Draft Strategy & Defense
Favorite Pick: When Revival vs. DIY fell all the way back to me at pick #16, I was shocked. It is an all time great WWE tag team match and I never thought I had a shot at it. I felt I got two ***** in my first two picks, which isn’t easy when your second pick is at the end of round two.
Least Favorite Pick: I took Almas vs. Roode just because of Roode’s debut and how amazing his entrance was that night. I was there live and it swept over the entire arena. That said, I could have gotten better quality of match here I am sure but the temptation was too strong and… glorious!
Defense: Honestly, my gameplan was pretty simple in this draft. Sit back and take the best value on the board each time. The only other strategy I employed was trying to at least get matches from the key NXT stalwarts to help fill out my card. I wanted to ensure I had representation from Balor, Asuka, Joe, Almas, etc. but I was sure to not risk the quality of my card just to do so.
Best Draft Not My Own: I thought Logan had a really nice showing but I am going to give this one to Jacob. Almas/Gargano is my favorite NXT match ever and even though I could have drafted it I tried to stay objective and took a consensus all timer first overall. Pairing that with Undisputed Era vs. Moustache Mountain was a strong start to a rock solid showing.
Favorite Pick: Finn Balor vs. Kevin Owens – Takeover: Brooklyn For an incredible main event match between two stars, I thought this was a steal in round five. Also, Owens has about four Takeover matches, and only two I would consider great, so that only added to the value.
Least Favorite Pick: Shayna Baszler vs Nikki Cross – Takeover: Chicago II This is a totally fine match, but I love Riddle and really wanted to grab Riddle/Ohno from War Games II for the moment. I hoped I could hold off since it wasn’t much of a match, though obviously I should have taken it in round 14.
Defense: I tried to keep my philosophy pretty simple for this one. I knew that since there are a ton of great Takeover matches, everyone involved would get great matches, so I had to try to differentiate my lineup. I tried to get a variety of wrestlers and match styles, and sometimes put that above going for best possible match each round. For as synonymous as some of these wrestlers are with NXT, many of them don’t have many Takeover matches. For example, Becky Lynch only has a couple of Takeover matches, and I got one, which strengthens my lineup. I think I did a decent job of following through on my plan, as I have most of the big NXT stars (both male and female) in at least one spot, a nice variety of tag and singles, and didn’t sacrifice much match quality in the process.
Best Draft Not My Own: If I judge based on my own draft philosophy that variety is the spice of life, Steve Riddle did a great job. He covered the recent greatness of Gargano and the Undisputed Era, while still making room for classics like Cesaro vs Zayn. Also, he just ranked the top 25 Takeover matches (plug!) so the dude did his research.
Favorite Pick: Sasha Banks vs Bayley – Takeover: Brooklyn My favorite pick of the draft is my first round pick of Sasha Banks vs Bayley from Takeover: Brooklyn. I knew that with my first pick I had to choose something that was more than just a great match, because when it comes to NXT just picking a great match that got a high star rating isn’t enough as the majority of matches in NXT check that box, I had to pick a match that was both historic and brought out strong emotion from everyone watching it and the match that best depicted both of those those qualities was Sasha vs Bayley. Although there had been other really good women’s matches on Takeover before this, it was the masterpiece that was Sasha vs Bayley that really felt like the spark that lit the “Women’s Revolution” fire, on that night in Brooklyn they showed that the women could indeed put on matches of equal quality as the men (and if given the right circumstances can far exceed the quality of match the men put on) and can draw out that same roller coaster of emotions from the fans. This was one of those crazy back and forth emotional matches that after it’s over you feel like you want to cry tears of joy as it reminds you why you fell in love with pro wrestling and just how beautiful this art form can be when it is done right and that is why this is my favorite pick of the draft.
Least Favorite Pick: Enzo Amore vs Sylvester Lefort – Takeover: Fatal 4 Way I guess I can’t say this is too much of a least favorite as it was my last pick and there wasn’t much left to choose from but I have to choose it as my worst just because it involves Enzo and I strongly detest anything having to do with that yapping chihuahua. The reason I did pick it over the few other matches that were left was because of two reasons, the first is that this was the feud that introduced the world to the F-A-B-U-L-O-U-S Carmella who was the hairdresser that Enzo and Big Cass visited and received the special hair removal cream from which would after the match between Enzo and Lefort would be dumped on the head of Lefort’s partner Marcus Louis causing him to lose both his hair and his eyebrows. The other reason was because the whole hair cream angle that they did was a modern take on the famous angle between Buddy Roberts and Iceman Parsons from World Class in 1983 where Buddy Roberts was the victim of the hair cream and lost all of his hair, any time modern wrestling takes an old angle from the territory days and finds a way to make it feel new it’s always a lot of fun to watch.
