2/16 NXT Takeover: Portland results – Moore’s live review of Adam Cole vs. Tommaso Ciampa for the NXT Championship, Rhea Ripley vs. Bianca Belair for the NXT Women’s Championship, Bobby Fish and Kyle O’Reilly vs. Matt Riddle and Pete Dunne for the NXT Tag Titles, Finn Balor vs. Johnny Gargano


By John Moore, ProWrestling.net Staffer (@liljohnm)

NXT Takeover: Portland
Streamed live February 16, 2020 on WWE Network
Portland, Oregon at Moda Center

Pre-show notes: Charley Caruso, Sam Roberts, and Mansoor (a.k.a. Manny Faberino) were the pre-show panel. The panel recapped storylines with Sam Roberts taking a somewhat heel tone as usual. Mansoor was a bit animated, but not speaking in his Saudi accent (which he reserves for Saudi shows. His natural accent is American due to growing up in the Oakland/Alameda area). Mansoor gets a thumbs up for referencing Power Rangers. He called Poppy a Power Rangers villain based off her attire. He also showed support to his good friend Dominik Dijak. Clarley Caruso and the crowd played into Sam Roberts playing heel. The video packages were video packages that aired on the weekly NXT show on USA…

[Main Show] A opening video montage aired heading into the main Takeover show. The montage had a narrator giving a speech. One the montage ended they cut to the main arena where YouTube personality Poppy was performing the song “Anything Like Me” for the show…

Mauro Ranallo, Nigel McGuinness, and Beth Phoenix were on commentary…

1. Keith Lee vs. Dominik Dijakovic for the NXT North American Championship. Mauro noted that this is the rubber match of this feud with the series between these two men being tied at 1-1-2. Lee soaked in the crowd chanting his catchphrase to the tune of Seven Nation Army. The match started off with their usual cruisereight agility sequence. Lee wowed the crowd with a huracanrana on Dijakovic. Lee and Dijakovic then had a martial arts exchange. Lee and Dijak then no-sold each other’s shoulder blocks. Lee lifted Dijakovic into an arm leaver lift.

Lee showed off a leapfrog to a running Dijakovic. Dijak gave Lee a spin kick. Lee went outside. Dijak dove with a fosbury flop to the outside, but Lee caught the flying Dijakovic. Dijakovic escaped power bomb position. After a bit of an exchange, Dijakovic suplexed Lee on the apron. Dijakovic brought Lee in the ring and gave him methodical and clubbing blows. Lee used his weight to block a suplex from Dijakovic. Lee came back with shortarm strikes. Lee then followed up with a backbreaker and backdrop combination. Lee got a two count.

Dijakovic and Lee had a strong style stiff lariat exchange which led to both men beating each other down to their knees. Dijakovic managed to get Lee to the ground with a discus lariat. Dijakovic lifted Lee to the top rope and hit him with a Super Angle Slam. Dijak got a two count. This fired up the crowd into “NXT” and “This is awesome” chants. Once both men recovered, Lee launched Dijakovic into the corner with a pounce. Dijakovic rolled to ringside with Lee following him.

Lee lifted up Dijakovic and gave him a stiff forearm. The crowd wanted tables at this point. Lee and Dijak took their time. Lee gave Dijakovic a Grizzly Magnum against the barricade. Nigel noted that the referee was being very lenient (and thus not counting a ten count). Dijakovic recovered and made it to the ring. Dijakovic hit Lee with a Plancha into a Swanton on Lee at ringside. Dijakovic teased a choke slam, but Lee countered with a Fireman Carry. Dijakovic escaped.

Dijakovic gave Lee a Superkick. Lee escaped a choke. Dijakovic flipped out of a choke. Lee escaped (but landed on his head) on a choke. Lee hit Dijakovic with a Spirit Bomb. Dijakovic no sold Lee’s finisher.  Lee hit Dijakovic with a second Spirit Bomb. Dijakovic kicked out at two. After a while Dijakovic staggered Lee with a Yakuza Kick. Dijakovic lifted up Lee into a Super Spanish Fly. Dijakovic went for Feast Your Eyes, but his back gave up on him. Lee responded by planing Dijakovic with the Jackhammer power slam for the pinfall win.

