Monday, April 9, 2018

Best Coast Bias: Brace Yourself

Get ready, you mutha***** for the big payback
Photo Credit:
Results, stray thoughts, and takeaways from NXT's three-hour special from the Big Easy just as soon as I can finally relax when the credits box pops up...

  • Adam Cole beat Ricochet, ECIII, Lars Sullivan, Killian Dain and Velveteen Dream in a ladder match to become NXT's first-ever North American Champion.
  • Shayna Baszler became the seventh woman to win the NXT Women's World Championship after Ember Moon passed out in the Kirifuda Clutch.
  • The Undisputed Era's Adam Cole and Kyle O'Reilly retained the NXT World Tag Team Championships over the Authors of Pain and Roderick Strong and Pete Dunne in a triple threat match when Strong turned on Dunne, allowing Kyle O'Reilly to gain the fall.
  • Appropriately enough, Aleister Black became the 13th different man to win the NXT World Championship by beating Andrade "Cien" Almas via pinfall after a second Black Mass.
  • Johnny Gargano used a brace-enhanced STF to beat Tommaso Ciampa and regain his NXT employment.

General Observations:
  • One of the bands charged with providing one of the themes did so to open the show live in the arena while the opening video played on the Tron (Ed. Note — That band was Cane Hill. TH).  Crowd was into it live and I let the kids have their fun, but if one more of their gdamned footballs lands ON MY PROPERTY, Edna, I swear to Christ
  • Every one of the participants in the ladder match got a pop (Ricochet's was largest and saved for last) except for Lars Sullivan, and it was pretty cool that he got something close to respectful murmurs of vague foreboding instead of the rapturous reception given the likes of the King or ADAM COLE, BAY BAY!
  • Had to get it out of the way early.  This show was not here to play with y'all.
  • Liked the thruline of Killain and Lars' unfinished business from Wednesday playing out through the match.  
  • Ricochet welcomed himself to the unfamiliar with a step up springboard Shooting Star Press that got a "hoshit" out of me even before the replay showed he almost overshot it/the victims were closer to the ring than they needed to be given how much Young Me can actually fly.
  • Dain landed a tope on Lars. Reread that if you need to.
  • Fun spot early where it took Ricochet starting a powerbomb, followed in succession by Dream and EC3 helping with Adam Cole providing the finishing touches from the other side of the ladder to get Lars off of it.
  • Ricochet took a back body drop onto a ladder placed diagonally in the corner that might not have even been one of the top 50 crazy-ass bumps of the night.
  • The short-lived 3AC alliance was broken up with an "EC3, BAY BAY!".  Cole responded by oshigoroshi-ing Not Ethan Anymore into a ladder, then serving up superkicks to the other four competitors to increasing applause including merking a springboarding Ricochet for the last one to culminate in a standing O and the real deal catchphrase.
  • Then Dream got his turn to shine, hitting his Purple Rainmaker on Dain, then Cole, an enzui one on Ricochet, and one off a ladder on Lars.
  • You know a move's impressive when Mauro ends up doing his Joey Styles impersonation and not hitting his own catchphrase.  That'd be later(ish).
  • EC3 cut Dream off and powerbombed him onto that corner diagonal ladder for some deserved chants of his own, and that was before he TKOed Cole off the ladder.
  • The price he paid for succeeding briefly was Dain Wastelanding him (bad) before getting a ladder thrown on him (even worse) and then getting that ladder sentoned into him (yeeeouch).  
  • Cole jumped on KD's back to prevent a Vader Bomb onto 3 into the ladder.  He failed and went flying on impact as a result that spawned the evening's first This Is Awesome chant.  
  • The hoss fight tried to resume.  Ricochet probably wishes he just let it happened instead of interjecting, since they proceeded to play Biel That Former Puma for a couple minutes afterwards.
  • Lars caught the Divide. Again, reread that again.  
  • Ricochet stunned him and managed to climb, then Lars tipped the ladder with authority.  Not that it mattered, since Ricochet used that to hit an unspeakably swank moonsault to Dain and Cole on the outside; our first Holy Shit! chant happened as a result of that, and rightfully so.
  • Ricochet floored EC3 into a ladder, then Shooting Star Pressed him into the ladder.
  • There was a ladder bridge between what was at that point the main ladder and the corner, and the crowd fired up a classic Please Don't Die chant that was fully earned and paid off when Dream hit his rolling DVD onto Ricochet into that bridge and it didn't give.  YEEEEOUCH.  I'm flinching just remembering it.
  • Did I mention YEEEEOUCHing and flinching?  Because in short order after that, Dream ended up on a ladder bridge between the announce table and the apron, then Lars Freak Accidented EC3 into him and through it.  To quote my notes verbatim, fucksakes, dudes!
