NXT Takeover: Phoenix Report Card

NXT Takeover: Phoenix Report Card

There were four title matches and a rematch from Takeover: WarGames II during last night’s NXT show. Here’s a report on each match from NXT Takeover: Phoenix’s main card, with a grade attached. Don’t agree with a grade, then feel free to score the show.

Matt Riddle vs. Kassius Ohno

We entered the match with Kassius Ohno looking for his first Takeover win and Matt Riddle trying to secure his third victory against the former Indy star. The match showed how Riddle has skills, but Ohno was clearly the veteran. For me, the best part was early on when Ohno trapped Riddle’s head under the ring apron. Since Ohno was the heel, he should have taken his time and went to town with several stomps. In the end, Riddle got another victory with a rare tap from strikes and he will slowly find his way to the top of the division. This match should have aired on a regular NXT episode and been replaced with something involving the Velveteen Dream. Grade: B-

NXT Championship: Tommaso Ciampa vs. Aleister Black

All streaks end and that applied to Aleister Black’s undefeated run on Takeover cards. For a match that was about six months in the making, it was kind of disappointing. Early on, Black appeared to hurt his leg and Tommaso Ciampa never let-up. When WWE goes that route in a match, it slows everything down and Black was not able to hit many of his big moves like the various moonsaults. The ending sequence was better and the only memorable moment from the main event. I did enjoy the end as Ciampa stood atop the ramp with his title and newly crowned North American Champion Gargano joined him. They never shook hands, but their eyes and holding their respective titles in the air adds more speculation about DIY reforming. As of now I still do not if DIY is back but in the coming weeks, NXT TV will certainly paint a clearer picture. Grade: B

NXT Women’s Championship: Shayna Baszler vs. Bianca Belair

At first, I agreed with Sam Roberts on the pre-show that Bianca Belair does not seem like a title threat when using her long hair as a weapon. While she did seem a bit lost in her first Takeover card, the final sequence helped. Shayna Baszler locked the choke in for what felt like several minutes and Belair kept standing. Eventually, she faded but proved that there are still some challengers to Baszler’s belt. I did not know much about Belair outside of a few NXT matches, yet she made a name for herself and in a year from now could be a real threat to the gold. Grade: B

NXT Tag Team Championship: The Undisputed Era (Kyle O’Reilly & Roderick Strong) vs. War Raiders (Hanson & Rowe)

Outside of a short span, Undisputed Era had held the tag titles for a lengthy period. Once we saw War Raiders come out with the viking theme entrance, it felt like the obvious sign that the titles would change hands. Undisputed Era showed their teamwork and agility, but War Raiders were able to match them; which is impressive considering the size difference. It has been an amazing run for Undisputed Era in NXT, but you have to think they could be headed to the main roster after dropping the titles and no appearance (on camera) by Adam Cole. War Raiders make for a great alternative to Undisputed Era as tag champions. Grade: B+

NXT North American Championship: Ricochet vs. Johnny Gargano

For anyone who watches the Indy scene, these two have delivered in the past. They knew each other heading into the match and that was part of the storyline. Ricochet continues to show that he is the human highlight reel and Johnny Gargano continues his path towards the dark side. As for the contest, they easily stole the show and we have a match of the year candidate without even getting past January. The only thing missing from the match was a bit more of a sadistic side from Gargano. Regardless, I hope we get a rematch between these two. Grade: A

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