By Big Red Machine
From June 16, 2018
NXT TAG TEAM TITLE MATCH:
Undisputed Era(c) (w/Adam Cole) vs. Danny Burch & Oney Lorcan - 8.75/10
STRONG STYLE! Burch and Lorcan have gelled so well as a team that it wasn't until they started going for double-team moves that it occurred to me that I wasn't even sure if they had any signature double-team moves. These guys built things up well throughout, had one or two pretty creative spots, and just BEAT THE SH*T OUT OF EACH OTHER. The match was extremely exciting, and holy sh*t can that Oney Lorcan fly. I was shocked at the air he was getting under his own power, and that bump he took from the top rope down to the apron made such a crazy thud I was shocked he was able to get back up. Undisputed Era retained the belts, but Lorcan & Burch got a huge ovation afterwards. The best thing I can compare it to was the ovation Becky Lynch got in a similar spot a few years ago at Takeover: Unstoppable.
THE VELVETEEN DREAM vs. RICOCHET - 8.5/10
TVD had Hulk Hogan-inspired entrance gear. I'm sure people will read too much into that.
This match was a clash of personalities, told almost exclusively through the moves rather than by shouting at each other during the match (although TVD certainly did his fair share of that as well. TVD particularly impressed me with his body language. He did a wonderful job of letting his frustration show in everything he did. Both of these guy impressed with their athleticism, culminating in a finishing sequence that has to be seen to be believed.
NXT WOMEN'S TITLE MATCH:
Shayna Baszler(c) vs. Nikki Cross - 6.25/10
Nigel said "they certainly broke the mold when they made Nikki Cross... and then they shut down the factory." I thought that was a great line.
They did a good job with the personality stuff, but after the first few minutes they really didn't do much with that story. Cross worked over Baszler's upper back, neck, and head, but the match was pretty underwhelming.
KEITH LEE is seated at ringside!
NXT TITLE MATCH:
Aleister Black(c) vs. Lars Sullivan - 8/10
This was one heck of a slugfest built around the Black Mass. Lars blocked it a few times and also tried to take out Black's knee before finally being put down by two in a row (after he even kicked out of one). They did a good job of making everything matter, and making every move feel like haymaker.
Tommaso Ciampa vs. Johnny Gargano - 9/10
Gargano came out to the ring with a broken crutch already in hand, starting this match off the way their previous one finished. Ciampa came out with a non-broke crutch, giving him a major reach advantage. The match was as violent as you would expect and they certainly brought the hatred, but it didn't play into the motifs of the feud as well as their previous match did. They sold their respective body parts (neck for Gargano, knee for Ciampa) very well and the crowd was extremely hot. They took their big crazy bumps and had a lot of cool little ideas and did an excellent job of setting up pieces that would come into play later. Just about the only thing I didn't like was the "Johnny, use my sign" ECW reference spot. It was just too cutesy for a blood feud.
The wedding ring spot and Gargano snapping at the end are obviously setting a new chapter for this story. I understand why they want to go there and why they thought this required Ciampa winning, and doing so in the exact manner he did, but, to me, if Ciampa is being wheeled away on a stretcher, shouldn't that mean that he has been judged unable to continue and thus Gargano is the winner? I'm not going to say that it would have worked better if they had had Gargano be declared the winner via Ciampa being unable to continue and then had him still attack Ciampa because while that does work for some routes they could take this, it doesn't work for all of them, but the finish they did also doesn't quite sit right with me. If eight officials are telling you not to stop attacking someone during a Street Fight, then that has to mean the match is being ended out of concern for the other guy's safety, right?
Yet another freakin' excellent show from NXT... and this was a show were names like Adam Cole, Pete Dunne, Kairi Sane, War Machine, and Kassius Ohno didn't even wrestle. Now add Keith Lee, Toni Storm, Io Shirai to the list, and it's truly scary how great NXT is. I wouldn't even mind seeing them expand Takeovers to three hours just to get some more of that talent into featured roles.