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Ricky Jackson

NXT Takeover: New Orleans

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When are the Iconic Duo coming back?

I'm sure they'll be in the women's battle royal today and will debut on the main roster this week.

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I really enjoyed the show overall.

 

The ladder match was fun. For me the novelty of those has run off a long time ago. Still and enjoyable opener. Dream and Ricochet just have some crazy athleticism.

 

Women's match was good. I like Moon, not sure where the dislike for her comes from. The shoulder/arm selling by Shayna was great. Love that kind of stuff.

 

The tag match was just okay. I like more traditional tag team matches so that really wasn't my thing.

 

The Almas vs Black match was great. Really loved that finish. Clever spots like that is what makes me still love wrestling.

 

That Gargano vs Ciampa match had everything you want in a feud. You could just feel the hatred and desperation there. Great stuff. Another clever finish as well. Ciampa getting that swollen eye made that last sequence even better unintentionally, as you almost felt for him like Gargano did for a bit there. Really great match that made you walk away excited for what pro wrestling is.

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Greatest show ever?

 

Only problem I had with the show is how over the top and excessive the opener was, yet it didnt seem to burn out the crowd.

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Some brief thoughts on a terrific show. I need to rewatch the last 2 matches and am very much looking forward to that.

 

Ladder Match: WWE/NXT multi-man matches almost always exceed expectations. Whether its the agents/producers and/or the talent involved, they find creative and effective ways to spotlight everyone in the match and this was no different. There were moments for everyone here to shine, with Dream and Ricochet standing out the most from where I sat. They also did a great job maintaining suspense until the very end as I didn't see Cole winning, and while I do find that booking questionable I'm curious to see where they go with it given the booking of the tag titles. These matches as a rule never hold up quite as well on rewatch as more traditional outings, but there's no denying how great a job they did mixing in ridiculous spots with a number of storyline/character points without ever feeling like a tired car crash.

 

****1/4

 

Baszler/Moon: I'm still waiting for someone to carry Baszler to the heights she reached with Io Shirai in Stardom last year. But outside of Ciampa (who's in another league) she's probably the most effective and natural heel in the company right now. Its a great character and you can see how comfortable she is with it. On the other hand, Moon and the company have done next to nothing to make me care about her in the build to any matches, and she's not the easiest wrestler to connect with in the ring. A friend mentioned that this match was pretty sloppy, but in a good way, as that lent itself to some strong struggle and conflict. I think that's right on point. For whatever reason this just didn't connect with me in the way you want from a great match outside of the extended choke at the end. They did a great job there in the vein of Tanahasi/Suzuki from the end of January and was the best part of this match. I think Baszler will shine more with babyfaces she can really dominate, like a Kairi Sane or Candice Lerae, or perhaps an ace type worker like a Shirai, who doesn't exist on this roster right now. Moon just doesn't fit into what seems to be her strong suit. This was good, that's just why I don't think it was capable of being much more than that.

 

***1/2

 

AOP/Undisputed Era/Strong & Dunne: Definitely didn't see this turn coming but with Fish out and Roddy having lost just about every big match as a babyface, it does make some sense. Not much to say about the match itself. AOP continue to look good and hope that continues if a promotion is indeed coming. This wasn't as strong as I hoped for, but it was all about the angle.

 

 

***1/4

 

Almas/Black: I still don't quite get Black at this level, but on this night Almas cemented himself for me as a major player. The Gargano feud and Vega undoubtedly brought him there, but he's now got the confidence and presence to go along with work in the ring that is devastating (those elbows and knees!) but also self-limiting in an important way. He understands exactly who he is and how he should present himself while mixing in high spots for maximum impact. I'd like another run with Gargano, but if he is in fact moving up I hope its with a legit push. Its really something how they have Vega interfere in every match -- repeatedly -- but never seem to overdo it to the point that it takes away from the match. I like how the finish played off of her involvement along the way as well.

 

****

 

Gargano/Ciampa: So this was fantastic. I've seen a ton of praise for this already, with many calling it among the greatest matches in NXT/WWE history. It wasn't quite there for me as at basically the entire way it didn't draw me in the way Gargano/Almas did in January. That's not a knock but if I liked something a few months ago more, I can't quite go that high here. Whereas that match felt like it flew by and had me on the edge of my seat for the duration, this seemed to run a few minutes long and overstayed its peak just a bit. That's not a knock on the match, just what was occurring to me on a comparative basis with January. I absolutely love how they pulled off a long match that was built on such intense hatred without ever really working it like a traditional bout. The emotion and hatred were palpable throughout and you never lost sight of the fact that this was a blood feud. Speaking of blood, I was *positive* we were getting a bloodbath here when the ref had gloves on before the bell (as well as at one later point in the match), but obviously that wasn't the case.

