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[2018-01-27-WWE-NXT Takeover: Philadelphia] Andrade 'Cien' Almas vs Johnny Gargano


Kadaveri
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I've just finished watching it for the second time. This is the best NXT match ever and Johnny Gargano is one of the best sellers I have ever seen in wrestling. He manages to look totally destroyed just from facial expressions yet at no point does it feel hammy, just pitch perfect. The structure of this match is so excellent, it feels fairly conventional in the opening but then takes you on so many twists you really don't know what's gonna happen next. When's the last time a WWE match had so many believable nearfalls, and yet the match never feels like it's peaked too early? The multiple acts of interference from Zelina Vega really added to the match by adding more insurmountable odds Johnny is having to overcome, and Candice kicking her ass was a great resolution to it that delighted the crowd. You really feel how totally invested they are in the outcome of the match and they're totally behind Johnny, and not in a "I hope the booker made him win" way.


*****
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I don't think I ever felt as tense for a wrestling match as I did here. God damn, this was fantastic. Both guys make you fall for every single nearfall, be with a finisher or a well placed combination of moves, or even the heelish distraction finish.

 

Every single piece fell into place in this one, and it produced one of the best WWE matches ever, and if one were to say that it is THE best, I would believe that.

 

 

Interesting to note, however, how in the early days of January we had a match where the ending result deflated the actual match, and I don't think this happened in this case, due to different builds. May Gargano have his run later. It shall come.

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What a beautiful, brilliant match. Though I haven't seen their previous matches on NXT TV, I'd heard here of their legendary chemistry and my god was it on display in this match. They moved so smoothly and yet with such deep intensity that allowed the match to just build and build and build. There are those unique matches that are able to capture the beauty of a false finish. There were so many moments when this match could have conceivably ended but the more it grew, the more tense and high stakes everything got.

 

Johnny Gargano has been and continues to be the greatest babyface wrestler in the world today. No one draws the amount of sympathy, emotion, and dedication that he does on a regular basis in almost every match he competes in. The beating he took against the LED board, the brutal double knees into the ringpost, all fantastic spots that Gargano sold perfectly (all 5 star moments as well, might I add).

 

*****

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I love the way the big MOOVEZ actually had a purpose, instead of just trying to pop the crowd. It felt like All Japan in the 90's, where both guys were determined to beat down and destroy the other guy. The fact that a bunch of their moves missed fed right into the story that they were giving their strongest efforts at bringing the death.

 

 

The fact that the crowd chanted "Thank you, Candice" demonstrated the power of Zelina's presence and character. She only does one or two things the whole match, but the crowd is relieved to get her out of there. Fantastic heelery.

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Both guys deliver their career performances w/ Almas being vicious as hell w/ his offense, and John boy, while still showcasing some of that shitty indy offense of his, delivers a babyface performance to remember w/ his selling & comebacks. In some ways it resembles an indy epic, but without the worst tropes, and the tropes they go with, they actually make look GREAT. Magic in the air that night in Philly, I tell ya. ****1/2

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My favorite thing was that after the tornado reverse DDT spot, the match still had another FIFTEEN minutes to go, whereas so many matches would be looking to finish up in 5 or less. Very rarely nowadays do you see me thinking a 30 minute match is worthwhile, but this was that and then some. They knew how to do the sequences right. They showed how much they knew each other to the point where when they hit a big move, it was earned. When Johnny kicked out of the DDT, I thought for sure he was gonna take it, and Candice neutralizing Zelina made me think more, but after the toe on the ropes during the second Gargano Escape, you kinda figured out what was coming. I don't know how you don't have these guys match up again this year, but it's now the match I want to see again more than anything else. Unreal piece of pro wrestling here.

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I didn't think these guys had it in them to keep a half hour match interesting, but they sure showed me. This is one of the rare few times you get a smark-heavy crowd fully immersed with the traditional face/heel dynamic. None of that 'Let's go Gargano, Let's go Almas,' dueling chant bollocks here. Every time Almas would look for a shortcut or his manager would interfere with the match, the crowd were calling for their heads.

