NXT Takeover XXV Report Card: The Grades Are In!
NXT Takeover seemed like just another event to fill the calendar. Fast forward to Takeover XXV and the NXT brand has proved to be a staple of WWE.
NXT Takeover seemed like just another event to fill the calendar. They started filming in Full Sail University and now they travel the globe producing shows that top anything from RAW or SmackDown. Takeover XXV was not the best show the brand has produced, but there was nothing major to complain about.
NXT Women’s Championship: Shayna vs. Io Shirai
Not since Asuka, has there been such a force in the NXT women’s division like Shayna Baszler. Outside of losing the title for a short period of time, Baszler has been nearly unstoppable. Io Shirai is one of the more talented international superstars to join NXT and she showed off her skillset with strength and highflying abilities. I am a big fan of Shirai’s moonsault to the outside as it is always picture perfect. Before Jessamyn Duke and Marina Shafir could get involved, they were neutralized by Candice LeRae. Like many of Baszler’s matches, she was able to keep the title with the choke submission. Not even Shirai’s experience could stop Baszler’s impressive run in NXT. Although, we did see a much more aggressive side of Shirai after the bell. It does seem like Candice could be in line for the next title shot. Grade: B
North American Championship: Velveteen Dream vs. Tyler Breeze
Tyler Breeze has not done much on the main roster, outside of becoming a comedy duo with Fandango as Breezango. The selling point of this match was Breeze coming back to NXT and working their 25th Takeover show. Of all the competitors on the show, Breeze is the only person to have competed on the first Takeover card as he helped build the yellow and black brand since the beginning. I liked how Breeze’s camera played a role, using the selfie feature. After seeing how Breeze performed, you have to realize how WWE has not properly treated him on the main roster. Despite Velveteen Dream retaining his North American Championship, the biggest story was seeing how superstars from RAW and SmackDown should return to NXT if they are getting buried on the main roster. Grade: B+
Vacant NXT Tag Team Championship: Oney Lorcan & Danny Burch vs. The Street Profits (Angelo Dawkins & Montez Ford) vs. The Undisputed Era (Kyle O’Reilly & Bobby Fish) vs. The Forgotten Sons (Wesley Blake & Steve Cutler)
Whenever there is a ladder match, you know there will be big spots. Toss in four tag teams and that will produce chaos. I have to give Kyle O’Reilly credit as he took the biggest bumps, with some not looking intentional like landing back-first on the ladder following a bump early in the match. Jaxson Ryker was not officially part of the match, but he left the competitors laying on their back. It was not my favorite ladder match in the history of WWE or NXT for that matter. Still, Undisputed Era and maybe Oney Lorcan & Danny Burch were the only legit contenders for the titles, but the belts went to The Street Profits. I do not see a lengthy reign from the new champions, but the NXT tag team division is somewhat under construction. Grade: A-
Matt Riddle vs. Roderick Strong
The match started quick and that pace never stopped. Roderick Strong went to his vintage playbook, hitting the backbreaker in various ways. Matt Riddle is something special, although he still needs to spend at least a year in NXT before heading to the main roster. Seeing how the main roster is a mess at the moment and having trouble featuring new talent, he should probably try to stick around NXT until they fix their problems. Strong losing set the pace for the rest of the night as Undisputed Era’s run atop NXT is over. Not only that, but their time as a stable seems to be done and we should see that spell-out at the next set of TV tapings. This might not have been the best card in NXT history, yet Riddle vs. Strong set the bar high. Grade: A-
NXT Championship: Johnny Gargano vs. Adam Cole
Even though WWE did not address it, Johnny Gargano had been dealing with a knee injury for the past month. Heading into the rematch main event from Takeover New York, Cole’s stable of Undisputed Era was having an awful night. That trend did not continue with Cole; wining and making Undisputed Era 1-2 for the evening. Months ago, Gargano and Cole had what some call the greatest match in NXT history. I do not think they reached the same level this time around, but that takes nothing away from the match. Both men know each other so well that they have a counter for everything their opponent throws. Even without the Undisputed Era, Cole was able to claim the NXT Championship and put a quick end to Gargano’s fairytale story to the top of NXT. When I think of the past 25 Takeover cards and all the moments, I wish they delivered something truly unforgettable tonight that we could talk about for the next 25 Takeover events. That did not happen this time around. Grade: A-