I am a man for nostalgia, but I cannot believe that it has been five years since the first Takeover. The opening video package gave me chills, thinking about all of amazing moments provided by NXT Takeovers. My boy Aaron (@aaron_turner1 on twitter, check him out) asked the world what their favorite moment in the history of Takeover was, and I couldn’t pinpoint just one! There are far too many outstanding matches to just pick one.
The commentary team opened the show talking about how the Black and Gold brand of WWE is the best brand in sports entertainment right now, which couldn’t be more correct. Not being biased as this the brand I cover, but at this time, they dominate the in ring, storytelling, and weekly programming. It’s no wonder that AEW is now targeting Wednesdays, but I digress. This show was once again unbelievable, let’s get down to it.
Roderick Strong vs. Matt Riddle
This match had a very slow build to it, as this feud has inter-weaved into the Undisputed Era’s other feuds over the last few months. Roddy’s reconciliation with the Undisputed Era and taking care of Riddle after he defeated Adam Cole put us here.
Like I mentioned in my preview, these two had an amazing match in Evolve a few years back, so my expectations were pretty high. With Roddy being the “Messiah of the Backbreaker,” we had to know that he was going right for Riddle’s back. He gave him a beating for sure.
Towards the end of the match, there was an amazing sequence in which I thought Strong had the victory. He got Riddle literally on the ropes, nailed a knee to the face, and then ran the ropes hitting an elbow to the jaw each time, only to get a 2 count. Riddle rallied back for the victory in what was an absolutely outstanding match to start the show off with. I don’t think that Riddle is done with the Undisputed Era just yet though.
Oney Lorcan and Danny Burch vs. The Undisputed Era vs. The Forgotten Sons vs. The Street Profits
This Takeover truly was an ‘anything you can do I can do better’ kind of show. Just when you thought nothing could follow up that opening match, this ladder match stepped it up. My concern with these types of matches is that usually they are pretty similar. Since this is NXT, everyone seemingly stepped up their game and at times it was quite out of the ordinary for a 4-way ladder match.
Kyle O’Reilly was the superstar of the match, as he took some absolutely horrific bumps. At one point he was slammed onto a ladder right onto his back. As soon as he got up, Blake powerbombed him into a ladder that Bobby Fish was climbing, not only knocking the ladder over but having Fish fall right on top of him! The best part is that O’Reilly was able to get back up and continue the match.
Very predictable, Jaxson Ryker came down and took everyone out of the match.
Unfortunately, the Forgotten Sons weren’t able to capitalize, and Ryker ultimately paid the price. The three other teams grabbed a ladder and beat down Ryker so that he could not return.
While O’Reilly might have been the MVP of the match, I thought this match was a ridiculous spotlight for Oney Lorcan, Danny Burch, and Montez Ford. Lorcan and Burch both had huge spots that they looked great, despite many people completely counting them out of the match. Danny Burch even tweeted out his humbleness for being part of the match, and that he and Oney are coming after the Street Profits! Montez Ford was the one, however, who took the spotlight and brought it to new heights (literally at times.) Montez Ford is going to be a huge star, and he truly stole the match.
The end of the match was an outstanding, almost storybook finish. Both members of the Forgotten Sons were climbing the ladder, seemingly unchallenged. Angelo Dawkins appeared out of nowhere and speared one of the Sons under the ladder, while Montez Ford literally flew out of nowhere and landed at the top of the ladder. She shoved the remaining Forgotten Son (legit forgot which members they were, so it’s fitting) off the ladder and grabbed the titles for the victory.
Velveteen Dream vs. Tyler Breeze
This match was the exact opposite of the opening match, where the story really didn’t have a lot of time to build. Two weeks ago Breeze returned to challenge the Dream to this match. This was followed by a pretty awesome hype video, to which I have to openly admit; I was sold and all in on this match.
The Velveteen Dream has the uncanny ability to create unbelievable matches at Takeovers. He also has the ability to make his opponents look amazing. This match was no different. It has been a while since we have been able to see Tyler Breeze in a match this great. It was fitting that it was at NXT Takeover 25, as it was reminiscent of his matches in the early NXT days.
