Oooh, we're moving into the final stretch towards Takeover: New Orleans, and it's getting good. Tonight's main event will be Cole vs. Kassius Ohno, and even without fanfare, that sounds pretty good.
Before we get to that though, Tomasso Ciampa is out for the third, and therefore final, time. Once again, the boos keep him from saying or doing anything, until he finally musters up the resolve to shout out, "Gone! Gone! He's not walking down that ramp, because he's GONE!" Ciampa really sells the idea that the crowd is getting to him. He heads outside and goes on an absolute sign rampage, destroying every Gargano emoji he sees, wiping one on his ass, and getting in the face of just the most awesome old lady in the front row. Life goals, people. This keeps going until he takes a big posterboard from a guy in a lucha mask, who, wait for it, is actually Johnny Gargano! No Way! I was sure this feud was finished forever. They brawl a bit, and Gargano nails some stiff shots, before security hauls Johnny Wrestling away from the ring and out through the arena into the street.
I assume we get the official match confirmation next week, but at this point, let's just acknowledge that no matter how good Almas/Black winds up being, this match should be the main event of Takeover.
We go to the Control Center for updates on the Dusty Classic. Most of you are probably already aware that Mustache Mountain is out, the result of Bate selling a knee injury. Their replacements will be Roderick Strong and a partner of his choice - no points for guessing on this one.
The Era are literally hanging around backstage on some scaffolding, talking shit. Cole's so confident that he can beat Ohno tonight, that he's telling the others to stay in the back.
"Like somebody sketched Shawn Michaels from memory." So good.
Next up, Burch and Lorcan, who are almost certainly my favorite tag team and I wish they'd get a genuine chance at some point here, take on Strong, and, but of course, Pete Dunne. This is going to be a Very Good Match. We actually start out with some light graps, unitl Strong locks in an STF and Burch reverses into a side headlock. Strong gets loose, and starts working the wrist so that when he tags in Dunne, Dunne can hit all the old familiar spots. Unfortunately for him, Burch actually escapes, nails a big stomp, and then catches Dunne out of the air with a toehold that plants Dunne face-first on the mat. Dunne is able to counter by tieing up Burch and tagging in Strong, who hits a backbreaker to set up a double front suplex. That, in turn, sets up a synchronized pair of chops from the two of them. Burch needs to get out of there, so when he gets forced into the corner, he goes up to the second rope and manages to hit a missile dropkick. That's enough to get to his corner and make a Hot Tag. Lorcan's a house afire (as is the custom), trading shots with Strong before hitting a dropkick, then a running European uppercut, then a big clothesline, then a running blockbuster. Whew. That only gets him two, so he grabs Strong, but then Strong escapes, and...uh, then the action picks up in intensity so severely that I kind of completely lost track in my notes. There was some real wild stuff, Strong missed a dive through the ropes in there somewhere, you'll kind of have to take my word that it's all very exciting. Anyhoo, eventually it slows down, and I catch up as Burch lands a huge German suplex on Dunne, followed by Lorcan hitting a half-and-half suplex on Strong that dumps him across Dunne. Burch locks in a crossface on Dunne while Lorcan gets a half crab on Strong, but Strong escapes and breaks up the crossface by shoving Lorcan into Burch. Burch hits an exploder, but accidentally dumps Dunne too close to Strong, where he's able to make a blind tag. Strong comes in and hits a backbreaker, then immediately follows up with the End of Heartache for three. Match Rating: That WAS A Very Good Match.
I kind of hate it when thrown together teams win these tournaments, but on the other hand, Strong and Dunne did set up a feud with The Era, and on the other other hand, there's absolutely no way I'd leave Pete Dunne off my card, either. So, uh, I'll still call this a net positive, even if my beloved team of Lorcan and Burch are eating another loss here.
Hey, Ricochet's coming! Probably at Takeover, or just after, as they so often do with guys!
Uhhhh, Aliyah still has a job here for some reason, and she's taking on Ember Moon. If you think I'm recapping this, you haven't been paying attention. Match Rating: Seriously, Aliyah Still Works Here, But They Cut Abbey Laith? That's Proof That There Is No Justice In This Cold World Of Ours.
Anyhoo, Shayna Baszler actually came out during the match to talk some shit on commentary, so they do a cool staredown afterwards.
Next up, Raul Mendozza takes on...the floor, apparently, as Andrade Almas jumps him from behind and turfs him off the ramp. Almas is out to berate the arena in angry Espaniol, and it's great - I'm dead serious about him not bothering with English. He does eventually spit out that Black doesn't deserve his respect, because Black is a piece of shit (which they bleep, so he either actually said "shit," or the Spanish equivalent), and then tells Black to face him next week and "pay for [his] disrespect," which I think we can all agree is pretty awesome.
Lars Sullivan returns next week. Mark your calendars accordingly.
GM Regal is telling us that he has an announcement next week that will change the face of NXT forever, which is a pretty hyperbolic statement if you ask me. On the other hand, I don't read NXT spoilers, so maybe? Don't ruin it for me.
Finally, Cole takes on Ohno. This one immediately draws dueling chants from the crowd as soon as the bell rings, and you know what? PICK A SIDE, WRESTLENERDS. Ahem. Anyhoo, Ohno gets an armbar to start, but Cole counters with a knee and a pair of forearms, followed by a shoulder tackle. Ohno bounces right back from that, nailing a big boot into a senton, then a chop. Cole bounces back from that with a jawbreaker, and then gets dumped over the top rope to the apron, where he appears to tweak his knee. I say appears, because as soon as Ohno looks out to check on him, Cole pops up with a dropkick to take control. He lays in the boots, then whips Ohno into the ropes to hit him with a back elbow, then a bicycle kick for two. That's followed by a neckbreaker, some more boots, and a backstabber for another two count. Cole starts taunting, and that's never a good idea. Sure enough, Ohno pops him with a big right hand, then follows that up with a knee strike and a big boot, followed by a clothesline and yet another big boot. A body slam sets up a big legdrop, but he ain't Hulk Hogan, so that's only going to get two as well. He nails another punch, but Cole manages to whip him into the ropes. Ohno skins the cat to land on his feet on the apron, hits a boot through the ropes, then a cyclone boot back on the inside. They trade a couple forearms, going back and forth until Cole is able to grab the suplex into the ushigoroshi for two. Cole sets up for the running knee (which apparently is the actual move that's supposed to be called the Last Shot), but Ohno dodges it by rolling with it, coming all the way through to scoop Cole up into a reverse powerbomb across the ropes. That's enough to set up for the High-Tension Elbow Strike, but unfortunately for Ohno, Cole rolls to the outside. By the time Ohno gets him back in, Cole's recovered enough to counter the pinfall attempt into a crucifix for two. Cole comes to his feet and hits not one, not two, but THREE superkicks, the suplex ushigoroshi, AND the Last Shot, all in sequence. That's the end of the line for Ohno. Match Rating: Pretty Good, But Overall I'm Not A Huge Fan Of "You Hit Your Move, Now I Hit My Move."
That's it for this week, and the card's coming together. Next week is the big announcement, which I am legitimately curious about. We'll see what it winds up being.
"I'm assuming that this is in reference to HHH, but has there been anything more specific in the Observer about this situation, or is this just kind of educated speculation?" There has been specific educated speculation.