Defense: As I said before when it comes to drafting NXT matches you have to have a different strategy than just picking great matches because all matches in NXT are great and everyone will have amazing matches on their draft roster, so I wanted to try my best to pick some unique matches that were one time only such as Aleister Black vs Hideo Itami, Austin Aries vs Shinsuke Nakamura, Jushin Liger vs Tyler Breeze, and probably the best Mickie James match ever when she took on Asuka in her return match to WWE. I also wanted to make sure I was able to get one of only three NXT UK matches that were available as I have really enjoyed watching that show every week, I will admit that Walter vs Dunne was probably the last of those three matches I wanted as I really love me some Toni Storm and Rhea Ripley and the Bate vs Dunne match was one of my top matches of 2017, but with that said Walter vs Dunne is still a fantastic match and if I couldn’t get those other two matches then I am more than happy to choose this match in their place. My other regret is not picking a DIY match when I had the chance as they were incredible as a team and had some true classics with Revival and AOP, but at least I was able to pick up one of their matches where they were against each other from last year. Other than those two regrets I am happy about the matches I picked and feel my roster is deserving to win this edition of Draft Wars.
Best Draft Not My Own: Logan Crosland Here is the method I go through when picking the best draft that isn’t my own, I go through each person’s draft roster and remove all the matches that I either don’t care for or don’t remember and the one person who has the most matches left will earn the right to be my pick for best draft that isn’t my own. On this edition of the Draft Wars it was Logan who earned this honor as he had 11 of his 16 matches still on the board. Logan had a very strong start as his first three picks are three of my favorite Takeover matches ever, especially the Dunne vs. Bate match which I had as one of my top five matches of 2017.
Favorite Pick: I don’t have one pick that I would consider my favorite, but I instead have a trio of matches to highlight and that is the eight person tag from Orlando, Roode/Dillinger, and Jose/Aries. As we were getting to the second half of the draft, it was all about drafting solid undercard matches to fill out your supercard. These were three matches that I had my eye on and I would’ve been happy just to get at least two of them, but the fact that I was able to snag all three was a major bonus and I think helps add value to my card.
Least Favorite Pick: On the flip side, I don’t actually have a pick that I didn’t like because I feel I got good quality for every pick, though part of that maybe because I had watched every Takeover for my top 25 list. If anything, I may not have picked three straight women’s matches in a row as I could’ve spread them out a little bit, but it was fine in the end as I feel good about my card. In terms of who had the best draft besides myself, I will once again have to go with Tyler even though he has had a habit at throwing some shade my way.
Defense: Now going into this draft, the strategy was a lot different in that instead of drafting whole cards now we were in essence building our ultimate Takeover card. The good thing about Takeover is that the quality of the shows are usually on the high end for the majority of them, so it was a matter of just making sure to grab as many great matches as you could while then balancing out the rest of the card with some solid matches. I think that I did a very good job in filling out a good card with some high end matches, and I did want to make sure that I at least snagged one match from Phoenix as I was in attendance for that show.
Best Draft Not My Own: Obviously, positioning is key in a draft and being able to draft two in a row is a good draw to have. Because of this, Tyler was able to snatch up some great choices and he built himself a solid card. On that note, I also want to mention JT as he also had that same advantage since he had the first overall pick in the draft. He set the tone early by picking Zayn/Nakamura first and was able to build a very strong card. This is one where I will say that everyone built good cards and I would want to watch them anytime.
Favorite Pick: My first and favorite pick was Johnny Gargano vs. Tommaso Ciampa from Takeover: New Orleans. I was lucky enough to be in New Orleans to see this one live. It is the birthplace of my love for Johnny, Ciampa and NXT in general. I knew nothing of their history, but the emotion and storytelling in the ring was just captivating. These two wrestlers are pure magic together and they have yet to disappoint me. (I miss you, Ciampa!)
Least Favorite Pick: My last and least favorite pick was Rhyno vs. Baron Corbin from Takeover: Unstoppable for Baron Corbin reasons, although I do find him much easier to watch in NXT.
Defense: I found this draft both easier and more difficult than the previous one. Easier because it was shorter and there are so many great matches to choose from but more difficult because a good deal of my most beloved matches were chosen by my draft family before I could get to them! I am particularly fond of my pick of the Tag Match from Chicago II and the Storm vs. Ripley showdown at Takeover: Blackpool. I feel like I have an interesting and fun mixture of singles and tags and I like my women’s representation as well.
Best Draft Not My Own: This is a tough one but I gotta give it to Logan for those first three picks, especially the ladder match from New Orleans.
Favorite Pick: Gotta love getting an epic Ciampa/Gargano showdown anywhere in the draft, so just seeing it go off the board late in the first round was a victory for me. Almas/McIntyre and Black/Sullivan were both steals where I got them, I’m a mark for heel turn swerves so I proudly targeted and landed the three way tag from NOLA, and Dream/Riddle is one of my favorite matches of all time and I got it in the 3rd round so huzzah for me.
