Turning away all challengers and defying the critics, each and every NXT champion reigned supreme at TakeOver: Orlando.
Although new shiny championship belts were introduced at the show, none of them changed hands.
Absolutely stealing the show from the more experienced main-eventers were The Authors of Pain, DIY and The Revival in an epic tag team match that has to be considered a Match of the Year candidate. With so many ingenious spots and all manner of twists and turns, the bout was a modern classic.
This is not to say the main event of Bobby Roode defending his NXT Championship against Shinsuke Nakamura was a dud. It too was exceptional.
After tangling together and feeling each other out with kicks, throws and counters, Roode chuckled as Nakamura tried to get into his head.
“Come on, Shin. This is MY NXT! I am the champ!” yelled Roode before attempting his Glorious pose.
Not impressed at all, Nakamura booted Roode in the chest knocking him into the ropes. Brushing off his chest, Roode took a second kick and then some hard-hitting knees that drove him into a corner. Roode shake, rattled and rolled as he suffered Good Vibrations in a corner.
Nakamura attempted to suplex Roode to the floor but was dropkicked and then speared off the apron to the floor and into the guard rail.
Roode went to work on Nakamura’s neck and controlled the momentum until Nakamura’s landed the Strong Style strikes he is known for knocking Roode down again and again.
Nakamura faltered as Roode punished his recently “injured” knee with a chop block, wrapping his knee around the steel post and a punishing figure four.
Roode broke out of Nakamura’s attempted arm bar and dodged Nakamura’s running knee in the corner. Nakamura hit the turnbuckle with his knee instead. Absorbing more kicks, Roode wisely rolled out of the ring when Nakamura went for the Kinshasa.
A frustrated Roode grabbed the ring bell and brought it into the ring. The official wrestled away from him and Nakamura capitalized with a reverse exploder suplex.
Nakamura charged Roode into a corner and bashed him with shoulder tackles. As Nakamura charged again, Roode clipped his knee. Roode executed a Glorious DDT from the second rope to put Nakamura away and retain the belt.
Joining the somewhat unsteady debut of Aleister Black, the NXT Women’s Championship match between Asuka and Ember Moon also didn’t meet expectations. Unlike the match between Asuka and Mickie James, there was no spark or fury between Moon and Asuka. The match was flat from start to finish.
One other special note: At the show, Drew McIntyre was identified and shown as sitting at ringside.
Eric Young, Alexander Wolfe, Killian Dain & Nikki Cross battle Tye Dillinger, Roderick Strong, Kassius Ohno & Ruby Riot
No Way Jose is not cleared to wrestle so either Dillinger, Strong and Ruby Riot have to find a new partner or it will be a handicap match. No Way Jose was attacked at Fan Axxess and injured by Sanity earlier in the day. For some reason, all of the members of Sanity are wearing black eye make-up around their eyes. <BR
Kassius Ohno joins the face team. Ruby Riot has to be convinced by Ohno to leave the ring when Nikki Cross tags out and Alexander Wolfe tags in. I love Riot already. Young warns Dillinger that everything that is happening to his friends is HIS fault. Young goes as far as to knock Dillinger off the apron with a punch. Killian Dain is dressed more like The Barbarian and the crowd greets him with chants of… Shave your back! Roderick Strong is brutalized for much of the match when Sanity cuts off the ring. Strong hot tags Dillinger who cleans house. He is a man possessed taking out everyone until Dain lays him out. Riot cuts off Cross from interfering.
Dillinger finally takes on Young alone and beats him from pillar to post. Cross jumps on Strong. Riot jumps on Dain. Dillinger actually hoists up Dain onto his shoulders for the Tie-Breaker but Dain counters and hits the Ulster Plantation (One-handed electric chair driver) for the pin.
Match Rating: 7.5 / 10
Match Time: 12 minutes and 23 seconds.
Andrade “Cien” Almas vs. Aleister Black
In a lone spotlight, Black rises from the floor like a freaking vampire as metal music thunders. Black flips into the ring and sits in the centre with his legs crossed and palms up, meditating. Awesome entrance. Almas messes around, reclining in the ropes, slapping Black in the face, taking him lightly it seems. It just causes Black to focus even more. Black is a vicious striker to be sure. Almas targets Black’s right arm with various submission holds including a Tarantula-like move over the ropes. Almas scores lots of near falls but cannot put Black away. Black staggers Almas with knees and kicks then hits the Black Mass kick and chalks up the win. Not a perfect match by Black in any way, a tentative debut but a decent match.
Winner: Aleister Black.
Match Rating: 6 / 10
Match Time: 10 minutes and 20 seconds.
NXT Tag Team Championship Match – The Authors of Pain (Akam and Rezar) (c) (with Paul Ellering) vs. #DIY (Johnny Gargano and Tommaso Ciampa) vs. The Revival (Scott Dawson and Dash Wilder)
Regal replaces the old titles with the new ones before the match starts and the new silver and gold belts are a massive improvement. DIY and The Revival team up at the sound of the bell to pair off against the Authors of Pain. DIY brings out a table at just 42 seconds in and hurl Akam into the steel steps. With both AOP stunned on the floor, DIY and The Revival square off in the ring.
Ciampa tries to tag in The Revival but they back off the apron and refuse the tag. DIY return the favour minutes later. The AOP launch Gargano into his own partner and into The Revival like a missile. The match slows for a bit when Akam puts Gargano in a Torture Rack for minutes on end. Akam kicks out of Ciampa’s running knee strike.
DIY double powerbombs Akam off the ring apron and through the table when The Revival assists by double clotheslining Akam at the same time. Fantastic spot. Gargano and Dawson team up to put Rezar in a double submission hold but Akam breaks it up. DIY and The Revival team up again to complete each team’s finishing moves on Rezar.
Dawson then Superplexes Ciampa from the top rope to the floor on top of everyone outside the ring. In-freaking-sane! The Last Chapter takes out Ciampa and DIY at 19 minutes and 15 seconds as the fans cheer…BS!
The Revival double team Akam and Rezar but cannot pin the behemoths. A pair of powerbombs put down The Revival. Super Collider eliminates them.
Winners: The Authors of Pain
Match Rating: 9 / 10
Match Time: 23 minutes and 35 seconds.
NXT Women’s Championship Match – Asuka (c) vs. Ember Moon
Before locking up, they stare at each other like caged animals. There are dueling Asuka and Ember Moon chants. Asuka suckers Ember in for a fake handshake. Ember drop kicks Asuka and then mocks her. A hip attack knocks Ember off the ring apron and into the security fence. A furious forearm knocks Asuka clear out of the ring. Ember mows her down with a running body press over the ropes and to the floor. Asuka begins to take over the match with kicks and an Asuka Lock. Asuka misses a hip attack and takes a super kick to the face. The two exchange palm strikes but a suplex has Asuka down for the two count. As Ember Moon goes for the Eclipse, Asuka pushes the referee into the corner. Moon falls onto the mat and takes a Spin Kick to the face.
Match Rating: 7 / 10
Match Time: 12 minutes and 12 seconds.
NXT Championship Match – Bobby Roode (c) Vs Shinsuke Nakamura
Winner: Bobby Roode.
Match Rating: 8.5 / 10
Match Time: 28 minutes and 20 seconds.
Total Event Rating: 8 / 10
One of the founding managing editors of SLAM! Wrestling, John Powell is a veteran entertainment journalist currently covering Big Brother., Survivor for Shaw and the video game industry for G4TV.. Check out his comic book Cover 2 Cover blog and his Nerd TV YouTube channel for wrestling simulations here . John can be reached at [email protected] or @POW2112 on Twitter.