The final match of the month centers around Johnny Gargano, aka Johnny Wrestling. The underdog finally makes it to NXT after years on the independent scene, but can he survive the shark-filled waters at Full Sail? Meanwhile, MMA fighter Shayna Baszler makes the move to WWE, and immediately leaves wreckage everywhere she goes.
There aren’t a lot of characters in the world of professional wrestling that I would put anywhere near the status of The Undertaker, but Aleister Black has a lot of the tools that ‘Taker leveraged into one of the most iconic careers in the history of professional wrestling. Great look, super creepy backstory, solid ring work, mic skills… Even the spelling of his ring name calls up images of one of the most charismatic occultists in history.
WWE: NXT Takeover – Redemption #1 focuses on the enigmatic Aleister Black, covering the period from just before his arrival at Full Sail University through his entire NXT Heavyweight title reign. Black moved pretty quickly up through the ranks, leaving Velveteen Dream and Andrade “Cien” Almas in his wake.
I am always impressed with Dennis Hopeless’ WWE titles, but this chapter is something extra special. Black doesn’t talk much, but when he does, he doesn’t mince words. Most of the narration takes place inside Black’s head, and it’s some seriously dark and twisted stuff. “Bizarre little sacks of meat.” That’s the best description of the locker room talent you’ll read this week.
Rodrigo Lorenzo, who also drew the first couple chapters of the upcoming Undertaker OGN, does a bang-up job with Black’s story. Innovative layout, dynamic action sequences, and fantastic likenesses make for an amazingly engaging read. This imagery in this chapter is right up there with Serg Acuna’s work on the WWE monthly title, and that’s probably the best compliment I can give.
All the installments of this NXT mini have been good. I especially appreciated the tribute paid to The American Dream Dusty Rhodes in the first two chapters. As far as storytelling goes, they’ve been solid, but this last chapter is the best of four. This is the one I’ll remember.
WWE: NXT Takeover – Redemption #1,Boom! Studios, released 26 September 2018. Written by Dennis Hopeless, illustrated by Rodrigo Lorenzo, color by Wesllei Manoel, letters by Jim Campbell, cover by Audrey Mok, subscription variant cover by Marco D’Alfonso.