Matt Riddle def. Roderick Strong
I think it goes without saying that Strong is one of the most underrated athletes in the entire company, and that he has been since he started with NXT almost three years ago. The guy is great and this match proved that. As much of a star as Riddle is, Strong had a hell of a performance here and they worked wonderfully together. Strong is much better with Undisputed Era than on his own, but when allowed to shine (regardless of whether it's tag or singles), he never ceases to steal the show. This was perfectly slotted as the opener to the event and I loved every second of this hard-hitting affair. Although Strong came up short here, I'd be all for him winning the NXT North American Championship eventually. More of this, please!
The Street Profits def. The Forgotten Sons, Undisputed Era and Oney Lorcan & Danny Burch in a Fatal 4-Way Ladder Match to Win the Vacant NXT Tag Team Championship
I've been saying for close to a year now that The Street Profits deserve to be NXT Tag Team Champions more than any other tandem in the division, and although it took a little longer than expected, they finally got their moment here and it was glorious. The entire Ladder match, in fact, was remarkable and everything you'd want to see from such a stipulation. It was complete chaos in the best way possible and some of those spots were brutal to watch. Undisputed Era (Kyle O'Reilly in particular) need a raise coming out of this contest for the hell their bodies endured here. My only nitpick of the bout is that Jaxson Ryker's heat segment hurt the flow of the matchup a bit (he was made to look incredibly dominant for a while), but at least it led somewhere and he didn't factor into the finish at all. Montez Ford's leap on the ladder to the titles was a thing of beauty. Props to all involved in this war.
NXT North American Champion Velveteen Dream def. Tyler Breeze
Although I thought this was the weakest match on the card in terms of in-ring action, it had a strong story with Dream and Breeze trying to one up each other throughout. Dream excels in that department, not to mention that Breeze is tremendously talented, so it was hardly a surprise that this was as enjoyable of an encounter as it was. I can see why people who weren't watching NXT five years ago wouldn't have taken Breeze seriously here, but he definitely showed why he belongs in this "new" NXT and how he has been utterly wasted on the main roster. Dream nearly cheating to win could have left the door open for the feud to continue, but the two taking a "selfie" together afterward seemed to signify that Dream will be moving on to other challengers.
NXT Women's Champion Shayna Baszler def. Io Shirai
I've found that most people either really like or really hate Baszler, and I'm in the former camp. I think she does a terrific job in her role as the bully heel champion and almost always delivers on these TakeOver specials. This wasn't her most memorable match in my opinion, but she and Shirai had excellent chemistry and the layout was solid. I loathe the interference that we get during these Baszler matches more often than not, but that means it's going to be a huge moment when she eventually drops the title to someone. Based off Shirai's post-match attack on Baszler, I assume their rivalry isn't over yet. I could see Shirai taking the title in Toronto, but then again, I've said that for the last three or four TakeOver specials and Baszler has left as champion every time, so who the hell knows.
Adam Cole def. Johnny Gargano to Win the NXT Championship
I regard Gargano vs. Cole from TakeOver: New York as the greatest NXT match of all-time, so I was well aware going into this show it was going to be tough for them to top themselves. I still say that bout was better, but take nothing away from this absolutely outstanding encounter. They kicked out of probably one too many finishers, and I can't criticize The Young Bucks and The Lucha Brothers for doing that at Double or Nothing and not hold these guys to the same standards. Other than that, they were on another level and the crowd was hanging on every nearfall. I appreciated that, despite a ref bump toward the end, there was no interference from the rest of Undisputed Era, and that final stretch was spectacular stuff. Sure, a longer title reign from Gargano would have been nice, but being there in attendance, I can tell you firsthand that this crowd likely would have rioted (I kid, I kid) had Cole not won here. It was his time and this puts Gargano back in chase mode where he is at his best. Now the question is if a main roster call-up is in his immediate future. Let's hope not given the sad state of Raw and SmackDown Live these days.
I was fortunate enough to be at TakeOver: New York just two months ago and then this show, and I was worried that this wouldn't be anywhere near as amazing of an experience. Well, I was wrong. We can debate all day long about which show was superior (TakeOver: New York takes the cake in my book), but this was a fantastic TakeOver with three top-notch matches in the main event, the Ladder match, and Riddle vs. Strong. Even Dream vs. Breeze and the NXT Women's Championship clash delivered as expected. NXT did the fans justice with its historic 25th installment by giving us two title changes and really stellar show on the whole. The atmosphere was electric as well from start to finish, so I hope anyone who had doubts about Bridgeport, CT being a hot crowd realize they underestimated us. I love professional wrestling.
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