The John Report: WWE NXT Takeover Vengeance Day 2021 Review

Welcome to the WWE NXT Takeover Vengeance Day Review here on TJRWrestling. It’s the first Takeover event of 2021. It’s a five-match show with three title matches and two tournament finals. There was no Kickoff Show match. There was news on the Kickoff Show with LA Knight (former Eli Drake in Impact Wrestling) making his NXT debut. That’s a nice addition to the roster.

WWE NXT Takeover Vengeance Day
From Capitol Wrestling Center at the WWE Performance Center in Orlando, Florida
February 14, 2021

The opening video package was really cool featuring a rap from Josiah Williams covering the matches coming up on this show.

It was the typical NXT setup with fans around the ring with masks on and behind the fiberglass.

The NXT announce team of Vic Joseph, Wade Barrett and Beth Phoenix were at ringside to welcome us to the show. The women’s Dusty Cup Finals opened the show.

Dakota Kai made her entrance with tag team partner Raquel Gonzalez. They were followed by Shotzi Blackheart and Ember Moon, who entered on Shotzi’s tank, which is one of the cooler entrances in NXT. There is a ramp setup for this Takeover.

Women’s Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic Finals: Raquel Gonzalez and Dakota Kai vs. Ember Moon and Shotzi Blackheart

The winners of this match get a future title shot against Women’s Tag Team Champions Nia Jax and Shayna Baszler.

The opening part of the match featured dominance from Gonzalez in the first minute or two as I set up my laptop to write. Gonzalez picked up Blackheart and drove Blackheart into the turnbuckle. Kai tagged in with a pump kick to Blackheart for two. Kai went for a running kick, Blackheart moved and Blackheart slammed Kai off the apron. Blackheart went for a submission, but Kai got to the ropes quickly. Moon tagged in with a slingshot splash for a two count. Blackheart was back for a double team leg pull on the legs of Kai. After Kai knocked down Blackheart, Kai charged and Blackheart tripped her up into a single leg crab submission. Moon was back in with a kneebar submission on Kai. Moon had Kai grounded for about two minutes. Blackheart got the tag, the referee didn’t see it because he was making Gonzalez stay out of the ring and then Moon argued with the referee. Moon knocked Gonzalez off the apron as Moon continued to work on the left knee of Kai, who sent Moon into the turnbuckle. Gonzalez tagged back in with clotheslines on Moon. Gonzalez hit a fallaway slam on Moon to send her across the ring. Gonzalez with another fallaway slam on Moon. Gonzalez grabbed Blackheart and gave her a fallaway slam as well. Kai tagged in with a clothesline off the top on Moon for two with Blackheart breaking it up with a senton splash. Blackheart and Gonzalez battled on the floor with Gonzalez giving Moon a Powerbomb into the barricade. Gonzalez tagged in, Moon kicked her down, but then Kai came back with a dropkick to the back while Gonzalez held Moon and Gonzalez got a two count. Kai was back in with the running kick against the turnbuckle for a two count. Gonzalez tagged in, Moon ducked and Gonzalez hit Kai with a clothesline by accident. Moon sent Kai into Gonzalez and Moon knocked down Gonzalez. Moon with the Eclipse on Gonzalez, but Kai tried to get in the ring, so the referee stopped her until he stopped and Moon got a two count. The reason Gonzalez kicked out is because Moon was slow to cover. Blackheart was back into it with a missile dropkick for two. Moon hit a superkick on Gonzalez for a two count. Blackheart tagged back in against Kai with a dropkick, a corner splash and a running facebuster. Blackheart slammed Kai into the knee for a two count. Gonzalez tagged back in, Blackheart hit her with an enziguri kick and they battled on the turnbuckle with Blackheart hitting the Sliced Bread neckbreaker for two. That looked like a potentially rough landing for Blackheart, but she was okay. Blackheart hit a suicide dive on Kai on the floor.

