Watching the first night of NXT TakeOver: Stand and Deliver only made me more excited for night two, and WrestleMania. This is one of my favorite weeks of the year. I’m not big on holidays and the pressure that comes with them, but I love WM week and the pressure that comes with it. Anyone who knows me knows how strange that sounds, but it’s just how I am. I love my family dearly, but the type of stress holiday brings has nothing to do with most of my family and everything to do with the tension my brother brought to every holiday he was at, even when I was very young. WM week pressure is self-imposed, and something that I could hand off if I couldn’t handle it, but I love pro wrestling with every fiber of my being that is not medieval. It’s an escape of the best possible type. Well, other than having to see Sam Roberts, and he’s only a minor annoyance.
Then NXT gave us Poppy and I’m again giddy. She suits NXT so well and is always so captivating to both watch and listen to.
Sorry, I couldn’t help myself with the whole look Breezingle came out with. Honestly, Breeze looks like many who are not into the historical side of things but love to attend events, especially Pennsic. Anyway, I love the personality conflicts between Dain and Mav. They are so much fun together, and really are cohesive at times, and work well together, but they’re not going anywhere. I think it’s more than time if they’re not going to use her on Raw or SD, that Nikki Cross return to NXT so she can be on the same show as her husband. Beyond that, this was a fun little match with great personality. Both teams needed a win as neither have been used lately and should have been involved in the Tag Team Match last night. I hope to see Dain and Mav facing MSK soon.
With The Greatest Of Ease
Even though I’ve not been one to watch 205 Live, because virtually no one does, I have always loved the CW Division. I was so happy when they brought back the strap, then they gave them their own show that’s been insanely boring, and I lost interest. The CW Division was a big part of why I loved WCW, even though they never got the respect they deserved for carrying so much of Nitro and Thunder week in and week out.
I called for Wilde and Mendoza to help Escobar in this match, and they lived up to their heel faction. What I didn’t expect was Spanish fly off a ladder! I expected insanity in this match, and while I don’t know much about either of these guys, I really wanted to review this match as I knew it was going to be a whole new level of insanity.
I will fully admit I’m smiling ear to ear watching Escobar with his son on stage. The mask and holding that massive belt up feels a bit like some of what we have been seeing on AEW, but who doesn’t love seeing kids being so proud of their wrestling fathers? I don’t know if Devlin has any kids, and if he does, I hope they didn’t watch him crash through that ladder the way he did. That was one of the most impressive ladder breaks I’ve ever seen, and I’ve been watching Ladder Matches since Razor Ramon faced 1-2-3 Kidd on Raw in 1993.
All that being said, I’m sure someone will call me out for not giving this one five crowns. I have to say that I’m writing this as the show goes and I think that another match will top it tonight.
The Way Out
I have to say that Indi impressed me from the opening of this match. I know she’s young and so much greener than Candice, but most of the NXT roster is greener than Candice! Indi is lucky to be running with Candice the way she is. While their styles are very different, I’m loving the power in Indi. She’s physically stronger than I thought she was, and she’s impressed me through this. She needs to work the ring more. That being said, she held her own with two of the strongest women in NXT, and that’s saying something.
Shotzi and Ember, as always, are so completely themselves and look great while showing off their mad skills in the ring. It’s nice to see Ember doing so well, and tagging with someone as unique as she is. I’ve loved Shotzi since I first heard of her and checked her out. She oozes personality and has a great look, but it’s her ring work that makes her a true star. Together, she and Ember are unstoppable.
The Way In
Gargano has been a favorite of mine for so long. I can’t even remember exactly when I fell in love with him. Obviously at some point during DIY, but like Sami Zayn, I really didn’t think he could be an effective heel. Yet he’s been doing just that for quite a while, and never becoming stale. I think that’s one of the greatest things about Gargano. He only changes things up slightly as he goes long, but it’s enough that his character keeps evolving and has never been stale.
I honestly wondered how this match would work. I know Gargano can work with anyone and it will be great, but Reed was in quite the tough match just 24 hours ago. Reed doesn’t look like he’s any worse for it. There were a few moves that made me cringe, but everyone seemed fine, so I’m not going to kvetch about that. I will kvetch about Reed making it look like Gargano had him down in the hold on the mat as if he couldn’t get to the ropes. I know Gargano is strong, but Reed is a beast. I couldn’t suspend my disbelief. I’m very glad Gargano couldn’t take Reed off the corner with the rana. It just wouldn’t have worked. In the end they truly did make it look believable that Gargano went over Reed. I honestly wasn’t sure they would be able to, even partway through the match, but they did it.
Kross with so much emotion and Balor who shows virtually none in the ring, and it worked beautifully – as we all knew it would. Balor’s big moves into submission holds always throw me, but they also always look amazing. While he knew early that Becky Lynch was going to make it big, he’s not so bad himself. I always forget what a ring technician Balor is. He knows how to take his opponents apart, and does so in such a methodical way. Goes right back to Kross’ emotion to Balor’s technical prowess. They have made for a fantastic match that would have been the main event, even if it wasn’t for the NXT Championship, if not for O’Reilly and Cole (in that order).
While not the most explosive match of the night, it really was intense and beautiful to watch. The conflicting styles in the ring, massively different personalities, and that both lost their first major championships by being injured in their respective matches made this into a classic. This is a match that young wrestlers and those interested in becoming wrestlers need to watch. It might not be as flashy as some of the other matches of the night, or even the night before, but it was downright fantastic!
This Is Awesome!
I always say the best of friends make for the best feuds. I have no clue how close Cole and O’Reilly are outside NXT, but they have worked together for years, even before WWE. They know each other well, and that’s why this feud has been so wonderfully explosive. It had that Trip/HBK vibe I love so much.
That chain clothesline was the most innovative clothesline since Bianca used her hair in WarGames! That was brilliant. Now to say something that some might not like. I really expected more innovation like that earlier in the match from these two. Lots of forearms, chairs as weapons, and the like, but not the innovation I truly expected from bell to bell from these two. I get that they need to pace themselves, I just really expected more and earlier. after the chain the creativity got a lot better.
I love how Cole looked so strong, but then O’Reilly came back at him as if his heart won’t let him stop. The holds with the chain were fantastic. Though O’Reilly bouncing back so quickly from a tire iron to the ribs had me shaking my head for a moment. Then, of course, my TV decided to buffer right when Cole was hitting the low blow on O’Reilly, so I got the privilege of watching Cole’s arm between O’Reilly’s legs for way too long.
Cole punches out the ref, then is pissed when the ref is down and can’t count his three. The greatness of the characters and storylines through this match has been some of the best we have seen in WWE in a while, but it’s what I said from the start, they know each other so well that they can really make this magical for us. I put the grade up before the end of the match because there was nothing that could have spoiled it after they made it back to the ring after going through the ramp to the ring. Though I’ll admit I’m giddy O’Reilly won this one, he was so deserving. This match will be compared to some of the best for decades to come.
Shut Up Wade, I’m Talking Here!
What a night! NXT TakeOver usually gives us better ring work than we get at WM, and there is no question that they did just that on both nights. The main events alone will likely leave WM in the dust. What a wonderful showing from some of the top wrestlers in the world. I hope that there are no injuries and that all these men and women are able to breathe without pain by the time Tuesday rolls around. All around brilliance from these men and women putting their bodies on the line for our entertainment. I will never look at some of them the same way again.