by Josh White
Wrestlemania season is in full effect. It’s that time of year again where the main show is outshone by the men and women of NXT, and with a card as stacked as this one you’d be hard pushed to argue the point. As the Smoothie King Centre continued to fill, it was soon time to shine a light on the very best in Professional Wrestling today.
Lead on, oh leaders…
NXT North American Championship Ladder Match – EC3 vs Ricochet vs Killian Dain vs Velveteen Dream vs Adam Cole vs Lars Sullivan
Just to put a disclaimer on what anyone else has written as I’m sure we’ll all have similar views, this match was BATSH*T CRAZY. You know you’re in for a treat when the crowd is already chanting ‘This is Awesome’ just based on the insane amount of pure talent in the ring before they’ve even thrown a punch. Also, that belt = beautiful.
The match starts as you’d expect, breaking down until the ring is cleared, fellow BIG BOIS Dain and Lars facing off for a BIG BOIS SCRAP FEST. That is until Ricochet decides to steal the show as the one and only can, nailing a springboard SSP from the skies onto them both.
Exchanges of ‘get off, this is my ladder’ spots are up next – Ricochet up first. After, Dain decides that ‘nah m8 you’re having a giggle’ and kills Lars with a mid-rope suicide dive to the outside! The utter spotfest continues until a hilarious spot involving EC3 fuelling his inner AC… EC3 BAY BAY.
The absolute MVP’s of this match however has to be awarded to The Velveteen Dream and EC3. Dream played to his cocky, arrogant role to perfection, landing multiple Purple Rainmakers in a row, including one to Lars Sullivan from the top of a ladder. EC3 was effectively a ragdoll, taking some ridiculous bumps. Good on that lad.
In the end though, it would be the leader of the Undisputed Era that would come out on top, becoming NXT’s first North American champion, and also the first wrestler in NXT history to become a multiple division champ at the same time.
ADAM. COLE. BAY BAY.
NXT Women’s Championship – Ember Moon vs Shayna Baszler
Ember and Shayna had their work cut out following a ladder match that would fit onto the main card of a Best of the Super Juniors show, and by god they set about doing just that. Despite a somewhat flat crowd given what had just come before them, a classic tale of David vs Goliath was created.
Moon comes out of the gates far more aggressive than in her last outing with Baszler, taking the fight straight to her. The issue here is that for the most part, ‘The Queen of Spades’ really, really just didn’t give a sh*t. That is until her cockiness gets the better of the former MMA star, going back to the well one too many times – going straight back to the arm of the War Goddess. Ember decided that enough was enough, coming through with a beautiful counter to set Baszler prone, hand caught underneath the boot of Moon, a taste of her own medicine administered.
If you thought that was mental enough, Baszler goes lengths to show us just how unhinged she is – using the mother*cking ring post to pop her shoulder back in, screaming as she did it.
Now THAT ladies and gentleman is how you sell an injury.
Another big spot in the match came in the form of a monumental Eclipse from Moon to Shayna off the top rope to the outside, both women taking a huge tumble. For a while, Moon dominates until Shayna cuts her off, leading to a classic double down, both competitors slugging it out to get back up at a count of nine. This leads to a wonderful spot in which Baszler goes for her patented rear naked choke submission, but she can’t use the injured arm to lock it in, so she uses her hair.
Her hair, yes you read that correctly. A strike of pure genius.
Unfortunately, the curse of going to the well one too many times is alive and well for Moon. An attempted Eclipse is seamlessly countered into a rear naked choke. Unable to escape the clutches of Baszler, Moon goes full Stone Cold and passes out rather than knowingly submit.
We have a new queen in town and leaves Moon looking as if she’ll be main roster bound very soon.
Triple Threat Match for the NXT Tag Team Championship – AOP (w/Paul Ellering) vs Undisputed Era (O’Reilly & Cole) vs Roderick Strong & Pete Dunne
To say that Adam Cole is a little bit pissed about having just been through hell to have to face it again in the form of an NXT Tag Team championship match is a little bit of an understatement. Taped up, he’s out replacing the unfortunately injured Bobby Fish alongside Kyle O’Reilly.
AOP storm the blockades, clearing the ring followed by an early pin attempt for two. This is where we left the realms of normality. This match was CHAOTIC.
Cole was effectively murdered by the Authors Of Pain, spending most of the match on his back after being driven through the announce table. Strong played the damsel in distress so well until he got the hottest of hot tags to Dunne, the Bruiserweight throwing his weight around taking no prisoners.
We’re treated to a good old big fisticuff fight from Dunne and O’Reilly, Akom steamrolling the two with a HUGE lariat… but you shouldn’t do that because DUNNE SNAPPED REZARS FINGERS IN RETURN. Nope.
The real tale of the tape however was of the messiah of the backbreaker. Dunne looked to have it won, hitting a home run with a Bitter End to O’Reilly – but wait.
Strong breaks up the pin, hits the End Of Heartache to Dunne and drags O’Reilly’s limp corpse over Dunne for the pinfall, victory in retaining the titles and winning the Dusty Rhodes classic. Oh Roddy, you unwholesome prick. He’s only gone and joined the Undisputed Era hasn’t he.
NXT Championship match – Aleister Black vs Andrade ‘Cien’ Almas
Black has been on a tear since joining the ranks of NXT, losing only once in his career so far. The former Tommy End was out tonight to kill the legend of El Idolo, and get the devil off his shoulder, and instead around his waist in the form of the NXT championship.
Zelina Vega was a woman possessed throughout the match, taking every single opportunity to try and screw over Black. A wonderful distraction from Vega had Black on the wrong end of an Hurricanrana into the steps on the outside.
Another story this match told was that of Almas’ desperation to take out the main striking ability of Black, slamming Black with multiple armbars through the ropes. An exchange of blistering strikes between the two led to another near fall for Almas – hitting the double moonsault for another near fall.
It was to be the true heelish nature of Zelina Vega that would be Almas’ downfall though. In desperation, Vega took to the skies poised and ready to wipe out Black with a crossbody. That wasn’t to be the case, however. Black moved, Vega falling into the arms of Almas.
It was at this point, Zelina Vega realised she’d messed up.
A picture perfect Black Mass to Almas, and Aleister Black is your new NXT champion.
The devil’s got a smile on his face…
Unsanctioned Match – Tomasso Ciampa vs Johnny Gargano (If Ciampa wins, Johnny Wrestling is gone from NXT forever. If Gargano wins, he’s reinstated)
It’s at this point I had to put down my laptop and just watch. I’m not going to give a review, because this match – nay this war between two of the very best we have today DEMANDS that it’s seen to be believed.
Without question, the best singles match in the history of NXT.
Joshua White – Steelchair Magazine 2018.