Keith Lee (C) def. Dominic Dijakovic – NXT North American Championship
These two never cease to amaze me. It’s one thing to talk about big men performing like cruiserweights, but if there is anything that these two have proven, it’s that they have a lot of chemistry. We know that these two have been going at it for a while, but there are just certain superstars that you know make a good pair no matter how many times they get in the ring with each other. Gargano and Ciampa. Undisputed Era and Moustache Mountain. And then there’s these two.
What I loved the most about this match is that they didn’t just stick to their abilities to move like smaller wrestlers. They combined their tremendous strength ALONG with their high-flying moves. The reason why I felt this was important was because it showcased their versatility. Therefore, whenever they showcased a feat of great strength, it made their highflying feats feel all the more special.
However, I couldn’t help but notice how above and beyond they went in this match. Did you see that flying senton Dominick did on the outside? I absolutely lost it. You could just visibly tell that whenever both men get in the ring with each other, they force themselves to go a step further. You want to reverse a chokeslam by landing on your feet? Well I’ll just do a top rope Spanish Fly. It was that kind of one-upsmanship that you have to appreciate in these two.
The match admittedly started out kind of slow and botchy, and I was afraid that maybe the pressure of it being each of these two’s first singles Takeover match may have been getting to them. However, it took them no time to prove me wrong, and once these two got serious, we were in for a quite a treat. The post-match appreciation put it over the top. Everything from the in-ring work to the storytelling of resilience was absolutely amazing. Prayers up to Nox and Kai for trying to top this one. ****1/2
Dakota Kai def. Tegan Nox – Street Fight
First and foremost, we should get the obvious out of the way. The real winner of this match was the table. It’s one thing for a table to just not break, but not only did the table not break, but the table bent forward. For some reason, the table tilting over without it breaking made it seem significantly more painful. Hopefully Nox is okay.
Anyways, let’s get this out of the way. What a phenomenal effort by the women here. I don’t think we have to worry about NXT talents getting the message that they should work a bit stiffer in that report we saw. These two absolutely brought it, and you could be fooled into thinking this match was a shoot based on some of their offense.
My favorite part of the match was right before the end when Nox was absolutely loosing it and was seeking to do some serious damage. I love it when faces are so obsessed with getting revenge that they start to go insane. Nox sold that well here.
As for the interference, I thought it was rather weak. I would have been much more content if we had a clean finish because Nox was so obsessed with getting even that she made a mistake. It actually looked like that was the route they were going. Deflating finish aside, this was a beautifully done women’s match. ****
Finn Balor def. Johnny Gargano
It’s literally impossible for Gargano to have a bad match at a takeover. I think it’s in his genetics. Most people in our predictions panel had Balor winning because he was the heel that still needed to re-establish his presence in NXT. Plus, we all know about Gargano’s poor record at Takeover events. So it’s safe to say there were multiple things working against him.
In a technical sense, this match was very good. Gargano and Balor just know how to do things in the ring at an elite level. Balor also works with a visibly heightened intensity when he’s a heel, and it showed here. The ingenuity that both men showed in the ring to counter each other’s moves was awesome.
My biggest problem with the match, however, was the length. This is an issue that I’ve had with many of Johnny’s matches on Takeover. I understand he’s arguably the greatest performer at Takeover events we’ve ever seen. However, this match did not need to run nearly half an hour long. For the work and story that they were trying to tell, it could have easily been accomplished in half the time.
The match was actually so long that I was actually dozing off for a while. Now, form what I was able to watch when I was awake, it was very well done. However, I think it would have been much better if we got to the point much quicker. Balor’s corner kick to Gargano off the announcer’s table was pretty, too. ****
Rhea Ripley (C) def. Bianca Belair – NXT Women’s Championship
I don’t think that the finish of this match was ever in question. I know some were tossing around the theory that maybe Charlotte would face both Ripley and Belair, but a one on one match was always going to be the end result.
Anyways, if you ask me, the quality of this match was right near the match that proceeded it. What I think carried this match was Bianca’s ferocious energy and her strength showcasing. It’s also always so fun to see her use her hair as a weapon. I also appreciated how Ripley was trying to get her finisher in all match long, but had to improvise and wait until she had Bianca in position on the top rope before hitting it.
We got a very good back and forth match between these two and got a WrestleMania match setup right after. The match accomplished everything it needed to. ***3/4
Matt Riddle and Pete Dunne def. The Undisputed Era (C) – NXT Tag Team Championships
This tag team match was interesting because it took an unorthodox turn of events. Usually, when you see the face team miscommunicate and start strike each other by accident, they end up losing the title and turn on each other after.
NHowever, I felt that to be too predictable a finish. In this match, Riddle accidentally speared Dunne and Dunne knocked Riddle on the outside. Yet, they were somehow able to win the match without any signs of conflict afterwards.
The match was pretty damn awesome if you ask me. The star of this match was Kyle O’Reilly. His striking ability and grappling prowess was on full display here. The near falls in this match was also spot on as well. From the breaking up of their submission moves to the finish, this is about as entertaining a tag team match will get.
I’m not sure how I feel about Riddle and Dunne being tag team champions, but I’m certainly not mad. They are two of the top superstars NXT has to offer, but if they end up working out, it will do wonders for NXT’s tag team division, which has been getting anemic recently. Anyways, fantastic match. ****1/2
Adam Cole (C) def. Tomasso Ciampa – NXT Championship
I really wanted to love this match, and for the live crowd, it probably was an awesome experience with all of the near-falls. However, they got into the same trap of thinking that no-selling major impact moves and just kicking out of everything at the end makes a great match.
Don’t get me wrong. Aesthetically speaking, the match was pretty good. It had all the bells and whistles of every NXT Takeover main event you’ve seen for the past two years. Pretty much checked every box. However, the finish is something that I found to be way overbooked. First, you bring out the Undisputed Era for about 3 minutes worth of distraction that eventually led to Ciampa just taking all of them out and kicking out anyways. The real finish fo the match didn’t come until Gargano came and turned heel once again.
You could have easily slashed the UE coming out because their interference didn’t accomplish anything. In fact, why would you bring out Roderick Strong to play interference if you weren’t planning to bring out Velveteen Dream, who everyone was expecting?
The Gargano heel turn did come as a surprise, but in lieu of his loss to Balor and his failure to reclaim the NXT Title from Adam Cole, a turn does make sense. Although, the dynamic of a heel Gargano and a face Ciampa is kind of weird. Truth be told, I’m still not entirely over their feud from almost two years ago because it felt like they were fighting at every Takeover. But hey, I’m interested to see how that plays out.
In addition, the match was over half an hour. Two matches prior we had another near half hour match with Balor and Gargano. By the time the main event came, I was just absolutely exhausted. Don’t get me wrong. Match still rocked for the most part. However, I felt like they could have gotten to the point much quicker. This match really didn’t have anything you couldn’t have seen in the previous matches either. Fans in live attendance got their money’s worth, though. ***1/2
On paper, this card looked to stack up with Takeover: New York as the best Takeover ever produced. After watching the entire card, it definitely felt short of that mark. However, this show is still an easy thumbs up and a high recommendation to all who watched. That’s how high the standard NXT has set for itself.
The opener was bonkers. The tag team action was splendid. Both women’s matches killed it. The main event produced a heel turn and another feud. If you love NXT, then this show produced more of the same, and that’s a very good thing.