The SmarK Rant for NXT Takeover Orlando–04.01.17

The SmarK Rant for NXT Takeover: Orlando (04.01.17)

Live from Orlando Blooming Onion, FL

Your hosts are Tom Phillips & Nigel McGuinness & Percy Watson

Eric Young, Alexander Wolfe, Killian Dane & Nikki Cross v. Ty Dillinger, Ruby Riot, Roderick Strong & Kassius Ohno

No Way Jose was attacked before the show by Sanity, so William Regal said Ohno…way Jose, you can’t compete. Ohno clears the ring to start and Ruby Riot controls Nikki in the corner. Over to Wolfe, and Ohno casually punches him out for two. Ohno gets distracted and Sanity works him over in the corner, but Strong quickly comes in and destroys everyone. Wolfe catches him with a german suplex and Dane pounds away and drops lazy JBL elbows where you just slap the mat instead of actually elbowing the guy. Like really is it THAT hard of a move? Young with a lifting guillotine in the corner and the other two goofs work Strong over with some not terribly exciting offense. Young and Strong slug it out, but Young misses a blind charge and it’s hot tag Ty. Dillinger cleans house and DDTs Wolfe while the women do a weak brawl out of the ring. Ty hits Young with a dive and everyone piles up on the floor, which sets up a dive from Ohno…which doesn’t happen. The girls do another silly rolling-around brawl in the ring and Ty continues his comeback in the ring, but Young cuts him off. The girls each attack a man and wind up on the floor again, and Dane pins Ty with his slam thingie at 12:50. I’m just not seeing this Sanity thing at all. It’s like, I’ve seen the Wyatt Family, it’s been done. Ruby Riot and Nikki Cross were so uninvolved in the match that it might as well have been a six-man. This was really messy and disjointed and didn’t really ever feel like it built up any momentum. **1/2

Andrade Cien Almas v. Aleister Black

Quite the entrance for Black, who rises from a grave before skulking to the ring. They battle to a stalemate to start and Almas bails, so Black teases a dive but then springboards back into the ring instead. Almas hits him with a cheapshot and stomps away in the corner, but teases a charge and then mocks him instead. He heads out to the apron for the hanging armbar, then back in with a missile dropkick for two. Almas works the arm, but Black tosses him and follows with a moonsault. Back in, Almas gets the hanging armbar again and goes up for another dropkick, but Black catches him with a sloppy powerbomb for two. Almas actually hangs onto the arm with another armbar, but misses a blind charge and Black cradles for two. Almas rolls him up for two. Almas with an amazing backflip kick for two and he follows with the running knees in the corner. German suplex gets two after Black escapes the hammerlock DDT. And then Black suddenly comes back with a pair of high kicks and a spinning back kick to finish at 9:35. The crowd was distracted by something going on in the arena for the entire match, and Black looked completely lost or nervous out there and spent most of the match selling before hitting his finish out of nowhere like a video game character with bad AI. Even Nigel pointed out how shaken that Black was looking. Almas actually looked super impressive here holding things together. **

NXT tag team titles: The Authors of Pain v. DIY v. The Revival

William Regal presents new, slightly redesigned belts before the match. The challengers decide to team up on the champions, with DIY taking Achem and the Revival taking Rezar, which is just incredibly smart, especially since it’s elimination rules. So with the Authors taken care of, they turn on each other. Nigel makes a smart point: Since the Authors HAVE to be pinned to lose the titles, why not make sure they’re eliminated first? And indeed, Achem revives and clotheslines both DIY to take over. Ciampa gets beat up and tries to tag in the Revival, but they give him the old Bobby Heenan short arm and leave him to get killed further. And then Dawson sneaks in with a DDT on Achem behind the ref’s back, and then decide to tag themselves in now that they have the advantage. Dawson loses the advantage on Achem…and then DIY gives HIM the short-arm non-tag and Gargano spears him for two. DIY cleans house on everyone with dives on the floor, and Gargano slingshots in with a DDT on Dawson for two. He then tries a dive on both Authors and gets caught and launched into both his partner and the Revival in very rude manner.

Gargano gets trapped in the corner and hit with a Demolition elbow for two by the Authors. Achem with a torture rack that basically turns into a resthold, but Johnny escapes with an enzuigiri and it’s hot tag Ciampa. He holds his own with the Authors and throws german suplexes on Achem, and the running knee gets two. Rezar tries something from the apron, so DIY powerbombs him through Chekhov’s Table with the help of the Revival, leaving Achem alone. With four guys. He’s all “come at me, bro” and so they do and mostly fail. Well at least he didn’t run like a pussy. He goes for a powerbomb on Ciampa, but the Revival clips him and they team up and put him in DOUBLE SUBMISSIONS until finally Rezar revives and fights his way in to save.

