No, you didn’t fall into some time warp.
Yes, I did just post a column a few hours ago.
It’s a big week, though, with more wrestling than usual. More wrestling means more columns from me. On top of me posting twice today, I’ll be back tomorrow with another Running Diary for the second night of Takeover: Stand & Deliver, as well as a Running Diary on Saturday and Sunday for each night of WrestleMania 37. I’ll finish that busy week off my posting my usual Wednesday column a week from today. Fun times.
Are you ready? I’m ready.
You know the routine, so say it with me…
LESS DEW EET!!!
(0:01) Nita Strauss is here to play the Star Spangled Banner on her guitar. She’s an NXT regular at this point, making several appearances on shows for the brand.
(0:04) Looks like we’re going to wake up and choose violence on this day. Tonight’s first match is KUSHIDA vs Pete Dunne, which is guaranteed to make me cringe at least a handful of times.
(0:05) I love the giant skull on the stage. It reminds me of the skull setup for the 1998 Survivor Series. Makes me miss the days of unique sets and displays for different events.
(0:08) It didn’t take long for Dunne to try and rip KUSHIDA’s arm out of socket. This guy is sadistic. I feel like he should be the unsub on an episode of Criminal Minds or something.
(0:11) Every time KUSHIDA builds some momentum, Dunne bounces back with something violent. Dunne is nowhere near the biggest man in the business, but that in-ring style of his allows him to be able to “hang” with opponents of any size. It’s art.
(0:14) I didn’t mention it as it happened, but I love the fact that there are no commercial breaks for this broadcast on Peacock. It’s airing, as normal, on the USA Network, with all the breaks included. It’s just fun to be able to watch things without any interruption.
(0:16) Not that KUSHIDA wrestled a soft style to begin with, but he’s really showing an added level of viciousness in this match. He knows he has to at least stay on Dunne’s level.
(0:17) The Bitter End picks up the victory for Pete Dunne. Really fun stuff, although the match wasn’t as long as I would’ve hoped for. It was one of those matches that could’ve built up to a higher rating with more time, but as it was, I’m giving that 3.5 stars.
(0:19) We’re moving right into the Gauntlet Eliminator Match, with the winner getting a shot at Johnny Gargano’s North American Title tomorrow night. Leon Ruff vs Isaiah “Swerve” Scott vs Bronson Reed vs Dexter Lumis vs Cameron Grimes vs LA Knight is the lineup here.
(0:21) Before the match is underway, Swerve has attacked Ruff on the stage area. Ruff bounces back quickly, but Swerve gets back on offense.
(0:23) The match is finally underway.
(0:24) As expected, both Swerve and Ruff are flying all over the place. They’d better be careful, though, because Bronson Reed is prepared to make his entrance into the match, and that’s when everything could change.
(0:26) Reed is now in the match, and he is greeted by Ruff, who dives at him from the top rope. Reed catches him as if Ruff were a child.
(0:28) These types of stats are always funny to me, but Reed weighs almost as much as Scott and Ruff combined.
(0:29) Cameron Grimes is the next man to enter the match, giving us four legal competitors. As always, I’m contractually obligated to mention that Grimes nearly broke my leg at an independent show a few years back.
(0:29) Immediately after entering the ring, Grimes offers Swerve a stack of money to be his ally here, basically giving us a tag match for the time being. Smart.
(0:32) Dexter Lumis is up next. I take back what I said about Pete Dunne earlier. THIS guy is an unsub on Criminal Minds. As Lumis makes his entrance, Swerve pins Ruff to eliminate him from the match, so we’re back to four people in the match.
(0:35) LA Knight is the final entrant into the match, and he decides he’s going to cut a promo on the way to the ring. No, thanks. Bless Bronson Reed for putting that to an end.
(0:37) Can I just say that I don’t get the “buzz” about LA Knight? If I wanted to watch The Rock cut promos, I’d… watch The Rock cut promos. He’s decent in the ring, but that’s it… he’s decent. People were really hyped up by his arrival in NXT as if he were one of the best in the world or something.
(0:39) Knight pins Lumis, eliminating the serial killer from the match.
(0:39) Before I even finished that last entry, Knight is pinned and eliminated by Reed. Okay then. That was pointless. Reed, Swerve Scott, and Grimes are the final three.
(0:42) THE MEGA POWERS EXPLODE! Swerve rolls up Grimes for the pin, eliminating The Million Dollar Cave-Man from the match. We’re down to Swerve and Bronson Reed here. One of those two is getting a North American Title shot tomorrow night.
