NXT Takeover III : R Evolution was a professional wrestling pay-per-view event produced by WWE for its developmental division, NXT and is the 254th episode of NXT. It took place on December 11, 2014, at the Full Sail University in Winter Park, Florida.
WWE NXT TakeOver: R Evolution wasted no time getting off to a monumental start, opening with one of the most hotly anticipated newcomers in history, Kevin Owens. The 14-year veteran — who came up through the independent ranks alongside the likes of Daniel Bryan, Adrian Neville and Sami Zayn — vowed to fight “anyone and everyone” prior to making his debut, and first up at TakeOver: R Evolution was none other than CJ Parker.
NXT’s newest threat didn’t disappoint, smothering the proud eco-warrior at the start with a cannonball splash in the corner and a gigantic flip dive over the ropes. Parker fought back with a palm strike that drew blood from Owens’ nose, but the newcomer would not be deterred, attacking with a vicious lariat, an insane pump-handle into a knee strike and a powerbomb to put down NXT’s “moonchild.”
With his decisive shutdown of Parker, the Superstar who’s always spoiling for a fight made his presence known from the start.
After securing the No. 1 contenders’ position with a victory in a Tag Team Battle Royal weeks back, the throwback duo of The Vaudevillains sought to make the most of their title opportunity against NXT Tag Team Champions The Lucha Dragons. Sin Cara & Kalisto’s high-flying teamwork had Simon Gotch backpedaling at the outset, but once in, Aiden English reasserted his team, while the NXT Universe encouraged the Superstars to “put their dukes up.”
The Vaudevillains successfully cut off the ring, preventing Sin Cara from tagging his insanely fast partner until the masked competitor finally broke free and made the tag, unleashing Kalisto’s break-neck offense. Though Gotch avoided a subsequent dual dive from The Lucha Dragons, upon reentering the ring with Kalisto, he soon found himself falling victim to Kalisto’s Salida del Sol, which cinched the win for the NXT Tag Team Champions.
NXT’s undefeated Wrecking Ball, Baron Corbin, smashed through the competition once again at NXT TakeOver: R Evolution, taking out the sly and always-game Tye Dillinger. Despite Dillinger’s best efforts to go the distance against the titan, Corbin made short work of his opponent, claiming victory with End of Days in roughly half a minute’s time.
The elephant — or, perhaps, Bull — in the room, however, was the presence of the fierce New York Nightmare, Bull Dempsey, who closey observed Corbin’s destruction of Dillinger. After the bout, the two rookie juggernauts stared each other down, prompting the passionate NXT fans to erupt in anticipation of a future collision.
One of the most bitter rivalries in NXT came to a head at TakeOver: R Evolution, as the once-dominant Ascension looked to “rise again” against the international sensations who’ve refused to back down, Hideo Itami & Finn Bálor. Itami & Bálor clearly viewed this encounter as nothing short of a war, entering Full Sail University in special garb, Itami sporting an elegant ring robe and Bálor taking away the collective breath of the NXT Universe with a headdress and monstrous red-and-black body paint that matched a truly epic entrance.
Though not ones to be easily intimidated, Viktor & Konnor watched with visible uncertainty as Itami and the new-look Bálor soaked in the adulation of the NXT fans. However, after being caught off guard by an initial onslaught, The Ascension slowed down the pace of the match and gained control of the bout. Itami endured an extended attack by both Viktor & Konnor before miraculously bringing Bálor into the ring. Bálor showed his teeth—literally and figuratively, considering his body-paint design —and took out The Ascension with a variety of innovative kicks and a tope con hilo.
Thanks to the quick thinking of Itami, who prevented The Ascension from hitting Fall of Man on his partner, he and Bálor were able to get the final upper hand, landing double foot stomps from the top rope to claim the victory. With the win, Itami & Bálor silenced all doubters.
Good friends make great enemies, and never has that statement been truer than in regard to NXT Women’s Champion Charlotte’s relationship with former BFF stable-mate Sasha Banks. Once inseparable, the two Divas have been on a collision course for months, culminating with their fierce title match at NXT TakeOver: R Evolution. Prior to the contest, Charlotte was wished good luck by her father, WWE Hall of Famer Ric Flair. Sasha’s pre-match activities, in contrast, included setting up Bayley for an attack by Becky Lynch earlier in the day, which was shown on the NXT TakeOver Pre-Show.