  • Our second Holy Shit! and This Is Awesome! chants of the night/this match.  At this point it almost felt like "...there's going to be four more matches after this?"
  • To continue the mirroring hoss fight secondary story, Dain did the same on the same side of the ring into another bridge with a combination Michinoku Driver and seated senton splash to wipe out Cole and Ricochet.
  • NXT chants.  Fight Forever chants.  If the Network was just this match for $10 a month, I would pay it.  So would a few thousand others.  Possibly a few hundred thousand others.  Maybe a couple milli?
  • Six men, three ladders, everybody up!
  • Cole side Russianed ECIII off a ladder to get us down to four.
  • Ricochet hit a superduper neckbreaker off another one to get us down to the hosses.
  • A Freak Accident off the final ladder that legitimately came within a couple of inches of possibly decapitating Dain with the top rope got us down to none.  The crowd gave that a wide burat of applause, then booed when it looked like Sullivan was going to claim the belt.
  • Ricochet springboarded in and got on Sullivan's back, which sent them teetering down and into some of the other ladders.  It looked like the plan was to have Ricochet on Sullivan's back with Sullivan still climbing, but it just didn't happen.
  • What did happen was Ricochet recovered first and climbed up, only to be deposed and sent down at the hands of our first North American champion — Mr. Adam Cole (BAY BAY).
  • You knew Ember Moon was probably boned in the rematch when Lzzy Hale (lookin' like Yung Joan Jett over here) played her out to the ring.
  • Ronda Rousey and Jessamyn Duke of the other Horsewomen were dans la maison.
  • The ONE FALL! pause is back, as it should be.
  • Shayna Baszler dodging the single leg dropkick at the bell and smirking afterwards is the perfect snapshot of her character.  In a similar note that would soon follow up and parallel it, Ember busted out a flying second rope Codebreaker that she made look easier than falling out of bed or in love with Mama Bliss.
  • Enmity.  Delicious enmity.  Ember hanging on for four after Shayna got under the ropes while in a crossface just days after castigating the QoS for not conducting herself the way a champion should.
  • Baszler got the advantage and even her signature Clutch.  Moon at first avoided it, then fell prey to it before launching herself full body into the corner and the middle of the ring to break it to applause.
  • First of all, my apologies to the former Evie for turning her new sobriquet into a pejorative.  Second of all, I need a shorthanded relatable way to describe something, so I'm going to do it. Baszler tried to Dakota Kai Ember, but Ember regained the advantage and actually did the deed.
  • Baszler regained the upper hand, then relocated her dislocated shoulder by ramming it and herself into the post a couple of times.  The announce did a really good job of blending their disbelief while also providing analysis on what she was going for, since it's not a standing wrestling trope that can be seen and doesn't need to be explained.
  • A great sequence followed up, where Ember hit her first ever Eclipse Suicida (probably the most glaring example of mal camerawork all night), then Shayna got the Kurifida back on before Ember broke it by targeting the arm that she'd Kai'd up and that gave her the opening to land a powering out powerbomb.  
  • Shame on me for not realizing until this match actually started that the Eclipse put Ember in perfect position to get Kurifida'ed, and I thought it was going to be the finish here.  I failed to allot how much fighting off Ember was going to get to do, or the nice subtle note immediately punched by Nigel on commentary that with her arm damaged Baszler was literally grabbing onto her own hair to reinforce the hold, but after about a minute and a half of struggling up to and including a one second pinfall, the former War Goddess went limp.  Long reign the Queen. (?)
  • You could tell things were serious in the Era's camp when Cole sucked it up to defend the belts and Kyle didn't air guitar his way down to the ring.
  • Cole got wiped out early with an Authorized double powerbomb through the Spanish announce table.  It's a long way from FCW days if NXT's got a SAT for bumps (and also, presumably, commentary).
  • O'Reilly immediately went into superhero mode, at one point triangulating Roddy and then catching the unsuspecting Akam in an anklelock at the same time.  Rezar made the save by powerbombing the Bruiserweight into the double submission, then the Auters proceeded to whale on Roddy for quite some time.
  • Pete got the hottest of tags and started unloading, but the Authors got the Super Collider and the Last Chapter — with Roddy making a save on Kyle to prolong the match.  Hmm.  A receipt shortly followed with Akam saving the match on BruiserStrong's Cloud Bitter End.  
  • Dunne got the Bitter End on Kyle... then Roddy turned on him and laid him out with the End of Heartache.
