Mickie James joined Sam Roberts and Jimmy Smith on the Pre-show panel for long enough to talk about the women’s tag team title match and the North American Championship match. Arash Markazi joined them by video link to talk about Finn Balor versus Karrion Kross, Santo Escobar versus Jordan Devlin, and Adam Cole versus Kyle O’Reilly.
Samoa Joe interviewed Karrion Kross and Scarlett. He started by asking for some insight on how it felt to get injured winning the title and having to give it up. Kross talked about the years it had taken to get to NXT and having a moment where he felt like it was all for nothing. He said he’s going smash Balor, cut the ring off and throw bombs at him. As far as he’s concerned, Balor is the best NXT Champion of all time, but he doesn’t have the power game. He’s got technique and experience, but he doesn’t have power and he’s not going to control the pace. Joe asked about what Balor said about him being an emotional fighter and it costing him. Kross’ response was essentially that Finn Balor says a lot of things and he doesn’t give a crap about any of them.
The Samoa Joe interview with Finn Balor was highly entertaining. They’ve got so much history and Joe had to get in a couple of digs about Balor’s ‘Near Spotless’ (14-1) record, as he’s the one in fourteen and one. Balor laughed. They talked about the comparisons between Balor and Kross having to vacate titles and how long it takes to feel full strength after a return. Balor questioned if it’s too soon for Kross and noted he’s going to drag Kross into deep waters and drown him. Joe said Balor had more fury than when he’d faced him and asked what’s driving it. Balor said it’s the fact he’s proved himself time and time again over the last 20 years and he’s considered an underdog against someone he thinks is unproven. That’s what drives it. And he’s going to beat Kross.
Shotzi Blackheart and Ember Moon aren’t worried about Candice LeRae and Indi Hartwell. They’re going to take care of business and steal the show.
Adam Cole and Kyle O’Reilly were shown with security around then and being warned separately by William Regal not to touch each other before the match.
William Regal said TakeOver Night 1 was incredible and he was excited about Night 2. He was taking every step possible to make sure Adam Cole and Kyle O’Reilly don’t get their hands on each other until the bell goes because of how combustible the situation is. He also confirmed Cole will not be fined for putting his hands on him, but he said it with an ominous smirk.
O’Reilly and Cole are both billed as 6’0” and 200lbs, the rest of the stats were a bit weird. They both got sit-down interviews with Samoa Joe as well. Kyle O’Reilly talked about having an internal struggle. It felt good being in the Undisputed ERA, the championships, limo rides, merchandise cheques, but he’d strayed so far from who he was getting to NXT that he didn’t recognise himself and something have to give. If he was going to save his soul, he was going to have to disengage from the gang mentality. Joe called him on his recent actions not backing up that statement. O’Reilly agreed and said that with Adam Cole you’ve got to fight fire with fire and if he has to sink to his level to gain an advantage he’s willing to do so. Adam Cole set him free with that superkick because he’d been struggling for a year with it. He lost the matches against Finn Balor but he finally felt like himself because he fought with honour and integrity, and he fought by himself. Joe said honour and integrity aren’t going to be part of an unsanctioned match, does he have what it takes. He’s going to make the fight as one-sided as it gets. He’s going to finish it as quickly and efficiently as humanly possible. He’ll let Joe judge whether he’s got what it takes once it’s over.
When he sat down with Adam Cole, Joe said he’s lost some of his poise in this match and it seems very personal. Cole said that’s correct. He’s known Kyle O’Reilly for twelve years. They’ve travelled the world together, he was in O’Reilly’s wedding, and O’Reilly wouldn’t have made it to WWE without him. He’s offended by O’Reilly’s behaviour. He doesn’t have to prove he was the backbone of the Undisputed ERA, which Joe called an unfortunate casualty of the feud, everyone knows that. He’s the one everyone talked about. Cole got offended when Joe asked about his recent reckless behaviour, like assaulting the GM, and flipped it around to all the things O’Reilly has done. It’s O’Reilly who brought it out of him. Victory to him is when O’Reilly thinks to himself after the match that Cole has given him a beating like no one else ever has and realises he shouldn’t have messed with him. Joe asked if he could ever see them coexisting again. Cole said right now it feels impossible. But if he felt like being around someone like Kyle again and if Kyle apologised and really understood what a moron he’s been, then maybe.
