NXT TakeOver Phoenix – REVIEW

NXT TakeOver Phoenix – REVIEW

As well as the usual conversations and hype packages, the pre-show gave out the NXT Year End Awards. Here are the results:

  • Breakout Star of the Year – Ricochet
  • Match of the Year – Andrade ‘Cien’ Almas vs Johnny Gargano (NXT TakeOver Philadelphia)
  • Male Competitor of the Year – Tommaso Ciampa
  • Female Competitor of the Year – Kairi Sane
  • Tag Team of the Year – Undisputed ERA
  • Overall Competitor of the Year – Kairi Sane

The Other awards weren’t handed out in the pre-show, but for completeness they were;

  • Future Star of the Year – Io Shirai
  • Feud of the Year – Johnny Gargano vs Tommaso Ciampa
  • TakeOver of the Year – NXT TakeOver New Orleans

Bobby Fish came out ringing the bell on the Tag Team Award and had a row with Pat McAfee, which was fine until McAfee started showing his legs off, then it was a bit odd.


War Raiders def. Undisputed ERA – TITLE CHANGE

Matt Riddle def. Kassius Ohno

Johnny Gargano def. Ricochet – TITLE CHANGE

Shayna Baszler def. Bianca Belair

Tommaso Ciampa def. Aleister Black


Undisputed ERA (C) vs War Raiders – NXT Tag Team Championship match

War Raiders got a big fancy entrance with lots of big Viking dudes with spears and shields wearing chainmail and helmets. Roderick Strong and Kyle O’Reilly came to the ring alone, which was a nice surprise. Bobby Fish came to the stage with them, holding the NXT Year End Award, but Adam Cole was nowhere in sight. Here’s a handful of highlights and highpoints, because it was a long and busy match.

There was an immediate flurry of offence from O’Reilly and Strong, but after that it was all War Raiders in the early going. Undisputed ERA got back into it when O’Reilly kicked out Rowe’s leg, Strong kicked Hanson to the apron, then they sent Rowe head-first into him. Frequent tags and double team’s kept Hanson in their corner, for a good while. They needed the double team because they struggled to deal with Hanson’s strength one on one.

O'Reilly and Strong Double team Rowe while Hanson is pushed back by the ref.
Credits: wwe.com

When Rowe came in, Kyle O’Reilly punched him while he was carrying Roderick Strong, not only did Rowe not drop Strong, he didn’t even flinch. When O’Reilly rebounded off the ropes towards him, Rowe threw Strong at him.

Hanson went for a suicide dive, but the only thing he made contact with was the floor. Unsurprisingly, he was out for a bit after that, allowing O’Reilly and Strong to take advantage of Rowe having no backup. Rowe took a lot of punishment, but he still made his way over to his corner when Hanson got back to the apron.

Strong tried to knock Hanson off the apron and failed, instead, Hanson got into the ring and inadvertently gave Undisputed ERA chance to double team his partner again while the ref was ushering him out.

Rowe suplexed O’Reilly into Strong, knocking Strong off the apron. O’Reilly rolled out of the other side and pulled Hanson off the apron. Roderick Strong dropkicked Hanson before he could retaliate, then dropkicked Rowe for a two count.

Rowe and O’Reilly took part in an exchange of blows that put them both down. They both made it to tag out and it was Strong and Hanson’s turn to wear each other out, or Hanson’s turn to wear Strong out anyway.

Kyle O’Reilly kicked Strong in the face when Hanson moved, then took a powerslam. But Hanson could only get a two count on Strong, even after a bronco-buster.

A clothesline took Hanson down and allowed Strong to tag in O’Reilly, but Hanson tagged out too. There were three or four people in the ring so much from then it got quite tough to track who was legal after a while. Hanson delivered a suicide dive to Strong, Rowe almost pinned O’Reilly.

Kyle O'Reilly and Roderick Strong with the High Low on Hanson

Roderick Strong barely broke up Hanson’s pin on O’Reilly. Strong superplexed Hanson to the mat, O’Reilly dropped a knee from the top turnbuckle as a follow-up, and Hanson still kicked out. He also kicked out of an Olympic Slam, and a High Low, and still had enough left to fight back and level Strong and O’Reilly before tagging out.

Hanson lifted Strong to sit above O’Reilly on Rowe’s shoulders and Rowe delivered the powerbomb/powerslam combo. Strong rolled out of the ring and Rowe picked O’Reilly up for Hanson to deliver the leg drop from the top. Finally, that was enough. We have new NXT tag champs.

Matt Riddle vs Kassius Ohno

This might be an unpopular opinion, but I’m not sure this match had a place on this card in its current state. It was the only match on the card with no title at stake, and it felt like it needed a stipulation to make it feel important. That’s not to say it wasn’t good enough, it was great, it just felt a bit low-stakes.