  • So the team that wasn't in the tournament won the tournament, thanks with help from a guy who was fighting them until almost literally the moment he turned and stopped trying to win the tag team titles so he the tag team titles?  Per my friend Jarrod, I'm not a fan of the late match turn if someone is going to be fighting what are his ostensible teammates the entire time, but a) this ending is clearly precipitated by the seriousness of Fish's injury and 2) it's going to be really interesting to see if Roddy's inclusion turns Bobby into a vestigial tail to be cut off.
  • Victory thus assured, the Stronger Undisputed Era posed by the Cup and Kyle felt good enough to air guitar about it.
  • Newly minted superface Peter Dunne had a Very Intriguing Reaction to this turn of events.
  • Another appearance of the La Sombra mask as our Ingobernale campeon sauntered out.
  • Really liked announce pushing the fact this match had happened almost a year to the day previous and imputing Cien's leveling up over that time period due to Zelina's taking him on as a charge.
  • Black started the match succeeding where Ember had failed, sort of botched his springboard feint after a strike party of offense, but snugly nailed an Asai to the floor then stared down Zelina Vega as if to say "I wouldn't try it."  Cien was in enough trouble in the opening five that she managed to successfully do so a couple beats later by ranaing Aleister into the stairs to allow Cien to gain the advantage.
  • The champ was firmly in control until he got into a striking tradeoff.  El Idolo is many things; a dude who can beat Black in that environment, he ain't.  That said, he recovered enough to land a snap German after missing his corner Meteora and follow up that successful suplex with his rolling, always crazily fluid moonsault for a near fall.
  • Cien seemed to take Black's head off with a rolling back elbow that Black kicked out of at one, yelled at him and then really upped the level of violence with a bicycle knee for a nearfall.  If he already didn't have a kickass strike as a Finisher of Certain Doom, that bike knee would be it.
  • Simultaneous forearms, slaps to the face, then front kicks to applause, NXT and This Is Awesome chants.  It would get awesomer: Cien's hiptoss into the corner might've been the most underrated move of the show, Aleister caught and blocked the corner Meteora, then Cien not only shoved Aleister to the floor when he tried (presumably) another quebrada but followed it up with a springboard tornillo and landed on his feet.  That was never going to end the match, but I would've been fine with it doing so just for the levels of swag on that alone.
  • Oh, Zelina, you sexy, evil genius: grabbing the belt so that the referee would stop Cien from using it while giving you the window to give Black the basement rana driver.  Black sold this like an exclamation point but managed to recover and drill Black Mass...only for Zelina to get his foot on the ropes.  
  • Cien landed the same double stomp to the apron he landed on Johnny in their Philly fight, then followed it up by finally landing the corner Meteora.
  • Black countered the Headaches but Cien snuffed out another Mass with a huge enzui dropkick.  Solid .7 Okada.  
  • Cien also landed the apron Meteora he landed on Johnathon Grapples in Philadelphia and caught Black coming into the ring with the 100 Headaches coming in — another kickout.
  • Zelina flew off to go after Black in full sight of the referee this time, but he ducked, and Cien caught her, thus leaving the entirety of his head open and a Black Mass slammed his title reign shut.
  • It was a big babyface moment by all means, but something about Aleister celebrating like someone who could experience joy and happiness, even over winning the Big X is something that looked off-kilter but still nice.
  • Cien and Zelina may very well be on the main roster by the time you read this.
  • Usually when a babyface wins the big championship on a big show, I'd be very adamant that that should be the show closer unless you got something world-ending to close things out in its place.  #DIY imploding is Yassin Beyinitely one of those things.
  • Tomasshole came out to no music and nobody loved him, not even Jesus.  Asshole chants, You Suck chants, most noticeable and lengthy Fuck You, Ciampa ones as well.  
  • Since they layed out for the entirety of the crowd's wholly earned rancor, I would love to hear what was the announce table's (especially Percy's) reaction to being that close to the possibility of the first white man to be lynched in New Orleans' history.
  • Ciampa responded to the pre-match Johnny Wrestling chants by aping Gargano's corner entrance pose, and struck the Come At Me, Bro as Johnny came marching down to the ring.
  • Bell rings amid a downpour of "Fuck him up, Johnny, fuck him up!" clap clap chants.  Have fun editing this one, God's Production Team!
  • I suppose this match couldn't've technically ended in six seconds with Johnny shooting him to death, so fine, let's have a match.
  • Smilin' Drake was the only referee on the imprint's roster who could've refereed this match that didn't happen, and he even got in all UFC black to do so.
