The John Report: WWE NXT Takeover New York 04/05/19 Review (Gargano vs. Cole for NXT Title)

TJR Wrestling

This year’s WrestleMania weekend kicked off with NXT Takeover New York from the Barclays Center. It’s Saturday morning when I am posting this. Thanks to our NXT guy Kurt Zamora for doing the live review of the show. Let’s get to it.

WWE NXT Takeover New York
From Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York
April 5, 2019

The opening video package aired hyping up the five matches on the show. Good stuff as always.

The crowd was fired up at Barclays Center where they have seen many Takeover events, usually in the summer. The announce team of Mauro Ranallo, Percy Watson and Nigel McGuinness welcomed us to the show. Shoutout to Bill Simmons of The Ringer and his son in row one too. The Spanish announce team was at ringside too.

The War Raiders duo of Hanson and Rowe got an entrance fitting for this duo known as modern day Vikings. They had people with shields on stage with them. They are the NXT Tag Team Champions.

Ricochet made his entrance first for his team and he got a big pop. Aleister Black was up last for his team to a reaction that may have been even louder than what Ricochet got. Some of the fans were even singing his theme song. Most fans know this might be their NXT farewell, so the crowd support for them is going to be strong.

NXT Tag Team Championships: War Raiders (Rowe and Hanson) vs. Ricochet and Aleister Black

Black and Rowe started with an exchange of counter moves where Rowe stopped himself with a punch, so Black stopped himself with a kick moments later. They did a fist bump out of respect. Ricochet tagged in against Hanson with Ricochet hitting a headscissors followed by a dropkick. Black tagged in, he tossed Rowe out of the ring and Black did his backflip into the ring, so Ricochet sat beside his partner, which drew cheers and “NXT” chants. Rowe and Hanson showed some athleticism to avoid moves, then Black kicked Rowe down and Ricochet hit a dropkick on Rowe. Hanson with a seated senton on Black, body slam on Ricochet and Rowe slammed Hanson onto Ricochet. Rowe worked over the left arm of Black. Hanson with a body slam on Black, but Black came back with a spin kick to Rowe to knock him down. Ricochet back in with a headscissors on Rowe, shoulder tackle to Rowe, kick to the face and Ricochet with springboard clothesline followed by a standing Shooting Star Press for two. Black tagged in, he hit a forearm to Rowe’s chest and that got a two count. The fans were reacting to something in the crowd as Black grounded Rowe with an armbar and fans chanted “you deserve it” at something going on in the crowd. Black worked over Rowe with kicks to the chest followed by a legsweep kick. Rowe came back with a knee to the face. Hanson tagged in with a back body drop on Ricochet, who was legal, followed by a sidewalk slam and a cross body block. Hanson hit running clotheslines on Ricochet and Black five times each. The fans cheered that effort by the big man. Black was tossed out of the ring, then Ricochet caught Hanson and hit an overhead slam on him. Big pop for that. Cool spot.

Rowe and Black tagged in leading to a battle of strikes to the head, Black went for a spin kick, Rowe moved, Black blocked a kick and hit a kick to the head. Rowe with a knee to the head, Black with a knee to the head and Black with a bridging German Suplex for a two count. Ricochet and Hanson back in with Ricochet hitting a roundhouse kick to the face. Hanson avoided a kick and Hanson hit a handspring back elbow that knocked down Ricochet for a two count. Hanson went up top, Ricochet knocked him down, Rowe tagged in and hit a knee on Ricochet against the turnbuckle. There was a back splash by Hanson on Ricochet and Hanson hit a springboard clothesline off the middle ropes on Ricochet for a two count because Black hit a double foot stomp off the top to break it up! Holy shit! That was a great sequence. Black sent both War Raiders out of the ring leading to a moonsault on Hanson off the middle ropes. Rowe hit a suicide drop on Black. Ricochet hit a Space Flying corkscrew tiger drop on Rowe over the top to the floor. Hanson to the top with a cannonball onto the four guys. Ranallo: “Cannonball mama mia!” The fans gave them a standing ovation along with a “NXT” chant. The referee counted them out of the ring, but Ricochet and Rowe managed to get back in the ring to break the count. Ricochet with a superkick on Rowe, Black with a boot to the face of Rowe and a step up knee to Hanson. Black hit the Black Mass kick on Rowe. Ricochet got the tag and he hit a Shooting Star Press, but Hanson pushed Black into the pin attempt to break it up. That was such a cool spot. I know guys have done that in tag team matches before, but it was set up so well here too. Ricochet went up top for a 630 Splash, but Hanson pulled Rowe out of the ring. Black went for a moonsault to the floor, Hanson moved and Hanson wiped up Black with a clothesline. Hanson got the tag, so Ricochet kicked him in the head. Popup up Powerslam by Hanson on Ricochet and a tope suicida on Black. Rowe pick up Ricochet and Hanson hit a top rope leg drop known as the Fallout for the pinfall win at 18:35. What an ending! The crowd reacted to that in a big way with Ricochet landing hard on the mat.