Riddle clearly didn’t feel it was low-stakes. He piled into Ohno from the bell and had him reeling for a while.

Kassius Ohno wasn’t going to stay down easily though. He pulled the ring skirt over Riddle’s head then stamped on his face and took control of the match.

After a barrage of offence, Matt Riddle fell out of the ring. Ohno followed and kept asking him, ‘remember this?’ as he slammed him into the ringpost and steps. Riddle was bleeding from the mouth, courtesy of an Oho boot, but when he got back to the apron, Ohno’s attempts to knock him back down just fired him up.

Kassius Ohno knees Matt Riddle in the face

Riddle jumped on Ohno’s back for a sleeper, then switched to kicks when that didn’t work.

Ohno stomped on Riddles toes and ground down on them, and got suplexed in response. In a slightly bizarre move, he bit Riddle’s big toe when he caught his foot.

A Liger-bomb only got Ohno a two count, as did a moonsault. He landed a big bot and a senton, but on the second senton Riddle got him in a sleeper. Ohno got to the ropes.

Ohno faked begging for mercy and offered a fist bump. Riddle grabbed his arm and kneed him in the face. A sleeper-suplex put him on the mat, and Kassius Ohno tapped while Riddle was elbowing him in the head. It took the ref a while to see it, but the result was the same.

Velveteen Dream was shown arriving, with an entourage of course. His arrival was used to talk about the Worlds Collide tournament next Saturday, featuring NXT, 205 Live, and NXT UK.

Ricochet (C) vs Johnny Gargano – North American Championship match

This was one of the matches that had to be great. Ricochet and Gargano’s styles complement each other beautifully. I’m not even going to attempt to document the number and variety of flips and impressive flights or the full range of glorious technicality on display, but here’s a selection of the highlights.

We started with some hold for hold human origami for the feeling out process. It’s far from the first time they’ve met in the ring, but no one knows what to expect from the new attitude of Johnny Gargano. After much flipping about, Ricochet offered Gargano his hand to help him up. Gargano took it and punched him in the face.

Gargano drags Ricochet off the turnbuckle

Gargano managed to smash Ricochet’s face into the turnbuckle by slipping out from underneath him. The blend of technical into high flying into trading blows and back again was just so well done in this match. Multiple two counts came and went for both competitors without more than a moment to note them before the next one.

Ricochet blocked Gargano’s DDT attempt and dumped him out of the ring. Gargano smacked hard into the edge of the ring on his way down. He’d barely got to his feet when Ricochet flew over the top rope and took him down again.

Ricochet picked Gargano up while in the Gargano escape and flung him into the corner.

Gargano took a break on the outside, and Ricochet followed him with a massive dive over the corner. A springboard 450 as soon as Gargano was back in the ring, still only got him a two count, and Gargano got his knees up for the attempted shooting star press.

Gargano’s superkick sent Ricochet sprawling to the outside. Gargano followed with a suicide dive. Ricochet caught him but Gargano delivered a reverse-rana and spiked Ricochet’s head into the floor. Johnny Gargano got Ricochet in the ring and hit a slingshot-DDT, but Ricochet still kicked out.

In complete frustration, Gargano peeled the ringside mating away, but he couldn’t go through with the DDT. He almost got caught in a roll-up when he got back in the ring. Ricochet took Gargano down with a clothesline but didn’t cover and missed the high flying follow up.

Ricochet got Gargano in his own submission. You’d think, if anyone knew how to counter the Gargano Escape it would be Johnny Gargano, he got to the ropes.

Johnny Gargano brainbuster to Ricochet on the concrete

Gargano looked back at the exposed concrete and this time he didn’t resist. He delivered a brainbuster to Ricochet on the concrete then rolled him back into the ring and waited on the apron for Ricochet to almost get to his feet. A slingshot DDT finished the job.

Johnny Gargano is the new NXT North American Champion. 

Shayna Baszler (C) vs Bianca Belair – NXT Women’s Championship match

On the pre-show, Sam Roberts talked about Bianca Belair not being TakeOver ready. He was wrong.

Marina Shafir and Jessamyn Duke did not accompany Baszler to the ring, which gave Belair two fewer things to worry about. Nonetheless, it was a tentative start. Belair’s nerves were apparent, but she refused to be intimidated. She even got some trash-talk in, although that may have been unwise.

Bianca Belair kicks Shayna Baszler in the head

Baszler used Belair’s braid to pull Belair hard into the ringpost, it took a nine-count for Belair to make it back into the ring and the champion took control of the match. It was obvious that Belair’s left arm was injured when she got back to the ring, and Baszler zeroed in on it. A stomp had Bianca Belair screaming in the corner, and Baszler wasn’t nearly done.

It looked like Baszler was toying with the challenger by this point, but when told Belair she was overrated that was the trigger for Belair to fire up and fight back. She even landed a spear with the injured shoulder, but the regret was obvious and she had to cover awkwardly.

