If you’re a wrestling fan, you know it’s the best time of the year. WrestleMania is among us and it’s one of the more stacked cards I’ve ever seen. When it comes to WrestleMania weekend, we get another NXTTakeover special. For the last few years, NXTTakeover is the highlight of the weekend. With NXTTakeover: New Orleans, this year should be no different. Adam Cole, EC3. Ricochet, Velveteen Dream, Killian Dean and Lars Dawson fought for the new North American title. Andrade “Cien” Almas defended the NXT Championship against Aleister Black. Ember Moon put her NXT Women’s title on the line against Shayna Bazsler again. The Undisputed Era defended their titles against the Authors of Pain and Roderick Strong & Pete Dunne with the winner being crown the Winner of the Dusty Rhodes Classic. Let’s see how things turned out during this event.
We kicked things off with the Ladder Match for the newly introduced NXT North American Championship. With all these six competitors, either of them had the chance to walk away with the title. As far as the match goes, this was an exciting of an opener you can get. Ricochet started off showing why he’s one of the most exciting wrestlers in the world. Ricochet hit a sick reverse flip off the top rope onto the floor on Dain and Dawson. EC3 was smashed by a pair of ladders and went through another in this match, but he still got up. Adam Cole went Shawn Michaels mode by super kicking everyone in the match. Velveteen Dream showed his future is bright by hitting crazy moves and taking insane bumps. Ricochet took his share of bumps and displayed high flying ability that I hope it doesn’t land him in 205 Live.
Lars Dawson is a freak of nature and has the looks to go with it. The way Dawson tossed Ricochet early in the match was crazy. Dawson was busted open during the match and he also slammed EC3 through a ladder on the outside through Velveteen Dream. Killian Dean is so damn quick for his size and as agile as any big man you’ve ever seen. Killian Dean also tossed Ricochet across the ring to try and show up Lars Dawson. Killian Dean slammed Adam Cole through Ricochet who was perched on a ladder on the outside of the ring. Towards the end, all six men fought on the ladders trying to capture the title. It seemed like Ricochet was about to go and get the title, but Adam Cole knocked him down from the back. Cole climbed the ladder to retrieve the title! Winner and North American Champ: Adam Cole
Match Rating: 5/5- PHENOMENAL Opener! This was an awesome match and all six men did the damn thing. My question now is, who’ll be the first challenger for the North American title and Adam Cole? Ricochet? Velveteen Dream?
In this one, we have Ember Moon defending her Women’s title against Shayne Bazsler. These two have continued their feud after Moon escaped with her title at NXTTakeover: Philadelphia a few months ago. This match was more competitive as their previous encounter. Bazsler dominated the last match, but Moon took the fight to her, even hurting her shoulder in the process. Ember Moon is the more superior wrestler, but Blaszer has improved so much. Bazsler counter moves are one of her strong suits and it was on full display in this match. In the end, Moon went for her Total Eclipse, but Blaszer countered into her submission move. Moon tried damn near everything to try and free herself, but Bazsler continued to hold on until Moon passed out. Winner and New NXT Women’s Champ: Shayna Bazsler
Match Rating: 3/5- On Twitter, many people wasn’t feeling the match, but I love psychological matches.
This match was for the NXT tag titles and the winner would take the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic trophy. The Authors of Pain are as big as it gets, plus they’ve been the most dominating tag teams in NXT. Pete Dunne became Roderick Strong’s new partner when Regal gave him a second chance in the tournament. Of course, we have the Undisputed Era who’s the tag champs coming into this match. Bobby Fish injured his knee, so Adam Cole will be pulling double duty in his place. Early in the match, the Authors of Pain hit a sick double powerbomb on Adam Cole through the announce table. This was a chaotic match for the most part, until Strong turned on Dunne and helped the Undisputed Era. Strong hit Dunne with his finisher, put O’Reilly on Dunne for the win. Dusty Rhodes Classic Winner and Still Tag Champs: Undisputed Era
Match Rating: 3.75/5- It has been rumored that Strong would eventually join the Undisputed Era and this was the perfect time with Fish out. It wouldn’t surprise me at all if the Authors of Pain would debut on Raw Monday.
We have the NXT Championship match between Andrade “Cien” Almas taking on Aleister Black. These two have been involved in a crazy feud ever since Black became the #1 contender. Almas is coming off a classic with Gargano in the last NXTTakeover. Black comes into this match undefeated ever since he’s entered NXT and he’s hoping to remain that way. These two went at it as soon as the bell rang and Zelina Vega got involved early. This match saw many, many, many nearfalls and these never stopped throughout the match. Aleister Black’s martial arts skills, kicks and strikes are crazy. Andrade “Cien” Almas athleticism, quickness and ring awareness is on another level. The crowd chanted “This Is Awesome” quite a few times during the match and deservedly so. It seemed like Almas was about to retain the title after Zelina got involved, which lead to the stomp from the top rope.
