THE REVIEW: WWE NXT Takeover: Rival – The Divas Steal a Fantastic Show & Owens Kills Zayn; Is This Farewell for Adrian Neville?

Mike Killam


Too Soon?

wwe-nxt-rival-posterNXT Takeover returned to the WWE Network with another two-hour live special, once again proving why the developmental brand is the most consistently entertaining product on WWE’s billion dollar line-up.

“Rival” felt a bit rushed into, with less time between major shows than ever. Two months seems like a long time by WWE standards, where there’s a pay-per-view every few weeks, but three or four months was previously the NXT standard, allowing for slower builds and long-burning feuds. In particular, it seemed almost unrealistic to run with Sami Zayn vs. Kevin Owens so soon, with only two face-to-face interactions on TV since December. 

They still pulled it off.

There Can Only Be One

Finn Balor came out over Adrian Neville in a wrestling clinic that was elevated by a tremendous video package. The video painted them as two major international stars who have toured all around the world, colliding in NXT with only one of them able to go on to the “top of the mountain”. WWE’s production team does it again, adding depth to an otherwise story-less match to make it feel like a true semi-main event. Also it helped that they wrestled one of the best matches of the year thus far. 

Balor’s “premium” entrance remains the best in wrestling today – he can fight it out with Bray Wyatt – and while the December debut certainly had more shock and awe factor, the pageantry and elaborate body paint continue to separate him from the entire NXT roster. Neville has been with the brand since January 2013, winning the inaugural tag titles before holding the top singles title for almost a year. With this loss presumably knocking him out of title contention, one might conclude his time in developmental is wrapping up. 

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