1. 6 man ladder match North American Championship- EC3, Ricochet, Adam Cole, Killian Dane, Velveteen Dream, Lars Sullivan
Winner: Adam Cole
2. Nxt Women’s Championship- Shayna Baszler vs Ember Moon
Winner: Shayna Baszler
3. Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic – Undisputed Era, Authors of Pain, Roderick Strong & Pete Dunne
Winner: Undisputed Era….Roderick turns heel
4. Nxt Mens Championship – Aleister Black vs Andrade Cien Almas
Winner: Aleister Black
5. Johnny Gargano vs Tomaso Ciampa – Unsanctioned Match
Winner: Johnny Gargano
I believe it was a stellar payperview which told multi layered stories throughout each individual match. If there is anything that hurt the flow of enery of TNO as a whole, it was placing the 6 man ladder match for the North American Championship first. The crowd was so invested and motivated to such an intense degree that by the end of it, the crowd deflated and the championship match for the women’s title was noticeably more quiet in terms of crowd reaction. The energy of the crowd ebbed and it needed to recharge. Logistics must have played a role in the placement of the ladder match on the card, especially with so prominently a role played by Adam Cole. Much like Daniel Bryan began and ended WM 30, the same tactic was used again here to maximize Adam Cole’s endurance. It worked but at the cost of match 2 and 3 needing more time to get the crowd really hot.
The ladder match might as well have been a crystal ball of future WWE main roster champions. Every wrestler looked amazing and every wrestler showcased their strengths. Velveteen Dream conjured his inner Macho Man and delivered a flying elbow from the top of a ladder that sounded like a meteor crashing to earth. He might as well of been the catalyst for the extinction of the dinosaurs with so massive an elbow. Watch the match to truly see what I am describing here. Lars Sullivan climbed the ladder many times and cracked and crunched his foes along the way. Many times I thought lars had it won, but the NXT writers had me guessing the entire match. I simply could not predict which man would reign supreme and this added so much more excitement to the carnage. The crowd was on fire and was put to a fever pitch more times than I can remember another match accomplishing. The dueling ladder atomic bombs by Lars and Killian was truly something to behold and it was after those two spots where I legitimately began to fear for the well being of the wrestlers involved. NXT had me convinced that every participant in the match had their careers significantly shortened. The crowd reacted the same way I did. The screams of shock and fear echoed around the arena. EC3 strode to the ring with a confidence and a bravado that echoed of a Bobby Roode heel title run. I think we can expect this sort of character to emerge from EC3 as his character is allowed to grow. He didn’t stand out to me within the match as much as his physique did, but again his heel antics will be refreshing when gold is eventually placed on his waist. Killian was a wrecking ball and true monster within the match. His wide eyed fury sent shivers through the crowd and was the only participant who could even come close to the untamed power that Lars exhibited.
Ricochet was as epic as he was advertized. It took only minutes to see how he earned his name. He was a blur and accomplished shooting star presses the way Mozart wrote music…effortlessly. I understand why it was decided to not crown him champion. It is always more exciting when a baby face chases a heel champ. This scenario is playing itself out. Adam Cole is champion amd Ricochet will be on his heels. NXT is going to have to move up talent to the main roster if they dont want their midcard to disappear.
Every wrestler shined but none shined brighter than Adam Cole and his signature catch phrase shook the very arena. It rose through the crowd amd shattered whatever glass ceiling that stood in its path and in the end, it seemed he was the most deserving to be the newly crowned North American champion.
The NXT Women’s championship match came next and though entertaining, did not equal to the ladder match. The crowd seemed exhausted and even though they both painted a good story, it didnt seem to equal the previous bout. The storytelling was simple enough being that of the bully, Shayna seeming to grow as a wrestler. She did not focus on fear but rather adaptability and everything Ember Moon threw at her was countered. Shayna isn’t so green anymore and as she ripens it will be tough for another wrestler to topple her reign.
Im afraid that Ember is losing some of her steam. Even her cork screw stunner from the top rope to the floor didnt seem as magnificent as it usually does. She’s been a great champion and she thrived as a potential upstart to topple Asuka’s throne but a perennial champion she is not. Perhaps she just needs someone new to work with.
The Dusty Rhodes Tag team classic was entertaining and the mind shattering knee strikes of Roderick Strong as well as the uber combat skills of Kyle O’reilly were my favorite parts of the match. Kyle was hillarious and viscious all in the same breadth. It was refreshing to see someone so young have such confidence in the ring. I totally see why he was a champion in ROH. There were many highlights in the match and the pace at its peak was frenetic, but what got the crowd charged up again was Roderick Strong’s heel turn. He turned on Pete Dunne and I hope this will allow him to explore his dark side and I hope this dark shade gives birth to a more charismatic Strong on the mic. If he is able to improve his talking, there will be no stopping him.
Then came Aleister Black vs Andrade Cien Almas for the NXT Championship. Almas demanded respect and promised to humiliate Black. Black kept his cool even though Zelina Vega interfered many times throughout the match. She did so with the finnesse of a master luchador. One spot consisted of Zelina spiking Black with a hurricanrana that left black teetering on his head much the way Neville used to do. A dangerous spot, but it took the fans by surprise and shock ,awe and respect could be felt in the building as the match progressed. Intereference is what ultimately cost Almas’ title reign. Zelina went to the well too often and ultimately a mistake led Almas to recieve Black Mass in the face and earned Aleister the pinnfall. With a newly crowned NXT Champion crowned, one wonders if Andrade could be ready for a move to the main roster. He is a ring General and the main roster needs him more than probably WWE creative cares to admit.
Finally we had the duel of the Ex-good brothers in Johnny Gargano vs Tomaso Ciampa in an unsanctioned match. You know when a heel is over when the crowd serenades you with “Fuck you Ciampa” for a minute and again several times through out the match. Ciampa walked down the ramp to no music. He didn’t need it. His entrance music was the hate and vitriol of the entire NXT universe. They fought each other in the ultimate representation of good versus evil. Johnny Wrestling was the white knight and Ciampa was the bloody black knight. They fought as if they were destined to do so. The brutality was telling and one match will not be enough for this fued to end. Johnny, in the end, did get his career back and was reinstated into NXT because of the victory, but evil never sleeps defeated for long and Ciampa will be back with a ruthless vengeance.
A recurring story in the match was the crutch and the knee brace and how they symbolized each wrestler. They were used as tools to brutalize each other and at the end, those same tools were cast aside as the wrestlers themselves gave in to their eternal struggle. There was an a moment where they sat side by side exhausted from battle. Ciampa looked up, almost pleading for mercy with a swollen eye. He seemed to shake his head as if to doubt his obsession and hatred for Gargano was worth any of this pain anymore. It seemed, or at least it was hoped that they would spare each other and reunite, but Ciampa used this moment of mercy to attack his foe. This is the way a heel must be played. Only the most evil can properly propel the Hero to be his very best. Iron sharpens Iron but so too does evil strengthen good. Their match was philosophical. Not often seen or even carried out, but when you see it for yourself you will feel it too. The sky is the limit for those two gladiators and I hope they face each other again. Their duel was why fans created the chant “Fight Forever”.
Since Im such a JDfromNY206 mark, Ill leave you his take on this magnificent night below.