The SmarK Rant for NXT Takeover 25–06.01.19

The SmarK Rant for NXT Takeover 25 – 06.01.19

Live from Bridgeport, CT

Your hosts are Mauro, Beth Phoenix & Nigel McGuinness

Sponsored by the people who make you wear your seat belt! I know I’ve mused about this before, but are there seriously idiots still out there who think that wearing your seat belt is the man holding you down? Actually, if you are, then feel free. Darwinism tends to take care of things. Also, it’s easier to hang onto your drink if you’re securely fastened in. Otherwise you might spill it.

Matt Riddle v. Roderick Strong

They do some grappling to start and Riddle goes for the Bro-Mission right away, but Strong makes the ropes and throws some chops. Riddle comes back with the amazing rolling gutwrenches and Strong bails to escape. Riddle tries to follow with a dive, but Strong pulls him down for some abuse, and Riddle tosses him into the stairs and follows with a superman punch off the stairs. They slug it out on the apron, THE HARDEST PART OF THE RING, where Strong drops him with a backdrop suplex to take over. Back in, Strong suplexes him onto the top rope to put him on the floor, and back in for two. Riddle slugs back, but Strong catches the superman punch and turns it into a backbreaker for two. Strong goes to work on the back while the crowd is split between “Undisputed” and “Let’s go Bro”. They head to the floor and Strong adds some more chops, and pounds away on the neck back in the ring. That gets two, but Riddle rolls him into a cool cradle for two. Strong immediately pops up with an Angle slam for two. Riddle reverses out of a submission attempt and gets a brainbuster, and they slug it out as Riddle makes the comeback. He throws forearms in the corner to set up an exploder and follows with a senton and PK for two. I refuse to call it a “bro-ton”. Not everything has to be “bro”.

Riddle throws the Yes kicks, but Strong comes back with a ripcord knee, and then Riddle catches him with a GTS and high angle german suplex for two. Riddle loses him on a tombstone attempt and Strong comes back with an enzuigiri in the corner to set up a superplex, which gets two. They slug it out and Strong throws kicks and a running knee on the ropes, then fires away with three incredible running forearms from both sides and a facefirst slam for two. What a sequence! Strong with the Stronghold, but Riddle kicks him out of the ring to escape, and then catches him with a high kick and V-Trigger knee into a powerbomb and flash knee for two. Riddle goes up with a moonsault and lands on Strong’s knees, and Strong NAILS him with a high knee, into a lungblower and powerbomb for two, but he holds on into the Stronghold while Riddle tries to kick out. Riddle powers out, but Strong turns him over again, so Riddle kicks him from the mat and wraps him up in the Bro-Mission from underneath. Riddle’s back is hurt so he can’t quite sink it in, however, and Strong fights up. So Riddle puts him in tombstone position and pancakes him for the pin at 14:42 to finish him off instead. Incredible opener! ****1/2

Next week: A WRESTLEMANIA-EQUIVALENT PPV, live from Jeddah. Wherever that might be. I feel like I need a shower just watching these commercials.

NXT Tag titles: The Street Profits v. Kyle O’Reilly & Bobby Fish v. The Forgotten Sons v. Danny Burch & Oney Lorcan

Everyone slugs it out, with the Era and baldies alone in the ring for a striking battle as a result. The Era wins that and goes for one of the numerous ladders, but that turns into a big brawl on the floor and Dawkins hits everyone with a dive for the first big car wreck spot. The Profits make the first climb, but the UE saves and climbs, and Blake shoves O’Reilly over and he lands backfirst on the ladder. Ouch. The Sons clear the ring with the ladder as a weapon, but Burch & Lorcan suplex them at the same time and the ladder goes FLYING and nearly decapitates poor Kyle O’Reilly as a result. The Profits double-team Burch with a spinebuster into Ford’s frog splash, and then they put Blake on a ladder and do the leapfrog onto it. Same deal for Cutler, but Fish cuts it off and O’Reilly comes in with a missile dropkick and lands on ANOTHER ladder. This poor bastard tonight. Fish just wrecks Ford with a german suplex onto the ladder and the Era climbs again. Cutler tries to save and Fish runs interference, but then Blake powerbombs poor ragdoll physics model Kyle O’Reilly into the ladder. They better give him the fucking tag titles just for that bump.

