The SmarK Rant for NXT Takeover New Orleans–04.07.18

The SmarK Rant for NXT Takeover New Orleans

Live from New Orleans, LA

Your hosts are Mauro Ranallo & Nigel McGuinness

NXT North American title: EC3 v. Ricochet v. Killian Dain v. Lars Sullivan v. Velveteen Dream v. Adam Cole (Bay-Bee!)

Everyone runs away and leaves Sullivan to face off with Dain, but EC3 talks too much and everyone goes after him instead. Richochet immediately flies onto the big guys with a shooting star press to the floor because WHY THE FUCK NOT, and he’s already climbing. The Dream cuts him off and Ricochet takes him down with a handspring into a headscissors, but he goes up and Dream sends him to the floor. Ricochet is immediately a huge star here. Cole comes in and takes Dream down with a neckbreaker, but EC3 clears the ring. Lars hits Cole with a snap powerslam, but Dain tosses him and follows with a dive. Back in, everyone dogpiles onto Dain, but he fights them off and everyone slugs it out. And then Lars just tosses a ladder at the other 5 in a scary spot and then beats on everyone with it for good measure. Lars presses Dream onto the ladder and makes the climb, but Ricochet cuts him off and everyone teams up to powerbomb him off the ladder. This leaves Adam Cole alone, but he can’t reach, and Dain hauls him down and beats on him. I feel like talking shit to Killian Dain is a bad strategy. So Cole and EC3 team up on Sullivan with the ladder, then put a ladder between the ring and the table and run Dain into that. But then EC3 steals Cole’s catchphrase and that goes badly for him. Cole cleans house with a superkick party and then reclaims his gimmick and climbs. He’s still too short, however, and Sullivan cuts him off. Dream gets his shit in next, dropping the elbow on Dain and Cole and Ricochet in succession and fighting off Sullivan with the ladder. This sets up Dream dropping the big elbow off the top of the ladder onto Sullivan, and there’s his big spot for the match. He climbs, but EC3 cuts him off with a powerbomb into another ladder and makes his own climb. He slugs it out with Cole on top and brings him down with a TKO off the ladder, but then Dain takes him out with a bicycle kick. And then adds a senton onto a ladder for good measure. He goes up and Cole jumps on his back, so Dain just hits EC3 with a pump splash onto a ladder while Cole is on his back. Holy SHIT. Ricochet finally revives and throws strikes on the two monsters, but Lars just hurls him away. The crowd chants “Throw him back!” at Dain, so he complies as this match just gets more awesome. It’s a CLUBBERING battle between Dain and Sullivan, and Lars wins that with a powerslam and makes another climb. Ricochet saves and he also climbs, but Sullivan dumps the ladder over, so Ricochet turns it into a dive in mid-air and hits the guys on the floor. Incredible! Back in, EC3 cuts Ricochet off, but Ricochet hits him with a shooting star onto the ladder and climbs again. Dream saves and we somehow end up with the ladders interlocked after some contrivance, and Dream hits him with a death valley driver onto the ladder bridge and they’re both down and out. Sullivan returns and lays out Dream before putting him on the ladder bridge outside the ring and slamming EC3 onto Dream and through the ladder. And then there’s ANOTHER ladder bridge left, so Dain puts Ricochet onto that one and slams Cole onto him, which destroys THAT ladder. This is one of the craziest goddamn trainwrecks I’ve ever seen in my life. Sullivan is the only one left alive, so he makes the climb, until Dain cuts him off. They slug it out and EC3 brings his own ladder, which gives us four guys all fighting at the top for the belt. And then Dream sets up a THIRD ladder and we get a six-way slugfest at the top, and everyone goes down again. Sullivan is again last man standing and he climbs, but Ricochet comes FLYING in from off-camera and pulls him off the ladder, but Adam Cole shoves him off and he’s North American champion at 31:12. Pretty sure no one’s topping this one. ****1/2

NXT Women’s title: Ember Moon v. Shayna Baszler

Ember attacks and Shayna just COLD COCKS her. Ember comes back with a jumping codebreaker for two and goes for a crossface, but Shayna makes the ropes and escapes to the floor. Shayna runs her into the apron, THE HARDEST PART OF THE RING, and that gets two. Baszler with a gutwrench for two. Moon comes back with a handspring into the palm strike and rolls her up for two, but Shayna lays her out with a knee for two. She tries the choke and Moon slams her to escape and makes the comeback. Short DDT gets two. Moon misses a crossbody and Shayna goes for the arm, but Ember escapes and does her own arm snap for two. She goes up to finish, but Shayna brings her down and then runs her own shoulder into the post to pop back in, Martin Riggs-style. Moon waits for her to go to the floor, and then hits the Eclipse onto the floor and both girls are out. Back in, Moon goes in for the kill, but Shayna hooks her into the choke and Moon goes after the arm to break. Shayna recovers with a triangle, but Moon slams out of it for two. She goes up with the Eclipse, but Shayna catches her in a choke on the way down, and manages to hold it one-handed until Ember passes out at 12:51. It was the right time and place. They had no chance of following that opener, but they tried hard and Shayna having to fight with one arm was a cool story. ***1/4 Poor Ember, though, as she was in Asuka’s shadow for months and then had the misfortune of being in Shayna’s way.

