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Mr. Tito's PHAT NXT Takeover San Antonio Review with Match Ratings/Show Grade, More Royal Rumble 2017 Thoughts
By Mr. Tito
Jan 28, 2017 - 10:17:15 PM

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Here we are with the NXT Takeover: San Antonio review exclusively at / Odd thing about NXT Takeover this time around is that its hype is much less for this Takeover event than others. Sure, the shadow cast by the hype of the WWE Royal Rumble is much, much larger. Last year's Wrestlemania was dependent on Shane McMahon vs. Undertaker to draw interest and but NXT Takeover was actually able to steal its thunder before and after the event. The other Takeover events held their own.

But Takeover San Antonio's hype? Eh... This is a product of the NXT being completely raided to fill the split RAW and Smackdown rosters during 2016. They burned through their last unique match-ups for the Brooklyn and Toronto events and here we are...

However - Where I think NXT can still hold up over time is its CULTURE. Strictly, NXT is about the wrestling product in the ring, its titles, and conflicts between good & evil to show each other up. Nothing special or overly dramatic aside from that. You can just turn on NXT, relax, and enjoy it. Expectations are probably low for most NXT shows heading in whereas they are extremely high for WWE heading into every show. For example, Royal Rumble 2017... Look at the HYPE surrounding that show! If WWE produces a clunker on Sunday Night, they'll hear about it from fans for a while and it will bleed into Wrestlemania. I believe that the events of Rumble 2014, 2015, and 2016 greatly diminished Wrestlemania. Those shows did not adequately build up a strong #1 contender to give us a MUST SEE match-up.

With NXT, sit back, relax, and enjoy the show... In my opinion, if NXT didn't exist on the WWE Network, it would probably be gone by now (well, besides that it helps me write columns now).


Speaking of the 2017 Royal Rumble, the show has become incredibly hard to predict. While I appreciate that from the "element of surprise" standpoint, it's beginning to appear that the WWE's booking for Wrestlemania 33 is now in dissarray. Before, the match-up of Undertaker vs. John Cena was FINALLY going to happen but Vince McMahon reportedly changed his mind. Now, Vince has other ideas about Wrestlemania 33 according to the Wrestling Observer as reported here on 1/26/17:


Going into Sunday's WWE Royal Rumble pay-per-view, The Wrestling Observer Newsletter reports that current plans do not have current WWE Champion AJ Styles and current WWE Universal Champion Kevin Owens going into WrestleMania 33 as champions.

Styles is set to defend against John Cena on Sunday while Owens will be defending against Roman Reigns. It's also been confirmed that the WWE Title will be defended at February's Elimination Chamber pay-per-view, inside the Chamber. The RAW brand has the Fastlane pay-per-view in February.

The Observer adds that the WrestleMania line-up at this point looks like Bill Goldberg vs. Brock Lesnar, Triple H vs. Seth Rollins, Kevin Owens vs. Chris Jericho, Shaquille O'Neal vs. Big Show, The Undertaker vs. Roman Reigns, Bray Wyatt vs. Randy Orton and RAW Women's Champion Charlotte Flair vs. Nia Jax vs. Bayley vs. Sasha Banks.

There are rumors on Orton winning the Rumble match and Wyatt winning the Chamber match, setting up their match for the WWE Title at WrestleMania. The Observer notes that if that does not happen, it's because plans changed.

It's likely that either Taker vs. Reigns, Jericho vs. Owens or Goldberg vs. Lesnar would be for the WWE Universal Title but Owens vs. Jericho makes more sense as the United States Title match as Jericho currently holds that belt.

WWE NXT Superstar Samoa Joe is expected to be called up soon with a push and Joe vs. Cena at WrestleMania has been pitched. There have also been rumors of Styles vs. Shane McMahon.


