WWE NXT TakeOver Orlando was a mixed bag. The first few matches were on fire, but the final two title matches just left me feeling sort of flat. But, hey, tons of story line developments will come out of this show, so as always, NXT TakeOver was a great watch. Let’s get to the recap!
WWE NXT TakeOver Orlando Recap
WWE. Then. Now. Forever.
I’ll talk about the Kickoff Show first and since NXT traditionally doesn’t show matches during it, I don’t give it a separate section in the recap like I do with the main roster shows. Tonight’s Kickoff featured a panel consisting of Charly Caruso, Nigel McGuinness, and Sam Roberts. At one point towards the end of the show, the Iconic Duo of Billie Kay and Peyton Royce showed up so they could insult Charly’s dress and send a text to Triple H asking for him to ban Moon’s finisher.
Other than that, we got the expected video packages hyping up all of the title matches. We see footage of Nakamura, Roode, Moon, and Asuka arriving at the building… and… walking! And we see guys bring in five cases which apparently hold all of the new championship belts. I guess WWE decided to take the nuclear option and replace all of the titles and not JUST the Women’s Championship – you know, to be sure. Yeah, easy joke. I’m already exhausted and have six hours to cover tomorrow too. By the time the SmackDown recap rolls around on Tuesday, the text on the site will look like Aleister Black’s chyron, but I’m getting ahead of myself.
We open the show proper on an illuminated NXT wrestling ring and Triple H doing the “voice of God” thing saying that tonight NXT is home. It would have been the perfect time to have that cut off and hear Rollins beating him down, but that’s probably why I don’t book this stuff and just write about it on the internet. We’re then sent to a nice video package that shows us a bunch of clips from the first episode at Full Sail up to more modern times at WWE’s “yellow brand”.
After that, we’re live from Orlando and our announce team is Tom Phillips, Nigel McGuinness, and Percy Watson.
SAnitY’s music hits and they’re out first. Since it’s TakeOver, they broke out the soot and have rubbed black circles around their eyes. I’m down. We see footage from Axxess that looks like it was filmed on a burner phone using the latest compression codec of 2002 that shows SAnitY beating down Jose and No Way getting stretchered out. We learned back during the KickOff Show that the face team can either replace Jose or fight short-handed. Tye is out first for the faces in his Flash Gordon PPV collar. Ruby Riot makes her debut and enters next. Strong enters third. Jose’s replacement, Kassius Ohno enters last. I figured it’d either be Ohno or Itami, but it’s looking more and more like the Itami ship has sailed. Bummer.
Match #1: SAnitY vs. Ruby Riot, Tye Dillinger, Roderick Strong, & Kassius Ohno
Wow, what a crazy pace this match set. We get the expected brawls that always break out in these multi-person matches. The one downside was that I wished Ruby and Nikki got more time to work. The limitations of the “mixed tag” rules really minimized what Ruby and Nikki were able to do in the match. I hope NXT blesses us with a full on Nikki / Ruby feud because that is something I’d love to see. Roderick Strong looked incredibly capable in this match, and even seemed to overshadow Tye a bit, which I did not expect. Ohno’s impact was felt too, especially during the opening spot. Alexander Wolfe tagged in and started doing that “mosh dance” thing he does. Ohno came up and dropped him with one punch, ala Indiana Jones in Raiders of the Lost Ark. SAnitY looked more like a cohesive unit than they ever have previously in this match, so clearly this seemed designed to put them over. Sure enough, Killian Dain gets the win for SAnitY after planting Tye Dillinger with the Ulster Plantation. Dain’s performance has apparently earned him a spot in the Andre the Giant Battle Royal. Regardless, I enjoyed the heck out of this match, but that could also be because I love SAnitY. I saw many upset with Tye ending up on the losing end of another TakeOver match.
Verdict: Thumbs Up – SAnitY was firing on all cylinders and this match made me want much, much more from Ruby Riot and Nikki Cross.
Back from break, we see Roode backstage admiring his NXT Championship.
Meanwhile, Edge and Beth Phoenix are sitting in the crowd, in front of a guy who looks like the “love child” of Seth Rogen and Sami Zayn.
Cien Almas enters next. Followed by the NXT debut of Aleister Black. Wow, so he pops up like Nosferatu out of a coffin and he gets a custom chyron that starts out as runes and melds into his name in text. Good stuff.
Match #2: Andrade Cien Almas vs. Aleister Black
This match was… good. I think I had unrealistic expectations after the great match that Almas had with Lorcan a few weeks back. Black works a “striker” style and it didn’t totally mesh with Almas perfectly. But, all in all, this was a solid debut for Black and he appeared to be insanely over with the live crowd. Almas’ game plan here was to wear down Black’s arms before attempting to set him up for his Hammerlock DDT finisher. Almas settles for a snap German suplex, that gets him a near fall, but Black fires back with a ton of strikes. That allows Black to hit his Black Mass kick finisher as the coup de grace and win his debut match.
Verdict: Thumbs Up – Not quite as insane as I had hoped and I’m not entirely sure Almas was the best first opponent for Black. But, overall this was a really good wrestling match and Black’s entrance is really cool.
Post-match, Nigel ruminates on Aleister Black’s future here in “Ring of Honor”. Oops.