  • It's the most hold harmless time of the yeeeeeeaaaarrrrrrr!
  • Johnny won the initial flurry, and then got to stomp the crap out of his former bestie for close to half a minute since the match had no rules.  Drake didn't even bother trying to stop it.  Serotonin dump: achieved.
  • The camera didn't linger on it, but Shane and his kids were in the front row and they were cheering Johnny on loudly.  There's still a little bit of hope for the future.
  • Gargano dove over the barrier and laid out Ciampa, but Ciampa turned the tables and got the upper hand before eventually pulling up the padding ringside.  
  • Literally everything he did got booed.  He almost got booed for moving.  If he had yelled out "I love air!" the crowd would've died three to six minutes later out of spite.
  • Johnny landed a superkick and threw Tomasshole into the announcers, thus leading to a hilarious moment where the crowd chanted MAMMA MIA! in lieu of the temporarily waylaid Mauro.
  • Nigel further bolstered his standing by dropping a five star Oscar Wilde quote "A true friend will always stab you in the front" before Tommaso sort of superplexed himself and Johnny to the floor from the table.   He followed that up with a back suplex into the table facade and it did not give, spurring another round of FU Ciampa and Asshole chants. His response was to applaud for himself and pat himself on the back a la Barry Horowitz with an overly fake smile before going back into Tomasshole mode.
  • Enough Brits showed up to form a solid You're A Wanker chant in response.
  • Said wanker then proceeded to take the crutches off of a Johnny Wrestling fanplant, thus unofficially kicking off Act II.  Or maybe the creepy wave goodbye with a crutch in his hand afterwards kicked it off.
  • Both men countered signatures of the other, but Tomasshole couldn't counter Johnny powerbombing him into the concrete that he'd revealed earlier.  The ensuing You Deserve It chant was lusty and well-deserved.
  • With the crutch in mid-ring both men stared each other down before crawling for it, grabbing one end each, and proceeding to jockey for possession of it.  
  • Johnny won and tuned up the Wisconsinite with a trio of shots, then landed a fourth to his injured leg.  He'd land another to set up his slingshot DDT but Ciampa survived. 
  • Did you watch their Cruiserweight Classic match seemingly a different universe ago?  Then the back elbow Ciampa landed might've looked familiar to you, as well as his Knee Trembler counter of the Superman spear.  He set up a follow-up enzui version with the DIY finishing pose beforehand...but Johnny survived.
  • This might be the first garbage match I can remember with a We Want Tables chant that didn't get it acquiesced to.
  • Johnny fired back up with clotheslines, then started slapping Ciampa while holding him by the beard.  His rewind rana looked dangerous (in the bad way) but he locked down an around the world Escape in short order.  TC got to the ropes LOL THAT MEANS NOTHING and Johnny stomped down on the hand a la Sasha/Bayley at TO:BK II, so Ciampa had to face rake himself free.
  • The reason you have Lawful Good people be the signature voice of your wrestling program is so that when a nefarious man commits a nefarious deed, the voice cursing to describe that man means something.  And another bout of FU Ciampa chants ensued.
  • Ciampa went to choke Gargano with his wrist tape, but as these things tend to happen, they ended up virtually tied at the wrists to each other, neither of them letting that stop them from punching the other with their free hand.
  • Then Ciampa did the smart thing and kicked Johnny in the theme park before laying him out with Project Ciampa.
  • ...but Johnny kicked out.
  • Tanks started to empty at this point.  Gargano weaker slaps.  Ciampa stronger slaps.  Gargano superkick!  Ciampa lariat!  Gargano Lawn Dart into the exposed turnbuckle (what, he set up something in a garbage match and made it work for him?  What is he, Jesus?)!  Basement superkick!
  • And then Johnny made Tommaso look at him awww yeahhh that's the good stuff
  • ...but Tommaso kicked out. 
  • For the first time in Takeover history, we went into hour 4.  They fought on the top but Tommaso won, then delivered an AVALANCHE Project Ciampa.
  • ...if someone kicks out of your finisher, you may be screwed.
  • If someone kicks out of the super version of your finisher?  You are screwed.
  • It couldn't have happened to a nicer Psychopath.
  • TC exposed the knee for another CWC callback, but this time Johnny not only saw it coming but smacked the injured knee with the crutch.  He stomped it down until it snapped, got Tommaso lined up...
  • ...and then pulled up.
  • I cannot properly convey with the English language the level of horror in everybody's voice when Johnny not only did that, but fired himself up again and failed to pull the trigger again.
  • Dayenu, gentlemen.
  • I would've been fine with giving Johnny the last word after that.   Instead, he got the last ether.

