the level are the previous Scurll main event matches in PROGRESS. The biggest issue I have here in that while the Riots had a good heat segment on Sabre, it didn’t break down nearly as much as I expected it to in the finish. Speaking of the finish, it looked slightly blown as I think Lynch may have tried a neckbreaker for the ‘District Line’ or he just didn’t get far enough out of the way. The big thing here is that it definitely establishes the Riots as the team to beat in PROGRESS as they take down the Leaders relatively cleanly. (VERY GOOD)

Post-match: London Riots don’t attack after the match as has been their tradition, instead heading to the back. Probably to fix Rob Lynch’s nose. Jim Smallman gets on the mic and lets us know that the first match they’ll announce for Chapter 6 will be a rematch of Chapter 4 as the Riots will once again face the Hunter Brothers, this time in a weapons match. Seems like an odd time to announce this with Sabre Jr. still down in the ring, but the show must go on, I suppose. Scurll goes to get a bit of mic time as well, but the show fades before he speaks and that’s a wrap for Chapter 5.

RESULTS
Match #1: Danny Garnell pins Stixx, tornado DDT off second buckle @ 14:52 (AVERAGE)
Match #2: Lord Jonathan Windsor pins Mike Hitchman, sit-down on sunset flip @ 11:24 (BELOW AVERAGE)
Match #3: Nathan Cruz pins Rampage Brown, O’Connor Roll with hook of tights and ropes @ 15:27 (GOOD)
Match #4: PROGRESS Wrestling Staff- El Ligero © defeats Dave Mastiff by KO, guillotine choke @ 18:18 (GOOD)
Match #5: Darrell Allen pins RJ Singh, leverage pin out of ‘Ethnic Submission’ attempt @ 9:57 (GOOD)
Match #6: London Riots (James Davis/Rob Lynch) defeat Leaders of the New School (Marty Scurll/Zach Sabre Jr.), Davis pins Sabre Jr. after the ‘District Line’ powerbomb @ 20:07 (VERY GOOD)

FINAL SHOW THOUGHTS
It picks up quite a bit at the end, so I can’t call it the worst of the five shows thus far. That being said, it’s definitely not mandatory viewing either. The issue that I find myself with is that I know what PROGRESS is capable of as it goes forward. When you go back and watch these formative shows, you can see moments of potential. But that’s all they are usually at this time frame. Just moments. Top to bottom, none of these shows have delivered a knock out show. Try to find the semi main and main event if you have a chance, but the rest is watch at your convenience. Except for the Windsor and Hitchman match. Do yourself a favor and skip that.

Where does this leave us? It leaves me a little disappointed, but that’s what happens when expectations are set so high. It leaves you hopefully wanting to come back as we take the next step in this journey with Chapter 6. In addition, it leaves me still hungry. I wonder if I could work out a ‘burgers per review’ deal around here.

THE FINAL REACTION
Best Match/Moment: Despite the fact that I gave the main event a higher rating, I going to give this honor to the RJ Singh and Darrell Allen match. The match itself is a good mix of comedy and ring work. The post match is where the money is as the fans go crazy for the Bhangra Knights reunion.
Worst match/moment: Feels like I’m beating a dead horse, but Mike Hitchman and Lord Jonathan Windsor can be classified as nothing less then a disappointment. The blueblood gimmick has potential, but in a company like this, you need to be able to back it up in the ring. Windsor simply did not.
MVP: Going to give this as co-MVPs again and I’m going to give it to James Davis and Rob Lynch for a star making performance in the main event as the London Riots prove they are the class of the PROGRESS tag team division.
FINAL SCORE: 6.0/10.0

Until next time: “This Is PROGRESS” and that’s “What I Watched”. Up next is Chapter 6: “We <3 Violence” And make sure you guys check out the Raw Reaction every Monday night at 11:30 PM (EST) to hear Tony Acero, Andrew Balaz and myself break down the important news and cover Monday Night Raw over on the Chairshot Radio Network.


Let us know what you think on social media @theCHAIRSHOTcom and always remember to use the hashtag #UseYourHead!
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Doctor’s Orders: Ranking The Greatest Matches and Rivalries in NXT Takeover History

Objectively subjectifying all-time greatness on NXT’s premiere stage, Takeover. See what matches are on the list!

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WWE NXT Takeover Philadelphia Andrade Almas Johnny Gargano

The Doctor is in as Chad Matthews updates his list of greatest WWE NXT Takeover matches and rivalries with a look at two of the very best, from different NXT eras.

