wrestling / Columns

WWE NXT TakeOver R-Evolution: The Perfect Wrestling Show?

December 14, 2014 | Posted by Greg De Marco

Amidst all the criticism of their weekly TV product, the WWE delivered a great show in WWE NXT TakeOver: R-Evolution. 411’s Greg DeMarco wonders if we just witnessed the perfect wrestling show…

The advent of the WWE Network changed many aspects of the company, some good…some bad. One huge benefit is the increased profile for NXT—the WWE Developmental System headquartered in Orlando, Florida.

NXT has presented some amazing cards over the past few months, introducing the WWE Universe to talents such as Paige, and now The Ascension, before they hit them main roster. And while the early results have been great, the last few NXT specials show the WWE Universe that the best crop of call-ups is yet to come.

That brings us to last Thursday, and NXT TakeOver R-Evolution. Led by Triple H, the NXT brand continually delivers the best wrestling show out of all WWE programming each week, but they stepped it up another notch this week.

Several notches.

Simply put, this was the perfect show.

Obviously that’s a subjective statement (and obviously this is an opinion piece!), but I do recognize that each show has some essential elements…including the perfect show.

WWE NXT TakeOver R-Evolution took all of the elements, and delivered on each one of them in the best way possible.

Take a look:
The Early Hook
The special’s preshow was “headlined” by an announcement from NXT performer—and former NXT tag team champion—Corey Graves. Graves had been out of action for quite some time now, and finally succumbed to the fate that many expected. Corey Graves announced his retirement from in-ring competition, alongside with his new career: WWE NXT Commentary Team member.

NXT features a rotating cast of characters at the commentary table, but it seemed that the “A-team” was in place this week. Graves fit right in—but we’ll discuss that more in a moment.

The Opening Match

Having Kevin Owens’ debut open the show as the right call to make, as the anticipation of his debut would have taken away from the early action. His opponent was one of the most underrated talents in the WWE—not just NXT—in CJ Parker. Parker will never be WWE World Heavyweight Champion, but the same can be said for most of the NXT roster. But he always delivers in the role he’s asked to perform, and I think we’ll be surprised in 10 years when he’s still on the main roster, even if in a small role.

The role Parker played in this match was to make Kevin Owens look like a star, and that’s exactly what he did. Owens was the last man featured in the opening video package, indicating he’s taking over—which was a nice little bit of foreshadowing.

Owens’ entrance showed what it meant for a man to reach the pinnacle after a 14-year career, after seeing his friends get there first, and after being labeled as “not the WWE type.” You could see the emotion in his eyes, and it signaled that this night was different.

The match itself was a showcase for Owens, but the intensity was turned up. Parker wasn’t going to lay down, and ended up breaking Owens’ nose with a palm-strike that also opened up a cut in Parker’s hand that went down to the bone. It all ended with a pop-up powerbomb that will likely serve as Owens’ first WWE finisher (since the package piledriver is likely out of the question).

The Requisite Tag Team Match

In this case, the requisite tag team match was for the NXT Tag Team Championships, held by The Lucha Dragons of Sin Cara and Kalisto. Their opponents were the ultra-entertaining duo of Aiden English and Simon Gotch, The Vaudevillians.

This was an entertaining tag team match, one that featured great work by both teams. Since the division lacks depth, it made sense for the champions to retain as this feud may continue. Coming down from the emotional high of Kevin Owens’ debut, this match was positioned in its best possible location. It did exactly what it should’ve done—kept pace and let other aspects of the show be memorable.

The Long Term Storyline Advancement

Baron Corbin and Bull Dempsey are on a collision course…but they’re miles apart on a collision course! They’re not going to have a match next week on NXT, their likely first in-ring action against each other will be at the next NXT special in the spring.

Tonight the next step was a showcase match against Tye Dillinger for Corbin, which he won with great ease. From there he had multiple stare downs with Bull Dempsey, setting up the next steps that will lead to the eventual showdown between these two powerhouses.

Corbin has the talent of aura—and that’s not a knock. Not since The Undertaker has someone possessed a natural charisma strong enough to get over by doing so little. It was a great change of pace for the show, and helped develop the characters of two men in the process

The “Moment”

We had the hot Kevin Owens opening, the good tag team title match and the Corbin-Dempsey advancement. Up to this point, the pace was perfect and the crowd was now ready for another “big” thing.

