Kyle O’Reilly (C) and Bobby Fish (C) (The Undisputed Era) def. Authors of Pain – NXT Tag Team Titles
I apologize because I still cannot discern Akam from Rezar, so you’ll have to excuse me for still not knowing the difference. Regardless, I beleived this was a highly solid opening match, and I think this did a good job of highlighting how far Authors of Pain have come as a team. This time last year, they were basically two clones of Ryback; two muscle-bound freaks that were reckless and lacked ring awareness. This year, they’ve gotten tag team psychology down and are much more in sync. Of course it helps when you have O’Reilly and Fish to help carry things along. The psychology was pretty basic, but it worked within the context of the match. The Authors of Pain are two muscle-bound heavyweights and the best way to attack them is by taking out their lower extremities, and Fish/O’Reilly did a masterful job of using leg locks and holds to limit their mobility.
I was also very impressed as to how powerful Fish and O’Reilly were, because while the Authors of Pain can take some bumps, it’s very difficult to get overhead suplexes on them, and that was cool to see. The result was kind of obvious, though I admittedly bought a finish of Authors of Pain winning towards the ending sequence. However, the finish was cleverly constructed, because it protects both teams, and makes the right team go over once again. Both teams worked hard, they kept the crowd engaged thoughout, and they wrestled a consequence-less tag team match. ***1/2
Velveteen Dream def. Kassius Ohno
Velveteen is what sports entertainment is about. It’s a different, but unique character, he keeps the crowd engaged adn he performs well in the ring. Unfortuantely, I don’t think Kassius Ohno was the right opponent for him. The match against Aliester Black? Money. This match? Would probably make a good RAW match. My problem with the match is that they had the crowd engaged and it was very hard hitting for the first five or so minutes. However, after that, the matche became very sloppy, some of the moves weren’t executed properly, and most importantly, Ohno lokoed extremely gassed. I don’t want to say it’s because of his weight, but I think he has to work on his conditioning, because he just looked very sluggigsh and couldn’t match Velveteen’s energy.
Still, with all that being said, the hard hitting physicality and the finish saved the match and Velveteen did his absolute best to keep the crowd engaged, and they didn’t totally lose them. So, I’ll give the match the benefit of the doubt, because it was by no means horrible. I just don’t think it highlighted Velveteen’s strengths well. He has a future in this business. ***
Ember Moon (C) def. Shayna Baszler – NXT Women’s Championship
The biggest thing I was looking for in this match was going to be Ember Moon’s selling ability and how the work early in the match played into the finish. And I dug it. While the match wasn’t long in terms of mat based work, Baszler’s style is so uniquely different, and when you have the kind of background she has, there’s a certain complexity that’s added into the match, and you saw the different dynamic immediately with the takedowns and submissions she looked to put Ember in. Ember tried to overpower everything, and it actually worked for a while until Shayna was able to get her signature submissions in, and Ember’s selling was spot on, especially after hitting her finisher.
The ending submission sequence, which seemed like it lasted an eternity, was also one of the best sequences I’ve ever seen in an NXT match. You could believe Ember was going to tap at any moment, but you could also assume that Ember could just do a fluke pin for the win. The problem is that usually the fluke pin occurs immedaitely after a submission is applied, but it was a contentious battle of wills for a good five or so minutes. Baszler continuing to hold the armbar in and do some serious damage, and Ember doing her very best to fight on despite the pain and refusing to tap. Eventually, Ember got the pin and the crowd popped for it. It was a smart finish because it protects both, and you could argue more so Baszler, because of her post-match beatdown and how Ember was selling it by spazzing out. It was a good physical match that paves the way for a rematch at the next takeover, and it’ll probably end up with Shayna getting the better of Ember this go around. ***1/2
Aliester Black def. Adam Cole – Extreme Rules
So, I’m positive Adam Cole should be dead, but somehow he’s not. Good freaking gosh, how do you describe brutal? If this wasn’t a wrestling match, I’d definitely say these two were trying to kill each other with some of those shots that both men took. I mean, the shots with the kendo stick, stomping your opponent through tables, and landing back first unto the top of two chairs side by side. It was all just magnificently brutal. Aliester just has a unique mystique about him that separates him from the rest of the NXT roster. He’s all business, says little words, and is able to be engaging without being a loud mouth. In spite of that, he also had to get much more gritty in order to survive the onsalught of Adam Cole and his entourage.
I loved the chemistry between the two comeptitiors, and I believe they delivered a worthy Extreme Rules match that can only make a Philly crowd lose it. While I certainly could have done without some of the interference and believe the match would have been just fine eithout it, my goodness, that was a well done Extreme Rules match. Both men took their licks, but both men were also equally brutal in their assualts on each other. Adam Cole’s gonna need a lot of morphine after what he went through tonight. Took some time to get going, but once it did, it was some awesome stuff and more. ****1/4
Andrade “Cien” Celmas (C) def. Johnny Garganno – NXT Championship