You could argue that this should be taken with a "grain of salt"... After all, these are FULL backstage plans discussed behind closed doors and possibly in a WWE Board Room. Why would they be allowed to leak and ruin all surprises? It could be that the WWE is utilizing the 2-3 news outlets to "test" ideas. After all, if you're an entity or a government who wants to control the media, you restrict access to information. How else would the same 2-3 places get ALL of the exclusive newsbytes and everyone else be fighting for the scraps. I guarantee that if a WWE personnel fed me news and I then reported it, WWE would actively search for who leaked it... See how quickly some of those Reddit WWE sources were squashed? WWE couldn't control the message. But if it's to the same few news sources they know, it's OK...

Randy Orton winning the Royal Rumble?!?!? Are you kidding me? Have we not learned a single damn thing since 2004 when we first pushed Randy? Or better yet during late 2013 through Wrestlemania 30? I'm fine with him maintaining a strong role on the Smackdown roster, but to put all of your chips on Orton again... Someone who gets regularly injured and someone who is at risk of taking time off for other things. You know...

Undertaker vs. Roman Reigns now? So we've gone from the HUGE DRAWING and LAST DREAM MATCH LEFT (I'm aware that they wrestled during 2002-2003, but not at a Main Event level!) to Roman Reigns? Hilarious development if true. Goes to show you how completely tone deaf Vince McMahon has become and Shareholders should work to actively challenge him... Oh wait, the McMahons and the WWE Corporation, which Vince is CEO and Board Chairman of, controls the severe majority of shares. Ooops. I understand the "time honored tradition" of putting over the younger stars, but how much "putting over" does Roman Reigns need? He's been on a non-stop push since early 2014 and he has NOTHING to show for it. Won a Rumble, headlined several Wrestlemanias for the WWE Title, multiple other Pay Per Views headlined, multiple time World Champion...

Between 12 Pay Per Views a year and 52 weeks of Television... Roman Reigns has created enough sample information to scientifically test to see if he's a draw or not. Hell, I tested it myself in my 10/3/16 column. I actually created a multiple regression model with RAW's ratings, dummy variables with who was WWE Champion at the time, and a few other factors. I, myself, found that Roman Reigns as World Champion has the potential to reduce ratings by a full 1.0 point. That is remarkable! And I believe that Roman owns some of Seth Rollins's championship reign during 2015 because Roman was still strongly pushed during that period of time. The guys on RAW are struggling so much that WWE is legitimately considering giving more money and appearances to Bill Goldberg. 50 year old Bill Goldberg who had his peak drawing year in 1998!

I don't get it... Whenever you have John Cena vs. Undertaker for Wrestlemania on the table, YOU TAKE IT. My guess is that we'll see this match-up headline SummerSlam 2017.

So where does this lead John Cena for Wrestlemania 33?

Look through that Observer news again... Who else is missing? Oh, looks like we'll be in for an "AWESOME" match. If Shane McMahon vs. AJ Styles is actually happening and other rumors keep suggesting that, then Miz vs. John Cena will definitely happen instead. This could very well be the Wrestlemania that (a) Undertaker puts over Roman Reigns and (b) John Cena puts over the Miz. You could argue that's how the wrestling business should operate, but are Reigns and Miz ready to become the guys? I don't know... Again, Roman has been tried repeatedly for 3 straight years... We tried hard with the Miz during 2010-2011. I'd argue that the Miz has GREATLY improved during 2016 thanks to the Smackdown writers fixing his character and getting Maryse more involved as a manager. But is he ready for the Main Event? Miz did FEEL like he belonged during that AJ Styles and John Cena segment and had a decent match with AJ... But does he need a little more seasoning?

Personally, I'd love to see Miz vs. Dean Ambrose one more time at Wrestlemania 33 and run John Cena vs. AJ Styles again, possibly for either tying or breaking Ric Flair's World Title record. That's money to me...

