NXT TakeOver: Orlando on April 1, 2017
Watch: WWE Network
Amway Center – Orlando, Florida, United States
Bit of a change up this time with our NXT TakeOver review, as Al and Brock give their opinions on a show that garnered quite a mixed reaction. Enjoy!
Kassius Ohno, Roderick Strong, Tye Dillinger & Ruby Riot vs. SANitY (Eric Young, Alexander Wolfe, Killian Dain, & Nikki Cross)
Al – An incredibly fun way to kick things off at TakeOver: London. I’m not a fan of the big “everyone get your spots in” tag formula, but when it’s done right, it’s a great addition to any show. This one would not disappoint. Every single person worked very hard to make this match something enjoyable, and the ending stretch was the best part. While I normally wouldn’t tell you to go out of your way to see a large tag match, this one is worth seeing. If for nothing else, you need to see Eric Young take one of the most insane looking Sick Kicks I’ve ever seen.
Brock – Goofy, hamfisted promos aside, I quite like the face team here with four colorful characters who I consider to be pretty good wrestlers or at the very least good entertainers. They’re facing off against the SAnitY crew who I’m still not totally sold on, though I quite like Cross and Dain. Initially No Way Jose was meant to be in this match, but SAnitY attacked him earlier in the day and took him out of action. Commissioner William Regal replaced him with Kassius Ohno, which is certainly an upgrade, though I quite like Jose. The match starts off with a big brawl between all eight wrestlers before all the faces get to show off their stuff. The numbers game gets the best of Strong, though, and SAnitY isolates the Florida native and take advantage of his small stature. Continuing their struggle, Young takes too long in going after Dillinger, allowing Strong to tag out to the fan favorite, who cleans house and fires the crowd up quite a bit. Quickly the match falls apart and everyone starts throwing bombs in and out of the ring, highlighted by quite a crazy bump out of the ring from Young. Eventually, SanitY’s teamwork gives them the edge and Dain picks up the win with the Ulster Plantation. Quite a fun match here, real fast and nonsensical, getting the people excited while advancing stories and introducing two new faces to the PPV crowd. Solid stuff.
Aleister Black vs. Andrade Almas
Al – The former Tommy End has arrived in NXT, and his arrival would be akin to a three-part theater performance. Just bear with me on this one. Act one was the opening act, his entrance, which established his character. One of the better entrances I’d say in a debut since Shinsuke Nakamura. The second act was the match itself, which was by no means bad. Black showed off some great athleticism & his dangerous striking ability, while making Almas look incredibly strong in the process The third and final act is the story told by Almas targeting the absolutely wrong body part in an attempt to wear down Black and eventually succumbing to the Black Mass Kick. It’s not often that NXT makes everyone look like a million bucks in a debut match, but they pulled it off tonight.
Brock – On paper, this reads like it could be a potentially great match. Before this week, I’d have my reservations about it, due to Almas’ lackluster run in NXT so far and my inability to trust WWE with anyone remotely resembling Black. However, after watching the Almas vs. Oney Lorcan match from last week’s NXT, I’m full of hope for this midcard bout. Black’s spooky entrance, too, is a very good sign. A bit of loose chaining leads to both men taunting each other in fun ways and Almas takes control with some misdirection and arm work. He does well to avoid the worst of Black’s anger, save for a rough powerbomb, and continues to wear away at the Dutchman’s elbow. Sadly, some sloppiness and/or miscommunication makes Black’s comeback attempts awkward and the crowd becomes rather listless. As the crowd busies themselves with yelling at a smaller contingent among them, Black blasts Almas with a number of strikes, topping it off with a spinning heel kick for the win. Enjoyable enough, though a lack of polish and a disinterested crowd hurt this match. The pre-and-post match theatrics from Black were quite good, though, and make this worth a watch if you’ve got the time.
