Preview by Joseph Currier
WWE kicks off Royal Rumble weekend in San Antonio tonight with NXT TakeOver taking place at the Freeman Coliseum.
The show will be headlined by what is sure to be a spectacle before the match even begins, with Shinsuke Nakamura facing off against Bobby Roode. Nakamura will defend his NXT Championship against Roode after Roode won a fatal four-way match on TV to earn the title shot.
NXT's other titles will be on the line as well. After winning last year's Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic, The Authors of Pain will get their title shot against DIY. And the Women's Championship will be up for grabs as Asuka defends her belt against Billie Kay, Peyton Royce, and Nikki Cross in a fatal four-way match.
Tonight's show will also see the TakeOver debuts of Roderick Strong and Eric Young. Strong will face Andrade "Cien" Almas, while SAnitY's leader takes on Tye Dillinger.
Our live coverage kicks off at 8 p.m. ET.
- Corey Graves stepped down as an NXT announcer and will be replaced by Nigel McGuinness
- Breakout Stars Of The Year: Peyton Royce & Billie Kay
- NXT Match Of The Year: DIY vs The Revival from NXT TakeOver: Toronto
- Tag Team Of The Year: The Revival
- Female Competitor Of The Year: Asuka (which was stolen by Peyton Royce and Billie Kay)
- Male Competitor Of The Year: Shinsuke Nakamura
- Overall Competitor Of The Year: Shinsuke Nakamura
Tom Phillips, Percy Watson and Corey Graves are calling the action. I guess Nigel takes over on Wednesday.
Eric Young def. Tye Dillinger
Young won with the Wheelbarrow Neckbreaker after Dillinger laid out the rest of SAnitY.
Alexander Wolfe and Killian Dane were at ringside and interfered throughout the match. This was a hot opener with the fans super into Dillinger, who looked good once again. They told the story that Young trained Dillinger, but at the time, that was a different Young. Dillinger began his comeback with the Tongan Death Grip of all things and later hit a belly-to-belly suplex off the top rope.
Dillinger laid Wolfe out with the Tye Breaker and gave Dane a superkick before hitting Young with another Tye Breaker, but Wolfe put EY's foot on the ropes. Dillinger hit a dive onto SAnitY leading directly to the finish.
Samoa Joe was seen sitting ringside.
Roderick Strong def. Andrade "Cien" Almas
Strong won with the Sick Kick by reversing out of the Hammerlock DDT in a match that exceeded expectations.
Almas kept going for his big moves, but only hit the running double knees in the corner on the third try. Previously, he had missed another Hammerlock DDT attempt and Strong had rolled out of the way of the Double Moonsault.
Strong hit a pair of backbreakers including one where he caught Almas' foot and yanked him in the air and then dropped Cien across the top turnbuckle.
Michael Hayes was shown sitting at ringside.
The Authors of Pain def. NXT Tag Team Champions DIY to win the titles
Authors of Pain became the 12th NXT Tag Team Champions, winning an excellent match with The Last Chapter.
Gargano and Ciampa did a really good job carrying the AOP to their best match ever. DIY flew all over the ring, both in selling and while on offense. Ciampa and Gargano hit one hot move after another on the big men and the monsters sold big for the first time ever.
Ciampa did a running knee off the apron where he jumped right over the cameraman in a cool visual. The AOP got the heat when they knocked Gargano off the apron and he crashed onto the guardrail in a move reminiscent of what Bret Hart used to do.
Before the finish, the champs got on the double submission that they used on The Revival in Toronto. However, Rezar picked up Gargano and bodyslammed him on top of Ciampa, who had an armbar on Akam.
After taking dozens of punches, the AOP fought out, hit the Super Collider, and hit the Last Chapter to win the match and the belts. The fans booed loudly when they sensed the finish was coming.
Seth Rollins appeared from out of the crowd and announced he was taking over the show. He demanded HHH come out. He stated that this is where he started, he knew Hunter was here, and would not leave until he came out.
HHH came out and while we thought we might finally get the confrontation that has been teased since August, he sent security down instead. Rollins destroyed four of them, but got taken down by seven. So for future reference, seven is the optimum number of security guards to take down wrestlers.
NXT Women's Champion Asuka def. Billie Kay, Peyton Royce, and Nikki Cross in a four-way to retain
Asuka pinned Royce after a series of kicks to both Kay and Royce's heads. This was not in the same league as other TakeOver women's title matches, but it was quite enjoyable, all things considered.
Billie and Peyton both kept getting laid out by Asuka, but kept coming back for further beatings. The highlight was Asuka giving both of them a German Suplex at the same time. Cross and Asuka squared off evenly, but Billie and Peyton would run in at what they thought was a perfect time to break things up.
Cross and Asuka worked pretty well together. Cross had Asuka up for a draping DDT on the apron, but instead used a draping Roll Of The Dice before using a diving crossbody from the top rope to the floor on Kay and Royce.
Kay and Royce took over, dragged Cross away from the ring, and suplexed her through a table conveniently set up next to the announcers' table. This took Cross out of the match.
The mean girls then literally ran back to the ring and went after Asuka. Asuka blocked the Royce bulldog to Kay's knee, but Royce got a near fall with a Widow's Peak. Royce freaked out and that led to the finish.
Triple H will be on Facebook Live after the show.
WWE United Kingdom Champion Tyler Bate was sitting at ringside and it didn't seem like a lot of people knew who he was with a fan mocking his waving at everyone. He was part of the pre-show activities.
Bobby Roode def. Shinsuke Nakamura to win the NXT Championship
Roode was accompanied to the ring by eight models in dresses that matched his robe. Meanwhile, Nakamura glided to the ring on a platform.
Roode became the 12th NXT Champion, pinning an injured Nakamura after a second Glorious Impaler DDT. The story was Nakamura had the match won with a Kinshasa, but he had hurt his knee earlier and couldn't make the cover.
Roode had teased winning several times, but Nakamura had several dramatic kickouts. The early part of the match was slow with Roode and Nakamura setting the stage for a hot finish.
At one point, Nakamura was sitting on the top rope when he went for a kick, but Roode caught his foot and threw him off the top rope to the floor. Nakamura missed his corner knee strike on the first attempt, but hit it the second time, as well as the inverted Exploder Suplex.
Nakamura went for the Kinshasa, but Roode was laying on the mat, feigning unconsciousness. Roode got a schoolboy with a handful of tights and then hit a Spinebuster for a pair of two-counts. Nakamura went for a Kinshasa the second time, but Roode got his boots up and would have won the title with a roll up, but the referee saw his feet on the ropes for leverage.
Nakamura took offense to this attempted cheating and kicked Roode like there was no tomorrow. Nakamura locked on a triangle choke, but Roode got out of it.
In the big spot, Nakamura went to the second rope, but Roode rolled to the apron. Nakamura stepped to the outside of the ropes and hit a Kinshasa on the apron. On the way down is where they sold that Nakamura injured his knee.
The doctor was called into the ring to check on the injury as Roode recovered. Nakamura pleaded to the doctor that he had heart and wished to continue. Roode used a Half Crab that Nakamura turned into a Triangle Choke before the finish.
Matt Bloom (Albert/Tensai/Jason Albert, referred to as Bloom) came out as "Acting NXT GM" since Mr. Regal was ill, but he didn't play into the finish.
This was a very good match and capped off a TakeOver that exceeded the low expectations going in.