I would be OK (though I hate Undertaker vs. Roman) with this Wrestlemania 33 card:

- Randy Orton vs. Bray Wyatt
- Undertaker vs. Roman Reigns
- Bill Goldberg vs. Brock Lesnar
- Triple H vs. Seth Rollins
- John Cena vs. AJ Styles
- Miz vs. Dean Ambrose
- Shaq vs. Big Show (Really?)
- Charlotte vs. Nia Jax vs. Sasha Banks vs. Bayley (Piss Break)

Please keep Shane McMahon and James Ellsworth the hell AWAY from Wrestlemania 33. Fine, I'll agree with you that Shane HELPED Wrestlemania 32 but the "draw" was how hard Shane would fall off that Hell in a Cell cage. You can only get away with that magic trick just once. Can y'all tell me the last time that Smackdown drew over 3.0 million viewers since the Brand Split Draft? Oh yeah, you can't... Because it never happened. Shane's heroics haven't turned into long-term money even when he added himself to the Survivor Series 2016 match-up. I like him better than Stephanie as a Commissioner, but I'd like pile of bricks to be a better authority figure than Stephanie. She is AWFUL, but Shane is awful when he pulls off his backyard wrestling act in WWE rings and wrestlers have to sell for him. Ditto for anyone who has to sell for James Ellsworth. Did you guys see that AWFUL segment on this past week's Smackdown with Carmella in that clothing store? Easily, in the bottom 10 wrestling segments that I've seen all-time.

I have to say that I greatly worry about my Rumble Match prediction now... I'll stick with my Braun Strowman/Undertaker pick, but I wouldn't put money on that... Hell no!



Did not watch the pre-game show... Because why would I?

"Perfect 10" Tye Dillinger vs. Eric Young Crazy pop for Dillinger which aside from the "Perfect 10" gimmick, that guy has been busting his ass for years and making others look good inside the ring. I think that fans are just starting to notice. If you've played the latest Pokemon games (Sun/Moon), you'll know what Eric Young and his SAnitY group resemble. Hilarious to hear the NXT fans chanting "10" anytime a referee does his count. That's great... Both wrestlers are playing off the crowd's love for Dillinger. Young is very crisp in the ring but then again, he has an excellent seller working with him. Great spot where Young ran to the rops but Tye jumped up there for a Belly-to-Belly. That Tye Breaker finisher looks like a knee injury for Dillinger waiting to happen... Too much SAnitY interference for Dillinger to handle and that allows Young to hit his finisher. Good opener. [ *** ]

Samoa Joe seen at ringside...

Andrade "Cien" Almas vs. Roderick Strong is the second match of the night. Crowd isn't quite as excited about this match as they were the previous one. Cien hasn't really caught on despite the international hype coming in. Strong, meanwhile, has that typical indy look of utilizing slap kicks and moving at 100 mph throughout the match. Slow down and let the fans take in the move that you just performed... Impressive moves hit, but again, no rhyme or reason... Need psychology, folks. Can't just feed the crowd mouthfuls of sugar and expect that they won't get sick of it. Gotta sell something instead of taking many kicks or taking moves that look like finishers for the entire match. More move-for-move excitement in this match than the first one, but the first one had better emotional and psychology to it. Thus, they are equal to me. [ *** ]

Up next, the NXT Tag Titles were on the line between DIY vs. Authors of Pain. I'm shocked that the Authors didn't get the "Braun Strowman treatment" and get immediate WWE jobs to dominate from the start. After all, they are HOSSES and HOSSES are what Vince McMahon likes! I absolutely love that "Precious" Paul Ellering is employed with the WWE here in 2017. The realization that I've been watching pro wrestling for almost 30 years is starting to set in and writing columns for 2/3 of that... God help me. DIY started off being aggressive but soon found themselves stuck in the "face in peril" situation. Ciampa got the "hot tag" and did some real house cleaning on both big hosses. Quite impressive... But then he soon becomes the next "face in peril". Gets the tag and DIY hit a nice double spear through the ropes. Liked that finisher with a Powerbomb/Neckbreaker combo by the Authors. Referee is absolutely OK with 2 illegal men being in the ring for a really long time but it led to Gargano getting deadlifted from his submission hold and slammed into Ciampa who had the other Author locked into a submission hold as well. Wow... Referee is seriously just standing around... Did a miss a "No DQ" stipulation? DIY miss a move and it causes both guys to be put into Powerbomb mode for a Super Collider and then bombs. Soon thereafter, Authors win the NXT Titles. SLOPPY referee here that needs corrected immediately. [ *** 1/2 ] Best that the Authors have looked and DIY are world class opponents. Potential is there if Authors keep learning, but DIY are already there with the Revival as one of the top tag teams in the world.

