By John Moore, ProWrestling.net Staffer (@liljohnm)
NXT Takeover: Phoenix
Aired live on WWE Network
Phoenix, Arizona at Talking Stick Resort Arena
The opening teaser had the epic narrator guy talking over scenes of desert. This led to highlight clips summarizing the feuds spotlighted on this NXT Takeover. NXT Takeover: Phoenix is sponsored by Kingdom Hearts III (awww shoot! it’s coming out in a few days!!!).
Mauro Ranallo, Nigel McGuinness, and Percy Watson checked in on commentary. They also introduced Carlos Cabrera and Marcello Rodriguez as the Spanish announce team…
Suddenly random horns started to sound as random guys dressed up as Viking knights marched on stage. This is obviously something Ray Rowe set up (If you follow WWE’s Performance Center YouTube page, you would find out that Rowe takes the Viking thing very seriously while Hanson is a good ol’ regular American boy). War Raiders made their entrance accompanied by the Viking army. Kyle O’Reilly and Roderick Strong made their entrance. Bobby Fish was with them for a bit, but he walked to the back…
1. “The Undisputed Era” Kyle O’Reilly and Roderick Strong vs. “War Raiders” Hanson and Raymond Rowe. Undisputed Era quickly pounced on War Raiders right after the bell rang. Rowe took down UE with lariats. Hanson then body slammed his tag partner off the apron onto The Era at ringside. Rowe lifted Hanson and slammed him into Strong for a nearfall. O’Reilly prevented War Raiders from hitting Fallout. Undisputed Era double teamed Hanson. O’Reilly used his Muay Thai kicks on Hanson. Strong tagged in. Hanson used his weight to block a suplex but Strong adjusted his weight to reverse Hanson’s suplex. O’Reilly used a guillotine choke to try to keep Hanson in his corner but Hanson managed to squirm to Rowe.
Rowe tagged in. Rowe lifted Strong in a gutwrench and gave him a gutwrench right into O’Reilly. The action spilled to the outside. Hanson crash and burned on a scary looking corkscrew (?) tope through the second rope. O’Reilly hit Rowe with a chop block to gain the upper hand over Rowe in the middle of the ring. Mauro noted that the referee has to make sure this doesn’t become a Tornado Tag match. Undisputed Era hit Rowe with a hang slam on the top rope. O’Reilly went back to the mounted MMA on Rowe. Rowe reversed a triangle into a power bomb, but Strong saw this and lifted Rowe into a backbreaker. Strong tried to knock Hanson off the apron but Hanson no sold it and then entered the ring. This was enough to provide a distraction to the referee to allow Undisputed Era to double team Rowe.
Rowe managed to send both Undisputed Era members outside of the ring. Strong took down Hanson with a wrecking ball dropkick and Rowe with a drop kick. O’Reilly and Rowe traded fatigued strikes. They took each other out with knees for a moment of respite for both men. Hanson and Strong tagged in with Hanson getting the upper hand. Hanson impressed the crowd with a cartwheel evasion maneuver. O’Reilly accidently hit Strong with a Face Wash and Hanson hit Strong with a Bronco Buster for a nearfall. Strong took down Hanson with a leaping lariat. Rowe and O’Reilly tagged in. Rowe absorbed O’Reilly’s shoot kicks. Tornado madness ensued. War Raiders hit O’Reilly with a pop up power slam. Hanson hit Strong with a suicide dive. This led to a great nearfall by Rowe on O’Reilly. Hanson hit O’Reilly with a splash. Strong broke up the subsequent pin.
O’Reilly escaped a Fallout attempt. Strong lifted the giant Hanson into a double stomp. O’Reilly followed up with a top rope diving knee. Hanson kicked out (War Raiders must be winning now right?). A “this is awesome” chant ensued. Undisputed Era hit Hanson with an axe and double smash strike. Strong hit Hanson with an Angle Slam for a two count. Undisputed Era hit Hanson with Total Elimination. Hanson kicked out. Hanson used a cartwheel to evade Total Elimination. Hanson then hit both opponents with a handspring elbow. Rowe gave both UE members a body slam. War Raiders then hit O’Reilly with a Fallout for the victory.
