It’s going to be very hard to do this PPV justice, conveying brilliance is often hard to do second hand, and the “you had to be there” effect often lessens the impact. But I’m going to do my best, and if you take anything away from this review, let it be that NXT TakeOver: New Orleans is a must watch for ANY wrestling fan.
Money in the Bank 2011, Wrestlemania 17 and now… NXT TakeOver: New Orleans. Remember the date, because last night NXT may have just put on one of, if not the, greatest wrestling shows of all time.
Many PPVs are passed off as being great because they had a main event that stole the show, others because a mid card match came out of no where to steal the spotlight. But rarely are shows remembered for being excellent from start to finish. TakeOver New Orleans will be one of those shows.
Kicking things off with a match of the year contender, and the match of the night in terms of in-ring quality (more on that later), the 6-man ladder match for the NXT North American Championship was everything we had hoped it would be and so much more.
Every wrestler had the chance to shine, and debutant Ricochet truly drove it like he stole it as JBL used to put it, delivering outstanding flip after outstanding flip, all the while selling like an absolute champ when called upon. EC3 will be remembered for taking an absolute battering during the course of the match, going through multiple spots that looked incredibly painful and downright dangerous at times. Velveteen Dream stole the match through charisma, whilst the monsters in Killian Dain and Lars Sullivan showed exactly why “big men” can be so effective in high spot matches like this.
But it was Adam Cole who stood tall above the rest and unhooked the title for the victory. It continues to amaze me how much story Cole can tell just through his facial expressions, but there were multiple moments in this match where he showed why he’s one of NXT’s best and most loved.
The one down side to kicking the show off with a match of such quality was that it burnt the crowd out pretty quickly, causing the next two matches to suffer from a post-5 star match lull in heat.
Ember Moon defending her title against Shayna Baszler was up next, and despite being given the death spot, the two women managed to work a very engaging and effective story throughout the match. Focussing on Ember working over Baszler’s arm as punishment for the reversed roles during the build to this match, but with Shayna finding ways to stay in the match before eventually trapping Ember in a really nice reversal that sealed the win via submission.
Hopefully Ember will be given the call up to the main roster, but given the lack of focus on her post-match I’m starting to have my doubts. Perhaps a third TakeOver match between the pair could be on the cards, whilst Triple H waits and sees who Vince steals from his roster before focussing on the inevitable rebuild of the women’s division in NXT.
The Tag Team Championship Triple Threat match went next, and despite being brutalised during the ladder match earlier in the night Adam Cole was out again to pull double duty. Fortunately he didn’t have to do very much at all, being taken out early on by a double power bomb through the announce table and not reappearing until after the finish.
Speaking of the finish, it was perhaps the one that the least people saw coming throughout the night. Just as it appeared as though Dunne and Roderick Strong had the match won, Roddy turned on Dunne and handed the win to the Undispited Era, joining Adam Cole’s faction in the process.
It was one of those sights that will be hard to forget and was an incredibly interesting moment that should set us up for an exciting storyline to build through the next TakeOver event. Roddy hasn’t really made the cut as a white meat baby face, so to see him aligned with the UE should do wonders for his career.
In an equally surprising moment, the NXT Championship match was announced as being next up, meaning that the unsanctioned match between Gargano and Ciampa was going to main event the show. Unusual, particularly with the unsanctioned match by nature not being a WWE product, but a welcome change.
Black and Almas put on a really strong showing, not as good as Almas’ match with Gargano at the last TakeOver show, but really enthralling never the less. There were moments in this match where it seemed as though Almas had the match won, but to the surprise of virtually no one is was Black who overcame the odds of Vega being ringside and fought his way to victory and the NXT championship.
It will be interesting to see who Black faces at the next TakeOver, given the quality of match these two put on I would be happy to see them go at it again, but something tells me that Almas may not be destined for NXT much longer.
Finally we had what was undoubtedly the match of the night. As I mentioned earlier the 6-man ladder match may have had the best in-ring action, but this match came in at a close second and it doubled down on the instant classic nature by having one of the best stories within a match that I have ever seen. The blood feud between Gargano and Ciampa was played off brilliantly here, with both men fighting like they wanted to kill the other (Quite literally in the final moments). This match had emotion, action, tension and everything else you could possibly want from a wrestling match. I cannot stress to you enough how brilliantly this match was booked, and there were enough nearfalls to give Shawn Michaels and The Undertaker a run for their money. This match was gold and I hope that Vince McMahon sees what a special pair of people he has at his disposal here.
NXT TakeOver New Orleans was without a doubt the best TakeOver yet, but I dare say that it’s probably one of the best WWE shows of all time, regardless of time period or size. If you’re a fan of wrestling, even if you don’t enjoy WWE, then do yourself a favour and watch this show… you won’t regret it.