Winners by pinfall: War Raiders

Analysis: ****3/4 Awesome tag team match. There wasn’t a storyline and they were both face teams, yet they ended up having one of the best tag team matches I’ve ever seen. They continued to top themselves with some of the most creative nearfall spots. It was the perfect mix of power moves, aerial mastery and also double team work from both sides that was believable. Even though I knew Ricochet and Black weren’t going to win, there was that spot with Hanson breaking up the pin by shoving Black onto Ricochet and Rowe where it looked like the match might end there. The finish looked like it was a rough landing for Ricochet landing on the back of his neck, but he appeared to be fine after the match. I can’t go five stars because it needed a bit more. Being one small notch below means it was one of the better tag team matches I’ve seen in NXT or anywhere else.

After the match was over, War Raiders picked up Ricochet after he was spiked into the mat and the four men hugged. War Raiders put their titles down and bowed to Ricochet and Black. Ranallo referenced this was the NXT farewell of Ricochet and Black saying it was their swan song.

The duo of Black and Ricochet stood in the ring to soak up the applause from the crowd. There were given a standing ovation, both guys were emotional about it, there were “NXT” chants and “you deserve it” chants as well.

Analysis: That was a cool moment. The joke is that Ricochet was crying because he had to deal with Raw booking now. Their future isn’t known yet because there’s the Superstar Shakeup on April 15/16, which I assume is when Ricochet and Black will be assigned to Raw or Smackdown either on the same show or on different brands. Black was in NXT longer than Ricochet. Both of them had impressive runs there.

A commercial aired for WrestleMania promoting Triple H vs. Batista.

Johnny Gargano was shown backstage warming up for his main event match.

There was a shot of NXT UK superstars Toni Storm and Piper Niven at ringside.

A video package aired to promote the NXT North American Championship match between Velveteen Dream and Matt Riddle.

Matt Riddle made his entrance with the “Bro” chance since he really likes that word. If you’ve never seen Riddle’s entrance, when he gets into the ring, he kicks his flip flops into the crowd and wrestles barefoot.

Velveteen Dream had an elaborate entrance where he looked like a purple version of the Statue of Liberty. He was carried to the ring on a throne by some indy wrestlers.

North American Championship: Velveteen Dream vs. Matt Riddle

There were chants for both guys to start the match, which is typical for a Takeover event. Riddle grabbed an armbar leading to Dream getting to the ropes. Riddle went for another armbar, so Dream went to the ropes again. Dream stomped on the foot of Riddle, Dream with a shoulder tackle and multiple rollup attempts. Dream did a back rake to Riddle’s back. Riddle hit two straight gutwrench suplexes, Dream with a dropkick and a double axehandle off the top. Dream with two more double axehandle attacks. With Riddle on the floor, Dream tried a top rope attack, but Riddle moved and hit a German Suplex on the floor. Back in the ring, splash by Riddle on Dream. Riddle with a jumping kick to the face, two forearms to the face and an Exploder Suplex out of the corner. Dream with a broton (senton) splash and a running kick for two. Riddle went for an armbar on Dream again, but Dream got his foot on the bottom rope to break the hold. Dream hit a German Suplex, Riddle got back to his feet quickly leading to a knee to the face followed by a Fisherman’s Buster for a two count. Riddle with a broton splash on Dream again. Dream got to the ropes to escape a submission leading to forearms by Riddle with Dream against the ropes, which led to some boos. Riddle got a rollup using his legs to keep Dream down, but Dream got out of it. Riddle went for an armbar again with Dream escaping again. Riddle worked over Dream with knees to the chest. Riddle with kicks to the chest, which led to Dream hulking up and the fans were behind him as Dream connected with punches followed by a big boot to the face. Dream with a body slam, kick to the chest and a clothesline over the top to the floor. Dream with a double axehandle off the top onto Riddle on the floor.