Baszler got her knees up on Belair’s splash and landed a knee strike that put Belair down in obvious pain.

Bianca Belair’s hair whip made contact with Baszler’s stomach, the camera shot showed it actually cut her.

Baszler sent Belair flying into the ref and grabbed the braid while she was down. Belair hit the K.O.D. but the ref wasn’t up to count. Marina Shafir ran in and Belair put her down, Jessamyn Duke followed, and Belair slammed her onto Shafir with a double chicken-wing facebuster.

Baszler slapped on the Kirifuda Clutch but not only did Belair not tap or pass out, she picked Baszler up, twisted her around and suplexed her.

Bianca Belair drops Jessamyn Duke onto Marina Shafir

Belair had to pause on the top turnbuckle to kick Jessamyn Duke off the apron. It was enough for Baszler to move out of her way and get the Kirifuda Clutch back on. Belair fought to her feet twice, but Baszler kept in cinched in and Belair eventually passed out.

Tommaso Ciampa (C) vs Aleister Black – NXT Championship match

Methodical start to the match. Actually, it was a largely methodical match, cerebral and quietly vicious. Anyone expecting them to leap in and tear each other apart would have been disappointed, they wanted to outthink each other as well.

After Ciampa sat to avoid being kicked in the head, Black sat cross-legged in front of him, they exchanged a glance, then Ciampa kicked him in the head.

Ciampa took a break on the outside and Black followed, giving Ciampa the opportunity to bring the steps into play. He rammed Black’s leg into one set, then sent him flying into another and suplexed him into them. Black was left clutching his left knee and Ciampa focused in on the weakness for the rest of the match.

Ciampa sends Black into the steps

He worked that knee hard, utilising the ropes, ringpost and announce desk as well as throwing everything he physically could at it. With Black laid out on the floor, Ciampa stopped for a drink. I’ve no idea what he intended to do with the bottle, but Black kicked it out of his hand. As soon as they were back in the ring, Ciampa was back to the knee.

Aleister Black kicked Ciampa off the top turnbuckle and they both fell to the floor and it looked like he may have done more damage to himself than the champion.

Black never stopped fighting back, but every kick cost him. He managed two roundhouse kicks and a bridging suplex, but he lifted the injured leg on the bridge and Ciampa kicked out. Black tried to use the injured leg to lift Ciampa’s head for the Black Mass but couldn’t manage it.

Ciampa got Black’s injured leg in a single leg crab. Black got out and went for a single leg crab of his own, but the pressure on his knee was too much and he let go.

Ciampa hit a Tower of London on the apron. Black kicked out. Pin attempt after pin attempt failed for both competitors. Black’s moonsault to the outside had Ciampa rattled, but Black slipped on the spilt water at ringside and the momentary hesitation it caused meant Ciampa was ready for him. Ciampa hit the Fairytale Ending, but Black still kicked out.

Ciampa rolled back the same mats Johnny Gargano peeled back in his match and started to drag Black out of the ring. He had to stop to argue with the ref and turned back into double knees from the apron from Black.

Aleister Black hit the Black Mass, but Ciampa rolled over and Black couldn’t roll him over.  

Ciampa pulled the ref in front of him to avoid a second Black Mass but caught a knee in the face. He delivered a draping DDT followed by the Fairytale Ending but Black kicked out again. He delivered a third Fairytale Ending then got greedy and went for a fourth. Aleister Black kicked him in the head but on his second kick his knee gave out and Ciampa got the fourth and final Fairytale Ending to end Aleister Black.

Ciampa walked to the stage and held the title aloft. Johnny Gargano walked out to join him, Ciampa looked at him warily, especially with Gargano apparently eyeing the NXT Championship belt. Slowly, Johnny Gargano held the North American Championship up and Ciampa smiled as he held his title up too. DIY side by side, holding the gold.

Gargano and Ciampa side by side holding the gold

Final word

The day may come when I don’t start the final section of a TakeOver review with a sentence about how amazing the show was, this is not that day. Apparently, there was a post-show brawl with Velveteen Dream, Ricochet and Aleister Black on one side and Gargano, Ciampa, and Adam Cole on the other. I guess we’ll have to tune in for the fallout episode on Wednesday to find out what happened, but here’s a picture.

Post TakeOver brawl Velveteen Dream, Ricochet, and Aleister Black vs Adam Cole Johnny Gargano and Tommaso Ciampa

One Response to NXT TakeOver Phoenix – REVIEW

  1. Ricochet vs Gargano is my match of the year so far, it’s clear that Gargano and Ricochet were influenced by NJPW in this match, that spot on the top rope when Gargano reverses the powerbomb reminded me of Naito vs Omega. And also had that one when Gargano ate the turnbuckle after atempting a frankeinsteiner.

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