Tonight was the ever NXT Takeover on a Sunday. In the beginning, they were during the week and over the last few years they have been the night before a big WWE pay-per-view. I thought this was a great way not to have too many pay-per-views before Wrestlemania involving Raw and Smackdown. Before I begin with my thoughts on the evening, here are the results of Takeover Portland:
-Keith Lee defeated Dominik Dijakovic to retain the NXT North American Championship
-Dakota Kai defeated Tegan Nox in a Street Fight.
-Finn Balor defeated Johnny Gargano
-Rhea Ripley defeated Bianca Belair to retain the NXT Women’s Championship
-The Broserweights defeated Undisputed Era to become the new NXT Tag Team Champions
-Adam Cole defeated Tommaso Ciampa to retain the NXT Championship
The opening match of the night was between Keith Lee and Dominik Dijakovic for the NXT North American Championship. These two have done battle before when Dijakovic was heel, but since then they have been allies and even went after the NXT Tag Team Titles together. These two have been a prime example of how the “big men” in pro wrestling have evolved and tonight they shocked and awed us once again. I don’t think I’ve ever seen two big men give that much in a match like that before. I love when you can speed, agility and power all together in one match. They showed mutual respect for each other once the match was over. Two competitors no longer have any respect for each other are Dakota Kai and Tegan Nox. These two were the best of friends and not have become the worst of enemies. They always say you fight your friends harder and this was a prime example of what friends will do to each other in a street fight. These two beat the hell out of each other, but it got really scary when Raquel Gonzales interfered and tried to put Nox through a table. The table didn’t break, but it didn’t matter because Dakota Kai got the victory.
Another bitter rivalry that’s taken place over the last few months has been Finn Balor and Johnny Gargano. Balor helped build NXT in the beginning but Gargano has been the consistent force over the last three years. These two had an incredible match that told an amazing story. I really hope this is not the last time these two are in the same ring together because they still have a lot more to showcase. Speaking of showcasing, there is no Women’s Division that should be showcased more than the NXT Women’s Division. Rhea Ripley is still very young in her career and Bianca Belair has so much athletic ability, so watching these two is just a prime example of how bright the future is for the entire WWE Women’s Division. At the end of the match, Charlotte Flair attacked Rhea Ripley and declared she would be challenging Ripley for the NXT Women’s Championship at Wrestlemania. This will be the first time in history that an NXT Title will be defended at Wrestlemania. As excited I am for this match I wish Belair was going to be involved. Charlotte has stated on numerous occasions that she wants to work with Belair. I also think Belair has great chemistry with Ripley and Flair, so maybe we will get that match down the road.
When it comes to tag teams in pro wrestling, sometimes oddball pairing work out really well and are others are just terrible. The pairing of Matt Riddle and Pete Dunne has been absolutely phenomenal and fun to watch. They had some great matches in the Dusty Rhodes Classic and they continued that trend tonight. The Undisputed Era’s Kyle O’Reilly and Bobby Fish have been the heart and soul of the NXT Tag Team Division for quite sometime now. They have brought out the best in every single tag team they have faced since their arrival in NXT. The Broserweight’s stopped Undisputed Era at every turn to become the new NXT Tag Team Champions. These two have a lot of work cut out for them to keep the Tag Team Division going and keep the momentum strong. No one has had more momentum over the last year than Adam Cole. He has arguably been the greatest NXT Champion since the title was created, but you cannot deny that Ciampa never lost the title so we don’t know how great of a champion he could have been. This match was back and forth, full of drama, high energy and had an unexpected twist at the end. I was shocked to see Johnny Gargano turn on Tommaso Ciampa just weeks after they teamed together at Worlds Collide. It appears that storybook rivalry will continue along with Adam Cole’s title reign.
Tonight was absolutely phenomenal and breath taking. It’s what a pay-per-view on a Sunday should feel like. I love when you walk away with wanting answers to questions and the feeling of wanting more. There is a lot to digest after this show and there are a lot of questions heading into to Wrestlemania weekend. I am truly excited for Wrestlemania Weekend from an NXT perspective. Tonight, NXT took over Portland but more importantly they raised the bar for WWE pay-per-views. There are no more excuses about NXT being the lead-in for one of the Big Four. They stood tall on their own without the Royal Rumble, Wrestlemania, Summerslam and Survivor Series. Let that sink to those who think NXT is still developmental, the minor leagues or the weakest of the three brands. NXT is alive and it’s here to stay.