Kyle O’Reilly (C) and Roderick Strong (C) def. Tyler Bate and Trent Seven – NXT Tag Team Championship
I’m starting to run out of adjectives to describe The Undisputed Era. I thought The Revival was on another level of tag team wrestling, but the bar that they have set for tag team wrestling has been absolutely incredible. Of course, it helps that Strong and Kyle are individually talented, but they are the definition of iron sharpening iron. They just compliment each other’s styles so well. However, I think we need to give Tyler Bate a standing ovation. He’s as old as I am (21), but he’s so well-polished. In this match, however, the energy he brought was absolutely infectious. He was all over the place, showing his fast pacing, and his strength. I hope Cesaro is filing a trademark for that swing. I believe that the pacing he brought towards the match, especially during his portions, carried the match along quite nicely.
What I also appreciated a great deal was the storytelling. I loved how Seven noticed that Bate was caught in a bad way once again and that The Undisputed Era, had him in the middle of the ring with a submission. Seven wanted to throw the towel yet again, but he realized he didn’t want it to end the same way. He trusted that his partner would find the strength to push through, and his faith was rewarded. There were so many times I thought the match would be over, especially with all the double team moves that were hit on Kyle. Unfortunately for Moustache Mountain, The Undisputed Era just kicks too much ass. The way they know what the other is going to do, how they are both technically gifted and how resilient they are is something I’ve rarely seen. The War Raiders making their presence felt with quite the ambush after the match also has me excited for the next feud over the tag titles. I loved every single bit of this. I feel bad for EC3 and Velveteen who will probably be coming after this. I’d put this on par with their match at Full Sail. Unbelievable start to the show. ****1/2
Velveteen Dream def. EC3
I think the one mistake, if any in this match, is by having this match go around the same length of the tag team match. Now, it must be said that not only is Velveteen Dream extremely talented, but he is extremely bold. On his trunks, he had “Call me up Vince”. That being said, knowing how many NXT talents have been pilfered on the main roster over the years, perhaps he should be hoping that he doesn’t get called up too soon so that Velveteen doesn’t end up being another member of No Way Jose’s conga line. Anyways, we knew this would probably be the odd match out on the card, seeing as how this is the only non-title match here. This was quite the obvious choice to come after the tag team bout.
I did like the change in pace as we went from high-flying, technical action with the tag teams to a ground and pound style between EC3 and Velveteen. I couldn’t help but notice that there was a sharp contrast in the match in regards to how the crowd perceived both men. While the crowd was clearly behind Velveteen, everybody appears to be split on EC3. That is probably because EC3 lacks the charisma and top-tier talent in order to be considered in the top 1 percent as his theme song claims. Velveteen carried the hell out of this match, and when he did, it was special. He just has a unique way of engaging the crowd. The DDT to the steel steps on the outside, the Death Valley Driver to the hardest part of the ring (if the announcers didn’t already tell you), and the elbow that finished it off all got tremendous reactions out of the crowd. He is something truly special. I really didn’t think EC3 added a lot other than some taunting and basic physical moves, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. My expectations weren’t high for this match, and I’m thankful to say it more or less met them. The greatest victory is that the crowd wasn’t completely drained of energy after the opening match. It also needed to rely heavily on character work, but well, they made it work. ***1/4
Ricochet def. Adam Cole (C) – NXT North American Championship
Ricochet has had himself quite the start to his NXT career, with signature performances at each Takeover he’s been involved in so far. Coming into this match< I was fully expecting a clash of styles. It was Adam Cole’s ingenuity and opportunistic offense against Ricochet constantly throwing caution to the wind with his high-risk, high-reward style. The story coming into the show mainly revolved around whether or not Ricochet was on Adam Cole’s level, and who can outdo each other, and I absolutely loved how they conveyed that in the ring.
The back and forth sequences were so well done, and one little subtle thing I noticed was after they were kicking each other’s asses, Adam Cole landed accidentally on Ricochet and he almost picked up a lucky win, which pretty much describes his character. Opportunistic. Meanwhile, Ricochet’s seemingly effortless manner in pulling off high-difficulty moves remained unconscionable. With all that being said, I’m sure everyone will remember the spot of the match which required tremendous precision and timing. And that was Ricochet dodging Adam Cole’s superkick, just to get whammed in the face mid-moonsault, for a heart-pounding near fall.
I want more of this two in the ring together, just because I think their opposite styles correspond with each other so perfectly and effortlessly. There were great near falls, great back and forth, and a tremendous story told. I enjoyed myself a great deal here. Solid action. ****1/4
Kairi Sane def. Shayna Baszler (C) – NXT Women’s Championship
Color me surprised. Next to EC3/Velveteen, I wasn’t particularly looking forward to this match. This is primarily because I didn’t think Shayna had much to offer in the ring outside of her submission acumen. I don’t think she really has a lot of personality, and that she needs someone else with an infectious energy in order to carry her matches. That being said, I was certainly wowed in this match. The key for me here is that these two actually have a history going back to the Mae YoungClassicc. This added an emotional and nostalgic element to the match to give it that extra kick. However, I was beyond impressed with Baszler’s storytelling here. Did you see the way she was twisting Kairi’s right leg. I was legit disturbed at times because I never knew the human anatomy can be so flexible if you make it so. That’s where mixed martial arts training comes in, I suppose.