Back in the ring, Dream hit a Fameasser for two. Dream jumped off the top and Riddle took him down with a knee to the face. Dream hit a Codebreaker on Riddle for a two count. Dream went for a running kick, but Riddle grabbed the leg and slapped on the Ankle Lock submission. Dream kicked with his left leg, so Riddle slapped the Ankle Lock on the left leg. Dream broke free, side superkick and Dream hit the Dream DDT. Dream hit a Dream Valley Driver, then he went up top for the Rainmaker elbow, but Riddle grabbed the arm into the Bromission armbar. Dream managed to get to the ropes, he sent Riddle face first into the top rope and Riddle grabbed Dream on the apron leading to a German Suplex for just two. Ouch! That was a painful looking bump. Riddle went up top and hit a Floating Bro splash for a two count. That’s such a cool move…bro. The arena exploded in cheers for Dream kicking out. Dream with a superkick, Riddle with a Powerbomb and a knee to the face for two. When Riddle slapped on the armbar submission, Dream rolled backwards and he was on top of Riddle for the pinfall win at 17:35. Riddle was shocked by the loss.

Winner by pinfall: Velveteen Dream

Analysis: ****1/4 That was an impressive performance by both guys with Riddle getting most of the offense and doing everything he could to win the match, but he wasn’t able to get the victory for his title in NXT. I thought the German Suplex spot from the apron really helped pick up the pace and the crowd got more into it after that. Riddle kept on going for the armbars, so it made sense that Dream would get the win when he was able to counter it for the win. It also doesn’t hurt Riddle much to lose to a counter hold like that. Both guys have main event potential not just in NXT, but on the main roster as well.

After the match was over, Dream celebrated with his title while Riddle stared at him. When Dream held up the title in front of Riddle, that led to applause from Riddle. When Riddle wanted a fist bump, Dream gave it to him and they went their separate ways.

Analysis: It was the second straight match that was face vs. face, so the respect factor was there again.

A commercial aired for the Lesnar vs. Rollins match at WrestleMania.

Adam Cole was shown in the locker room with his Undisputed buddies Kyle O’Reilly, Roderick Strong and Bobby Fish encouraging him.

There was a video of Kushida signing with WWE earlier with Triple H and William Regal there to make it official.

Kushida was shown in the crowd and he got a huge ovation from the crowd. Ranallo put him over as a six-time IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion in New Japan. He’s 35 years old with a lot of experience, so hopefully he fits in well in NXT and has a good run there. I wish him the best.

The video package aired for Pete Dunne defending the UK Championship against Walter. Dunne has been the champion for 685 days since he won it in May 2017. Walter debuted in NXT UK in January and Dunne said he wanted to face Walter, so that’s the match we get here.

Walter is a big guy from Austria that has had great matches all over the world prior to being in WWE. His entrance is something from a symphony and fits his European style. Vic Joseph took over for Saxton on commentary for this match because Joseph is the main NXT UK announcer.

Pete Dunne got a big ovation for his entrance. He’s earned a lot of support from fans that have seen him have many great matches already in his WWE career. The announcers wondered if Dunne was the underdog here because of how big Walter is.