Attempting to contextualize greatness in pro wrestling is a fascinating exercise, a much more multi-faceted conversation than it is often given credit for.  To some in the business, for instance, Rock vs. Cena is the greatest match of all-time because it set the pay-per-view buy mark, while others would say the greatest match is Austin vs. Bret because of the exemplary storytelling.  Why should greatness be limited to a plethora “one or the other” positions (best vs. most popular or anything of the sort)?  Such has been my stance during this entire decade (see The Greatest Matches and Rivalries of the WrestleMania Era), tackling the process of adding measures of objectivity to a topic deemed completely and utterly subjective and attempting to broaden the way that we have these discussions. I can also apply that to NXT.

Greatness has become regularly associated with NXT.  I am personally enamored with what the yellow brand has accomplished over the past few years, with the Takeover franchise especially.  The reputation that Takeover has built should astound any diehard WWE fan who, at times during the WrestleMania Era, may have felt like Vince and Co. unnecessarily (and oddly) put a critical ceiling on its in-ring product.  Bold statement: Takeover has, based purely on what happens from bell-to-bell, produced nearly as many bonafide classic wrestling matches as WrestleMania in just five years of existence.  Think about that for a moment, because it was with that idea in mind that I started asking, “What’s the greatest in NXT history?”

My second book (referenced above) was published last summer and in it I crafted a detailed formula to thoroughly assess the various aspects that shape how fans and pundits use the term “greatest.”  Turning my attention to NXT, I took that formula and tweaked it to fit Takeover.  On a 1-5 star scale, appropriately, I graded the best match in each of the top rivalries in NXT history, picked from a pool of consensus classics, on the psychology, storytelling, selling, execution, and climax of their in-ring performances, their historic ramifications on NXT lore, the setting (as defined by a pre-made scale for crowd size), the strength of their pre-match build-up, and the rating given by Dave Meltzer to account for popular opinion, as well as a few additional points (not on a scale of 1-5, mind you) for any intangible qualities (i.e. a special entrance, an innovative move or sequence never before seen, a rivalry-befitting gimmick, etc.).  The sum total of the scoring yields the rivalry’s standing, which will be continuously updated as this long-term process advances.

Today’s entries grow the list from fourteen to sixteen matches, which have been selected at random throughout this project’s history dating back to last fall. Here are the rankings ahead of today’s additions (the links will take you to the objectively subjective breakdown of each match):

Leaderboard

#1- Revival vs. #DIY (46.5)
#2- Bate vs. Dunne (43.5)
#3- Ricochet vs. Cole (43.0)
#4- Undisputed Era vs. Mustache Mountain (42.25)
#5- Dream vs. Ricochet (42.0)
#6- War Games 2018 (41.5)
#7- Nakamura vs. Zayn (41.0)
#8- Asuka vs. Moon (40.75)
#9- #DIY vs. AOP (39.75)
#10- Dream vs. Black (39.5)
#11- Balor vs. Joe (39.0)
#12- Owens vs. Balor (38.75)
#13- Almas vs. McIntyre (36.0)
#14- Four Horsewomen-Way (33.75)

Andrade “Cien” Almas vs. Johnny Gargano for the NXT Championship at Takeover: Philadelphia
Psychology: 5 / Historic: 4.5 / Setting: 5 / Storytelling: 5 / Selling: 5 / Climax: 5 / Execution: 5 / Popular Opinion: 5 / Build: 4.5 / Intangibles: +4
Total Score: 48.0

There have been very few matches in WWE history that have found me clapping while watching them in replay, and Cien vs. Johnny Wrestling from Philly is one of them. Hand to heart, I am unsure that there has ever been a better performance in WWE, which is partly what makes the added dynamic of including NXT lore when historically ranking matches throughout the WrestleMania Era so challenging and simultaneously so fascinating. The depth of storytelling and the instances when believably this match could have been over but somehow was not is virtually unmatched in mainstream North American wrestling over the past thirty plus years. Gargano and Almas judged everything picture-perfectly, selling their butts off, adding layers of psychology as they reached an utterly captivating climax, and drawing every ounce of intrigue out of the in-ring chemistry that they first prominently put on display against each other at Takever: Brooklyn III.

Gargano vs. Andrade is truly one of the greats as “epic” matches go, and the Philadelphia match certainly fits the profile of the genre (an “epic match”) that I have been quietly working on popularizing in the IWC, offered up to properly label a lengthy main-event style performance that builds to crescendo after crescendo and features finisher kick-outs as one of its primary hope spot wells to tap. I have been critical of the over-use of it, as many of its staples have trickled down to ten minute mid-card matches, and I do believe that epics, like Cena vs. Styles for example, are suffering from a distinct lack of rewatchability because of how ardently they cling to bout-ending signature offense, but Cien vs. Johnny is not to be lumped in with such over-done peers because it is smarter, more intricate, better executed, and expertly paced, its gaps in action replaced with the outstanding managerial act of Zelina Vega (and the eventual cameo by Candice Wrestling).