In a VERY COOL moment, Seth Rollins invades NXT Takeover and calls out Triple H knowing that he's backstage to run this show. HOLY COW! Triple H answers that challenge but instead sends security. Rollins fights off security for a while but more warm bodies arrives to take him out. That was awesome!

Women's NXT Title match was up next between Asuka (c) vs. Nikki Cross vs. Billie Kay vs. Peyton Royce. Billie Kay and Peyton Royce are friends heading into this and for once, a team heading into a singles match over championship gold stayed together. Imagine that. And they DESTROYED poor Nikki Cross through a table near the announcer's booth. Hot damn! Peyton and Billie got the upper hand on Asuka and looked to have a real shot at defeating her, but Asuka's kicks were just too deadly. [ **1/2 ] Match felt short and they could have really pushed the Peyton/Billie against Asuka a little longer. Seemed like they got the upper hand and then out of no where, Asuka kicks the crap out of both.

MAIN EVENT was Shinsuke Nakamura (c) vs. Bobby Roode. Those entrances, man... Both are WWE ready on that alone and then you see them as actual workers. Roode legitimately looked like a modern day Ric Flair tonight. Why are we watching both in NXT again? What am I missing here? WWE is so thin right now on star power and these guys are extremely over in NXT. Crowd is HEAVILY into both wrestlers and it seems like the fans are cheering for both guys. Goes to show you how well they've both been booked in NXT but also marketed as well. Wow, that flip over the top ropes by Nakamura and onto the stairs HAD to have hurt! Both wrestlers went back and forth as both seemed to be playing neutral at first and then Roode tried multiple heel tactics to win (feet on the ropes, for example). Roode showed impressive power by muscling out of the Triangle but Nakamura countered what could have been a Powerbomb, hit the knee, but 2 count only. Nakamura was waiting on the top rope, but Roode wisely rolls out... Nakamura, however, attacked Roode at ringside that looked more painful for Nakamura falling to the ring floor than it did hitting Roode... In the ring, Nakamura hits a vicious kick but continues to sell that leg injury. WWE medical comes down and we have a stop in the action. Nakamura calls off the medical attention and Roode immediately hits the DDT. 2 Count Only!! Roode, however, slaps on a Half Crab on the injured leg. Nakamura tried to fight that off and tried another Triangle choke... Couldn't lock it on and another DDT hit by Roode, NEW NXT Champion! [ **** ]/ That felt like a BIGTIME WWE main event between 2 Superstars that the Main Roster NEEDS right now.

LAST WORD: Good show by the NXT brand, but it's quite clear that the talent roster is depleted thanks to last year's RAW/Smackdown raid. I can easily argue, however, that WWE needs many of the superstars here as well... Nakamura, Roode, Asuka, Revival, Samoa Joe, and DIY are "WWE Ready"... But what is left of NXT? The RAW and Smackdown brand split that raids this roster are clearly hurting how strong the brand became through NXT Dallas. What we saw during 2015 through early 2016 was becoming on-par with the WWE main roster and could have been the "brand extension" that WWE sought. Instead, call-ups have occurred and while many NXT call-ups are struggling, the NXT brand itself has lost a little bit. Still, the NXT Takeover show was entertaining and I'm a satisfied customer for the environment that it provides. Just feels a little thinner than it once was... [ B ]. Hopefully, Nakamura was just selling that knee injury... Please God, let that be so.


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