Two great matches, one fun match and a main event I couldn’t care less about. Most certainly, NXT isn’t on the same level again that it had been before. William Regal introduced us to all new title belts and there are even more indie wrestlers (back) in NXT. I’m not really looking forward to that aspect. But I’m looking back to NXT TakeOver: Orlando. Right here, right now. Enjoy!
I said it before but I have to say it again: I’m not that much into all those old indie wrestlers signing for NXT right now. It’s different to the time when for example Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins came to FCW. They were in their mid twenties and FCW didn’t get the attention that NXT is getting today. Bobby Roode (39), Eric Young (37), Killian Dain (32), Aleister Black (31) are well established indie wrestlers who just came to NXT for the spotlight and fame (possibly money, too). Now Kassius Ohno (37) and Drew McIntyre (31) are back because they somehow think that they might be second time lucky. From this whole bunch I only somehow care for Kassius Ohno because I see a great storyline in him. I still haven’t seen or noticed anything special about the other guys. In one or two aspects they all annoy me and I wish, NXT could step back a little from signing old guys and concentrate about their roots of creating new and fresh talents.
We only vaguely know what’s going on behind the scenes in NXT. The new and well established guys and gals most certainly help the younger ones with training, gimmicks and talk about their experiences and stories all about wrestling. It helps off screen. But it definitely doesn’t help on screen. Because the audiences are so much into those ex-indie stars that they won’t give the new and young ones the chances they need to grow and get better.
Now we only see the young and still heavily green NXT wrestlers as canon fodder for the stars. We see them once and then not at all for almost a year until they are used again for a one-minute jobbing match. This has to change. Maybe instead of crap like Total Divas, NXT / WWE could do some kind of a soap opera with the young NXT wrestlers, showing them training, follow them buying stuff for their gimmicks, letting them tell how they get inspiration, how they stay healthy, et cetera. Just something like Breaking Ground but on a regular basis to get to know more newbies, their struggles and early tiny success. Just half an hour after every episode of NXT. I would watch it. Definitely.
But now I’ll go through the latest NXT TakeOver from Orlando, at WrestleMania weekend, together with a few words about Dean Ambrose’s contribution to that very show. Enjoy!
SAnitY (Eric Young, Alexander Wolfe, Killian Dain, Nikki Cross) vs Tye Dillinger, Roderick Strong,
No Way Jose Kassius Ohno, Ruby Riot
- Match duration: 12:22 minutes
- Winner: SAnitY
- Wrestling style: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥
- Story telling: ♥ ♥ ♥
- Overall: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥
The first match of the show had been a showcase match, no real purpose but still good built-up to it. Except for No Way Jose getting injured at Axxess just one day before and so needed to be replaced. I’m a little suspicious here about the reason. Was the injury just scripted, so Kassius Ohno was able to make his appearance? It was still good to have him in this match. Also, finally Alexander Wolfe got a bit of in-ring match time, too. We only got Eric Young matches in recent months. So, that was a plus.
The match itself was pure fun. A spot fest basically, no real story. I love matches with a deep psychological story to it. And the built-up could have lead to it – if it hadn’t been an 8-person tag team match. The story of that feud is all about Tye Dillinger vs Eric Young. I desperately want for Tye to beat up Eric Young for good and throw him out of NXT. He could become the new leader of SAnitY – this story I would love. But like I said, there was no story to the very match. Just some fun hatred, and in the end SAnitY won to continue the feud between Dillinger and Young.
Andrade “Cien” Almas vs Aleister Black
- Match duration: 9:34 minutes
- Winner: Aleister Black
- Wrestling style: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥
- Story telling: ♥ ♥
- Overall: ♥ ♥ ♥
The outcome to this match had been perfectly clear right from the start: Andrade “Cien” Almas was there to introduce Aleister Black to the NXT audience. And he did a good job. A lot of his usual mocking at the start, a few evil looking moves and nasty behaviour to somehow convince me that Aleister Black is there to play a babyface character. Didn’t work at all. Everything about Aleister Black yells “HEEL” at me. Yeah, NXT needs a few serious babyfaces but Aleister Black isn’t one. The man can obviously move and he is also able to show off good moves. But what really could make him interesting to me is a good story.
What I already heard in his promo is just the same talking I’ve heard on and on before. Nothing special. Nothing that could stand out. And please don’t start with his body that is covered in tattoos. That’s nothing special nowadays. I’m still willing to give him a chance like I do with everybody. I’m basically just sick about Andrade “Cien” Almas being used for another introduction. He didn’t job, of course. He’s just still without a real storyline because his on-and-off feud with Oney Lorcan could be great but isn’t done properly.