I believe it was a truly remarkable achievement. Maybe Banks vs. Bayley, Gargano vs. Ciampa, or Gargano vs. Adam Cole beats it in the scoring system, but even if one of them or another Takeover match in the pipeline down the road unseats it, I think it is going to be a long time before something removes it from the pedestal of what yours truly would call the finest match in Takeover history. Aesthetically, athletically, psychologically, I just struggle to see how anyone could really argue that another match was better. I was fortunate enough to see them wrestle one of their prequels in Brooklyn, and that was one of the four or five best mid-card type bouts in Takeover lore too, so when you combine that match with what happened in Philly – of the nine scoring categories here, their NXT Title match scored a 5 in seven of them – you have an all-time great.

You know, it is funny that Dave Meltzer awarded the Takeover: Philadelphia match the first “5-star” rating for a WWE match since Punk vs. Cena in Chicago, and if you watch any of New Japan Pro Wrestling and know of Meltzer’s fascination with it, you can appreciate why. Almas vs. Gargano was an NJPW match in an NXT ring with WWE production value. If in the coming years, a main-event of that style and caliber is featured on Summerslam or eventually works it way to the WrestleMania headlining position, I think we may have Gargano vs. Almas to thank for it.

Neville vs. Sami Zayn for the NXT Championship at Takeover: R-Evolution
Psychology: 4.5 / Historic: 4.5 / Setting: 3 / Storytelling: 5 / Selling: 5 / Climax: 5 / Execution: 4.5 / Popular Opinion: 4.75 / Build: 5 / Intangibles: +3
Total Score: 44.25

While in the beginning of this process, it seemed probable that Cien Almas vs. Johnny Wrestling had a shot at topping this match to advance ever closer to the #1 spot, what seemed assured from the out-set was that Zayn vs. Neville would rate among the premiere title matches in NXT lore because, in terms of storytelling, there may still have never been a championship bout that possesses the same sense of urgency or the same sense of occasion.

Here you had Neville, a bit shy of a year-long reigning as NXT Champion (who held the title during the promotion’s rise to WWE Network prominence) and possessing one of the most amazing offensive arsenals in pro wrestling’s entire history, coming up against Zayn, arguably the quintessential example of how legends are capable of being made in NXT. No matter what happens elsewhere within the Titan ranks, Zayn will be someone revered by any who watched what he did in NXT from 2014 to 2016.

One of the greatest things that NXT brings to the table is how wrestlers, as personalities, are characters first, their labels (or face-heel dichotomies) rather arbitrary by comparison. Neville strayed a bit more toward a black and white personic construct during the match, but he was clearly pushed toward the line that Zayn managed to straddle a bit better and showed glimpses of the viciousness and single-mindedness (toward winning) that made his run on 205 Live so engaging to purple brand followers in 2017; it was Zayn who was truly marvelous, though, displaying a depth of character so rarely seen from protagonists in WWE proper, and far more relatable for it, as evidenced by the incredibly raucous crowd support that he garnered in what was still ostensibly a babyface match. Zayn’s ability to connect on that deeper emotional level lifted this effort to pantheon status.

The end result – the total package from the storyline build-up to the hype video package to the atmosphere it generated to the bell-to-bell fight (and it felt like the fight that pro wrestling should be in the modern era main-event scene with the athletic potential of the combatants) – closed the first chapter in the history of NXT in the Network Era with a timeless classic destined for massive hindsight accolades in the near and distant future.

New Leaderboard

#1- Andrade vs. Gargano (48.0)
#2- Revival vs. #DIY (46.5)
#3- Neville vs. Zayn (44.25)
#4- Bate vs. Dunne (43.5)
#5- Ricochet vs. Cole (43.0)
#6- Undisputed Era vs. Mustache Mountain (42.25)
#7- Dream vs. Ricochet (42.0)
#8- War Games 2018 (41.5)
#9- Nakamura vs. Zayn (41.0)
#10- Asuka vs. Moon (40.75)
#11- #DIY vs. AOP (39.75)
#12- Dream vs. Black (39.5)
#13- Balor vs. Joe (39.0)
#14- Owens vs. Balor (38.75)
#15- Almas vs. McIntyre (36.0)
#16- Four Horsewomen-Way (33.75)

If you want to discuss NXT  or other wrestling matters with Doc, follow and tweet @TheDocLOP !


Check out the latest episode of The Doc Says podcast, featuring a review of NXT Takeover 25!

The Doc Says NXT Takeover

Listen here:
http://thechairshot.com/2019/06/the-doc-says-instant-reaction-analysis-to-a-memorable-milestone-nxt-takeover/


Let us know what you think on social media @theCHAIRSHOTcom and always remember to use the hashtag #UseYourHead!
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