Paige introduces a clip of “Fighting with my Family”, and she’s looking pretty rough. Also, the movie is apparently about the Rock, judging from the clip. Hard pass.

NXT tag team titles: Kyle O’Reilly & Adam Cole v. Roderick Strong & Pete Dunne v. The Authors of Pain

It’s time to move up the Authors, so I doubt they’re winning. As Nigel points out, the Undisputed Era can actually win a tournament they weren’t even entered in! The AOP clean house to start and powerbomb KOR for two. Poor Adam Cole continues to have a rough night, as they toss him out of the ring and then put him through the table with a brutal chokeslam. Awesome touch: Cole actually fights and struggles and nearly escapes the first time. So that leaves Kyle on his own and he slugs it out with Dunne, but Strong hits him with a backbreaker for two. I feel like the Strong/Dunne team is begging for a wacky pun name, but I’m drawing a blank. Kyle puts an armbar on Strong from the bottom, but the AOP powerbomb Dunne onto him to break it up. The Authors double-team Strong in the corner until Kyle heads back in the ring to save, and Dunne gets the hot tag. Dunne escapes a german suplex from KOR and then reverses out of a slam from Rezar and gets a rollup for two. Dunne and O’Reilly slug it out, but Akam lays them both out with clotheslines and it’s a Super Collider for two. Strong makes the save and Dunne goes after Rezar’s fingers, which sets up an Angle slam from Strong for two. Strong drops Kyle on the apron (THE HARDEST PART OF THE RING!) and Dunne adds a double-stomp on him. Back in, Strong and Dunne with a double-team suplex on Rezar for two, but Akam saves and fights with Strong on the floor. Dunne hits the Bitter End on O’Reilly….but Strong TURNS and lays him out, putting O’Reilly on top for the pin to apparently join the Undisputed Era. Well, clearly they’re winners. What an epic heel turn, as everyone thought they had blown off that storyline, and then BAM, swerve at the moment that literally no one was expecting it to come. With Cole sitting out literally the entire match and then coming back to win a tournament he wasn’t even entered in…that’s some crazy, high-level evil genius there. Average match with a brilliant finish. ***1/4

Hey, it’s…uh…Alice Cooper’s guitarist at ringside. That’s kinda stretching for celebrity status.

NXT title: Andrade Cien Almas v. Aleister Black

I don’t really see a title change here, but the Almas/Vega package is ready for prime time and it’s time to roll the dice on the main roster. Black blitzes him to start and Almas escapes to the floor, so Black follows with a moonsault. Back in, Almas tries to cut him off, but Black wraps him up with a crucifix into a sunset flip for two. Vega gets involved and hits Black with a rana on the floor, which allows Almas to take over in the ring. Inverted draping DDT gets two. Almas works the arm and holds an armbar through a chinlock, but Black fights out of a sleeper, so Almas grabs a draping armbar in the corner instead. He springboards back into the ring, but lands on Black’s knee and both guys are down. Black goes up and Almas cuts him off, but misses the double knees before coming back with a german suplex and moonsault for two. They slug it out and Almas hits a backhand strike for two, but Black kicks him down for two. They’re both out again, but Black makes the comeback and Almas dumps him to the floor and follows with a corkscrew dive onto him. Back in, that gets two. Almas grabs the belt, which allows Vega to come in with a rana on Black that gets two. Hammerlock DDT is countered into a cradle for two, and Black Mass gets two as Vega puts her man’s foot on the ropes to save. Black tries to chase her away with a dive, but she trips him up and Almas hangs him in the corner and hits the double stomp onto the apron. Back in, Almas with the double knees for two. Hammerlock DDT is reversed again by Black, but Almas puts him down with an enzuigiri. To the apron, as Almas hits him with the ringpost knees like he did to Gargano, which sets up the Hammerlock DDT, but Black manages to backdrop him to the floor. He follows with the Undertaker dive and actually overshoots him, but Almas hits him with the Hammerlock DDT out of nowhere and gets a hot near-fall. Vega comes in AGAIN, but lands on Almas this time, and BLACK MASS gives us a new NXT champion at 18:25. What a great finish, as the arrogant heel finally gets what he deserves. **** Best of luck to Almas on the main roster, because he’s gonna be the big Latino face of Smackdown they’ve been looking for and I hope they don’t screw it up.

