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Posted in: Doctor's Orders
Doctor's Orders: NXT Takeover: San Antonio was GLORIOUS!
By The Doc
Jan 28, 2017 - 11:23:27 PM

The WrestleMania Era: The Book of Sports Entertainment (Third Edition) is on sale throughout Royal Rumble Week for as low as $4.99 (click here)

”The Doc” Chad Matthews has been a featured writer for LOP since 2004. Initially offering detailed recaps and reviews for WWE's top programs, he transitioned to writing columns in 2010. In addition to his discussion-provoking current event pieces, he has written many acclaimed series about WrestleMania, as well as a popular short story chronicle. The Doc has also penned a book, The WrestleMania Era: The Book of Sports Entertainment, published in 2013. It has been called “the best wrestling book I have ever read” and holds a 5-star rating on Amazon, where it peaked at #3 on the wrestling charts.

QUESTION OF THE DAY: How would you rank tonight's Takeover in San Antonio compared to past Takeover events?

Bonus QUESTION OF THE DAY: Who has the better theme song – Shinsuke Nakamura or Bobby Roode?

San Antonio played host to a Takeover event that saw NXT's roster turnover in the last half-year take full-effect. There were a lot of new faces that we had not seen on the Network specials before and, additionally, a lot of talents moving into headlining spots who only recently made their Takeover debuts. As per usual, the card had going strongly in its favor a hot crowd whose unbridled enthusiasm was refreshing for a promotion under the WWE umbrella; fans seem to attend these shows for the pure joy of going to a wrestling show.

One of the newer stars hoping to establish himself tonight was Eric Young, accompanied by fellow members of the intriguing stable, Sanity. The story of his match with Tye Dillinger was effective and simplistic, with Dillinger down on himself and Young looking to take advantage of it by getting The Perfect Ten to join his crew. In what proved to be a strong opener, Dillinger continued to show his mastery of the gimmick he has managed to get so over in the past year and to remind of how athletic he is. Tye is like Cesaro without the uncanny strength; and his finisher, The Tye-Breaker, is a fantastic move that should by all rights, as a Death Valley Driver onto his knee, wipe out his opponent (AJ Styles should not be using that as a mere feature move). Young, for his part, was spot-on and, after getting the win tonight, it is going to be interesting to see what is next for him. (Doc's Rating - ***)

Another Takeover-debuting talent was Roderick Strong, who has quite the reputation but who, quite frankly, looks like an enhancement talent in appearance and attire; good thing he does not wrestle like one. Strong looked awesome against Andrade “Cien” Almas. Contrasting the opener, the second match of the night was far more athletic and featured a high degree of difficulty for even such minor things as their catch sequences. They were both very impressive in how seamlessly they executed the near 12-minute match. Did the right man win, though? Almas has a star quality that Strong could not possibly equal. Is Cien the most underappreciated NXT roster member now that Dillinger has gotten more of the spotlight over the past few months? He has a charisma about him that suggests he could step up and be in a top-level bout at the next Takeover and nobody would bat an eyelash. (Doc's Rating - *** ¼)

Of any of the newcomers, The Authors of Pain probably had the most to prove to the viewing audience. Their reputation is virtually non-existent, despite their manager's Hall of Fame status as part of The Legion of Doom. As mentioned on “The Doc Says” podcast this week, the NXT Tag Team Title match, despite the uncertainty surrounding the challengers, had the potential to be a good change of pace from The Revival's classics last year; and it proved to be just that. DIY led the way, but The Authors stepped up to the plate and did their job well. One of the best things about this match was that it had legitimate unpredictability. It would have seemed unlikely that Johnny Gargano and Tommasso Ciampa would lose the titles in their first Takeover defense, but based on the booking of The Authors since last spring, it did not seem likely that they would lose either; they played that up wonderfully when the four shared the ring during the elongated finishing sequences (which also played up very well the Toronto finish). The beautiful thing about NXT's simple booking is that it yields strong doses of uncertainty for match outcomes in situations like these that could truly use that element as a boost. Ironically, the individual Authors get their names from a scientific expression called Occam's Razor, which essentially means the simpler the better; and when push comes to shove, NXT's simpler booking is better. (Doc's Rating - *** ½)

(Doc's Note - Seth Rollins interrupting proceedings to call out Triple H was eye-opening in some ways, marking the first time that something so overt was utilized to advance a WWE proper saga on an NXT Takeover; the precedent has now been set. The Architect and The Game merely being on-camera together was enough to ignite good vibrations about their all-but-confirmed WrestleMania 33 match. It was a much-needed shot in the arm for that angle)

Nikki Cross, Billie Kay, and Peyton Royce did not quite acquit themselves to the level that did The Authors, but their match with Asuka was still very engaging for a sub-ten-minute Women's Championship bout. Nikki's character is, much like Eric Young's, highly provocative; she brings something to the table similar to Asuka in that her persona yields an aura that extends beyond her physical abilities, which are certainly nothing to scoff at. More Sanity please. Asuka benefited greatly from being on the back-foot more in the weeks leading up to and at Takeover: San Antonio; she had never once seemed legitimately vulnerable to losing prior to tonight and, though she may have still been the odds on favorite to earn the victory, it brought out another side of her that we had not yet seen. Of course, she expectedly retained the title, but hats off to the four women for creating a sense of chaos in their rapid-fire match and a special nod to Cross for taking that bump through the table – a huge spot for a women's match, mind you. (Doc's Rating - ***)

The main-event was billed as perhaps the most anticipated match in NXT history; the atmosphere created in part by the two best theme songs in wrestling today sure did well to reinforce that notion. What ensued once the bell rang was a glorious story-driven affair, the best example to date of why Bobby Roode earned such a great reputation over the years, and arguably the most complete performance from Shinsuke Nakamura since his debut last April.

It will be interesting to see what kind of reception it earns once the dust settles from the weekend, but it would be fair to say that Roode vs. Nakamura was the kind of match that served many masters. Though it had that epic feel, it did not fall into the oh-so-common trap of turning into a match that worked too hard to be epic via tons of finisher kick out-inspired near falls. Though it did feature false finishes from both the Kinsasha and the Glorious DDT, each were well-explained within the framework of the story, the latter during the final moments of the climax. Nakamura, who had many times failed to sell even adequately his storyline-injuries in past title bouts, was fantastic in doing so this time around. Triple H said in a recent interview that Nak was still learning and it was a sell-job like tonight's, not just of the knee but the body language while fighting through the pain to avoid tapping out in a single-leg Crab, that displayed how he is rounding into top form. Speaking of Trips, Roode has been described as very similar to The Game and one could surely see why watching tonight's headliner.

NXT now moves forward with Roode as the champion and, while you can say that the title changes up top have been coming too rapidly since Balor dropped the strap, The Glorious One feels like the right man to hitch the wagon to at present time. With the story of Shinsuke's knee at the forefront of this feud, we will see a fresh take on the extended program that NXT officials so frequently like to use in their main-event scene. As good as tonight's match was, the rematch, presumably in Orlando, could be an all-time classic. (Doc's Rating - **** ¼)

Overall, it was another strong Takeover card. Despite the roster turnover, they just keep re-stocking the cupboard and the fresh talents just keep stepping up. This may not go down as the greatest Takeover event considering the absence of that second 4-star-level performance to compliment the Roode-Nakamura match, but it was both well-worth the time spent watching it and a potential segue to an even better Network special in a couple of months with Nakamura and DIY on the chase again and the better-establishment of some of the new faces.

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