Wrestlemania Weekend part 1: Hall of Fame and NXT TakeOver: Orlando

Oh boy, I’m blogging again. Somebody stop me.

Please.

Ahem. So, Wrestlemania weekend is over. While we still have Raw and SmackDown Live! to look forward to the all-out assault that is Wrestlemania is in the books.

And it was…pretty good.

First off, the Hall of Fame. It was…the Hall of Fame. Highlight of the night for me wasn’t Milk-o-mania running wild on stage again, but Jim Cornette being given an open mic at a live WWE event and actually doing a pretty good job. Hopefully somebody made sure he never ran into Kevin Dunn (and hopefully that person is Kevin Dunn himself, because I don’t think he’d like to end up dead two days before Wrestlemania). I also loved Beth Phoenix ribbing her husband Edge, but that’s probably only because I’m a huge Edge mark. Teddy Long doing Teddy Long Things was great, and yeah, yelling “YOU SUCK” at my TV when Kurt Angle finally came home was a treat.

Now then, onto the wrestling. First up: NXT TakeOver: Orlando.

It’s been a weird few months for me when it comes to NXT. I actually got to attend TakeOver: San Antonio, which was a cherry on top of an awesome weekend thanks to PAX South happening at the same time (didn’t make it to the Rumble though; had to choose between shit seats there or great seats at TakeOver. I think I chose well), but I hadn’t even looked at an episode of NXT since then. All the guys I watched NXT for were gone, and I didn’t have enough interest in the likes of No Way Jose or Andrade “Cien” Almas to tune in every week. I went into the show knowing basically nothing about the card outside of the Nakamura/Roode and DIY/AOP rematches.

Needless to say I was very pleasantly surprised.

8 Man Mixed Tag Team Match: Sanity (Eric Young, Alexander Wolfe, Killian Dain, and Nikki Cross) vs Tye Dillinger, Roderick Strong, Kassius Ohno, and Ruby Riot

Sanity is, in a word, fantastic. I didn’t think much of them when they first arrived, especially the tag team of recently-promoted jobbers Alexander Wolfe and Sawyer Fulton. Fortunately for us (and unfortunately for him) Fulton got himself hurt, which lead to ICW’s Big Damo being turned into NXT’s Killian Dain, and holy shit the stable is complete. Dain’s look is phenomenal; he’s a big hairy beast wearing a goddamn loincloth. He looks like a monster, and he wrestles like one too. I do feel a little bad for Fulton, but Sanity is going places with this guy in the group. The challenging team is a who’s who of new NXT tallent. Like every other NXT fan I am enamored with Tye Dillinger. His gimmick is so dumb it’s great. I don’t even mind the constant 10 chants at shows he’s not even at. Putting him at the head of a group of these new guys was a genius move, a great way to get them over, even if they’re all known indie guys. Roderick Strong is…well, he’s there. His gimmick is that he doesn’t have a gimmick, which makes him kind of boring to look at, but the guy can go in the ring. He needs something to hang his hat on though, as coasting on his indie cred is only going to get him so far. Kassius Ohno is a guy I’d heard of (under his indie name of Chris Hero, which is a bitchin name) but I’d never even seen him before. Didn’t expect him to be so goddamn big. I love the fake NBA jersey gear he wrestles in. I can see this guy being NXT’s next big babyface champ. And then there’s Ruby Riot. Holy shit. I honestly wasn’t expecting what I got, but I love it all the same. She may have ripped off Mad Moxxie from Borderlands but I don’t care, she’s fucking amazing. The match itself was a whole lot of fun. It was the perfect opening match, giving the audience a fantastic good time. Everybody got their stuff in, with a great focus on Dain and Ohno looking like beasts. Tye trying to hit the Tyebreaker on Dain was a great highlight, and giving Dain the pin over Tye was smart booking, ensuring the new guys don’t look dumb. This match made me excited for the future of NXT.

And then the next match happened.

Singles Match: Aleister Black vs Andrade “Cien” Almas

I’m not really huge on Almas. His heel shtick is alright I guess, but he just doesn’t do anything for me, and his complete lack of promo skill due to the language barrier really puts me off. If he does debut tonight or tomorrow on TV I hope for his sake he keeps working on his English. But enough about that guy, the real star here is Aleister Black, formerly Tommy End. This guy. This fucking guy. His entrance was phenominal, rising up out of the stage like a goddamn vampire. His sitting in the middle of the ring thing may have been stolen from CM Punk but by god he makes it his own. His skills in the ring are fantastic too. The only sour point for me is his finisher, which is a spin kick. It’s kind of…there, I guess. I think there are enough kick finishers now (Brouge Kick, Mick Kick, Swann’s kick, etc), so this comes off as kind of half-assed. If he can get himself a better finisher I think this guy is going nowhere but up.

Triple Threat Elimination for the NXT Tag Team Championship:  The Authors of Pain (Akam and Rezar) w/Paul Ellering (c) vs #DIY (Johnny Gargano and Tomasso Chiampa) vs The Revival (Scott Dawson and Dash Wilder)

First of all, those new title belts: sweet. I do miss the belts being different and opposites of each other, but damn they look nice. Now for the match: it was great!…mostly. The Revival and DIY are absolutely phenomenal, while the AoP are…not. Don’t get me wrong, they did a good job here, and I wouldn’t say they were carried in the match, but these guys are still super green. I loved The Revival and DIY paring up to do each others finishers, although I’m not a fan of them going at one-another while AoP napped on the outside. It made them look like idiots to not go after the big guys (especially after the Raw women did that bit the right way), but since AoP were going over they didn’t have a choice. Great match, but not the instant classics that were the two previous DIY/Revival matches. Hopefully this means The Revival will finally debut on the main roster.

Singles match for the NXT Women’s Championship: Asuka (c) vs Ember Moon

Again, new title belt, and oh boy is it a good one. While the old NXT Women’s belt wasn’t nearly as awful as the Diva’s title, I still didn’t really like how pink and girly it was. The new belt changed that by looking amazing and not girly in the slightest. Thank god. The match itself was alright I suppose. I love Ember Moon to death, and I honestly think she may be the next NXT Women’s Champion, but they’re not taking that belt off of Asuka until she beats Goldberg’s fake undefeated record with a real one. I’m super glad they kept Moon’s Eclipse top rope flippy stunner thing protected by not having her hit it at all, however, and Asuka did a good job selling for Moon making her look like a legit threat even in a loss. I see this feud continuing on to the next TakeOver, for sure.

Singles match for the NXT Championship: Booby Roode (c) vs Shinsuke Nakamura

Oh man, those entrances. Nakamura’s was pretty simple with some shadow boxing behind a giant sheet, but it looked in credible. Roode’s was as incredible as his TakeOver entrances always are. This guy’s going to be a fucking star when they let him on the main roster. I’m more lukewarm on the new NXT title. It’s almost identical to the women’s title but with a gold X instead of silver, which is fine, but I really loved the stupid giant X title. Oh well. The match itself was…fine. Nak turned the Strong Style dial up to eleven, so it was definitely a fun watch, but these two don’t have the chemistry that Nak had with guys like Sami Zayn or Samoa Joe. I know Roode needed to go over because Nak is basically done in NXT but I do wish the win would have been a bit more dirty, but having Nak kick out of a Glorious DDT and then take a tornado version from the top rope for the 3 count at least made him look strong as hell. I can’t wait to see Nak on the main roster.

 

Pretty good show all being said. It definitely made me excited for the future of NXT, and I may start watching the weekly show again (next week at least, I’m not really interested in the TakeOver dark matches).

 

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