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NXT Takeover: New Orleans: PPV of the Year?

Just a night before the biggest stage of them all, Wrestlemania, is set to take place, the wrestlers of NXT stole the show.

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SPOILERS AHEAD!

Despite my claim as an “obsessed” wrestling fan, I have to admit, despite my love for World Wrestling Entertainment, I’ve yet to watch NXT. For similar reasons, like my refusal to watch Breaking Bad, Stranger Things, or anything related, if people act like something is perfect, I’ll avoid it so I don’t have to hear about it.

But with WWE offering a free month trial on their subscription-based service, the WWE Network, I had to bite and take that offer to get Wrestlemania lag-free. With an entire day until the extravaganza and nothing else to do, I decided to drink the Kool-Aid and watch NXT Takeover: New Orleans. Safe to say, I’ve been pushing myself away from something I never knew I needed.

If NXT Takeover: New Orleans (which for the sake of my sanity, and to avoid being repetitive, will be referred as “Takeover”) was to be summed up in one word, it would be: incredible. In my 13 years of watching professional wrestling, I can’t say I’ve enjoyed it any more than I was tonight.

Despite the short card of only five matches, each one checked off every box I wanted to see. This came inside and outside the ring, which is impressive. With no real knowledge of any NXT wrestler or storyline, I can say that by the end of the night, I had developed a love for the show. Compared to New Japan Pro Wrestling’s Strong Style Evolved, which left me uninterested compared to this show, proved once again that all the criticisms toward WWE is sometimes overdone. The production value alone made me view Takeover in a higher light; whether it be the commentary or the video packages, Vinny Mac remains supreme.

After watching the opening ladder match for the NXT North American Championship, I already knew my time was being well spent. It’s not surprising to see a few wrestlers stand out in these type of matches, but every single participant contributed to this match and made it one of the greatest ladder matches I’ve ever watched. Being familiar with Ricochet from Lucha Underground and EC3 from TNA, I had some idea of what to expect from this match. None of that could’ve prepared me for the amazing match that was to come.

From one spot to another, Ricochet, EC3, Killian Dain, Lars Sullivan, and Velveteen Dream tore the house down in an unpredictable and exciting match. Yet one man stole the entire night for me: Adam Cole.

From the pre-show to the end of the night, Adam Cole was awesome. Coming from someone who didn’t even know who he was outside reading comments on r/squaredcircle threads, I was immediately sold on him; he was my favorite part of the entire show. But this entire match was a group effort that made everyone look strong while also building storylines for the future, this was the match of the night.

Before I go any further, the crowd deserves a shout-out. Regardless of the match, the crowd was always active and entertaining; it’s always fun to see the wrestlers enjoying their work, but you know it’s good when the crowd is into it even more!

From going to the best match of the night to the worst, Shayna Baszer defeated Ember Moon to become the new NXT Women’s Champion. Despite me saying this was the worst match of the night, it was by no means a bad match at all, I enjoyed it. Both competitors looked good in this match and it was a solid match.

My immediate thought following the end of this match was that Moon would be winning (or at the least taking part in) the Women’s Battle Royal tomorrow. She looks ready to make her debut on the main roster; someone with her unique and flashy moveset with solid mic skills will do her well on the main shows. I see SmackDown Live benefiting more from her than Raw.

The match itself was good, with a solid ending that if they keep Moon on NXT, could lead to an interesting story ahead. I definitely think WWE needs more submission finishers that win matches. I felt bad though because this match was never going to live up to the match that preceded it. But both wrestlers did an excellent job.

In an ending that even swerved me, the three-way tag match to determine not only the NXT Tag Champions but also the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic, The Undisputed Era won over The Authors of Pain and Roderick Strong and Pete Dunne. This was a hectic and chaotic match that much like the predecessors, left me unsure of what to expect next. All three teams worked well and as a result, we got a very interesting match!

These feeling of uncertainty were correct as the match ended with a shocking twist that saw Strong betray Dunne and join The Undisputed Era.

As I mentioned before, Cole was my MVP of the night, but it wasn’t until the table spot he took that solidified this opinion for me. If I gained anything from tonight, it was a new favorite wrestler!

In a match that could have easily ended the night off, Aleister Black defeated Andrade “Cien” Almas to become the new NXT Champion! This match perfectly took on the “wrestler with manager vs wrestler without one” angle, but it took a unique twist that isn’t often seen. The manager, Zelina Vega, played a role in not only distracting and cheating, but also pulling off some excellent hurricanranas.

I came into this match with no clue of who would win, again. Aleister Black amazed me and the biggest take I had was that I cannot wait to see this guy headlining Wrestlemania in a few years. Everything about him, from his look to his moveset blew me away in a way that few wrestlers have ever done.

I genuinely thought that this match was over following Almas’ DDT, and I am 100% sure I was not alone in thinking that. After many successful interferences, to see Black finally overcome them and hit a brutal spinning heel kick to win the title, left me with happiness I don’t get to feel that much when watching wrestling. I felt like I was a kid again!

For the main event, we had what was a very, very, very, close second in my match of the night, with Johnny Gargano taking on Tommaso Ciampa for his NXT career. This fight, despite not having a title on the line, felt like the biggest and most important match of the night. Based on the crowd and the match itself, it was.

When you have an unsanctioned match, you expect the story to be told through the weapons. While this was true with the crutch, I don’t even believe that this matched needed it. That being said, it helped to create one of my favorite endings to a match that I’ve ever seen. Ciampa and Gargano stole the show and even though the match was the most predictable, still gave me feelings of uncertainty throughout it.

It was brutal, unorthodox, and fucking fun, and if that isn’t what wrestling is, then I’ll never know. This was an amazing match that was built up just enough throughout the night to make the payoff 100% worth it. It was the perfect ending to a perfect night.

If I were to take a lesson from the show, it would be the that the WWE’s future is in amazing hands. There were many times I forgot that I was actually watching the WWE’s developmental brand, because everything about this show was of a high quality. I don’t know if how much Triple H is pulling the strings behind the scenes, but if he’s one day going to be running the whole company, I know that WWE will be in very safe hands for years to come.

My grade for NXT Takeover: New Orleans is going to be an A+. I know it sounds crazy, but that’s because this show was perfect for me. Nothing left me wanting more in terms of the matches itself more, all I want now is for Wednesday to come, so I can watch more! But I won’t rush too quickly because the big show is still tomorrow!

NXT Takeover: New Orleans Grade: A+

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NXT Takeover: New Orleans: PPV of the Year?