Nxt Takeover Phoenix Review

War Raiders def Undisputed Era From Nxt Takeover Phoenix (Nxt Tag Team Titles)

It’s a very smart decision on Triple H behalf to always have the Tag Titles open the shows, as your almost guaranteed a great match. Undisputed Era have got a formula down to a T for producing great matches at Takeovers. The opener sets a tone for the rest of the show and gets crowd investment, it’s important to make sure the opener isn’t the match of the night as that sets a bar too high and can lead to disappointment. The thing in Nxt is thought that the opener is almost always fantastic but than you realise that Nxt will likely produce something even better later on because that’s the trend they’ve set.

The War Raiders get one hell of an entrance at the start, with a bunch of vikings coming out and chanting the War Raiders in. Hanson is one athletic dude as he did some great counters with cart wheels and spring boards. Undisputed Era began by separating Hanson and Rowe and working one of them over. Great fundamentals, at the start the crowd were fully behind Undisputed Era but two thirds into it they were split. It’s really hard not to cheer a man the size of Hanson doing suicide dives and crashing and burning from it. Hanson was even allowed to, kick out of the High Low finisher of the Undisputed Era.

In the end War Raiders pinned Kyle O’Reilly with the Fallout for the win and the titles. This was predictable as War Raiders have been groomed as the guys to take their titles but none the less they had enough twists and turns to keep you guessing. Hot opener to start the show.

Rating: ****

Matt Riddle def Kassius Ohno From Nxt Takeover Phoenix (Singles Match)

A pretty good match for it’s length. It’s quite easy to expect these two to put on a better match but that wasn’t the point of this feud. It’s quite clearly a fued for Riddle to get over his dominance and showcase him. Riddle built a bit of momentum for himself here by getting his third consecutive win over Ohno, this time by making Ohno tap out to the sheer brutality of the elbow strikes.

With a longer time these two would have potentially had a moty contender but with the way Nxt is taking Riddle it’s quite clear to see why that wasn’t the focus here. Ohno has built a reputation as being the guy that gets others over on their way in and that’s a perfectly fine role for him at this stage of his career. There was a cool spot here like Ohno biting Riddles foot. (a little gross)

Riddle despite having momentum will likely be waiting out a bit as the North American and Nxt World titles are preoccupied in storylines right now. Despite his push and talent, he’ll have to keep himself busy with other things while Nxt moves past the Gargano Ciampa storyline. Don’t expect Riddle to get a title shot at Takeover Brooklyn 5 yet, maybe Riddle vs Keith Lee or Dominick Dijakovic?

Rating: ***1/2

Johnny Gargano def Ricochet From Nxt Takeover Phoenix (North American Title)

Is there anyone that even compares to Johnny Takeover in all of WWE? When it comes to big matches even the likes of Aj Styles, Daniel Bryan or Seth Rollins can compare to Mr Gargano. A great comparison was made last year on twitter about Gargano, he’s too Takeover what Shawn Michaels was to Wrestlemania. The absolute lock in on a great match, without any doubt this was expected to be the motn and it definitely was. Ricochet is phenomenal and told a beautiful story here in the match. I mean what’s the likelihood of this being the WWE moty.. I’d say pretty high.

They started with quick chain wrestling before Ricochet asked the question which Johnny Gargano are we getting today? Johnny attacks Ricochet who had helped Gargano to his feet, displaying that he’s too not in control. Johnny symbolically wore the attire of the Dark Phoenix while Ricochet was sporting Miles Morales Spiderman. There were some great exchanges on the outside and Johnny even hit a reverse frankensteiner to Ricochet. There were some near falls and great call backs to previous matches. Johnny gets away from a 630 and stands on the apron and Ricochet goes for a hurricanrana to the outside from inside the ring much like with Adam Cole but Johnny just simply walks away. Ricochet not caring jumps over the top turnbuckle to Gargano on the outside. Heck there was even a middle rope powerbomb that Ricochet went for on Gargano but Gargano reversed into a Frankensteiner only for Ricochet to land on his feet. This was taken from the Osprey and Ibushi matches but Gargano’s expression told the whole story.