Match of the Night: ECIII v. Killian Dain v. Adam Cole v. Velveteen Dream v. Lars Sullivan v. Ricochet, ladder match for the North American championship 

Since #DIY imploding technically didn't happen, we have to go to the show opener for our OW OW OWWWW STOP IT I WAS KIDDING JESUS H

Match of the Night: Tommaso Ciampa v. Johnny Gargano, unsanctioned

The joke in some circles is that NXT is the place where alignments go to die; that amongst hardcores, playing almost exclusively to hardcores in what's become more or less God's E-Fed, people are too appreciative of the people performing to cheer who they're supposed to cheer or vice versa and that as a result, some moments get muted from what they were fully intended to be.

Do tell.

Bo Dallas annoyed people past the point of no return.  Kevin Owens also shanked his best friend in the back.  Samoa Joe laid waste to seemingly the entire roster.

The three of them combined and possibly doubled could not have touched the sheer rancor that the Psycho Killer endeared.

For all the new school sheen, it was old school wrestling at its finest: this man is Bad.  Very, very bad.  Now that we've gotten your money, please respond with a level of vitriol that you feel is appropriate.  That grandmother from a couple of weeks ago could've showed up and jumped to rail to try and swing on him; in fact, they probably should've paid her to do it.  Ciampa undoubtedly with his trio of attacks vaulted himself into the upper most echelon of NXT heels and probably cemented himself as the King of Shitheel Mountain by being the most reviled man on the roster without even saying a word.

This egress demanded repairing.  It wasn't that somebody had to fix this transgression, this universal perversion of the lines of mortality; it was that there was only one body that could do it.

The circle closes the way it opens.

And Ciampa reveled in the boos and did dirty underhanded things and preyed upon his former friend's sympathies up until the moment he was extinguished.   He failed in his task at only this: being on the other side of Johnny's rebel heart, especially when you're the first person to really cut in it deep and piss it off, is 180 degrees away from having it and him have your back.

So his skill failed, his chicanery failed, and when he had exhausted those reserves he found himself french kissing his brace while submitting in a tandem set of final ignonimity.

It couldn't have happened to a nicer asshole.

For 322 days it stewed and slow cooked, down to the bone of Gargano's temporary unemployment.  But Johnny Wrestling, possibly soon to be renamed Johnny Five Stars, literally fought his way back from stay-at-home husband, fighting harder than he had in both his tandem and singular title shots and defenses to blot out the Blackheart once.  Probably not "and for all", but in this instance this once was sweet, delicious, and the chef's kiss on a year's worth of hard work.

The crowd chanted lustily that Tommaso deserved his downfall even while it was happening; but in crafting a Magnum/Tully at NXT's equivalent of Starrcade, Johnny deserved every single bit of redemption he managed to garner.

...the odds that Ciampa ruins a future Johnny title shot against Black in the next six months have been taken off of the board in Vegas.

Let's Go Home:  

Sometimes, I honestly feel dumb reviewing these.  If we had space constraints and I was forced to post a picture of a post-it that said "What are you, stupid?  It's Takeover!  Watch it!"  I would completely understand.

What am I to do next, talk people into buying puppies?  Persuade a drinker to have just one more beer?  Somehow convince Breezus to take a selfie?

It feels like every time Takeover happens, it's special, and that's because they are.  We know we're getting good wrestling, yet we are continually astounded at how good it is.  We get instant classics and immediate Match of the Year candidates, then another season rolls around and they happen again and our jaws are left in the breeze like a tire swing on a summer day.

The main roster takes and breaks, and in the fallow times we're convinced the goose is no longer golden, that the eggs have once and finally dried up, and then a nest explodes with four Fort Knoxes.

Anyways.  For the women, it's probably call up time for Ember, and a Shayna/Kairi  rematch that's on deck.  For the men, the Era's Expedition of Gold continues apace with only two belts left to vacuum up and a pay per view in Britain on the horizon.

Do they have an answer for Black with their numbers?

It's entirely possible.  But here's what's entirely true: every moment spent writing or reading about Takeover is a little bit wasted.  Because when they're this damn good (and they usually are) you should just be watching the damn things.

Until the next one, fellow nerds.