NXT held their first TakeOver event for two nights and kicked things off with a pair of matches on the title in Night One on USA Network before the event moved to the new WWE home on Peacock for Night Two.
Night One was a solid show of action as two new champions were crowned and we found out who would defend Johnny Gargano’s North American NXT title against him in Night Two.
Here’s how it all went.
Beth Den Dave. Kushida
There was no reason this match would happen but nobody needs to care about it. Wrestling is what NXT does really well and there aren’t much more interesting options than having Kushida and Dunne in their wrestling clinic. In the beginning, Pete Dunn was the one to outshine Kushida (yes, she made that up) by putting the submissions together and beating out the former NJPW star. It must be said just how amazing Dunne has looked since the pandemic. He was greatly downsized and looked at every part of the ring’s tactics he made himself. As for Kushida, he’s always been cool but kinda feels stuck in the middle of a list that’s too full.
However, Kushida made his way back to a match and sank into a beautiful flying board lock from the top rope from which Dunn was barely able to escape. But Dan eventually broke Kushida by manipulating his fingers, knocking the hell out of Kushida’s hands, landing at the bitter end and getting the pin. Not a classic but it was a great start to warm up the crowd.
Bronson Reed wins the Gauntlet Eliminator for the NXT Championship opportunity in North America
It’s hard to invest in a match to see who will challenge Johnny Gargano when no one outside of Dexter Loomis has an angle. For whatever reason, they decide to go with Bronson Reed, who has no history with Gargano at the biggest NXT show of the year.
The match itself was good but it never gave us the overall excitement we had expected with NXT. Once Loomis were eliminated, it was difficult for anyone to invest in the winner.
Swerve Scott and Leon Raff had some great exchanges early on until Bronson Reed entered and used his size to bully his opponents. Reed showed his strength but simultaneously pulled a German suplex on Scott Wraff. Cameron Grimes and his millionaire brilliant ruse got in after that. He tried to get Scott to work together in an attempt to eliminate Red and Raf. Ruff would end up being ousted by Scott as he entered the next Dexter Loomis followed by the Los Angeles Knight. Surprisingly, LA Knight and Grimes joined forces to eliminate Lumis. Then Reed got rid of the Los Angeles Knight. Red, Grimes, and Scott had a great sequence until Scott eliminated Grimes. With Reed and Scott left over, we had a decent sequence with an almost revolting streak from a close fall until Reed hit the big spot from the top rope to finish the job.
Unfortunately, this match seemed to fill in an unnecessary two-night show. Sure, Reid and Gargano could fulfill this one, but it doesn’t look like a match created for TakeOver’s biggest of the year.
Walter was defeated. Tommaso Ciampa retains the UK NXT Championship
This was a tough match to get an investment in thinking Ciampa earning a title with little momentum against one of the dominant champions in WWE.
These two worked hard but Ciampa was subjected to a great deal of crime. Maybe too much.
The story here was WALTER injuring his right hand and not being able to use his exhausted bits to take Ciampa out. This led to a competitive match where the injured hand blocked WALTER. The work was solid but the ending was not in doubt. Seeing Ciampa no WALTER during their match spells would have been inexplicable given that the champ had been a dominant force for nearly two years. But if we think we got Ciampa a few years ago when he was the NXT Champion, it probably makes more sense.
Once WALTER was kicked off the widow’s bell, the match hit another gear. Another fall close by an airstrike from the second rope resulted in another fall close. Some brutal pieces followed from Ciampa but WALTER used his left hand to cut off his opponent. A pair of powerbombs from WALTER couldn’t seal the deal as Ciampa kept coming out. It wasn’t until the sleeper sulex followed by a cut WALTER got the job done.
This is hard to estimate because no one thinks Ciampa has a chance of winning. The work was solid but we didn’t get a corner where we could think the NXT UK Championship would change. It would be great to see WALTER out there against one of the best talent in NXT and hopefully sooner rather than later.
MSK defeated. Glamorous Old Boys and Legado del Fantasma for the NXT Tag Team Championship
We knew this match would be fun the moment we booked it. MSK, Legado del Fantasma and Grizzled Young Veterans are the perfect teams to reboot a division that has been somewhat stagnant over the past few months.
The action has been fast and furious since the opening bell with everyone getting their time to shine. Attempting to run at work may result in damage to the match. Just know the speed was ridiculous with more than a few breathtaking moves.
and this is …
After directing Legado del Fantasma, MSK and Grizzled Young Veterans grapple with a revisit of Dusty Rhodes Classic’s epilogue. MSK gained the upper hand and fell into the final position to be crowned the new NXT Tag Team Champions. Go out of your way to watch this match.
Grade: B +
Raquel Gonzalez was defeated. IU Shirai at the NXT Women’s Championship
It dawned a new era in NXT’s women’s division.
Raquel Gonzalez took everything Io Shirai had, including a totally insane dive from the top of the stage, to clinch victory in what was easily the best match of Gonzalez’s career.
It is also a testament to how distinguished Cherai is. One has to wonder if she has now moved to Raw or SmackDown, which feels a little crowded at the moment.
It was Shirai’s sport against Gonzalez’s strength, as the two played each other brilliantly. Gonzalez almost doesn’t have the experience as Shirai, but her strength made everything seem believable that Sherai did her best to avoid her. It was an excellent show of violent ballet by Shirai as she found ways to outrun her powerful opponent and gain the upper hand.
But all of this was related to Gonzalez’s coronation and Sherai gave her everything she needed to start her journey as a hero.
A special series saw Shirai hit the moon at Gonzales from the outside and crush her with a running knee jerk. Then Shirai climbed to the top of the stage and dived into Gonzalez, who inhale audaciously from the crowd as the two hit the ground hard.
Sherai would hit her trademark again in the ring but Gonzalez fired her. It was the first time any opponents of Shirai had been expelled from the moon.
Then Gonzalez nailed the Sherai with a powerbomb from the outside, rolled it in and crushed it with a bowl. Another one-arm powerbomb followed and Gonzalez pinned Shirai to become the new NXT Women’s Champion.
Nobody is sure if Gonzalez can sustain this dichotomy. But the same could be said of China Baszler, who had a dominant ruling and won over people in a similar fashion that relied heavily on violence. One thing to pay attention to is how the Dakota Kai stabilizes the shadow of Gonzalez.