The War Raiders (C) def. Ricochet and Aliester Black – NXT Tag Team Championships
This is a lesson in storytelling that’s multi-faceted folks. Sometimes, it doesn’t get much better than this. The reason why this worked so much for me was the fact that both tag teams tried to see who could implement each other’s style better and it was so freaking epic.
You have The War Raiders doing gymnastics and flipping from the top freaking rope and you have Ricochet doing fallaway slams.
They were also still able to implement their styles to perfection as well. The other hint of storytelling that I loved was Ricochet almost getting counted out, a clear call-back to how their RAW Tag Team Title bout against The Revival ended.
Some of the desperation attempts to break up pinfalls were ingenious as well, from a The War Raiders collapsing onto Ricochet to Black busting out Finn Balor’s finisher.
The pacing was pitch perfect as well. The action always seemed to progress and never take a stand-still. The finish of the match seemed to quite clearly indicate that this was Ricochet and Black’s swan song in WWE.
If that’s the case, what a hell of a way to go out. They’ll be remembered for what they did as singles competitors, but they showed their diversity by competing as a tag team. I don’t know about you, but I had a hell of a time watching this tag team match. About as fun as it gets folks. ****1/2
I was afraid that this match was going to lack the intensity of the match that proceeded it, and boy am I happy I was wrong. This was a fantastic match, and I think that this one was carried by the character work.
The stage was set with Velveteen’s entrance. There’s just a certain charisma about him that’s infective. Matt Riddle carried his weight here as well. He’s immensely talented, and I’m glad he’s been given this platform to prove his metal.
I liked during the match how Riddle progressively got frustrated that everything he was throwing at Velveteen wasn’t working. It had me thinking that he was going to fully turn into a heel. But folks, that German Suplex from the top rope into that top rope reverse corkscrew? I would have bet my college tuition that was the finish.
Dream’s energy here was just also fantastic. He knows how to work a crowd with subtleties, but he showed the full essence as to why he’s a popular character. He’s just an incredible performer.
I also appreciated the finish because it protected Riddle. Velveteen didn’t beat Matt so much as he escaped him. That shows Matt had him on the ropes, but a quick mistake cost him everything.
While I think it took a teeny bit to get going, once it did, we got a hell of a match. A splendid job by both men, and an entertaining match that had the crowd invested in the finish. ****1/4
WALTER def. Pete Dunne (C) – NXT United Kingdom Championship
Talk about a change of pace, eh? We went from high flying action in the tag team match and tremendous character work in the second to a straight up fight here. Sharp knife edge chops, finger breaking, and face stomping. Seriously, it felt like something straight up out of ancient Greece.
Pete Dunne held the title for nearly 700 days, and I knew this would probably signal the end of his reign. But what I wanted was for him to get a match that was worthy of the person to dethrone him. I’m grateful to say not only did this match meet those expectations, they blew it out of the water.
I envisioned what that match would look like, and the best way I can describe it is this. If I didn’t watch pro wrestling before today, I would think this was a real fight. That’s how much I loved this. You didn’t get the sense either man was holding back.
Pete Dunne’s desperation and pulling out everything in his arsenal was awesome. Walter was too big for a lot of things Dunne tried to do, but since he’s a badass, he was able to make it work anyway.
Walter was also just absolutely incredible here. He kind of reminds me of Vladimir Kozlov, but more refined as a worker. You don’t normally see men his size get desperate, but Dunne was more than game and Walter had to get out of his comfort zone to win. In order to escape submissions, he used his larger frame to get to the ropes. He once even put all of his weight off the mat in a pinfall attempt.
But nothing, and I mean NOTHING, tops that unbelievable powerbomb from the rope. He flung Dunne damn near halfway across the ring. And then he needed to go to the top rope to finish things off.
I got my money’s worth here, and if this was the main event, I wouldn’t have been mad. Just an incredible performance by two men who literally busted their asses to make each other look good. ****3/4
Shayna Baszler (C) def. Kairi Sane, Bianca Belair and Io Shirai – NXT Women’s Championship
I hate that this had to be the odd match out as the women’s match has historically been the NXT match on a Takeover card that comes before the main event. After what proceeded it, I had no expectations this would be something worth watching.
While the match resorted to the trivial fatal four way trope of having two people fight on the outside and on the j side at a time, I’m thankful to say that there was a lot of good stuff here, and I mean a lot. The teamwork between Shirai and Sane was pretty cool and Belair getting a chance to showcase her strength was cool as well.
I also think the ladies did about as well as one could expect in their position. They all showcased their character traits well and Baszler did what she said she was gonna do. Watch the others tear each other apart and pick up the scraps. She didn’t even need her entourage to do it.
Baszler has essentially beaten everyone there is to beat in NXT, and I’m sure we were all thinking this is where she’d be de-crowned in lieu of a main roster call up. NXT Champions have been called up with their titles (e.g. Kevin Owens), but the decision to have her retain here was kind of confusing, especially since it was a match where she technically didn’t have to lose to drop the title.