NXT hosted their first two-night TakeOver event and kicked things off with two title matches for Night One on USA Network before the event moved to WWE’s new home on Peacock for Night Two.
Night One was a solid display of action as two new champions were crowned and we found out who Johnny Gargano would defend his North American NXT title against during Night Two.
Here is how it all happened.
Pete Dunne beats. Kushida
There was no reason for this game to happen, but nobody needed to care. Wrestling is what NXT does really well and there aren’t many more intriguing options than asking Kushida and Dunne to give us a wrestling clinic. At first it was Pete Dunne who was on Kushida-ing (yes, I made that up) Kushida by chaining submissions and taking on the old NJPW. It has to be said how incredible Dunne has been since the pandemic. He’s considerably slimmed down and looks like every element of the ring tactician he’s passed himself off. As for Kushida, he’s always been awesome but he kind of feels stuck in the middle of a busy list.
Nonetheless, Kushida found her way back in a match and sank into a magnificent hoverboard locked to the top rope that Dunne barely managed to escape from. But Dunne ultimately broke Kushida with his finger manipulation, crushed hell out of Kushida’s hands, landed his Bitter End finish, and got the brooch. It wasn’t a classic but it was a fantastic opening to warm up the crowd.
Bronson Reed wins Gauntlet Eliminator for NXT North American Championship opportunity
Difficult to invest in a match to see who will challenge Johnny Gargano when no one except Dexter Lumis had an angle. For some reason, they decided to go with Bronson Reed, who has no history with Gargano on NXT’s biggest show of the year.
The game itself was good but never really gave us the full action we expected with NXT. And once Lumis was knocked out, it was difficult for anyone to invest in the winner.
Swerve Scott and Leon Ruff had a good trade early on until Bronson Reed walked in and used his size to intimidate his opponents. Reed showed his strength but managed a German suplex simultaneously over Scott and Ruff. Cameron Grimes and his fantastic millionaire gadget walked in next. He attempted to pay Scott to work together in an effort to eliminate Reed and Ruff. Ruff would end up being knocked out by Scott as Dexter Lumis came in next, followed by LA Knight. Surprisingly, LA Knight and Grimes joined forces to take down Lumis. Reed then got rid of LA Knight. Reed, Grimes and Scott had a great streak until Scott knocked out Grimes. With Reed and Scott gone, we had a decent streak with an almost smelly series of close drops until Reed hit the big bar of the top rope to finish the job.
Sadly, this match seemed like a filler for an unnecessary two night show. Reed and Gargano could certainly deliver, but it just doesn’t look like a match built for the biggest TakeOver of the year.
WALTER def. Tommaso Ciampa retains UK NXT champion
It was a tough match to invest considering Ciampa secures a title shot with little momentum against one of WWE’s most dominant champions.
These two worked hard but Ciampa committed a serious offense. May be too much.
The story here was that WALTER injured his right hand and was unable to use his debilitating chops to take out Ciampa. This led to a competitive match where WALTER was hampered by the injured hand. The work was solid but the finish was beyond doubt. It was a bit inexplicable to see Ciampa not selling WALTER during the places in the match given that the champion has been a dominant force for almost two years. But if we are to think that we get the Ciampa a few years ago when he was the NXT champion, maybe that makes more sense.
Once WALTER kicked the Widow’s Bell out, the match hit another gear. Another fall close to an air raid on the second rope produced another close fall. A few brutal punches from Ciampa followed but WALTER used his left hand to cut his opponent. A pair of WALTER powerbombs couldn’t seal the deal as Ciampa continued to pull out. It wasn’t until a sleeper suplex was followed by a chop that WALTER got the job done.
This one is hard to note as no one thought Ciampa had a chance to win. The work was solid but we just didn’t have a corner where we could think the NXT UK Championship would change hands. It would be great to see WALTER out there against one of the best talent in NXT and I hope that happens sooner or later.
MSK def. Grizzled Young Veterans & Legado del Fantasma for the NXT Tag Team Championship
We knew this game was going to be fun the moment it was booked. MSK, Legado del Fantasma and Grizzled Young Veterans are the perfect teams to restart a division that has stalled a bit in recent months.
The action was fast and furious from the opening bell, with everyone having time to shine. Trying to reduce the action would do the game a disservice. Just be aware that the beat was absurd with more than a few jaw-dropping moves.
After Legado del Fantasma was retired, MSK and the young Grizzled veterans faced off in a revisit of their Dusty Rhodes Classic final. MSK took the upper hand and landed its finisher to be crowned as the new NXT Tag Team Champion. Do everything you can to watch this game.
Quality: B +
Raquel González beats. Io Shirai for the NXT Women’s Championship
It’s the dawn of a new era in the NXT Women’s Division.
Raquel González took everything Io Shirai had, including an absolutely bonkers dive from the top of the stage, to clinch the victory in what was by far the best game of Gonzalez’s career.
It’s also a testament to how phenomenal Shirai has been. You have to wonder if it’s now moved to Raw or to SmackDown, which feels a bit crowded at the moment.
It was Shirai’s athleticism against González’s power and the two had a brilliant fight. González is not as experienced as Shirai, but her power made everything believable as Shirai did her best to avoid her. It was a great demonstration of Shirai’s violent ballet as she found ways to outsmart her powerful opponent and gain the upper hand.
But it was González’s crowning achievement, and Shirai gave her everything she needed to begin her journey as a champion.
One particular streak saw Shirai punch González’s moonsault on the outside and crush him with a running knee kick. Shirai then climbed to the top of the stage and dove for González who drew an audible gasp from the crowd as the two hit the hard ground.
Shirai hit his trademark moonsault in the ring but González sent off. It was the first time that one of Shirai’s opponents had been kicked out of the moonsault.
González then nailed Shirai with the electric bomb outside, rolled her back and crushed her with a lariat. Another one-armed electric bomb followed and González pinned Shirai to become the new NXT Women’s Champion.
No one knows if González can maintain this division. But the same could be said of Shayna Baszler, who had a dominant reign and conquered people with a similar style that relied heavily on violence. One thing to watch out for is how Dakota Kai settles into González’s shadow.