 

The bumps and big spots here were spaced out and given time so that everyone of them mattered, from the work ringside and on the floor to the spots around the crutch and brace. Also just a masterful job building and teasing a bump on the exposed apron early before paying it off late. Yeah, this was pretty great but in the moment I didn't think it was among the best matches I'd ever seen, hence the rating below. On the other hand, there aren't many wrestlers or matches that evoke such strong feelings when watching them. Johnny Gargano is now involved in a few of those, including on this night, so maybe it should be higher.

 

Either way, wrestling is freaking great and despite watching a metric ton all weekend I am stoked for another marathon tonight. LOVE THE WRESTLING!

 

****1/2

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Thought the show totally delivered.


The multi-man ladder match has been run into the ground as a concept by now, but this was about as much as I'm ever going to enjoy one these days. I don't even actively dislike matches like this, they're just not very interesting anymore because pretty much everything has been done already and you inevitably reach the point of diminishing returns. But I'm absolutely 100% all in on Velveteen Dream so for the first time in ages I was rooting super hard for a wrestler to win a predetermined contest. I thought he was legitimately great in this. His selling has an awesome car crash quality to it where his limbs go all rubbery on those big bumps. Him hitting elbow drops on everyone and capping it with the Purple Rainmaker off the ladder was my favourite spot of the year. I love him. I want him to win matches and titles and I'm bummed when he doesn't. I don't even dislike Adam Cole, but I was deflated when he won, not because Adam Cole won a match and he's lame or whatever, but because Velveteen Dream DIDN'T win. When/if he wins the NXT title I'll absolutely flip and I never expected to be invested in a wrestler like that again in my old age. I generally have no use for Ricochet but he's perfect for a match like this. That SSP to the floor at the start was wild and he was the projectile in an impromptu person-chucking contest so I liked him fine. Hopefully he curbs more of his annoying tendencies in the NXT run. EC3 never really did anything for me in this. Most of his offence was very early 2000s indieriffic and I wasn't sure whether he was hitting a move or the other guy had reversed it. The beefies were fun and I'm fine enough with Cole as the best possible version of Edge. They maybe could've done with trimming it by a few minutes, but I was hyped for this and it came through.


Baszler/Moon wasn't doing much for me until they started playing up Baszler's arm injury. I haven't seen a ton of Ember Moon, but I'm not sure she's very good. Her intense facials are super hokey and her offence is really loose. Baszler's selling was good, her striking mostly looked good, I liked her using the ring post to pop her shoulder back in even if the crowd seemed to be a bit confused, and the one-handed choke where she used her HAIR to secure it was fucking phenomenal. I've never seen that before and I popped big for it.


Three way tag was a little clusterfucky but fine enough. O'Reilly's facial expressions are the worst but he absolutely comes off as a little shit and I guess that's a good thing for a heel? Finish was kind of stupid in that, you know, why didn't he just do that earlier, but maybe he decided in the spur of the moment that he thought he was better off with Cole and the rest and who are we to question the psyche of a man in the heat of battle and fuck it this was alright.


Almas/Black was really, really good. I've liked Black in NXT more than I ever expected and Almas is growing on me with every match. Vega is amazing as well. The strike exchanges weren't always great and some of the choreography was pretty obvious, but otherwise this was another strong NXT title match.


I'm not as high on the main event as the majority, but I still thought it was pretty excellent. It was maybe the best possible version of a WWE grudge match with all the DRAMA and STORYTELLING and whatever else that you could ask for. Ciampa getting all that heat was incredible. They were booing him for absolutely anything at the start and he reveled in it. Thought this could've done with being trimmed a bit as well, but the big spots were BIG and the stretch run was pretty great. Mostly felt like they communicated the hatred as well. I'd rather they went the Duggan/DiBiase route, but I'd rather every match went the Duggan/DiBiase route and this is 2018 and those expectations are unrealistic and so we take what we are given. Gargano grabbing Ciampa's beard as he slapped him about the face was great. The finish was basically perfect and drew the whole thing together really well. The melodramatic acting, the INNER CONFLICT, the bastard trying to be a bastard, the comeuppance...yeah, this promised something special and it delivered.


Hell of a show. Takeovers are sort of a can't miss prospect at this point.

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Not a regular NXT viewer...watch the Takeovers when I can. Great show, of course. Didn’t notice anything offensive about Cole, but it’s a small sample size. The only real negative, and it’s a big one...Mauro is unlistenable. I don’t want to watch wrestling in silence, but I had much of the event on just above mute.

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4 matches on that show could be in a current top ten for the year globally and I wouldn't think it was odd. 3 of them could be in a top 5 for the year globally and I wouldn't think it was odd. 2 of them I could honestly see as someone's current MOTY....at minimum.

 

That was an all time great show in ring.