The match felt like a real contest of skill over a championship because both guys were doing some really athletic stuff here with the story being trying to think ahead of what the other was doing. There was a level of competition here that isn’t seen in a Title match in WWE, it was more of a NJPW World Title match. Gargano conflicted at the end tears open the mat on the outside to reveal concrete, Gargano originally thinks about a ddt to the outside but that rethinks his own method. Ricochet attempts to fight back but gets hit with a high vertical suplex onto the concrete and is rolled back in. Gargano gets on the apron and says “it’s over” and “I win” and follows it up with a slingshot ddt into the ring for the pin and the title. A fantastic match and sadly somewhat killed the next match and effected the main event. Aleister Black vs Ciampa was such a great match but sadly it won’t be remembered as much because of this contest.

Rating: ****¾

Shayna Baszler def Bianca Belair From Nxt Takeover Phoenix (Nxt Women’s Title)

I feel so bad for the women. I don’t wanna say that they booked the card wrong because you can never know what the crowd will be like before the show but I gotta argue here that Gargano and Ricochet should’ve gone second last and the women third. The women would’ve been better of following the Riddle match because The North American title match was so good that no other match on the card could’ve followed it, even the main event.

I honestly couldn’t tell you the spots from the first 2 thirds of the match because we were also trying to recover from the NA title match. The ending was good though, Shayna locks Bianca into a sleeper due to distraction after Bianca had pinned Shayna but the ref was down. Bianca showcased her awesome strength and got Shayna up and hit a suplex. At this point I thought Bianca was winning as she goes to the top rope only to be distracted by Jessamyn Duke and Marina Shafir, this lead to a second sleeper hold. Now surely Bianca doesn’t get outta this but Bianca made you believe as she got up and stood on her feet only to fall back down and pass out. Shayna picks up the win here, the ending was really good but most the match was forgettable because of what preceded it. Overall a good match.

Ajpunk: **3/4

Tommaso Ciampa def Aleister Black From Nxt Takeover Phoenix (Nxt World Title)

This match was a great match with a great story but sadly the crowd was fairly quiet for the majority of it. It’s understandable because many probably expected a war since Aleister was coming for his revenge after months of Ciampa being the champ. This match was methodical for the most part with Ciampa working the leg of Aleister neutralizing the Black Mass. I know most were expecting a balls to the wall fight but the story told in the match was brilliant nonetheless. I loved the selling by Black, it was absolutely incredible because usually what you’ll see someone working a part, it rarely factors into the finish and the injury is usually shaken of because “adrenaline” I suppose but here there were so many spots where Black could’ve taken the upper hand had it not been for the injury. The biggest factor was the Black Mass coming out of nowhere but Ciampa thought ahead. Everytime Black wins its because of that move and Ciampa looks like a cerebral assassin for targeting that leg.

That’s a level of psychology not seen by many, here it was treated as a game of chess. Black wasn’t patient and went straight for the king while Ciampa little by little took out all of Black’s pieces and finally took out his queen which was the Black Mass. Black even at one point gutted out a Black Mass onto Ciampa but because of his leg he was slow to the pin and the moment he got there Ciampa turnt around belly first so Black can’t pin him. Ciampa has heel down to a T. At one point Ciampa went to spit water onto Black but Black kicked the water out of his mouth, in the process he dropped the bottle of water. That would play into the match later as Black would later slip on the water and get caught by a Fairytale Ending when he got back into the ring. Some more exchanges and Black has Ciampa in the Gargano position from Wargames 2 but Ciampa knowing what’s to come get’s Black into the Hangman DDT and follows it up with a Fairytale Ending but Black kicks out. Ciampa hits another Fairytale Ending and goes for one more but Black get’s out and goes for another Black Mass but is too hurt which Ciampa capitalizes with a Fairytale Ending.

After the match much like Johnny, Ciampa looks at the camera and says “I win”. He goes up and Johnny comes out to close the show as dual champions.

Rating: ****½

Overall show: 8.7

While not the greatest Takeover like many expected, this was still a great show, with 2 great matches and a moty contender in the mix. I expect Mania weekend will be even better.

Date January 26, 2019

City Phoenix, Arizona

Venue Talking Stick Resort Arena

Capacity: 9000

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