Keith Lee defeated Dominik Dijakovic via pinfall in 20:20 to retain the NXT North American Championship.

The commentary team ran through the match highlights. Lee extended his hand and lifted up Dominik Dijakovic. The two men then shared an emotional hug…

Beth Phoenix sent things to a Tegan Nox vs. Dakota Kai hype video package…

John’s Thoughts: Yes, this was a flippy flop spotfest. Yes ,this had a ton of no selling to finishers. That said, these are two giant ass dudes doing the cruiserweight stuff so the novelty is there. I thought the Mark Henry video package set this match up well and the two men delivered. What I hope is we don’t see this type of match repeated as the show goes on and this match will stand out in a good way as the “PWG-type Spotfest” match. Hopefully the matches later in the show focus more on the storytelling and less on the “spots”. While this match was good, I do also hope that Dijakovic tones it down with the no-selling, especially when the guy tends to lose on occasion after the no-selling.

Dakota Kai attacked Tegan Nox during Nox’s entrance. Nox turned the tables and managed to get Kai back to ringside with a tackle through the barricade. Kai slammed Nox at ringside and dragged Nox into the ring to start the match…

2. Tegan Nox vs. Dakota Kai in a Street Fight. Kai got a two count on Nox. Kain then tossed weapons in the ring, like trash cans and chairs. Kai tossed Nox into the steel steps to keep Nox grounded. Kai found a Cricket bat from under the ring. Broke the the bat on the ringpost and Nox managed to turn the tables. Nox put a trash can on Kai’s head and hit her with an inverted Senton. Nox sold the lower back. Nigel noted that it might have been smarter to not hurt herself, refering to Nox. Nox dragged out a table to give the crowd what they wanted.

Kai blocked a suplex from the apron. Kai rolled to the opposite side of the ring, away from the table. Kai smashed a trash lid on the face of Nox. Kai then choked Nox a bit with the bottom of her boot. Nox sidestepped Kai’s Face Wash kick. Nox came back with rapid thrust kicks. Nox then smashed Kai’s back with a trash can. Nox gave Kai a German Suplex, head first, into a trash can for a two count. Nox missed a Shining Wizard. Kai came back with a Code Red backbreaker for a two count. Nox caught a flying Kai into chokeslam position. Kai countered with a Scorpion Kick.

Nox went to ringside and tripped Kai face-first into the apron. Kai and Nox made their way to the top rope. Nox played her “Lady Kane” persona for a bit by giving Kai a Super Chokeslam. Nox then hit Kai with the Molly-Go-Round for the two count (homage to Molly Holly). Nox trapped Kai’s head in the hole of the chair. Kai sidestepped Nox’s punt. Kai then booted a chair into the face of Nox. Kai found duct tape and taped Nox’s right hand to the bottom turnbuckle. Kai gave Nox two boots, separating Nox’s hand from the turnbuckle.

Somehow, Nox found a laptop and hit Kai with it. Kai staggered. Nox then found a metal chain. Nox used the chain like knuckle dusters and went at it on Kai’s braced leg. Nox then stompped a chair into the knee of Kai. Nox gave Kai the Shiniest Wizard. Nox didn’t go for the pin, saying she’s not done with Kai yet. Nox brought a table into the ring and set it up. Nox put Kai on the table with a chair wrapped around Kai’s neck.

Nigel said somebody needs to stop the match. Suddenly, Raquel Gonzalez tripped up Nox from the top rope. Gonzalez power bombed Nox from the top rope into the table. The table didn’t break (I am the table meme?). Kai picked up the pinfall win.

Dakota Kai defeated Tegan Nox via pinfall in 13:24. 

