As always, the night before Wrestlemania belongs to NXT, as NXT presents TakeOver: Orlando, coming live from the Amways Centre in its home state of Orlando, Florida. Throughout the event, General Manager will reveal all new titles before every championship match, which means there are new Tag Team, a new Women’s and a new Heavyweight title on the NXT brand. Bobby Roode will look to defend the NXT Championship against nemesis Shinsuke Nakamura, and after the injury to Nakamura’s leg in the previous bout, it is certain that the Glorious champion will be targeting the challenger. But Nakamura has been known to overcome worse, and there is no way he will go down without a fight. On the other side of things, undefeated Women’s Champion Asuka has torn through every opponent put in front of her, including three at once at the previous event. But Ember Moon has shown to be something of a juggernaut herself, and her finishing manouvre, the Eclipse, will put anyone down, if she can manage to hit the champion. The Tag Titles are also on the line as the monstrous Authors of Pain defend against both the teams of #DIY and The Revival, whilst Tye Dillinger looks to gain some revenge against SAnitY, and Andrade Almas is taked with welcome the dark and dangerous Alesteir Black to NXT. In front of over 14-thousand, NXT TakeOver: Orlando is set to be a show not to be missed.
+ The Authors of Pains (c) (w/ Paul Ellering) vs The Revival (Scott Dawson & Dash Wilder) vs #DIY (Johnny Gargano & Tommaso Ciampa) (Triple Threat Elimination Tag Team Match) (NXT Tag Team Championships): this was incredible, this was the match of the night and this was a shoe in for WWE tag team match of the year, despite some very shoddy camera work, which entirely missed some big moments. The story developments and use of psychology, as well as call backs to previous amtches between these teams was absolutely unsurpassed. All three teams played their roles (“good guys”, “bad guys” and “monsters”) absolutey perfectly, with Ciampa and Dawson in particular just amazing to watch. I cannot talk this match up enough
+ Asuka (c) vs Ember Moon (NXT Women’s Championship): it was really good to finally see a proper, competitive match from Asuka, with Ember Moon more than holding her own against the undefeated Champion. Moon’s skills should come as no surprise to anyone who has heard of her run in other promotions as Athena. A very interesting ending means there is certainly some more to come
+ SAnitY (Eric Young, Alexander Wolff, Nikki Cross & Killian Dain) vs Tye Dillinger, Roderick Strong, Ruby Riot & Kassius Ohno: befitting of SAnitY, this match was absolute anarchy. Chaotic back and forth action coupled with a wild crowd made for a fantastic opening contest. SAnitY fall right on the good side of the line between awesome-and-try-hard. I would have liked to see some more between Ruby Riot (formerly known as Heidi Lovelace) and Nikki Cross
+ Bobby Roode (c) vs Shinsuke Nakamura (NXT Heavyweight Championship): good, but not great, this was another in a line of the standard “NXT Championship rematches. But due to the caliber of the competitors, this was still worth seeing. With both being so popular, the crowd was red hot from start to finish, and that did make this seem bigger than it was. A long match soon gave way t aa great ending, which has seemingly made it clear what is coming next, and hopefully soon
+ for the most part, the new titles are fine. Admittedly the main, NXT Heavyweight Title is very similar to the TNA X-Division belt, I think these new belts really are a sign for a new product
– Andrade “Cien” Almas vs Alesteir Black: after already appearing at the WWE UK Tournament, this was Black’s official debut under his new name, a homage to fellow legitimate Satanist Aleister Crowley. Black’s entrance theme was bloody awesome (linked below), however in the match it was Almas who was significantly more impressive, which has left me somewhat underwhelmed with Black’s debut. Almas is so, so good in the ring and he certainly deserves more than the random ‘debut matches’ on these specials
> I heard commentator Nigel McGuiness refer to the show as ‘Ring of Honor’ at least once. I’m sure he got some angry yelling through his headset for that one
Should you watch this event: Aside from the Almas/Black match-up, it is saddening to say that the NXT Heavyweight Championship bout was the weakest match on the show, but the phenomenal triple threat Tag Team Championship contest more than made up for it. Every match had something interesting about it, whether it was a debut, a title being contested or just great athletes, so this is well worth watching.