Its that time again, Mania weekend, and of course like the last few years, we have an NXT takeover show the same weekend. This year we were spoiled with the event a day early so it doesn’t clash with tomorrows MSG show, but there’s nothing wrong with that as more wrestling is never a bad thing. This NXT card seemed to be absolutely perfect on paper but how was the card really? Here’s our take:
Opening Match for the NXT Tag Team Championship
War Raiders vs Black and Ricochet
This was actually a decent start to the show, right from the entrance the match was handled well. Although most fans could tell who would win this match, it really didn’t hurt the match at all as it really managed to keep the excitement levels at a high. The four workers involved all showed off the best of their talents and really gave people a memorable opening match to mania weekend with the Raiders, of course, going over.
Second Match for the NXT NA Championship
Velveteen Dream vs Matt Riddle
The story and build up leading into this were pretty basic but of course, Dream carried it and made it golden like he always does. Dreams entrance is one that will be remembered for years to come. The match itself was full of some decent spots and was a pretty standard PPV match, the two actually had their styles work perfectly together. Giving that Riddle had never lost a match before this match they did a really good job at thinking of a way Riddle could lose but still be protected pretty well.
Third Match for the NXT UK Championship
Pete Dunne vs Walter
This match had a good story built up into it as you had the 685-day champion Pete Dunne who had taken on all challengers and kept his title. Meanwhile, on the other side of the ring was the much larger and undefeated new NXT UK superstar Walter, these two brought the house down. With perfect use of working the limbs and striking, the match had you really wondering if Pete Dunne was going to defend yet again, or break a two-year title reign. The two kept you on your toes throughout the final stretch of the match really making me wonder who was going to win until Walter finally got the W. This felt like a perfect ending to Dunne’s title reign and I feel there’s going to be a great rematch between the two on the cards.
Fourth Match for the NXT Women’s Championship
Shayna Bayzler vs Kairi Sane vs Io Shirai vs Bianca Belair
Leading into this match the only person who hadn’t gotten a pinfall victory over Bayzler was Belair, the match really was quick and to the point. Sane and Shirai worked together a lot and really were able to entertain the crowd this way. This match really wasn’t anything amazing but it was good for what it needed to be. It was full of good spots too, like Belair giving both Shirai and Sane the K.O.D, but after this it allowed Bayzler to finally retain her title by making Belair tap out.
Fifth Match for the vacant NXT Championship
Adam Cole vs Johnny Gargano
Before this match even started the crowd let it known they were onboard for Cole winning. They had seen a lot of Gargano in the main event and they wanted something different. The first fall of this match was exciting and ended with Cole getting the pinfall through the Last Shot, the second fall after this involved Gargano kicking out of the Last Shot being the first to ever do so. This match continued to go back and forth until Gargano locked in a Gargan-no escape, this made Cole tap instantly as he knew there was still another fall left in that match.
This is where the match fell apart to me. The match did stay exciting, but from here on Gargano took a Fairy Tail ending on a table. He took another Last Shot kicking out of a move no one had kicked out of before this match yet again. He took out all of Undisputed Era like they were nothing and left them just laying there and never getting back up. He took a Panama Sunrise, which something Cole had only done once before in WWE and still kicked out. After Cole went for a missed fourth Last Shot, Gargano locked in a Gargan-no escape really making Cole tap everytime he locked that move in. The crowd gave a bit of a pop when the tap happened, but Gargano got not much afterward. Not even something like a “you deserve it”. The crowd really made it obvious that they felt the wrong person won this match. This wasn’t my NXT; this felt like John Cena instead of Johnny Gargano. If this is NXT’s future, I want no part of it.
It could have been an A/A+ from the performance had Cole been able to finally lie Johnny to rest, but superman booking ruined it. I don’t think anyone saw Gargano winning, because Adam Cole was a clear choice here.