War Raiders defeated Undisputed Era via pinfall in 16:57 to become the new NXT Tag Team Champions.
War Raiders celebrated their title win… [c]
John’s Thoughts: Takeovers never disappoint. Already a good show with a great opening match. This was the best War Raiders has looked in NXT with Hanson showing off his agility and Rowe his power. With War Raiders kicking out of all of UE’s finishers, you couldn’t help but feel that UE was losing.
Pete Dunne and Toni Storm were shown in the crowd. Toni was super excited while Pete Dunne looked pissed off, as he usually does. The commentators transitioned to the Kassius Ohno vs. Matt Riddle video package…
2. Kassius Ohno vs. Matt Riddle. Percy Watson brought up how he trained with Kassius Ohno back in the FCW days. Riddle started off with palm strikes to the gut of Ohno. Riddle chased Ohno outside with a flying forearm. Riddle gave Ohno a running senton in the ring. Riddle deadlifted Ohno into a gutwrench suplex. Ohno held on the rope to block a sunset bomb to the outside. Ohno used his feet to get the ring skirt on the face of Riddle to gain the upper hand. Ohno hit Riddle with a leg drop for a two count. Ohno caught Riddle with an odd elbow which got Ohno a two and a half count. Riddle gave Ohno slaps but Ohno came back with elbows and a face wash kick.
A replay showed that Riddle’s mouth ate all boot from Ohno from one boot. Riddle no sold some Ohno strikes with fighting spirit. Riddle locked Ohno in a sleeper hold. Riddle went for a German Suplex but Ohno was to heavy and Ohno stompped on the barefoot of Riddle. After escaping, Riddle gave Ohno a German Suplex for a nearfall. Riddle went for some shoot kicks but Ohno grabbed Riddle’s barefoot and started chewing on Riddle’s feet. Ohno lifted Riddle and hit him with a Liger Bomb. Ohno barely hit Riddle with a moonsault for a nearfall. Ohno hit Riddle wiht the boot and senton combo. Riddle used a rear naked choke to block a second senton attempt. Ohno called for a time out and then asked Riddle for the fist bump that Riddle asked for a few weeks ago. Riddle didn’t bit and instead gave Riddle a short arm knee. Riddle then pummeled on Ohno. Riddle had Ohno in rapid fire elbow strikes which forced Ohno to tap out.
Matt Riddle defeated Kassius Ohno via submission in 9:20.
John’s Thoughts: Ohno and Riddle had a tough act to follow after the opening match. They didn’t surpass the high quality of the opening match, but it was still a good match nonetheless. NXT viewers who aren’t familliar with Riddle’s work are slowly getting acclimated to how good this guy is. Again, as good as this feud was written, the established fact of Ohno being the designated “gatekeeper” takes away some of the drama from any nearfalls on Ohno’s end.
Tommaso Ciampa was shown doing resistance band training backstage. Velveteen Dream was shown getting out of an SUV accompanied by two beautiful, but random women…
The commentators hyped the WWE Network “Worlds Collide” Tournament…
They then moved on to a Ricochet vs. Johnny Gargano video package…
Johnny Gargano made his entrance first wearing the word “Takeover” on his tights (in the style of X-men comics) and a flaming head version of his emoji. Ricochet came out wearing what looked like Miles Morales Black Spiderman gear.
3. Ricochet vs. Johnny Gargano for the NXT North American Championship. Gargano dominated early on with the grounded chain wrestling. Many dodges ensued. Ricochet used his handstands to block several huracanranas from Gargano. Ricochet asked Gargano “which Johnny are we going to get tonight?” as he held out his hand for a handshake. Gargano grabbed the hand and punched Ricochet. At ringside, Ricochet hit Gargano with a wall run Asai Moonsault. Ricochet staggered Gargano on the top rope with a rising palm strike. Gargano slipped under Ricochet and sent Ricochet’s face into the top turnbuckle. Gargano gave Ricochet a dropkick to the head for a one count.
