The SmarK Rant for NXT Takeover New York (04.05.19)
Live from Brooklyn NY
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Your hosts are Mauro, Percy & Nigel.
NXT Tag titles: The War Raiders v. Aleister Black & Ricochet
The crowd is of course insanely hot for everything already. Black trades headlocks with Rowe to start and teases an early Black Mass kick before backing off out of respect. Over to Ricochet, who uses the gymnastics on Hanson and dropkicks him to the floor, giving us a double fakeout from Fast & Furious. Back in and everyone just decides to throw down, and the challengers double-team Rowe before Hanson regroups and slams them both. Rowe works on Black’s arm, but he tries to slam Hanson onto Black and Black kicks Rowe in the knee, forcing him to accidentally slam his own partner. Over to Ricochet who fires off a shooting star press at 100 miles an hour for two. Black elbows Rowe down for two and then goes to a hold while the crowd gets distracted by someone getting thrown out by security. Black throws kicks in the corner and rolls him up for two, but Rowe fights him off with a knee strike and brings Hanson back in. Hanson with the running corner clotheslines on both guys, but Ricochet catches him and hits a fallaway slam! Where did THAT come from? Black and Rowe slug it out, but Black walks into a knee, and then gets his own knee and a german suplex for two. Hanson and Ricochet trade cartwheels and then handsprings, and Hanson gets two off the elbow. Hanson goes up, but takes too long and gets brought down by Ricochet. Rowe knees him into the corner and the Raiders hit a double-team lariat/german suplex on Ricochet for two, with Black saving with a double stomp from the top. This is INSANE. Black manages to dump Hanson and follows with a dive, but then Rowe gets his own and Ricochet finishes with the SPACE FLYING TIGER DROP. And then Hanson decides to go up and hit everyone with a cannonball for good measure. AND THIS IS THE OPENER! Everyone is out on the floor, but Ricochet and Rowe dive in at 9 to beat the count just as the crowd is getting ready to groan. So they slug it out and Black tags in with kicks on both Raiders, and then Black Mass on Rowe to set up the shooting star press from Ricochet for two. Ricochet back to the top, but he whiffs on the 630 and Black misses his own moonsault on the floor. Back in the ring, Ricochet desperately superkicks Hanson on his way in, but walks into the pop-up powerslam from Hanson and they finish him with the Fallout legdrop at 18:36 to retain. Finish kind of deflated the incredibly hot crowd a bit, but this was a hellacious opener that went non-stop for 20 minutes. And there’s no point in putting the titles on two guys leaving for the main roster. ****1/2 And then the crowd gives Black and Ricochet their farewell after some mutual respect with the champions, which was pretty great.
North American title: Velveteen Dream v. Matt Riddle
Dream wins the weekend with an entrance where he’s dressed as the Statue of Liberty and carried to the ring by his own version of The Boys on a throne. The crowd is very, very torn here. Riddle offers him a fist bump to start, but Dream isn’t about sportsmanship. Riddle gives him a couple of leg kicks, so Dream offers the fist now and Riddle takes him down and starts stretching him. They do the test of strength and Riddle somehow transitions into an armbar on the mat, and Dream escapes to the ropes. And then stomps on Riddle’s bare foot and rolls him up for two. That works. This REALLY annoys Riddle, who gets a crazy series of gut wrench suplexes, but Dream hits him with a pair of double axehandles off the top. Riddle bails and Dream follows with another axehandle to the floor, but Riddle catches him with a german suplex out there. Back in, Riddle with a senton and he slugs away with elbows in the corner, setting up with an exploder and another senton. Head kick gets two. Riddle tries to wrap him up with the Bro-mission, but Dream gets to the ropes, so Riddle kicks him in the face as he gets increasingly heelish. Dream fires back with a release german, but Riddle lands on his feet and hits a knee strike and fisherman’s buster for two. He tries another submission and Dream rolls into the ropes, so Riddle pounds him with forearms out of frustration. Dream fights back with a sleeper, but Riddle reverses him into a cradle for two and then takes Dream down with an armbar into a triangle. Dream fights up and Riddle just wallops him with knees and into a german suplex for two. Riddle keeps throwing kicks, but Dream is HULKING UP and he makes the comeback. Big boot and he clotheslines Riddle to the floor for a flying axehandle out there, and back in for a fameasser that gets two. Dream goes up and lands on Riddle’s knee, but keeps coming with a codebreaker for two. Dream goes up and then changes his mind and hits a running knee on Riddle instead, but Riddle picks the ankle on the way by and hooks him in an anklelock. Dream escapes a powerbomb and hits his wacky DDT and the Dream Valley Driver, which sets up the Purple Rainmaker…but he lands in the Bromission on the way down! Dream makes the ropes and goes up again, but Riddle deadlifts him with a german suplex and goes up with a moonsault for two. Riddle is a GOD. Dream keeps fighting with a superkick, but Riddle powerbombs him into a knee strike for two. Bromission in the middle, but Dream rolls him over for the miracle pin to retain at 17:48. A great match with a great story being told about Riddle getting too aggressive and arrogant, and even in losing he looked like a superstar who was murdering Dream and slipped up one time. ****1/2
Meanwhile, KUSHIDA signs with NXT and sits at ringside.
