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The Smark Henry Pay-Per-Review: NXT TakeOver: Orlando


Let it be said that whatever faults you’ll find with the weekly NXT show—whether calling it RAW lite or saying it’s unreliable—it’ll deliver on solid TakeOvers. And that’s what TakeOver: Orlando was, solid. It wasn’t the brilliance that was TakeOver: Dallas, or the out of nowhere surprise that was TakeOver: San Antonio, but it was a really enjoyable show for the most part.

SAnitY def. Tye Dillinger, Roderick Strong, Kassius Ohno, and Ruby Riot


This was a pretty good opener. There wasn’t really a lag in the action; it was faced paced and just non-stop, but that led to some sloppiness, especially with Riot. Even when SAnitY isolated Strong, there was constant action that it never really lulled. It got pretty messy, and that’s not a bad thing. It’s a good choice to allow SAnitY to thrive in this controlled chaos, as it fits well to their post-apocalyptic look. Maybe drop the panda eye, though?


Dillinger eating the pin probably left a bad taste in a lot of people’s mouth. Not even the comeback kid Ohno and the debuting Riot can help Dillinger pick up a much needed win. The fans can only take so much before they turn sour on Dillinger’s losing in big matches. It made Killian Dain and SAnitY look strong, but I’m not sure the fans can stomach any more losing from the Perfect 10. He’ll need a big win soon.

Aleister Black def. Andrade “Cien” Almas


Black’s entrance was pretty boss. It was gimmicky, but not overtly, and the visual of him rising from the ground makes for a simple memorable entrance. The Dutch reminds me a lot of a weird mix of Bray Wyatt and S.E.S. leader CM Punk, which is a good thing. His moveset leaves something to be desired, but he showed a lot of interesting spots that’s enough to get people hooked. His triangle moonsault wasn’t the prettiest, but it’ll get pops. That springboard bail out to the cross legged sitting taunt was beautiful. Here’s to hoping his promo skills are as good as his vignettes make him out to be.


El ├Źdolo seems to be stuck in neutral. He’s one of the best workers in the ring. He can strike with the best, fly with ease, and work the mat game with comfort. That he’s stuck as the midcard gatekeeper has to be frustrating for him and the fans. That said, his past two TakeOver performances have been great—even in losing efforts—and it can’t be long before he starts climbing to the top.

The Authors of Pain (c) def. #DIY and The Revival to retain the NXT Tag Team Championship


Sweet baby Jesus, this match was awesome. This was clearly match of the night. It fed right to a lot of people’s expectations and really made the most of the shared history of all six men. Seeing #DIY and Revival work in tandem to try to take out the champs was a sight to see. The unlikely foursome worked well enough to really challenge Paul Ellering’s new wards, and seeing them pull off combos were memorable. From the table bomb spot, to the dueling submissions, and especially when they traded partners for their finishers, these moments weren’t just great pops; they highlighted the chemistry and knowledge of the two teams.


That said, it was expected that the partnership wouldn’t last, and that would spell disaster for both teams. Nigel McGuinness made a great call when he highlighted Scott Dawson’s decision to take out Tommaso Ciampa with the superplex by calling it the biggest mistake of the match. They’ve done a great job of building up Dawson as this masterful ring psychologist, but it was his pettiness that lead to disaster. By giving AoP the opportunity to take #DIY out of the equation, it left NXT’s Top Guys at the mercy of these monsters. And it made perfect sense. Yeah, it’s a shame for #DIY to take the first elimination, but to have it caused by the Revival’s ego called back to their great feud. Closing the match with AoP and the Revival played well to both team’s previous interactions. No longer will Dash and Dawson’s run and gun strategy work—no matter how much they tried to weasel out a win, they couldn’t overcome AoP straight up.


All of this made the Authors look great, by the way. They didn’t just survive their top two challengers at the same time, they went over both of them clean. They aren’t ring generals, but they can literally carry their weight in a match. They were creatively violent, and that’s what you want from any hoss team. With shiny new belts in hand, the Authors of Pain look to continue on their reign of dominance.

Asuka (c) def. Ember Moon to retain the NXT Women’s Championship


The finish of this match will be divisive, but I for one am a big fan of how the match ended. Throughout most of the match, both competitors were shown to be nigh-equal and either women would gain control for too long. It was a great back and forth affair, and when the Asuka Lock failed to nab the victory, you almost felt that Moon was going to take the new title home.


It was not meant to be as Asuka used the referee to knock Moon from the top rope and hit a roundhouse kick to the head. If the Empress of Tomorrow felt like a heel the past few weeks, this cemented her turn. In the past, she powered through to tough victories, but now, she’s cheating to beat an equal. To see her character continuously evolve in the past year has been a blast, and with her new belt, it looks like she’s sticking around in NXT for the time being.

All in all, this was a good match to kick off the feud. Moon looked great against her biggest opponent to date, and her finisher (the best thing about her) remains protected. Asuka continues to evolve and grow as a performer. We’ll see another match down the road, and it’ll only make it more palatable when Moon finally goes over.

Bobby Roode (c) def. Shinsuke Nakamura to retain the NXT Championship


This match was a downer. It wasn’t a terrible match, far from it, but it was a slow one. After two hours of frenetic energy, this match started at a slow pace that it threw me off my focus. The first third of the match felt so lethargic that by the time Roode started working on Nakamura’s leg on the match’s second third, I was tired of watching. It also hurts that it never reached the dramatic heights we’ve seen in the two previous matches nor their previous encounter.


The thing is, I understand and really appreciate Roode’s slower, methodological pace. It allows him to put in his great character work. He’s one of the best characters in NXT right now, so seeing his facial expressions and his selling is nice. My problem with it is that it doesn’t quite work with Nakamura’s eccentric, explosive pace. Nakamura tells his story through his ring work, and if he can’t work his match, he looks lethargic and uninspired. Add the fact that he sells inconsistently, and it just takes you out of the moment.


It’s been a year, so it’s safe to say that the Nakamura we see here is the norm in the WWE. He’ll need a dance partner that won’t slow him down, which is rare in the WWE. Is that a bad thing? Not necessarily. He’s still one of the best wrestlers in the world, so we’ll get good matches out of him. We better just temper expectations for a main roster call up. Not everyone is a Sami Zayn that help him through a match of the year candidate every week.

*****

All in all, the whole show was solid. Did it overshadow WrestleMania? Nope, but it did serve as a good appetizer for the biggest show in WWE this year. The show was good, but not great, which is a pretty apt description of the state of NXT right now. The NXT Tag Team Championship match might be in the conversation as one of the best WWE matches in the year, but the other matches were just fine. This show gets a B+.

Thoughts on TakeOver: Orlando? Drop us a comment below!

Photos from WWE.com

*****

Jocs Boncodin (@caboncodin) is a Managing Editor of Smark Henry. He answers tweets by day and watches wrestling by night. An aspiring writer, Jocs spends most of his idle time fantasy booking angles and overthinking wrestling storylines. A big fan of the WWE, his introduction to the local online wrestling community Smark Gilas-Pilipinas has opened his eyes to the wonders of puroresu and lucha libre. He currently handles Smark Hen-XT, smarkhenry.ph's weekly NXT review.

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