With WWE NXT TakeOver: New Orleans concluded, it’s time for another reaction and Smack Talk Pay-Per-Viewpoint post-show podcast review of the event while it’s all fresh in the mind.
As always, click the video at the bottom of this post to check out the podcast discussion of everything on the show and some other opinions to bounce off of, but before we get into that, let’s take care of the rundown of thoughts that were going through my mind while watching this event and the overall point of view that I walked away with.
First things first, this was phenomenal. Not every aspect of it was perfect, of course, but I’m not one of those people who has to live in a world of absolutes where something has to be either the best or the worst thing ever.
The sum of its parts is absolutely amazing and there were so many positives to take away from this that it’s hard to even pinpoint half of them, let alone all.
If I were to talk about the things I didn’t like, it would be easy, as they were few and far between: 1) I didn’t dig the musical performances as they just weren’t my style, 2) I don’t ever want to see that commercial for that stupid Paige film ever again, 3) the pre-show was pretty awful.
But when those are the negatives to walk away with and everything else, for the most part, is a positive, you have one hell of a product—no surprise, as it’s a TakeOver event, and they’re almost always fantastic.
Some of my biggest takeaways from this event, though, were just about how well constructed everything was, and how the puzzle pieces fit together so nicely.
For instance, starting off with the ladder match for the NXT North American Championship was perfect, as it was a hot match with lots of spots to really set the tone for the night.
Every person in that bout played their part beautifully, with the two monsters showing off their strength in ways that will really make them seem like threats more so than ever before, The Velveteen Dream continued to wow and show how smart he is with his technical skills, and so on.
You can’t ignore Ricochet proving that he was worth all the hype, of course, and the fact that it wasn’t just he alone who performed these amazing spots made it so much better, as they all shared in the spotlight.
That match was amazing, and while nothing else got to the same caliber (in my opinion) for the rest of the night until the main event, what was between those two slices of bread in the sandwich was still great.
Shayna Baszler and Ember Moon had some great attention to detail in their match and told a good story of how The Queen of Spades is legitimately tough.
That heel turn from Roderick Strong was so damn good and will undoubtedly go down as one of my favorite moments of WWE programming for the entire year, not just out of the shock and surprise itself, but because it serves a functional purpose both to help Strong get some more character AND to replenish the ranks of The Undisputed Era with Bobby Fish gone. It’s a win/win.
Aleister Black and Andrade “Cien” Almas had a great match as well, with Almas proving that it wasn’t just Johnny Gargano who was responsible for their awesome affair in Philadelphia, but he was an equal part. Black’s title win went down as well as it could have, and he should be a strong champion for the brand for the next few months, or longer.
Then, of course, there was the main event, which was exactly the type of match they needed to have to sell this feud as living up to expectations.
Gargano and Tommaso Ciampa clearly put everything they had into this, and it showed, which is why for close to 40 minutes, the crowd was in the palms of their hands, from start to finish.
The audience was red hot for it and really helped sell it as a blood feud between the worst villain of them all and the guy we all should want to see hand him his comeuppance.
Really, what else could you have asked for? If you didn’t enjoy it, I’m not sure what you really could enjoy from professional wrestling. Of course, that is to specify that you don’t have to think it’s the absolute best thing ever, and I’m anticipating a blowback from people getting tired of hearing praise for it who will start saying it was awful, but try not to let those absolutes get in the way of how you truly feel.
For my money, this was as solid in the ring as I wanted, it had enough spots and weapons detailing to give me what I asked for in an “unsanctioned match” and the story being told hooked me enough to buy into the moment at the end with Gargano thinking twice about hitting his former best friend.
This was exactly the type of program I would want to show to someone who asked me why I liked sports entertainment, and if they didn’t walk out of it with a better respect for the industry, then we’d just have to agree to disagree at that point.
Without a doubt, this goes on my list for potential Pay-Per-View of the Year as well as two options for Match of the Year, and I couldn’t have asked for anything more when I got two personal rivalries, solid storytelling, a heel turn mid-match, some surprising wins, and quality in-ring action from top to bottom.
For more opinions on the show as a whole, check out the latest edition of the Smark Out Moment wrestling podcast SMACK TALK as the panel reviews NXT TakeOver: New Orleans with our immediate reactions following the event before the dust has fully settled.
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