Monday, June 18, 2018

Best Coast Bias: Everything Is Hate

A man still on a mission
Photo Credit:
Results, stray thoughts and takeaways from the latest Takeover just as soon as I finally get to yell "YOUR NAME IS TOBY!" at a White man...

  • Kyle O'Reilly and Roderick Strong retained the NXT World Tag Team Championships over Danny Burch and Oney Lorcan after a Total Elimination variant.
  • Ricochet beat Velveteen Dream after a 630 splash.
  • Shayna Baszler retained the NXT Women's World Championship over Nikki Cross after rendering her unconscious with the Kurifida Clutch.
  • Aleister Black retained the NXT World Championship over Lars Sullivan after a pair of Black Masses.
  • Tommaso Ciampa beat Johnny Gargano in a street fight.

General Observations:
  • With Mauro out covering fisticuffs, 205 Live's Vic Joseph filled in and didn't even remotely embarrass himself. This left Nigel to do more lifting than usual, but he was above average in that regard as well.
  • The Dishonorable tag champs did their usual shtick to a huge pop and early Undisputed chants. The Chicagoans (?) in attendance seemed lukewarm about the 1-2 Punch but this match would help lessen that.
  • Kyle O'Reilly throwing open-handed palm strikes instead of forearms or punches was another great grace note for his character.
  • The underdog challengers got the advantage, cleared the ring, and the crowd still chanted for the Era.
  • Roderick maybe only landed three backbreakers, so it'll be interesting to see if this was a one-off or a note he'll be punching harder going forward with the alignment change. He landed a super sweet dropkick on Burch that probably had Shane Thorne in the back going "that ain't shit".
  • Oney Lorcan may or may not have been there for porkin' (okay, he was, don't hurt me boss), but as chops gave way to European uppercuts and dives when he finally got his chance, the crowd firmly got behind the white hats.
  • They landed the two-man DDT they landed to win the trios match, but Oney failed to block Kyle from breaking up the pin attempt though he seemed to have been available to do so. He paid when Kyle shoved him off of the top and he hit the apron before he hit the floor, one in a series of vicious back bumps taken by a roster member on the evening.
  • 1-2 pulling out a flying European uppercut variant on the Doomsday Device was choice.
  • The challengers got stereo submissions on the challengers, but Kyle managed to get somewhat loose of the grip in Burch's crossface and upkick him away and into breaking up Oney's half crab on Roddy to a well deserved round of applause.
  • You could see the sweat fly off of Kyle when Oney was delivering some open-handed chop violence in an echo of NFL Films past.
  • It's probably a coincidence, but the fact the champs won with a two-man Ax and Smash followed by a Total Elimination was a nice sign that while Roddy's gone with the Era he still doesn't fully fit in as they don't have a tandem closeout maneuver of their own (at least not yet).
  • Only Velveteen Dream could come out in some hybrid Hogan/Prince Puma cosplay and make it work.
  • The match would go on several minutes but would be best encapsulated in a few seconds where Ricochet followed up a Dream dodge followed by a flashier dodge of his own that turned into a superhero landing, causing Velveteen to shake his head and Ricochet to smile a him.
  • Loved Dream copping Ricochet's offense via the stepover slingshot senton bomb and step up tope con hilo. The announce wisely noted this quickly, helping tell the "anything you can do, I can do better" story.
  • Then Ricochet hit a sterling tope and a Fosbury Flop where he almost landed on his feet because of course he does.
  • Avalanche. Rolling. DVD. Jesus H. Vishnu, Dream. And then a superplex to the floor from the apron as a follow up, getting the night's first Holy Shit! chant.
  • After they both almost took the whole count to get in, it seemed like they were setting up a spot where there'd usually be a boo/yay indieriffic tradeoff but Dream hit a sudden rolling DVD before they actually followed through on it after the kickout.
  • Ricochet responded to Dream's taunting him as a wrestling god by laying him out with his own rolling DVD and posing before a Purple Rainmaker, which Velveteen survived.
  • Dream rolled away from a possible 630 attempt, so Ricochet went for a Shooting Star press instead but Dream got the knees up. Ricochet escaped late in the kickout.
  • Dream went for a coast to coast sized Purple Rainmaker and whiffed it, so of course he was doomed.
  • God's Production Team got a great shot of Dream looking crestfallen while Ricochet celebrated behind him. (h/t Brandon Stroud)
  • Nice moment before the Women's World Title shot as a front row fan held up a pro-Nikki checklist where the top row was marked with her pre-Full Sail sobriquet Best In the Galaxy and she approached it in full gear without fully interacting with it.
  • Oddly tepid reaction for the Queen of Spades.
  • The opening was all Cross' mind games: asking for the Clutch, mock turtling on the mat after eating a legsweep, then offering her back a la Sting, all liberally punctuated with her laughter.
  • There are few non-finishing moves I love more than the Finlay "trap them in the apron and whup their ass" spot.
