With a long, deeply personal story also on the card, the NXT Title was not the last match at TakeOver: New Orleans on Sat., April 7 in Smoothie King Center.
It was personal for Aleister Black after Andrade “Cien” Almas beat him down in the build to this match, however. And The Bellicose Brawler took it right to the champ in the early going. He even seemed to have accounted for Almas’ business associate, Zelina Vega.
.@WWEAleister wastes NO TIME bringing the fight to @AndradeCienWWE! #NXTTakeOver #NXTChampionship pic.twitter.com/z1GsHerUoE— WWE Universe (@WWEUniverse) April 8, 2018
But as soon as he turned his back on the floor, Vega flew and sent him into the ring steps with a head scissors takedown.
.@Zelina_VegaWWE takes matters into her own hands as she ATTACKS @WWEAleister from ring side! #NXTTakeOver pic.twitter.com/95eaPxzxci— WWE (@WWE) April 8, 2018
That put Andrade in the driver’s seat, and the beatdown - with a focus on Black’s arm (to set up the hammerlock DDT finisher) was on. After a couple rope hung armbars, Aleister finally found an answer - with a high knee in response to a jump from the top by the champion.
A flurry of kicks and sweeps put Almas down, and the challenger stayed aggressive... but Cien (and his manager) had answers for pretty much everything the Dutchman threw at him. They had each other scouted. Black rose up to grab a leg when Andrade tried for double-knees in the corner. When Aleister went for a springboard, Cien shoved him to the floor and corkscrewed onto his opponent on the floor.
Vega conned the referee by giving Almas the belt, creating an opening for Zelina to slide in and hit a spike rana on Black... but he kicked out at two!
She did it again...— WWE Universe (@WWEUniverse) April 8, 2018
...but it's NOT ENOUGH to help @AndradeCienWWE put away @WWEAleister! #NXTTakeOver #NXTChampionship @Zelina_VegaWWE pic.twitter.com/RW2b4oAeyi
Then, after Aleister landed his Black Mass finisher, Vega put his foot on the ropes to save the match. She got involved again to set up a rope-hung double stomp to the apron, but follow-up double knees still didn’t put Black away!
Nearfalls were the name of the game, and that frustration drove Zelina to try to get involved one too many times. Black dodged a leap, and she landed in Almas’ arms. He turned into Black Mass, and we had our third new champ of the night.
New champ, and even in defeat, Almas’ streak of phenomenal matches continued.
You can find all the results from TakeOver: New Orleans here.