WWE United Kingdom Championship: Pete Dunne vs. Walter

They did some mat wrestling with neither guy getting the advantage. Dunne used his speed to avoid a corner chop from Walter. They exchanged strikes with Walter connecting with hard chops to the chest. Walter with a stiff knee to the face followed by a huge chop to the chest. Walter set up Dunne on the top rope so that he could put his boot to Dunne’s throat. Walter with a suplex that sent Dunne back first on the side of the ring apron. Walter tried working on the left foot, but Dunne slipped out of that leading to a heel hook submission with Walter breaking free after a chop to the chest. Walter slapped on a Boston Crab submission with Dunne managing to crawl to the ropes. Dunne grabbed the fingers of Walter, so Walter broke free and hit a boot to the face to knock Dunne down to the floor. Dunne got back into it with punches, enziguri kick to the head and Dunne hit a kick to the back of the head that sent Walter to the floor. Dunne to the middle ropes leading to a moonsault on Walter on the floor. Walter with a double fist to the chest of Dunne, Walter wanted a superplex, but Dunne pulled on the fingers of Walter and Dunne hit a sitout Powerbomb for a two count. That was impressive on a near-300 pounder like Walter, who rolled to the floor. Dunne went up top and jumped off with a double foot stomp onto Walter on the floor. Back in the ring, Walter avoided a corner attack, Dunne slipped off the ropes and Walter hit a dropkick. Walter with a German Suplex followed a Powerbomb into a cover for a two count. Walter with a chop to the chest, so Dunne slapped him to the face and Walter hit another hard chop followed by a stomp. Those were some loud strikes! Dunne with more hard slaps, Walter with a chop to the chest again and Dunne’s knees buckled. Walter with a stomp to the face, stomp to the throat and Dunne came back with a step up enziguri. Both guys were down selling the pain.

Dunne stomped on Walter’s hands and a kick to the head again. Dunne went up top, Walter punched the legs to knock him down and Walter wanted a German Suplex off the top, but Dunne held on. Walter hooked the arms of Dunne and suplexed him off the top in a move that Ranallo called an Avalanche Sleeper Suplex. It looked like a rough landing for Dunne, but he was okay. Dunne grabbed the fingers of Walter, snapped them back and Dunne with a German suplex followed by a crucifix pin for a two count. Each guy kicked away at the other man with Dunne stomping from a position on top. Dunne with more stomps to the face of Walter. Dunne wrenched back on the arms and the fingers with Walter in pain on the mat. Walter got his foot on the bottom rope to break the hold. Dunne was seated on the top rope with Walter hitting a clothesline to knock him down. Walter went up top, he jumped off the top, Dunne caught the left arm and Dunne tried to break the fingers, but Walter broke free. Walter stomped on Dunne’s shoulders. Dunne got back up trying for a slam only for Walter to deck him with a lefty clothesline. Dunne got back into it with a clothesline followed his Bitter End slam that was only good for a two count. That was Dunne’s finisher that won him many matches as the champion in the last two years. There was a staredown in the center of the ring leading to strikes from both guys. The referee pulled Dunne back, so Walter decked Dunne with a kick to the face. Walter went up top, Dunne got back up, pulled on the fingers again and Dunne slapped on a triangle choke on Walter’s arm, but Walter fought out of it. Walter hit a Powerbomb on Dunne off the top rope. That was huge! Walter went up top and hit a splash on Dunne to win the WWE UK Championship at 25:42.

Winner by pinfall and New WWE UK Champion: Walter

Analysis: ****1/4 It was another awesome match on this show that was very physical with so many strikes by both guys. The big spot was when Dunne hit the Bitter End only for Walter to kick out, which was rare for anybody to kick out of that move. When they did that reset leading to the finish with Walter getting the win, it showed how even the match was up to that point. I liked the way it was booked and it was right to have Walter win clean for the title. What prevented it from being rated higher is that it probably about five minutes too long. It’s still a great match, though. Dunne’s reign as champion was impressive. I wonder if he becomes a full-timer on the main NXT show along with his NXT UK duties because he would be a great asset to regular NXT as well.

Post match, Walter stood in the ring with the WWE UK Championship while the referee checked on Dunne. The announcers put over Dunne’s incredible 685 days as the WWE UK Champion. Dunne took a long time to get back to his feet because he was selling the beating.

A commercial aired for DAZN’s service promoting boxing fights with comedian Tracy Morgan starring in the commercial.

A commercial aired for the Winner Takes All match between Rousey, Lynch and Flair at WrestleMania on Sunday.

