Wrestlemania wasn’t the only WWE event this past weekend, as NXT showcased its roster as well. While significantly shorter in time (around 3 hours) and smaller in number of matches (5), the show managed to be the best WWE event in recent memory. To give my thoughts on this, I’ll approach this with the same formula as the Wrestlemania piece, going over the good, bad, and the weird.
Basically everything. The show was incredibly strong from top to bottom. Starting off the show with an eight person mixed tag match of SAnitY v. the team of Tye Dillinger, Roderick Strong, Ruby Riot, and Kassius Ohno, the match quality started high, with quick paced action and interesting psychology from the ominous SAnitY team. The rest of the card continued that strength, even with seeing new wrestlers like Aleister Black being introduced. The reason for this comes not only in the unparalleled ability of these workers, who were clearly trying their damndest to make an impression, but also in that all these matches were given ample time to breathe and establish themselves. While that was expected in the Nakamura v. Roode 2 main event, this rule of thumb was clear throughout. Also, I cannot say enough about Asuka v. Ember Moon. I’ve gone on ad nauseam about Asuka in the past, and she presented some of her excellent striking abilities here, but Moon really put herself on the map in NXT with this match. She’s one of the first workers I saw that worked seamlessly with Asuka’s strong style, while bringing a unique and very crisp feel to hit right back. Really excellent work from both, and while Moon lost the match, this still firmly planted here among the best women wrestlers in the entire company.
The tag title match between the Authors of Pain, The Revival, and DIY, was nothing short of incredible. The pacing of this match was, at times, so quick and exhilarating, that I was leaping out of my seat. We know The Revival and DIY work well together, as they had the match of the year WWE wise last year, but the mix in of the two hulking members of the Authors of Pain could’ve caused an issue. However, the six men in this match worked off of the size and sometimes less mobile team, and used it to perform some two, three, or four person maneuvers we’ve not seen before. While this was a little bit more of a high spot showcase than the rich storytelling we got from The Revival and DIY in the past, it more than stole the show. This is a match you will want to seek out, and was without question the strongest match of the weekend.
It’s pretty difficult to think of anything bad about the entire night. The whole show was well paced, and no matches truly disappointed. There are only two points that I can nit pick (and it’s incredibly minor), one being that the seeming lack of selling by Authors of Pain in their match could lead to logic problems, in that now losing would never make sense. That said, the selling issue could just be from being green in the ring, so it’s hard to judge too harshly. Also, I found myself wanting a tiny bit more from Nakamura and Roode, but that’s EXTREMELY nit picky as the two incredible in ring workers performed well.
Also difficult to really nail this section down. As much as I love Asuka, this seemed like the logical place for her to drop the belt. Granted, this doesn’t have to be the end of the feud between the two, but it’s beginning to look more and more that Asuka should just go to the main roster with the belt, forcing her to vacate it and allow her undefeated streak to remain. That would be an awesome move to make Asuka look strong on the main shows, but I’m unsure how that would leave the women’s division in NXT. The only other weird aspect of the show is more to do with the NXT crowd rather than this specific show. Even though Andrade Cien Almas doesn’t do that much on the mic, the audience’s lack of reaction to him is mystifying. He’s yet to put in bad in-ring work in a match, and he manages to make the other person in his matches look strong. Aleister Black is no slouch himself, so both workers ability propelled this match to be much better than what the crowd made it out to be.
In short, NXT Takeover Orlando was the highlight of Wrestlemania weekend, and I would strongly urge you to check it out. NXT continues to shine each week, and with some new introductions here, that shows no sign of stopping.