I’ve gotta say, I was expecting the UE to get the titles here and have them go for the sweep with the titles, but I’m pleasantly surprised the Street Profits got a win on their first NXT Takeover tag team match. Overall, this was a very well done opener to start the night, although it wasn’t quite on the level with matches done by The Undisputed Era in past Takeovers. Fish and O’Reilly have more experience as a tag team, but I’ve always like the Strong/O’Reilly pairing a bit more.
This match featured as basic as a heel/face psychology as it gets, but The Undisputed Era and Street Profits are talented enough to make it look very convincing. The Street Profits’ power and athleticism were on brilliant display, and Fish/O’Reilly did a splendid job of doing what they do best, which is isolating their opponents. Overall, while not quite at the level of intensity as previous Undisputed Era matches, this was a very, very quality opener. ***3/4
Io Shirai def. Candice LeRae
I’m very happy for Candice here getting her first opportunity at a Takeover instead of being Johnny Gargano and Io Shirai’s moral support. This was an absolutely splendid match by both women that delivered with the right intensity. Crazy Io on an aggressive streak suits her beautifully, and I liked how she set the tone from early on in the match. I also liked how she got increasingly frustrated that LeRae’s resillence led her to kick out to some of her signature moves. This caused her to get increasingly aggressive and increasingly desperate.
LeRae’s energy and style towards Io was also a great foil to make the match work. While the result of the match was never in question, I must say that I was legitimately surprised at the quality. The right person won, and the crowd was hot for it throughout.
While the submission finish kind of came a bit out of nowhere, I enjoyed this match way more than I thought I would. Probably the best women’s match at a Takeover since Shayna/Sane in Brooklyn last year.****1/4
Another fabulous showing by all three men here. I especially loved the infectious energy that Roderick Strong brought with his swift, powerful strikes. Dunne was great as usual with his limb work, and Velveteen Dream’s character work all came together to create a triumvirate of wrestling entertainment.
I especially loved the finishing sequence that saw Strong and Dream looking to see who could steal the pin first just for Dream to capitalize with the Rainmaker at the last minute. It made perfect sense in the sense of that story the match was telling. All men worked their tails off and delivered another quality outing. ****1/4
Shayna Baszler (C) def. Mia Yim – NXT Women’s Championship
Ugh. I was really rooting for Mia, but this match didn’t do it for me. While there were some great individual moments such as Mia Yim hitting a Code Blue from the top rope and hitting Shayna with her own moves, this match lacked the proper rhythm and flow.
I found that transitional moves took too long to set up, the pacing was dull, and there was never really a moment where you felt like Yim was going to win, which is a staple of NXT matches. With the high standard that NXT has set, flaws in matches of lower quality are amplified. It was by no means bad, and probably makes for a solid RAW main event, but as a match at a Takeover, this was below par. **1/2
Adam Cole (C) def. Johnny Gargano – NXT Championship (2 out of 3 Falls)
There seems to be two strong opinions of this match based on what I’ve seen. One side thinks that it is one of the greatest matches in professional wrestling because of all of the crazy things they did to each other. The other half thinks that while it was great, it was too over the top. Personally, I am somewhere in the middle.
First, I loved how they started out the match, as both men were highly anticipatory about what the other would do. They didn’t even hit their moves because they knew how the other would counter. At this point, Cole and Gargano probably know each other like a fat guy knows a milkshake. It was a smartly worked match and all I can say is that they did their thing. Nothing out of the ordinary in the first. The finish was also kind of predictable, as 2 out of 3 falls often ends with the first fall being one person getting themselves intentionally disqualified for the sake of getting an easy 2nd fall win.
The 2nd fall was also entertaining as they took the fight throughout the entire arena. It was a good old-fashioned brawl that kind of lasted longer than I expected considering Gargano got one up on Cole with the chair attack to end the first. As for the third fall, I was expecting a cage match, although I didn’t know how they were going to make that a surprise because you’d have to have the cage suspended above the ring beforehand.
That cage match was extremely violent and barbaric as it should have been. It looked like the two really wanted to hurt each other bad at one point. I mean, top rope DDT’s on to chairs landing face first, endless kendo stick shots, and man, that finish. I know Gargano’s main event matches tend to be over the top, but this was at a completely different level.
This match would have gotten a perfect rating, but I did find it to be a bit much, especially with some of the things that they were kicking out of towards the end. I would rather you hit those big moves and lead up to the big finish as opposed to kicking out of those high impact moves after taking nearly 50 minutes worth of punishment.
I have to think that this was Gargano’s swan song in NXT, because there is honestly nothing more for him to do. He’s won every title, has had over 2 hours worth of in-ring time against Cole within the past couple of months and has already established himself. This was a fantastic main event that would have gotten a perfect rating if not for some of the over the top kickouts that they were doing. Time to move on. ****3/4