I’m really excited going into this show – I reckon it’s a strong contender for show of the year. I feel NXT is getting back to it’s best after losing it’s way a bit last year. There is some great talent on the roster at the moment and I’m just hoping the roster isn’t gutted again after Wrestlemania….
I’m not usually a big fan of multi man ladder matches (they just become a stunt show that you forget immediately afterwards) but EC3 vs. Adam Cole vs. Velveteen Dream vs. Lars Sullivan vs. Killian Dane vs. Ricochet for the new NXT North American Title was ace. (4/5) All six wrestlers shone, with lots of great spots and unique moves. Highlight for me was Adam Cole clearing the ring with superkicks – he’s grown on me a lot since NXT Takeover: Philadelphia. His facial reactions are brilliant and the crowd are now completely into him.
There was a lot to like about this match – the ongoing hoss battle between Sullivan and Dane, Ricochet’s crazy flying and Velveteen Dream bringing the thunder with lots of elbow drops and a mad Death Valley Driver on a ladder bridge…overall, a damn good opener!
Ember Moon vs. Shayna Baszler for the NXT Woman’s Title was another good match in their series. I decided to give it 3.5/5 – as good as the match was, I felt it needed a few more minutes to get to 4/5. I really liked Ember turning the tables on Baszler by attacking the arm and I loved the struggle at the end before Baszler won.
The Undisputed Era vs. The Authors of Pain vs. Pete Dunne and Roderick Strong for the NXT Tag Titles and the Dusty Classic Cup (3.5/5) was a good chaotic brawl. I liked how Kyle O’Reilly was portrayed as an absolute machine and the improvement of Authors of Pain has been great to watch. I wasn’t keen on the end of the match though – I don’t mind that Roderick Strong has joined up with Undisputed Era as he fits with the group, but it seemed to come out of the blue…Strong was offered a chance to join the group months ago and it hasn’t been mentioned since. Also, I could see Strong turning on Dunne if they had fell out or if Dunne had cost the team the match, but Dunne had O’Reilly beat when Strong attacked him? I’m sure the explanation will make sense, but I don’t think the turn coming out of nowhere during the match helped!
Andrade Cien Almas vs. Aleister Black for the NXT Title was fantastic (4/5). People rave about Black (rightly), but Almas was always good and the additional of Zelina Vega has made him amazing. I remember seeing Almas at a NXT house show in Liverpool two years ago and noticing that he simply doesn’t miss a beat in-ring. At the time I thought Almas needed direction…it took some time, but he’s incredible as an arrogant intense heel, complete with Vega talking and cheating on his behalf. I loved the finish of this match – Vega constantly helping Almas as previously, only for it to backfire and cost him the title was a good end to the Almas title reign. I can see Almas and Vega moving on (Smackdown?) and I hope WWE use them properly….
Tommaso Ciampa vs. Johnny Gargano in an Unsanctioned Match was a match everyone had been looking forward to for nearly a year. I was surprised by the start of the match as I was expecting a much faster pace. Instead the match was a slow, deliberate, intense brawl complete with a crowd who were 100% into the battle. I wasn’t sure on what score to give the match, but a fine last ten minutes made up my mind – I went with a 4.5/5. I miss the two as a team to be honest – Team DIY were one of my favorite tag teams of the past five or so years and could have had amazing matches with the likes of the Usos, Gable and Benjamin, New Day etc. I’m not sure where either man goes now, but if it’s up to the main roster, then I hope we see them interact again at some point, either as opponents or as partners….
Overall, I thought NXT Takeover: New Orleans was a great show. The overall score was 3.90/5.00, which is a brilliant score. Personally, I expected a bit more from the show, but that is due to the ridiculous expectation levels set by Takeovers – every Takeover card is expected to be a classic. I’ve only felt let down by a few Takeovers (Brooklyn III comes to mind) and I’ve never seen a bad one, which just shows how much faith I have in the NXT brand.
So, in closing, a fine show, the best of the year so far…Wrestlemania has a lot to live up to…