There was a shot of the WWE Hall of Fame couple Edge and Beth Phoenix sitting at ringside. They are married with two daughters.

A video package aired to set up the Fatal 4-Way for the NXT Women’s Championship.

The women made their entrances in this era: Kairi Sane, Bianca Belair, Io Shirai and the NXT Women’s Champion Shayna Baszler was last.

NXT Women’s Championship: Shayna Baszler vs. Kairi Sane vs. Bianca Belair vs. Io Shirai

Baszler and Belair tossed Shirai and Sane out of the ring. Belair with a shoulder tackle, Shirai with a double knee attack on Belair and Sane got back in the ring with a neckbreaker on Baszler. Belair with a shoulder tackle on Sane. Double dropkick by the Sky Pirates duo of Sane and Shirai on Belair. Sane and Shirai tripped up Baszler leading to a double dropkick that knocked Baszler out of the ring. Shirai and Sane battled eachother briefly, but the other two women pulled them out of the ring. Baszler whipped Belair into the turnbuckle by using her long ponytail. Baszler stomped on the left elbow of Belair. Dropkick by Belair on Baszler and then Belair sent Baszler face first into the steel ring post. Sane got back into it with an elbow off the top on Belair for two. Belair went for a dropkick, Sane avoided it, dropkick to the back and Shirai hit a springboard dropkick on Belair while Sane knocked Baszler down outside the ring. Double knee attack by Shirai on Belair against the turnbuckle. Belair with a fallaway slam on Shirai for a two count because Baszler broke up the pin. Baszler and Belair battled on the turnbuckle, Sane joined them, then Shirai joined the party and it was a Tower of Doom spot out of the corner with a double Powerbomb and a superplex at the same time. All four women were down. Shirai launched Sane over the top for a dive. Shirai hit a moonsault off the middle turnbuckle on Baszler. Belair got back into it with a Spear on Shirai. Belair with a chickenwing slam on Sane, Baszler with a knee to the face of Shirai and all four women were down with the fans clapping for them. There were multiple two counts after that.

Baszler pulled Sane out of the ring, Belair got a rollup on Shirai for two and Belair tossed Shirai over the top onto the two other women on the floor. Belair went for a slam on Baszler, but Baszler fought out of it and slapped on the Kirifuda Clutch submission although it didn’t appear like it was locked in perfectly. Belair picked Baszler up and hit the KOD slam for the two count as Shirai broke up the pin. Shirai countered a Belair slam with a X-Factor followed by a moonsault on Baszler. Shirai went up top and hit a perfect moonsault on Baszler for two as Sane broke up the pin. That led to the friends battling eachother with Sane slamming Shirai on Baszler. Sane went up top and hit an Insane Elbow drop for two with Shirai breaking up the pin. Sane ran the ropes leading to Shirai hitting a dropkick. Shirai picked up Sane, who turned it into a DDT. Sane went up top and Belair whipped her in the ribs with her hair. Belair put Shirai and Sane on her shoulders leading to a double KOD to a huge ovation from the crowd. Impressive power shown by Belair. No cover because Baszler kicked Belair in the face. Baszler slapped on the Kirifuda Clutch on Belair, who tried to fight it, but Belair tapped out in the submission hold. The fans booed that finish because they wanted a Belair win. The match went 15:43.

Winner by submission: Shayna Baszler

Analysis: ***3/4 That was pretty good with a result that surprised me because I expected a title change. I thought Sane and Shirai were the standout performers in this match. That’s not to say Baszler and Belair did a bad job at all, but I think Sane and Shirai are better all around wrestlers than the other two women. The way Shirai does moonsault is impressive. The last couple of minutes were great, but I’ve gotten tired of Baszler continuing as the champion. I realize that she may not be on the main roster soon (she’ll be 39 in August), so perhaps she’ll be one of those wrestlers that stays in NXT for most of her WWE career. I think Belair makes sense as the next champion.

After the match was over, Baszler celebrated with the title on the stage where her Four Horsewomen buddies Jessamyn Duke and Marina Shafir were there with hugs for her.

A WrestleMania commercial aired promoting The Miz vs. Shane McMahon in a Falls Count Anywhere match.

A commercial aired for the WWE Hall of Fame on WWE Network on Saturday night.

