Segunda Caida

Phil Schneider, Eric Ritz, Matt D and occasional guests write about pro wrestling. Follow us @segundacaida

Wednesday, April 07, 2021

NXT TakeOver: Stand and Deliver Night One 4/7/21

NXT has been my favorite mainstream wrestling program of 2021, so I figured why not check out their two night TakeOver special, despite being a few weeks behind on programming and not actually knowing anything that is on the card. Will I be rewarded for going into this blind? We'll see!

Pete Dunne vs. Kushida

ER: This was a real nice fast pace for a show opener, and also, I hated most of it! I really, really hated most of the offense that made up this entire match, a match filled with arm break and finger break spots without a single moment of somebody selling an arm or finger injury. Dunne tossed out so many finger break spots that were used to transition Kushida immediately back to offense, just an incredibly stupid usage of an already stupidly used spot. They traded arm break spots, and every time they did, all that happened was the other one would then do their own arm break spot right after. The match threatened a few times to go to interesting places, but since no move in the match was ever sold seriously, those interesting places became only "what ifs". Kushida was really good at setting up Dunne's offense, took a big suplex on the apron too, but it's like they had some odd agreement that once one got to do a move, then the other could get up and immediately take back over with his own move. There was one compelling nearfall, where I thought a Kushida small package might have ended it early, but maybe that was me in hindsight just wishing that had ended things early. This was a lot of fast movement that lead absolutely nowhere, and everything was run through so quickly that I guarantee none of it will be remembered in a day. 

Gauntlet Match

ER: I don't really like gauntlet matches where guys enter on a time limit rather than after an elimination. It never plays to anyone's strengths, too many guys have to disappear when things get too clogged, and they're never as satisfying as just a trios match would have been. Hell, give me a couple of singles matches between any of these guys, guarantee it will be better than a timed gauntlet match. Nobody in this got much time to map out anything interesting, as a Ruff/Scott singles match could have been a really cool 8 minutes, as soon enough it was two guys bumping for Bronson Reed and ignoring everything that had happened in their own match, and that's how these things go. Pretty soon you have guys no selling spots because they need to be in position for the next chain spot, so Isaiah Scott gets flipped inside out with a Reed clothesline, but is back hitting a meh superkick on Grimes 4 seconds later because that's how the move chaining works. A gauntlet match like this is really great at making six guys all come out looking worse, either by getting pinned way earlier than they should have been (Grimes, Lumis), or having to rush through your routine because everyone else is fighting for attention. Even a silly 6 man multiman would have worked better than a new guy awkwardly integrating himself into the match every few minutes, but the format we got is not conducive to a good match for anyone involved. Did LA Knight need to be in this? Did Lumis? Just a poorly laid out idea all around. 

7. Tommaso Ciampa vs. WALTER

ER: THIS was more like it, just a big throwing bomb fest that was more than just bombs. This never felt like two guys out there trying to get This Is Awesome chants, it felt like an actual big main event title match, with one guy the clear underdog who was going to take as much punishment for as long as he possibly could. WALTER and Ciampa both turned in great performances, with WALTER turning in a ton of appropriate selling and Ciampa actually working like a guy with a size disadvantage, always feeling like a guy hanging on who MAYBE had an outside chance of winning the belt. I loved how the worked in some vulnerabilities for WALTER, and having him hurt his hand by overhand chopping the announce table in half is a great way to set up a hand injury. WALTER was super punishing with his offense, all of his kicks really found their way right underneath Ciampa's chin, and he was able to be punishing while not forgetting about what happened to his hand (something that nobody else on TakeOver has been able to do). 

WALTER's best bit of selling was when he was taking a dozen lariats from Ciampa, as it's incredibly difficult to sell on your feet while waiting for someone to hit you repeatedly, yet I thought he made it look fantastic. Ciampa's lariats weren't strong enough to put the big man down, but I liked how they knocked him into the ropes, loved how he stumbled before getting turned around, loved how the next one hit him in the back of the head and made him fall into the ropes for a bit, thought he turned what could have been an extended silly moment into an excellent stubborn refusal to go down and save himself from more punishment. Ciampa is a real hard chopper, and WALTER's chest was getting nicely purple by the end of this, and the harder Ciampa hit, the harder it made WALTER come at him with full force lariats and straight kicks. WALTER's powerbombs looked great too, and I loved how he was using his weight and size to just try to hold Ciampa to the mat. I loved the spot where WALTER hopped onto Ciampa and almost tricked Ciampa into bridging up on his neck, that extra bit of temerity that seemed immediately like a bad idea, and lead directly to WALTER crushing him back on their feet. Ciampa's selling down the stretch was great too, barely escaping out of a rolling powerbomb, dead man walking getting back to his feet when he clearly shouldn't have been standing, only to be put down for good with one last chop. Several guys on NXT have really taken a lot of the stupid melodrama out of their selling and it has only made these title match epics sing. With no bullshit morality acting or shocked kickout faces, the matches seem far more streamlined and intense. 

PAS: I thought this was a good stiff match, which flirted with great, but didn't get there. I thought the spot with WALTER smashing the table with a chop was a clever idea, executed well and really gave the match some structure. WALTER did a great job of selling constantly trying to adjust his attack with that probably broken hand. I also thought the multiple lariat spot was clever, although I really wish they looked better. It would have been a bigger deal if WALTER had kept standing with a dozen hard lariats, rather then just standing through a dozen B- ones. I thought the finish run had the problems that these matches often have, where they ended a couple of beats too late. The actual finishing spot looked way less nasty than the couple that proceeded it, and it came off flat. I would have liked the match a lot more if it ended on the powerbomb. Still for this style of match it had some real highs, and I enjoyed lots of it. 