Triple Threat Elimination Match for the NXT Tag Team Championship: Authors of Pain (Akam & Rezar) (c) vs. #DIY (Johnny Gargano & Tommaso Ciampa) vs. The Revival (Dash Wilder & Scott Dawson)
Al – You know how that old saying goes, “The enemy of my enemy is my friend”? As #DIY & The Revival would go on to prove here, that is not the case. While logic would dictate that you would want to utilize the two team advantage to neutralize the much larger and, quite frankly, more dominant Authors of Pain, this is wrestling. Logic doesn’t exist in wrestling, and for the most part that’s what makes it awesome. Despite two teams only being in the ring at a time, as it’s still a tag team match, the action was lightning quick and none of it felt hard to keep with or out of place. In one of the wackier spots, #DIY & The Revival decide to get on the same page and it produces and incredible result, resulting in one of the wildest spots in the match with Rezar taking a powerbomb through a table. The Authors of Pain managed to eliminate #DIY, which turned things right back around in their favor. In the end, The Authors of Pain retain their NXT Tag Team Championship. I cannot sing the praises of this match enough. If you love tag team wrestling, or wrestling in general, you’ve got to see this match.
Brock – Smartly, the two smaller teams join forces to go after the Authors of Pain and momentarily disable them before turning their attentions back to each other. The champs don’t stay down for long, though, returning to the match and laying waste to all in their path, namely Tommaso Ciampa. The dastardly Revival put their brains to use and avoid most of the destruction, though a spirited Gargano is able to catch them with some signature offense. A nasty bit of man-throwing allows the AoP to regain control, leading to a torture rack on Gargano that lasts entirely too long and an uninspired Ciampa run. Together, all four challengers are able to powerbomb Rezar through a table on the floor, which is a nice big moment that is built well. It’s followed by a pair of neat spots in which DIY and Revival team up to hit their respective finishers on both the AoP, which feels a bit pandering but is fun enough to please me. The sheer size of the champs is too much to overcome and soon DIY are eliminated with the Last Chapter. The crowd is mixed at best on this outcome, switching between cheering for Revival antics and booing/chanting for unrelated wrestlers. They continue to boo as the AoP rolls over their opponents, finishing them off with the Super Collider. In a lot of ways, this was two distinct matches. The first third and final third is either aimless or obvious, with the crowd unsure of quite how to react and some dull AoP offense. However, the middle portion with the fan favorite teams doing their thing is quite delightful, probably the most enjoyable NXT wrestling of the year so far. Sadly, the disjointed nature of this match makes that enjoyable portion a little underwhelming when taken as a whole.
NXT Women's Championship - Asuka (c) vs. Ember Moon
Al – Until I saw Authors of Pain decimate their way to a successful NXT Tag Team Championship defense, I was convinced this would be the match of the night. No disrespect intended to either Asuka or Ember, I just don’t see any possible way this match could top the hilarity and calamity that preceded it. I wish there was more build to this match, but I’ll settle for seeing the two very best in the division slugging it out to find out who the best of the best truly is. Unfortunately, we would not get that type of match from these two. More than anything, this match was an extended squash. I have no issues at all with Asuka winning, especially using the dirty heel tactics to pick up the victory towards the end. I’m all for fan of continuing the reign of dominance and adding a new layer to Asuka’s character, but let’s at least make a concerted effort at not derailing the momentum that every challenger has.
Brock – This match, in a roundabout way, has been built to for the better part of a year now, so I was expecting big things leading into this show. I like the aura of the match before the bell rings, though the crowd isn’t quite feeling more enthusiasm the same way. Neither woman can get the advantage early on, utilizing the same sort of offense, and it’s only with some trickery that Asuka is able to take control. Moon turns things around with a brutal elbow and a WILD dive to the floor, really escalating the match. Even then, Asuka’s veteran wiles allow her to stay on top, using the Asuka Lock to wear down her opponent. Moon is able to slam the champion down to escape but clearly the damage is done, as she collapses after connecting with a superkick. Shaking off the cobwebs, she’s able to string together some fiery offense, but Asuka is just as explosive and fires right back herself. As Moon scales the ropes, looking for the Eclipse, Asuka sees the end coming and shoves the referee into the ropes, sending Moon crashing down to the mat, allowing the champ to hit a roundhouse kick for the win. Bit of a flat finish to a match that this crowd couldn’t care less for, but I really enjoyed this. It was fairly hard-hitting and heated, with a finish that builds to better things for Moon and furthers the Asuka character past just “small Asian Goldberg”. I understand why people were baffled or unimpressed by it, but it did well enough for me.