The NXT Championship was shown at ringside. It is now vacant because Tommaso Ciampa had to relinquish it due to injury.

The video package aired to set up Johnny Gargano vs. Adam Cole for the NXT Title in a 2 out of 3 Falls match.

Johnny Gargano made his entrance to a huge ovation from the crowd. After a run as a heel, he was back in a face role where he should be. Ranallo mentioned that the winner of this match would be the 15th NXT Champion. It was also noted that Gargano was in his record 12th NXT Takeover match.

Adam Cole was up next and he was joined by his Undisputed Era buddies Kyle O’Reilly, Roderick Strong and Bobby Fish. The boys went to the back as Cole made his entrance alone. They have one of my favorite theme songs in all of WWE.

The wrestlers stood in the ring as Kayla Braxton introduced both men. Even though Cole was the hell, the fans cheered both guys and did the “BAY BAY” thing after Cole’s name. There were “Adam Cole” chants as the match began with Ranallo noting that 11 former NXT Champions will be competing at WrestleMania. How many are in the battle royal? Don’t answer that.

NXT Championship 2 out of 3 Falls: Johnny Gargano vs. Adam Cole

They did some mat wrestling early with each guy grabbing headlocks. Cole with a shoulder tackle, Gargano avoided a kick, then each guy avoided moves until Gargano took control with an armdrag. They exchanged strikes, Gargano with a headscissors takedown, a dropkick and a clothesline that sent Cole out of the ring. Gargano hit a dropkick between the ropes that knocked Cole down. Cole rolled to the other side of the ring, he hit a jumping kick to the face followed by knee lifts to the face. Cole grabbed a side headlock, Johnny got up and Cole hit a back elbow to the face. The guys ran the ropes leading to a double cross body block that knocked them both down. Gargano with an overhead belly to belly suplex, each guy got a two fall, Gargano with a roll through kick, Cole to the floor, when he went back in there was a slingshot spear by Gargano for a two count. Gargano hit a flatliner off the middle ropes for a two count. Cole got back into it with a backstabber to Gargano while he was up against the ropes for a two count. They did an exchange of rollups with two counts for each guy. Cole hit a jumping enziguri kick to the head. Two more nearfalls. They each went for kicks, but avoided eachother and another nearfall by Gargano. Cole ran off the ropes and hit the Last Shot knee to the back of the head for the first fall at 13:50.

Pinfall by Adam Cole means that Cole leads 1-0

Analysis: It’s typical in a 2 out of 3 Falls match to have the heel get the first fall even though these fans don’t really boo Cole. It’s just the more traditional way of booking to have the babyface Gargano make the comeback to win the match.

Cole continued the attack with a German Suplex followed by a Last Shot running knee to the face of Gargano for a two count. Great nearfall with Ranallo pointing out that it was the first time somebody has kicked out of the Last Shot. They went to the apron where Gargano came back with a Spear on the apron. Gargano hit a senton off the apron on Cole on the floor. Back in the ring, Cole hit the Ushigoroshi with a fireman’s carry into the knee to the back for a two count. Cole went to the turnbuckle, he teased a Powerbomb out of the corner, Gargano blocked that attempt and hit an avalanche Air Raid Crash slam for a two count. They were on the apron again, Gargano kicked Cole in the face and hit a Slingshot DDT right on the side of the ring apron. That was crazy. Gargano got up at 7, then went back out of the ring to break the count and Cole sent Gargano twice into the ring post. Back in the ring, Gargano locked in the Gargano Escape submission on the left arm and Cole tapped out quickly to give Gargano the second fall at 21:01.