MSK vs. Raul Mendoza/Joaquin Wilde vs. Grizzled Young Veterans

ER: I thought the Dusty Classic (Men's and Women's) was really good, tons of memorable matches and really made me want a legit focused tag division. This tag three way was everything the earlier match with six people wasn't, a super fun tag with a few surprising spots and a quick pace, felt more like a tag you'd see on early 2000s Jersey All Pro, and I can't think of a bigger wrestling compliment I could give over the past 20 years. Just like on those old JAPW tapes, I'd spend entire matches constantly switching who my favorite was, made me just root for all of them and seek out more. You'd flip for a big Ghost Shadow bump, then flip for the Hit Squad crushing Azrieal, then lose it for Rainchild. It was a roster I loved through and through, and everyone worked well together. I have a feeling this would have played well at the Bayonne Charity Hall. Wes Lee had this section where he was throwing out spin kick combos and leg sweeps as everyone in the match attacked like a ninja, then he pasted Gibson with a hard hitting tope, and followed that up with a huge tope con giro on Legado del Fantasma. Mendoza and Wilde are great at getting into position for things like that, and I like how they played kind of a lower key highspot role so MSK could shine with their cool double teams. Wilde stuck to hard corner clotheslines, Mendoza stuck to high dropkicks, a missile dropkick to break up a submission, and both took crazy spots on the floor to help get over the other teams. Wilde took a flat out insane looking Doomsday Device, with Drake running off the ramp to send Wilde to the floor, and Mendoza took basically a safer Burning Hammer on the floor with a slingshot double stomp from Lee to kick it off. The MSK "best buds stuff fighting for their dream" stuff can get a little hammy (though it would probably be fine if only they weren't constantly talking about it on commentary, but this is the kind of tag match you put on to show off that your tag division is really cool right now. 

Raquel Gonzalez vs. Io Shirai

ER: This was the complete opposite of what I thought it was going to be, worked totally different from what I was expecting, and I loved it. I thought this would be Gonzalez dominating, with Shirai coming back in not belieavable ways and pinning Raquel with a bad moonsault. Instead, it was somehow Shirai taking 90% of the match, which on paper sounds preposterous to me. But Raquel Gonzalez is getting really good, and it kind of snuck up on me. She is a really strong base, and not just in the kind of way that someone so much larger and taller than their opponents should be. She was so good at taking Shirai's offense and so great at setting all of it up, all of it building nicely to each stage of the match, that it felt like Shirai was organically keeping not just one step ahead of Gonzalez, but believably dominating her. They were really smart about how much offense Gonzalez took, having her block several ranas, avoid Shirai's rope feint kicks, and it was the only way this was going to work. Shirai just doing nothing but offense for 90% of the match would have come off brainless, but with Gonzalez fending off much of it, it just made Shirai come off as relentless. Dakota Kai's interference and immediate dismissal came at a good time, and I like how all it did was stop a Shirai moonsault, not turn the tide for Gonzalez. It was super impressive how they kept Shirai in control and Gonzalez staggering, but I really got into it. Gonzalez kicking out of the moonsault felt like a big deal, and the crossbody off the entrance ramp looked like a deranged Shirai throwing her body harder and harder into the monster that won't stay down. I thought it was great how suddenly Gonzalez took over, nailing Shirai with a great low cut clothesline that resulted in Shirai hitting one of her best moonsaults (this clothesline could not have flipped her over harder on her stomach). I'm really happy for Raquel's title win. There really wasn't anything left for Shirai to do as champ, and Gonzalez is someone intriguing to have on top against a bunch of interesting babyface contenders. I had this match in my head as something very different than what we got, and I'm glad, because I loved what we got here. 

ER: Those first two matches really stunk, and I was starting to regret the idea of doing this show the night of. But WALTER/Ciampa (it landed on our 2021 Ongoing MOTY List) was great and the show never slowed down from there, thought the last three matches of the night stand up next to any three match run from any TakeOver. 

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Blogger Yerfuneral said...

I don't have the time to see what this look liked on Peacock but commercial breaks kept sucking out my enjoyment of anything. They couldn't at least make it half and half screen for a ppv.

If you didn't know turns out there was a ladies match. Stark vs Storm
Quick check they didn't seem to have the preshow on Peacock but I really didn't dig in since don't have the time. Easiest way to catch it is probably the WWE You Tube page. The match happens about 29 minute mark.

Quick takes:

Kushido/Dunne, this is where you have a more technical match. Not in the main event but the finger thing never going to do much for me.

Gauntlet match, Reed was a nice surprise. LA Knight was underwhelming but at least looks like they going to build him up more it looks like and not just instantly throw him in the title picture.

NXT UK Title, probably my fave match of the night.

NXT Tag Title, MSK are not my thing but excited by the NXT tag division. To bad the main roster treats it more of simply a different match in a singles feud.

NXT Womens Title, I wasn't so sure about Gonzalez at first but they took there time and built her up. It has been a great journey.

The main roster has stagnated a lot during the virus era. NXT was allowed to continue to do there thing. Hopefully it will get even better now without the 'wednesday war' hanging over the shows head. Which reminds me need to make sure there will be DVR issues on Tuesday nights.

1:32 PM  

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