Just watched NXT TakeOver: Orlando.
First match was betweeen all four members the SAnitY stable and a mixed bunch of Tye Dillinger, Roderick Strong, Kassius Ohno and Ruby Riot. The Dillinger vs. Sanity storyline has been going on for a while and was constantly present during the NXT network series. Dillinger finally found some help in Strong and No Way Jose, but Jose was attacked before the show by SAnitY and so they added the recently returned Ohno. Ohno was already in NXT several years before and you may know as Chris Hero on the indie circuit. Ruby Riot is also an indie darling that recently came to NXT and is essentially the component to make this a mixed tag match because WWE wasn’t going to have men fight women and SAnitY has Nikki Cross. Oh yeah, and Ohno has the ugliest ring-gear I have ever seen. Trying to hide his belly with a basketball jersey doesn’t really work, though the switch to the Sacramento Kings color scheme improves it a little bit.
The match was very good and fast paced with a lot of changes between the participants, though the mixed tag-team rules slowed it down at the start a bit. Considering Ruby’s presence and this being her first match on camera plus the immediate push Ohno received upon his return (his first match was the first title defense for Bobby Roode and his second match was a “loser leaves NXT” match that he won against The Drifter Elias Samson) you’d think that the face team would have won, and it would have been good for Tye Dillinger to pick it up and finally move on from this or move up to the main roster after mania. However, it was in fact Dillinger that got pinned after Killian Dain hit him with the Ulster Plantation (essentially Kenny Omega’s One-Winged Angel). Not sure what this means because essentially this should be the end of the feud and it kind of leaves a sour taste for the heels to win a feud that was this long stretched out.
Next the debut of Aleister Black against Andrade “Cien” Almas. Aleister Black actually was on WWE before in the “break” match at the WWE UK Championship tournament against Neville, using his UK indie name Tommy End. WWE appears to have a lot of faith for him with several well produced vignettes leading up to the debut and giving him his own special name card similar to Bray Wyatt. His gimmick makes him kind of undertaker-like as a mysterious, potentially satanic figure. Weirdly though the match was quite even. I understand why they wouldn’t want to bury Almas but it also makes Black look a lot less threatening than he should if they want to build him up.
Throughout the night NXT would debut new title belts for its three championships. While it’s definitely an upgrade over the old women’s belt, I find it a downgrade for the other two titles. The tag team belt was a bit tacky with its inverse color scheme for the pair, but I kind of liked it, and the big gold X belt for the NXT Championship was just iconic in my mind. What I also liked is that each of the belts looked distinct from each other, while the new ones look very similar to each other.
Championship match gauntlet starts with the tag-team championship in a three way elimination match between DIY, The Revival and the champions Authors of Pain. I thought The Revival would be on the main roster already after losing a match against TM-61 in early February, but then a member of TM-61 got injured which I guess is the reason they didn’t move up. This was a really great match up until a point. It mostly boiled down DIY and The Revival, who hate each other’s guts, to team up on the monstrous Authors of Pain, and it worked pretty well with a mix of both teams performing each teams double-team finisher, but AOP wouldn’t fall. They even send one of AOP through a table and put the other in a reverse figure-4/crippler’s crossface double submission but the tabled guy recovered. And there was a top rope-superplex TO THE OUTSIDE onto the other four participants in the match. But then AOP eliminated DIY and that pretty much kneecapped the whole situation. The Authors then completely wrecked the Revival to the point where I thought the idea was to turn The Revival face. AOP retain.
Asuka vs. Ember Moon for the NXT Women’s Championship. This match was kind of short and a little bit disappointing. Definitely could not follow up to the previous match even with its disappointing finish. Perhaps their time got cut short after a previous match ran long. The match ended with Asuka pushing the official into Ember Moon, who was perched on the top turnbuckle in preparation for Eclipse finishing move. Somehow Asuka was not disqualified for it, kicked Moon in the head and won, pushing her Championship reign to a full year.
Booby Roode vs. Shinsuke Nakamura in a rematch from San Antonio for the NXT Championship. Both of course with fantastic entrances. The match was really good and they definitely upped their game from San Antonio. Roode again went after Nakamura’s knee given the injury Nakamura suffered in the previous match, but Shinsuke returned the favor going after Roode’s arm. Neither man has a really flashy finisher, but after a grueling match Roode improved with jumping off the middle rope to do execute his Glorious DDT, the second one that was needed to put away Nakamura. The result was unfortunately kind of telegraphed by the recent adverts WWE has been running for an NXT european tour with the line “See Asuke, Bobby Roode and your other favorites”, with the notable absence of Nakamura in this listing. Guess he’s going up to the main roster.
Very good show overall, definitely continuing the high standard of NXT.