Moon tagged in, Blackheart with a neckbreaker, Moon with a double knee attack and Blackheart with a spinning slam for two for Moon. Blackheart held Kai on the floor and Moon hit a cross body block off the turnbuckle on Kai on the floor. Gonzalez ran over Blackheart and then Moon kicked Gonzalez into the steel steps. Moon kicked the knee of Gonzalez and went for a submission, but Kai broke it up with a kick. Kai tagged back in against Blackheart, Kai with a kick to the face and a flipping double knee attack to the back for a two count. Gonzalez lifted Blackheart into a kick by Kai for a two count as Moon broke it up. Gonzalez sent Moon out of the ring onto the ramp and then off the ramp to the floor. Blackheart jumped onto the back of Gonzalez by the ropes for a two count. Blackheart with a back body drop on Kai onto Blackheart. Gonzalez shoved Blackheart off the top rope and Gonzalez slammed Kai onto Blackheart. Gonzalez hit the one-armed Powerbomb on Blackheart for the pinfall win at 17:40.

Winners of the Women’s Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic: Raquel Gonzalez and Dakota Kai

Analysis: ***1/2 A very good tag team match with a lot of near finishes for each team. Gonzalez took a lot of big moves from Moon/Blackheart and looked like she might lose, but then we know Gonzalez is able to kick out of everything. I like how it was booked with Moon/Blackheart working very well together. In the end, it was the power of Gonzalez that led her team to victory. Gonzalez has been on a major roll for many months now, so it’s not a shock that she won.

After the match, Gonzalez and Kai were announced as the winners. They posed with the Women’s Dusty Cup trophy while NXT General Manager William Regal was on the stage applauding them for their efforts. Gonzalez and Kai will get a Women’s Tag Team Title match soon.

Analysis: It is not a shock that Gonzalez and Kai won since Gonzalez is booked stronger than any woman in NXT. However, I picked the faces to win since there are heel champions in Jax & Baszler right now. I got it wrong, but the result didn’t surprise me that much.

There was an Earlier Today video of Pete Dunne arriving with Danny Burch and Oney Lorcan. Finn Balor was also shown arriving earlier in the day.

There was a video package about the North American Title match between champion Johnny Gargano and challenger Kushida.

Kushida made his entrance first as the challenger. Johnny Gargano entered as the NXT North American Champion with his wife Candice LeRae and Indi Hartwell, but Austin Theory was attacked by Dexter Lumis. Gargano told the women to go find Theory and he’ll handle the match alone.

NXT North American Championship: Johnny Gargano vs. Kushida

Kushida went right after the left arm of Kushida to start the match. Gargano grabbed a wristlock, but then Kushida went for a front facelock. Gargano ran the ropes into a headscissors, Kushida landed on his feet, they each went for the moves, but the other guy did a counter and Kushida went for the Gargano Escape submission only for Gargano to get to the ropes. The fans chanted “Kushida” for the challenger. Gargano tossed Kushida out of the ring, Gargano with a kick to the jaw and Gargano whipped Kushida into the steel steps. After some stalling by Gargano, Kushida hit a Falcon Arrow slam on the floor. Kushida slapped on an armbar on the floor and then back into the ring to break the count. Kushida with a chicken-wing suplex onto the injured left arm. Back in the ring, Kushida hit a running dropkick on the left arm. Gargano sent Kushida into the apron, then a neckbreaker across the middle rope and Kushida was down on the apron, so Gargano kicked Kushida to the floor. Gargano with a righty elbow smash on Kushida on the apron. Back in the ring, Gargano hit a suplex. Kushida countered a neckbreaker, but then Gargano hit a front suplex and Gargano kicked the left arm of Kushida as payback. Each man slapped on submissions pulling back on the arm. They did an exchange of nearfalls with each guy getting about four nearfalls followed by a double clothesline spot.