  • The crowd got distracted by something that was going on in the audience, which sort of put a damper on the portion of the match where Shayna was gaining control.
  • Not a falling reverse DDT into the apron, Nikki! That's The Hardest Part Of The Ring!
  • Nikki smiling while in the Clutch and then going to sleep rather than tapping out sure seemed like an unofficial farewell to Full Sail.
  • The newest member of the NXT roster would politely like to request that you bask ... in his glory!
  • If you want to have fun killing 10 minutes, start making NXT dream matches with Keith Lee in them. I am Very Very Hopeful that he's going to be wrestling on the house show my newly minted fiancee and I are going to next month.
  • Black wrestled the opening moments of his title defense faster than usual, with a nice unstated note to his sense of urgency after Sullivan caught the Mass once again early on. That Meteora suicida must be hell on the knees, though...
  • I probably say this every Takeover, but if Black didn't have the Mass in his arsenal he should be ending matches with his pump knee strikes, which without fail look like they should come with a black robe and a scythe.
  • In that vein, Sullivan's pop-up powerslam always looks better than the aysmmetry of the Accident (which is also intentional).
  • Sullivan lifting Black and almost giant swinging him around while he had a Stretch Muffler was a three exclamation point moment.
  • Not a pop up powerslam into the apron, Lars! That's The etc
  • The first Black Mass that landed sort of different. Sullivan was either out of position or Black threw a rare wobbler. The next one Very Much Was Not That, and Lars was bleeding from his mouth when he was yelling right before he caught another across the forehead in an echo of the Asuka/Nia title match from a couple of years ago.
  • After Candice walked up to Johnny in the back pre-main and handed him the broken crutch from New Orleans before telling him to go kick some ass, I half expected Gargano to be lying in wait where he got thrown into the wall at the original TO: CHI to jump Ciampa with it.
  • Ciampa went over the announce table again, wiping out Nigel in the process and spurring another "Mamma Mia" chant.
  • Another Johnny Wrestling plant fan with a Use This Sign, Johnny sign, so yup, it had a stop sign in it and caused a series of ECW chants after Gargano landed a series of shots with the signs.
  • Even in a street fight against the man he hates most on Earth, Mr. LeRae had time to high five a few fans once he wore Ciampa out.
  • Nothing says hate like willing to get your own trash can, lid and chair that your former partner hasn't sullied with their touch.
  • Ciampa wrapped a chair around Johnny's neck then spiked it into the steps for the devil's hangman in a fine, cringeworthy moment.
  • He also landed a catapult into the bottom buckle, which I somehow haven't seen before.
  • Damn right I yelled "YOUR NAME IS TOBY!" while Gargano whipped Ciampa with his belt a bunch.
  • You see, first you have a piece of trash, then you wrap a garbage can around its head, then you superkick it. SYMBOLISM.
  • Announce noted that neither man had gone for a pin to that point, so of course a pinfall (by Ciampa) came down the line pretty fast after that.
  • I didn't think the Air Raid Crash into the steps would end the match, but I wouldn't've been mad if it had.
  • Ciampa exposed about half of the ring all the way down to the wood, so you knew that was going to be coming into play.
  • Part of me wished the match had ended with Ciampa's version of the Gargano Escape. Would WWEN have covered all of the ensuing riot, some of it, or none of it?
  • Ciampa leading Gargano up the aisle while delivering a Bond villain soliloquy seemed to have a giant button labeled COMEUPPANCE written all over it, but it didn't happen at what the expected point would be. First, Ciampa got to run Johnny into the Tron overhang again, as well as hit a Knee Trembler akin to 2017.
  • Off those beats, there had to be two tables in the vicinity, which there were. Ciampa set up his petard by taking off Gargano's ring, spitting on it, then throwing it off camera.
  • I'm having trouble remember who else in my adult fandom I've enjoyed getting their shit wrecked more than the Blackheart.
  • Johnny was the one with the Air Raid Crash off a high place through two tables this year. Medics came out to put Ciampa on a stretcher, and you could see him bleeding from the arm where a shard of one of the tables had gone into it.
  • That could've been that, but Johnny realized he was ringless. Chicago wanted blood. I wanted blood. Jesus wanted blood.
  • Johnny sent a medic into the ref, dragged Ciampa to the ring and whaled on him before getting him off the stretcher and taking the neckbrace off in the ring. Ciampa tapped and for some reason some NPCs came out to pull Johnny off.
  • Obviously they got got, then Ciampa got handcuffed and Gargano teed off with a half dozen basement superkicks. Great job by Ciampa, who sold the first two with motions and then just took the remaining four in the teeth like he was out on his knees before sluicing into the mat.
  • Another Escape, more NPC bullshit, and I still can't remember how Johnny ended up in position to eat a rope hung DDT that sent him into the exposed wood.
  • The referee hesitated briefly before making the count, then out came the Surrender Cobras.