NXT UK title: Pete Dunne v. WALTER
It pleases me that WALTER is bringing back the wrestling tradition of classical music as entrance theme. WALTER wants the test of strength and then ties up Dunne on the mat, but Dunne goes for the ankle and they both back off. Dunne tries the SMALL JOINT MANIPULATION, but nearly gets chopped as a result and changes his mind. WALTER overpowers him and goes to work on the arm, and then puts Dunne down with a chop that has Dunne flying backwards in shock. DAMN. WALTER with the headlock and a big boot to put Dunne on the floor, and he follows him out with a back suplex on the apron. Which is the HARDEST PART OF THE RING. In case that was unclear. Back in, WALTER starts on the ankle, but Dunne reverses him into his own anklelock. And then WALTER just chops him to escape and goes to a Boston crab. Dunne escapes to the apron and counters a chop by grabbing the fingers, but WALTER boots him off the apron. Back in, Dunne fights back and hits an enzuigiri in the corner and puts WALTER on the floor with a kick, then follows with a moonsault. Back in, Dunne goes up and WALTER tries to counter him with a superplex, so Dunne powerbombs him out of the corner for two. WALTER bails off that and Dunne follows with a crazy double stomp from the top to the floor. Back in, WALTER comes back with a dropkick into the corner and a german suplex, then a powerbomb for two. WALTER just clubs on him and follows with another horrifying chop that makes Dunne’s knees buckle. Dunne keeps fighting back with stiff shots of his own, but WALTER won’t let go of his hand so Dunne goes for the joints. And then WALTER just stomps right on his face to end that idea. Dunne hits one more enzuigiri and beats on the hand again, but goes up and gets crotched. WALTER tries a superplex to bring him down even as Dunne smashes his hand into the post to stop him, but WALTER overpowers him and hits a german superplex for two. WALTER with another chop, but Dunne catches the hand and it’s SMALL JOINT MANIPULATION as Dunne makes the comeback with a crucifix bomb for two. Dunne stomps the face, but WALTER fires back with his own foots to the face and catches him in a sleeper on the mat. Dunne rolls into more joint manipulation and wraps him up on the mat, but WALTER makes the ropes. They fight to the top as the Network is buffering and breaking up like crazy at this point. WALTER chops him down to the mat again and dives for a flying splash, but he lands on Dunne’s triangle. Dunne is unable to break his fingers, however, and WALTER just stomps the crap out of him to break and then stomps his face some more. Dunne won’t let go of the hand and tries the Bitter End, but WALTER hits him with a lariat. Dunne hits his own, and then follows with the Bitter End for two. Dunne is a tad freaked out by this development and they slug it out in the middle until WALTER just MURDERS him with a boot and goes up. Dunne makes a last effort to cut him off and tries a triangle on the top rope, but WALTER just powerbombs him down to earth and then goes back up and finishes with the flying splash to win the UK title at 27:18. And so Dunne is done after 685 days. And Jesus Christ this show is insane. ****1/4 for “Worst” Match honors thus far but still crazy stiff and hard-hitting.
NXT Women’s title: Shayna Baszler v. Kairi Sane v. Io Shirai v. Bianca Belair
The Sky Pirates get thrown out immediately and Baszler goes after Belair with a choke attempt, but Belair reverses for two. Shirai saves with a double knee on Belair for two. Bianca blows a kiss of disdain at Sane, but she CATCHES it and Shirai hits it out of the arena. That’s cold. The Pirates double-team Shayna, but that leaves them alone with each other. So we get a bit of joshi but Baszler quickly breaks it up and beats on Belair instead. Elbow stomp for Belair, but she still comes back with dropkicks to put Baszler on the floor, and then uses her hair to run Shayna into the post. Back in, that gets two. Sane comes back in with a flying elbow on Belair for two, but Io clears the ring and hits Belair with a running knee in the corner. She goes up and gets caught in a slam, however, and that gets two. Baszler chokes Belair out in the corner, which sets up a Tower of Doom spot and everyone is down. Belair and Baszler get dumped and the Sky Pirates hit them with dives, but Belair cuts off Shirai with a spear in the ring for two. Everyone is out again and they try for pins, but the Pirates double-team Belair until Baszler cuts them off again. Belair presses Shirai onto the other two outside. Back in, Belair with the double chicken wing, but Baszler reverses into the choke and Belair powers out of it and into the KOD for two. Shirai makes the save and moonsaults Baszler twice, for two. Sane makes the save and Shirai is SHOCKED. So they fight it out and Sane slams her bestie onto Baszler and goes up with the Insane Elbow for two. And Shirai breaks THAT up. So the Pirates EXPLODE again and slug it out, leading to Sane hitting a DDT, but Belair breaks up the flying elbow with a hairwhip. And then she puts BOTH Sky Pirates on her back for a double KOD, but Baszler saves with a kick in the face and back to the choke as Belair desperately claws the eyes and pulls the hair, but taps at 17:00 to keep the belt on Shayna. I think it was time to change the title and move onto someone else, but given Baszler is 38 I don’t know if she’s ever getting to the main roster. This was kind of a weird clash of styles that didn’t really work great and was waiting for the Sky Pirates to bust out and go crazy, and it never got there. But it was still fun and solid. Baszler kind of has a ceiling of what she can do and she’s seemingly there now. ***1/4