Kushida with an atomic drop, cartwheel and a dropkick. Kushida stomped on the back of Gargano while pulling back on the arms. Gargano blocked a suplex, Gargano with an enziguri kick and Kushida with a takedown into an Ankle Lock. After Gargano got to the ropes, Kushida with a German Suplex and Kushida hit a kick to the head for a two count. Gargano to the apron, he tried to hit a Spear, but Kushida moved and Kushida caught the arm leading to a bridging suplex for a two count. Gargano with a jumping kick, but then Kushida hit a punch to knock Gargano down on the apron. Kushida grabbed the left arm and drove Gargano’s left arm/shoulder into the turnbuckle. That looked brutal. Kushida went for a submission on the left arm, but Gargano held onto the ropes and Kushida hit a flipping kick to the head. Gargano countered a move off the ropes with a second rope twisting suplex! That was incredible. Gargano with a Tornado DDT off the ropes for a two count. Gargano went for an armbar, Kushida got out of that and Kushida spun around the body going for an armbar. Gargano got out of that as both guys went for armbar attempts. Kushida let go of the armbar when Gargano countered it into a pin attempt. Gargano and Kushida punched eachother in the face at the same time to knock eachother down. Kushida with kicks to the left arm and then Kushida went for the springboard elbow, but Gargano caught him in the Gargano Escape submission in the ring. Kushida managed to get his left arm free and Kushida slapped on the Hoverboard Lock submission on the left arm, but Gargano rolled out of it. Kushida with a bridging pin. Gargano with a superkick, Kushida with a punch and Gargano sent Kushida face-first into the middle turnbuckle. They battled by the turnbuckle with Kushida suplexing Gargano into the turnbuckle. Kushida pulled Gargano off the top with him and flipped Johnny off the top into the ring. Kushida slapped on armbar submission, Gargano nearly tapped and Kushida managed to hang on after Gargano flipped over. Gargano got his foot on the bottom rope to break the hold. When they left the ring, Kushida went for the armbar again and then Gargano drove Kushida into the barricade. They were on the ramp with Kushida running and kicking the left arm of Gargano just like when they were on NXT TV together. Back in the ring, Kushida slapped on the armbar on the left arm again, but Gargano drove Kushida into the ropes to break free. Gargano jumped over the top and hit the One Final Beat DDT on the ramp! That was awesome. Gargano rolled Kushida into the ring and Gargano hit One Final Beat for the second time for the pinfall win at 24:51.

Winner by pinfall: Johnny Gargano

Analysis: ****3/4 This was an outstanding wrestling match from start to finish. Gargano does it again at a Takeover with another classic match that was given a lot of time to tell a story of two guys that match up so well together. This was Kushida’s best match in NXT so far. Kushida was relentless in the way that he kept on going after the left arm of Gargano and I loved the way Johnny sold the left arm not just when he was taking moves, but when he delivered moves as well. There was a lot of drama there as well as Kushida came close to making Johnny tap out, but then Johnny managed to avoid it. I picked Gargano to win because it seems like they have him set to feud with Dexter Lumis next, so while I would have liked a Kushida win, I’m fine with Gargano retaining the title. I might boost the rating up when I watch it again on Monday morning, but most likely will keep it where it is. Often times in the past when I rated a match five stars on initial viewing it’s how I feel at the time, it’s a gut feeling and I don’t know if watching it again is going to generate a higher rating. If you think it’s higher than me then that’s perfectly fine. This was a tremendous performance from an incredible worker in Gargano and Kushida, who has really found his way in NXT. This match lived up to the hype.

The match was called an “instant classic” by Barrett and he’s right about that. Both guys were down selling after the match. Gargano celebrated with his title.

There was a commercial for NXT merchandise on WWEShop.

A commercial aired for WWE Elimination Chamber, which is next Sunday, February 21 on WWE Network.

Mercedes Martinez was shown warming up backstage for the NXT Women’s Title match coming up later. Toni Storm was also shown getting ready backstage. There was also Io Shirai stretching ahead of her title defense.

A video package aired about the Men’s Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic tournament showing how the two teams made it to the finals.

The MSK duo of Nash Carter and Wes Lee made their entrance. They are up against the Grizzled Young Veterans team of Zack Gibson and James Drake. Gibson did a heel promo talking some trash about how they are going to win.

Men’s Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic Finals: MSK (Nash Carter and Wes Lee) vs. Grizzled Young Veterans (Zack Gibson and James Drake)

The winners of this match will get a shot at the NXT Tag Team Champions Oney Lorcan and Danny Burch.