Submission by Johnny Gargano means that the match is now 1-1

Gargano was bleeding above his right eyebrow, so the referee put on the gloves. There was a slugfest by the guys, Cole with a bicycle kick, Gargano with a clothesline, a kick to the head and Cole hit an Ushigoroshi knee to the back to the head for a two count. The fans were chanting “Adam Cole” and “Johnny Wrestling” as Gargano launched Cole into the turnbuckle like a lawn dart and then a full nelson into a slam for a two count. They did another slugfest, then they each hit kicks to the head and there was a double superkick spot that knocked both guys down as Mauro correctly said it does not get any closer than this. Cole with a superkick to the back of the head followed by a straight jacket German Suplex (where he holds on to the arms) for a two count. Cole with a backdrop driver suplex. Gargano avoided an attack, he hit a kick to the face and a reverse hurricanrana. Gargano with another superkick leading to Cole rolling out of the ring, so Gargano was unable to pin him. Cole got a hold of Gargano leading to a wheelbarrow slam (where he held Johnny around the waist) and slammed Gargano back first into the side of the ring apron. Back in the ring, Gargano hit a DDT off the apron followed by a slingshot DDT for a two count. Gargano sent Cole out of the ring, suicide dive by Gargano and he sent Cole back in the ring. Cole with a superkick to block a Spear attempt, then Cole off the apron and he hit a springboard Canadian Destroyer that he calls the Panama Sunrise for one…two…and no! Gargano kicked out. That drew a huge pop from the crowd that was standing and thinking that was the end of the match. What an incredible sequence that led to “NXT” chants. They left the ring with Cole telling Gargano that he’s a failure. Gargano tossed Cole over the Spanish announce table. The referee stayed in the ring and didn’t count them out of the ring. Cole picked up Gargano on the table, hooked the arms and hit a Fairytale Ending (a Ciampa move) that sent Gargano face first onto the table. The table did not break. Ranallo said it looked like Gargano was knocked out. Cole went back into the ring, so the referee started his count, Gargano managed to get back to his feet and slid back in the ring before the ten count. Cole with another vicious superkick to the face for one…two…and no because Gargano got his right shoulder up at the last moment. The fans were chanting “Adam Cole” and “Johnny Wrestling” again. When Cole tried another superkick, Gargano hit a superkick of his own, Cole with a kick of his own and Cole tried an attack off the ropes. Gargano with the Gargano Escape submission, but Roderick Strong showed up on the apron, so Johnny punched him. The referee told Strong to leave, Gargano with the Gargano Escape again, Cole tapped out (the ref never saw it) and Kyle O’Reilly gouged Johnny’s eyes to break the hold. The fans booed even though they were cheering Cole for most of the match. Cole kicked Gargano in the butt, which led to Johnny bumping into referee Eddie Orengo, who bumped to the floor. That led to Undisputed members Kyle O’Reilly and Bobby Fish to hit their sweep kick/neckbreaker combo on Gargano. Strong tossed the referee back in as Cole covered Gargano for one…two…and no again! Gargano kicked out! Huge pop from the crowd. Cole charged in and Gargano hit a back body drop that sent Cole over the top onto the three Undisputed Era guys on the floor. Gargano whipped Strong into the ring post, Gargano with a superkick on Fish and a Tornado DDT on O’Reilly on the floor. Back in the ring, Cole with two superkicks followed by the Last Shot knee to the back of the head for one…two…and no! Thunderous applause from the crowd while the crowd exploded in cheers and “NXT” chants. A “Holy Shit” chant would have been appropriate because that was my reaction! Ranallo was freaking out to help sell the moment in a big way. That looked like the finish right there, but Gargano kept on fighting. Cole went for the Last Shot knee again, Gargano moved and Gargano slapped on the Gargano Escape submission again. When Cole got to the ropes, Gargano rolled to the center of the ring in the Gargano Escape and Cole tapped out! Gargano wins the NXT Championship for the first time in his career! Massive pop for that. The match went 38:23.

