By John Moore, ProWrestling.net Staffer (@liljohnm)
NXT Takeover New York Hits
Johnny Gargano vs. Adam Cole in a best of three falls match for the vacant NXT Championship: An amazing match! Given the circumstances involving Tommaso Ciampa and his injury this match got a rushed build. To counter that, this match gave three matches for the cost of one. In fact, the first two falls were great NXT television main events with the third fall falling into the designation of being a great Takeover main event. NXT is usually good at this (with the exception of Baszler vs. Sane from Takeover LA) in that they made this seem like three matches as opposed to two rushed falls. Credit to Mauro for justifying Cole’s first tapout as a strategic move. The third fall was great with so many memorable set pieces. Some might argue that Gargano kicked out of everything, but so did Cole. The vignette leading up to this match explained that both men underwent the conditioning of their life, and Cole gained a ton of in-ring credibility.
A fun side story was Gargano fighting off the “Bullet Club Pop” that Undisputed Era receives on a regular basis where the crowd is cheering the heels over the faces. This reminded me a bit of how Oney Lorcan and Danny Burch did the same in their battle against Roderick Strong and Kyle O’Reilly. When you think of it, the third fall was a very New Japan Bullet Club formula heavy complete with the ref bump and reDRagon filling in the role of the wormy Young Bucks. That set piece where Gargano fought off the stooges like an action hero worked really well. Everything worked here, from the match, the nearfalls, the interference, everything. Need I praise more?
Shayna Baszler vs. Bianca Belair vs. Io Shirai vs. Kairi Sane in a four-way for the NXT Women’s Championship: A really fun women’s match. This might be Bianca Belair’s arrival to the main event scene. Belair was really good in her big moments and really good in selling the heartbreak by the end of it. For the moment, she was a huge babyface and her getting emotional over the double Burning Hammer and ending sequence really resonated with the crowd. NXT heavily teased Marina Shafir and Jessamyn Duke interference leading into this match, which made subverting expectations very effective here. Sane and Shirai were really good in their expressions. Both women had the match won and sold their friendship and heartbreak very well in the nearfalls they broke off of each other. To close my thoughts, it was cool to see Baszler both look strong and hated at the same time. The crowd booed her in the end not because of bad booking, but they really were invested into Belair overcoming by the end of it. If they finally get the belt off of Baszler, it wouldn’t hurt to try out Belair vs. Baszler in a steal cage match. Belair might be ready.
Pete Dunne vs. Big Daddy Walter for the WWE UK Championship: Maybe my favorite match of the night, but that argument can be made for several matches on this show which would be main events in any other promotion. I tend to have the propensity to gravitate to hard hitting brawls instead of high flying spotfests, which is why this resonated with me so much. The micro-stories told here were great. The match started off where Pete Dunne tried to brawl, but the Big Daddy’s power was more powerful. Dunne treated it like he was fighting a Dark Souls boss battle. Then Dunne flipped the script on Walter by employing a plethora of parries to Walter’s big moves causing him to go on the defensive and get a bit gun shy understandably. Parry after parry, this match had you really looking at the small details and counters. I’ve seen both men work in other places like PROGRESS, so this didn’t surprise me one bit, but it was cool seeing them tell such an intriguing story in their allotted time.
Velveeen Dream vs. Matt Riddle for the NXT North American Championship: Great performances from both men and I hope this isn’t the end of the road to this feud because I feel this match can get a second iteration and maybe even a third. First of all, this was the most Anime match character-wise I can think of in a long time. One one side you have the idiot hero Goku in Riddle. On the other you had the Prince inspired Jojo Progagonist in Dream (Jojo has a lot of Prince influences). As for the match, Riddle got to show off exactly what he brings to the table, which is everything. He brought his very aggressive and strong style. He also brought good facial expressions selling shock, fighting spirit, and aggression. Riddle going from goofball to fighting genus is something the guy does extremely well. Dream integrated his flamboyance, but also did a stellar job at building sympathy by being Riddle’s rag-doll. I also have to say, Dream may have did Hulk Hogan’s Hulk Up sequence better than Hulk ever did. Hulk’s punches were very cartoony. Dream’s slugs looked great and I think he acquired those punches from his fun match with Kassius Ohno.
War Raiders vs. Ricochet and Aleister Black for the NXT Tag Titles: While the match outcome prediction was heavily skewed in favor of the War Raiders given what you could read into Black and Ricochet being on the main roster, that didn’t hurt this match in the slightest. This was a fun mixture of styles. The commentators set the table well by pinning Hanson and Ricochet as the high flyers while Rowe and Black were the powerhouses of their respective teams. That translated well into the actual match. It also made moments like Ricochet’s power moves work. I always go into Takeover viewings with the fear that NXT will finally not deliver. That fear is usually eradicated after the first match and this match followed that pattern. NXT also picked the right team to put in this spot with Ricochet and Black’s immense star power. Forgotten Sons are still flawed and would have seemed out of place in this spotlight spot.
NXT Takeover New York Misses
None: The only memorable Miss that I can remember every putting here in past Takeover Hit Lists is that odd Shayna Baszler vs. Kairi Sane match from a few months ago, which included TNA-like Shafir and Duke shenanigans. Aside from that one Miss, I can’t remember others I put in the Miss section for a Takeover. Maybe Riddle and Ohno, but that was a good match that didn’t reach the extremely high standards of Takeovers. It was very interesting watching this show after WrestleMania (I was out of town on a camping trip, therefore I had no internet). After watching both shows, Takeover wins hands down. WWE main roster matches are good and WrestleMania had good payoffs, but sometimes the bell to bell action contains a lot of filler moments. NXT matches tell a story bell to bell were as the viewer you are rewarded for paying attention to every single detail. One fun thing about this Takeover in particular is that with the exception of the first match, I can see an argument made for every other match being a person’s favorite, and the first match was great too.
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What was missing was Velveteen Dream’s sexy couch.
Other than that, better than Mania. Clapclapclapclapclap