Gibson and Drake were in control of Carter early on with Drake grabbing a side headlock. Carter with a springboard corkscrew cross body block, Lee tagged in with a kick to Drake and Carter hit a bronco buster on Drake. Gibson tagged in, Lee with a pump kick on Drake and a headscissors takedown on Gibson. Lee and Carter with kicks followed by a double stomp by Carter on Gibson. Lee with a cartwheel into a dive onto both opponents on the floor. Carter jumped off Lee’s back and went over the top onto Drake on the floor. Gibson came back with a clothesline on Carter. Gibson with a neckbreaker on Carter. Drake was back in, Gibson with a corner splash and Drake with a spinning heel kick on Carter for two. Drake with a running elbow smash on Carter two. Gibson back in with a double team clothesline for two as the heels kept isolating Carter. Drake was back in, Carter with a boot, but then Drake hit a running clothesline for two. Carter tried to fight his way out of the corner leading to a suplex on Drake. Gibson pulled Lee off the apron, then Lee went after him and the referee was distracted as GYV hit a flatline/dropkick combo with Drake getting a two count on Carter. After Gibson tagged in, Carter managed to break free and Lee knocked both heels out of the ring including a dropkick to Gibson. Lee hit a running somersault dive over the turnbuckle onto both heels on the floor! That was so good. Lee did multiple backflips into a backflip kick into the head for two. Lee went up top, Drake grabbed the leg, which allowed Gibson to trip up Lee on the top rope. Gibson went for a Powerbomb, but Lee slipped out and dropped Gibson face first into the mat. Carter back in with a superkick on Gibson, and then a running dropkick on Drake. Carter was fired up as he tripped up Gibson and Carter did a springboard leap into a Cutter for a two count. He’s not Randy Orton, so no pinfall with that move.

Lee tagged in, Gibson knocked both opponents down and two-handed chop to the chest. Lee with a kick to the back of Gibson. When Lee went for a flipping attack this time, Gibson got a knee up to block. Gibson with the spinning suplex and Drake jumped off the top with a 450 Splash for a two count. Great nearfall right here. Gibson had Lee on his shoulders, Drake jumped off the top and Lee countered into a forward roll onto Gibson for a two count. Carter was back in, he jumped and Lee shoved Carter onto Gibson for a moonsault. Lee with a hurricanrana on Drake, Carter with a senton bomb off the top, and then Lee jumped off the top with a spinning splash for a two count. Another awesome nearfall in this match! Lee ran the ropes, but Gibson sent him out of the ring. Gibson lifted up Lee and Drake did a suicide dive into a clothesline that was like a Doomsday Device on the floor! Holy shit. That was crazy. Carter was alone in the ring, Drake ran him over with a forearm and Gibson tagged in. Carter fought back with punches and chops. Drake with a Powerbomb onto the double knees of Gibson for a two count. Gibson with a hard slap to the face of Carter. Lee was back in, caught Carter from a double team move and MSK hit superkicks on both opponents. Lee got the tag and Lee hit a neckbreaker off the ropes into a Powerbomb by Carter. Lee covered Drake for the pinfall win at 18:26.

Winners by pinfall: MSK

MSK are the winners of the Men’s Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic and have earned an NXT Tag Team Title match.

Analysis: ****1/4 This was an excellent match as expected by two incredible tag teams that work different styles, but found a way to work very well together. I thought Wes Lee really stood out with his high spots while Carter was selling for a lot of the match. The GYV guys are so technically sound, they did a lot of double team moves throughout the match, but they never did their tag team finisher and that’s why MSK was able to overcome them. At least that’s what the story was. The match wasn’t about guys working on body parts. It was about building up believable nearfalls for both sides, then Lee saved Carter from the Ticket to Mayhem double team move and that led to Lee getting the win for his team. These teams crushed it here. I can see them having many more great matches throughout 2021 as well.

Following replays of the match, MSK were on the stage with the Dusty Cup as NXT GM William Regal applauded for them. Regal left. MSK hugged on the stage as the winners of the Dusty Classic.

Analysis: I think MSK are going to win the titles soon. The team of Lorcan and Burch aren’t booked like strong champions anyway. I can see MSK winning gold the first time they get a shot. MSK has been booked in a strong manner since they showed up and I think they’ll be the babyface team that NXT builds around this year.

There was a video about Black History Month featuring Martin Luther King Jr. quotes read by WWE superstars.

A video aired about Cameron Grimes doing his new gimmick where he made a lot of money in the stock market. There was a song about him that I think was done by Josiah Williams as well. Grimes jumped into a pool while also posing with money. It was pretty silly and over the top, which is how Grimes is. He makes it work. I laughed watching most of it.

The announcers talked about how incredible the show has been so far. They mentioned the show was being shown live in China as well.

Pete Dunne was shown getting ready backstage with Oney Lorcan and Danny Burch hyping up their buddy.

