The Preshow panel, who did the show stood on the ramp again, were Charly Caruso, Sam Roberts, and Mansoor. The Preshow was the usual mix of hype videos and chatter, plus the conclusion of the BROserweights road trip, and Sam Roberts bickering with Mansoor. Charly Caruso is a great preshow host, but her panel-mates leave a lot to be desired. Caruso introduced Nigel McGuiness, Beth Phoenix, and Mauro Ranallo for commentary as well. It was kind of nice for them to get a proper introduction for once.
Keith Lee def. Dominik Dijakovic
Dakota Kai def. Tegan Nox
Finn Balor def. Johnny Gargano
Rhea Ripley def. Bianca Belair
BROserweights def. Undisputed ERA
Adam Cole def. Tommaso Ciampa
Poppy played live to open the show.
Keith Lee (C) vs Dominik Dijakovic – NXT North American Championship match
Big lads wrestling to kick things off, and what glorious big lads wrestling it was. We all know they can both do things wrestlers their size can’t normally do, and we all know from their previous matches that they have incredible chemistry.
Dominik Dijakovic’s first decent chance came from a cyclone kick followed by a corkscrew moonsault from the top, but Lee kicked out. They went strike for strike and ended up on their knees holding each other up. Dijakovic’s best chance came from an Avalanche Feast Your Eyes. I have no idea how Keith Lee not only got up, but delivered a pounce a few moves later which sent Dijakovic’s head into the turnbuckle. After a trip to the outside, where Lee had a fair try at slapping Dijakovic’s nipples clean off his chest and Dijakovic superkicked him in the face before diving off the top rope onto him, Dijakovic readied himself to finish it. Instead, Keith Lee Spirit Bombed him, twice, because he bounced onto his feet the first time. Dijakovic still kicked out. An Avalanche Spanish Fly couldn’t keep Lee down either. It was getting faintly ridiculous by the time a Big Bang Catastrophe finally gave Keith Lee the win.
After the match, the crowd chanted ‘Both These Guys’ while Keith Lee helped Dijakovic to his feet and they hugged. He even helped him climb the turnbuckle to take the crowd’s applause.
Tegan Nox vs Dakota Kai – Street Fight
This started on the stage when Dakota Kai attacked Tegan Nox during her entrance. They fought through the crowd to the ring, where the match proper started. It took mere seconds for Kai to start pulling toys from under the ring, including a cricket bat. Happily, Nox ducked the shot with that and the bat hit the ringpost and splintered, hurting Kai’s hands in the process.
Nox put a trashcan on Kai’s and sentoned into it, which may have been an error because it looked like it hurt. Kai broke a trashcan lid on Nox’ face. That’s the thing with putting best friends in a match like this. They’re not afraid to kick seven shades out of each other and make it look like it hurts. Occasionally some wrestling broke out, then they went back to hitting each other with things.
Kai taped Nox’ wrist to the ringpost to keep her still while she kicked her in the face, twice. The second one broke the tape. Nox retaliated with a laptop to Kai’s knee, then a big chain. Tegan Nox stamped Kai’s braced knee in a chair and delivered the Shiniest Wizard. She could have made the pin then, but shouted that she wasn’t done yet and set up a table.
She laid Kai on the table and trapped her neck in a chair then climbed to the top. At that point, Raquel (formally Reina) Gonzalez appeared and attacked Tegan Nox. She rolled Kai off the table, then tried to put Nox through it from the top turnbuckle, except it didn’t break it just tipped over. Dakota Kai made the pin for a very disappointing end to a really good street fight.
After the match, Gonzalez helped Kai up and raised her hand. From the look on Dakota Kai’s face, it was not expected interference.
Johnny Gargano vs Finn Balor
This was a very good wrestling match and I have no idea what my disconnect with it is about. The build has been solid, the match was everything you’d expect from Gargano versus Balor. In fairness, the crowd were significantly more into it than I was, so it’s definitely a me problem. I can’t actually find fault with it on any level.
The match nearly ended by accident when a Pele kick from Balor made Gargano fall on top of him, but Balor kicked out just in time. Gargano got the Gargano Escape locked in after rolling out of the way of the Coup de Grace. Balor got out and delivered a double stomp but couldn’t get 1916. Gargano got the hold back on, but Balor made it to the ropes. As a measure of payback for Balor’s attacks on him, Gargano dropkicked Balor into the barricade, but got dropped on his face on the announce desk then dropkicked off it.
Balor got the Coup de Grace after that and finished the match in his favour with 1916. He held Gargano down by the throat after the match and said something we didn’t hear.
Roderick Strong was interviewed, by the departing Cathy Kelley, about his match on Wednesday against Velveteen Dream. He said Velveteen is a dead man, then talked about Adam Cole’s match and the tag match instead.
Rhea Ripley (C) vs Bianca Belair – NXT Women’s Championship match
Bianca Belair was wearing a robe with ‘Black History in the Making’ on the back. She always looks great and makes all her own gear.