The Revival (Dash Wilder & Scott Dawson) vs #DIY (Johnny Gargano & Tommaso Ciampa) vs AOP (Authors of Pain: Akam & Rezar; w/ Paul Ellering)
NXT Tag Team Championship match
- Match duration: 23:41 minutes
- Winner: AOP (and still NXT Tag Team Champions)
- Wrestling style: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥
- Story telling: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥
- Overall: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥
Now this was a match with superb storytelling – like you would expect from a match that has got both, #DIY and The Revival, competing. Add the NXT Tag Team Champions, The Authors of Pain, and your story is all about the struggle of #DIY and The Revival somehow wanting to team with each other to eliminate AOP for a better chance to win the match and on the other side The Revival being always able to cheat on #DIY and #DIY knowing everything about it.
This match was basically built for almost a year now. And it was a fitting send-off for The Revival who joined RAW two days after NXT TakeOver: Orlando. I added the little backstage interview with Tommaso Ciampa and Johnny Gargano that was done after the match and #DIY being the team first eliminated after 18:53 minutes. I still hope that we can finally get the feud between Tommaso Ciampa and Johnny Gargano now that was teased during their first round match of the Cruiserweight Championship from 3 August 2016. I’d still love to see Johnny Gargano as heel and Tommaso Ciampa as babyface. The story is already there. And there is nothing for them to lose. After this feud, they could still go to SmackDown as a tag team. But I’d like to see this feud in NXT where they are allowed to do a lot more than they would on RAW or SmackDown.
Ember Moon vs Asuka
NXT Women’s Championship match
- Match duration: 12:12 minutes
- Winner: Asuka (and still NXT Women’s Championess)
- Wrestling style: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥
- Story telling: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥
- Overall: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥
The only women’s match of the night showed two things rather clearly: what Asuka is really able to and that Ember Moon has still a lot to learn. While I’m not entirely sure if we’ve already seen the best Asuka (and she has been first class all around this match!), I hope that Ember Moon will get better with time and experience. It was good to have this match. But it was even better not to make Ember Moon beating Asuka for the NXT Women’s Championship so soon. I actually expected her to win but also wanted Asuka to retain, so she could finally be championess for “over a year”, something that Tom Phillips announces wrongly for weeks now.
While Asuka’s mind games, hard kicks and all around storytelling has been on point during the match, Ember Moon looked a little soft and somehow not really prepared for what she finally faced. I really like her and her character. It’s also good to have a person of colour going after a championship and being in the spotlight in WWE. But like I said: Ember Moon has still a long way to go to really become worthy of that championship belt. She might finally beat Asuka in Brooklyn. But she has to earn this second chance the hard way.
Bobby Roode vs Shinsuke Nakamura
NXT Championship match
- Match duration: 28:06 minutes
- Winner: Bobby Roode (and still NXT Champion)
- Wrestling style: ♥ ♥ ♥
- Story telling: ♥
- Overall: ♥
Where to start with this match? The seven-and-a-half minutes entrance for both competitors? Followed by the almost thirty minutes of match time that has been far too long? It was obvious that this has been the send-off match for Shinsuke Nakamura from NXT. One guy to go then, since I can’t wait for Bobby Roode to follow. I simply can’t connect with both guys and so I couldn’t care less about that match. The rating, of course, is my personal view. If you enjoyed the match, feel free to ignore my babbling about it. I just can’t get the hype. So, I was bored and later on didn’t pay much attention. As nice as the new championship belt looks like, it doesn’t mean anything to me right now.
And just a few words about Dean Ambrose and his Intercontinental Championship match against Baron Corbin at WrestleMania 33: I really thought that Dean Ambrose would lose this match because WWE officials still have no idea what they have in him. Most of those guys in the back don’t care about him. In the end Dean Ambrose retained but his match was wasted as the last of three matches during the kick-off show. He got just a little over ten minutes of match time while his ex Shield “brothers” Rollins and Reigns got spotlight matches against Triple H and The Undertaker respectively and around twenty minutes to shine each.
This match has been the first match of Dean Ambrose that I’ve watched for months and I was a little disappointed. I missed the extra edge about him, the special feeling that I always felt during his matches. Sometimes, I didn’t expect much but always grew into his matches and in the end was happy that he won or sad / angry when he lost. But the match against Baron Corbin didn’t happen in such a way. Maybe it was the disrespect Dean Ambrose was shown with him having his match on the kick-off show and not the “real” WrestleMania. Maybe it was him exhausted from the schedule, never been injured or rested for four years now.
So, I’m just sitting here and yelling at every WWE official who might read this: TURN DEAN AMBROSE HEEL, FFS!! AND LET HIM BE AS GREAT AS HE CAN BE!! It doesn’t have to be for a championship. Dean Ambrose is always best chasing, not defending. But, please, in the name of every tiny god I can think about: TURN THIS MAN HEEL!!