Finn Balor, the NXT Champion, was shown backstage as well getting ready for the main event.

There was a video package for NXT Women’s Champion Io Shirai defending against Toni Storm and Mercedes Martinez. The gist of the story is that Shirai was named the NXT Competitor of the Year in 2020. Storm and Martinez did some cheap attacks on Shirai, which is what led to this title match.

Mercedes Martinez entered first. Toni Storm was next in her leather jacket and sunglasses. Io Shirai was up last as the NXT Women’s Champion and she got a nice reaction from the crowd.

NXT Women’s Championship: Io Shirai vs. Mercedes Martinez vs. Toni Storm

There were no introductions because Martinez knocked Shirai out of the ring before the announcer could introduce them. Martinez worked over Storm with punches, Shirai back in the ring, she sent Martinez out of the ring and Shirai hit a flapjack on Storm. Shirai with a dropkick on Martinez off the apron. Shirai went for a move against the turnbuckle, but Storm caught her and kicked Shirai down. Storm with a sliding clothesline on Shirai. Martinez grabbed Storm on the floor and hit a twisting neckbreaker on the floor. Shirai went for a moonsault off the ropes, but Martinez moved and Shirai hit the barricade. Martinez tossed Shirai over the barricade. Martinez with a lifting spinebuster for a two count. Martinez with suplexes on Storm, then Shirai with double knees on Martinez and Storm hit a Bossman Slam on Shirai. Storm ran right into a spinebuster from Martinez for a two count. Martinez with a STF on Storm, but then Shirai with a dropkick on Martinez. Shirai slapped on a Crossface on Storm, then Martinez with a Dragon Sleeper on Shirai at the same time and Shirai let go of Storm leading to Martinez hitting a reverse suplex across the ring. Martinez charged, Shirai moved and Shirai hit a 619 kick on Martinez. Shirai with a missile dropkick onto Martinez to send Mercedes to the floor. Storm teased a superplex, Martinez shoved Shirai down and Martinez hit a German Suplex off the top while Martinez used her feet to hook herself against the ropes. That’s a rough bump for Storm. Shirai with a double foot stomp onto Martinez. Shirai battled Martinez on the floor with Martinez sending Shirai into the plexiglass barricade. Storm hit a neckbreaker on Martinez on the floor. Storm cleared off the announce table, which broke as she was trying to clear the table. Martinez came back with a DDT on Storm. Barrett said that he felt the table was wobbling after MSK were there earlier. Shirai climbed up a steel structure that was part of the set and jumped onto both women with a cross body block onto both women. That was a great leap by Shirai. Even though Shirai delivered the last move, Martinez got up first and whipped Shirai into the steel steps. Martinez sent Storm into the ring. Martinez with a running knee on Storm, then Martinez held the arms and delivered three knee strikes. Martinez hit the Fisherman’s Buster on Storm for just a two count with Martinez looking shocked about that. Storm came back with a headbutt and Storm hit the Storm Zero sitout powerbomb for a two count. Storm went up top, she jumped with a headbutt to the ribs of Martinez and there was Shirai on the other turnbuckle and Shirai jumped onto both women with a Moonsault for the pinfall win on Martinez at 12:13.

Winner by pinfall: Io Shirai

Analysis: ***1/4 A good match featuring three talented women although it wasn’t at the same level as the previous two matches. Storm and Martinez each hit their finishers towards the finish, but it was only good for a two count while Shirai’s moonsault finish was enough to win the match. I would have liked it a bit more if Shirai got more offense in towards the finish, but I can see why they booked it this way with Shirai needing to just hit her finisher to win the match. It puts over the moonsault as a dominant move for the champion.

Io Shirai celebrated with the NXT Women’s Title that she has held since last summer. They replayed some of the big spots in the match.

Analysis: I think the next NXT Women’s Champion will be Raquel Gonzalez. That might happen at the next Takeover whenever that is, or maybe a bit later in the year. Shirai’s title run has been impressive.

There was a commercial for Elimination Chamber taking place next Sunday, February 21.

A video aired about WrestleMania 37 in Tampa Bay in 55 days. It takes place on April 10 and April 11.

There was a backstage scene from earlier in the day with LA Knight (former Eli Drake) signing his NXT contract with NXT General Manager William Regal there to make it official. Regal welcomed him to NXT. They showed some of Knight’s promo from the pre-show.