Once the bell began, however, both Divas set their sights on leaving NXT TakeOver with the Women’s Title. Despite eating several knife-edge chops that had fans “woo”-ing in approval in the opening moments, the self-proclaimed “baddest Diva in NXT” used ruthless tactics to wear down Charlotte and even mocked “The Nature Boy’s” famous strut, which only infuriated the Women’s Champion. Though she missed a moonsault attempt, Charlotte landed on her feet and followed up with a somersault senton. Moments after the NXT Universe let their appreciation be heard, chanting “This is awesome," Charlotte shocked everyone, Sasha included, with a top-rope version of Natural Selection to retain the NXT Women’s Championship.
Entering the main event of TakeOver: R Evolution with seemingly the weight of the world on his shoulders, Sami Zayn looked to not only claim the elusive NXT Championship from his friend, defending champion Adrian Neville, but also protect his livelihood. In a self-imposed stipulation, the “In-Zayn” Superstar promised to leave NXT if he fell short of winning the NXT Championship that he pursued for lo so many months.
Nervous energy aside, Zayn clearly had the support of the NXT fans, who cheered him loudly during the pre-match introductions, while Neville, who has gone to extreme lengths to retain the NXT Title, appeared a more polarizing Superstar. Once the action got under way, the familiar opponents — whose relationship has grown tense of late — tested the waters with mat grappling.
Displaying just how well they know each other’s arsenals, both Superstars cut off the other’s attempts at dives to the floor, until Zayn’s eventually found the mark. Shortly after, Neville almost ended the fiery French Canadian’s WWE career with a German suplex for a near-fall. As the tide swung back and forth, Neville and Zayn began trading raw-boned strikes, culminating with a devastating clothesline from Zayn.
Moments afterward, the referee was inadvertently knocked down, and Zayn’s good nature got the best of him as he went to check on his condition. Neville had no qualms about taking advantage, hitting a head kick and a reverse hurricanana, which nearly sealed the win. The official fell incapacitated again minutes later when Neville pulled him in the way of Zayn’s Helluva Kick. With the ref down, Neville retrieved the NXT Championship to use as a weapon. Zayn, however, wrestled the title away and appeared tempted to cheat his way to victory, giving Neville the opening he needed for a rollup attempt.
Zayn would not be denied, however, as he escaped the pin and launched back with a Helluva Kick to finally redeem himself and win the NXT Championship! The NXT locker room emptied to offer their congratulations, and after a minute of celebration, even Neville made peace with his longtime friend, hugging Zayn.
The biggest shocker was yet to come. As the NXT Superstars returned to the locker room to give Zayn his moment in the sun, Kevin Owens stayed behind and put his arm around Zayn, a longtime friend with whom he broke into sports-entertainment. The sweet gesture was soon revealed to be a lethal plot, though, as Owens dropped Zayn out of nowhere and powerbombed him onto the edge of the ring apron!
As a stunned Full Sail University fell silent, NXT officials and General Manager William Regal tended to the fallen champion, souring Sami Zayn’s once-heartwarming title celebration.
- Numbers in parentheses indicate the length of the match.
- (c) refers to the champion(s) heading into the match.
- Kevin Owens defeated CJ Parker (3:14)
- The Lucha Dragons (Kalisto and Sin Cara) (c) defeated The Vaudevillains (Aiden English and Simon Gotch) to retain the NXT Tag Team Championship (6:40)
- Baron Corbin defeated Tye Dillinger (0:41)
- Finn Bálor and Hideo Itami defeated The Ascension (Konnor and Viktor) (11:38)
- Charlotte (c) defeated Sasha Banks to retain the NXT Women's Championship (12:12)
- Sami Zayn defeated Adrian Neville (c) to win the NXT Championship (23:18)
- If Zayn had lost, he would have been forced to leave WWE.
Other on-screen talent
|2014 World Wrestling Entertainment NXT pay-per-views|
|2014 World Wrestling Entertainment pay-per-views|
Royal Rumble • Elimination Chamber • NXT Arrival • WrestleMania • Extreme Rules • NXT Takeover • Payback • Money in the Bank • Battleground • SummerSlam • NXT Takeover II • Night of Champions • Hell in a Cell • Survivor Series • NXT Takeover III • TLC:Tables, Ladders & Chairs