Gonzalez lifted Kai’s arm in victory and Mauro noted that even Kai is confused…

John’s Thoughts: A good palette cleanser with a hardcore match as the comedown from the Dijakovic and Lee spotfest. Both women looked good in the hardcore brawl. It made sense for Nox to be fueled by emotion, and try to end Kai’s career with the closing spot. What was a bit odd was virtual unknown, Raquel Gonzalez running out. Is this a renamed Reina Gonzalez? I’m not sure. She looked ok, despite the table not breaking. While a bit of a odd debut, I’m intrigued with the Shawn Michaels/Diesel type of pairing between Kai and Gonzalez. Alpha Female probably would have been a better pick, but she’s just recently left NXT.

Nigel McGuinness announced the date for NXT Takeover UK Dublin…

They cut to a Johnny Gargano vs. Finn Balor hype video package…

Johnny Gargano made his entrance wearing a red blob demon themed pre-match gear. I’m guessing his latest Marvel-themed Takeover attire is themed after Carnage from Spiderman (not exactly heroic). Balor made his regular entrance wearing his usual leather jacket with the red “x” on the back…

3. Finn Balor vs. Johnny Gargano. The match started off with slow and steady chain wrestling. Balor locked Gargano in a triangle legscissors while also doing cocky pushups to mock Gargano. Gargano escaped and locked Balor in a ground side headlock. Both men had an agility exchange, ending in Gargano hitting Balor with a Listo Kick. Balor managed to turn the tables and he got a one count after an axe handle tackle. Both men were even for a while.

Gargano stomped on Balor in the corner. Balor tried to hit Gargano with a lariat from the apron. Gargano jumped to the apron, avoided Balor, and planted Balor on the apron with a spear. Gargano went for a Shotgun Dropkick into the barricade, but Balor countered with a Sling Blade. Balor kicked Gargano and tossed him back in the ring. Balor worked on Gargano’s neck with elbows from an armbar position. Gargano turned the tables and worked on Gargano with methodical offense. Balor crotched Gargano on the top rope and twisted Gargano’s leg with a Dragon Screw.

Mauro noted that Beth Phoenix is familiar with injuries to the knee and ankle. Beth noted that moves like that give people ACL or MCL injuries. Balor locked Gargano into a heel hook. Gargano went for a Juji Gatame. Balor got to his feet and stomped on Gargano. Balor continued to work on Gargano’s ankles, using the rope as fulcrum. Balor used a jumping stomp on the calf of Gargano. Balor continued to work on Gargano’s legs. Gargano got a rollup for a one count. Balor caught Gargano’s listo kick and rolled Gargano into a modified Indian Deathlock.

Gargano managed to rally back with strikes and hit Balor with a lariat for a moment of respite. Gargano went for a suicide dive, but Balor caught him. Gargano escaped a Bloody Sunday attempt by shoving Balor into the steel steps. Gargano hit Balor with a cannonball from the apron. Gargano hit Balor with a slingshot spear for a two count. Balor countered Gargano into the Eye of the Hurrican elbow drop for a two count. Balor worked on Gargano with his signature rope leverage stomps. Gargano nailed balor with a superkick at ringside.

Balor blocked Gargano’s slingshot DDT attempt. Gargano countered and hit Balor with a lawn dart toss into the turnbuckle. Balor hit Gargano with a Pele Kick for a nearfall in favor of Gargano due to Gargano falling down on Balor. Mauro noted that this was a callback to Balor’s turn. Both men had a punching slugfest. They then knocked each other down with a gamengiri. Gargano avoided a draping Coup De Grace. Gargano came back with a slingshot DDT for a two count. Both men stood up and soaked in a standoff moment.

Gargano hit Balor with a forearm and discus lariat. Balor blocked Gargano’s DIY knee with a sling blade. Gargano blocked the Shotgun Dropkick with a superkick. Balor came back with a sling blade and shotgun dropkick. Gargano dodged a Coup De Grace attempt. Gargano locked Balor in the GargaNo Escape. Gargano used the alligator roll to keep Balor in the center with the submission. Balor escaped and double stomped Gargano. Gargano reversed Bloody Sunday back into the GargaNo escape.