Analysis: I’m fine with the name LA Knight. It works for me. He’s a great talker and pretty good in the ring too. Knight is 38 years old, so he’s an older “rookie” in NXT, but he’s experienced and very good as a heel that should fit in well in NXT right away.

There was a video package about NXT Champion Finn Balor facing Pete Dunne. The story was about Dunne doing some cheap attacks on Balor to set up the match.

Pete Dunne was shown walking backstage with NXT Tag Team Champions Oney Lorcan and Danny Burch by his side. Dunne gave them fist bumps and the champs stood in the back while Dunne made his entrance alone.

Finn Balor made his entrance as the NXT Champion to a nice ovation. They stood in the ring for a staredown while the in-ring championship introductions took place.

NXT Championship: Finn Balor vs. Pete Dunne

This is their first match ever as Balor worked over Dunne’s left arm. Dunne with a monkey flip, but Balor still held onto the armbar. After Dunne broke free, Balor slapped on a side headlock, then they ran the ropes and Balor grabbed another side headlock. When Dunne got back up, Balor got a shoulder tackle. Dunne took down Balor with a leg scissors around the throat of Balor, which led to Balor getting out of and then they faced off again. They spent the first five minutes doing that mat wrestling where they exchanged holds repeatedly. Dunne drove his left shoulder into the jaw of Balor. Dunne was twisting the left arm of Balor, then Dunne went for a triangle choke, but Balor was able to fight out of that. Dunne used the leg scissors again, then Dunne stepped on the left arm and pulled back on the ring arm. Dunne pulled on the fingers as well, but Balor managed to roll into the turnbuckle. Dunne wrapped the legs around the neck again while twisting on the arm and pulling on the fingers again. Balor pulled back on the left arm leading to a stomp to the upper left arm. Balor came back with a stomp onto the foot. Balor slapped on a leg submission tying up the two legs of Dunne. Balor tripped up Dune leading to a single leg crab submission turning into Balor stretching the legs on the mat. Dunne with a front facelock and then Dunne hit a spinning suplex for a two count.

Dunne and Balor exchanged forearms with Dunne hitting a chop to the chest, but Balor came back with a stomp to the back of the left knee. Dunne managed to trip up Balor for a two count. Dunne with a kick to the head, but then Balor hit a clothesline for a two count. Balor trapped the left knee of Dunne leading to forearms to the back and then Balor slapped on the STF submission. Dunne drove Balor’s hand into the mat to break it, but then Balor regained control with some hard chops to the chest. Dunne fired back with chops, Balor avoided an attack and Balor hit a dropkick to the left knee. Dunne countered a move, then a forearm, Balor went for the Pele Kick, Dunne caught it, Dunne with stomps, Dunne with a headbutt and Dunne with a sitout Powerbomb for two. There were “this is awesome” chants for them. Dunne got back up with a stomp to the left arm followed by a snap German Suplex and Dunne stomped on both hands. Balor avoided a kick, Balor with a kick to the back of the left leg and Balor with a backstabber. Balor with the elbow drop into the slam. Balor with the running dropkick sending Dunne into the corner. Balor went up top and jumped off the top with a Coup de Graces double foot stomp, but Dunne caught him and slapped on the triangle choke submission. When Balor touched the bottom rope, Dunne spun back towards the middle of the ring, but Balor managed to get his right foot on the bottom rope to break the hold. Balor was selling it like he was knocked out. Dunne pulled Balor off the ropes and Balor fell against the ropes. Balor told the referee he was okay, so Dunne stomped on Balor’s head. Dunne went for the Bitter End, Balor countered that and Balor slapped on abdominal stretch submission on the mat. Dunne pulled Balor’s hands off and pulled the fingers apart. Dunne used Balor’s own hands to hit Balor low, so it wasn’t really a low blow, but it looked similar to that. Dunne hit the Bitter End for a two count, so Balor kicked out of Dunne’s finisher. Dunne stomped on Balor’s hands, then a kick to the head and Balor countered a Powerbomb into a DDT! That was great. Balor charged, kick by Dunne, Balor with a Pele Kick, Dunne with a kick to the back of the head and Balor hit a lifting side slam for a two count. Dunne was holding onto Balor’s fingers on the left hand, Balor stomped on the injured ankle, Dunne pulled the fingers and Balor hit a double foot stomp to the back. Balor took Dunne’s mouthpiece out and tossed it out of the ring. Balor with a dropkick to the face. Balor up top and he hit the Coup de Grace double foot stomp to the chest. Balor lifted up Dunne with the 1916 lifting DDT for the pinfall win at 25:24.