Cutler tries to climb and O’Reilly grabs a kneebar from the mat through the ladder, and Blake saves and tosses Kyle. The Sons double-team Fish with a flying stomp off the ladder and make the climb, and the crowd wants NONE OF THAT. So the Profits and Bald Guys team up to save with two crazy double-teams…and Kyle O’Reilly is the last man left. Ryker, the third Son, comes out and beats on everyone to clear the ring, and man is the crowd so not into this idea. Lorcan charges him and gets backdropped into the ladder as the crowd chants “We Forgot You”. Finally everyone teams up and puts the boots to Ryker for the big babyface pop and then pulverizes him with the ladder before running him off the apron with it. Ford follows with a tope as the match is dedicating WAY too much time to fucking Jaxson Ryker and his male pattern baldness. Back to the match as Lorcan and Burch double-team Fish’s arm and dump him and then hurl O’Reilly around some more and then throw a ladder at all three Sons. They make the climb and the Era saves and adds their own ladder as all four slug it out up there. And then the Sons dump them all over, having been forgotten, and Blake makes the climb until Dawkins spears Cutler and Ford dives in and grabs the titles at 21:30. I was hoping for the Undisputed to regain the titles, but I can’t hate on this result. What I CAN hate is Ryker destroying the middle portion of the match with the whole bullshit segment where he beat everyone up like Frankenstein’s monster and wouldn’t sell anything. That really killed the flow of the match and it never recovered, although not for lack of Kyle O’Reilly trying to single-handedly carry it. ***1/2

North American title: Velveteen Dream v. Tyler Breeze

Breeze goes for the Unprettier early and turns it into a lungblower to put Dream on the floor, but Dream blocks a dive. Back in, Dream with a double axehandle and Lionsault for two. Dream goes up and Tyler bails to escape, then crotches Dream on the post and follows with a flying forearm off the apron. He tries it again and Dream slugs him on the way down, but he hurts his knee and Breeze rolls him into a half-crab. Dream makes the ropes, so Breeze stomps him down in the corner and dropkicks him over the top rope in a nice bump from Dream. Breeze follows him out, but Dream superkicks him into the announce table and smashes him into that a few times. And hey, we stop for a selfie with the champ. “Say cheese…I SAID SAY CHEESE!” Breeze gets offended and superkicks him, but walks into the Dream Valley Driver in the ring and that gets two. Breeze comes back with an enzuigiri and goes up, but Dream rolls through for two. Dream tries his DDT, but Breeze fights out and superkicks him for two. I don’t know what it is, but they’re just not meshing here and it’s a real struggle. Breeze tries the Unprettier and Dream reverses out, but he goes up and gets dropkicked by Breeze on the way down. Dream with the DDT for two. Dream goes up and Breeze crotches him, but he tries a DDT and Dream throws him off. Breeze with the tombstone, but Dream reverses and they do that a few times and Dream rolls him into the Unprettier for two. Dream goes up with the Purple Rainmaker, but hits knee and the Unprettier gets two. Dream with a small package for two. Breeze with the Beauty Shot leg lariat, but Dream rolls to the floor to escape and goes dead weight on him. Breeze breaks up the count, but Dream tries to use the title belt as a weapon, and Breeze grabs it, which distracts him long enough for Dream to hit the Purple Rainmaker elbow to retain at 17:00. Kind of a heelish finish there for the Dream. Match was…good, I’d say. But they just never got on the same page and it was a fight the whole way through. *** Afterwards, Dream offers a SELFIE OF RESPECT, but then peacocks him on the way out anyway.


Meanwhile, Damian Priest is all dark and emo and stuff. Isn’t that Aleister Black’s gimmick?

NXT Women’s title: Shayna Baszler v. Io Shirai

Shirai comes out of the corner to start but Shayna kind of condescendingly takes her down and teases some kicks. So Shirai gets her own kicks and a low dropkick to put Baszler on the floor, and she follows with a baseball slide. Back in, Baszler quickly takes her down and stomps the wrist to take over, then uses some SMALL JOINT MANIPULATION and a vicious lariat for two. Baszler works the arm and snaps it Pentagon style, then wraps up the arm in a twisting top wristlock. Io tries a suplex but Baszler hits the arm to break and kicks her down for two. Shayna goes for the other arm, but Shirai dodges it and comes back with a german suplex for two. The arm is still too injured to hold on, however. Io comes back with a 619 and springboard dropkick for two. They slug it out and Shirai snaps her down with a crossface, but Baszler slams out of it and gets a hanging armbar in the corner. Shirai kicks her to the floor and follows with a moonsault press, and back in for a missile dropkick and running knees in the corner. This brings out the Horsewomen, but Candace LaRae saves with a kendo stick and Baszler gets a small package for two while Shirai is distracted. Shirai escapes the choke and gets a palm strike to set up the moonsault, but it misses and Baszler gets the choke. Shirai rolls her over for two and gets a rollup for two, but the Kirafuna Clutch finishes at 12:12 after a long battle. This was good, but I feel like Baszler has hit a plateau and is kind of doing the same match over and over now and it’s past time to move onto someone else. ***1/4 And then Shirai is kind of a sore loser, attacking her with the kendo stick during the celebration and then moonsaulting her with a chair. Maybe she should have thought of that before she tapped out cleanly? The crowd gives Shayna a “You deserve it” chant while she sells, which is pretty funny.