Balor managed to drag his way over to the bottom rope. Balor rolled ot ringside to recover. Gargano rolled to ringside and gave Balor a shotgun dropkick into the barricade. Mauro noted that it was Johnny “Carnage” tonight. Gargano was going for a DDT but decided to clear the Spanish Announce Table. Balor recovered and gave Gargano a front suplex into the Spanish announce table. Balor went to the US Announce Table and caught a standing Gargano from the Spanish Announce Table to the barricade with a Shotgun dropkick.

Balor hit Gargano with a Coup De Grace. Balor pointed his Bullet Club double finger guns at Gargano for a bit. Balor hit Gargano with a Bloody Sunday Brainbuster for the clean victory.

Finn Balor defeated Johnny Gargano via pinfall in 27:22. 

After the match, Balor used his hand to choke the throat of Gargano a bit, before walking to the center of the ring to pose. Highlights aired…

An ad aired for the upcoming Wednesday’s NXT on USA show featuring Roderick Strong vs. Velveteen Dream…

John’s Thoughts: A match that went almost half an hour, but the action was enough to make it not feel like a drag. It was good. A good win for Balor who needed the win more than Gargano did. As Gargano mentioned, “Raw Finn Balor” lost every week in what felt like 17 times in a row to Bobby Lashley. Balor looked fine. Gargano on the other hand continues to look really cold since NXT moved to USA. In that sense the match outcome wasn’t in question. I also think that despite the long time frame, this match might end up being forgotten in favor of the Dijak vs. Lee match…

Cathy Kelley interviewed Roderick Strong. Strong complained about Velveteen Dream being a dead man on Wednesday. Strong claimed that Adam Cole will defend his title to become the best NXT Champion of all time. Cole dismissed Kelley…

Mauro Ranallo thanked Poppy for providing the song “Anything Like Me” for the NXT Takeover show. They cut to a video package for the Rhea Ripley vs. Bianca Belair match…

Bianca Belair’s prematch attire was a robe with the words “Black history in the making” on the back…

4. Rhea Ripley vs. Bianca Belair for the NXT Women’s Championship. The match started off at a stalemate from the Collar and Elbow. Nigel noted that it’s a bit unorthodox for Ripley to be matched in terms of power with Belair also being a power wrestler. Ripley countered a wristlock with a forearm. Belair came back with a Belly to Back. Beth Phoenix noted that NXT has the best women’s division in the world and being the top of that makes you the best of the best.

Ripley rallied with a series of kicks and dropkicks on Belair. Belair countered a dropkick with a power bomb on Ripley. Belair got a two count after a few stomps. Belair locked Ripley in a cravate. Belair got a one count after a standing moonsault. Beth Phoenix noted that from the Rumble, she experienced Belair’s strength first hand. Belair hit Ripley with a clunky looking Final Cut for a one count. Belair then locked Ripley in a Full Nelson. The camera cut to Bianca Belair’s parents, all decked out in Belair “EST” gear.

Ripley hit a rally of attacks on Belair. Ripley hit Belair with clinch Cravate knees and a basement dropkick to the head. Ripley hit Belair with an electric chair slam for a two count. Ripley locked Belair in her signature reverse Cloverleaf. Belair pulled Ripley down into some head kicks and a slam into the turnbuckle. Belair got a two count. Belair got two more two counts after a spinebuster. Belair and Ripley traded slaps from the top rope with Ripley having higher ground. Belair got the loudest strike with a hair whip.

The hair whip allowed Belair to hit Ripley with a Military Press slam. The crowd went into “EST” chants. The camera showed that Belair’s parents were also enjoying Belair’s rally. Ripley got the knees up to block a rolling thunder moonsault. Both women countered each other. Ripley countered a leapfrog with a boot. Belair followed through with a spear to leave both women dying.  Both women got to their knees and traded forearms. Once they got up, counters ensued until Ripley landed a clean kick. Belair came back with a Forearm.