Gargano tied up Ricochet like a pretzel into a modified Rings of Saturn. Gargano kicked around Ricochet. Ricochet used a wide base to block a sunset flip. Ricochet slapped Gargano down off a slingshot spear attempt. Ricochet then hit Gargano with a standing moonsault. Ricochet and Gargano traded fatigued strikes. Ricochet hit Gargano with a Tiger Feint Kick and springboard uppercut. Ricochet rolled into his signature Northern Lights Brainbuster combo. Gargano shook up Ricochet with palm strikes to the head. Gargano hit Ricochet with a power bomb. Gargano locked Ricochet in the Crossface. Ricochet blocked a GargaNo Escape attempt. Ricochet countered with La Magistral.
Ricochet dumped Gargano on the apron in a scary fashion. Ricochet then hit Gargano with a Fosbury Flop. Ricochet dodged a Listo Kick and hit Gargano with a moonsault combination. Ricochet and Gargano fought to the top rope. They blocked each others moves. Gargano landed the Frankensteiner but Ricochet landed on his feet. More counters occurred with Ricochet topping it off with a waterfall kick. After another move, Gargano locked Ricochet in the GargaNo escape. Ricochet deadlifted Gargano off him and gave Gargano an exploder suplex into the turnbuckle. Gargano rolled to behind the ringpost for a moment of rest. Ricochet hit Gargano with a Tope Con Hilo over the turnbuckle. Ricochet hit Gargano with a slingshot 450 for a two count.
Gargano rolled up Ricochet after a shooting star for a really good nearfall. Gargano hit Ricochet with his DIY superkick, sending Ricochet outside. Ricochet caught Gargano during a suicide dive. Gargano hit Ricochet with a spike reverse frankendriver (that looked sick). Gargano hit Ricochet with his slingshot DDT finisher. Ricochet kicked out at two with all his force (great nearfall). Gargano sought that he had to expose the concrete floor. Watson wondered why Gargano would resort to the same tactics that he did against Ciampa. Gargano thought better after getting a warning from Drake Younger. Ricochet recovered and more counters occurred in the ring. Ricochet locked Johnny Gargano in the GargaNo Escape. Gargano escaped even before getting to the ropes.
Gargano shoved Ricochet into the ringpost. Gargano gave Ricochet a Suplex on the exposed concrete floor. Gargano hit Ricochet with the slingshot DDT and then picked up the pinfall on Ricochet to become the new champion.
Johnny Gargano defeated Ricochet via pinfall in 24:34 to become the new NXT North American Champion.
Gargano celebrated with his new title belt after the match… [c]
John’s Thoughts: An amazing encounter with a surprising finish. Those nearfalls were sick. Let the Ricochet main roster callup speculation begin, but that aside this continues yet another strong Takeover show. The story behind Gargano’s character development is well written. Gargano won because he utilized just the right amount of heel edge (the exposure of the concrete floor in this case) to give him an edge in the matchup. Now, is NXT Takeover: Phoenix going to end with both members of DIY standing tall with NXT’s top championships.
A video package aired spotlighting the Shayna Baszler vs. Bianca Belair match…
John’s Thoughts: Like the Riddle and Ohno match earlier, Baszler and Belair are stuck in the precarious “buffer after a barnburner” situation.
Kayla Braxton handled the formal ring introductions for the NXT Women’s Championship match.
4. Shayna Baszler vs. Bianca Belair for the NXT Women’s Championship. Baszler went to the ropes early on for the separation. Belair tried to do her undefeated catchphrase but Baszler turned the tables. Baszler tried to return the favor by saying “Overrated”. Belair took down Baszler with a shoulder block. Belair showed off some cool agile dodges. Baszler used Belair’s hair to her advantage by pulling Belair into the ringpost via the hair (Lee Everett of the Walking Dead was right in teaching Clemintine to cut her hair in a zombie apocalypse for survival purposes). Baszler got Belair in place in the middle of the ring and then hit Belair with her signature elbow stomp move. Baszler screwed around Belair’s arm with an O’Connor spinning armbar. Baszler locked Belair in a chickenwing.
