Rhea Ripley and Candice LeRae def. Shayna Baszler, Io Shirai, Bianca Belair and Kay Lee Ray – WarGames Match
The swerve of Dakota Kai turning heel was splendid and set a good tone for the rest of the match. I was expecting that Mia Yim would come back out to help the faces. Another part of me thought some of the Raw or SmackDown women would take advantage of the chaos and seek to gain an advantage.
Nonetheless, I thought this match was pretty awesome. My fear of WarGames matches is that they go way too long and the spots become repetitive, but I believe this was the appropriate length and there was just the right amount of high spots. Io’s moonsault from the top of the cage that we all knew was coming, Candice LeRae’s inverted hurricanrana from the top rope and Candice LeRae having some innovative spots made this a very fun watch.
The finish was also nicely done, as Rhea Ripley took advantage of their disadvantaged state to score the victory. Rhea Ripley looks to be the future of the women’s division of NXT, and she had one hell of a performance in her first Takeover here. The finish no doubt sets up Shayna Baszler and Rhea Ripley feuding over the Women’s Championship. Overall, a very fun and physical match that met, if not slightly exceeded my expectations. ****1/2
Pete Dunne def. Damian Priest and Killian Dain – Number 1 Contender’s Match
Definitely a far better match than I was expecting. I usually am not a fan of the two big men, one little guy formula. I just think that the pacing in those kinds of matches can always be off. However, I think what carried this match was Damian Priest’s athleticism and his ability to keep the match moving forward. Instead of stalling and waiting for spots, he was relentless in his offense with swift kicks and high impact moves.
Killian Dain served as the traditional powerhouse and served his role well, as he had impactful moves all match long. I’m not sure whether or not it hurt that Pete Dunne winning was predictable, but the quality of the match remained high throughout. There was also some pretty good near-falls towards the end.
I don’t think it reached that standard of NXT TakeOver great that we have come to expect, but it definitely was a high quality affair that kept the crowd engaged for the most part. ***3/4
Finn Balor def. Matt Riddle
Finn Bálor is back like he never left. I’d just like to say I love how they edited Finn Bálor’s entrance as a heel. There is no spotlight on the crowd going along with the song, and the spotlight is all on Finn Bálor. It’s a nice little wrinkle to add for him as a heel.
This was a very good back and forth match between two physical competitors. Balor as a heel reminds me a lot of PAC in terms of his aggression and the swiftness with which he strikes. He was beautiful here in his physicality and he wasn’t allowing Matt to dictate the pace of the match. His selling of the leg throughout was also good as it incorporated into some of his moves and the finish.
Matt Riddle’s style of wrestling is really interesting. It feels like he’s going at half-speed, yet his moves always look so effortless for him to execute. Finn Bálor winning was probably the right call to re-establish himself as a dominant force, but Matt Riddle gave him a run for his money. This was just some good, physical wrestling. Not sure if it reached that next level of great that it could have been, though. ***3/4
Tomasso Ciampa, Keith Lee, Dominick Dijakovic and Kevin Owens def. The Undisputed Era – WarGames Match
Kevin Owens as the surprise was definitely a surprise, but it made sense in light of Triple H’s promo this past Monday. This also makes you wonder whether or not Kevin Owens will betray team Raw Sunday considering he aligned with them Saturday. No doubt that will be something to watch at Survivor Series.
I thought the match started of slower in comparison with the women. If you notice in the women’s match, they just got straight to business and set the tone with the weapons in the ring. There was too much traditional wrestling to start and it wasn’t until Adam Cole got the tables where things really kicked into high gear.
Keith Lee and Dominick Dijakovic did a great job in their NXT TakeOver debuts as they were able to showcase why their athleticism is so special. It also worked to save a few pins in the match as well. Overall, I think I liked the women’s match better, but this was still a very good outing.
The Undisputed Era aren’t really capable of doing a lot of things wrong, and they were able to really showcase their elite teamwork a lot in this bout. I’m thinking that this bout also previewed some potential title matches in Adam Cole vs. Tomasso Ciampa for the NXT Title and Keith Lee vs. Roderick Strong for the North American Title.
I don’t know what direction they will go in, but this match previewed some future feuds if you ask me. I’m not really a fan of these 40 minute main events that NXT TakeOver has been doing recently, but if they’re good, I can’t really complain too much. ****
In terms of where this ranks all time, this is a middle to lower tier Takeover. Considering that everything on this match was pretty good overall, that just goes to show you how high the standard NXT has set for themselves. Everything for the most part met my expectations except for Balor and Riddle, as I thought they’d kick it to next gear.
Both the WarGames matches were obviously well done, with the women’s one stealing the show if you ask me. Usually, I wouldn’t want to watch a 4 match card that takes up over 2 and a half hours, but NXT does a great job in effectively occupying its time. It’s an easy thumbs up, but NXT has had better Takeovers.
Considering that this was the first one I can remember in a while where there were only four matches on the card, I’ll cut them some slack. The nostalgic value of having Balor and Owens competing on a Takeover for the first time in four years, NXT gets extra points.