Takeover: New York Review

Aleister Black & Ricochet vs. War Raiders (c) – NXT Tag Team Championship Match

Behold the splendor of the fantastic opening match! There really isn’t anything quite like having a show open with a completely bonkers spot fest. It gets one super hype for wrestling, even when there’s like 27 hours off it remaining on the docket. There were crazy flips and double teams and ludicrous power moves (here again, I must point out how stupid good Ricochet is at absolutely everything) and all that. I was tremendously impressed with this match and with the War Raiders in particular, since their match with Undisputed Era last Takeover left me a little cold. Also with Aleister Black, who I’ve historically liked but not that much. And this revelation comes just in time for him and Ricochet to get called up for real, where they will never be able to do anything cool ever again. Oh well. We’ll always have Paris. ****3/4

Matt Riddle vs. Velveteen Dream (c) – NXT North American Championship Match

I was thinking towards the end of the show about how there really wasn’t too much in the way of ridiculously elaborate entrances, which I suppose is more of a main roster thing anyway, but also I think I sort of forgot about Dream being literally carried to the ring, old-timey king style. This isn’t important really, but damn. This was another damn cool match, although it was a bit slow to start if you ask me. I like Matt Riddle a lot but sometimes it seems like some of his setups and transitions are a little strange, which is maybe not my place to say because I’ve never worked a match in my life (and I’m…unlikely to ever do so) and also I don’t know how to describe it exactly, so it’s possible I’m making this up. Still a great match, and the finish was the damn best. ****

WALTER vs. Pete Dunne (c) – WWE UK Championship Match

So I hadn’t actually seen a WALTER match before this one, and as a result I think my expectations for this match were a little bit off. I sort of thought there was a chance it would be a Joe vs. Kobashi-esque chop fest, and there were chops a plenty I guess, but it was paced sensibly and that sort of took me by surprise. What’s more is WALTER does this thing where he’ll do something acrobatic, but do it in the most goonish way possible. I seem to recall a spot where he did a leapfrog, but he sort of hurdled Dunne rather than actually do a leapfrog as I understand them. Maybe that’s fine and I’m nuts, I don’t know. The bottom line here is that while I liked this match, I didn’t like it as much as I thought I was going to. Maybe that’s on me, and maybe I should revisit it sometime, but since all my ratings are sort of made up I’m committed to not losing sleep over my decisions regarding them. ***3/4

Kairi Sane vs. Bianca Bel Air vs. Io Shirai vs. Shayna Baszler (c) – NXT Women’s Championship Match

Another Takeover, another sort of oddly short Shayna Baszler match. This could’ve gone another 10 minutes or so and been totally fine. In particular, it seemed like the match itself was building not enough to be to a blow up between Kairi Sane and Io Shirai, and there was a bit of that I suppose, but not enough for my tastes. My point here is that the point of triple threat matches and fatal four way matches is to build up parings within the match, and then pay those off. This match built its payoffs and was starting to really, really ramp up, and then it ended. I guess even on the Takeovers, where they have three hours to have five entire matches, something is going to get shafted on time. This match wasn’t bad by any means, but it left me wanting more. ***1/2

Johnny Gargano vs. Adam Cole – NXT Men’s Championship Match, 2 of 3 Falls

I didn’t like the build to this match all that much. Gargano’s main talking point in one of his promos was that he had to fight for every opportunity he’s ever gotten and all that, while Adam Cole has had everything handed to him, but Gargano literally had this match handed to him, in story. Gargano was given the spot, and Cole had to win a match against every other top guy in order to get his spot. Is this what the kids refer to as a ‘weird flex’? I am uncertain. I mention this because to start out, the crowd was 90% pro-Adam Cole, and I totally got it. And you know what? It didn’t matter whatsoever, because Johnny Gargano is so motherfucking good at working as a face that he won the entire goddamn smark-ass Takeover crowd all the way back over to rooting for him anyway. It was motherfucking magical. This was as gloriously worked of a traditional wrestling match since, well, since Gargano vs. Andrade last year, and worked for in a lot of the same ways and for the same reasons. After I watched this, I was hemming and hawing about what exact rating was most appropriate, or whatever the fuck, but I’m not made of stone. *****

In conclusion, this Takeover was rad as fuck, and if you like wrestling at all you should watch it. The end. Now time to watch WrestleMania. Yo dawg, I heard you like wrestling, etc.

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