NXT TakeOver: Orlando (Review)

Shinsuke Nakamura looks to end the Glorious Era, as he challenges reigning champion Bobby Roode for the NXT Championship. Asuka and Ember Moon, both undefeated in NXT, go head to head for Asuka’s NXT Women’s Championship, a title she has held for exactly one year…


Sanity (Eric Young, Killian Dain, Alexander Wolfe & Nikki Cross)
vs.
Tye Dillinger, Roderick Strong, Ruby Riot and Kassius Ohno
3half_star
(Winners: Sanity, via pinfall)

Andrade “Cien” Almas
vs.
Aleister Black
4star
(Winner: Aleister Black, via pinfall)

The Revival (Dash & Dawson)
vs.
DIY (Johnny Gargano & Tommaso Ciampa)
vs.
The Authers of Pain (C) (Akam & Rezar, with Paul Allering)
Elimination Triple Threat Match for the NXT Tag Team Championship
5star
(Winners: The Authors of Pain, via pinfall)

Asuka (C)
vs.
Ember Moon
NXT Women’s Championship
3half_star
(Winner: Asuka, via pinfall)

Bobby Roode (C)
vs.
Shinsuke Nakamura
NXT Championship
4star
(Winner: Bobby Roode, via pinfall)


Review

From top to bottom, NXT TakeOver: Orlando was one of the best special events NXT has put on for a long time. Perhaps even since 2015.

The opening match, the long-running feud between Tye Dillinger (with friends) and Sanity, opened with a massive brawl between all eight competitors. This set the tone for the night, with every match bringing an aggression and intensity that really suggested the NXT roster were going out there to prove something to their viewing audience. Maybe they needed to, after accusations that the wrestling brand has been weaker since WWE RAW and WWE Smackdown Live drafted its top talent away in mid-2016.

Andrade “Cien” Almas had the best match of his NXT career, facing off against Aleister Black. Both men really went at it, and the crowd enjoyed it from start to finish. Black’s series of kicks to Almas’ head, leading into the pinfall victory, were painful to watch and a strong way to end the match.

Even though the tag team divisions across all WWE brands have been targeted for criticism the past few years, NXT has been giving us some absolutely superb Tag Team Championship matches at the TakeOver events this past year. The triple threat match for the NXT Tag Team Championship at this particular show, TakeOver: Orlando, did not disappoint either.

From the start, all signs pointed to The Revival teaming with DIY to take on the common enemy: the Authors of Pain. The plan appeared simple: combine forces to eliminate the massive reigning champions, then go head to head themselves to determine new title holders. This wouldn’t happen though, as even with some of the best teaming up we’ve ever seen of two tag teams against one, the Authors of Pain could not be put away and eventually they would pin both teams to remain NXT Tag Team Champions.

I had an entire page of notes written up on this match as it aired, but to even attempt to detail some of the spots in this contest would be a disservice to them, so I won’t even try. All I’ll say is that this may be the best triple threat tag team match on WWE programming for 15 years.

The NXT Women’s Championship match was an odd one. There were moments when it was the most competitive match Asuka has had since first winning the championship, but they never came together to make it the memorable contest it could’ve been. It wasn’t helped by a finish that came out of the blue, although Asuka cheating to win was an interesting way to finish it (and then being very cocky about it afterward!). After all the hype about about Moon’s finisher,  we never got to see her hit it, which was a great booking decision as we’ve yet to see whether Asuka can survive it, giving this feud more legs to continue. It’s safe to say that Moon is taking the title off Asuka, it’s just a matter of when.

The main event was preceded by some fine entrances for Roode and Nakamura. The match itself followed a similar story to their first (NXT TakeOver: San Antonio), opening at a steady pace and gradually building and building towards a more hotly worked finish. Crowd were split throughout, something that will always happen in Roode’s matches even though he’s a heel, simply because his gimmick is too damn glorious.

That Roode got a clean and decisive victory came as a surprise, as he’s not 2-0 over Nakamura, but with the Japan-born star clearly headed to RAW or Smackdown Live soon, Roode is going to be the face of the brand and needs to appear legit. It was a solid main event, and better than their first match, in this writers opinion.

It would be wrong to write about TakeOver: Orlando without mentioning the introduction of new championship titles for each division. Whilst these new designs have been brought in under a guise of ‘evolving’ the brand, it has obviously come as a response to the illegal hacking of images and videos of former NXT Women’s Champion, Paige. Replacing the one championship would’ve brought unnecessary attention to the scandal, and why WWE felt they needed to replace the women’s championship, but doing all three at the same time was a masterstroke. In truth, the men’s championship needed a redesign as it no longer fitted a brand that has legitimately become one of the top five in North America – they needed something more prestigious. That the women have been given the same design, albeit slightly smaller, was once again a great decision by the company and means that Asuka now probably wears the best-looking Women’s Championship in WWE.

In a year that has already given us such good wrestling shows already, NXT TakeOver: Orlando delivered one of the finest so far. From an undercard that had the kind of passion you’re desperate to see at live events, to a main event that had a big fight feel, this show had everything. Could it have excelled even higher with a few better booking decisions? Possibly. But that doesn’t take away from what was a damn fine presentation from start to finish.

Match of the Night

The Revival vs. DIY vs. The Authors of Pain

NXT TakeOver: Orlando Rating

4star

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