Liam Hoofe rounds up his thoughts on NXT Takeover: New Orleans…
It’s been a frantic few days to be a wrestling fan. With promotions from all over the world putting on shows in New Orleans this weekend, many fans, myself included, have found themselves struggling to find the time to cram it all in.
Once again, NXT provided a Takeover show to accompany WrestleMania, and surprise, surprise, they stole the weekend with an incredible show. While the event took place Saturday, I have just found the time to share my thoughts on it, but wow, what a show. Let’s take a look through the card and see how each of the five matches rank.
Adam Cole Defeats EC3, Ricochet, Killian Dain, Lars Sullivan, and Velveteen Dream
What an incredible way to kick off WrestleMania weekend. This may well go down as one of the greatest opening matches in PPV history, and it was one of the most innovative and exciting ladder matches the company has ever seen. The mix of six different styles made for thrilling entertainment and the match never let up for its 35 minute plus runtime. Every star got a chance to shine during this bout, and Richochet and EC3 did a great job of showing the WWE universe what they were capable of. Every time Ricochet was near a ladder or the ring ropes, you knew something special was coming. Ec3’s character work was spot on, and it’s clear he will succeed the second time around in the WWE.
Adam Cole picked up the victory after one hell of a match, and if this is what we have to look forward to from this division in the WWE, then colour me very excited indeed.
Match Rating: **** 3/4
Shayna Baszler Defeated Ember Moon
On such an impressive card, this was probably the least anticipated encounter of the night but it didn’t stop the two women from putting on a great show. Baszler is going to have her detractors but she is a believable force in NXT and she is continuously getting better between the ropes. The match was surprisingly even for the majority of its runtime. Baszler reversing the eclipse into a choke and forcing the referee to make a stoppage. Baszler looked like a legit badass here, and I’m looking forward to seeing who her next program will be against.
Match Rating: *** 1/2
The Undisputed Era Defeated Pete Dunne and Roderick Strong, and The Authors of Pain
This was a really fun tag team match that provided perhaps the biggest shock of the night on Saturday. Having Roderick Strong turn on Pete Dunne and side with The Undisputed Era was a nice twist, and it provided an exciting end to the bout. The three teams put on a solid display, and Cole, who had pulled double duty, was understandably protected throughout the bout. The Authors of Pain are destined for a main roster call up very soon, potentially this week. Pete Dunne may turn to Moustache Mountain for help against The Undisputed Era, and that is perfectly fine with me.
Match Rating: *** 1/4
Aleister Black Defeated Andrade ‘Cien’ Almas
On any other show, this match would have been the match of the night. Almas and Black put on an incredible bout on Saturday night, one that was full of some beautiful in-ring work and near perfectly executed near-falls. Vega and Almas are one of the best double acts in the WWE today, and Vega’s work was amazing once again. They are destined for a call-up soon, and Almas has been one of the best wrestlers of 2018 so far. Black is always consistent in the ring, and the two men complemented each other perfectly. Almas losing because of Vega was a nice touch, and the finish was well executed. This was seriously awesome. Almas has to be on the main roster in the coming weeks after this.
Match Rating: **** 3/4
Johnny Gargano Defeated Tomasso Ciampa
Stop the presses, this is the best match of WrestleMania weekend, and perhaps the best match of the year. Hell, perhaps even the best match in the history of NXT. This was as good as wrestling gets. Everything about this match was excellent, from Ciampa’s silent entrance to the references to the duo’s pasts. This was storytelling at its finest, and the fans couldn’t have been more invested. These two men have had the best feud in WWE this year, and this was the perfect culmination of that. I’m finding it hard to write about this match without just indulging in hyperbole, but seriously, go and check this out.
The ending spot of the match was perfect, and the match’s 37-minute run-time never felt long at all. This was perfectly paced, and perfectly executed. Gargano is the runaway candidate for wrestler of the year at the moment, and this match topped anything the WWE, or any other company has given us so far this year.
Match Rating: *****
Verdict: Was this the greatest Takeover event in NXT history? For me, this was one of the best PPVs of all time. The opener was awesome, Black’s title victory was thrilling and the main event was incredibly special. This was as good as wrestling gets.
Show Grade: A*