Ripley escaped a Glam Slam attempt which Mauro used to reference Beth Phoenix. Belair gave Ripley a scary back body drop. Belair hit Ripley with a flip dive, leaving both women lying. Nigel noted that both women took the worse of that move with Belair landing awkwardly. Ripley slammed Belair into the top of the steps. The action spilled back into the ring. Ripley staggered Belair by slamming her head into the top buckle. Riley dragged Belair to the top rope but Belair fought out of the Suplex. Ripley blocked Belair’s superplex attempt.

Belair blocked Ripley’s sunset flip. Ripley pulled Belair into the pumphandle. Ripley hit Belair with the Rip Tide for the victory.

Rhea Ripley defeated Bianca Belair via pinfall in 13:30 to retain the NXT Women’s Championship.

After Ripley posed with the title, Charlotte Flair bindsided Rhea Ripley with a blow to the back of the neck. Charlotte grabbed the mic, said the thought of it for a bit, and then announced “I’ll see you at WrestleMania” to Ripley. Flair teased leaving, but then slammed Ripley to the mat. Flair posed with the title belt for a bit, and then dropped it on the lying body of Ripley. Mauro recapped that Ripley vs. Flair was official for WrestleMania. Before finally leaving, Flair grabbed Belair and tossed her into the steps. Nigel noted that Flair remembered what both women did to her two weeks ago and said that “payback is a b-i-t-c-h”…

They cut to a commercial for the WWE Network “Ruthless Aggression era” special…

John’s Thoughts: A match that started off pretty pedestrian for NXT standards, but the ending sequences made it barely get up there to Takeover Worthy level. It was good. Solid match. That said, it still felt like a foregone conclusion given the hype for Ripley vs. Flair. Praise aside, I feel like this might be the weakest match of the night, but that’s how Takeovers tend to pan out, not all matched are homogeneous in being “Amazing”. What was a nice touch was having Charlotte Flair on the show to bring up the star power on the show and make the upcoming Flair vs. Ripley match seem like a big deal.

The commentary team checked in. Nigel hyped Triple H’s post show Facebook interview…

Undisputed Era made their entrance at the top of the hour. Bobby Fish has more grey hair than he usually sports. Pete Dunne and Matt Riddle made their entrance in their Broserweight Golf Cart that they debuted a few weeks ago (How did they get that on Triple H’s plane?).

Riddle had a mic to cut a pre-match promo. He said “bro” of course. He said the Broserweights have one question, how much fish could a Bobby Fish fry if a Bobby Fish could fry fish. They even had a graphic on the titantron to try to lead the crowd to mild success (?). Fish and O’Reilly dragged down Dunne and Riddle to end Riddle’s singing (Thank God?)…

John’s Thoughts: So the joke was really funny two weeks ago, but I think they just caused the joke to jump the shark.

5. “The Undisputed Era” Bobby Fish and Kyle O’Reilly vs. “The BroSerweights” Pete Dunne and Matt Riddle for the NXT Tag Team Championships. The brawl spilled to the ring. After dominating for a while, the Era gave up control to The Bros. Mauro said that since debuting in “sports entertainment”, Riddle took to the sport like a “fish to water”, get it? Eh.  Dunne hit O’Reilly with the elbow stomp to the mat. He then hit Fish with an X Plex on the apron. Dunne gave O’Reilly an X Plex on Fish. Fish turned the tide by tripping Dunne off the top rope.

O’Reilly hit Dunne with a martial arts combination. Fish tagged in and worked on Dunne’s gut. Fish gave Dunne a Samoan Drop. Dunne managed to lock O’Reilly in a heel hook. Fish tagged in and broke up the submission with a slingshot swanton. The heels cut the ring and half on Dunne with quick tags. Dunne got a window of opportunity after O’Reilly accidentally gave Fish a Face Wash. Dunne gave Fish an enzuigiri, and gave Riddle the hot tag. Riddle cleaned house with his signature moves.