Afterwards, he hit his finisher for another nearfall as the crowd continued to go wild. Black was going for his spin kick for the win, but Almas dropkicked him in the back of the head. Almas hit his running knees finisher again on the posts. Black got the advantage on the outside, tossed Almas into the ring, but was met with another finisher from Almas for a nearfall. Zelina tried to get involved again, but Black caught her, tossed her to Almas and hit his finisher for the win. Winner and New NXT Champion: Aleister Black
Match Rating: 4/5- WOW!! What another AWESOME match!! Will Almas try to get revenge, and another shot at the title or will he head to the main roster in the very near future. The main event of the night was an Unsanctioned Match between Johnny Gargano and Tommaso Ciampa. If Gargano were to lose the match, then he would be gone from NXT forever. When Ciampa was introduced, he didn’t have any music as the fans booed the hell out of him and called him ASSHOLE….that’s some heel ish! He entered the ring and stared at the fans as they started yelling, You Suck and Fuck You Ciampa! The match started, and they brawled because this is personal. Throughout the match, Ciampa had the advantage, but Gargano would always fight back. They fought on the announce table and Ciampa hit a sick suplex from the table to the floor. Ciampa continued beating on Gargano on the floor and even backdropped him onto the wooden top of the announce table. Ciampa continued his assault and even asked to referee to see if he’s finished.
Ciampa tossed him back in the ring where he continued taunted him and beating him up. Gargano continued to try to fight back, but Ciampa would get the best of him. Ciampa continued the beatdown on Gargano as he was pummeling him in the head as he lay off the apron. Ciampa grabbed a pair of crutches from a fan and brought them into the ring. Gargano managed to escape getting hit with them and finally got the upper hand on Ciampa. Ciampa tried to slam Gargano on the exposed floor, but Gargano reversed it to powerbomb Ciampa onto the concrete. The fans started to yell that he deserved it and Maruello seemed happy about it. They fought over the crutch in the ring with Gargano getting it and used it on Ciampa before getting taken out.
Gargano got the advantage again and hit his sling shot DDT from over the top rope into the ring for a nearfall. Gargano removed the padding from the middle rope to expose the turnbuckle. He tried to ram Ciampa into it to no avail. Gargano tried hit springboard spear but was caught with a kick from Ciampa. Ciampa hit a reverse Liger bomb for a nearfall afterwards. Ciampa mocked Gargano by doing the old #DIY signal towards him. They continued to battle until Gargano locked him in his submission hold as the crowd went crazy. Ciampa reached the ropes, but Gargano kicked away from the ropes to remain locked in. Ciampa eventually gauged the eyes of Gargano that caused him to release the hold. Ciampa removed the tape from his wrist to use it as a weapon to choke out Gargano. Gargano countered and they both held the tape while fighting.
They traded punches for a good minute with the crowd getting into it until Ciampa kicked him below the belt. Ciampa eventually hit his finisher, but Gargano kicked out in the last minute. They slapped each other and eventually Gargano rammed Ciampa into the exposed turnbuckle for a nearfall with the crowd on there feet. They fought on the top rope, but Ciampa hit his finisher from off the top rope onto his injured knee, but still couldn’t finish him. Ciampa was getting frustrated as he removed the knee brace from his knee. Ciampa removed the sleeve from his knee and went for the knee on Gargano, but he hit him with the knee brace. Gargano grabbed the crutch, broke it and was about to hit Ciampa with the sharp part.
Ciampa ducked, looked scared and was about to start crying in frustration. It seemed like Gargano felt bad for him as he stared at him. Gargano tossed the crutch and kneeled beside him, but Ciampa tried to hit him with the knee brace. Gargano moved, locked in the submission and grabbed the brace to apply it to the face of Ciampa. He pulled back as hard as he could and eventually Ciampa tapped. Winner: Johnny Gargano
Match Rating: 5/5- I’ll be honest, this is one of, if not the best wrestling match I’ve ever witnessed. The storytelling, psychology, build, emotions, hype and the match had it all. With the win, Gargano gets to stay in NXT and we’ll see what’s next for him and Ciampa.
My Top 3 Matches from NXTTakeover: New Orleans
- Johnny Gargano vs. Tommaso Ciampa- One of the best matches I’ve seen
- Adam Cole vs. EC3 vs. Ricochet vs. Velveteen Dream vs. Killian Dean vs. Lars Dawson
- Andrade “Cien” Almas vs. Aleister Black
What did you think about NXTTakeover: New Orleans? What was your favorite match of the night? Where would you rank NXTTakeover: New Orleans? What are your thoughts about the title changes? How about the Johnny Gargano and Tommaso Ciampa match? Leave a comment below about anything related to NXTTakeover: New Orleans or NXT in general.