Hello. I have made it to the go-home show before NXT TakeOver and I have managed to avoid spoilers beside the one involving Aleister Black’s injury. I have spent the past five days hanging out on a secluded island in the Acadia region of Maine. Swan’s Island has been covered in fog. I’ve basically kept the fireplace filled with flaming logs and have been in the makeshift recording studio I set up in the garage of the rental that we are staying at. It’s been a nice time to be away from news and work and the reality that I am waiting to go home and resume the ton of work to do at my new house before my family moves in the following weekend. There is a lot to do and while it’s all lovely, I am so stoked at the prospect of watching this show right now. I’m currently sitting in the living room, surrounded by all of my wife’s family, with headphones plugged into an iPad and I’m typing on my laptop and ignoring people who are making s’mores and talking loudly. THIS IS AWESOME. Let’s rock.
NXT kicks off backstage with Regal and he is called to go outside and as he leaves the building, he passes Gargano, walks a long distance past some other performers and he and a ref come across Aleister Black. So, that’s how are gonna do it. And with that bit of video, they roll the promo for the new main event for TakeOver: Gargano vs Ciampa in a Last Man Standing match. Good God.. That’s gonna be…murder.
First out are Angelo Dawkins and Montez Ford, The Street Profits! I never really pay attention to or remember names and I still barely remember which is Flips and which is Fists from the Revival but these dudes have got me HOOKED. They are fun as hell in a way that, while I have seen before, they have made it THEIR gimmick and they are owning it well. Their opponents are The Mighty, a pair of schmucks that I have totally turned around on as they became heels. I don’t exactly “like” them but I dislike them for the right reasons and I think that means they are doing their jobs. Hence, I “like” them. It’s all varying degrees of “likes.” The match starts off and The Mighty take the early lead. Shane Thorne is becoming more and more memorable as an a-----e heel and I like it. They have a real early ’90s WWF heel vibe with Man of Steel (Christopher Nolan) filter on their ring gear. Miller maintains a believable upper hand on Angelo Dawkins while Montez Ford bounces and builds towards the hot tag. This is a pretty steady match but there really isn’t much to mention. Shane Thorne misses an uppercut and ends up clobbering the top turnbuckle. The match picks up some steam when Montez tags in and there is a lot of back and forth that is mildly exciting. The match ends with a “roll up and grab the tights” reverse into “roll up and grab the tights” and Street Profits win. This might not be the best pairing of teams, but it serves a sort of purpose, advancing them both as teams now with more experience and more TV time to shine. The best part is when Ford makes the cameraman hand him his drink after they won the match but were already on the outside of the barriers.
While cutting to commercial, there is footage of Shayna Baszler talking to Aliyah, who has a match again Kairi Sane next. That’s a pretty neat twist to the whole thing: Baszler is trying to mastermind an easy win. I appreciate that extra little touch.
Backstage promo with Undisputed Era! Starting with Roddy, and he is so cool with these dudes. The best part is that, truly, NONE of these dudes are “cool.” They are all wrestling dorks, but they rule together. They are the coolest stable since the nWo in that vein. They tie the whole thing together in the end but I just watch them all the whole time and I want them to like me! They are the coolest. I am a f-----g mark.
I pressed the power button on my PS2 and out comes Kairi Sane, in full regalia. I feel like she was super awesome before the Mae Young Classic. Maybe I should look into that. Her opponent tonight is the previously mentioned Aliyah. While Kairi normally seems cheery and optimistic going into her matches, she seems focused and almost vicious tonight. Just as they are getting ready to start the match, the Queen of Spades’ music hits. Sane looks nervous and I hate that. Baszler goes walking over to the commentary table and for some reason I’m into it tonight. She has a comfort that she hasn’t exactly earned but she has it regardless. It’s not long before I realize that I am not a fan of Baszler on commentary but when they cut to her on camera she looks worried and it’s selling it. Sane kicks the crap out of Aliyah and after one InSane Elbow, she goes back up for another and after that, she goes up for a third. She is absolutely brutal right now. She goes for the pin and then she pulls Aliyah up at 2 75. She stares at Baszler and holy f--k she seems like the most vicious member of the women roster right now. She wraps on The Anchor and as she is upside down, pointed at the champion, she stares right at Shayna from across the ring to commentary with the most serious face. She is a total badass and THIS match tonight has shown me a new side and a complexity to her that means I will probably drop my FF7 schtick for her. Now, I’m in. Wow, I believe that Baszler could lose and it wouldn’t make her look weak at all.
Video package for Adam Cole and Ricochet and this match is gonna rule. They have already amassed enough footage of both of them interacting and otherwise to be able to put together a really good story. It’s gonna be awesome.