He hit O’Reilly with a GTS and Bridged German for a two count. The Bros hit O’Reilly with a kick bomb combo for a two count. Nigel kept calling Dunne “Dune” and said that’s what Canadians call Dunne (in reference to O’Reilly’s past promos on Dunne). Riddle hit O’Reilly with a corkscrew senton. Dunne stomped on Fish’s hands at ringside. Dunne rolled in pain after accidentally kicking the ringpost.

Riddle no sold O’Reilly’s German and hit O’Reilly with a Final Flash Knee. Both men took each other out with stereo knees. Riddle hit Fish with a Goldberg Spear. He also hit O’Reilly with a spear. Fish hit Riddle with a chop block. UE hit Riddle with a double team German Combination for a two count on Riddle. Riddle avoided Total Elimination and gave UE knees. Dunne tagged in and put O’Reilly in a key lock. Dunne blocked two O’Reilly Nigel Lariat attempts. The Bros locked UE in stereo submissions. UE turned the tables with stereo submissions. Riddle gave O’Reilly a knee and fell down on top of Fish to break both submissions.

Dunne hit Fish with a German, stomp to the hands, and a roundhouse. Fish escaped a Doomsday Device. O’Reilly hit Dunne at ringside with a diving knee. Fish hit Riddle with a Superplex. O’Reilly hit Riddle’s knee with a diving knee. O’Reilly locked Riddle in a heel hook. Dunne did his signature finger break on Fish. Dunne stompped on O’Reilly’s hand to break the heel hook on O’Reilly. A “This is Awesome” chant ensued. Dunne and O’Reilly traded blows. O’Reilly pushed Dunne into riddle to knock Riddle off the apron.

Dunne tried to bite O’Reilly’s hand but instead did the finger break. Riddle ran in and accidentally gave Dunne a spear. O’Reilly and Fish hit Dunne with Chasing the Dragon. Fish got a two count off of the Redragon finisher. Dunne fought out of Total Elimination. Riddle tagged in. He gave Fish a knee. The Bros hit Fish with a double team power bomb move, and double knees. Riddle then tossed O’Reilly into Dunne’s Enzuigiri to give Riddle the victory.

The BroSerweights defeated Undisputed Era via pinfall in 16:58 to become the new NXT Tag Team Champions.

Mauro recapped Riddle and Dunne’s run through the Dusty Classic to lead to this moment. Both men celebrated their win with their signature poses…

A WrestleMania weekend ad aired..

An Adam Cole vs. Tommaso Ciampa video package aired…

John’s Thoughts: A hot match that delivered given the talent level in the match. Despite the NXT Tag Division being a bit thin, whoever is producing these tag team matches produces good stuff. Takeovers continue to be really reliable in match quality. Let’s see how I feel by the end though. I’m already starting to miss the 5 match structure a bit, if the next match tears the house down to immense levels, then I’d be okay with this show having 6 matches. This does plant the seed that Cole might drop the title, but I can also see Cole dropping the title at the next Takeover to spread the title drops out.

Alicia Taylor handled the formal ring introductions for the NXT Championship match. The match started left 30 minutes left at the top of the hour…

6. Adam Cole vs. Tommaso Ciampa for the NXT Championship. Both men soaked in “Adam Cole” and “Psycho Killer” chants. Ciampa backed Cole into the ropes and then mocked Cole’s bay bay pose. Ciampa locked Cole in a side headlock. Cole reversed the hold into a hammerlock. Ciampa managed to drag Cole to the mat into side headlock position. Ciampa used a face slap to maintain control of the hold. Cole escaped by fish hooking Ciampa’s jaw. Both men traded holds with Ciampa dragging Cole back down into the side headlock.

The action and counters spilled to ringside. Cole managed to land a clean hit with a big boot. Cole mocked Ciampa’s back pat pose, but didn’t take note that Ciampa was recovered. Ciampa tossed Cole into the steps and over the announce table. Ciampa hit Cole with a knee into the barricade. Ciampa did his signature back pat pose. Ciampa kept Cole on the mat with a baseball slide kick. Ciampa then put Cole on the apron and hit him with a drive by knee. Cole rolled to ringside for respite.