NXT Championship - Bobby Roode (c) vs. Shinsuke Nakamura
Al – I’d like to start off by saying, as the Music Education major of our staff, that Bobby Roode’s entrance is one-hundred percent endorsed. Music enhanced entrances done right are my favorite things, obviously. If you pull something like the Nakamura violinist entrance where nobody is actually playing the violin, I will bury your attempt. There’s a long version and a short version of this match. I’m just gonna go straight with the short version: you get exactly what you expected. Nakamura/Roode have already given us the formula to their match: five minutes of entrance theatrics, twenty minutes of rest holds, and ten to fifteen minutes of actual quality wrestling content. In the end, it’s hard to be disappointed with the match knowing full well what we were getting in advance. At the end of an excellent closing stretch, Bobby Roode comes away with the victory following a Glorious DDT. In the grand scheme of things, however, I’m disappointed that this is the top feud they chose to go with on arguably one of the best TakeOver shows in recent memory. Perhaps it’s because I felt spoiled by the top half of the card and the NXT Women’s Championship match disappointed me, but this felt like a swift kick to the lungs that knocked the air straight out of my body.
Brock – If you’re not aware, I’m not really the biggest fan of either of these men, finding them lackluster in the ring and too prone to resorting to tiresome theatrics. While their San Antonio match was some enjoyable sports entertainment nonsense, it left me cold, so hopefully they win me over here. Sadly, they start off with more of the same tiresome theatrics before Roode takes control with his flavorless offense, targeting the challenger’s shoulder and arm. The crowd, who were all about this match in the early moments, completely loses all energy as the match progresses, which speaks to how you need more than a catchy theme in wrestling. I’m not sure that I can even say that these guys are trying hard, as outside of a few snug strikes, it’s just their usual paint-by-numbers match.
NXT's main event for two TakeOvers in a row have been worked by the two least motivated wrestlers on the roster.
— The Un-Co-Optable (@TJHawke411) April 2, 2017
Avoiding the Kinshasa, Roode goes after Nakamura’s leg and his nagging knee injury, which was a talking point on commentary throughout this whole match. They continue on with some lifeless, endless leg work, though a neat transition into a cross armbreaker by Nakamura interested me for a brief moment and leads to some real good selling from Roode. Back on top, Nakamura lays into some boots and knees, looking to have knocked out Roode, but the champion baits him in and tricks him into crashing into the corner knee-first. A few reversals back and forth lead to a pair of Kinshasa and Glorious DDT nearfalls that glaze my eyes over. The crowd finds it awesome, bafflingly. A mean chop block brings me back around in time to see Roode hit a Glorious DDT off the second rope for the win in a meandering, empty match that did very little for me.
NXT TakeOver: Orlando (04/01/2017)
Decent - 6.5/10
Al: While I thought the show was one of the best ones in recent memory by the NXT crew, the NXT Women's and NXT Championship match both lacked the type of intensity, competitive spirit, and insanity that helped to make this card really special. While the two marquee title match ups weren't entirely disappointing, I was left wanting more than what was delivered. All in all, if you're strapped on time, you'll want to see the Eight Man Tag Match, AoP/#DIY/Revival, and Black/Almas.
Brock: It’s hard to tell where exactly NXT went wrong. Some people would say they haven’t lost a step at all. What used to feel so fresh and endearing has turned into a slog of flat finishes and unimaginative matches. Of course, with the sheer level of talent present, there are certainly high points to these shows, moments in which they return to their former glory, but all in all I found this show to be uneventful and disappointing. I went out of my way to request this review, thinking “oh, TakeOver is almost always fun, I’ll enjoy that”, and yet here at the end, I’m let down once again. The next time a TakeOver comes around, I sure won’t be asking for this job.