And they got it…

This wasn’t Glacier, this was an amazingly talented wrestler upping his game with an equally amazing entrance. It’s a moment fans won’t soon forget, and it’ll be shown for years as Finn Balor makes his way up the WWE ladder.

What followed that entrance was a match involving four men who will be around the WWE for a long time. The Ascension, despite some online belief, is a very talented tag team. They fill the power team void for the main roster, and they’re bringing back an old school vibe with their main roster look.

The match itself was great, and is one the WWE can build off of. Balor was phenomenal, The Ascension played their role perfectly, and Hideo Itami nearly stole the show when he attempted the Go To Sleep. He’s going to take that move back eventually, likely on the next NXT special. He already took the flying knee strike back…

Positioned in the middle of the show, this match was all kinds of perfect, and really gives me strong hope for the future of the WWE.

The “Cool Down” Women’s Championship Match

Divas’ matches are often positioned in a cool down position in the WWE, occurring between the two big matches on a card. Someone forgot to tell Charlotte and Sasha Banks about this…

They delivered in a big way, with Charlotte showing that her natural ability isn’t hype—it’s real. And Sasha Banks? She might be the best kept secret on the roster. I can’t think of anything she does wrong, in and out of the ring. She nails her character, she’s crisp in the ring, and above all else she is 100% believable in all she does.

The Climax

The main event should be the climax of the show. And despite the Kevin Owens debut and the Finn Balor Moment, Sami Zayn finding retribution on the form of an NXT Championship victory over Adrian Neville was in fact the climax of the show.

And for intents and purposes it was also the climax of NXT 2014…just as it should be.

Sami Zayn’s climb to the top took place over the course of 2014, so it’s appropriate that it ends with him winning the big one in the final special of the year. Adrian Neville came full circle when he hugged Zayn after his victory, seemingly acknowledging that Zayn did it on his own terms—without compromising his own moral compass.

Sami Zayn might be the WWE’s lone true “good guy,” one who won’t win at all costs. John Cena? He leaves his friends for dead on the road to Survivor Series, and he once won the world title from Rey Mysterio after Mysterio had already wrestled that night. Sami Zayn would never have done that!

The Shocking Ending

And then like something straight of Chikara, once this “season” was over NXT set the stage for what is next (no pun intended). Kevin Owens’ embrace(s) with Sami Zayn were believable, given that they are real life best friends and truly came up together. And while things seemed to take too long, I think it was supposed to make us suspicious. But the best decision was made—Owens turned against Zayn on night one.

2014 saw two turns happen at the right time: Seth Rollins destroying The Shield from within, and Kevin Owens turning on Sami Zayn. Too often pro wrestling waits too long to pull the trigger, making turns obvious when they happen. Had they waited on Kevin Owens’ turn it would have been too predictable. That’s because it was inevitable, the only element of surprise left was timing.

And they nailed the timing. Kevin Owens went full circle in one night. It was important because his debut was treated like a big deal, he was shown not being able to look at Zayn in the locker room, and he turned on his best friend at the end of the night. He had more character development in a 2-hour span than many WWE talents have in their entire career.

Think about it, who is Big E, really?

The Announce Team

Announce teams can’t make a show great—but they can ruin a show. The NXT announce team enhanced this show. There are no faces and heels here, just the trio of Rich Brennan, Alex Riley and Corey Graves who appreciate the product and give what come off was honest opinions.

This was best seen when Corey Graves, not a heel at all, put Zayn on blast for not taking advantage of two different ref bumps, going so far as to say Zayn deserved to wake up in the morning with his WWE career being over. That was his opinion, face or heel alignment be damned.

Much like the tag team and women’s title matches, the announce team did exactly what they should have done—enhanced this great show.

The Perfect Show?

I have no choice but to call this the perfect show. It was so well done…so damn entertaining that my only concern is NXT’s ability to follow it up. But for now I’m happy to remember it for what it was: not the best show of 2014, but the best show in the past several years.

WWE NXT TakeOver: R-Evolution was that good.

Images courtesy WWE.com

Greg DeMarco is a wrestling fan of over 30 years and has also worked on the independent circuit as a promoter, announcer, character and booker. Greg a weekly contributor at 411Mania.com, applying his opinionated style to the world of pro wrestling on Sundays and Thursdays.

He began writing for 411Mania in October 2010 and has been pissing readers off ever since!

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article topics :

NXT, NXT Takeover, Greg De Marco