Killian Dain & Drake Maverick def. Breezango
Santos Escobar def. Jordan Devlin
Shotzi Blackheart & Ember Moon def. Candice LeRae & Indo Hartwell
Johnny Gargano def. Bronson Reed
Karrion Kross def. Finn Balor
Kyle O’Reilly def. Adam Cole
Breezango vs Killian Dain & Drake Maverick – Number One Contender’s match – Pre-show
I love both these teams and I loved this match, because wrestling is supposed to be fun. Breezango were pirates for their entrance and Drake Maverick kept trying to ride Killian Dain to the ring. Dain is forever exasperated by Maverick, and a little bit by Fandango. Maverick is an asset anywhere because he gives his all to whatever he’s asked to do, and plays his part to perfection. It helps they’re all really good at what they do as well.
Drake Maverick was so pleased with himself when he’d got Breezango down, but he hadn’t finished the job. Dain fixed it by powerbombing him onto Fandango to get the pin. He stood Maverick up and stuck Fandango’s pirate hat on his head to celebrate.
Killian Dain & Drake Maverick will be MSK’s first challengers. Great for them, but I want Breezango with the belts back.
Poppy got Night 2 underway with a live performance.
Santos Escobar vs Jordan Devlin – NXT Cruiserweight Championship Unification Ladder Match
At the first sign of Devlin pulling out a ladder, Escobar tried to dropkick it into his face. Devlin lifted it over him and hit him in the face with it.
The ring and ringside area gradually filled up with ladders. Escobar and Devlin ran each other into them and bounced each other off them, and otherwise used them in a variety of creative ways. Honestly, I hate reviewing ladder matches (and unsanctioned matches) because they’re just chaos and ridiculousness with violence. Fun as hell to watch, but a nightmare to get any kind of handle on without creating massive reviews.
It was a really good ladder match. Escobar had Devlin on the defensive for most of the early parts. Devlin went for broke with a moonsault off the top of a ladder, but it looked like it hurt him almost as much as Escobar. He would have won that watch at that point if it wasn’t for the interference of Joaquin Wilde and Raul Mendoza. They showed up and shoved the ladder over, sending Devlin sprawling to the outside. Then they beat on him a bit, chucked him into the steps, had a little chat with Escobar, and left.
When Escobar got near the top of the ladder after they’d gone, Devlin threw another ladder at him then set it up next to his and climbed it. He brought them down with a Spanish fly. They dragged themselves up the central ladder, Devlin first and Escobar close enough behind to stop him grabbing the title. Blows were exchanged and Escobar’s headbutt knocked Devlin off the ladder and through one propped up in the corner.
Jordan Devlin will be returning to NXT UK without his title. Santos Escobar is the undisputed NXT Cruiserweight Champion.
MSK had a backstage interview about being the new champs. They’re extremely likeable and they’re looking forward to facing Killian Dain and Drake Maverick and seeing what they bring in a title match. They tried to make predictions for O’Reilly versus Cole and Balor versus Kross, but they picked one each.
Shotzi Blackheart & Ember Moon (C) vs Candice LeRae & Indi Hartwell – NXT Women’s Tag Team Championship match
Ember Moon’s entrance gear was awesome and Blackheart’s tank tracks light up.
Candice LeRae got caught trying to pin Blackheart with her feet on the ropes during a section where Blackheart took a lot of punishment. She got to Ember Moon did a little ‘Suck it’ tribute to Road Dogg who has been ill and we hope is recovering well. We got a huge tower of doom with Moon coming off worst and LeRae needing to take a few moments’ respite on the outside.