NXT Title, 2/3 Falls: Johnny Gargano v. Adam Cole
Although Gargano turned babyface again for this match, the New York crowd is decidedly on the side of Adam Cole, who is a BAY BAY face in their eyes. Gargano’s Iron Man tribute would be even more awesome if this was an Iron Man match, but I guess there’s not really an applicable superhero for a best of three falls match. Cole works a side headlock, but Gargano reverses to an armbar as Nigel triggers me a bit by continuously talking “the sports entertainment version of…” stuff tonight. God, just say “Wrestling”! It’s Johnny WRESTLING on WRESTLEmania weekend, for fuck’s sake! Gargano manages to dump Cole to the floor and is unable to get a dive, as Cole evades him and hits him with a kick from the floor. Cole goes to a headlock in the ring and puts Gargano down with an elbow for one and then into the facelock. Gargano fights out and they collide on a bodyblock attempt and Gargano hits an overhead suplex and a rollup for two. Cole reverses it for two, but Gargano slingshots with the spear for two. Johnny goes up with a head slam for two, but Cole gives him a backstabber out of the corner for two. Adam tries a suplex and Gargano reverses to a cradle and they each reverse that for two. Gargano misses a kick from the mat and Cole sets up for the Last Shot, but Gargano kicks him in the exposed knee and rolls him up for two. They trade rollup attempts again and Cole hits the Last Shot to win the first fall.
Second fall and Cole comes out swinging and hits another Last Shot for two. He didn’t have a chance to pull down the kneepad so that probably saved Gargano. They head to the apron and Gargano spears him off the apron and follows with a somersault senton to the floor. Back in, Gargano tries the DDT, but gets caught in an Ushigoroshi by Cole and that gets two. Cole goes up and Gargano blocks him with an Air Raid Crash from the top, which gets two. They fight on the apron and Gargano gets his slingshot DDT on the apron, THE HARDEST PART OF THE RING, but he stops the count like an idiot and allows Cole to run him into the post twice. Back in, Cole exposes the knee again like he’s a scandalous lady of the 20s, but Gargano wraps him up in the Gargano Escape for the submission to even it up.
Third fall and they slug it out with forearms before Gargano hits a lariat, but misses the DIY kick. Cole gets a brainbuster for two and goes up, but Gargano kicks him down and lawn darts him for two. They slug it out again and knock each other out with kicks, but Cole recovers first and hits a superkick to the back of the head and a straitjacket suplex for two. Cole sets up for Ciampa’s finish to be a dick, but Gargano fights out of it, and hits a superkick and inverted rana into the DIY superkick…but Cole rolls out of the ring to escape the pin. Cole hauls him out of the ring and suplexes him headfirst onto the apron in a sick spot. Back in, Gargano suddenly pops up with the slingshot DDT for two. Cole escapes again, so Gargano hits a suicide dive and tries the spear back in, but Cole catches him with a kick and hits a Canadian Destroyer for two. HOW DID HE KICK OUT?! Cole boots him to the floor and lays the badmouth on him because he’s a FAILURE, but Johnny has had ENOUGH and runs him into the Spanish table. But then he fails again and Cole hits Ciampa’s Fairytale Ending on the table instead. And Cole wants the countout win because he’s not stupid, but Gargano dives in…and walks into a superkick for two. That would have been a gut wrenching finish had they done it. Cole sets up for one more Last Shot, but Johnny superkicks him and hooks the Gargano Escape. And then the Undisputed Era runs in and breaks it up and the ref is bumped, allowing them to hit the High Low and Cole to get two. The crowd is going INSANE at this point. Cole charges and Gargano dumps him onto the Era, then he stops to take out the other three on the floor, only to walk into the Last Shot….for two! OH MY GOD THIS MATCH. Cole has one last badmouth for Johnny, but misses the Last Shot and it’s the Gargano Escape and Johnny is finally champion once and for all. Like you need to ask what this gets. *****
And then in our traditional credits tag, Ciampa comes out in his neck brace and celebrates with Johnny and his wife to finally end the storyline and wrap it up for good.
Jesus, I just started my new recommendation scale and this show already broke it. On a scale of Burn It / Avoid It / Skim It / Watch It / Binge It, this one gets HOLY FUCK out of 10. How is anything else this weekend supposed to top this one? It’s not even FAIR. This is probably not only show of the weekend, but also show of the year and one of the all-time great shows when all is said and done.
WHY ARE YOU STILL READING THIS? Go buy the Network and watch it. Or watch it again if you already watched it. Do I have to do everything for you?