Belair backed Baszler in a corner to break a sleeper hold. Baszler took down Belair with a roundhouse into a standing knee for a nearfall. Baszler lifted Belair and yelled that Belair is “Overrated” again. Belair responded and tackled Baszler in the corner. Belair gave Baszler a few shoulder blocks with the injured shoulder. Belair gave Baszler a spear for a two count. Belair went for a splash but Baszler got the knees up. Baszler hit Belair with a jumping knee for a nearfall. Baszler showed a superior standup game against Belair. Belair’s trump card was her hair whip which gave Belair a clean strike against Baszler. The camera showed that the hair whip opened a cut in the gut of Baszler.
Baszler suplexed Belair into the referee. REF BUMP!!! Belair hit Baszler with the Burning Hammer DDT. The referee was bumped so no pin could be made. Marina Shafir and Jessamyn Duke ran out and were taken down by Belair. Baszler locked in the Kirafuda clutch on Belair. The crowd woke up for Belair standing up from the Kirafuda Clutch. Belair reversed the clutch into a Fisherman Suplex. Belair went for a 450 but was distracted by Duke for a second which was enough time to cause Belair to miss the 450 and fall right into the Kirafuda Clutch. Belair teased escaping a few times but then passed out.
Shayna Baszler defeated Bianca Belair via submission in 15:26 to retain the NXT Women’s Championship.
Baszler held out her one finger to signify giving Belair her first loss in WWE… [c]
John’s Thoughts: A tough spot to be put in to follow the Ricochet vs. Gargano match. At first, I was about to write this match off as not that good due to the heel vs. heel nature. This was also not my favorite Shayna Baszler match as I usually prefer it when Baszler’s murderizing someone and the sympathetic babyface has to try to overcome the juggernaut bully. These women worked hard in the end and they managed to win me and the crowd over in the last six minutes or so. Part of what helped that was the Belair’s undefeated streak being on the line and the meta nature of a company trying to preserve that streak.
Velveteen Dream was shown sitting in the celebrity guest section of the crowd. They aired the Tommaso Ciampa vs. Aleister Black video package…
Aleister Black made his entrance. Mauro noted that Black is 7-0 at NXT Takeover events. Kayla Braxton handled the formal ring introductions…
5. Tommaso Ciampa vs. Aleister Black for the NXT Championship. The match started off with an aggressive collar and elbow that spilled to ringside. Ciampa landed a slap on Black. Black came back with a gutwrench takedown. Nigel noted that Ciampa is trying to play mind games against a hothead in Black. Black used a back body drop to block the double underhook. Black came back with a side headlock. Black used his muay thai to send Ciampa outside. Ciampa dodged a spinning roundhouse. Black taunted Ciampa by sitting in his meditation pose. Ciampa didn’t flinch as he gave Black a boot from the seated position.
Aleister Black took down Ciampa with a flip dive. Black took down Ciampa with a Muay Thai combination. Black caught Ciampa with a lionsault for a nearfall. Ciampa went to ringside for a moment of respite. Black met Ciampa outside and took him down with a stiff leg. Ciampa managed to catch Black’s knee and slam it into the steel steps. Ciampa then tossed Black over the steel steps catching Black’s knee on the steel. Ciampa hit Black with a very snug suplex into the steel steps. Ciampa used his braced up knee as a fulcrum to wedge Black’s knee. Black tried to turn the tables into an Indian Deathlock but Ciampa maintained control. McGuinness noted that targeting the legs of Black takes away the Black Mass.