 

Johnny Gargano is the best babyface in wrestling right now. His facial expressions were next level when ever he take a brutal move and looked concussed. Speaking of brutal moves, they were plenty here and it never felt like they were there for the sake of popping the crowd.

 

Just pure magic.

 

★★★★¾

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I love the way the big MOOVEZ actually had a purpose, instead of just trying to pop the crowd. It felt like All Japan in the 90's, where both guys were determined to beat down and destroy the other guy. The fact that a bunch of their moves missed fed right into the story that they were giving their strongest efforts at bringing the death.

 

This. This to me felt like the biggest thing that sets it aside from the majority of the WWE matches I watch. Even some of the best guys and matches in WWE I've seen the last few years, I still end up thinking of their matches in terms of a list of moves or spots, while this felt like they were each actually trying to beat each other.

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This was an absolutely spectacular match to watch. Gargano is the best babyface in the business right now and his matches with Almas are all fantastic. What a great story, and then off to the races with a personal feud with Ciampa that has the potential to be even hotter. Almas was also terrific, and I especially enjoyed him not working in a cartoonishly heelish manner. The Candice/Vega spot made me jump off the couch, as well. The false finishes made me bite every damn time. It was just captivating.

 

I’m not huge on star ratings but I simply texted my girfriend “wrestling made me cry again” after it ended, so it’s on the very, very high end of my scale. Easily MOTY to this point and I would say the best match in NXT history.

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This is one of the rare few times you get a smark-heavy crowd fully immersed with the traditional face/heel dynamic. None of that 'Let's go Gargano, Let's go Almas,' dueling chant bollocks here.

On that note, the fact they managed to shut down the "2 sweeeeeet" chants made after nearfalls is already impressive.

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Gargano was fucking incredible in this, Almas held his own but Johnny was holy shit level great. Not my type of match, much of the no selling didn't really feel earned to me and the first 10 minutes were kinda pointless - I still don't know why Almas didn't work the back after the big bump on the outside from Gargano, specially because he kept selling it and Almas just wanted to do other stuff - BUUUUT, I was still really fucking entertained by this and no doubt could feel the emotion they were going for. The good outweighed the bad by far in this and the standing ovation was well deserved. Felt this was a better version of Omega vs Okada I and I mean that as a compliment.

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Even like a year ago I still wasn't sold on Johnny Gargano as a singles star and, in retrospect, that seems completely blind. The charisma and big match selling are just so undoubtedly there in his face, and, in these Almas matches at least, the cute indie parts of his offense that I didn't love get integrated perfectly. This starts off with a lot of energy because the crowd loves Johnny so much, and it really seems like the guys are both putting a little extra effort in on the mat to keep that energy going even with a structurally traditional beginning. After that it’s just an amazing show of big spots pulled off in ways that have them make sense in the context of the match. That double moonsault by Almas for example, is something that could be a cheap throwaway in a million juniors matches but is so unexpected and wonderful here. And Almas dials up the hard hits, whether it’s slaps or that huge back elbow, at the exact right times. The Zelena/Candace stuff works wonderfully, built off their last few matches. The finish is actually sad, like good art can be sad. Not “I can’t believe they booked it that way” sad but actually affecting because Gargano sells the damage and emotion and Almas is just an enemy he can’t overcome. And credit to Almas’ selling too, because while it isn’t as important to the overarching story it does just as much to make the drama work on a moment to moment basis. I can’t wait to watch this again.

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yep... this is just incredible. I think it is more incredible because the middle of this show did very little for me and it felt like there was sort of a funk going on after the tag match, despite everyone's efforts. Almas and Gargano took very little time establishing their own ethos though. Gargano deserves a lot of credit for this, but I think Almas has been a standout performer for some time now. This was everything you want from wrestling. High drama, great timing, innovative, well executed.... I can't say much more about it. I am going to watch it again before I tack snowflakes, but this is in the ****3/4 or ***** convo.

