By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
NXT TV Hits
Shayna Baszler and Rhea Ripley: The build to this match has been terrific and their showdown match is Takeover main event material. Both women had huge weekends at Survivor Series and this was a top notch verbal exchange. The NXT women’s division is blowing away the AEW women’s division both in terms of in-ring work and storytelling.
Opening segment: A big win warrants a big celebration. So while I’m always anxious for things to get back to normal after the brand supremacy battle at Survivor Series, this felt like a special occasion for the NXT brand to celebrate the surprise of winning said battle over the weekend. And we didn’t have to wait long for normalcy to return in the form of Undisputed Era coming out and playing the buzzkills. Tommaso Ciampa’s rebuttal was strong, and Finn Balor coming out and calling for a match with Ciampa was a nice twist and a big roadblock to put in front of Ciampa on his quest to regain Goldie.
Finn Balor vs. Tommaso Ciampa: A top notch main event with some really believable near falls down the stretch. The actual finish involving Adam Cole was a clever way to give Ciampa an out for losing. The post match angle with Cole getting too cozy with Balor and eating a Pele Kick was really well done. Are they building to a Triple Threat? As much as I prefer singles matches, this is a Triple Threat match that I would like to see.
Kyle O’Reilly and Roderick Strong vs. Keith Lee and Dominik Dijakovic for the NXT Tag Titles: A really good tag title match. The finishing sequence with Adam Cole coming out and being shoulder blocked into the crowd by Lee was a great visual, and I like the way it set up the finish in the ring with O’Reilly and Strong hitting Total Elimination on Dijakovic for the win. By the way, Calvin Klein should hook up Strong with some swag for the free advertising he provided.
Candice LeRae vs. Dakota Kai: LeRae’s promo was well delivered and set the table for their match. It got off to a bit of a clunky start, but they settled down and Kai showed off her new mean streak before Rhea Ripley saved the day.
Lio Rush vs. Akira Tozawa for the WWE Cruiserweight Championship: A well worked match, but it was hard to view Tozawa as a threat to win the title due to his lack of a push and with Rush having unfinished business with Angel Garza. Tozawa is excellent, but WWE just hasn’t done anything with him.
Shane Thorne vs. Mansoor: A nice match. it’s good to see Mansoor continue to get wins outside Saudi Arabia.
Tom Phillips: He’s not Mauro Ranallo, but he was put in a tough situation and he did a fine job on play-by-play. It was also nice that Beth Phoenix wasn’t asked to lie to viewers by repeating the Survivor Series excuse that Ranallo blew out his voice.
NXT TV Misses
None: NXT followed up a great Takeover event and their strong showing at Survivor Series with a hot two-hour television show. The Xia Li vs. Vanessa Borne match was more of an in the middle in that it was a quick win for Li and served as a way to get to the Baszler and Ripley exchange.