wrestling / TV Reports

Hawke’s NXT TakeOver: New Orleans Review

April 10, 2018 | Posted by TJ Hawke
Johnny Gargano - NXT TakeOver: New Orleans

Recent And Semi-Recent NXT Match Reviews By Moi

Tyler Bates vs. Pete Dunne (the good one)

Oney Lorcan vs. Pete Dunne

Tyler Bate vs. Pete Dunne

Kassius Ohno vs. Oney Lorcan

 

April 7, 2018
New Orleans, Louisiana, USA

 

Ricochet vs. EC3 vs. Adam Cole vs. Killian Dain vs. Velveteen Dream vs. Lars Sullivan

This was a ladder match for the North American Championship.

About once a year or so, a ladder match happens that seems to completely underwhelm. Then the narrative begins that ladder matches are too played out as a concept. To a certain extent, this is of course true.

With that being said though, this match succeeded greatly due to a few clear reasons. For starters, it had the buzz of having two new wrestlers to the roster (EC3 & Ricochet) who fans were crazy about.

The second point in its favor was that basically everyone worked with reckless abandon. This allowed for non-stop crazy action that basically forced people to keep their eyes glued to the action because you did not know what was going to happen next.

When you combine those two key factors with just the general investment of fans in NXT and the typical hotness of a Wrestlemania weekend crowd, you had one of the wildest ladder matches ever. It was just one of those matches that you can sit back and enjoy from beginning to end without thinking too much about it. Kudos to all. (****1/2)

 

Shayna Baszler vs. Ember Moon

This was for Moon’s NXT Women’s Championship.

These two have had an interesting, if not perfect, in-ring dynamic. Stylistically, they work together quite well. Baszler is the violent fighter who will pick you apart with brutal strikes and submissions. Ember is the athletic worker who often relies on bigger spots to do the damage.

From an in-ring storytelling perspective, the differences work perfectly together. The actual physical chemistry between the two has always seemed a little awkward though. It has been like watching dance partners who are offbeat (that’s a dance thing, right? I’m going to assume it is.).

They took that weakness in their chemistry though and turned it into an advantage. Their lack of smoothness allowed them to easily transition into a violent and nasty match where each wrestler was trying to hurt the other. It actually helps a story like that if they look out of step so that nothing seems too coordinated.

Shayna initially had the advantage due to her willingness to be brutal and violent. Ember stepped up though, took Shayna head on, and actually did serious damage to Shayna’s arm. It seemed like Ember was well on her way to victory, but Shayna showed real grit (including a sequence where she tried to pop her arm back in its socket). She kept it competitive long enough for her to adjust and choke out Ember with the damaged arm.

This was some very compelling work. Baszler is a total fucking superstar; she’s the complete package. (***3/4)

 

Pete Dunne & Roderick Strong vs. The Undisputed Era (Adam Cole & Kyle O’Reilly) vs. The Authors of Pain (Rezar & Akam)

This was for the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Invitational Cup and for The Undisputed Era’s NXT Tag Team Championship.

Despite the great effort across the board, this was not that good of a match. It randomly fluctuated between being an unofficial tornado tag and then going back to following the rules. (That’s one of my biggest logic pet peeves in wrestling.) Then after all this action that ran together, the match came to an end after Roddy turned on Dunne to join the ranks of the Undisputed Era and give them the win. This was a rare TakeOver match where there was little positive to take from it. (**)

 

Aleister Black vs. Andrade Almas

This was for Almas’ NXT Championship.

This was a really good title match largely due to the physical and urgent tone established from the start.

Black came out firing and made clear he was not going to sit back and let anyone dictate the place. This was the biggest match of his NXT career, and he was going to work it on his terms.

From there, both guys busted their ass and went at it all match long. The two key takeaways were that Andrade was leaning on Zelina Vega for assistance, and it seemed like in this match in particular he would have been lost in the woods without her. The other main point was that the match was threatening to go stale due to the slight monotone nature of the action.

And then things got wild down the stretch.

The action just became slightly unhinged as both guys were reduced to wildly throwing out their biggest stuff to one up the other guy. It felt like both guys were metaphorically up against the ropes and all they could was throw bombs. It was wonderfully dramatic and exciting, and then had a pitch-perfect payoff.

Zelina went to interfere again, but she accidentally ended landing in Almas’ arms. That left Almas prone to finally take the massive back heel kick from Black which ended the former’s title reign.

While this did not quite reach great status due to the somewhat lagging middle portion, this was still very, very good. (***3/4)

 

Johnny Gargano vs. Tommaso Ciampa

This was an unsanctioned match. Gargano would regain his NXT roster spot if he won.

This was a mixed bag. On one hand, it was an incredibly ambitious contest that saw two talented performers unleashed and put in a position to deliver the match of their lives. On the other hand, the match felt like one of those director’s cuts where you understand why it was not released like that in theaters.

You can really see the arguments for the decisions they made in this match. The methodical pace felt true to the characters. This did not necessarily need to be this wild and energetic match.

The downside of that decision though was that there ended up being a lot of dead time in this one. There’s a difference between working methodically and working a long time. They do not necessarily have to go together, and one can be appropriate without the other. This was one such case.

They also sacrificed violence in this one for melodramatic character work stretched out over a very long time. It would be wrong to say that it did not get over, and it would possibly be even more wrong to claim that it was not earned. But the idea that the match itself really benefited from being structured that way is greatly in question.

John Boy and Tomato Camper are not performers without merit to say the least. In fact, they made for a genuinely great tag team. However, you could genuinely see the holes in their game here. They don’t exactly put the ‘b’ in subtle but instead rely on broad work and big moments. That’s all well and dandy; everyone has got their thing. Stretching out this match around those sporadic moments though did not make for the great match they were going for. [Gargano won after using Camper’s knee brace to assist him with a GargaNo Escape.] (**1/2)