A Friday fastball special with NXT TakeOver! How high did TakeOver set the bar for WrestleMania this year?
An entire TakeOver card filled with championship matches. No Kassius Ohno jobbing this time around!
I think most people are wise to the fact that Black and Ricochet are done with NXT. But aside from that, the rest of the card is completely up in the air.
NXT is always nice since there’s a lack of linear predictability, since most of the time, all opponents have a good story regardless of who wins.
Let’s see what happened!
- NXT Tag Team Championship Match: War Raiders (c) vs Aleister Black & Ricochet: War Raiders retain via Fallout @18:40 – **** 1/2
- NXT North American Title Match: Matt Riddle vs Velveteen Dream (c): Velveteen Dream retains via Submission Reversal Cradle@17:30 – ****
- WWE UK Championship Match: WALTER vs Pete Dunne (c): WALTER wins via Top Rope Splash @25:30 – **** TITLE CHANGE!!!
- NXT Women’s Championship Match: Kairi Sane vs Bianca Belair vs Shayna Baszler (c) vs Io Shirai: Baszler retains via Kirifuda Clutch @15:40 – *** 3/4
- NXT Championship 2 out of 3 Falls Match: Adam Cole vs Johnny Gargano: Gargano wins 2-1 with Garga-NO Escape @38:10 – **** 1/2
Yes I saw the pre-show, and yes I think that million dollar challenge was cringe beyond cringe. Stereotypical heel crap from a dude dressed like he was sponsored by Ferrero Rocher isn’t really what I call entertaining.
War Raiders vs Air Strike, most people had to expect a good match, but this was tremendous. The Black Mass/Shooting Star Press combination was close enough to even get me to buy it as a finish. Plus the Space Flying Tiger Drop with the Corkscrew Twist was just pretty. Started off a little slow and clunky, then the spotty outside stuff was forgivable playing into a Double Count Out. If this was really Black and Ricochet’s last match in NXT, they definitely put on a classic.
Dream comes out dressed like the Statue of Liberty and proceeds to get his ass kicked most of this match. Dream was saved by the ring ropes at least 4 times, but a Hulk Up spot from Velveteen Dream, including the Big Boot gave him some life. Riddle had Dream dead to rights numerous times and was getting visibly frustrated and using the extent of the 5 count to try and pepper in a little more offense. After a grounded Final Flash, he locked in the Bromission. His frustration got the best of him, since instead of locking in the move more, he tried to get in a few extra strikes allowing Dream the chance to counter into a cradle. Great match from a story telling and moment perspective. Riddle’s undefeated singles streak is over, and Dream is still the champ. Good times.
Well it was smart this match started off a little slow since two great matches preceded this, so you need to give the crowd a chance to catch their breath. This was a hard hitting affair and we saw both men kick out of the usual finishers and WALTER even do moves from the top rope, which are a rarity from him. Pretty solid match. A few hiccups and one noticeable miscue, but overall a old school brawl that eventually brought the crowd to life.
A lot of interesting story wrinkles came through on this match, and Baszler overcoming the odds was a little unexpected, not gonna lie. Io and Kairi having to break up one another’s pinfall attempts and begrudgingly going after each other was good. Belair’s show of power with the Gorilla Press Toss on Io and the Double KOD on the Joshi stars gave her a nice moment. But Shayna in all of her opportunistic glory, just snuck in and tapped out Bianca. Advantageously, the announcers did point out Io still hasn’t gotten a 1 on 1 opportunity. So I guess we know who’s got the best claim to another shot.
It’s a 2 out of 3 falls match. So there’s a lot that went on. Cole got the first fall with the Last Shot. Gargano got the second fall with the Garga-NO Escape. The third one was crazy, spotty, tons of near falls. Undisputed Era eventually came out to try and put Cole over, but Gargano kept kicking out. Fairytale Ending, Panama Sunrise, reDragon did Total Elimination, another Last Shot…Gargano wouldn’t die. He wiped out the rest of the stable and focused on Cole. Eventually Gargano caught Cole in another Garga-NO Escape, kicked off the rope to put it in the middle, and won the Championship! Crazy match, a little too “indy spotfest” to knock my socks completely off, but still a damn good match.
Overall Score: 8.5/10
Great show. Some people will say “of course it was, it was NXT”. NXT isn’t nearly as flawless to me as it is to others. But I can’t find anything bad about this show. The crowd was hot, the matches were fairly crisp, a lot of big moments…just definitely a show to remember. Sets the bar pretty high for all of the shows on WrestleMania weekend.