Tom’s Takes – NXT TakeOver: Orlando

Kicking off Wrestlemania Weekend was the second NXT TakeOver special of 2017, NXT TakeOver: Orlando. All the gold on the line, new belts as well and some incredible action…here are Tom’s Takes on the event.

I’m still not sure if I like this whole idea of having NXT TakeOver events being held on the same weekend as one of the ‘big four’ pay-per-views. I know it makes sense given how big the NXT brand has become but back-to-back late nights staying up to watch both…ugh, please.

Saying that, last night’s NXT TakeOver: Orlando event was worth staying up until the early hours for – some excellent action, great storytelling in the matches and plenty of takes…so, I guess let’s kick off with match-by-match thoughts.

SAnitY vs. Roderick Strong, Tye Dillinger, Kassius Ohno & Ruby Riot

This match was going to feature No Way Jose but, thankfully, SAnitY took him out at the Wrestlemania AXXESS thing earlier in the day and rendered him unable to compete – sadly the same fate didn’t befall Roderick Strong but I digress (No, I’m not a fan.) – and so Kassius Ohno was drafted in as a replacement.

Can’t complain about that. For a guy of his size and build, he’s really good in the ring and one moment stuck in my mind in particular; was set up for him to attempt some kind of dive to the outside of the ring (TOPE SUICIDA??? Damn, Smackdown sucks without Mauro) but instead faked it out and did a flip over the rope, onto the mat and then KO’ed Wolfe. I wish someone had gif’ed it…

SAnitY came away with the win which isn’t a surprise – wonder if they’ll start having them chase the NXT tag titles? Them vs. Authors of Pain might be fun to see – certainly wouldn’t have Killian Dain and Alexander Wolfe being over-powered by Akam and Rezar.

Nikki Cross vs. Asuka? Maybe. Probably most likely see her and Ruby Riot feud a bit more.

Eric Young vs. Bobby Roode? Hope not. Kassius Ohno probably remains in the title picture as well, otherwise what else is there for him? Dillinger, who knows what the plan is with him…

Andrade ‘Cien’ Almas vs. Aleister Black

Andrade Almas vs. another newcomer to NXT, what a new concept. This time he gets to welcome Aleister Black (fka Tommy End) to the company – well, kind of, given that watchers of the WWE UK Championship Tournament got to see him debut vs. Neville during Day 2 of the competition. Since then we’ve had vignettes and then a hastily-thrown together matchup vs. Almas in Orlando.

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a big fan of Andrade Almas but I’m still not a fan of how he’s being used in NXT – mainly because he keeps on losing in NXT TakeOver matches; losing to Bobby Roode, Roderick Strong and now Aleister Black. Sure, he beat Tye Dillinger in his own debut, but who hasn’t beat him? Surely (read, hopefully) there’s a long-term plan for Almas to do something other than be enhancement talent/a jobber…

The match itself was fun. Some good spots, including one where Aleister did some crazy backflip off the rope and then sat cross-legged in the middle of the ring. Plenty of gifs of that one…as so.

Can’t wait to see more of Aleister Black in Ring of Honor.

#DIY vs. The Revival vs. The Authors of Pain

Perhaps the match I was most looking forward to on this entire card and one which I stated might have ‘Match of the Weekend’ potential – well, this one certainly did not disappoint. #DIY and The Revival have had some incredible bouts throughout 2016 and The Authors of Pain being added in as the dominant champions surely made this match even better.

Genuinely loved this match from start to finish – found myself smiling so many times during the match as the competitors told such a great story in it; there was DIY and The Revival teaming up several times to try and take out the biggest competition, an incredible spot where they teamed up to try and submit AoP and make it a one-on-one match between them – call back to the phenomenal tag match they had at a previous TakeOver event.

Can’t forget the time where Ciampa and Dawson paired up to do #DIY’s finisher and then Gargano and Wilder did the ‘Shatter Machine’ finisher. Excellent.

Thought they would have DIY being the first team eliminated from the contest and that was how it turned out. That would leave The Revival vs. AOP and nowhere for them to run. For once. Sensible booking! The crowd seemed to turn against the remaining pair though, fuck them. I enjoyed it and them shitting on the finish certainly didn’t disappoint me.

Asuka vs. Ember Moon

It’s been a year of Asuka dominating and defeating everyone which they have put in front of her in an NXT ring – Liv Morgan, Nia Jax, The Iconic Duo, Mickie James, random people they sometimes have on NXT shows…others as well I’m sure. Simply put, I don’t think she will lose in NXT and nor should she – have her get bored, go to the main roster and drop the title so they can hold a good ol’ tournament again to name the new NXT Women’s Champion.