NXT UK Takeover Cardiff, coming August 31! Gosh, good thing there’s no competing PPVs running on that date.


Well I don’t think NXT UK is causing anyone in AEW to lose sleep, at least.

NXT title: Johnny Gargano v. Adam Cole

Mauro notes that Adam Cole will be “looking to hit Gargano harder than a diss track”, to really show off his street cred. Well, he tried. Gargano is rocking the Captain Marvel gear tonight, but the crowd is not appreciative. Damn Brie Larson, ruining things for everyone. Gargano had his feel good win, but it’s time for Cole to get this thing. Cole tries the Last Shot early and Johnny reverses to a crossface, but Cole bails to escape. Back in, they fight for the wristlock and Gargano takes him down with a crucifix for two and they slug it out. They head to the floor and Gargano gets a somersault off the apron and gets a SICK double stomp on Cole’s arm from the apron. I know it’s all smoke and mirrors but it’s still momentarily shocking to see. Back in, Gargano goes to work on the arm with a cloverleaf and hammerlock combination and puts Cole on the top rope, but Adam slips out and superkicks the knee to bring Johnny down. Cole works on the knee now with a kneebar and goes up with a missile dropkick onto the knee. Cole pounds the knee, but Gargano gets a cradle for two and counters a dropkick with a powerbomb to take over again.

He pounds Cole with chops in the corner and they head up, but Gargano comes off the top and lands on Cole’s backstabber for two. They trade strikes and Cole gets an enzuigiri, setting up a Burning Hammer for two. They trade superkicks and Gargano goes down first, but then recovers with another superkick to put Cole on the floor. And then they both superkick each other on the floor. It’s like some kind of superkick-related celebration! Back in, Gargano with the slingshot DDT for two. Cole goes for the knee and Gargano double stomps him, but Cole escapes to the floor and yanks Gargano out for an ushigoroshi out there. Back in, another ushigoroshi gets two. Cole goes up and Gargano yanks him down by the arm and then spins him into the Gargano Escape, but Cole grabs the knee to escape. And that turns into the figure-four, as Cole gets two off that, but Johnny grabs the wrist and cranks on it to force a break. Cole dives for the knee again and Gargano grabs the wrist and they just exchange nasty shots at each other trying for the injured body part of the other. Now that’s some good stuff.

Cole tries another figure-four and Gargano shoves him out of the ring and catches him with the DDT on the way back in, but then tries an ill-advised dive and gets kicked in the face on the way out. And then Cole follows with the Panama Sunrise on the floor for a crazy bump, which gets two in the ring. Cole gives him the trash talk, but misses the Last Shot and Gargano gets the Gargano Escape…which Cole reverses into his own! And then Gargano hits a Last Shot for two. They slug it out from their knees and trade forearms, but Cole hits a trio of kicks, only for Gargano to hit a lariat on the way down. Cole recovers with another superkick, but Gargano gets his own superkick into the reverse rana, but then Cole hits the Last Shot for two. Holy crap. Cole has had enough and grabs a chair, but the ref goes to stop him and Gargano accidentally hits the ref with a dive. Well that’s a faux pas on his part. Gargano superkicks the chair into Cole’s face, but the ref is out. Well that’s cheating anyway. Cole summons his guys while Gargano readies the chair, but no one comes and Cole hits a DDT into the ring for two while Johnny is distracted. Cole goes for another Last Shot, but Gargano is apparently unable to sit up…and then suckers Cole into the Gargano Escape. Cole makes the ropes, but Gargano rolls him over, so Cole smashes the knee with his elbow, and then superkicks the knee. Panama Sunrise is blocked by Gargano with a cradle, but another one sets up the Last Shot for the pin and the title at 31:47 to FINALLY make Adam Cole NXT champion. Started a bit slow but once it turned into “bad arm v. bad knee” it got fucking great in a hurry. ***** Gargano’s whole deal is in the chase and people were already turning on him at the start of the match, so it’s best to move it onto the Undisputed Era because they’re clearly the biggest and best stars in NXT right now anyway.

So overall, not the best Takeover ever, but nothing was below *** and the main event was a classic, so on the scale of Burn It / Avoid It / Skim It / Watch It / Binge It, it’s a strong BINGE IT that’s not only great, but was just long enough as a show and never wore out its welcome. I know some people are gonna be pooh-poohing the main event just like last time, but I loved it and it made the show for me.