Ciampa trapped Black’s foot on the second rope and then drove his knee into it from a jump. Ciampa trapped Black’s knee again and gave Black’s knee a running knee. Ciampa continued to focus his attack on Black’s knee by wrapping it and slamming it around the ringpost. Ciampa gave Black a release suplex on top of the Spanish announce table. Ciampa took a water break by taking a swig of water. This made for a good efffect because of the watter spray that occurred after Ciampa ate a roundhouse from Black. Ciampa surprised Black in the ring with a basement dropkick to Black’s injured knee. Ciampa trapped Black in the Tree of Woe. Black escaped and took down Ciampa to the outside with a leaping leg lariat. Black staggered Ciampa with a cross kick.
Black hit a rally of strikes leading to a nearfall. Black escaped several Project Ciampa attempts by ciampa. Ciampa dodged a Black Mass. Black reversed Project Ciampa into a sitdown pin attempt. Black use a one legged suplex to get a two count on Ciampa. Ciampa tried to use his foot to lift Ciampa but he continued to sell the injured knee. Ciampa countered Black and locked a half crab in on Black on the injured leg. Black countered Ciampa and used a palm strike to set up for his own half crab. Black couldn’t hold on to the move because his knee gave out. Ciampa avoided a Triangle Moonsault by running up the steps and hitting Black with a Tower of London on the apron for the nearfall.
Ciampa mocked Black by doing Black’s signature foot lift. Black and Ciampa then traded knees with Ciampa ending still on his feet. Black and Ciampa had a strong style exchange. They both traded boots. Ciampa snuck in a rollup. Both men traded rollup attempts. Black hit Ciampa with some CQC. Ciampa came back with a desperation lariat. Black reversed a basement dropkick with a double stomp. Black hit Ciampa with a brainbuster for a two count. This time, Black hit Ciampa with the Golden Triangle Moonsault. Black slipped a bit on the water at ringside. This allowed Ciampa to hit Black with the Fairy Tale ending for the two count. Ciampa then exposed the concrete floor just like Gargano did earlier.
The crowd caught on to the parallelism and chanted “DIY”. Black recovvered and caught Tommaso Ciampa in the ring with Black Mass. Ciampa rolled on to his side so he couldn’t get a pin fall. Ciampa struggled to get to his feet and used Black’s body to prop himself up. Ciampa used the referee as a meat shield to block the Black Mass. Ciampa hit Black with the draping DDT and Fairy Tale Ending to lead to a nearfall. Ciampa hit a second Fairy Tale Ending and then called for a third. Black recovered and hit Ciampa with a knee. Black went for Black Mass but his knee gave up on him. Ciampa hit the Fairy Tale Ending on Black for the victory.
Tommaso Ciampa defeated Aleister Black via pinfall in 26:30 to retain the NXT Championship.
Mauro noted that Black is now 7-1 at Takeovers. Tommaso Ciampa carried his championship up the stage and celebrated with it. Mauro handled the outtro and plugged the Royal Rumble. Johnny Gargano walked out to stand side-by-side with Ciampa as both DIY members held up their title belts to close the show.
John’s Thoughts: Black and Ciampa had a tough road ahead to stand on par with the other Takeover matches and make Black look like a credible opponent for Ciampa. In the end they managed to do that, protect Black with the injury angle, and give Ciampa a credible and fairly clean win. I like the tease and non-usage of the concrete floor at ringside because it will keep you from always expecting the telegraphed spot to lead to the finish. So DIY close NXT Takeover as champions and it looks like everything in NXT will continue to revolve around them for the forseeable future, which goes to show you how great of a talent both Ciampa and Gargano are.
Another strong Takeover show. The weakest match was clearly the Riddle vs. Ohno one. It wasn’t terrible, but it felt like it was cut short of time. Baszler vs. Belair was close to falling behind par of the Takeover quality of match, but I felt like the undefeated angle helped build drama behind the closing nearfalls and choke sequences. All the big matches delivered as expected and you should go into Takeovers expecting greatness. Jason Powell will be by later tonight with his NXT Takeover audio review for the members and I’ll be by tomorrow with a NXT Takeover Hit List. We should also have Triple H’s post-Takeover press conference available via audio for you guys featuring fellow Dot Net Staffer Will Pruett. Will Will ask Triple H about how it is to live in the same family as Shane McMahon? We’ll find out.