Charlotte Flair is paying NXT a visit tonight, to answer Rhea Ripley’s WrestleMania challenge. Rhea Ripley will also go face to face with her TakeOver title challenger Bianca Belair. Also making an appearance will be new NXT Cruiserweight Champion Jordan Devlin. Undisputed ERA are gunning for Tommaso Ciampa after he knocked three of them out and put Adam Cole through a table last week. And we’ll be hearing from Matt Riddle and Pete Dunne ahead of their TakeOver Portland match for the NXT tag titles. Speaking of TakeOver, Dakota Kai versus Tegan Nox has been added to the card, as a Street Fight.
Angel Garza def. Isaiah ‘Swerve’ Scott
Dominik Dijakovic def. Killian Dain
Mercedes Martinez def. Kacy Catanzaro
Jordan Devlin def. Tyler Breeze
Tommaso Ciampa & the BROserweights def. Undisputed ERA (DQ)
Matt Riddle and Pete Dunne opened the show, in a BROserweights branded golf cart with pyro and the Dusty Cup in the back. Matt Riddle said they’ve been celebrating since their victory and the celebration will continue. Dunne said the last thing he thought he’d do is team with Riddle, but now they’ve got the trophy and they’ll become tag champs in Portland.
Kyle O’Reilly and Bobby Fish came out and said they refuse the acknowledge them as a team… and some other stuff. Roderick Strong came out to join them and they kept talking trash as they backed away.
Matt Riddle laughed at Bobby Fish saying fish, and turned it into a tongue-teaser, then sang it to the crowd with them clapping along. Dunne said all the matters is that the BROserweights will smash the Undisputed ERA at TakeOver Portland.
Angel Garza vs Isaiah ‘Swerve’ Scott
This was a great opening match. Fast, fun, and flippy. It was Scott who got pinned to lose Garza his NXT Cruiserweight Championship and Garza clearly holds a grudge. Angel Garza kicked out after a House Call and managed to crotch Swerve on the top rope. After that, it was easy for Garza to deliver a Wing Clipper and get the pin. Swerve offered no resistance.
After the match, Garza said he just beat Swerve and on Monday he took out Humberto Carrillo and Rey Mysterio. He never lost his title and he wants it back. He knows Jordan Devlin is in the building, and he’ll be watching him.
» Cameras cut to backstage where Undisputed ERA were intimidating and bullying the staff while looking for Tommaso Ciampa.
» Every so often through the show, the date in flaming circles from last week appeared on the screen, but nothing was said about it.
» Sargent Slaughter was in the crowd.
Dominik Dijakovic vs Killian Dain
Killian Dain set up this match by approaching Dijakovic at the Performance Center and telling him he wasn’t next in line for the North American Championship, he was in his way. So this match was theoretically for a future opportunity to face Keith Lee.
Really decent match. Killian Dain’s Divide nearly divided Dijakovic’s legs from his torso going into a break. After the break they had a few good attempts at putting each other through the ring and tried to kick each other’s heads off. All very entertaining and finished with Dijakovic’s Feast Your Eyes.
Keith Lee came to the stage to break the news to Dijakovic that their TakeOver Portland title match had been confirmed. They shook hands and it was all very civilised. They’ve earned each other’s respect already and it will be a very good match.
» In their bullying and Ciampa seeking quest, Undisputed ERA put Kushida in a bin and knocked down Bronson Reed.
Mauro Ranallo hosted a split-screen interview with Finn Balor and Johnny Gargano. It was less of an interview and more of a back and forth bitchfest. A very well done bitchfest, but a bitchfest nonetheless. Balor said the match was supposed to take place at WarGames, but Gargano wasn’t cleared after he dropped him on his head. Gargano said he’s been counting the days for three months. Balor said he’d been counting the days for four years to get his hands on Gargano. All he’s heard is Johnny Wrestling, Johnny TakeOver Johnny blah blah blah. But now it’s time to step up and prove it. Everyone will find out Gargano is not the next Finn Balor.
That pissed Gargano off. He said he’s not the next Finn Balor, he’s the first and only Johnny Gargano. The first triple crown champion in NXT history, the most TakeOver main events. Balor is right, Gargano does need this match. He needs to beat the longest reigning NXT Champion of all time to solidify himself as the face of the brand. But Balor needs it too.
Balor disagreed and said he doesn’t care about match of the year, or if the match lasts twenty minutes or twenty seconds. He doesn’t get paid by the hour but he’s going to take his time. Gargano butted in and said he sees it in Balor’s eyes, that’s the guy he needs to beat, that’s NXT Finn Balor not RAW and SmackDown Finn Balor. Not the guy who lost to Bobby Lashley seventeen weeks in a row. Because if that guy shows up in Portland Gargano will eat him alive.
Balor told Gargano he would wish that guy showed up in Portland, but that guy is dead. He’s not there for match of the year, he’s there to have the last match of Gargano’s life. Gargano said Balor needed to be ready because he was going to take the NXT flag Balor left behind and drive it through his heart. Johnny Gargano had already left by the time Balor said he doesn’t have a heart.
Mercedes Martinez got a mini intro package ahead of the match. It feels like there might be big plans for her. I do hope so. Kacy Catanzaro got hers during her entrance.
