[PPV Review] ‘NXT TakeOver: New York’ – Gargano vs. Cole, Dream vs. Riddle

Date: April 5, 2019
Venue: Barclays Center (Brooklyn, NY)
Commentators: Mauro Ranallo, Nigel McGuinness, & Percy Watson

It’s WrestleMania 35 weekend, which means it’s time for NXT to throw down with the latest edition of TakeOver. This one is for all the marbles too as FIVE championships on the line, including the United Kingdom Championship which yes is still a thing how dare you. Did NXT once again lay it all on the line and potentially outshine the main roster? Read on to find out (but I mean it’s pretty obvious).

Champion Roll-Call

  • NXT CHAMPION: VACANT
  • NXT NORTH AMERICAN CHAMPION: The Velveteen Dream
  • NXT WOMEN’S CHAMPION: Shayna Baszler
  • NXT TAG TEAM CHAMPIONS: The War Raiders (Hanson & Rowe)

The Lineup

  • The War Raiders [c] vs. Ricochet & Aleister Black for the NXT TAG TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP (****½)
  • The Velveteen Dream [c] vs. Matt Riddle for the NXT NORTH AMERICAN CHAMPIONSHIP (***¾)
  • Pete Dunne [c] vs. WALTER for the WWE UNITED KINGDOM CHAMPIONSHIP (****½)
  • Shayna Baszler [c] vs. Bianca Belair vs. Io Shirai vs. Kairi Sane for the NXT WOMEN’S CHAMPIONSHIP (***½)
  • 2 OUT OF 3 FALLS: Johnny Gargano vs. Adam Cole for the vacant NXT CHAMPIONSHIP

    (****)

*****

The War Raiders [c] defeated Ricochet & Aleister Black to retain the NXT TAG TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP (18:39)

BACKGROUND: Ricochet and Black won the 2019 Dusty Rhodes Classic to earn this title shot, but have also been pulling triple duty by wrestling on RAW and SMACKDOWN LIVE over the past few months. They’re also challenging for the latter’s Tag Team Championship at WrestleMania on Sunday. Busy guys. Meanwhile The War Raiders have been dominant since their championship win at NXT TakeOver: Phoenix back in January.

THOUGHTS: What an absolute banger of an opening contest, as both teams ended up far more evenly matched than I was anticipating. Black and Rowe handled the striking/martial arts stuff, while Ricochet and BIG BEEFY Hanson traded off on the acrobatic stuff. Both teams had great, lightning quick tandem offense, with Hanson especially bringing the goods with a friggin’ TOP ROPE CANNONBALL to the floor as well as a beautiful back handspring elbow after cartwheeling away from Ricochet. Blew my damn mind. The War Raiders getting the decisive victory was smart, as they’re staying in NXT and need to be looked at as the dominant team, but Ricochet and Black looked tremendous in defeat and to me they don’t lose any momentum really heading into Sunday. I do find it a bit strange they are leaving NXT as a team, both are former NXT singles champs and all, but I’ve slowly come to accept this team and they’re gelling together with each match. Helluva way to start the show, and a real statement for the rest of the card. PPV could somehow end with just this match happening and I would have considered it a success.

  • RATING: ****½

POST-MATCH: The War Raiders bow in respect and allow Ricochet and Black to receive one final standing ovation from the NXT crowd, which moves Ricochet to tears. Hell yeah. Thanks for everything and good luck on the main roster going forward.

Piper Nixon and NXT UK Women’s Champion Toni Storm are in the audience. HI-EEEEEE.

The Velveteen Dream [c] defeated Matt Riddle via pinfall to retain the NXT NORTH AMERICAN CHAMPIONSHIP (17:33)

BACKGROUND: Dream defeated Johnny Gargano for the NXT North American Championship on a TV episode of NXT and Riddle immediately set his sights on the young star, looking to use his MIXED MARTIAL ARTS to end the Dream’s reign quickly. Two rising NXT talents doing battle for an important secondary championship. SIGN ME RIGHT THE F*CK UP.

THOUGHTS: Both men had NY-flavored entrances, with Riddle wearing the Yankees stripes on his gear while Dream entered with a STATUE OF LIBERTY crown and torch while being carried to the ring a la Randy Savage. His gear is Savage circa WCW as well, so he’s not hiding his influence whatsoever. This might be the longest Riddle match I’ve ever seen and I was impressed; he seems like he’s added a lot more to his moveset since coming to NXT and has improved greatly as a wrestler, though he was already damn good to begin with in his WWN days. The clash in styles was fun to watch, as Dream’s showboat-y offense (including a float-over backrake) was countered with Riddle’s smash-mouth style including a suplex from the bottom rope that Dream took entirely on his skull/neck. YIKES. Riddle also worked a more heel-ish style here, playing off the fact that the Brooklyn crowd (and anyone with a pulse) was pro-Velveteen Dream. The finish, Dream shifting his weight to turn the Bromission into a pinfall, was a believable and smart way to end the match, a good way to ease Riddle into his first loss in NXT. Dream just continues getting better and better, and I’m excited to follow his ascension to the top of NXT (and maybe WWE, but I’m always nervous to see anyone move to the main roster).

  • RATING: ***¾

POST-MATCH: Riddle shakes off the shock of Dream getting one on him and offers a respect fist bump to the North American Champion. I was expecting an attack given the harder edge Riddle was showing during the match but hey, maybe he’ll attack him on TV or something.

-NXT’s latest international signee, former NJPW Junior Heavyweight Champion KUSHIDA, is shown in the audience and gets a lot of love from Barclays. May he have a better go of it than Hideo Itami did.

