COOL POINTS REVIEW
The nXt Year-End Awards were given out last night, with Takeover: War Games winning the vote for best Takeover. Well, if that’s the case, 2018 has already outdone its predecessor.
Almas vs. Gargano’s main event nXt Championship match caught the excitement and love of the crowd in a way that heralded back to Zayn/Nakamura in 2016. The punishment that Gargano received and its perseverance against all that Almas (and Vega) threw at him has brought him to new heights as the next great underdog to support. The references to Daniel Bryan were made all night; the only difference is that Gargano will have to overcome a blood brother, in Tommaso Ciampa, before he can get back to the title picture. Ciampa’s return, just before the credits rolled, was perfectly timed, certainly anticipated, but no less effective a reminder of their unfinished business. This is a must-watch if you haven’t seen it, yet.
5 cool points to everybody involved.
Aleister Black’s undefeated streak, in singles competition, remains intact, and, rightfully so, after a bloody and innovative Extreme Rules match against Adam Cole. Its placement on the card as fourth match suggests how important nXt sees these two wrestlers, either of which could become the next #1 contender.
It even served as the setting for the return of SAnitY who made sure to even the odds for Black when O’Reilly & Fish double-teamed him on the outside. As I suspected, WarGames was not a resolution for this great faction feud; it was only a vehicle towards intensifying their dislike for one another. It would be a shame to see SAnitY called up to the main roster before they can finish up.
3 cool points for everybody
Ember Moon and Shayna Baszler wrestled a submission-centred match that reminded me of the kind of matches Bret Hart used to have in the 1990’s. It was captivating to watch Moon struggle and try to escape Baszler’s armbar near the end of the match. This is more of what I would expect ALL wrestlers to do while being immobilized in a painful submission.
Moon retains by surprising Baszler with a strong pin as she manoeuvred out of the armbar, and Baszler gets her moment by forcing Moon into the Kirifuda Clutch on the rampway, post-match. Captivating final 5 minutes in this one.
4 cool points to both ladies
In a match that was only added late Wednesday night, Velveteen Dream, who earned this spot by virtue of all the praise he received from Takeover: WarGames, got his first major victory over the vet, Kassius Ohno. Dream didn’t quite match Ohno in striking power, but he did outdo him in boldness, charisma, character and surprising strength. The rolling DVD was awesome. Dream needs a long-term feud to sink his teeth into for what should be another high profile match at Takeover: New Orleans.
2 cool points for this one
No surprise seeing the Undisputed Era retain the nXt Tag Team Championships over the Authors Of Pain. What made this match stand out was seeing Akam tweak his left knee early on, which would later be the reason why the Super Collider was not properly done. Fish and O’Reilly took a lot of punishment in this match, including an incredible moment featuring those two and Rezar. With Fish piggybacking Rezar with a sleeper hold, Rezar threw O’Reilly over himself in a fallaway slam. That’s right. He was already holding O’Reilly when Fish jumped on his back and he threw O’Reilly over himself AND Fish.
I was surprised to see this as the hot opener because nXt hasn’t done a tag match to start Takeover since Dallas in 2016. It worked though and may well have served as the AOP’s final match, if rumour and innuendo is correct about their move to the main roster after Royal Rumble. This is a must-watch match for tag team wrestling fans.
3 cool points for both teams
Well, we know Royal Rumble’s going to have plenty of suspense and excitement, and motivation to impress after watching what the nXt crew did tonight. This is one show I would feel pretty comfortable watching the whole thing back through with no fast-forwarding. nXt’s off to a fantastic start in 2018. Likely some MOTY talk will stem from Almas/Gargano, but each division represented well tonight.
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