Tonight on the special TakeOver: R Evolution edition of NXT, we will see Kevin Owens (Kevin Steen) make his debut, Finn Balor and Hideo Itami face off against The Ascension, Charlotte defend the NXT Women's Championship against her former BFF Sasha Banks, The Vaudevillains (Simon Gotch and Aiden English) attempt to capture the NXT Tag Team Championship from The Lucha Dragons (Kalisto and Sin Cara), as well as a special announcement (possible retirement) from Corey Graves. This will all be capped off with an NXT Championship match wherein if Sami Zayn loses and Adrian Neville retains, Zayn will quit NXT.
Our panel for the pre-show consists of Renee Young, Jason Albert and Alex Riley. After running down some of the matches that we'll see later, they are joined by Corey Graves, who announces that his injuries are too much and he's officially retiring from in-ring competition, but he's going to become a member of the commentary team.
Rich Brennan, who Renee refers to as "the voice of NXT" (hm...) interviews the Lucha Dragons—or, more accurately, Kalisto since Sin Cara doesn't say a word—about their match later. Kalisto's actually not too bad on the mic. He says the same old kind of stuff you'd expect him to say about retaining the title.
Kevin Owens vs. CJ Parker
Parker has his back turned at the start of the match and Owens takes advantage of that. He ruins Parker's sign and hits a sweet plancha. I'm not familiar with Steen, but so far, I'm liking Owens. Parker hits him with a kick to the face and is in control, but not for long. Owens is busted open...looks like his nose. Owens tosses Parker up in the air, catches him, and powerbombs him for the win.
WINNER: Kevin Owens via pinfall
[NXT Tag Team Championship]: The Lucha Dragons (c) vs. The Vaudevillains
Lucha Dragons are in charge at the start of the match. English tags in and starts working on Sin Cara. The fans start a "put your dukes up" chant (haha). The Lucha Dragons have had the number of The Vaudevillains in the past and it seems like this match is following that pattern. In an odd situation, English pushes Gotch out of the way when both Sin Cara and Kalisto jump over the top rope, so they both fall on only English. Gotch gets back into the ring and immediately loses anyway (lol) when Kalisto hits his finisher.
WINNERS: The Lucha Dragons via pinfall
Tye Dillinger vs. Baron Corbin
How many seconds will this last? By my count, 46 seconds. Bull Dempsey caused most of the distraction for why it took so long.
WINNER: Baron Corbin via pinfall
The Ascension vs. Hideo Itami & Finn Balor
Itami comes out wearing a yellow gi. Balor comes out with a smoke machine and dressed up as.....I don't know. But he's got some weird face paint and dangly dreadlocks or something and seems to be in love with his theme music and the ramp. I'm not a fan of him doing choreography to his music and posing. I think that looks ridiculous. Oh well, I'm sure some people will like it even if it's a little ridiculous to me. Balor starts off on top. Itami catches a flapjack from Konnor and now The Ascension has the edge. Itami keeps losing his chance to tag Balor in. The Ascension keeps the beat down going. Even when Itami starts fighting back, he's put down one more. Finally, the referee puts an end to the double-teaming and Balor gets the tag. Balor turns the tide. Itami sets up the GTS, but before he can execute it, things go awry. The Ascension set Balor up for The Fall of Man, but that fails as well. Itami and Balor both do a foot stomp from the top rope on Konnor and Viktor and Balor pins Viktor for the win.
WINNERS: Hideo Itami and Finn Balor via pinfall
Roman Reigns is interviewed by Renee Young. He says that he's going to be the first NXT alumni to win the WWE World Heavyweight Championship.
[NXT Women's Championship]: Charlotte (c) vs. Sasha Banks
Banks throws her shirt at Charlotte to start the match. She hits a better chop than Charlotte, too. Sasha keeps working on Charlotte, hitting some knees in the corner, slamming her down after grabbing her hair, putting her in the Bank Statement, etc. Sasha even pulls off a great suicide dive. Very nice! Charlotte does a moonsault, but lands on her feet and then does a front-flip onto Sasha. Sasha has her foot on the ropes, though. Charlotte sets her up for a crucifix powerbomb, but Sasha escapes and tosses Charlotte into the turnbuckle. Charlotte hits Natural Selection from the top rope and retains the title.
WINNER: Charlotte via pinfall
[NXT Championship]: Adrian Neville (c) vs. Sami Zayn
Wow, WWE gave Sami Zayn the heartbeat hum when he was walking backstage that they use when the cage lowers or when a huge main event is happening. They're doing the same for Neville's backstage shot. Very cool touch. I love that droning beat. "Let's go Sami / Neville sucks" chant starts us off. Back and forth. First highlight is a moonsault from Zayn onto Neville on the outside. I think the fans are chanting "go for his balls" in favor of Zayn striking Neville, if I'm hearing them correctly. Neville hits a pretty headscissors on Zayn. Zayn dumps Neville outside and dives over the top rope on top of him. Zayn catches Neville on his shoulders and twists him into a powerbomb for an impressive two-count. Neville hits a powerbomb of his own for a two-count. They exchange blows back and forth. Zayn comes out on top with a clothesline. He misses the Helluva Kick. Neville goes for the Red Arrow but Zayn puts up his knees and locks in a submission. Neville's feet get to the ropes. Neville rolls Zayn up, but he kicks out, and when he does, he launches Neville into the ref. Zayn gets distracted checking on the ref. Neville capitalizes with a superkick and a headscissors takedown, but Zayn kicks out! Zayn throws Neville and sets up for the Helluva Kick once more, but Neville exits the ring. Zayn jumps through the ropes and gives him a DDT—very cool. He then nails the Helluva Kick, but also hits the referee in the process. The fans start chanting "this ref sucks" as Neville tries to use his championship belt to hit Zayn, who kicks him instead. Zayn picks up the belt and contemplates using his on his own, but decides not to take the easy route. Neville rolls him up, but Zayn kicks out. Zayn gives him an exploder suplex and hits the Helluva Kick again for the win.
WINNER (and new NXT champion): Sami Zayn via pinfall
Everyone from the locker room comes out to celebrate with Sami, picking him up on their shoulders with confetti falling down and everything. Right before the show goes off the air, Kevin Owens slams him down and gives him a powerbomb, turning heel!! YESSS!
Very good event, overall. The main event was a damn good match and the women's title match was easily my favorite Divas contest of the entire year. Kevin Owens looks impressive, Baron Corbin has another win to his name, and I liked the tag title match as well. The only downer in my mind was Hideo Itami and Finn Balor not being anything special and just a little on the boring side. NXT proves once again that they are the best thing going on WWE programming today. That was made all the more better with Owens turning at the end.
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