Ciampa put Cole on the barricade and followed up with a running knee to the head. Ciampa staggered Cole on the timekeeper seat and then gave him a running knee. Ciampa ran into the barricade and hugged a fan who was right next to him. Nigel noted that the referee was being lenient again. Cole countered a Ciampa hold into a nasty and scary Wheelbarrow suplex, catching Ciampa in the back of the neck. The cameras cut out for a sec. The move looked less scary in the replay, showing that Ciampa had his neck covered and the move hit the shoulder blades.

John’s Thoughts: I’m both relieved, but also wishing they didn’t show the replay right after for storyline purposes, showing that the move was way safer than the magic trick made it look.

After a two count in the ring, Cole hit Ciampa with a running knee. Nigel noted that even though the suplex hit Ciampa’s back, the move still probably hurt Ciampa’s surgically repaired neck. Cole avoided a Super Air Raid Crash. Then then dragged Ciampa down with a backstabber. Ciampa backslid Cole into a two count. Ciampa sold neck pain.

Cole countered Ciampa into an enzuigiri. Ciampa countered a Canadian Destroyer with a jump kick. Ciampa hit Cole with a rally of moves, ending in a German Suplex and standing ovation. Ciampa hit Cole with a Blue Thunder Bomb for a two count. Mauro noted that Ciampa likes “Goldie” as much as his daughter Willow. Cole went for a rollup. Cole hit Ciampa with a leg lariat and Ushigoroshi to the neck for a two count. Nigel noted that it’s clear that Cole is targeting Ciampa’s neck.

Both men brawled to the top rope. Ciampa blocked Cole’s Canadian Destroyer attempt into a Super Air Raid Crash for a two count. Nigel noted that Ciampa didn’t get all his weight on Cole for the cover. Cole rolled to ringside and gave Ciampa a superkick. Ciampa escaped a power bomb and power bombed Cole into the Spanish Announce Table. The table didn’t break (but it was almost breaking down). Ciampa then gave Cole a second power bomb that broke the table.

Ciampa gave Cole a running knee in the ring. Ciampa took the knee pad down. Cole gave Ciampa a kick. Ciampa gave Cole a running lariat. Ciampa hit Adam Cole with Project Ciampa for a great nearfall. Both men rested and soaked in a standing ovation. Cole and Ciampa traded fatigued standing strikes. Cole landed two pump kicks, sending Ciampa to ringside. Cole went for a Suicide Dive, but Ciampa countered with a rocket launcher toss. Cole caught Ciampa on the neck with a draping Pile Driver.

Cole hit Ciampa on the neck with an Ushigoroshi and got a two count. Ciampa showed his fighting spirit with chest slaps. Cole got Ciampa to the mat and hit Ciampa with the Last Shot Shining Wizard. Ciampa rolled to the rope to prevent the pinfall. Ciampa blocked a Destroyer attempt and caught Cole while on the apron. Ciampa gave Cole an Air Raid Crash on the ring apron. A deserved “holy shit” chant ensued. After a bit of recovery time, Cole blocked a Fairy Tale ending. Cole then gave Ciampa a nasty Canadian Destroyer on the ringside mat. As Cole entered the ring, Ciampa caught Cole with the Willow’s Bell DDT.

Ciampa hit Cole with the Fairy Tale Ending. Adam Cole kicked out at two for the really emotional nearfall. Nigel noted that Ciampa’s eyes tell a story of heartbreak. A “this is awesome” chant ensued. Cole kept Ciampa close and then put Ciampa in the Crossface. Beth noted that this move was attacking the neck. When Cole went to drag Ciampa to the center of the ring, Ciampa manged to get Cole locked in a Labell Lock.

