The first-ever NXT Takeover took place in May 2014 at Full Sail, just two months after WrestleMania 30. I don’t remember ever watching this in full, as I think I began to watch NXT properly the following year, but I’ve definitely seen the women’s championship match. Let’s see if I missed anything else.
On commentary were Tom Phillips, Byron Saxton and William Regal, who introduced himself with a cheeky “hello!” and could be seen dancing away at the desk after the first match. Which was a huge one.
The show kicks off with Adam Rose and his Rosebuds entering the arena from outside, heading to the ring for the opening contest. Some of those trailing behind Rose included Braun Strowman, Becky Lynch, and the twat from the Vaudevillains.
Adam Rose took on Camacho, who was released from the company just a couple of weeks after this. Camacho, whose career highlight was probably getting beat up alongside a bunch of other people by the Undertaker and Kane at Raw 1000, was not happy with Rose having fun at his job. But Rose couldn’t help himself. He was loving it.
After a minute or so of comedy, a beatdown, then a quick comeback, Adam Rose was your victor after 5 minutes. A Takeover classic.
After Rose and his gang fuck off back to their bus, we go back to the ring to Eden Stiles. Eden who?
Eden Stiles! Whatever happened to her? What a babe.
She even still has her own WWE profile page: WWE.com Eden profile
However, on this show, I thought she looked so BORED.
Next up, we get The Ascension against Kalisto and… El Local?? Who the hell is this?
I had to search for El Local online, and lo and behold it’s Ricardo Rodriguez, the personal ring announcer of Alberto del Rio!
El Local was released about two months after this show. Judging by this match, it’s no surprise. It was a quick 6-minute tag, but El Local seemed sloppy. He almost stomped on Kalisto’s face jumping into the ring after the hot tag, flailed a nasty-looking kick at one of the Ascension lads, and almost missed completely with a jumping slingshot… thing off the ropes. The Ascension quickly took advantage and smashed them up. Entirely forgettable.
Next up is Tyler Breeze vs Sami Zayn, in a number one contendership match. There’s a fun pre-match video package, highlighting that Sami is struggling to win matches. Tyler Breeze is great getting his character over in this. I always thought he was a decent hand. The match was good also.
At 16 minutes or so, it didn’t outstay its welcome. And there was a unique ending that I didn’t see coming - Sami went to hit the Helluva Kick, but Breeze put his fists up across his face in an X shape to protect his beautiful face and Sami basically went balls first into said fists. One Beauty Shot spinning heel kick later, and Tyler Breeze became the number one contender!
WWE has actually provided the last two minutes of the match here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jjda9pO1PfE
Before the next match, the Ravishing Russian Lana comes out and introduces her main squeeze, Rusev! He comes out waving his flag around, then Mojo Rawley comes out with an American flag! And hilariously, even though this was six years ago, even back then Mojo was treated like a pure loser. Rusev battered him immediately. Good stuff.
I could not find a photo online but shown in the crowd was KRIS KRISTOFFERSON! A bit mad I thought, at first. The country singer-songwriter has a special place in my heart as he was the star in 1978 movie Convoy, a film about trucks just moving along on the motorway, one after the other. Honestly, it’s great. My wee brother, who wanted to be a trucker like our dad, would put this on all the time, using a thing called a video cassette. I preferred to watch Twins, but oh well. But there’s no mistaking that the theme tune to Convoy is amazing.
Convoy by C.W. McCall
Anyways it turned out Kris’ son Jody was in NXT for a little bit at the time.
Paige here! The new WWE Divas Champion returned to NXT to show off her belt. Beating AJ Lee on her Raw debut just prior to this, then-NXT General Manager JBL stripped Paige (just of her belt, not anything else) and put the NXT gold on the line in a tournament, with the final taking place RIGHT NOW! Oh, and already I don't remember a thing Paige said.
Charlotte (w/Ric Flair) vs Natalya (w/Bret Hart)
It’s a 17-minute match and it’s not bad. I just don’t get invested in any Natalya stuff. I don’t know - I’ve always wanted to like her, there’s just something off or missing all the time. So yeah it’s a good exhibition of what the women can do, but it’s nothing special, especially when you compare it to upcoming NXT battles involving the likes of Sasha Banks and Bayley.
Bret Hart and Ric Flair don’t do much during the bout, but having them there of course helps the match have a big-time feel. Charlotte and Natalya trade some submissions towards the end, especially a back-and-forth figure four, and I don’t think Charlotte had the figure-eight yet because she escaped the submission attempts and finished Nattie off with Natural Selection. We have a new Women’s Champion, and Charlotte better start getting used to carrying those heavy belts around…
Tyson Kidd v Neville
Your main event, for the NXT Championship, is between champion Adrian Neville and Hart member Tyson Kidd. A video package shows how we got here, with Neville successfully defending the gold against Bo Dallas, before winning a mini-feud with Brodus Clay (although Neville got a few teeth knocked out in the process). Now we have Tyson Kidd, in what they say is maybe his last chance for a title and an opportunity to get back to the main roster. Neville does his best to put over Kidd as a danger to his title reign. I’m not buying it though.
Tyson and Natalya have an awkward embrace before Tyson heads out to the ring, and this one is on.
Quick highlights of the match are below, including an impressive jumping-middle-rope-Russian-leg-sweep thing, top rope huricanranna, and some other flippy stuff.
Ultimately, Neville retains the gold with his superb Red Arrow finish. A decent 20-minute match. Again, I was just not that invested in Tyson Kidd, but it was interesting to see Neville at this point in his career. It’s obvious he’s a machine, they just gotta get the character to shine through.
And that was that. I wouldn’t go out of my way to watch any of this again, and it must be very low down on the Takeover list, but it wasn’t offensive. There was a buzz about the show, the fans were supportive, it was nice to have Regal on commentary (although I hate Saxton’s over-the-top enthusiasm, bloody hell there’s been six years of this!)
As an aside, in case anyone is still unaware, the WWE Network is currently offering free access to every single NXT Takeover show, along with a bunch of other WWE pay-per-views, and the Ruthless Aggression series, which I'm working through now, it's worth a watch. Stay safe everyone