NXT TakeOver: Phoenix is now in the rear view mirror. How did things work out? What was great? What was underwhelming?
As always, at the end of this post, you’ll see my regular Smack Talk Pay-Per-Viewpoint post-show podcast, which is my review of the event in more detail. But if you’re looking for a fast recap of my thoughts in a more condensed form, here is my more generalized breakdown of each part of the night:
2018 NXT Year-End Awards
I was really surprised Kairi Sane won both Female and Overall Competitor of the Year, as I thought that would go to Shayna Baszler and Tommaso Ciampa. Good for her! Io Shirai as Future Star was a bit of a shock to me, too, as I was expecting Matt Riddle. Nice to see Andrade vs. Gargano got the win for best match, and all the others weren’t too surprising. I love that they still do this, because I don’t know why they stopped doing the Slammy Awards and this is at least the next best thing and it makes the pre-show better.
NXT Tag Team Championship Match: The Undisputed ERA (c) vs. War Raiders
This was my favorite match of the night. Awesome entrance from War Raiders. Hanson is a freak and I don’t understand how he can be that agile for someone his size with that cartwheel and handspring and whatnot. Very cool opener.
Matt Riddle vs. Kassius Ohno
I wasn’t sold on this heading into the event, as Riddle had already won twice, but they had a good match. Ohno biting Riddle’s toes was gross, but a fun moment. I liked Ohno scrambling to get the pin, too, and Riddle’s German suplex. All in all, I enjoyed it quite a bit more than I thought I would.
NXT North American Championship Match: Ricochet (c) vs. Johnny Gargano
While I wanted this to be the best match of the year and I’m disappointed to say that I don’t think it will be, as it wasn’t even my favorite match of the night, I still had a lot of fun watching it. Gargano is one of the top best performers in WWE today and Ricochet is perhaps the most consistently entertaining athlete. What he does always astounds me. I’m glad Gargano won the belt and I’m really curious where they go from here.
NXT Women’s Championship Match: Shayna Baszler (c) vs. Bianca Belair
Loved the storytelling here, as I normally do with Baszler. That hair whip…ouch. Loved Baszler pulling Belair into the ring post. They did a good job making Belair look strong even in her loss, due to interference (x2), the pin that referee Carr couldn’t make, and putting up a fight from the submission. I’m glad Baszler retained, and I’d like to see another match between these two, but I’m also satisfied enough that if Baszler moves on, I’m okay with that.
NXT Championship Match: Tommaso Ciampa (c) vs. Aleister Black
This is where I felt the most disappointment, as I thought this was pretty bland. I was underwhelmed. This should have and could have been better, and I don’t know why it didn’t click, but I don’t remember anything standing out as impressive. It was okay, but both guys are capable of much more than just “okay” and for a main event, it was a bland way to finish the night.
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: Phoenix with our immediate reactions following the event before the dust has fully settled.
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