Unsanctioned match: Johnny Gargano v. Tomasso Ciampa

Ciampa comes out without music and the crowd just HATES him. So awesome. They slug it out to start and Johnny puts the boots to him in the corner and clotheslines him to the floor, and follows with a suicide dive. They fight on the floor and Ciampa gets thrown into the front row, as Gargano follows with a dive. Ciampa suplexes him onto the railing as the crowd just boos everything he does. Backbreaker on the floor and Ciampa pulls up the mats, but is unable to suplex Gargano onto the concrete. Johnny fights back and hurls him into the announcers in a crazy spot, and the crowd chants “Mama Mia” as Mauro runs for his life. Gargano wants a piledriver on the table, but Ciampa goes low and suplexes him onto the floor instead. Nigel is the only one with a live microphone and he carries the commentary by himself best he can, which adds to the chaos of this match. Ciampa suplexes him onto a piece of the table, and back in the ring he beats on Johnny and whips him into the corner while the ref watches HELPLESSLY. Gargano fights back, but Ciampa hits him with a backdrop suplex for two. Ciampa with a cloverleaf , as Gargano pulls the beard to stop him, but then a second try succeeds and Gargano has to make the ropes. However, it’s UNSANCTIONED so there’s no rope break and Johnny has to pull himself to the apron to escape. And then Ciampa just stomps on his face like a complete dick and adds a running knee strike. Then some poor guy at ringside with a broken leg gets too close and he STEALS THE CRUTCHES. If that been a Make-A-Wish kid, he’d be the greatest wrestler in history. He might still be, the night is young. Ciampa tells Gargano to look him in the eye before he kills him, but Gargano escapes the death by crutch and makes the comeback, only to have Ciampa trip him up on the apron and he takes a scary-looking bump on the back of his head. They fight to the apron and Gargano tries the slingshot DDT, but Ciampa sees that coming and blocks with the White Noise, which Johnny turns into a powerbomb on the exposed concrete to finally pay off that spot. “You deserve it!” notes the crowd. That’s some on-point snark, New Orleans. Kudos. Back in, they both dive for the crutch and Johnny Wrestling wins it, and it’s TIME FOR SOME PAIN. Ciampa backdrops him to the floor, but Johnny WAFFLES him in his big stupid veiny head and comes back in with the slingshot DDT for two. Next up, he undoes a turnbuckle, which hopefully won’t backfire on him, but Ciampa reverses out of that situation and they slug it out on the apron. Gargano slingshots in with a spear, but runs into a knee and a powerbomb gets two for Ciampa. Ciampa hits him with a running knee to the head, after doing the DIY pose like a complete asshole, but that gets two. Ciampa with a piledriver, but Johnny escapes and fires back with clotheslines, then grabs the beard and slaps him until Ciampa lays him out with a lariat. Gargano comes back and rolls into the Gargano Escape, but Ciampa makes the ropes, only to have that backfire on him. So he digs his fingers into Gargano’s eyes instead. What a spectacular dickhead. Ciampa goes old school with wrist tape for the choke, but Gargano fights back and they slug it out whle essentially joined together by the tape. And then Ciampa kicks him in the fucking balls to win that because he’s a goddamn ASSHOLE, and hits Gargano with a crutch and a lungblower for two. Oh my god, they had me with that one. Johnny pulls himself up and Ciampa gives him one last trash-talking, but Gargano pulls out a lariat and then lawn-darts him into the exposed turnbuckle, and it’s superkick party for two. Amazing near-fall as Johnny told HIM to look into his eyes, and then did the DIY pose before kicking him in the face. Gargano goes up and Ciampa cuts him off with a knee strike and tries the White Noise off the top, but Johnny elbows out of it, only to have Ciampa hit a lungblower off the top instead for a crazy near-fall. Ciampa pulls off the knee brace and sets up for the kill, but stupidly leaves the brace sitting there on the mat, and Gargano hits him in the knee with his own brace. He smashes up the crutch and threatens to stab him in the face, but can’t pull the trigger, even as Ciampa is basically calling for mercy. So Johnny suckers him into taking a swing with the brace, then locks in an STF and TAPS HIM OUT with the brace on his own face at 36:57 to win the war. FOLLOW THAT, WRESTLEMANIA. If Meltzer can do it, so can I. ******

The Pulse

With talk that bookies aren’t taking bets on star ratings for WM because there might be a five-star match, NXT is like “HOLD MY BEER.” Just when you think they can’t deliver the best ever Takeover and top themselves again, here we are. If this was a PPV, it would have been one of the greatest ever. An exhausting and amazing night of wrestling.  Nuff said.