Least Favorite Pick: I’m really bummed that I didn’t end up with any of the Charlotte/Sasha/Bayley feud in my draft but it never worked out in my draft position. Blake & Murphy vs. the Vaudevillians was definitely a weak pick where I took it, but honestly I wanted it more because it was from one of my favorite Takeovers more than for any sort of match quality.
Defense: Above all else my goal was to get a good relative sample of NXT’s most memorable matches and characters sprinkled throughout my draft. I think I accomplished this by starting out with NXT’s MVP Johnny Gargano in two matches followed up by a compilation of hot crowds and NXT hallmarks of hot women’s and tag team championship matches. I even got memorable hasbeens like Enzo & Cass, Tye Dillinger, and Adam Rose on the card.
Best Draft Not My Own: Logan. The ladder match from NOLA, Dunne/Bate, and Dream/Black are as awesome of a top three as you can get (though shout out to Trent for Bayley/Sasha, Ciampa/Gargano, and Alpha/Revival.) But as I looked through Logan’s draft to find a reason not to pick it, the heavy hitters just kept on coming: Almas/Black, Dream/Ricochet, Neville/Kidd, Ciampa in the 5th round, a DIY match in the TENTH round. Then I saw he took two Baron Corbin matches so nevermind.
Favorite Pick: My favorite pick of this draft was my first pick, which was the six way ladder match from NXT Takover: New Orleans for NXT North American Championship. This to date is my favorite match I’ve ever seen live. It was incredibly brutal and just an all out war from start to finish. Adam Cole (BAY BAY) was able to outlast the other five competitors and become the inaugural NXT North American Champion.
Least Favorite Pick: My last pick was also my least favorite pick. Honestly I don’t really remember that much of the match itself, but I know in hindsight most of Baron Corbin’s matches don’t age well. I actually was a big Corbin fan at the time as I thought he was a badass and the End of Days as a finisher was super cool.
Defense: I, along with everyone else in this draft, always tried to get the best available match when it came to be my turn, but I always knew I was going to take the ladder match first if it was available as it’s my favorite NXT match. After this I knew Bate/Dunne is one of the consensus best NXT matches according to a lot of people. From there I took three Aleister Black matches in a row, he is one of my favorite guys, and I was very happy with the ones I got. From there I had to get a Ricochet match and his vs. Velveteen Dream was available so I nabbed it up. I knew I needed to get some solid women’s matches and was glad to nab up Bayley/Asuka from Dallas and later Asuka/Ember from Orlando. I was also happy to get Kidd/Neville and Zayn/Breeze from the original Takeover as those are two early classics in the NXT pantheon. I feel like the rest of my picks were a good mix and match of good title matches and a couple of good debuts and squashes. All in all I was glad to get a couple of my favorites along with some hidden gems and was quite satisfied overall
Best Draft Not My Own: I would have to say Jenny had my favorite draft other than mine. She was able to get Gargano/Ciampa, which was another amazing match I was able to witness live, as well as the original WarGames match, of which I am huge fan.
Favorite Pick: I love all my early picks, grabbing two iconic matches with my first picks, but I think Ricochet vs. Johnny Gargano at the end of round three was a steal. They tore the house down in Phoenix, flirting with five stars and giving me great value at that pick.
Least Favorite Pick:All my picks were great, the question is an insult! Since I picked this match last, I’ll go with the Ascension vs.Kalisto & El Local from the original Takeover. Still, my strategy here was to avoid Baron Corbin matches, so I still consider this a good pick.
Defense: Picking from the 8th position, I was able to snag the greatest tag-team match in company history in the Revival vs. #DIY ⅔ falls match from Toronto and follow that up with arguably the greatest women’s match in company history in the Bayley vs. Sasha Banks 30-minute Ironwoman match from Respect. From there I stocked up on great matches from the last year and half or so with Ricochet vs. Gargano from Phoenix, Black vs. Cole from Philadelphia, Black vs. Gargano from WarGames II and Cole vs. Ricochet from Brooklyn IV. From there I took best available resulting in a card that represented various eras of NXT. I don’t think I took a bad match and I was able to avoid any Baron Corbin matches, so I’m thrilled with how my draft went.
Best Draft Not My Own: If I were ranking the drafts I’d say Logan Crosland finishes a distant second to the devilishly handsome drafter typing this up. Logan grabbed great matches early with the North American ladder match and then the fantastic Tyler Bate vs. Pete Dunne UK title match from Chicago. I thought Logan did a great job getting value late, too, particularly with the Breeze vs. Zayn match (which he stole right before I was going to pick it.) Anytime I was debating between a couple matches, it seemed like Logan snagged the one I passed up and he grabbed a few just before I could take them, as well, so since great minds think alike, I’ll give the silver medal to Logan.