I cancelled my WWE Network just after SummerSlam 2018, the only thing I’ve missed is NXT Takeover’s. Having missed the last two, I refused to miss another! It’s so good to be back! They’re always so good and definitely the highlight of any weekend they’re on. As always, this NXT Takeover set the bar for the main roster PPV very high, so very, very high. Let’s be honest, there is no way that Wrestlemania can match it. Before I get started with the matches themselves I’d just like to mention a few things that I noticed throughout the evening.
Firstly, thank god Triple H didn’t feel the need to boost his own ego yet again by appear at the start of the show. I’m glad that seems to be behind us.
Secondly, I really didn’t like to opening live music/promo combination. I think it resulted in both (specifically the promo package) being poor. Normally a WWE promo package, especially for NXT, can get you incredibly hyped. This time around it dragged on and actually reduced my excitement levels. Never again please.
Third and finally, the commentary team. Mauro Ranallo is amazing, he creates a real fight feel and a sense of urgency that no other commentator can do on the roster. However at the same time he talks utter bollocks and sometimes really needs to dial in down a notch. For example, Stop talking about Ready Player One and Avengers Infinity War. For the latter he went on and on about how Lars Sullivan was the equivalent of Thanos, for a good minute. Stop! Please! Meanwhile, I notice in my viewing absence that Percy Watson remains as useless as ever but also Nigel McGuiness seems to have become very quite. Not in his mannerisms, just in the amount he says. Although to be fair, he may have just struggled to get a word in edgeways with Ranallo rambling on with his pop culture references.
Anyway, let’s talk matches!
Ladder match for the NXT North American Championship
Okay, let’s do another public service announcement for the ‘This Is Awesome’ chant. Don’t just chant it out at the very start of the first match, let them earn it. That way, when it is chanted…it will mean something. Earn it they did though as this match was freaking fantastic!
NXT is so cool, you have EC3 and Ricochet debuting in the very same match. It really is becoming an indie kids dream factory for potential match ups. While Ricochet didn’t dominate during the match, he showed the NXT fans a taste of whats to come. Including a shooting star press to the outside for his very first move. Awesome.
What a match, so many ridiculous moments! While the first half of this match was limited in terms of memorable or crazy spots, the second half however was completely packed full of them, it was nuts! People jumping off ladders, going through ladders, basically people killing themselves for our entertainment. There were a few times when I was a little concerned for their welfare. How the Velveteen Dream kept getting back up I do not know.
In the end, Adam Cole (BAYBAY) claimed the victory to become the very first NXT North American Champion in a classically sneaky way. Overall a brilliant match, well worth checking out if you haven’t already. Probably my match of the evening too.
NXT Women’s Championship
For the NXT Women’s Championship Ember Moon came out to some more live music. In an unintentionally comical moment Ember rose up in front of Lizzy Hale from Halestorm, flailing her arms around dramatically. She then proceeded to dance around ‘seductively’ (I guess?) around her. It was all a bit weird. Please stop this.
As for the match itself, it was okay? It was quite short and the crowd were exhausted from the ladder match and never really got into it. In an interesting moment that the crowd completely ignored, Shayna Baszler, repeatedly rammed her own shoulder into the ring post in an attempt to pop her dislocated shoulder back in place. Like I say, the crowd didn’t really go for it.
I have to admit, I haven’t seen anything from Baszler before and unfortunately I was really that impressed. My friend commented that everything down to her character and entrance reminded him of a female Baron Corbin, which he didn’t mean as a compliment.
Can I also say that I’m already tired of Ember Moon’s ‘pre-big move hype up’ of heavy breathing, touching her hair and then screaming, which she did for about 70% of all the moves she performed. Knock it off.
For the finish Moon eventually, after an eternity, passed out after being locked in a not particularly convincing headlock. Which Baszler couldn’t properly apply due to her injured arm. I think they were going for a Bayley/Asuka moment from Takeover Dallas, but it didn’t work for me.
NXT Tag Team Championship and Dusty Tag Team Classic Finals
Pretty clever of The Undisputed Era to interrupt the previous final of the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic so that they could have a chance to win it. Granted they had to put their titles on the line against the Authors of Pain, not so smart, and Pete Dunne and Roderick Strong, also not smart.
The crowd were still feeling the affects of that opening match, but eventually came to life through out this bout. Especially for the finish…
Wait a minute? Roderick Strong betrays Pete Dunne to join up with The Undisputed Era! Before the match we were talking about Pete maybe betraying Roddy, but not the other way around! It works brilliant for the gimmick of the group, which is basically being former Ring of Honor wrestlers. It was nice to see Bobby Fish come out an celebrate with them, so his not being replaced…yet.
After being put through the announce table early on Adam Cole (BAYBAY) did absolutely nothing in this match and still won! Classic Adam Cole (BAYBAY).
One thing I do have to say though, for as much as I enjoyed this match and the finish that I did not see coming. What were the rules?! For the first 5 minutes it was all on all, then it became a proper tag match and then all hell broke loose again. Tables were allowed, which makes sense in a triple threat match but then tags have to happen as well? Surely if it’s no disqualification tags don’t matter? What the f….
Great match though.
It was very smart for the booking team not to put this match on last. They knew that Gargano verses Ciampa was the match of the show, so there was no point in sending these guys out there to what would have been a knackered crowd.
Having not watch NXT for a while, I’ve missed Aleister Black’s rise to the NXT Championship. When he first arrived I wasn’t sold on him at all and was a little concerned that I wouldn’t like him here. He proved me wrong though, he’s pretty awesome. I also love the improvement that Andrade “Cien” Almas has made over the last year. You can tell he is so much more comfortable and confident in his role now. It really shows in his matches.
The story of the match was Zelina Vega repeatedly attempting to help Almas win or to stay in the match. This was the pairs eventual undoing, but not before Almas got to show that he had scouted Black brilliantly and was on his level. This was a really good match, that the crowed enjoyed more and more throughout.
Aleister Black is now the 13th different NXT Champion. Which is a little bit perfect don’t you think?
Johnny Gargano Vs Tommaso Ciampa
A story that has been a year in the making, well actually much longer than that if you include their brilliant career as a tag team. A journey that made Ciampa’s betrayal of his best friend even more devastating. Wrestling doesn’t always get big moments right, but they got this break up angle spot on.
Gargano is white-hot as a babyface and Ciampa draws massive, massive amounts of heat from the crowd. His entrance, without music, was brilliant as the crowd tore him apart with multiple chants. Including ‘Fuck you Ciampa’ and ‘Asshole, Asshole’.
The a match itself continued to tell a great story and it came to a brilliant conclusion with Gargano offering Ciampa one last chance for forgiveness only for it to be rejected. Ciampa would attempt to strike Gargano with his knee brace only to immediately be locked into a submission and being forced to submit instead. You could tell in that moment that despite everything he had been put through, Gargano wanted to forgive his former friend and make everything okay again. It was perfect.
I’m really happy that Johnny Gargano will remain in NXT as well. Maybe this feud will continue a little while longer, although you’ve just had the perfect conclusion, but hopeuflly NXT will continue to push him as a star and maybe see him pull of an awesome underdog story all the way to the NXT Championship. Either way though, I’m just glad he won’t get lost in the shuffle on 205 Live for a little while longer!
This main event was another must watch match, from another must watch NXT Takeover. The only disappintment from the entire show for me was the women’s match, every other match was either good or great.
Wrestlemania, your move.