I found this week’s NXT a little lackluster outside a few shining moments involving Ricochet and Nikki Cross, but I think they’re putting the finishing touches on Takeover: Chicago which is a necessary evil.
Maybe I’ll Just Never Like a Man Named Lars…
Can Aleister Black make me care about Lars Sullivan? While it seemed like a forgone conclusion that Sullivan is who Black would be facing at Takeover: Chicago, it was confirm on NXT this week when Black himself relayed his confusion over his opponent might be. I…guess he’s earned a shot at the title. I mean anybody else who has won a couple of matches in the past few months is either in a Tag Team or entrenched in another feud. That leaves us with Sullivan which is serviceable, if not at all exciting. I usually can’t get down with big intimidating guys who’s shtick is that their big intimidating guys – exception BRAUN – so I’m not surprised that I’m not enthused by the match, but Black needs to get a sound win over at least one opponent for his title before he kicks off a feud with one of the new stars NXT will be pushing forward.
And is that Ricochet?
I really was a little concerned that putting Ricochet in a feud with Velveteen Dream first was a bad idea, if only because the NXT audience is in love with the young charismatic superstar. This week even John Cena was putting him over. So, while I know how beloved Ricochet was on the Indy/Lucha Underground scene before heading to NXT, I thought the crowd reactions would be split enough that it could damage his momentum going in. How funny is it that he put my fears to rest with just one big jump? Ricochet’s somersault over the top rope landing firm on the ramp was a thing of beauty, something that Dream himself couldn’t help but gape at. Velveteen Dream was at ringside after being called out after Ricochet’s match with Chris (formerly Donovan) Dijak. A match between these two at Takeover: Chicago was inevitable, but I’m more confident now that no matter if the crowd is into Dream or not Ricochet is going to be a huge star for this brand. It isn’t just the jump, it’s the reaction to it by other wrestler’s, other websites, other media outlets. A little of that can go a long way. I am looking forward to this match a ton, and while it’s still a couple of weeks away I would think this one is what will steal the show at Takeover.
Cross! My heart!
I’ve been wanting Nikki Cross to get the attention she deserves for awhile now. She has proven in her time in NXT, especially in that epic Last Woman Standing Match with Asuka last year, that she is a beast in the ring and that her frantic personality is a hit with the NXT crowd. It just never has seemed like it’s her time to take a run at the Women’s Title. She’s always fallen to the wayside of other ladies, while popping in here or there to present a “scary” threat. Unfortunately I think that’s all she is here as well. For awhile now we’ve been watching Shayna Baszler bully NXT ladies, and nobody more so than Dakota Kai. They played at this rematch between the two for awhile, with Dakota terrified of the champion and attempting to build up her confidence. She got an assist with that from Nikki Cross, and I guess all that weird awkwardness whenever Dakota got near Shayna was leading to a Cross/Baszler payoff instead of a Baszler/Kai. On this week’s episode of NXT Dakota faced her fears in Shayna but was soundly defeated by the champ with her choke hold. After Shayna reapplied the hold following the finish, Nikki came out to make the save and scored a “pin” over Shayna with Dakota counting the fall. The crowd reacted well, Nikki looks great with the belt, but this all just seems like another place for Nikki Cross to just fill in. And while I know there needs to be filler opponents for champions (see above to Lars Sullivan), I really think Nikki deserves better than this. I’m not sure she’ll ever see a Championship and that is a depressing thought. After their Takeover: Match with Baszler pretty obviously winning, I guess we can hope they finally send Nikki to join SAnitY – though I don’t know if they’re even still alive on any roster. This poor woman is going to flounder when she should be a star. It’s a shame.
Johnny Gargano isn’t going to make friends just interrupting other people’s matches to talk about his own. While EC3 was fighting an enjoyable enough match with Fabian Aichner this week, Johnny Gargano chose that exact time to come to the announce table and confirm his match with Tommaso Ciampa at Takeover. It didn’t seem like EC3 was very pleased with that and we may have a new opponent for Johnny once he finally takes out Ciampa! Or he dies and EC3 spits on his grave. Honestly I have no idea what’s going to happen.
War Raiders defeated George Hixon and Cody Vincent
EC3 defeated Fabian Aichner
Ricochet defeated Chris Dijak
Shayna Baszler defeated Dakota Kai
You can always find me over at HM_Pufnstuf! Happy wrestling!