Match of the Night: Johnny Gargano v. Tommaso Ciampa, Chicago Street Fight – Watching the Empire Strikes Back of Full Sail, it lived in a heightened reality the entire time. It felt palpably unsettling, and was augmented by Nigel being horrified/disgusted/afraid on several occasions for both men. It added in a way that Mauro (had he been there), Vic or Percy couldn't have done. When people best known for being proper villains are very loudly stating how beyond the pale things are it's a rare spice that doesn't get served up in the usual NXT offering, or even the whole of WWE for that matter.

The New Orleans match was the one for callbacks, for in-ring callbacks and counter narratives. This piece of beef was marinated in violence, and without there being a lot of gore for the sake of gore or high-end weaponry still felt so much like the fight it was billed as that several moments were cringeworthy. Somehow on multiple occasions Ciampa made a trash can lid look like something James Bond would wield to merk unsmiling men in suits. Gargano's further malice, highlighted by his admittedly accidental wiping out of the referee during his very intentional wiping out of the NPCs before his basement superkick party got to come further into play and yet even when he was delivering chair shots into Ciampa's leg there was no moment where it felt like a pivot point into heeldom.

What I didn't mention above because I was saving it for here was post Crash as the medics came out and the replays rolled Johnny sat on the equipment he delivered the ARC from and wasn't joyous or saddened; the phrase I used in my notes was "almost catatonic". It seemed like he might've been having a change of heart..but then he found out he was ringless and just like that it was Murder O'Clock.

The NPCs involvement was a necessary evil, no matter how goofy it came off in a street fight it was necessary, especially with no heel turn for anyone or EC3 getting retribution for being upstaged a couple weeks ago.

Let's Go Home: Like the show itself, to paraphrase (quote) Halt and Catch Fire, this show wasn't the thing, it was the thing that gets us to the thing. And it was historically, epically stuck. New Orleans might've been the best Takeover ever, which is like exalting one Rakim rhyme over the fusillade of others. Brooklyn III is of course going to have some crazy gimmick match for #DIY explodes III, which will probably also headline that show as well.

So here we were, as evidenced by the absence of title changes, not a placeholder show, but one just doomed not to be remembered as positively despite having no bad matches for two and a half hours. In the case of every challenger(s), however, they served to mark as signposts to further establish the defending champions. Those stories could be stretched further, but there doesn't seem to be a need for that in any of the three cases (with a possible stipulation for a Women's championship rematch being the best one to make).

Still, Takeover: Chicago II has nothing to be ashamed of; when you deliver a story of spectacle and violence like the main, there's no way the show gets completely forgotten.

It will, however, through almost no fault of its own, get overshadowed.

On one hand, that's unfortunate. On the other hand, BRING ON BROOKLYN.

Tommaso and Johnny aren't done killing themselves for our entertainment juuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuust yet.