In one of the hardest-hitting NXT Championship Matches in recent memory, Aleister Black managed to wrest the title from devious brawler Andrade “Cien” Almas, though not before the champion and challenger beat each other black and blue over the course of 20 minutes in a battle that saw each Superstar empty the entirety of their proverbial bag of tricks.
For Black, that was the blistering kicks and strikes — to say nothing of his otherworldly presence — he uses to clear the way for his ironclad Black Mass kick to the face. Standing opposite the same man he defeated in his NXT televised debut one year prior, Black picked up where he left off, raining punishment down upon the champion at every possible opportunity. All that El Ídolo could do was try to dodge Black Mass by hook or by crook, as Black’s multifaceted offense made him tough for the champion to pin down.
This is not to say Almas was helpless in the contest — his targeting of Black’s arm to set up the Hammerlock DDT was expert — but it’s no secret that Almas’ business manager Zelina Vega has been the cornerstone upon which his reinvention and title reign were built. Her presence paid dividends in Almas’ matches against the likes of Drew McIntyre and Johnny Gargano in prior months, and it did so again in New Orleans. Vega interfered no less than four times in the title match: administering a pair of hurricanranas to Black that stopped him in his tracks, placing Almas’ foot on the ropes after the challenger landed Black Mass, and tying Black’s ankle up on the ropes — a maneuver that allowed the champion to place his opponent in the Tree of Woe and execute a massive double-stomp.
Unfortunately for El Ídolo, Black slowly wised up to the champion’s game as the match went long. So when Vega went for her boldest interference yet — a crossbody off the top rope after Black kicked out of the Hammerlock DDT — the challenger simply ducked, leaving Almas to catch Vega in his arms, and spin unwittingly straight into the path of Black Mass. Three seconds later, Black was the winner; fittingly, he becomes the lucky 13th man to hold the NXT Championship. Now, the devil is finally off his back, and anyone wishing to enter the NXT promised land must first pass the cross-legged demon sitting at its gates.
In other Bouts:
Adam Cole def. EC3, The Velveteen Dream, Lars Sullivan, Killian Dain and Ricochet to become the first-ever NXT North American Champion
Shayna Baszler def. Ember Moon to become the new NXT Women’s Champion
The Undisputed ERA def. The Authors of Pain and WWE United Kingdom Champion Pete Dunne & Roderick Strong to retain the NXT Tag Team Titles and win the 2018 Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic
Aleister Black def. Andrade “Cien” Almas to become the new NXT Champion
Johnny Gargano def. Tommaso Ciampa in an Unsanctioned Match