Rezar is double-teamed by the Revival and DIY, leading to Dawson and Gargano hitting double superkicks on him and then Ciampa and Dash hitting a Shatter Machine on Achem, but they STILL can’t pin either guy yet. And then they stupidly turn on each other again. This match is so frustrating in a fun way because whoever laid it out knows EXACTLY which buttons to push. Everyone ends up on the floor and Dawson steals the show by superplexing Ciampa off the top, onto the pile of guys on the floor! And then Rezar tags himself in and the Authors finish Ciampa with their move at 19:00. That one rightly earns a groan from the crowd. That leaves the Revival alone and Dash gets mauled in the corner. They come back with some crazy double-teams on Achem, but Rezar just shrugs them off and they completely destroy the Revival with powerbombs.

Dash bails to escape and Dawson collapses, but tricks Achem into a small package for two. But then the AOP recover yet again and just finish with their powerbomb at 23:38 to retain. Man, that one just fell apart completely after DIY was eliminated. They just kept it going WAY too long, as the match peaked around 15:00 in and then ran for another 10:00. If that was going to be the finish, the AOP should have just beaten them both at the same time. It was looking like a solid ****+ match around the time of the big dives, and then it just fell apart. ***1/2 It’s all the more frustrating because the match was SO well-constructed up until DIY went out, and then it was just the same horror movie villain deal from the AOP as they shrug off all damage and just win with their finish for the anticlimactic ending.

NXT Women’s title: Asuka v. Ember Moon

From a storyline standpoint it’s probably time to take the title off Asuka, since she’s run through the division multiple times and holds the all-time longevity record for any NXT champion ever. There is literally nothing left to accomplish. The new title belt looks much better, a more professional looking title. They fight over a headlock on the mat and achieve a stalemate. Asuka offers the handshake and she’s like “PSYCH!” in a funny spot, but that just upsets Ember. So Asuka suckers her in for the flying hip, but Ember kicks her down and out of the ring. Ember follows and Asuka sends her flying into the railing for a bump that didn’t look pleasant for Ember. Back in, Asuka gives her the spinning fists and puts her down again with the hip to set up the choke, but Moon escapes and puts Asuka on the floor. Moon follows with a dive that had enthusiasm, although not quite enough distance. Back in, she goes for the flying stunner, but it misses and Asuka puts her down with a shining wizard for two. Another try at the Asuka Lock, but Ember powers out of it after a good struggle. Asuka tries another running hip and misses, and Ember makes the comeback with a legsweep into a low dropkick. Ember with a handspring clothesline in the corner, but Asuka comes back with a german suplex to cut her off. Ember with an exploder suplex for two and she goes up to finish, but Asuka cuts her off. Ember suplexes her down again and gives it another try, so Asuka shoves the ref into her and finishes with a high kick at 12:13 to retain. That really felt like it was supposed to be leading to Ember hitting her big move and winning the title, and it probably should have been. Solid match. ***1/4

Oh hey, Drew McIntyre is back and watching at ringside. I guess they’re REALLY determined to make sure that ITV group can’t get any foothold.

NXT title: Bobby Roode v. Shinsuke Nakamura

So now all the NXT belts have a unified design, which is nice on one hand but kind of like those rows of condos and McMansions in big cities on the other. They trade headlocks and taunts to start, and Nakamura takes him down and drops a knee as the dueling chants are LOUD for both guys. They fight over a suplex on the apron and Shinsuke gets thrown into the railing as a result. Back in, Roode goes to work on the neck and that goes on FOREVER, but Nakamura makes the comeback with his usual half-assed stuff. And I mean, half-assed Nakamura is worth the full ass of everyone else on the roster, but he’s really clearly in a low gear here. Nakamura dumps Roode and follows with a diving knee, which gets two in the ring. Nakamura sets up for the Kinshasa, but Roode ducks it and clips the knee, then goes to work on it. Figure-four, but Nakamura reverses and then catches Roode in an armbreaker until Roode makes the ropes. Nakamura charges him in the corner and misses, hurting his knee again as a result. He keeps coming with kicks to the arm of Roode, but Roode gets a backstabber for two. Nakamura comes back with a high kick for two, and Roode rolls out of the ring to evade the Kinshasa. Back in, he gets a cheapshot and hits the Glorious DDT for two. Roode goes to grab the ringbell and gets stopped by the ring, so Nakamura tries the Kinshasa and walks into a huge spinebuster that gets two instead. Nakamura sets up again and Roode clips the knee, hits another DDT, and gets the pin to retain at 28:38. Doesn’t feel like they needed to go 30 minutes, but it was a really good match and the crowd was into it. ***3/4

The Pulse

Mostly underwhelming, about what we were expecting going in. There was definitely nothing I’d call a blowaway great match or anything, although the tag title was looking that way until they couldn’t figure out a proper finish. I’d call this a safe show to skip if you’re pressed for time this weekend. Everything was pretty good, but there was nothing particularly memorable and no title changes.

Thumbs in the middle.