Ember Moon v Shayna Baszler (NXT Takeover: Philadelphia, 1/27/18)
This was pretty damn fun, mostly down to Shayna's presence and personality. She's still a wee bit rough around the edges, telegraphing when a move she's attempting isn't going to hit, but her kicks and knees land well and she's a believable ass kicker. Her arm work ruled and that stomp to the elbow was disgusting. Moon sold it all real well, too. She was channeling Christian at a couple points with the possible nerve damage and she was really vocal, but not in the "look at my acting chops!" overbearing sort of way (though it maybe bordered on that after the Eclipse spot). The extended fight over the cross armbreaker never got long in the tooth to me and I thought they managed to keep the crowd with them the whole time; totally had them biting on each turn and potential escape and I loved Ember frantically clawing at Shayna's back. Baszler never seemed to have it fully locked in either, so I don't mind them milking a hold that ordinarily should be an instant tap. Also appreciated how Ember really went for it on that roll-up. This wasn't your garden variety schoolboy roll-up, she jumped on Shayna with her whole body weight like it was desperation time and maybe her only shot before her arm got snapped.
Aleister Black v Adam Cole (Extreme Rules) (NXT Takeover: Philadelphia, 1/27/18)
Super fun plunderfest. This really isn't my thing as WWE always manage to make them feel hyper-manufactured and they never really come off organically, but the big spots were huge, the set-ups didn't totally take me out of the moment and we even got a little plasma to boot. The story of Black not resorting to using weapons because he was badass enough on his own was kind of cooky, but the moment he finally went fuck it and grabbed some furniture was pretty fun. This is of course 2018 so the furniture was set up in elaborate fashion and it wasn't Duggan grabbing a loaded glove and smashing someone in the face, but still. I guess it worked. The heel setting up a table because the crowd want it might seem counterproductive on the surface, but in your modern smark-heavy landscape I appreciated him knowing his audience well enough, and more than that actually acknowledging their existence. Nobody in WWE jaws with people in the crowd or stalls or interacts with fans anymore, so I thought that was cool. The fact a wrestler playing to the crowd like that felt fresh maybe says something about the state of where we're at today, but that's a whole other discussion. Cole's electric chair bump on the ladder was crazy, the double knees through the table looked great and the death valley driver over the chairs was ludicrous. Cole is an absolute nut job. The finish with the run-ins and stuff was pretty overbooked, but if you're going to do an ECW-style brawl in Philly then you might as well go all the way. Really commit to that nostalgia pop, you know? I wasn't going to bother with this, but I liked it a lot.