Velveteen Dream! I was honestly pretty down with this dude from the beginning but it just feels like I have been a fan of this dude for years. He seems to have accomplished so much in NXT while still having so much room before hitting his ceiling here. I hope for at least another year or two with him in NXT before he goes on to make Raw his show. He rules at wearing a denim vest with stonewashed jeans and a fanny pack. He comes out and chides the crowd for chanting for him when they have been chanting for EC3. Dream goes on a little rant about how EC3 now has his attention and that is a bad thing. EC3 comes out midway through in a nice suit and immediately starts cutting a promo: “So this is what it’s like when doves cry?” “Sick fanny pack, by the way” leads to a FANNY PACK chant. “I build parking lots in people’s heads.” Oooooook, EC3. Dream cuts him off mid-“after victory, after victory, after victory…” and and says NO to which the crowd says YES YES YES. The crowd is with EC3 right now…. After another chant of FANNY PACK we get EC3 starting to remove his jacket and challenges Dream to dance right now, who obviously accepts and immediately throws his jacket over EC3’s face and just pounds him. It doesn’t take much tussling before EC3 hits Dream with the 1% and they split apart. According to the crowd, EC3 is the top 1% going into this TakeOver match.
A special edition of WWE NOW with Kathy Kelly explaining Aleister Black’s injury, showing and exploring theories based around footage. This is a cool thing that I am not familiar with as I don’t look at the website for content. The list of people whom they crammed into a bit of footage is as follows: Gargano walking into the building as Regal walked out, Undisputed Era in a convertible, Lars Sullivan walking away, Tucker and Otis filming with their cellphones at dusk, and Kairi and Candice having lunch/dinner (again, at dusk) with Kassius Ohno. Then they cut to Steve Cutler, Wesley Blake and Jaxson Ryker, Kona Reeves just looking like a YouTuber, and then Ricochet getting into a limo. Shayna can be seen in the their camera angle as well as Velveteen Dream (looking “visibly upset”), after which they show Marcel Barthel, Fabien Aichner and Cezar Bononi and then, of course, Ciampa, just walking around with his title wearing a super Charles Manson face. The last person they show is EC3, inexplicably. Well, that was a cool little extra touch and a fine but also kinda crappy way to write a guy out of a rematch. I wish I hadn’t seen any spoilers but I’m still stoked that it will be Gargano and Cimapa, Last Man Standing, for the title. This HAS to be the last one. If not, it will be in my heart.
As they play the first and final video package for Ciampa and Gargano, I am suddenly reinvigorated for this feud. These dudes are gonna kill each other in a way that I feel sincerely nervous about. This is going to be f-----g crazy. This story has progressed so well. Better than I thought, honestly. As they keep showing back and forth-point/counterpoint between Tommaso and Johnny I find myself really drawn to Ciampa. I know that I want to see him have a long title reign.
This evening’s main event will be a truly wonderful wrestling exhibition between Roderick Strong and Tyler Bate. I hate Mustache Mountain’s theme song and it is leading me to like them less. SHOCK THE SYSTEM!! Now THIS is a THEME song. Even though it’s only Kyle Riley and Roderick Strong, it’s awesome. They RULE. They both hit the top rope and point at each other for the BOOM. Awesome. Oh boy this is gonna be a great match. Tyler Bate starts off by kicking Roddy square in the face and Strong is immediately on the defense. “The Messiah of the Backbreaker” is a weird tagline. As Roddy is able to get a grip on Tyler Bate he is able to slow down the match and take control by wearing him down. They pummel each other for a while and Bate hits Strong with a top rope European Uppercut and wowwee!! Bate gets a little head of steam and knocks the wind out of Strong before hitting him with a standing shooting star press. I feel like Bate does that move better than Ricochet. They are hitting each other so loudly that I have a headache. These two a------s just did a breathtaking set of moves that was so clearly choreographed but felt so natural that I actually stopped breathing for about nine seconds. The Tyler Driver 97 (that HAS to be the year he was born) and it’s over. Undisputed Era leave with their titles and Roddy lost the match. This very scene isn’t the craziest, most must-see stuff for a PPV but also it’s fine. I am still very enthusiastic to see the tag match.
Man oh man Triple H and crew really know how to do it. I so badly wish that I hadn’t even seen that spoiler of the injury but even knowing about it, but still, I am impressed with how we arrived at that point. I guess I’m impressed from a logistical standpoint but maybe I wouldn’t have been had I not known. It almost seems like a main roster sort of way to bury Aleister Black while elevating Ciampa and Gargano. Or it could have just been the best way to get to the “rubber match.” No matter what, I am very excited to see NXT TakeOver this Saturday. The plan, as it stands, is that I will be driving home from Maine, throughout the whole day Saturday and after I get home and love my cats who I haven’t seen in a week, I will kiss my wife and daughter goodnight, watch TakeOver (likely while typing the review) and then I will participate in the inaugural Post-TakeOver PTW podcast with JVD, The Hardcore Kid and The Wolverine. It’s gonna RULE. That said, I am phasing back to Vacationland so my thoughts are fleeting, other than to say that:
Wrestling Rules. F--k the World. Party Hard.
If you’d like more wrestling news, opinions and hot takes, check out our weekly podcast, Poor Taste Wrestling. New episodes are available every Friday, where we break down Raw, SmackDown Live, NXT and more every week. You can also follow us on Twitter @AiPTwrestling for up-to-the-minute news and opinions.