Winner by submission 2-1 and New NXT Champion: Johnny Gargano

Analysis: ***** What an amazing f’n match. Wow. Another five-star performance from Johnny Takeover and the best match in Cole’s NXT career so far. That third fall was ridiculously good with so many believable nearfalls. I think the first two falls were booked well in terms of building the anticipation to what was to come later in the match. The length of the match felt just right because I don’t mind going over 30 minutes when it’s 2/3 Falls for a major title. The endurance of both guys was impressive because Gargano and Cole didn’t really slow down the entire match. That third fall was faster paced than the first two with a ridiculous amount of moments that could have ended the match. I liked the way Undisputed Era was booked to try to help Cole, yet Gargano was able to overcome that to become the champion for the first time. Ref bumps are not that common in NXT matches, but it helped tell the story in this match. The crowd was so into the match as well with support for both men. The announcers did a spectacular job of making this feel special too. I like how even the match was booked since they are so similar in size with similar in-ring styles. I’m amazed at their endurance level and their ability to keep going at such a high level from the first minute and then nearly 40 minutes later. Amazing work by both guys. This is the WWE match of the year so far. It’s going to be tough to beat this one. My star rating scale has a max of five stars. If I did go over that scale then this match might have been above it. I know some people go higher than five, but when you do this you need to set a limit, so that’s what I do. Anyway, whether you want to use stars or not, please watch Cole vs. Gargano because it was professional wrestling at its absolute best.

Gargano celebrated with the NXT Title while Cole left with his buddies. Johnny’s wife Candice LeRae went into the ring to hug her husband. Gargano held up the NXT Title over his head. Replays aired showing some of the highlights of the match.

Gargano posed with some fans at ringside. Gargano went over to his dad Frank in the crowd and some other family members that were there. His good friend Gregory Iron was there too. More replays were shown from the match including the exciting finishing sequence.

Gargano walked up the ramp with Candice and they turned their back to the entrance with Gargano holding the NXT Title in his hands. That’s when Ciampa showed up with a neckbrace on because he had major neck surgery a few weeks ago. The crowd popped huge and Johnny was saying “he’s behind me right now?” and then he turned to get a big hug from the former NXT Champion Ciampa. There was a hug between Gargano, Ciampa and Candice with Ranallo saying he never thought he would see this moment. Ciampa raised their hands as Gargano held the title in the air and hugged Tommaso again as the show went off the air on a happy note.

Analysis: That was a cool moment to end the show on. Gargano’s story with Ciampa lasted over three years from when they started in NXT, they had so much success as a tag team, then they became bitter rivals, then allies again and if Ciampa was healthy, they would have been rivals again here. Instead, Ciampa is out of action and Gargano finally won the NXT Title with Ciampa there to give him a congratulatory hug to end of the night.

This show had a run time of 3:16:11 on WWE Network.

Analysis: Longest Takeover ever? I think so. That’s not a complaint. Five matches took over three hours and it felt just right to me.

Final Thoughts

I give this NXT Takeover event a 10 out of 10.

It’s a rare 10 out of 10 show. No complaints from me. There were high expectations going into this show and because every match was given a lot of time, they delivered the goods yet again. The match quality at this Takeover was as great as any WWE show I have ever watched in 35 years of watching this product. I love the NXT style of wrestling and the way they have such competitive, even matches really works.

There were so many standout performances that it’s hard to narrow it down, but I think Gargano and Cole showed how special they are in the ring. This was Cole’s breakout match in NXT while Gargano had yet another five-star performance. I’ve lost track how many times I’ve given a Gargano match five stars. Five? Maybe six. I don’t know.

The opening Tag Team match was my second favorite match of the night. It was a nice mix of classic tag team wrestling along with the more aggressive NXT striking style and it ended in a huge way with that huge ending that put Ricochet down for the pin. It was also a nice way to give Ricochet and Black a nice send-off as they move to the main roster full time.

I was really impressed by Velveteen Dream and Matt Riddle too. Neither guy has that match experience in pro wrestling like Gargano and Cole with ten plus years each, but they delivered an entertaining match with a clever finish.

It was one of the best crowds for a NXT Takeover that I have ever heard too. They were hot all night long, they cheered nearly everybody on the show and they were even more vocal for the main event that was three hours into the show. I also thought the commentary team of Ranallo, Watson and McGuinness were incredible. They are WWE’s best team of announcers right now and I love Ranallo’s enthusiasm for the product.

This is the second time I have given a NXT Takeover event a 10 out of 10 score. The other time was at the NXT Takeover New Orleans last WrestleMania weekend, so clearly, it’s fair to say this weekend is special for the NXT brand.

Here are my rankings of NXT Takeover events so far this year on the 1-10 scale:

NXT Takeover New York – 10

NXT Takeover Phoenix – 8.5

Thanks for reading. My contact info is below.

John Canton


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