(0:44) Swerve tosses Reed from the top rope, sending Reed crashing down onto the ring apron back-first. Fucking OUCH. My back locked up just watching that. That was some insanely solid impact.
(0:46) Reed is able to bounce back and SPLATTER Swerve on the mat with a top rope splash to pick up the victory. Tomorrow night, Johnny Gargano will defend the North American Title against Reed. The Colossal has been built up as a future North American Champion for a hot minute now, so we’ll see how that goes. As for this match, it was fun. Let’s say 3.5 stars.
(0:48) Oh, yes, yes, yes… WALTER vs Tommaso Ciampa is up next, with the NXT UK Title on the line. Today is Day 733 of WALTER’s title reign. WALTER won the title two days before Kofi Kingston defeated Daniel Bryan to win the WWE Title at WrestleMania 35. That’s fucking bonkers.
(0:55) There’s a big-fight feel for this, even though it isn’t the main event. *squeals*
(0:58) Ciampa runs the ropes and then sprints smooth the fuck into a chop from WALTER. I’m no Doctor, but I think Ciampa’s got a deflated titty now.
(0:59) WALTER goes to deliver a chop onto Ciampa on the announce table, but Ciampa moves and the table breaks on impact. Good visual.
(1:05) Ciampa literally just ran off the ropes about 20 straight times and hit WALTER hit solid clotheslines each time, only for WALTER to put an end to all that shit with one chop. Jeezus.
(1:08) As much as I love WALTER’s matches and want to see him with some different opponents, I’m almost glad that he’s not in America very often. It makes his appearances feel bigger and more special.
(1:11) Ciampa has gotten some pretty believable near falls at this point. Some of the closest that WALTER has been to a three-count in a long time.
(1:13) After a neck crank, some stiff powerbombs, and some more violent strikes, WALTER picks up the win. The title reign continues. That was the Tommaso Ciampa of old, and I’m glad to see him back. Fucking fantastic stuff from both men. I’ll go 4.5 stars for it. You’ll want to check this one out if you didn’t already do so.
(1:17) The next match has a very tough job having to follow that. MSK vs Grizzled Young Veterans vs Legado Del Fantasma in a Triple Threat Match for the vacant NXT Tag Team Titles.
(1:22) The pace of this one could get pretty wild.
(1:23) Well, the pace could get wild if GYV don’t get their way. I like the layout of the match, with two high-flying teams and one team that is looking to slow things down.
(1:28) It’s worth repeating… I love that Peacock is airing this with no commercial interruptions. It helps to make this feel like an actual Takeover event, and not just a television episode with the Takeover name.
(1:31) Are we 100% sure that Wes Lee is human? Human beings shouldn’t be able to do the things he does in the ring and make it look so fluid and effortless.
(1:35) This action is so fast-paced that it’s difficult to keep track of it all. As soon as one thing happens, I go to start typing about it, but then two more things happen, so I have to focus back on the match.
(1:37) The winners of the match… and NEWWW… NXT Tag Team Champions… MSK! Every bit as wild a contest as you could expect. I’m going to say 4 stars, but I need to watch it a second time to see if that rating changes. Very, very good stuff.
(1:41) Main event time. Io Shirai vs Raquel Gonzalez for the NXT Women’s Title. Is this where Io’s 304-day reign comes to an end? This is going to be fun.
(1:49) I’ve said this before, but I’m not a fan of NXT’s ring announcer, Alicia Taylor. She doesn’t sound natural at all. She sounds like someone trying to play the role of a ring announcer, instead of just BEING a ring announcer, if that makes any sense.
(1:52) Almost right away, Dakota Kai gets caught interfering in the match, and gets herself tossed. That was weird. She wasn’t even trying to hide it.
(1:55) There is a nearly an entire foot of height difference in this match. Io looks like a child next to her opponent.
(1:59) IO SHIRAI WITH A DIVE FROM THE TOP OF THE SKULL ON STAGE!! That was fucking awesome! Woi Bar-ruh, on commentary, said the top of the skull was 20 feet high. We all know how much wrestling loves hyperbole, but if it’s not 20 feet tall, it’s close. Another highlight reel move from Io.
(2:03) History has been made! Raquel Gonzalez is the brand new NXT Women’s Champion, after a wild match. It was the expected match result… to me, at least… but that didn’t take anything away from it. Let’s go with 3.5 stars. Fun stuff all around.
Another great NXT Takeover event, with no bad matches. Until tomorrow night, I’m signing off. Be good to each other.