Okay, so Takeover is TONIGHT, and maybe I'd better get off my ass. But first, since I don't see a 205 report from MoeGates this week (you're doing God's work here, friend), I want to make sure that you all know that this week featured a no-shit match of the year contender from Kalisto and Buddy Fucking Murphy. Not a joke, not a hoax, not a late April Fool's Prank, legitimately one of the best bell-to-bell matches of the year, and you all owe it to yourselves to check it out. In fact, while I'm doing plugs for 205, everybody make it a point to catch the WrestleMania pre-show for Ali/Alexander. I know WM is approximately 1000 hours long, and it's square in the middle of the 1000000 hour WM weekend, but the extra time will be worth it. Those two are more than capable of putting on the best single match of the night, on a night that, for once, promises to deliver 4 or 5 pretty good matches.
Anyhoo, my beat is NXT, and there's a lot of ground to cover. The big news at the top of the show is that the Undisputed Era's Bobby Fish is hurt, and won't make Takeover. Boooo! Why isn't it ever Kylie Riley that's hurt? What does this mean for the tag title defense? Well, use your imagination, but they'll tell us in a little bit.
That takes us straight into the first match of the night, the Dusty Classic final between the Authors of Pain and Strong/Dunne. Let's all take a moment to be sad that Strong never did wind up as an official Author of Pain. We surely can all appreciate how great that would have been, based on War Games. In any event, there's not a whole lot to talk about in this match. The AoP do some power stuff, Strong and Dunne bump around a bit, hey, wait, there's a super cool bit where Strong tosses one of the Authors (Rezar, I think) into Dunne's Bitter End, but it gets broken up, and yep, here's Cole and Riley to bust up the match. Match Rating: Kind Of Saw That Coming When They Put This Match On First. The Era celebrate up the ramp, until GM Regal comes out to berate them. He congratulates them on being smart, but not smart enough as it turns out. Now, the match at TO will be a triple threat, with Cole standing in for Fish, and the winners will get both the belts and the Dusty Cup.
That's fun, and a triple threat should help cover for Cole, who now has to pull double-duty in the six-man ladder match as well. Speaking of, following Regal's announcements, we get a couple of hype packages, and the first is for said ladder match. It's p. decent, but the next one is for the Ciampa/Gargano unsanctioned match, and it is incredible. Not that anyone needs hyped up for this one, but this is the standout of they hype packages. Be sure to catch it.
Next up is Kairi Sane against Vanessa Bourne, and Bourne is still pretty rough, if we're being honest. She pulls off a takedown and a taunt, followed by a stomp and an arm-wringer. Sane reverses, then hits a trio of quick rollups - none of which get more than a two count. Bourne counters back with a fairly decent flapjack, and then some elbows, and then a much less decent spot in the turnbuckles where she's supposed to stomp Sane's head into the buckle, but looks like she almost hurts her legit. That's...good?...for a two count, but then Sane counters a rope run with what's now being called the Interceptor Spear. I approve. That gets the march forearm and then the top-rope forearm (I AM NOT going to call it the name Mauro gives it), which Bourne botches the sell on. I mean, bad. Sane goes up for the elbow, but Bourne cuts her off, only to get countered by Sane into a top rope hanging stomp spot (a move I'm not real fond of in any context). That puts Bourne down long enough to hit the InSane Elbow and end it. Match Rating: I Want More Sane, Less Bourne.
We catch up with Lacey Evans outside. She's holding a press conference, the entire purpose of which appears to be to shit-talk the NXT women's roster. She runs through Cross (who killed her) and Moon (who she's not even close to being ready to challenge), before settling on calling out Kairi Sane. We'll be getting that match next week, so one would assume it'll be a dark match at Takeover.
Meanwhile, apparently Cole has just figured out that he'll now be pulling double-duty at Takeover. C'mon man, I mentioned that ages ago! He complains to Regal that it's not fair, and Regal points out that he can always drop out of one of the matches if he wants to, either forfeiting his shot at the NA title or leaving Riley to go it alone against two other teams. "You're smart. You'll figure it out."
I'm warming to Drake Maverick over on 205, but for now Regal remains my only beloved authority figure in all of professional wrestling.
We get a package for Black and Almas, recapping the beating from last week, and catching up with Almas as he trains. Almas seems like he's still pretty mad about the whole thing, Black. I'm kind of really looking forward to this one. We also get a quick sit-down with Ember Moon. Her promo isn't amazing or anything, but I dare you to go back and try to watch some of the stuff she did when they first brought her in. She was maybe the worst promo I've ever seen, and she's come such a long way. She should be genuinely proud of her accomplishments in terms of her promo work, and she shows that that anybody, even Aleister Black, can eventually get half decent at this stuff.
Maybe not Roddy Strong, though. I'm just sayin', he is extremely bad at talking.
Anyhoo, main event. As was foretold by the prophecies last week, it's Lars Sullivan vs. Damo. I have to be honest with you guys, I constantly forget that his official NXT name is Killian Dane, like, I never remember that. He'll always be Damo to me. They start out with a lock-up that bounces around the ring a bit, then start doing some strong-style shit at each other until Damo (that's right) hits a pump kick that sends Lars to the floor. Damo follows him out, but Lars recovers and smashes him back first into the apron, the Hardest Part of the Ring. Lars takes him back inside and lands some crossface smashes, then locks in a rest hold. Damo elbows his way free and nails the Belfast Blitz. He goes for a Vader bomb, but Lars gets his knees up. He delivers a short-arm clothesline and goes up top for the flying headbutt, but Damo cuts him off. In fact, Damo is the one who delivers a headbutt, and both men go crashing to the floor. Zero points for guessing what happens next. Velveteen Dream is the first one out, and he threatens a Purple Rainmaker to the floor on one or the other of Lars and Damo, but it's not long before Adam Cole heads out there. Now here's EC3, and Damo and Lars are up, and okay, now here's Ricochet, and here's the part where I would have had them brawl, but we just kind of peter out here with a standoff. Match Rating: Eh.
Honestly, not the hottest way to head into the big show. I liked a lot of the stuff tonight, but I probably would have finished out with either a pull-apart, or something featuring Almas/Black or Gargano/Ciampa. That said, tonight's Takeover card is so much steak, I'm not sure that it needs a ton of sizzle. There's honestly not a single match on the card that I don't think will be at minimum very good, and all of them have the capacity to be excellent (although, as Kalisto and Buddy Murphy show us, literally every match produced by the WWE has the capacity to be excellent, so, uh, I'm not sure what my point is here). Uh, anyhoo, WrestleMania weekend is upon us, Takeover is tonight, and all is right with the world. It's going to be a great show; see you there.
Lawler's Shirt blew my mind. I don't think I've ever seen anything like it. From a far distance, I thought he was wearing a gold suit, then when I saw the closeup, I didn't know what anything was anymore.