Shotzi Blackheart dived through Moon’s legs while Moon stood on the ropes, which is becoming a signature of theirs. This time, she overshot the landing a tad and it looked terrifying. It was one of those where the ref is out of the ring in double quick time to check and ref Aja was there in a heartbeat. She finished the match though, so hopefully she’s unhurt. She does have that Sasha Banks-esque way of pulling out something in big matches that makes you question her health. Ember Moon took a dive to the outside as a follow up as well, but it still wasn’t enough.
Shotzi Blackheart took a double team and Ember Moon only just got there in time. Moon landed a double Eclipse but Blackheart had tagged her before she launched herself, so Blackheart got the pin with a senton from the top on Hartwell.
Gable Steveson was in the audience with Stephanie McMahon.
Johnny Gargano (C), with Austin Theory, vs Bronson Reed – NXT North American Championship match
Johnny Gargano’s only real chance in this match was to keep moving and wear Reed down without taking too much punishment. Of course, that didn’t really work out for him.
Every time Bronson Reed landed a chop it put Gargano on his back gasping, whereas Gargano’s slingshot spear didn’t even take Reed off his feet. Once he did get him down, he worked Reed’s ribs and kept trying to restrict his breathing. It was a good strategy for a while. Reed was holding his ribs after landing anything.
Reed got to the ropes in the Gargano Escape, but missed with a tsunami splash. Austin Theory got up on the apron when Reed climbed to try again. He got headbutted to the floor, but it gave Gargano chance to take Reeds legs out from underneath him. Gargano’s hurricanrana didn’t pan out and he got powerbombed into the ropes and almost pinned. Austin Theory saved the match by putting Gargano’s foot on the rope. The ref missed it, but Bronson Reed didn’t.
Theory got his shirt ripped off before Reed grabbed him by the throat. Gargano dived out of the ring and Reed caught him on his shoulders and threw him at Theory. Bronson Reed’s suicide dive took out Austin Theory but missed Gargano. A superkick put Gargano down but he rolled out of the way when Reed came flying off the top turnbuckle. One Final Beat, then another one just to make sure, finished the match in Gargano’s favour.
Finn Balor (C) vs Karrion Kross – NXT Championship match – Co-Main Event
This was Balor’s 16th TakeOver, with a 14-1 record. Finally, we got to see Karrion Kross’ entrance with a crowd, and it makes so much more sense.
Balor predicted he would bring the emotion out of Kross and it would make him sloppy. He was right and it didn’t take all that long. He was having fun with it, laughing as Kross got more irate. All it took, in the end, was a disrespectful slap. Moments later he dodged Kross’ charge into the corner. Kross’ shoulder met the ringpost and Balor got himself a target. Unfortunately, he also got himself a pissed off Karrion Kross, with all the predictably painful consequences.
Balor got himself another target when he injured Kross’ ribs as well as his left arm. He got some mileage from those, and nearly got himself disqualified by stamping on him when Kross was in the ropes.
Kross was in a world of pain and a momentary hesitation on a cover meant Balor kicked out and went straight back to working the injuries. A slingblade had Kross down and Balor setting up for a finish, but a lariat took him down and the Doomsday Saito suplex had Kross prepping to finish it. Balor came back with a Pele kick dropkicks and the Coup de Grace. He landed it but Kross got Balor in the Straitjacket on the kickout. Balor got out of that and delivered a double stomp then went for a submission. Kross got out of that and punched Balor until he stopped moving. Balor was out of it at that point. Everything that followed was just details, including the punch to the back of the head which finished the match.
Karrion Kross is the new NXT Champion. That has some very interesting implications for the rest of the division.
Franky Money arrives on Tuesday. I hope she brings the dog. If anyone wasn’t totally sure it was Taya Valkyrie, she was wearing the furry boots this time.
Santos Escobar had a few nice words about how tough Jordan Devlin is, but wanted to make sure no one forgets he’s now the undisputed cruiserweight champion.
New NXT Women’s Champion Raquel Gonzalez will be on NXT on Tuesday.
Adam Cole vs Kyle O’Reilly – Unsanctioned Match
It was the right decision to put this on last because there was going to be no following it. It was odd having them come out to new music. O’Reilly’s is suitably rockable, so that’s ok. I have a clearly stated and unashamed bias in this match. I believe there is an argument to be made for Kyle O’Reilly being the best wrestler in the world. And while I appreciate Adam Cole’s ability, I don’t really enjoy him… although I’ll admit to being less true than it used to be.