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Tremendously great match. I can't remember anything from 2005 onwards that has sucked me in like that. I hadn't seen much from Gargano prior to this PPV, but was a fan of Almas. Needless to say the former vaults into my must-see list from now on, and Almas solidified his reputation and then some with this match.

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I was almost reluctant to watch this because I don't follow NXT closely so I was worried that the match wouldn't live up to the hype because I wasn't into the characters. But it was absolutely fantastic athletically, in terms of selling, storytelling, everything. It really reached a fever pitch when Candice jumped the barricade to take out Vega, which kinda makes me think they should have just pulled the trigger and put Gargano over right after that. It might be hard to reach that sheer level of enthusiasm for the guy again. But even with that, that match was a home run.

 

*****

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It's weird (in a good way) to see a modern match with almost no variation in opinion - this match is amazing and everyone knows it. From the moment it started. Gargano is an amazing babyface and Almas is a great heel with one of my favourite movesets. The double knees are brutal and the finish into the LED post was just the most savage spot, sold incredibly, created well, great crowd reaction. All the moves and strikes were so hard in a way modern indy and NJPW strikes aren't really.

Segunda Caida put it well as they often do: "this is what New Japan fans see when they watch a New Japan main event". Except everyone can see this which is such a sign of a great job by Gargano and Almas.

 

Seriously one of my favourite matches, potentially ever. *****

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  • 1 month later...
Yeah, this was pretty tremendous. It isn't ordinarily a style I like very much. I'd say it's somewhere between New Japan main event and junior heavyweight epic and neither of those things appeal too much to me, but I thought they managed to play to the strengths of those styles whilst circumventing their worst aspects. The first ten or so minutes didn't totally connect with me, but it was some decent slow build and I did like how they managed to work in the early parity/stand-off spots without looking like dorks. They didn't feel rote or cheesy and I'm someone who has an inexplicable hatred for parity/stand-off spots. So you know, fair play to them. The missed double stomp in the corner leading to Almas taking the overhead belly-to-belly into the turnbuckles was where they really grabbed me. There were still some iffy parts after that, like the way they sort of hinted at going with the back work without ever really following through on it, and at times I never got much of a sense of PERIL, but largely it built super well and the pacing was excellent. I've seen three Gargano matches in the last two years. He's always been a nutty bumper and he was a fucking lunatic in this, but more than anything else he came across as a true underdog you wanted to succeed. I already knew the result, but there were moments where I was all in on him somehow pulling it out the bag. I got goosebumps when he kicked out of that first hammerlock DDT. I wanted Almas to tap on the No-Escape and deflated like everyone else when he got a foot on the ropes. I thought his distant facials were pretty hokey, but I'll almost always take hokey facial expressions over someone burning through shit to get to the next part of their routine, and at no point did it feel like either one of them were guilty of cutting the moment short. There was some laying around, but it felt earned, and without the laying around there wouldn't be that sense of gravity. The Zelina Vega stuff was done super well too. Obviously Candice hopping the rail and spearing her out her boots was amazing, but beyond the pop it felt like a key part of both Johnny and Almas' story. I guess it was similar to Rock/Lesnar from Summerslam in a way, with Vega as Almas' Heyman and Candice's spear as the surrogate Rock Bottom. Had Vega stuck around there would always be the sense that she was the difference maker. I suppose she still was in a way, but in the end Almas had to go it alone and it wasn't Vega who dragged him to the ropes that second time. It wasn't Vega who hit the ludicrous running knees into the ring post. And it wasn't Vega who pinned Gargano clean as a sheet.

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  • GSR changed the title to [2018-01-27-WWE-NXT Takeover: Philadelphia] Andrade 'Cien' Almas vs Johnny Gargano
  • 9 months later...

Pretty good match. Both played their roles well. Gargano was a subdued face that the face rallied behind easily. Almas and Vega were great heels. Good stuff. There was a nice tempo for the entire match. Not much downtime. Both guys kept on moving to keep the competitive tone of the match up. The crowd was quiet at first but got really into it by the end. There were a few sequences that looked a bit awkward but it was generally smooth and well set up. I did think that they went slightly too long, missing their peak, and some of the offence felt recycled. ****

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