The SmarK Rant for NXT Takeover: Philadelphia
Live from Philly
Your hosts are Mauro Ranallo & Percy Watson
NXT Tag titles: Bobby Fish & Kyle O’Reilly v. The Authors of Pain
AOP jump the champs before the bell and Rezar plows through O’Reilly and pounds him on the mat, but Kyle turns him into a triangle and manages to escape. Fish comes in and throws kicks at the leg, but gets caught in the mean guy corner and worked over. Achim hits O’Reilly with a flapjack and the champs retreat, but the Authors catch them and beat them down on the floor. Fish: “We can talk about this!” Rezar drops him facefirst on the railing in response to that. Back in, AOP hits a Demolition Decapitation kneedrop in their corner, but Achim hurts the knee on the way down, and Undisputed Era goes to work on it. Achim survives a series of leg whips and tosses Fish down, but O’Reilly comes in with a kneebar to cut off the ring again. Achim makes the ropes, but they continue double-teaming the knee and forcing the momentum back to their corner. I love touches like that, where they make sure to push him away from his corner. Finally Achim overpowers O’Reilly and makes the hot tag to Rezar, and he slams the shit out of them while the camera cuts like crazy. Fish tries a sleeper, but Rezar falls back onto him while suplexing O’Reilly in a cool spot. O’Reilly counters a powerbomb into a guillotine, but Rezar just throws him off, and then walks into a knee to the face. The Era double-teams Rezar with a leg kick into an exploder, but Rezar throws clotheslines again to fight through it. AOP tries the finisher, but O’Reilly takes Achim down with an anklelock again while Fish puts Rezar in a sleeper, and Rezar slams Fish onto O’Reilly to break that up. The crowd is pretty split over who they’re cheering here. O’Reilly keeps throwing kicks on Achim but he’s a MEAN MOTHERFUCKER and just fights him off with a throw, then powerbombs him into the turnbuckle and throws knees in the corner. This sets up the Super Collider, but they themselves collide by accident and O’Reilly rolls up Achim for the pin at 14:51. Started awkwardly and then settled down in a hurry with O’Reilly working the knee and turned into an awesome little tag team match. AOP is very, very improved. ****
Oh hey, War Machine is watching at ringside. And Mauro just calls them Hansen and Ray Rowe! How the hell are they gonna be able to use that name without Marvel suing?
Velveteen Dream v. Kassius Ohno
Dream has his own manservant to present him with a mouthpiece on a pillow. His gear is boxing-themed tonight, since he’s promising a 30 second knockout of Ohno. The crowd counts along with the 30 second promise, and Dream actually does put Ohno down in 30 seconds. But the ref is like “Why aren’t you pinning him?” while Dream celebrates like a dork. So Ohno revives and puts him on the floor with a forearm, and the crowd BOOS. Back in, Dream hits a spinebuster and the crowd is ALL ABOUT him. Dream slugs away in the corner and shows his footwork, and a suplex gets two. He stops to swivel and works Ohno over in the corner, then goes to an armbar on the mat. Ohno fights him off in the corner, so Dream slugs him down and lays the badmouth on him while the crowd chants “Say his name”. Dream with a double axehandle for two and he goes to the rear chinlock, but Ohno powers up and into a drop suplex. Ohno makes the comeback and puts him down with a big boot and senton, and a spinning boot gets two. Dream with a backslide for two and a botched DDT gets two. Dream goes up and lands on a kick, and they try a running death valley driver spot and that just goes badly for everyone. Ohno with a roaring elbow for two. The crowd is still cheering for Dream, and he hits his rolling DVD and goes up to the top of the ringpost with a flying elbow to finish at 10:46. They’ve really, really got something with Dream and should probably just turn him babyface now. They didn’t work very well together, however, and it was a struggle the whole way, especially with Ohno fighting against the crowd and trying to play babyface when Philly wanted to cheer Dream. **1/2
NXT Women’s title: Ember Moon v. Shayna Baszler
It’s funny that now that Asuka is gone, they finally have a worthy contender for her in Baszler. Shayna takes Moon down a couple of times, but Moon comes back with dropkicks and Baszler bails. Moon follows with a dive and Ranallo makes a Tide Pod Challenge reference for his pop culture reference of the night. I had a friend who got really hooked on Tide Pods and had to go to rehab, but he’s clean now. Back in, Baszler stomps the arm and starts wrenching it in all kinds of uncomfortable positions and pulls it in the corner while doing a great heel sneer. Moon fights back with her feet instead and manages to get a springboard bodyblock for two. He manages to go up and hit the Eclipse, but that just injures her own arm and she can’t cover. So the medical geeks run out to check on the arm and the crowd is already smelling bullshit, but the match continues. Moon stupidly goes in to cover Baszler after all that, and she gets caught into an armbar, but manages to make the ropes. And then Shayna drags her back to the middle of the ring, reapplies the move, and Moon can’t roll out of this one and runs out of places to escape. They do a super-dramatic fight as Ember tries every escape route she can think of with Baszler blocking them all, but Moon rolls her over in one last desperate move and gets the fluke pin to retain at 10:20. That was quite the finish, although there wasn’t much to the match. *** Baszler has a great look of shock and disappointment, selling the loss for a while, but then snaps and chokes Moon out on the ramp to make a point. I thought it was the right time to switch the title here and have Moon chase the bully, but I guess they want to get another match out of it.
Oh hey, Ricochet is also here at ringside and the crowd also enjoys him.