Mercedes Martinez vs Kacy Catanzaro
I really enjoyed this. Kacy Catanzaro is invariably fun to watch and I’m glad she decided to come back. Her matches frequently follow the same pattern. Most of her opponents are considerably bigger and stronger than her, so if she’s caught she’s in trouble. Her best bet is not to slow down long enough to get caught, and it works very well for her, to a point.
Not so many of those opponents are quite so much bigger and stronger than her though, and Mercedes Martinez caught her. She threw her around a bit then delivered a fisherman-buster suplex for the win.
» Rhea Ripley had a backstage interview. She said that her number one concern tonight was Bianca Belair, but it’s nice for The Queen to show up.
Undisputed ERA found Tommaso Ciampa. He put Strong, Fish, and O’Reilly down quickly, then brawled into the arena with Cole. They stopped in front of the announce desk and Ciampa bounced Cole’s head off it a bunch of times. He was getting ready to put Cole through the desk when the other three arrived. They made their way to the ring, where they were joined by the BROserweights and then security.
William Regal came out and set a match between them for tonight’s main event. As soon as he left, it all kicked off again. It took a lot of security and officials, and a whole lot of time to separate them.
Jordan Devlin vs Tyler Breeze
Devlin dropkicked Breeze off the apron during his entrance and we went into a break unsure if the match would happen. It was on by the time we came back.
It didn’t take Breeze long to assert himself within the match, and it was a fairly even affair. Moving back from main roster/catering has been great for Tyler Breeze. Here he has automatic respect as one of the ‘elder statesmen’ of NXT. He may not be topping the bill, but he’s in the mix and he’s relevant. He looks great as well.
But this was about showing off Devlin as champion to the Full Sail crowd, so it wasn’t going to be Breeze’s night. He had a lot of very near misses, but Jordan Devlin delivered a massive headbutt then finished it with a Devlin Side
The Bianca Belair, Rhea Ripley, Charlotte Flair segment was really interesting. Belair came out first and complained that Ripley had challenged Flair for WrestleMania when, as far as Belair is concerned, Ripley won’t be champion at WrestleMania because she’s going to take it from her in Portland. But Belair isn’t interested in The Queen, she wanted Rhea Ripley to come out and stand face to face with her.
She got Charlotte Flair whether she wanted her or not. The first thing Flair said, after acknowledging the crowd, was that she has a lot of respect for Belair. She’s an amazing athlete, but she is not Charlotte Flair. She’s amused that Belair and Ripley are all fired up talking about her, but she pointed out that Ripley had overlooked Belair. And now Belair’s made it all about herself.
Rhea Ripley joined them then, so Flair got no further. There was a fun little ego-off with Flair putting her hand in Belair’s face to move her away and Belair losing her mind about it while Ripley tried to get Flair’s answer to her challenge. Then Belair getting in between them again with her back to Ripley to tell Flair she doesn’t even ‘go here’, and telling Ripley she’s not going to go through her at Portland, so if there’s a WrestleMania match it will be her and Flair, not Ripley and Flair.
Flair told her this was a conversation for champions so ‘stand over there and fix your braid’. Rhea Ripley stood up for Belair, saying she didn’t go to Flair’s house and disrespect her, so don’t come to NXT and disrespect them. There’s a saying in NXT, in case Flair has forgotten, ‘We Are NXT’. A quick look passed between Ripley and Belair, then Belair smacked Charlotte Flair across the back of the head. Between them, Belair and Ripley lifted Flair onto their shoulders, dropped her on her face, then went back to arguing.
Unsurprisingly, this main event started before either team got to the ring. The BROserweights and Ciampa attacked Undisputed ERA on the stage and a massive brawl kicked off again. The one good thing, for Ciampa Dunne and Riddle, was they managed to take out Roderick Strong, the Undisputed ERA member not officially involved in the match, temporarily at least. He was back and interfering within a couple of minutes of the start.
Undisputed ERA vs Tommaso Ciampa & the BROserweights
This was a great main event. Of course it was, what else was it going to be, apart from a nice tidy way to build two TakeOver matches at once. It was brilliant right up until the end when Roderick Strong caused the disqualification by kneeing Ciampa in the face to stop him giving Adam Cole a Fairytale Ending.
It all kicked off after that. O’Reilly ad Fish took out Dunne and Riddle on the outside. Cole and Strong took down Ciampa inside the ring then Cole spray-painted a yellow X on Ciampa’s back.
They were celebrating, trash-talking, and pontificating when the owner of the cryptic flaming date revealed himself. Velveteen Dream. He arrived, with considerable flair, to close the show.
He jumped off the top turnbuckle and took out Undisputed ERA all by himself.
I really hope Charlotte Flair makes NXT her choice. I’d take either Flair vs Ripley or Flair vs Belair at WrestleMania over either of the main roster options.
NXT TakeOver Portland is stacked the way TakeOvers are always stacked. There is absolutely no way for it to be a bad show. It’s not perfect, but NXT is consistently my favourite televised wrestling show, and there is so much to look forward to at the moment. I can’t wait to see where Velveteen Dream slots back in.