The night before Wrestlemania, NXT comes to the Big Easy as it presents TakeOver: New Orleans. Headlining the phenomenal match card is a match where there will be no holds barred, and anything will be legal as former best friends Johnny Gargano and Tommaso Ciampa go to war. Ciampa has been laid off with injury for months, ever since turning his back on his former best friend, and Gargano has it all on the line: if Gargano wins, he will get his job back on NXT, but if Ciampa can defeat Gargano, Gargano will be gone form NXT forever. Not to be outdone, NXT Champion, Andrade Almas, defending against the dark and dangerous Aleister Black, with Almas’ manager Zelina Vega sure to play a role in the match outcome. A massive six-man ladder match is also scheduled, featuring the debut of both EC3 and the one and only Ricochet, as well as the nightmarish Killian Dain and Lars Sullivan, the silky smooth Velveteen Dream and Adam Cole, with the winner becoming the first ever NXT North American Champion.
Adam Cole is forced to pull double duty on the show, however, as he replaces injured Undisputed Era stablemate Bobby Fish in the Undisputed Era’s scheduled Tag Title defense against the teams of Roderick Strong & Pete Dunne, and the monstrous Authors of Pain, with the winner of that tag team triple threat also becoming the winner of the 2018 Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic tournament. But that’s not all, as the Women’s Championship is ony the line when current champion Ember Moon attempts to finally rid herself of The Queen of Spades, the MMA trained Shayna Baszler. Baszler has promised that Ember Moon is going to tap, snap or nap, but Ember Moon always gives her absolute best and will make sure that Baszler feels the flame. It is going to be a wild brawl, on a crazy night, on the biggest weekend of the wrestling calendar when NXT takes over New Orleans.
+ Johnny Gargano vs Tomasso Ciampa (Unsanctioned Match): I am so happy this went on last. The crowd was nuclear as Ciampa made his entrance, and their vitriol continued throughout the whole fight: Ciampa may be the most hated man in New Orleans right now. I do admit this was the sort of match that needed some blood, and because it lacked the colour, it never quite reached that ‘next level’ feel. A slight lull towards the middle was entirely worth it, because they turned it up something fierce for the home stretch, and I had just accepted that the match was over several times. This had some of the best in-ring storytelling I have ever seen, and if this is not considered one of the best matches of all time then I don’t know what is
+ Andrade “Cien” Almas (c) (w/ Zelina Vega) vs Aleister Black (NXT Championship): both these two laid in some really stiff elbows that seemed to rock the other, before returning to the great back and forth action we know to expect from them both. Vega absolutely earned her pay in this match, with absolutely perfect timing throughout the fight, and had me convinced the match was over several times. The crowd grew from the beginning before they were going crazy for the finish. This was phenomenal
+ The Undisputed Era (Adam Cole & Kyle O’Reilly) (c) vs The Authors of Pain (Akam & Rezar) (w/ Paul Ellering) vs Roderick Strong & Pete Dunne (Triple Threat Tag Team Match for the NXT Tag Team Championships and the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic 2018 Trophy): man oh man, O’Reilly was on fire in this match, esecially when going against Pete Dunne. Roddy and the AoP had their times to shine, as well, and while it did not quite reach the heights of AoP/DIY/Revival from a few years back, this was a really good match, with an ending that was a long time coming
+ Ember Moon (c) vs Shayna Baszler (NXT Women’s Championship): these two had a hell of a task, following the ladder match, and the crowd was mostly quiet for this match. This was a lot like Asuka/Bayley from a few years ago, with it essentially being “submission bad guy vs wrestler good guy”, and it wasn’t very good. There were some clever spots, and some nice callbacks from previous matches, and although it did go on a bit too long, this was a really good match
+ Ricochet vs EC3 vs The Velveteen Dream vs Adam Cole vs Lars Sullivan vs Killian Dain (6-Man Ladder match for the NXT North American Championship): this match had everything you could ever want: big bois throwing bombs, flipping freaks and of course ladders. Ricochet’s debut could not have been more of a highlight reel, EC3 is already one of the better characters, both Lars and Dain were absolutely on fire and Velveteen was low-key the absolute MVP. Even Adam Cole (bay bay) was taking some hellacious bumps. Every single man in this match deserved the standing ovation they got, and I’llbe surprised if anything is better than this over the whole weekend
Should you watch this event: In a line of fantastic TakeOver events, this was easily the absolute best one yet. I was screaming at my TV several times, either because someone in the ladder match was going to die, I cheered the winners, gasped at the losers, the tag title match suckered me in, or the main event pulled on my heart strings like nothing else. This was a phenomenal match, and will go down in history as one of the best shows ever put on.