We made it to the Royal Rumble weekend! Tonight, NXT takes over Phoenix, Arizona. The pre-show panel for tonight’s show is Charly Caruso, Sam Roberts, and Pat Mcafee. With this being the first big show of the year for NXT, we will also see the winners of the 2018 NXT Awards as those awards are given out tonight.
NXT 2018 Year End Awards
NXT Overall Competitor Of The Year – Kairi Sane
NXT Male Competitor Of The Year – Tommaso Ciampa
NXT Female Competitor Of The Year – Kairi Sane
NXT Match Of The Year – Johnny Gargano Vs Andrade “Cien” Almas
NXT Tag Team Of The Year – Undisputed Era
NXT Breakout Star Of The Year – Ricochet
NXT Rivalry Of The Year – Johnny Gargano Vs Tommaso Ciampa
We transition from the pre-show to the main show. The show opens up with a special well-done video package. We then transition into the commentary table as Mauro Ranallo, Nigel Mcguneiis, and Percy Watson hype up the show.
Tag Team Match For NXT Tag Team Titles
Undisputed Era (Kyle O Reilly & Roderick Strong) With Bobby Fish Vs War Raiders
The War Raiders win via a Viking Fallout on O’Reilly and win NXT Tag Team Titles.
One hell of a tag team showcase was shown out there. A match that was power vs technique. The ending was done brilliantly with Hanson kicking out of high and low and then making a big comeback for the finish. Now, with the loss, let the speculation start of Undisputed Era showing up at the Rumble tomorrow night. Whether they do or not let’s just appreciate the time they have had in NXT.
Matt Riddle Vs Kassius Ohno
Matt Riddle wins via ref stoppage after rapid elbow blows
Now, this was not a 5-star match by any means, but it did tell a great face vs heel story. Ohno plays a great heel and would have been a big star in WWE 10 years ago but tonight he does the job and puts over Matt Riddle as only a star can. The ending was great too as it really felt like Ohno was passing the torch to Riddle as the new knockout artist of NXT. A few highlights I do want to mention are when Ohno took advantage of Riddle not wearing boots by stepping on his toes and even biting them. The best moment, however, had to be the last 2 minutes with the Riddle comeback and it just showed me that he is going to be a big star in WWE.
Singles Match For NXT North American Title
Ricochet Vs Johnny Gargano
Johnny Gargano wins via Slingshot DDT and wins NXT North American Title
In one of the best matches in NXT history, we got to see the Gargano heel turn to come full circle. Gargano needed help from the exposed floor but boy the way the story was told made the match mean so much more. Gargano finally can get rid of the name of Johnny Failure and go back to being called Johnny Takeover. Gargano and Ricochet gave the roster a masterclass on how to tell a great story in modern pro wrestling and honestly pleased both kinds of fans. I’m going to remember this match and, quite frankly, I hope we get more matches between these two before they get called up. Gargano had to stop being nice and do what Ciampa did, which is embrace the dark side, and he got awarded for it.
Singles Match For NXT Women’s Title
Shayna Baszler Vs Bianca Belair
Shayna Baszler wins via Kirifuda Clutch and retains NXT Women’s Title
I first must admit that this match was much better than I thought it would be. Belair showed tonight that she is the future of the division. Many times in the match I was impressed with her development and she really got the crowd behind her, even at times she does heel tactics. Baszler got her heel heat with her friends’ help and goes on to prove how far she has come in a short time and how she is the most dominant female in all of WWE. I expect a rematch to happen and I fully expect Belair to be a champion by the end of the year. The last 3-5 minutes of the match really improved the overall quality and really told a good story of an inexperienced Belair who had heart but just could not overcome the numbers.
Singles Match For NXT Title
Tommaso Ciampa Vs Aleister Black
Tommaso Ciampa wins via three Fairytale Endings and retains NXT Title.
What a way to end this epic show. This match told a well-crafted story and it began early in the match when Ciampa took away Black’s kicking leg, which would show for the rest of this classic. Near the end of the match, we saw Black finally hit the Black Mass only to not get to the cover in time. The right guy wins here as Ciampa is the best thing going in NXT, but Black gave him a run for his money tonight.
After the match, Johnny Gargano comes out and has a staredown with Ciampa as we see DIY finally reunite and both men raise their titles in the air.
Overall Show Grade: A-
NXT Takeover has always been one of the best shows everytime we get one. This may not have been the best of all time but it really set the bar for the whole year, not only for NXT but for Royal Rumble tomorrow night. Who will get called up or even show for one night only tomorrow? Where can NXT go from here? Comment down below with your answers and I hope you enjoyed this crazy ride of a show as much as I did.
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