 

Weirdly I am less interested in NXT than before though because of some of the angles/booking decisions. Wrestling is weird some times

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4 matches on that show could be in a current top ten for the year globally and I wouldn't think it was odd. 3 of them could be in a top 5 for the year globally and I wouldn't think it was odd. 2 of them I could honestly see as someone's current MOTY....at minimum.

 

That was an all time great show in ring.

 

Weirdly I am less interested in NXT than before though because of some of the angles/booking decisions. Wrestling is weird some times

I kinda feel the same way, or at least I did as the show was going on and immediately after. I mean, it was obviously a great show with multiple great matches, yet I felt kinda underwhelmed after it was over. I've liked other Takeovers more for sure. Thinking about it today I really liked the show and feel more strongly about the matches. The Roddy turn didn't make any sense imo and the ladder and main suffered from excess, but that's the wrestling world we live in today. Maybe I'm burning out a bit on NXT

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So, what about Takeover ?

 

A lame-ass neo-metal band. Stuck in the early 00's WWE is.

 

Speaking of which, the opening multi-man clusterfuck is everything I despise about the style. Completely purposeless, carefully pre-planned super dangerous stunts with guys killing themselves without ever establishing any dynamic except for "go up, fall down, break ladder". If you do chaos, do chaos, not a stunt version of artistic skating. Plus it was way too long, with way too much awkward setups. Terrible way to debut Ricochet, now he's Jeff Hardy in 00. Adam Cole is the only guy who displays actual character I thought and he's over as hell. I enjoy his Steve Corino 2.0 approach. The match can go fuck itself, just another one self-conscious multi-man clusterfuck in the vein of all these MITB matches I never cared for either. Where was Shelton Benjamin anyway ?

 

And now I'm grumpy. More terrible live band. Ugh... Well, at least Ember Moon is sporting a great look. And Shayna punching her in the face and grinning washed the sour taste of the 30 minutes of garbage that preceded. Slower build to a hot stretch. Cool neat touches. Tons of character on both parts, Ember being a really good bad-ass babyface. Shayna popping her shoulder back on the post was something else. She's really got a unique charisma to her. Very good match. Thanks ladies, I was getting grumpy, you got me back on track.

Although I don't know how I will be able to handle Mauro Ranallo for long. Settle the fuck down. Shut up for a second or two already. He's like the worst of JR on speed... Let Nigel speak.

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That's how you do a clusterfuck. Exactly the opposite feeling to the opener, this felt like simply three teams beating the shit out of each other going a hundred mile an hour. And a great turn that I absolutely did not see coming. I have no idea why the heel The Undisputed Era is not universally loved, these guys are terrific. O'Reilly doing the "delayed selling.... no I'm dead" was gold. Adam Cole is charismatic as fuck. Roderick Strong was on fire here. The AOP have progressed so much since they debuted. Super fun match, excellent angle. This was really good.

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I think a lot of people dislike Adam Cole because he was the face of ROH during a period that isn't looked fondly on. There really isn't anything else I can think of that justifies the negative reaction he causes.

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I think a lot of people dislike Adam Cole because he was the face of ROH during a period that isn't looked fondly on. There really isn't anything else I can think of that justifies the negative reaction he causes.

He's essentially Edge. He's boring and just ok, but gets treated like he's great. Hence the dislike.

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Really? Because I enjoyed him A LOT in his PWG stuff. The initial heel turn and the Mount Rushmore interactions (especially with Steen) brought out the best in him as a character and an all-around prick, in my view.

 

I just haven't enjoyed him nearly as much ANYWHERE else. His run on top of ROH had nothing to do with the rest of the promotion. It just felt like a pale imitation of what he did in PWG to me. They even lifted the O'Reilly feud, and it didn't compare at all.

 

Overall, I feel like Cole is a guy who is really good in garbage match settings. He's got a look that is almost universally appealing. And he apparently has a good attitude backstage. It's the "regular" work in between that leaves a lot to be desired. It reminds me of Edge - and even Hunter - in terms of where his strengths lie. That also may speak to why and how they value Cole so much. He looks the part, and his in-ring style means he can be guided to good matches - but actually thrive in their big, sprawling gimmick matches... Which are basically the lifeblood of their rivalries and programs anyhow. It's an essential skill, as much as some of us may wield it as a criticism.

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From the very few I've seen, Adam Cole is a whole lot of fun and charismatic as hell. I don't see the Edge comparison yet. To me he's Corino 2.0. That's a compliment.

 

Anyway.

Almas vs Black.

 

Holy shit. That match. Almas' performance. Vega being the best valet since Sherri at her peak (with Savage). MOTYC. The finishing stretch was out of this world great. And although I take nothing out of Black's work, Almas looked like the best worker in the world here. Just insane on every level. The only one thing I still don't like is that double stomp set-up, which will never work well. But wow. Wow. WOW. What a difference a year make. Almas has made a Steve Austin level jump in one year. Ringmaster vs Savio to Stone Cold vs Bret level jump. The whole act with Vega is amazingly great.

