First, I’ll say that I do love the throwback design of the arena as they did succeed in bringing that old school feel back. But I do believe this wold have been much better received in front of a live audience and not a bunch of throw-ins that resemble Chuck E. Cheese robots.
Mia Yim, Tegan Nox and Shotzi Blackheart def. Candice LeRae, Raquel Gonzalez and Dakota Kai
This was a pretty solid match to open up everything, although I do think that there were certain sections that looked a little clunky. Early on, I also think the referee counted to three early and someone forgot to kick out. The main story here was the Nox’s aggression against Dakota Kai carrying over, and I thought that carried the match pretty beautifully.
Overall, this was the easy match to set the tone for the PPV, and it was pretty okay throughout mostly. **3/4
Finn Balor def. Damian Priest
I certainly like the aggressive version of Finn Balor, as there is just a different intensity when he isn’t playing around. And apparently, with this victory, he has set a new Takeover record for most victories at Takeover with his 11th. That’s kind of crazy considering that from summer 2016 to the fall of last year, he was a part of the main roster.
Anyways, I enjoyed the match, and Damian Priest stepped up to the plate a big way here, especially with the way he was able to withstand big bumps. Diving back first onto the steel steps on the outside was brutal watching it live.
This is another match that I feel like would be remembered significantly better in front of a rabid Takeover crowd. Despite that, it is definitely a very, very good watch and I think Balor made Priest look like a star here, even though I may not be all that too high on him. ***3/4
Keith Lee (C) def. Johnny Gargano – NXT North American Championship
I’ve always wanted to see these two fight one on one because I’ve always wanted to see what they could do in a ring together. I gotta say, that I think these two delivered, although I was expecting a near five star classic in the back of my mind. We all knew coming into this match that Johnny was going to do everything in his power to get the advantage over someone who is basically double his size. I loved how he went about doing it. Instead of focusing on the limbs, he was focusing on his eyesight, which was magnificent.
I was also thinking that Johnny would use the distractions provided by Mia Yim and Candice LeRae would give the victory to Johnny, but Lee’s sheer strength was way too much for Johnny to overcome. The dynamic between big vs. small worked fabulously here, and it really made both men change their strategies and adapt to what both men were trying to do.
Again, I was kind of expecting a bit more and I think there were a lot of gimmicks that kind of made the match less than what I was expecting, but I can’t complain with the end result. Compared to some of the classics Johnny has put on NXT Takeover in the past, this is probably in the middle tier. ****
Adam Cole (C) def. Velveteen Dream – NXT Championship (Backlot Brawl)
So, I’m not sure how I feel about this. WWE’s dramatizations in the COVID-19 era continue. This one was kind of a mixed bag for me. There were some crazy bumps taken by both men, but at the same time, I think they also went a bit over-the-top with some of the dramatics.
I must say that I am shocked that they didn’t have Velveteen win the title here. You’d think that they would give him a run with the championship with all the guys Cole has defeated. It’s as if Cole is starting to run out of credible challengers that could convincingly take the championship off of him.
I suppose the match itself was fine, but I’m not really a fan of backyard brawl kind of matches when it comes to championships. You’d also think Velveteen would have a better contignency plan in place to counterract the rest of the Undisputed Era.
Overall, I’d call it solid, but I wouldn’t remember what happened in a week’s time. ***
Karrion Cross def. Tomasso Ciampa
Well, I guess that’s one way to put someone over. I’m not sure how Cross’ character will translate in front of a live crowd, but this was a pretty strong way of having him essentially defeat one of NXT’s most noticeable faces in an extended squash. Personally, I think it’s kind of a cop-out when you consider the amount of punishment that Ciampa has taken in matches before, so if you’re asking me to genuinely believe Ciampa went from breaking his body against Johnny in a 50 minute match to losing to a newcomer in a sleeper in five minutes, well, I wouldn’t buy it.
I never though I’d see the day where Ciampa would serve as the cool-down match before the main event, but this is 2020 and times have changed. After this, you might as well just call Ciampa up to the main roster. I think he’s served his purpose. Overall, the match served its purpose, and it was okay. **
Io Shirai def. Charlotte Flair (C) and Rhea Ripley – NXT Women’s Championship
This was a beautifully executed main event, and really showcased the skills of all three women involved. Flair showed her veteran instincts and opportunistic nature by allowing Shirai and Ripley to go at it at first and then only intervening when she felt she could get an advantage. Ripley was relentless in her assaults and Shirai was just flying all over the place. All three of these styles clashed against each other and made for a very well done main event.
I do hope that Rhea is okay, though, because that last moonsault by Shirai looks like it messed up Ripley’s neck pretty badly. It was kind of a tough angle to perfectly execute it, so let’s just hope Ripley is sore and nothing more.
As for Shirai, a hearty congratulations is in order as this was a long time coming. It kinds of makes you wonder why you put the title on Flair if you were going to give it to Shirai. I guess it kind of shows that Flair never needed the championship to begin with. She just should be there to elevate the talent that’s already present. And with Asuka, Hikaru Shida and Shirai all being women’s champions across respective brands, can someone say Japan takeover? ****1/4