Hey, kids. It’s the Botching one again. Come along with me as I bask in The Afterglow of yet another stunning NXT TakeOver experience. As has become custom, I’ll withhold grades. In short, TakeOver matches are too hard to rate. It’s pointless. Here we go!
Street Profits vs. Undisputed Era
To be truthful, there were some minor hiccups at the beginning as they found their footing in the story but once they did, it was all systems go. It really did catch fire and I was totally into it. The back and forth here was a lot of fun and there were plenty of near-falls for maximum fun. Montez Ford is a simply freakish athlete. If you saw the WWE Combine, you know it’s true and it was on display here too. Ford’s frog splash is just incredible to look at. Nice way to open the show and I’m glad we got this match. I was kinda hoping Ford & Dawkins would drop the belts to UE so that they could just go to the main roster and see what they could do there. That hasn’t happened and, to be truthful, I’m not mad at it. They’ve been fun champs and I’m fine seeing them in both places.
Io Shirai vs. Candice LeRae
This caught fire fast! How many matches do you see where the table is used as a weapon within the first minute of the match? I love the way Shirai has tweaked her in-ring work to be hellish. She’s nearly totally transformed to become pretty brutal and it’s fun to watch. As for Candice, she shows a thousand time more passion in the ring than she ever does on the mic. She’s like the NXT version of Cedric Alexander in that sense.Her suicide dive to DDT on the floor was just vicious! A swinging neck breaker off the middle rope. What on Eartha Kitt?!?!? Love the submission ending too by Shirai. Absolutely brutal match in the most athletic sense.
Cinéma de Brawl – Matt Riddle & Killian Dane
Matt’s character tweak has been amazing and everyone’s being worked by it. That includes writers here. I love that. It means he’s doing it well. Riddle, too, has been tweaked and I like that too. He was just apoplectic with rage here going after Killian with all he was worth. The three-man dive onto the floor was just insane. These two in the ring will be fun when we get it and this was an unexpected teaser.
Velveteen Dream vs. Roderick Strong vs. Pete Dunne
Can I just reiterate how much I hate Velveteen Dream’s theme. The CFO$ don’t fail often but when they do, they really do. This thing is just a sub-Prince-ish/generic funk disaster. In every other conceivable way, he is such a total star. I loved the way he held the ref’s hand up so Dunne couldn’t get the pin on Strong. Pretty ingenious, really.
Roddy is just such a zero personality-wise. When he did the “pay attention to me” thing at the beginning of the match, all I could do was ignore it. He’s just so bad at that stuff. Of course, his ring work is what really matters for stuff like this and he nails there. That…is undisputed (I know but I had to). His double Strong Hold (Boston Crab-looking thing) was really impressive. LOVED that.
Dunne’s joint manipulation is just cringe personified. He did it throughout the match and it really is great but it’s cringe. He just brings it in every way and he’s so much fun to watch.
All in all, this was the great match we were expecting. All three just killed this. I’m not quite sure why they’re leaving the belt on Dream, though I hardly hate it. He’s great and he’s been a fun champion.
Shayna Baszler vs. Mia Yim
The story that got us here has been perfectly told. Shayna “+2” vs. “street trash” Mia Yim. Both of them are such great talkers and this was the match I was most looking forward to. Mia’s entrance was simple but effective. Shayna’s always is too. Their themes are really good too. Shayna’s, in particular, is just menacing. Twin victories for CFO$ in that regard. By the way, in fun “mark” reality, Shayna and Mia are actually roommates. Since they’re friends, the chemistry between them is just a thing of beauty.
The storytelling in this match, just like the story the lead us here, was equally perfect and nuanced. Both of them worked like heels on each other and that was fun. They both broke the rules liberally and it was fun to see Shayna on the receiving end. Mia, in particular, was just vicious! The attack on Shayna’s arm was a fun switch. Usually, it’s Shayna going that way and, of course, she would shortly thereafter. I was also really impressed by Shayna’s selling here. We don’t usually get to see that much of it but she nailed it here. Mia’s Code Blue from the top rope was just epochal. The ending was amazing too. Because Mia had destroyed Shayna’s left arm, she couldn’t apply the Kirifuda Clutch successfully. She tried twice and when she could hold neither, Shayna applied a triangle with her left leg instead. That secured her the win. I will miss this feud dearly as it’s been so much fun to watch.
I even have to give it to the commentary team. The interplay between Beth & Nigel was fun. Both of them argued respectively for Mia & Shayna’s breaking of the rules and really aided in the storytelling while Mauro called the action effectively without losing his mind. He stayed very balanced here and I actually enjoyed him.
Adam Cole (Bay Bay) vs. Johnny Gargano
This was every bit as good as you’d expect it’d be and it very nearly qualified as an Iron Man match. The torture continued here with Gargano showing no mercy on Cole’s leg throughout. The first fall seemingly went on forever and I loved every delicious second of it. I even liked the guts the ref showed when Adam got in his face.
Gargano got absolutely vicious toward the end of the first fall and gave it away grabbing the advantage for the second fall and letting it all hang out.
As crazy as the first fall was, the second fall went completely off the rails. Barricades were destroyed, announce tables were leveled, and even Johnny Gargano yelled “Mama Mia” to pre-figure further damage he’d inflict on Cole.
The trouble with matches like this is how do you keep raising the stakes. Thankfully, Gargano & Cole know how to do it and they gave it all in the third fall – you know, the one in the cage with weapons. The fans immediately started chanting “ECW” when it began and they kinda went there. I loved the presence of the sledgehammer – an obvious ode to Triple H. – the father of NXT. There’s are no adjectives for this fall; you just have to see it.
No, really, you have to see it.
The ending was absolutely epic with a Mick Foley-esque fall from the top of the cage through a couple of tables while they fought over a piece of barbed wire.
As is always the case, this show delivered. NXT can be counted on for that every single time and Saturday evening was no exception.