Just two shows to go before, arguably, the biggest NXT TakeOver of the year. The title matches are already in place. Asuka will face Ember Moon, Authors of Pain take on both DIY and The Revival, and Bobby Roode will face Shinsuke Nakamura. Now it’s time to build the rest of the card – ok, two maybe three matches might not count as much building, but you know what I mean. SAnitY’s issues with Tye Dillinger, No Way Jose and Roderick Strong have been going on a while now, and tonight they face off in a six-man tag match. I’m full expecting something to come out of this for TakeOver, I’m just not sure what yet. Also advertised for tonight’s show is Oney Lorcan attempting to teach Andrade ‘Cien’ Almas not to be a bully. Should be a good show.
Andrade ‘Cien’ Almas def Oney Lorcan
Asuka def Priscilla Zuniga
SAnitY vs Tye Dillinger, No Way Jose and Roderick Strong finished as a no contest/double DQ.
Oney Lorcan vs Andrade ‘Cien’ Almas
This was a really good match to start the show. Commentary reminded us that this was actually the third time the two have met inside the ring, and the score stands at one all going in, which always adds a bit of extra tension to proceedings.
A hard-hitting, fast paced, display of skill and talent, and the crowd were into it as well. The two guys threw everything at each other for almost 15 minutes, which isn’t bad for the opening match of a one hour show.
It couldn’t go on forever though and, eventually, Almas won with a hammerlock DDT.
Johnny Gargano and Tommaso Ciampa got their pre-TakeOver promo opportunity next. They talked about the 12 years they spent on the indies, coming into NXT and The Revival taking an instant dislike to them. They emphasised how important the fans are to them by saying every single person who has supported them ‘is DIY’, and ended by saying they will have their moment.
Preview promo for Aleister Black. Anyone who’s not familiar with Black (Tommy End) is in for such a treat. I’m very excited about this debut.
Build-up package for Asuka vs Ember Moon, with a heavy focus on the Eclipse and how devastating a move it is. They used footage of Billie Kay holding her neck after she took one a couple of weeks ago, and a screenshot of a tweet from Liv Morgan saying how brutal it is, and how likely to end with Moon as champ if she hits it. Commentary were really accentuating the point as well. It all helps to bridge the gap between the heights Asuka has been elevated to within the division, and her challenger. I smell a title change coming, and it’s about time too.
Asuka vs Priscilla Zuniga
It’s good to see Asuka in action, even if it was a squash match. She hardly seems to have been on tv in recent months. Instead of starting the match straight away Asuka took a mic and said Ember Moon, this is your head (although one of the commentary team thought she said fate, I’m not sure), then she kicked Priscilla Zuniga in the head.
I did laugh at the, ‘you fucked up,’ chant from the crowd when Zuniga attempted some offence in the form of slapping Asuka in the face. They were right as well. Asuka punished Zuniga well beyond what was necessary to get the pin. Clearly a bit of sending a message going on there. The Asuka lock finished things, and it took Asuka considerably longer than it should have to let her opponent out of it.
After the match Asuka grabbed a mic, reeled off a torrent of Japanese (I’m assuming), and finished with the words ‘No Eclipse’ before dropping the mic and walking off.
The Revival got to cut their promo next. In the fastest spoken promo ever heard, they explained that they were better than everyone else. They do it for money and they’re the hardest working, and best, tag team in NXT. On WrestleMania weekend it is their fate to become the greatest tag team of all time.
A triple-threat match for next week was announced. Johnny Gargano versus, Dash Wilder, versus Akam. That should be an interesting match if it’s allowed to play out without tag-team partners getting involved. Unfortunately, that’s unlikely so it may just be chaos, but it’s still likely to be fun.
What a strange build-up package for Bobby Roode vs Shinsuke Nakamura. All the stuff you’d expect, video clips, interview soundbites etc. But all overlaid with a documentary style voiceover. It was still the high quality package you’d expect for and NXT Championship match, but with a National Geographic channel feel. Very odd, but not necessarily in a bad way.
Backstage, No Way Jose, Tye Dillinger and Roderick Strong said they were ready to even up the numbers game on SAnitY tonight.
Heavy Machinery will be on next week’s NXT.
Kassius Ohno was interviewed about his loss to Bobby Roode last week. He said he was obviously disappointed to start with a loss. Then he was interrupted by Elias Samson and his guitar. Samson told Ohno he didn’t belong in NXT. Ohno replied that maybe he doesn’t belong there, but maybe Samson doesn’t, and challenged him to a loser leaves NXT match. Ohno has only just returned to NXT having done a round of fond farewells on the indie circuit. I’ll let you draw your own conclusions from that
Commentary announced Aleister Black’s debut will be at NXT TakeOver Orlando against Andrade ‘Cien’ Almas. Almas was asked how he feels about being the debut opponent for Black. He said he’s going to make Aleister Black believe in him.
SAnitY vs Tye Dillinger, Roderick Strong and No Way Jose
Ten minutes on the clock at the start of this main event was an indicator something was likely to go amiss. After a brief three on three brawl on the outside, Roderick Strong started things off against Killian Dain.
From there it was all a bit chaotic, in a good way. It felt like they were trying to cram a 20 minutes match into 10 minutes, with frequent tags from both teams and bodies flying everywhere. Predictably, it descended into complete chaos and, in the end, the ref appeared to disqualify everyone (no official announcement, just a bell), not that the participants noticed. They just kept brawling.
Killian Dain was thrown into a ring post Tye Dillinger looked to be about to hit Eric Young with a Tye-Breaker, until Nikki Cross jumped on his back. Suddenly, a mysterious woman appeared in the ring and took Cross out of the action.
The mysterious woman was Ruby Riot, (better known as Heidi Lovelace). Maybe this will be the TakeOver match to come out of the situation. After all, there is only one women’s match on the card at the moment. It seems more likely we’ll get a four on four match, or nothing at all, but we can hope.
Riot kept Cross at bay while the guys continued to brawl, triple-teaming Killian Dain and eventually throwing him out of the ring to join the rest of Sanity. Finally, Dillinger and co. owned the ring as a foursome as the show ended.
Well, that was a packed hour. Two matches confirmed for next week, Kassius Ohno versus Elias Samson in a loser leaves NXT match, and a triple threat between Johnny Gargano, Dash Wilder and Akam, in a foreshadowing of the tag title match at NXT TakeOver Orlando. It looks like Samson will be off to pad out one of the main roster mid-cards very soon. That feels like an odd decision to me, but maybe they’ve got a plan for him and it’s not like he’s doing a lot at NXT.
Aleister Black gets his debut at TakeOver, I hope it’s main card and not pre-show. It’s a fitting way to debut a genuinely top talent. Almas is an interesting choice of opponent, the crowd are more into him as a heel then they ever were when he was trying to be nice, but his reactions still aren’t amazing. That could change against Black, it should be a very good match indeed.
Finally, the NXT women’s division welcomed a new star this week. While she hasn’t been officially introduced, Ruby Riot is going to be a fabulous addition to the roster, and a much needed one. All in all, a great show.