Winner by pinfall: Finn Balor

Analysis: ****1/4 A great championship match especially in the second half. My minor issue with the first half is that it was very slow-paced with a lot of mat wrestling that I think some fans might be turned off by that a bit. Once they got going in the second half with more strikes, more moves and more pin attempts, it became a better match. I did think both guys sold their injured body parts well with Balor dealing with the left-hand injury throughout the match while Dunne’s left knee was an issue for him. They did the big main event type finish with Balor kicking out of the Bitter End, but Dunne wasn’t able to kick out of Balor’s finish. They worked well together. A rematch in the near future as a TV main event would be a good idea.

There were replays of the big spots in the match with the announcers putting over the efforts of Balor and Dunne.

Finn Balor celebrated the win with the NXT Title around his waist. As Balor was posing on the ramp, Oney Lorcan and Danny Burch attacked Balor from behind. Lorcan and Burch tossed Balor into the ring with Dunne. The crowd was booing them. They tossed the referee out of the ring as well. The Undisputed Era’s music hit as Adam Cole, Roderick Strong and Kyle O’Reilly went out to the ring to make the save. The heels retreated before Undisputed Era could get their hands on them. O’Reilly tapped Balor on the shoulder with Finn looking a bit surprised that they were there to help him. O’Reilly lifted Balor back up to his feet. Balor and O’Reilly shook hands. Balor stared at Cole and strong as well. Undisputed Era did their pose in the ring with Balor, but then Cole hit a superkick on Balor. Cole also hit O’Reilly with a superkick! Cole stood over O’Reilly and Balor as the crowd booed. Strong didn’t know how to react so he stood in the ring. Cole left alone while Balor and O’Reilly were down in the ring. Strong remained in the ring looking at Balor and O’Reilly. That was it with Cole exiting on his own. End show.

Analysis: That’s a big angle to end it with Adam Cole apparently getting sick of Kyle O’Reilly showing respect to Finn Balor, so Cole dropped Balor and then O’Reilly to show that he was sick of it. This doesn’t surprise me that much because I figured a split was coming at some point this year. Now we can look forward to a heel Adam Cole (he’s at his best as a heel) feuding with Kyle O’Reilly and Finn Balor as two big rivalries this year. More greatness to look forward to. Undisputed Era went as far as they could in NXT. It’s time for separate paths for them. It’s a big angle that NXT needed to freshen things up a bit. I’m all for it.

This event had a run time of 2:33:02 on WWE Network.

Five Stars of the Show

  1. Johnny Gargano
  2. MSK
  3. Kushida
  4. Finn Balor/Pete Dunne
  5. Grizzled Young Veterans

Final Thoughts

It gets a 9 out of 10.

This was an excellent wrestling show. The three men’s matches were all rated above four stars and the two women’s matches were very good too. I thought Gargano vs. Kushida was the best match if I had to pick one. The tag match between MSK/Grizzled Young Veterans was outstanding and I can see those teams feuding throughout the year as two of the best NXT teams. I liked Balor/Dunne a lot, especially in the second half.

This is one of the best Takeover shows ever especially because of the memorable ending with Adam Cole attacking his Undisputed Era buddy Kyle O’Reilly and NXT Champion Finn Balor too. That means Cole is likely back on the heel side and I think a feud with O’Reilly and/or Balor will be amazing. It’s not just about the big matches. They ended it with a memorable moment. There weren’t any surprises in terms of match results. That’s okay with me because all of the matches delivered.

I don’t mention the NXT announce team that much, but I think Vic Joseph, Wade Barrett and Beth Phoenix do an excellent job of calling the action and explaining things for the audience. Wade is heelish a bit, but not that much and I like the way they work together.

Please check out this show if you missed it. These men and women worked their asses off to put on a memorable event for us. I was very entertained from start to finish. It’s up there with some of the best Takeover events ever. Takeover events do not disappoint.


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John Canton


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