WALTER defeated ‘The Bruiserweight’ Pete Dunne [c] via pinfall to win the WWE UNITED KINGDOM CHAMPIONSHIP (25:30)

BACKGROUND: Dunne won the UK Championship back in 2017 and has reigned atop the mountain for 685 days. WALTER debuted at the end of NXT UK TakeOver: Blackpool, his sights immediately set on Dunne, and Dunne was more than happy to give him the shot because he’s afraid of no one. His mistake.

THOUGHTS: This is the first time I’ve ever seen WALTER in action (yes I should watch NXT UK but who has the time, man?), and I am 1000000% sold on this man. From that baller entrance to his general demeanor he just comes off like a believable monster. This match started a bit slow for my taste, but once these two started lighting each other up I was sucked in. The action was so hard-hitting that my chest was hurting from WALTER’s insane chops by the end of it. Dunne tried to counter WALTER’s brute strength by utilizing his speed advantage, as well as various attempts to break WALTER’s fingers, but this juggernaut just couldn’t be contained and I lost my sh*t at the finish (Walter Bomb from the middle buckle followed by a friggin’ SUPERFLY SPLASH). Dunne’s record-setting title reign had to end sometime and they picked the right guy to do it in an excellent match. Made me more interested in NXT UK, that’s for sure. A little strange though that only the first UK Champion, Tyler Bate, was crowned in England. But hey the NXT TakeOver crowds and viewership is bigger so I get it.

  • RATING: ****1/2

-WWE Hall of Famers Edge and Beth Phoenix are shown in the crowd, the latter coming out of retirement on Sunday for WrestleMania. Crowd mostly cares about Edge though, which embarrasses him a bit. That or he’s become a really good actor.

Shayna Baszler [c] defeated Io Shirai, Bianca Belair, and Kairi Sane in a FATAL FOUR WAY match to retain the NXT WOMEN’S CHAMPIONSHIP (15:40)

BACKGROUND: Baszler, the first-ever two-time NXT Women’s Champion, has been the bully of the women’s division pretty much since her debut. Sane and Shirai hold victories over Baszler, the former being the one who ended her first reign as champion, while Belair lasted the longest in Baszler’s Kirifuda Clutch which is…just as good I guess?

THOUGHTS: A very good fatal four way match, with Belair once again showcasing why she’s a future star. Her character is tremendous, and her tights being covered in pictures of her dominating her three opponents was a nice touch. The Sky Pirates (Sane and Shirai) worked as a team for most of the match but eventually that broke down as they cost the other a pinfall. I appreciated the emotion involved in Shirai and Sane battling one another, neither one being particularly happy to hurt their friend but knowing it was what they needed to do if they wanted the title. Baszler almost felt like an afterthought in this one, but did a great job as the smart champion, letting the other three battle it out until finding her spot and tapping Belair with the Kirifuda Clutch (after Belair hit both Sky Pirates AT THE SAME TIME with the KOD) to retain. She wrestled a smart match and got the victory because of it, which will likely only anger the women’s division even more once she starts bragging about it.

  • RATING: ***½

Johnny Gargano defeated Adam Cole in a 2 OUT OF 3 FALLS MATCH (2-1) to win the NXT CHAMPIONSHIP (38:10)

BACKGROUND: This was initially supposed to be the final blow-off match between Gargano and Tommaso Ciampa, but Ciampa was forced to vacate the NXT Championship after undergoing neck surgery. Cole won a fatal four way match on an episode of NXT to earn the right to face Gargano in a 2 out of 3 Falls match for the gold. Gargano is coming in winless at TakeOver events held in Brooklyn, and is looking to achieve his “boyhood dream”. Apparently NXT has been around longer than we all thought.

THOUGHTS: I’ve been on the Gargano bandwagon since the Dragon Gate USA days, and have been emotionally invested in his plight to finally prove he belongs and win the NXT Championship. To see him finally achieve his goal was a great moment, a culmination of this long story, and a great end to the show. However the route to get there…it had its hiccups. I get what they were trying to do with the 2 out of 3 Falls Match, giving this match a ton of weight and importance, but without Ciampa there to finally be conquered it came off more superfluous than anything. Everything Gargano and Cole accomplished in this could have been done in one fall and the match would have been better for it. The first two falls had their moments, but all the drama and excitement came in the final fall as both Gargano and Cole pulled out moves from their indie days trying to get the victory. I forgot the Hurts Donut even existed and popped huge when Gargano did it. I even loved The Undisputed Era trying to interfere and failing to do so, Gargano taking them all out, as it showed how desperate Cole was to win. Overall I think this match was really good, and gave Gargano the decisive win he deserves (though circumstances robbed him of the ULTIMATE win), but you can skip right to the third fall and get everything you need from it honestly.

  • RATING: ****

POST-MATCH: Gargano celebrates with his wife Candice LeRae, his family at ringside, and in a surprise move, Tommaso Ciampa on the ramp. No attacks or anything, just Ciampa being happy for his friend. I can see that rubbing people the wrong way since Gargano and Ciampa have been in a blood feud for awhile, but I’m going to let that go because of REASONS.

*****

OVERALL THOUGHTS: While not the all-time banger that NXT TakeOver: New Orleans was last year, NXT TakeOver: New York is still a tremendous show which really shouldn’t surprise anyone at this point. Each match being for a championship made each one important, and for me it helped get me interested in wrestlers I hadn’t really been exposed to before (I’m nice and comfortable on this WALTER bandwagon). Not a dull match on the show, and a real feel-good ending with Johnny Gargano finally winning the NXT Championship. Can’t say enough great stuff about it, go watch the show already if you haven’t you weirdo.

  • MATCH OF THE NIGHT: The War Raiders vs. Ricochet & Aleister Black
  • MOMENT OF THE NIGHT: Bianca Belair wrecks The Sky Pirates with a double KOD

 

 

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