Cole rolled to ringside. Roderick Strong got on the apron and distracted the referee. Fish and O’Reilly ran out and hit Ciampa with Total Elimination. Cole fell on Ciampa’s body. Ciampa kicked out at two. Ciampa ducked a Last Shot. He tossed Cole on the rest of UE. Ciampa gave Strong a Willow’s bell. Ciampa gave the rest of UE a corkscrew Plancha. Cole gave Ciampa a superkick combination, ending in a Last Shot Shining Wizard. Ciampa kicked out of Cole’s finisher.

O’Reilly put the NXT Title Belt for Cole to use it. Ciampa used a boot to block the belt shot. Cole shoved Ciampa into the referee. REF BUMP!!! Cole went high risk but right into Ciampa’s knee. Ciampa hit Cole with a Fairy Tale Ending. The referee was bumped, so no count. Mauro noted that Ciampa was crestfallen again. Johnny Gargano went to ringside and pulled Ciampa’s belt away. Gargano then hit Ciampa in the head with the title belt. Adam Cole fell on Ciampa for the victory.

Adam Cole defeated Tommaso Ciampa via pinfall in 33:24 to retain the NXT Championship.

The UE lifted Cole to his feet to celebrate the win. Gargano walked up the ramp and gave the ring a focused glare. UE all sat on the ring apron and did their UE pose to close the show…

John’s Thoughts: There we go! There’s that Takeover work-rate we’re used to. Ooof. That was a great match. I personally said that I liked this match better than the Gargano vs. Cole matches given that Ciampa was driven by the motivation to get his life back and he didn’t look as naturally “superman” as Gargano did. The best part of this match was the story being built around the Tommaso Ciampa’s surgically repaired neck, making every move to Ciampa’s neck heart wrenching to the TV viewer. The moment Gargano showed up, you knew the heel turn was coming; and I’ve been saying for months that Gargano needs something fresh given how stale he’s been. This upcoming, and presumed, Mania weekend feud should be amazing.

With the next Ciampa feud against presumably Gargano, where does this leave Adam Cole? Keith Lee should be in the North American picture for now. Velveteen Dream would seem like a step down given that Dream hasn’t been heated up at all due to his own injury issues. I don’t know where they go? That makes the next NXT show very intriguing. So, I was going to say this was a step down from other Takeovers, and I wished it went back to 5 matches, but the main event took things to another level and back to the reliable “match of the year” takeovers that we’ve gotten used to. Good work NXT. Now I’m off to record the members exclusive Audio Review once i’m finally done typing. Good night ya’ll!


Readers Comments (10)

  1. Admittedly the riddle joke has run its course but maybe worth it for nigels line of how many legs

  2. Okay, when you virtually no-sell a Piledriver on the floor with a surgically repaired neck, the suspension of disbelief drops.

    • Agreed, Piledrivers should be treated as a threat, especially given the WWE tends to shy away from them.

    • I would usually agree with this, but they’ve done a good job in Ciampa’s promos leading up to this match that Ciampa values winning this singular match more than “life”. He talked about how his life was on the line and how he wanted his life back. That makes Ciampa comes off as a man possessed, turning off the body’s natural survival actuators, just to win a belt that means more to him than family and living.

      I thought that Ciampa’s selling and acting crestfallen really told a good story in that sense and really justified what I would call ill-advised “fighting spirit” as opposed to “no-selling”

      • Nonsense. Complete and utter nonsense. It’s garbage like this that keeps Wednesday nights an afterthought for WWE. Sell or go find another business to work in.

      • I have to say, this is one of the dumbest things I’ve ever read. “natural survival actuators”? GTFO here with that absolute nonsense.

  3. How could you mention what’s next for Adam Cole and not being up Finn Balor? It doesn’t even matter that they’re both heels.

    • Bálor is not much of a heel when the NXT crowds are always cheering him.

    • As Jason and I talked about after the show on our audio for the members, given the current layout and Gargano’s lingering issues with Balor, Cole, and now Ciampa. A four way might actually make the most sense.

  4. Two big guys have a flippy midget spotfest match, a piledriver on the floor gets no-sold, and the best pure match of the night is somehow not up to Takeover standards?

    I’ll take both women’s matches over everything the guys did on this show.

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