Great match, and no lack of investment in this one. They’ve been going back and forth for weeks and they’re very well matched in the ring. Ripley took a hair whip shot before being dumped on her face, but got her knees up for Belair’s moonsault. Belair struggled free to avoid Riptide and managed to deliver a spear, but couldn’t capitalise. After pitching Ripley over the top rope, Belair somersaulted after her, but the landing didn’t do either of them any favours.
The ending looked a little odd and abrupt. Bianca Belair was on the second turnbuckle and Rhea Ripley managed to manoeuvre her into position for Riptide to get the win.
Charlotte Flair attacked Ripley from behind post-match, and accepted her WrestleMania challenge, using Natural Selection to add an exclamation point to the acceptance. To make Bianca Belair’s night even worse, Flair paused on her way out to shove her into the steps.
Undisputed ERA vs BROserweights – NXT Tag Team Championship match
Pete Dunne and Matt Riddle arrived in their custom golf cart, wearing t-shirts with Riddle’s Bobby Fish tongue twister on it – How much fish could Bobby Fish fry if Bobby Fish could fry fish. Riddle recited it until Fish and O’Reilly came to drag them to the ring, so it took a while for the match to officially start.
Really good match. All the best things about tag team wrestling. And TakeOver has a history of exceedingly good tag team matches. Bobby Fish took a run of kicks in the face, one of which came from his partner after Pete Dunne got out of the way. The BROserweights attempt to take both Fish and O’Reilly out simultaneously backfired when Kyle O’Reilly got his knees up for the Floating Bro. But he couldn’t finish it.
Matt Riddle was on fire and had a great chance to get the win, but a chop block saw him taking a double team and having to kick out instead. He got back to Dunne, who tried to submit O’Reilly without success. BROserweights tried for a double submission only to have both reversed and find themselves struggling out of double submission attempts.
Kyle O’Reilly launched himself onto Matt Riddle’s knee and locked in a kneebar. Dunne just about managed to break it up by jumping on O’Reilly’s hand. Riddle accidentally took out Pete Dunne who then took an Undisputed ERA double team and still kicked out. Matt Riddle was back up in time to save the day, and the match, with a successful double team on Bobby Fish.
We have new NXT Tag Team Champions and Undisputed ERA are down to one belt, for now.
Adam Cole (C) vs Tommaso Ciampa – NXT Championship match
This match was the most rattled Adam Cole has looked during his tenure as champion. It was always going to be an aggressive one. Tommaso Ciampa was laser-focused and knew he’d have to incapacitate Cole to stand any chance, so he set about methodically doing just that. He almost decapitated Cole when he hung him over the barricade and kicked him in the head. And he near on knocked him out completely barrelling into him in the timekeeper’s area. Somehow, Cole recovered and suplexed Ciampa into the edge of the announce desk. Ciampa’s spine hit the edge of the desk hard enough that there was a collective groan from the crowd and commentary. Unsurprisingly, Cole had control of the match for a while after that, but he couldn’t put Ciampa away.
Ciampa’s neck was clearly bothering him, but he gradually fought back into it and caught Cole with a high knee as Cole came off the turnbuckle. Cole worked over Ciampa’s neck and back at every opportunity, but Ciampa battled through the pain and delivered an air raid crash from the top. It wasn’t enough to get the pin.
Back on the outside, Ciampa powerbombed Cole onto an announce desk, then cleared it off and powerbombed him through it. He got Cole back in the ring, but even the addition of a knee to the head and Project Ciampa wasn’t enough to keep Cole down. Cole went for a suicide dive, not something we normally see from him, and got kicked out of the air.
Even after that Cole had a credible attempt at putting Ciampa down, but the neckbreaker only got him two. The Last Shot might have done it, but Ciampa rolled under the ropes. When Cole followed him Ciampa delivered an air raid crash on the apron.
It had got to the point where it needed to end before someone got hurt. Although, after the Panama Sunrise on the outside may have already been too late. That didn’t finish it though, and neither did Ciampa’s Fairytale Ending.
Roderick Strong distracted the referee so Fish and O’Reilly could attack Ciampa, and Ciampa still kicked out. Ciampa dealt with the other three then kicked out after three superkicks and a Last Shot.
There were more shenanigans with the rest of Undisputed ERA, and the ref got knocked out, so he wasn’t there to count after Ciampa delivered another Fairytale Ending. Johnny Gargano appeared, wearing a #DIY shirt, and stopped Ciampa grabbing the title belt, then hit him with it. The ref was back in time for Cole to cover Tommaso Ciampa for the pin.
Bullshit ending to a fun, but busy, match.
That main event was slightly exhausting. I’m not sure there was anything else they could possibly have thrown at it. I’m also not sure I can muster any enthusiasm for another round of Ciampa versus Gargano. It was great, but there has already been quite a lot of it and there isn’t a lot left for them to do without repeating themselves.
Overall though, it was a great show as usual. I’m sad for Bianca Belair, but I am psyched for Rhea Ripley versus Charlotte Flair at WrestleMania. Belair is, without doubt, a future champion and it feels like her time should be close.