With WWE NXT TakeOver: Portland 2020 concluded, it’s time to look back on what happened and assess the damage, praise the positives and talk about what went down.
Per usual, at the end of this post, you’ll see my regular Smack Talk Pay-Per-Viewpoint post-show podcast, which reviews the event in more detail, but for those who want a more condensed version of my thoughts, I present to you my “quicker than a hiccup” reaction to the different parts of the evening:
NXT North American Championship Match: Keith Lee (c) vs. Dominik Dijakovic:
How good was this?! These two always tear the house down and it’s awesome that even after half a dozen matches, they’re still doing new things.
Lee’s hurricanrana. Dijakovic jumping over the top rope and Lee catching him. The corkscrew moonsault. A C4 off the top rope. Dijakovic’s sprinboard senton. COME ON.
It’s rare that two people have such great chemistry that the “fight forever” chants go on and I fully agree with it. At this point, I have to just be excited any time in the future they say these two will lock horns, whether it be on NXT or at WrestleMania some day.
The right man won and I loved how they had the show of respect at the end.
Street Fight: Dakota Kai vs. Tegan Nox:
Big fan of Dakota Kai jumping Tegan Nox during her entrance. All throughout this match, they made it feel like they really hated each other, rather than that they were just wrestling a so-called bitter rivalry match.
The shots were stiff, but not in too dangerous of a way to be careless. I loved Kai smashing the trash can lid on Nox and the use of the laptop to the knee, for instance.
All throughout this match, I was nervous something would go wrong with the table, as Nox kept checking its legs. Lo and behold, something did go wrong, but it wasn’t that it collapsed. Instead, Reina aka Raquel Gonzalez just happened to throw Nox wrong so that she didn’t hit the table in the right way.
I dig Gonzalez’s new look. I’m okay with Kai having a heavy to support her. I even also like that Gonzalez interfering was the end of the match. But what I didn’t like was the botch.
Johnny Gargano vs. Finn Balor:
Admittedly, this didn’t match my expectations. Before everyone crucifies me for that, I want to clarify that that does not mean that I didn’t like the match. The match was very good, of course. I just happened to think it was going to be better, still.
One criticism I have is that I don’t feel like I know what they’re going to do with Balor. The end of the match made me think the feud with Gargano might continue, yet by the end of the night, that seemed like it was gone. So…what now?
Here’s hoping his next opponent is someone like a Gargano who he can have just as good of a match with, if not better. Balor’s never been the best on character-work as his bread and butter is in the ring. If the next feud can be more about just that and they can deliver this or better, then it gets an approval from me.
To say a match this good was my least favorite on the card shows how great this event was, as this was better than anything we’re likely to get at Super ShowDown and arguably on par with what AEW Revolution will provide.
NXT Women’s Championship Match: Rhea Ripley (c) vs. Bianca Belair:
When Belair is the powerhouse of a match, everything goes better. I think they found the right balance between putting her over as a legitimate threat without having to downgrade Ripley to make that happen.
There weren’t a lot of standout moments here that I can pinpoint for why I liked this match. I just liked it, straight-up. When you put two people like Ripley and Belair in the ring and they give it their all, it’s a recipe for success.
Charlotte Flair attacking Ripley post-match was necessary. Now that we have confirmation of that WrestleMania match, we can start giving this feud more legs than just the “what if” conversation lingering in the air.
NXT Tag Team Championship Match: The Undisputed ERA (Bobby Fish and Kyle O’Reilly) (c) vs. The Broserweights (Matt Riddle and Pete Dunne):
I highly doubt when WWE paired Matt Riddle and Pete Dunne together, they knew it would catch on as well as it did. It likely was just a means to give them something to do and not much more than that.
But this team gels well both in and out of the ring. Their conflicting personalities is fun to watch a la Team Hell No and their in-ring chemistry is like watching #DIY or something. They felt like a legitimate normal tag team against The Undisputed ERA and wrestled as if it was a true tag team match, rather than two singles people tagging in and out.
This gets all the love from me. It was one of my favorite matches on the card and I think giving them the titles was the right decision.
NXT Championship Match: Adam Cole (c) vs. Tommaso Ciampa:
Let’s just get the obvious thing out of the way by saying this was awesome. It was. The end. Let’s move on.
I did not, at all, see the Gargano heel turn coming. Even when he came out, I was thinking he would help Ciampa or there would be some sort of standoff and Cole would manage to win through confusion or whatever, but that Gargano was there to help.
Once he hit Ciampa with the belt, my mind started racing toward possible scenarios for Tampa. Are we getting a Triple Threat? Is it going to be a gimmick match between Ciampa and Gargano? If so, what could they possibly do to top what they’ve already done in the past?
I’m hesitant to like that they turned Gargano heel again, as I think he’s just better as a babyface, but if any group of people are trustworthy to pull this off, its Gargano, Ciampa and NXT Creative.
For more opinions on the show as a whole, check out the latest edition of the Smark Out Moment wrestling podcast SMACK TALK as the panel reviews NXT TakeOver: Portland with our immediate reactions following the event before the dust has fully settled.
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