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He's a catchphrase and garbage wrestling. That's pretty much it.

 

Edge was more charismatic, but if people are enjoying Cole more power to them, as long as they don't keep shitting relentlessly on other wrestlers.

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Almas is exceptional at making heavily choreographed sequences seem not just organic but inevitable, like there was almost no other way the dominoes could fall, no matter how contrived the sequence might seem on paper. That might be the single most important skill in 2018 wrestling.

 

Very true. Everything looks *true*. There's something out of Misawa in his work somewhere. (strange analogy that I can't really put my finger on myself, but that's what I thought at certain points in the match)

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I think a lot of people dislike Adam Cole because he was the face of ROH during a period that isn't looked fondly on. There really isn't anything else I can think of that justifies the negative reaction he causes.

 

He's a generic guy that doesn't do anything super impressive in the ring and has some of the most forced 'charisma' this side of Robbie Williams. I believe his current fandom is at Kardashian pro wrestling levels of being over due to being over. I feel the only way to enjoy anything Adam Cole does is in a very ironic way. I have the same problem with Cole that I do with Dane Cook. I keep hearing how good he is and yet despite watching him for years, with an opening mind, and I am still not seeing it. The catchphrase is cool--I guess.

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I think a lot of people dislike Adam Cole because he was the face of ROH during a period that isn't looked fondly on. There really isn't anything else I can think of that justifies the negative reaction he causes.

 

Not the case for me. I've only seen one Adam Cole match in ROH. (It might've been the one where he turned heel and won the title on that free iPPV - that was him, right?)

 

I just think he's been a bland indy geek in NXT.

 

TakeOver did him no favors - especially winning the NA Title despite being one of the least interesting and memorable people in the match. His facials are also goofy-as-fuck.

 

With that said, this was the best he's looked in NXT so far - smooth ring-work and good selling.

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I've found Cole's NXT run more than fine. He's someone I couldn't really be bothered with before, but I hadn't watched enough of him to be actively annoyed or...anything, really. I had no real opinion of him. He wasn't far off clean slate territory with me upon entering NXT, basically. EC3 was the same, and if we're going on first impressions I liked Cole way more in that extreme rules match with Black from Philly than EC3 in the ladder match from Saturday (though there's obviously a huge asterisk there as a multi-man car crash ladder match isn't necessarily the best way to introduce someone, or the best setting for someone to look good).

 

I don't think he's GREAT in ring, but he has a sort of chickenshit quality to him that I can get behind. Maybe I'll change my mind once I watch him in a lengthy straight singles match, but as of now the Edge comparison feels a wee bit unfair even if I understand it (and can agree to an extent). I also feel like the Adam Cole Baybay catchphrase is pretty lame, but lame in that good way where he thinks he's the coolest motherfucker walking except people are laughing at him, not with him (or at least *I'm* laughing at him, not with him).

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While the Adam Cole debate is going on, I watched Ciampa vs Gargano. MOTYC. Again. Almas remains the most impressive worker of the night to me, but this was also pro-wrestling at its most ridiculously great and epic. Not self-conscious epic, simply epic. That bump on the concrete by Gargano was Mick Foley cringe-worthy. The final was perfect. Pro-wrestling isn't that hard to do when you actually listen to what the audience wants. This has to be the best 1-2 punch of any WWE card.

 

The only issue (apart from the stupid opener) I had with this show was Mauro, to whom I want to send a message :

 

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Well, I think Adam Cole is a lot better than Bobby Roode & Bobby Roode was good enough to not only get signed but get called-up to the main roster & get a U.S. Title match at Wrestlemania. So I think Adam Cole will turn out to be fine in WWE.

 

I actually am pretty entertained by Adam Cole. His facial expressions are hilarious.

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Haven't seen much of Cole's indie in-ring work, but his heel character in ROH was really good. Such a sleazy scumbag, reminds me of Edge in a good way (I always found him easy to dislike as a heel). But he also reminds me of Edge in a bad way in that he really needs to rely on garbage match stips to work a good match. That being said, he showed a lot of fire in the match with Ohno and while it's easy to give Ohno the responsibility for that match working, I think Cole COULD be better.

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I can absolutely see that, but I also don't think Bobby Roode is all that exceptional either. In fact, those two line up quite nicely and make for easy comparisons. Both guys are highly regarded (mainly) on the strength of lengthy heel championship runs. And both are much better in gimmick match performances than they are in straightforward wrestling matches.

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I think that a lot of people in our circles subconsciously dont like Cole because when he smirks he looks like Sean Micheals. 😀

I love him, there was a period of time where I was watching ROH a few years ago for a podcast, and he was such a relief in a sea of bad promos and announcing.

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