Okay, with Takeover this weekend, we're back to Business as Usual here. This wound up being a decent enough go-home show, but kind of as with Survivor Series, the build hasn't been as consistent as you might like.
We start off with Liv Morgan taking on Peyton Royce, considering that Billie Kay has already rung her bell once before. This is all pretty perfunctory, really. Royce gets a hot start, including her in-the-ropes submission hold that damn well better be called the Venus Flytrap, until Liv fires up and start hitting some offense. Well, it's Liv Morgan, so more like "offense?" She's looking good, though, until Billie Kay says nuts to this and bushwacks her. Match Rating: Yeah, Perfunctory. Aliyah(sigh) runs out for the save - no, wait, never mind, no save. The Aussies are killing these girls until Ember Moon comes out for the save, and this time it's for real. There's a springboard crossbody, followed up with a double dropkick with Liv, and the Aussies beat a hasty retreat.
Promo for "The Return," which I didn't mention last week. I have no idea who it is - I hope it's CJ Parker!
The Dusty Classic gets a recap package to set up the final match between the Authors of Pain and TM61. Breaking news, Paul Ellering will be suspended above the ring in a shark cage to prevent his interference in this match, and that is just delightfully old-school. I heartily endorse it.
"The Return"...of Elias Samson. Okay, sure, why not. Samson gets a massive "drift away" chant, because Full Sail hates this guy. He indulges their hate by "playing" and "singing" a "song" (okay, enough "quotes"), that is so very, very, very badly out of tune. It is a true assault on the sense of hearing, and I love it to death. Afterwards, The Drifter heads to the ring to mash Some Jobber, finishing up with a rolling cutter with no name. This gets incorrectly called as a swinging neckbreaker - I know a swinging neckbreaker when I see one, Tom Phillips. You're on thin ice, buddy. Match Rating: I Think I May Be Out Of Squash Jokes.
Backstage, Liv, Aliyah(sigh), and Ember Moon are set and ready to take on the Aussies, and look, girls, it's time for some Real Talk. I know you're probably feeling pretty good right now, but Ember Moon is worth both of the rest of this team put together, plus some. I'd rather see her take on the Aussies by herself. Liv needs a new gimmick, and Aliyah needs a new career, and they are just dragging down a match I'd enjoy a lot more without either of them.
Next up is a package for the Tag Team title match, and this is the One To Watch. It sells the whole feud going back to the near-loss in Brooklyn, sets up the Revival as compelling antagonists, and sells DIY as being in a real do-or-die moment. "They came this close to beating us. So does everybody else." "If we don't win, what are we even doing this for?" So good.
Follow it up with the package for Roode/Dillinger, which is good, but not as good.
Finally, we're ready for our main event, even though we have close to a half hour of TV time remaining. It's the long-awaited, or at least highly-anticipated, grudge match between Andrade Almas and Cedric Alexander. This one is a barn-burner, for real. Almas begs off to start, but slaps on a headlock just as soon as he can sneak around the ref. Alexander switches and forces Almas to the mat, where he takes a moment to pose and taunt Alexander, and if you were worried about Almas as a heel, you can stop now. He's great. He has a natural smugness that really comes off in a lot of what he does. Let's hope they never translate any of his promos ever again, to be honest, because this guy's body language just tells you everything you need to know. Anyhoo, back to the match. Alexander stays strong through the opening, landing a dropkick through the ropes to the outside, but Almas fights back, including a great spot where he stops a charge to the corner to spit in Alexander's face before slapping him. That fires up Alexander, who begins raining chops on Almas, which continue throughout the match. Dude is gonna have some bad bruises from this. Almas counters back with a dropkick and a deep northern lights suplex, then lays in an armbar. Alexander gallantly fights out, but Almas trips him up and applies a hanging triangle in the ropes, followed by a Fujiwara armbar. Alexander fights out again, and this time nails a low dropkick to Almas' ankles, followed up with a pair of running forearm shots and his handspring enzuigiri. Almas rolls out to the Danger Zone, which NO WRESTLER SHOULD EVER DO. Cedric Alexander complies with established protocol, however, and dives right the hell out of the ring onto Almas. He sends Almas back in and springboards off the top rope into his massive clothesline. That gets followed with a rolling senton that sets up a split-legged moonsault attempt, but Almas gets out the way and goes for a rollup. Then he decides, "nah, screw this" and single-arm powerbombs Alexander instead for two. Almas goes for the running knee strike, but Alexander dodges that and hits the Lumbar Check! But Almas rolls to the ropes to avoid the pin! Alexander gets tangled in the ropes trying to pull him back in, and Almas takes advantage by pulling the middle rope up into Alexander's junk. That stuns Alexander long enough to set up the hammerlock DDT, and that gets three for Almas. Match Rating: My Highest Possible Recommendation.
Seriously, that is one of the best free TV matches of the year, no doubt. Definitely, definitely worth taking the time to catch. The right guy went over (Alexander's on RAW, he doesn't need the win), it established Almas as a real villain and a guy to watch, and it was just plain fun.
So, good show, and Oh, shit, they got me again!
As is too many times the case, the main event is not the last item for our go-home show. We have one final package recapping the title feud between Joe and Nakamura. If this video package does one thing effectively, it's demonstrate that this match needs some sort of stipulation, like a street fight maybe. If it does two things, it also demonstrates that the line in the song here where the guy speaks "The Devil's calling!" is patently hilarious. So, okay, I guess it does two things.
My music critiques aside, I think this is really going to be a very good show on Saturday, with a lot of good matches coming out of some solid feuds. I didn't even mention the women's title match (which did get discussed somewhere on this show) which features Asuka taking on the returning Mickie James, of all people. So, I'm pretty excited about Takeover, much more so than the dogpile that is Survivor Series. I'll see you all there.