EXTREME Rules match: Aleister Black v. Adam Cole
The crowd chants “This is awesome” before they even touch. They slug it out and Black kicks him to the floor immediately, so Cole freaks out and grabs a chair. Black calmly ducks it and steals it back, then has a seat in the ring and waits patiently. Cole charges in and Black tosses him again, so Cole grabs more stuff from under the ring. Both guys find kendo sticks, and then Black has a badass moment where he throws away the stick and tells him to bring it. So Cole comes in swinging and Black kicks his ass, but tries a moonsault and gets whacked with the kendo stick on the way down. Hey, you can’t blame Cole for that one. Cole chokes him out with the stick and lays in the quality smack talk, then hits a backstabber for two. The crowd wants tables, so Cole obliges. He sets one up on the floor and tries to suplex Black out of the corner, but Black slams him off the top to escape and comes back with a running knee for two. Black finds his own table now, and then grabs a ladder as well, but Cole dropkicks it back at him. Back in the ring, they fight over a suplex and Cole gets a high kick and slugs away in the corner (BAY-BAY!), but Black drops him onto the ladder to escape. Ouch. That gets two. Black sticks Cole’s head into a chair, but Cole uses that chair to put Black down. Black fights back with the low kicks and double stomp, but he goes up and Cole superkicks him down, to the floor, and through the tables that were set up earlier and forgotten. Back in, that gets two for Cole. And then he sets up an evil looking pair of chairs back-to-back, only to have Black drop him on the backs of the chairs with a death valley driver! HOLY SHIT how do you even take that bump without dying? The sympathetic crowd chants “You deserve it” while Cole screams in pain, but it only gets two as Fish and O’Reilly run and in and take out Black. They set up the announce table for the kill, but Sanity makes the save and gets rid of them. So Cole goes out to try and take care of business himself, but Black fights back and puts Cole through the table with the double knees instead. Back in, Cole catches him with a superkick on the way in and grabs another chair while yelling about ending his career, but the BLACK MASS ends it at 22:02. Shouldn’t have monologued. Call the police, because the show has been STOLEN. ****1/2
Oh hey, EC 3 is also here.
NXT title: Andrade Cien Almas v. Johnny Gargano
Man, this was the most unlikely main event possible if you were to predict one at the same time last year. Almas comes out dressed as La Sombra for his entrance, which is a cool touch. They scramble on the mat to start and Almas tries to control with a headlock, but Gargano is ahead of him. Gargano’s entire family it at ringside so either they’re going for the big feelgood finish or a huge middle finger to the crowd. They do some more grappling and Gargano escapes and snaps off a rana and dropkick to take over. Johnny works the arm, but Almas chops him down and he’s CHOPPING in the corner. Gargano dumps him with a clothesline, but Almas evades the dive, only to miss his own moonsault. Gargano tries to follow with a dive off the apron, but he misses and wipes out on the floor. Back in, Almas gets two. Johnny fights back and Almas wraps him up with a choke on the ropes and hits a low kick for two. Almas with a chinlock to keep Gargano down, but Johnny escapes and hits a kick to the head. Almas cuts off the comeback and hooks him in the Tree of Woe, but misses the double stomp and Gargano suplexes him into the corner. Gargano makes the comeback with an enzuigiri, and comes off the middle rope with a flying Flatliner for two. Slingshot spear gets two. Gargano tries a spinning headscissors, but Almas counters with a faceplant for two. Almas goes up and misses the moonsault, but rolls through the miss and hits a standing moonsault instead, for two. They slug it out and Almas catches him with an elbow for two, but Gargano gets a superkick for two. Almas goes up and tries for the hammerlock DDT off the top, but Johnny escapes with a superkick. However, he gets caught in the corner and Almas hits the running knees, catches him with the draping DDT, and goes up with a tornado DDT for two. Hell of a sequence there. Almas takes him to the apron and they slug it out there, with Gargano hitting the slingshot DDT onto the apron. As Mauro notes, that means nothing if he can’t get him back in the ring. Back in, he gets two off that. He tries for the crossface, but Almas fights out of it and elbows him into the corner, and then Gargano fights back with a pair of superkicks for two. Johnny goes up and Almas brings him down and double-stomps him to the floor, then runs him into the LED apron and Gargano is in trouble. Back in, Almas with the running knees for two. Almas keeps hitting him in the head just to be a dick, but Gargano fights back one more time with a superkick and the inverted rana. He spins into the crossface and Almas gets help from Vega and rakes the eyes to escape. Hammerlock DDT, but Gargano backdrops him to the floor and follows with a dive, but Vega takes him out with a rana and the hammerlock DDT gets two. Mauro was INCREDIBLE on commentary for that. Vega takes the ref again, but Gargano crawls to his family and Candace LaRae has had ENOUGH and beats the holy fuck out of Vega to get rid of her. Back in, Gargano fights back with the slingshot DDT for two. One more crossface, but Almas is in the ropes this time. They head to the apron, but Almas smashes his head into the ringpost and hits him with a running knee into the post as well. And that’s all Johnny’s got left, as Almas hits the draping DDT to retain at 32:17. GOOD FUCKING LUCK following that at the Royal Rumble. This was an absolutely unbelievable match, maybe one of the best in NXT history and absolutely a Match of the Year contender early on. They had the crowd in the palm of their hands the entire way, telling the underdog story and teasing the big win over and over until Johnny just couldn’t overcome it any longer. ***** And they do the fakeout AGAIN, as Johnny pauses at the copyright screen to get the big ovation, only to have Tomasso Ciampa run out and put him down with a crutch to the head. Rough night for Johnny.
I mean, what more can you say after those last two matches? THUMBS UP.