NXT opened up the first big weekender for WWE in 2019 with their first TakeOver in Arizona. D.I.Y may have split, but they could reunite in the champions circle as Johnny Gargano faced Ricochet for the North American Championship and Tomasso Ciampa defends his NXT Title against former champ Aleister Black. Did it rise like a…well, you know or was it lost in the ashes?
Undisputed Era (c) vs War Raiders- NXT Tag Team Championship Match
Result: War Raiders via pinfall – New Champions Crowned
Thoughts: First off; what an awesome entrance by War Raiders. That was quality. But the match, somehow, made the entrance look terrible. What an absolutely incredible opener and, for my money, one of the best in Takeover history which is absolutely saying something. The initial rush of power from War Raiders slowly set into Kyle and Strong attacking body parts and hugely slowing the pace down. With PLENTY of near-falls; the crowd in the building and everyone watching at home were on the edge of their seats. In particular; Hanson is an absolute star. The things he can do just make no sense for a man of his size and I know that’s a cliché often used within WWE but it’s true with this guy. Somewhat surprisingly; War Raiders picked up the victory and are your NEW NXT Tag Team Champions! This asks a lot…due to Adam Cole not coming out with the rest of his guys; is it implying they NEED Cole to win? Or are the Undisputed Era going up to the main roster?! We’ll know in time but damn; what a match.
Matt Riddle vs Kassius Ohno
Result: Riddle wins via submission
Thoughts: Well…this was ridiculously brutal. Riddle got busted WIDE open after a stiff kick from Ohno but the visual was amazing. AND THEN KASSIUS BIT HIS TOE. WHAT. WHAT IS THIS WORLD. Seriously though; that was a testament to how brutal this was. The story of Ohno throwing everything he could at Matt with Riddle consistently getting out of it showed the desperation Kassius has in his NXT career. The finish was fantastic; Riddle completely losing his cool and showcasing his insane power with consistent elbows that caused Ohno to tap. A completely different match and really fun.
Ricochet (c) vs Johnny Gargano- NXT North American Championship Match
Result: Gargano wins via pinfall- New Champion Crowned
Thoughts: This is Match of the Year so far and potentially the best Gargano match in WWE which says EVERYTHING you need to know about the quality of this match. Johnny FINALLY won…once he allowed Ciampa fully into his mind, heart and soul. I’m not going to tell you ANYTHING about this because, I honestly think, this is one of the best matches of the last decade. Go and watch this. Please. Just do it.
Shayna Baszler (c) vs Bianca Belair- NXT Woman’s Championship Match
Result: Shayna retains via submission – Champion Retains
Thoughts: The pop for Bianca breaking out of Shayna’s first submission and then ALMOST breaking out of the second tells you everything about the future she has. She’s absolutely incredible and showcased why she deserves the platform that NXT has provided her. Shayna retaining is the correct decision I feel as it allows Bianca further time to grow and improve and Shayna deserves to be at the top. The story of Bianca consistently proving Shayna wrong with how ‘inexperienced’ Baszler felt she was, was fantastic. The win wasn’t totally clean either as Bianca was jumped twice by the 4 horsewoman AND had Shayna pinned when the ref was down. Lovely stuff; interesting to see who steps up to Shayna now.
Tomasso Ciampa (c) vs Aleister Black- NXT Championship Match
Result: Ciampa retains via pinfall
Thoughts: The first thing we learnt from this match is apparently Tomasso Ciampa hates knees. Secondly; this was incredible (obviously). From the moment the bell rang; Ciampa aimed for Black’s knee as a way to stop the Black Mass from being utilised. And, in the end, it worked. Black went for a second Black Mass-couldn’t- any Ciampa capitalised with a fourth Fairy-tale Ending. Harking back to DIY/previous matches in the night; Ciampa involved the concrete but it ended up costing him in terms of momentum during the match but he channelled his win over Johnny Gargano with the draping DDT into the finish. A great match that, again, asks questions. AND…DIY look like they’re back together. As heels. Incredible. BUT…is Black destined for the main roster? How long are DIY going to stay together? Is Johnny going to eventually cost Ciampa the title? WE NEED TO KNOW TRIPLE H.
Overall Thoughts: NXT Takeovers consistently set the bar and somehow top the bar they themselves set. It’s absolutely ridiculous but tonight was no different. A fantastic show, with one legitimate Match of the Year contender definitely, and four other absolutely brilliant matches. Fantastic viewing and I cannot wait to see what 2019 is going to have in store.
Overall Grade: A