Adam Cole def. Ricochet, EC3, Velveteen Dream, Killian Dane and Lars Sullivan in a Ladder Match to Win the NXT North American Championship
I have seen some crazy Ladder matches over the years, but this has to rank up there among the most insane I've witnessed, especially under the WWE banner. Seriously, this was spectacular! Everyone was allowed to shine at one point or another, and the newer guys (Ricochet and EC3) proved without a shadow of a doubt that they could hang with all of the elite talent NXT has to offer right now. There were enough incredible spots to ensure the crowd was engaged throughout, and above all else, the finish didn't feel predictable in the slightest because virtually any one of these six stars could have walked away with the title. Cole has been a top star in the eight months he's been in NXT for, but this was a much-needed victory for him coming off his loss to Aleister Black at the last TakeOver.
Shayna Baszler def. Ember Moon to Win the NXT Women's Championship
Although the audience was slightly flat for this match, I can't say I expected anything different following that fantastic opener. That said, this was a solid match with both women having good showings. I liked that Moon was more aggressive here than she was during their previous encounter by targeting Baszler's arm (basically, the roles were reversed this time around), but Baszler still managed to reverse the Eclipse (which was well done) into a submission maneuver that led to her capturing the championship. She is definitely the hot hand at the moment and I'm looking forward to the matches she can have with the rest of NXT's women's division.
NXT Tag Team Champions Undisputed Era def. Pete Dunne & Roderick Strong and Authors of Pain in a Triple Threat Match to Win the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic
Similar to the women's match, it took the crowd a bit to get into this, but the action was entertaining, nevertheless. The three-way tag team format constantly kept things moving and, once again, the chemistry between Strong and Dunne was a blast as they worked tremendously well with their opponents. Cole being beat up from the Ladder matchup and the tease of Kyle O'Reilly having to fly solo definitely made you think they were up to something, and ultimately, it was Strong who cost his own partner the twin titles and pledged his allegiance to Undisputed Era. That was a hell of a swerve that RJ Marceau actually called out in advance during our preview and predictions podcast, one I'm in full favor of because it allows Undisputed Era to maintain momentum while Bobby Fish it out injured in addition to freshening up Strong's character.
Aleister Black def. Andrade "Cien" Almas to Win the NXT Championship
Yes, these two did clash in Black's in-ring debut for NXT one year ago over WrestleMania weekend and they produced a pretty good match, but both men have grown so much as performers since then. Thus, the fact this was an excellent match was hardly surprising. They wasted no time kicking it up ten notches and going all out. Plus, the story they told with Zelina Vega interfering on multiple occasions was awesome as the payoff played into the finish with her help for Almas backfiring and resulting in a title win for Black. Almas' reign was a real treat, but Black becoming champ was what needed to happen. Hopefully Almas now moves on to bigger things on the main roster, perhaps as soon as post-WrestleMania week.
Johnny Gargano def. Tommaso Ciampa in an Unsanctioned Match
Everyone is aware that these two could contest an instant classic in the ring if given the opportunity, but it was obvious beforehand this wasn't going to be your typical wrestling match, and to be fair, it shouldn't have been given the rivalry they've had over the last year. Rather, this Unsanctioned street fight was exactly what it needed to be and so much more. Ciampa's brutal beatdown on Gargano was wonderfully executed and the attention to detail was outstanding with Gargano focusing on Ciampa's injured knee, Ciampa mocking Gargano with his own moves, and even the incorporation of the crutches and Ciampa's knee brace. The second half was super strong with Gargano battling back against Ciampa's offense and the crowd rallying behind their hero every step of the way. Those nearfalls were also amazing, because it could have ended at any point, and the finish couldn't have been more perfect with the callback to their contest in the Cruiserweight Classic and then Gargano forcing Ciampa to tap out with the knee brace wrenched across his face. Storytelling at its finest, folks.
Of course, I was far from the only one who had high hopes for this TakeOver based off the potential it had on paper to be phenomenal, and sure enough, the show delivered in a major way. The three title changes and Strong's heel turn made it a newsworthy night, and the exceptional Unsanctioned main event capped off the evening on the highest note possible. Let the debate about this being the best live special in NXT history to date begin. Either way, it's clear WrestleMania will have its work cut out for it on Sunday. NXT raised the bar to a near-impossible level, so time will tell whether the main roster can come close to reaching/topping it.
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