The best thing about “TakeOver Aftermath” (as Mauro Ranallo calls them) episodes is how you end up watching the last few minutes of the TakeOver they’re aftermath-ing before they come on...
For a more detailed recap, check our live results post here.
A pre-open video package runs down everything that happened at TakeOver: New Orleans. Kairi Sane def. Lacey Evans via pinfall following the In-Sane Elbow. We see highlights of the North American Championship Ladder match and Tag Titles/Dusty Classic finals, followed by a non-interview where Roderick Strong convinces Adam Cole not to answer Cathy Kelley’s question about what happened in Undisputed ERA’s second win from Saturday night. Authors of Pain’s call-up to Raw and dismissal of Paul Ellering is addressed, and there’s a nice recap of Johnny Gargano’s career-saving win over Tommaso Ciampa, followed by news that Johnny Wrestling will be on next week’s show to address the Full Sail faithful.
After a bit of a rough start to the opening match, I really enjoyed this outing from both women. Evans appeared to be thinking through her every move in the early going - understandable jitters when you’re relatively new and opening the show on WrestleMania weekend in front of 15,000 rabid fans - but settled in to a nice groove. The First Lady of NXT showed off a few impressive moves (the handstand bronco buster in particular is a nice twist on WWE’s love of having tall women do moves that show off their legs), demonstrated a grasp of the psychology of the match (the neck/shoulder work on Sane didn’t factor into the finish, but it gave Kairi something to power through on her comeback) and worked her character throughout.
The Pirate Princess also responded to the crowd, delivering one of her more animated finishing sequences in recent memory. Her war cry after recovering following the Interceptor spear really motivated the crowd and added energy to the whole affair. Kairi is likely going on to face the new champ soon, so the outcome was never really in doubt. They were booked to look evenly matched, though, and Evans came across as a totally believable threat, so hopefully they have plans for her. The character lends itself to easily setting up matches, so I imagine we will see much more of her going forward.
Otherwise, the bulk of the first half of the show (and the second) was highlights. I recall these episodes usually having a little more narrative meat on their bones in terms of fallout interviews and even a new segment or two setting up angles from the next taping, but this one was almost entirely dedicated to reminding us what happened last Saturday.
New Women’s Champ Shayna Baszler’s win is chronicled, followed by an interview with The Queen of Spades where she says she doesn’t want people hopping on her “war wagon” now that she’s got the belt, and saying the division will be all about wrestling with her on top. Ember Moon’s call-up is covered, as is Aleister Black’s NXT Title win over Andrade “Cien” Almas. Clips of No Way Jose and The IIconics main roster debuts are shown, and we’re told Killian Dain will face Lars Sullivan again next week. Heavy Machinery vs. Tino Sabatelli and Riddick Moss ends in a no contest when War Raiders run-in and destroy everyone.
Pretty good interview from Baszler. Her line about things changing because people won’t focus on how their hair and make-up look with her as champ was a good heel line, since while NXT’s had those kinds of characters in the women’s division before, she hasn’t dealt with any it would apply to, so this was just her stereotyping performers she sees as inferior competition, anyway. Ember’s explanation for suddenly being okay leaving after Shayna choked her out and took her belt was pretty wishy-washy, but the issues with Moon’s character are some other recapper’s problem now - hey, Brigade*!
The second and final match of the episode was alright, but I can’t say anything really stood out from what we’ve already seen as these teams traded wins over the last few months. This was about getting to the War
Machine Raiders debut, and it worked. Since they didn’t talk and attacked the fan favorites and the rudos, we didn’t learn anything specific about their characters or whether they’ll be faces, heels or tweeners. Smart to let them settle in before trying to force an alignment on the NXT Universe, especially if you’re going to try to get a popular indie act over as bad guys. Also smart to send AoP up before Hanson and Rowe arrived, but I remain puzzled over why SAnitY didn’t show up on Raw or SmackDown this week. Maybe they’ll just get promoted in the Shakeup next week.
Regardless, this was a nice treat to get the crowd fired up for the main card on Saturday, and a good primer for fans unfamiliar with the former ROH and IWGP Tag Champs on what to expect from War Raiders.
* In all seriousness, thanks to Brigade for stepping in and reviewing TakeOver: New Orleans for us last weekend while I rushed to cover the main events of Supercard of Honor XII on a busy night. He did his usual stellar job, which I definitely agreed with in aggregate. There were details we differed on, but... I tend to write at least 2000 - 3000 words about the black-and-yellow brand every week here at cSs, so you’ll be getting my take on all those matches and angles over the coming weeks if you stick around.
As mentioned above, there was nothing wrong with this episode. If for some reason you skipped TakeOver: New Orleans, well... I really don’t understand why you’d watch this if you didn’t, and would recommend taking three hours to watch one of the best top-to-bottom show in recent memory, but... this’ll get you caught up on the major developments. And the two matches we got were both enjoyable and should have ramifications going forward. But outside skimming to those (or just watching the above YouTube clips from them), there’s not much you wouldn’t be safe skipping.