It was pretty even match, with both men going back and forth with false finishes, and Dream even stealing the Un-Prettier from Breeze. Dream, with a heel tactic, brought the North American Championship into the ring, but Breeze snatched it and gave it to the referee. When Breeze returned to the Dream, he was hit with a Dream-Valley Driver and a Purple Rainmaker elbow for the victory.
Once again, a match had really big shoes to fill, shoes that I thought were unfair after that ladder match, and it certainly filled them. I really have enjoyed these superstars coming down to the main roster to compete. It gives us that moment to remember how great someone is, as well as (hopefully) showing WWE creative what they could be doing with superstars like Breeze.
Io Shirai vs. Shayna Baszler
Women’s matches have this awful stigma in NXT lately. They are outstanding matches, but usually they follow up a large, emotional match that it can’t live up to, and thus feels like a bad match. I worried going into this match, which many viewers would be on such an emotional high after THREE amazing matches that it wouldn’t live up.
I openly admit that when Shayna debuted and was in the original Mae Young Classic, I was not a fan. In fact, I hated her. not for being a good heel, but just not liking her dominant style. I have since jumped on the bandwagon and appreciate her style and her personality as a great heel persona. Everything from her straight to the point promos, to her Goldberg style entrance, I boo her for all of the right reasons!
This match was long in the waiting, as Io and Shayna have been back and forth for quite some time, finally meeting on this night in a one on one match. It certainly delivered; it was a hard hitting matchup that at one point looked like Io had won. However just before hitting the moonsault to win it, the Horsewomen made their way down the ramp. They didn’t get far, however, as Candice beat the pulp out of them with a kendo stick.
The last act was pretty outstanding, as Shayna had Io in the Kirifuda Clutch, but Io was able to pretty amazingly counter into a pinfall. Shayna, just as smoothly, countered that pinfall back into the Kirifuda Clutch! This ended up being the end of the line for Io, as she tapped out before passing out. The crowd boo’d, as Baszler retained her title in a very similar manner to the rest of her matches. Io might have lost, but she made sure she let Shayna know this wasn’t over, as she beat Baszler down with a cane, even hitting a moonsault with a chair, in a very ECW-like move. This is not over by any means!
Johnny Gargano vs. Adam Cole
Going into this match, I was completely torn as a fan of wrestling. I have been emotionally on the Johnny Gargano train since he joined the company, as I love a great underdog story. Alternatively, I have been a huge Adam Cole fan since he was in The Kingdom in Ring of Honor. While I was excited for Johnny to get his moment Wrestlemania weekend, it is Adam Cole’s turn now.
Gargano and Cole’s first match in April was clearly what I had as the match of the year. I can honestly say that this match exceeded it, and now holds the torch as my vote for Match of the Year. Both of these men showed why they deserved the spotlight that they earned to be in this position.
There really is too many amazing things in this match to spell out in this review. If you haven’t watched it, just go watch it. I am still cringing at Cole hitting Panama Sunrise from the apron onto the floor outside the ring. There was also a really awesome moment outside the ring where both men super-kicked each other. I want Rob Schamberger to make a painting of it for my living room.
A lot in wrestling, we see drama built by near-falls and false finishes. While this match did have its fair share of those, it wasn’t the sole driver for this drama. These two superstars told an unbelievable story that had me on the edge of my seat. Both men stole each other’s finishers back to back, in something that was reminiscent of some of the epic matches between the Rock and Austin.
The last act of the match the saw Johnny Gargano inadvertently hitting the referee with a suicide dive. Cole beckoned to the back for the Undisputed Era to come out, to which Gargano grabbed a chair ready to battle. Nobody came out, and Cole was able to hit the Panama Sunrise, followed by the Last Shot for the victory. The Undisputed Era came out to celebrate with Cole to end the show.
Another outstanding NXT Takeover is now in the books. Share your thoughts with me on twitter @TJoftheJK . And check back often for more content here on the JobberKnocker!