Ember Moon was also undefeated in NXT up until last night’s loss. Losing to Asuka, no shame – if you can attribute shame to a predetermined event such as sports entertainment. There were plenty of moments in the match where you thought she might actually be able to win though – again, some fantastic storytelling in the ring. God, I sound like a right mark.

Another win for Asuka. Albeit by a heel-ish type maneuver when she pushed the referee into the ropes, causing Ember to fall and allow Asuka to pick up the W. Whatever they do to her though, I don’t think they’ll stop fans from cheering her.

Have to wonder what’s next? Or, rather, who is next? The question I don’t know the answer to…could be anyone? Could be nobody in NXT as she moves up to the main roster? Who knows.

If she does, I do think they could do a lot worse than put the belt onto Ember Moon…

Bobby Roode vs. Shinsuke Nakamura

The main event. Or should that be the meh-ain event? It was an OK match with a fair few spots but nothing special, certainly not main event level stuff. I enjoyed it a bit more than their previous encounter but I’m really not sure that is saying too much.

Big fan of Shinsuke Nakamura – not so much for Bobby Rooooooooooooo (seriously ring announcer dude, how hard is it to pronounce the ‘de’ at the end.) – but they’re just not very good together. Apparently this went on for 26 minutes…seemed like a lot longer as it just seemed to drag on and on and on.

As I predicted, Roode picked up the win to retain his title. Not because I’m enjoying his reign…far from it…but because, with the rumours of Shinsuke’s imminent call-up to the main roster (Tuesday night on Smackdown Live apparently), it made little sense to switch champions now.

Hopefully the next challenger can end Roode’s reign.

All in all, it was an alright NXT TakeOver event. Here’s to the next one before Summerslam…back to Brooklyn, again.

Other Takes

– Drew McIntyre in the crowd! – who doesn’t love an obviously staged camera pan to someone of note sitting ringside? First we had Edge and Beth Phoenix sat watching the action and then, funnily enough in the exact same seats as they were, some guy called Drew McIntyre was shown on the broadcast.

Usually that means that they’ve signed with WWE – all have done except for Kota Ibushi, sadly – and it came out hours after the event’s conclusion that Drew was returning the WWE and going to NXT. Was a big fan of his theme music, hopefully he’s able to keep that with his return and CFO$ don’t give him something crappy.

Straight into seeing him take on Roode? Why not…

New Title Belt Designs! – news came earlier on Saturday that there would be new title belts debuted during the TakeOver show; not a bad idea considering the NXT tag titles are a bit boring and the main championship belt is also very plain.

The new belts look good for the most part; not sure about the women’s belt, looks a bit X Division-y. Suppose that’s what having a massive X in the middle of the thing does. Also less sparkly than its predecessor, which I think might be a bad thing.

Change coming in terms of the belts…but not in who is holding said belts. Strange…but that leads onto this one perfectly.

– What Next??? – It’ll be a while before NXT TakeOver Brooklyn AGAIN – probably won’t be called that…but, hey, if it is, then I said it first. I think. Plenty of time for things to change but maybe I might go for a prediction as to what might be the card for that event?

NXT Championship – Bobby Roode vs. Drew McIntyre. – why not? Still think Roode will be champion by this time. McIntyre wins a #1 contender match vs. various people; including Andrade ‘Cien’ Almas…because of course.

NXT Women’s Championship – Ember Moon vs. Peyton Royce. – I was considering another triple-threat match here but went against that idea. Might even be another Asuka/Ember Moon showdown? But this is under the idea that Asuka vacates the title and then this match would be the final of the tournament to decide the next champion.

NXT Tag Team Championship – Authors of Pain vs. SAnitY (Dain and Wolfe) – Two heel-ish teams going one on one? Well, I can’t see there being much else to challenge AOP because of The Revival likely being pushed up to the main roster. Too early for Heavy Machinery to go for the belts? Don’t think TM61 will be ready to return by then either – no, they won’t as it’s a 6/9 month injury for Shane Thorne. Shame.

Tommaso Ciampa vs. Johnny Gargano – Here’s why I didn’t have #DIY involved in the tag-title picture…they split up and have a match at Brooklyn. They had an insanely good one in the Cruiserweight Classic so this should be spectacular.

Aleister Black vs. Kassius Ohno – Needed another match and, unless there’s someone new to debut here that will inevitably beat Almas, then something needs to be added. Why not this? Black has that ‘Black Matter’ finisher that looks brutal, KO is a knock-out artist…some kind of story there, right? Bet this’d be good.

Andrade ‘Cien’ Almas vs. Zack Sabre Jr. – Fuck it, let’s add an Almas loss here. There was reports that ZSJ was open to signing with WWE sometime this year – why not just before the summer, which means a debut victory over NXT’s resident big-match loser. Super. Probably doesn’t happen but who knows…

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