Meanwhile, Ember Moon is backstage getting ready for her match.
Next, The Revival are out first for the Triple Threat tag match. DIY enter next. Authors of Pain (w/ Paul Ellering) are out last. William Regal is in the ring to present the new tag titles. They’re… tag titles. I think I like them better than the Raw and SmackDown ones, and they’re definitely a step up from the previous NXT tag belts. And, they don’t have a yellow strap so there’s that.
Match #3: Authors of Pain (w/ Paul Ellering) vs. The Revival vs. DIY (Triple Threat Elimination match for the NXT Tag Team Championship)
So, this match is a Match of the Year candidate. Granted, the majority of the content that makes it that is in the first fall. DIY and Revival form an unholy alliance to try anything and everything to eliminate AoP. The attention to detail in the booking is incredible. You’ve got Gargano running in to break up a Dawson submission hold, but he decides against it. We get mixed team versions of the “Meeting in the Middle” and “Shatter Machine” which were incredible. We even get Dawson superplexing Ciampa on to everyone on the floor! I know, right? But, the inevitable rears its ugly head. AoP are able to shake off tons of offense, including Rezar going through a table that took all four members of DIY and The Revival to make happen. Unfortunately, after that insane superplex onto the floor, AoP isolate Ciampa and give him the Last Chapter to end the first fall.
The energy getting sucked out of the building was palpable and the second fall was filled with boos and “No one likes you chants”. AoP systematically dismantle The Revival and eventually hit their Supercollider double powerbomb and pin both Top Guys to retain.
Verdict: Thumbs Up – Match of the Night and possibly the match of the weekend for WWE. The ending left a lot to be desired since the elimination of DIY and Revival felt like “Authors of Pain by numbers” booking, but I get why AoP had to go over both teams strongly to end the contest – even if I didn’t necessarily like it.
Next, Ember Moon enters first for the Women’s Championship match. Asuka enters second. Relatively standard entrances for both women, despite it being the Mania TakeOver. Regal unveils the new women’s title, which has a big X and looks all right, I guess… whatever. It’s not yellow or pink so it’s a step in the right direction.
Match #4: Asuka (c) vs. Ember Moon (NXT Women’s Championship Match)
This match was… okay. I think I’d built their eventual meeting up to be more than it could ever be and that is why I left feeling sort of deflated. The presentation early on was great, with the opening bit shot from the hard camera and making Asuka and Ember look like Street Fighter characters. The match was far more deliberate and psychological than any of the three preceding it and I think that actually hurt the match being in this spot on the card. Asuka’s main offense from the jump was her hip attack, while Moon countered with some great aerial spots. Of course, Moon’s finisher requires a specific set up and we got that twice. The first time, Asuka was able to evade it and cut Moon off. However, the second time Moon goes for the Eclipse is where the story in this match happens. Asuka realizes where Ember is and shoves the ref into the ropes, which knocks Moon off the top. From there, Asuka was able to hit a stiff kick and retain the title. Yep, the most dominant NXT Women’s Champion had to cheat to win.
Verdict: Thumbs In The Middle – I expected a lot more than I felt this match delivered. Asuka retaining is somewhat interesting, at least due to the fact that she used a straight up heel tactic to go over. If she is going to retain at WWE, a full on arrogant heel Asuka is just about the only way she can stay fresh after holding the title for over a year.
Meanwhile, what’s Drew McIntyre doing in the TakeOver ZONE? You know, beyond breaking the internet.
Main event time. Nakamura enters first to his standard entrance. The main difference is that he does a few laps around the ring for the fans in the front row before heading into the ring. Roode is played to the ring by two women on pianos. Sorry WWE, but Reby Hardy already did it. Regal is in the ring again to unveil the new NXT Championship. It looks like a slightly larger version of the NXT Women’s Championship. Again, it’s fine and I do like that the Men’s and Women’s titles resemble each other, much like how they do on the main roster now too.
Match #5: Bobby Roode (c) vs. Shinsuke Nakamura (NXT Championship Match)
This one was a hard watch for me. I really like both guys a lot, but just feel like they don’t have good chemistry together. Nakamura has spent a year in developmental now, despite being ready for the main roster on his signing date. I don’t want to say the guy is going through the motions, but a lot of times it sure feels that way. At the very least, this match kept with the “Nakamura is injured” story line to allow Roode to soften up Nakamura’s weak knee to go in for the kill. Nakamura gets some hope spots in, but seriously, for the Shinsuke’s sake I was hoping he would lose this match. Thankfully, Roode was eventually able to convert with a Glorious DDT and put Shinsuke away to retain the title. I know I probably sound down on Nakamura here, but honestly he’s one of the best wrestlers I’ve had the privilege of seeing perform live. The novelty of him at NXT wore off a while ago and there are way bigger things for this guy to be doing on Raw or (hopefully) SmackDown.
Verdict: Thumbs In The Middle – One of the more average NXT Championship matches we’ve seen on a TakeOver. I feel like Roode retaining was absolutely the right move here and if Nakamura doesn’t show up on the main roster by the week’s end, then WWE is truly broken and not in the Matt Hardy sense of the word.
We go off the air with Bobby Roode kissing his new title and telling the belt he loves it.
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