Anyway, it started like an average bad-tempered grudge match and escalated from there. O’Reilly took a nasty fall off the turnbuckle to the floor and aggravated the neck injury he’s not cleared from. Cole took full advantage of that, a neckbreaker on a chair painted with the Undisputed ERA logo was a particular lowlight.
Predictably, it was when Cole started talking trash and telling O’Reilly he made him and he’d be nothing without him, that O’Reilly found another gear. He sat Cole on a chair at ringside and leapt off the apron to dropkick him. His neck was still bothering him though. As was his hand when he had to punch a chair to stop Cole hitting him in the face with it. There were a few early pin attempts, but it was going to take a lot more than that.
O’Reilly introduced the chains to the ring, and he was the first one to take and pain as a result, landing on them off a neckbreaker. He got some payback by wrapping it around his leg and kicking Cole in the face, but left himself tied up for a figure four.
Cole pulled the chain tight across the ring as O’Reilly rebounded off the ropes and nearly decapitated him, then wrapped the chain around his chest for a backstabber. That wasn’t enough, neither was the shining wizard on back to back chairs (so the one he was sat on didn’t tip).
There were a few callbacks in the match. I recognised a few bits from their Ring of Honor matches, but Cole’s attempted callback of the brainbuster on the steps was the worst. He failed and O’Reilly set him up for it but changed his mind. They fought on top of the announce desk, but it was Cole who took the suplex on it. The desk did not break. Cole hit him with a tv monitor when he came to find him.
Cole brought out a toolbox and they played, don’t get hit with a tyre iron for a while. O’Reilly wrapped the chain around Cole’s arm for an armbar into a triangle. Cole got out by hitting him in the ribs with the tyre iron. They dragged themselves onto chairs and had a little chat, or Cole did. O’Reilly kicked him in the face and they had a sit-down punch it out. Cole landed a low blow when O’Reilly stood up but the follow-up superkick only got him two.
Cole wrapped a chair around O’Reilly’s neck and picked up another chair to hit it with. The ref begged him not to, so Cole punched him out. The Panama Sunrise Cole delivered moments later would have got him the win if the ref had been conscious. While Cole was yelling at the ref, O’Reilly rolled out of the ring to the ramp (which is level with the stage for TakeOver). Cole threw a chair at him when he got to his feet and he rolled off the ramp to the floor.
They nearly knocked a plexiglass panel into the audience behind it, Cole smashed O’Reilly into it that hard. O’Reilly got Cole in a submission on the stage and Cole broke it by putting them through the metal grating on the stage. Cole crawled out of there and destroyed the side of the ramp to drag O’Reilly out. After that, O’Reilly wasn’t able to resist Cole’s brainbuster on the steps. He was barely conscious, but he still kicked out on instinct.
Once again, it was Cole’s trash-talk that woke O’Reilly up and he would have got a submission if Cole hadn’t punched him in the face while holding the chain. O’Reilly tried to put Cole away with his own move. He landed the Last Shot, but Cole kicked out.
A low blow from O’Reilly was the result of Cole’s next round of trash talk. With Cole laid out over a chair, O’Reilly wrapped the chain around his leg and jumped from the second turnbuckle, going through the chair and making Cole’s body shake. Finally, that was the pin.
They were both unmoving for a long time, but Kyle O’Reilly eventually left the Capitol Wrestling Center under his own power. He paused before he left the ring and on the stage to watch Cole being loaded onto a backboard and stretcher.
Another superb show, but I think the two-night format is difficult. The second night arguably had the better matches, but it was much harder to get hyped for. It’s tough to maintain the hype for two long shows back to back. Trouble is, the NXT roster is huge so five-match TakeOvers aren’t big enough anymore. I don’t know what the solution is, I suspect it’s making TakeOvers PPV length, but I’ve seen the same sentiment about the two-night format all over social media this week.