NXT TAKEOVER PHOENIX REPORT
JANUARY 26, 2019
PHOENIX, ARIZ. AT THE TALKING STICK RESORT ARENA
AIRED LIVE ON WWE NETWORK
Just as the Spanish announce team wraps up their introductions, War Raiders start a fancy entrance, complete with a Viking honor guard with shields and spears. I like it when NXT goes special entrances (the best in my mind are still Tyler Breeze’s), but this one just looked like cheap costumes from the Halloween store. No special entrance for Undisputed Era, other than Bobby Fish coming part of the way down the ramp with Roderick Strong and Kyle O’Reilly then heading to the back
1. WAR RAIDERS (HANSON and ROWE) vs. NXT Tag Team Champions UNDISPUTED ERA (RODERICK STRONG and KYLE O’REILLY) – NXT Tag Team Championship Match
Strong and O’Reilly immediately double team Rowe to send him out, then Hanson, but then Rowe re-enters and dumps Strong and O’Reilly to the outside. Hanson with clotheslines, then Rowe body slams Hanson onto Strong and O’Reilly. Strong gets tossed into to eat offense from Hanson, then Rowe. Cover gets two for Rowe. O’Reilly has a kick from behind to save Strong, then gets tagged in. Strong and O’Reilly double team Hanson. O’Reilly with his knees and kicks to drive Hanson to the corner. Strangely, Undisputed Era has the babyface corner. Hanson blocks a suplex, tries one of his own, Strong slips out and takes O’Reilly. O’Reilly grounds Hanson on the mat, then tries a guillotine, but Hanson gets to the corner and tags in Rowe. Strong tries to help out but Rowe fends off the double team. Rowe blocks a dropkick through the ropes, but then O’Reilly jumps him. Hanson looks for a suicide dive but Strong moves out of the way and Hanson eats mat. The numbers game catches up to Rowe as Mauro Ranallo points out that the referee is having a hard time keeping the right number of wrestlers in the ring. Backbreaker from Strong to Rowe. Double front suplex to Rowe onto the rope.
The crowd is very solidly behind Undisputed Era as O’Reilly works Rowe with submissions. O’Reilly tries a triangle, Rowe gets to his feet, Strong tags in and hits another backbreaker. O’Reilly catches a punch from Rowe to turn it into a hold, Rowe tries to bulldoze his way to the corner for a tag. Strong tries to clear Hanson off the corner, Hanson gets tied up with the ref letting Strong and O’Reilly land tons of cheapshots. Rowe suplexes O’Reilly off of him and O’Reilly lands on Strong to clear him. O’Reilly messes with Hanson on the outside, letting Strong dropkick Hanson, then a dropkick to Rowe for two. Rowe drops elbows but O’Reilly has kicks. O’Reilly walks into a one-armed slam then takes a knee to the face and they are both down.
Double tag and Hanson goes on hot tag offense. Strong dodges in the corner but takes a leaping seated senton, then Hanson cartwheels. Hanson takes out both members of Undisputed Era and covers Strong for two. The action breaks down. Strong with a gutbuster to Rowe. Hanson manages to hit the suicide dive to Strong, Rowe covers O’Reilly for a nearfall. O’Reilly defends against a double team, Strong thinks superplex on Hanson and hits it, O’Reilly follows with a knee from the top rope for a nearfall. Hanson looks like he is near dead. Olympic slam from Strong earns two. Undisputed Era hit the high/low, but Hanson kicks out. O’Reilly and Strong fire themselves up, but Hanson cartwheels out of a second high/low, then lands a backspring double back elbow, tag to Rowe who lands a body slam/powerbomb to O’Reilly and Strong, then their team finisher to O’Reilly for the win.
Winners: War Raiders in 16:56. Really, really strong match here. It fell far too often into having way too many people in the ring for way too long, which I don’t particularly care for. If that rule can be violated so much, why have any of the other rules? All the same, the action was good. I am not particularly enthused about War Raiders having the championship, but hearing the crowd I feel like I am in the minority.
NXT UK Champion Pete Dunne and NXT UK Women’s Champion Toni Storm are shown in the crowd. Storm tries to put a smile on Dunne’s face, and fails.
Vignette on the built to the third match between Kassius Ohno and Matt Riddle.
2. MATT RIDDLE vs. KASSIUS OHNO
Riddle immediately closes with blows sending Ohno outside, then goes outside too to attack Ohno then psych up with a member of the crowd. Ohno continues the attack, then a deadlift gutwrench suplex. Riddle takes a boot through the ropes. Ohno on the apron, forearm from Riddle, but Ohno blocks a sunset flip powerbomb to the outside, puts the ring skirt over Ohno’s face and stomping Riddle’s face. Running senton gets Ohno two. Ohno controls Riddle with a cravat, then an elbow to the head gets a nearfall. Ohno with a very measured pace. Vicious stomp to Riddle’s face as he has his head on the bottom rope, then Ohno throws Riddle into the steps. Riddle has blood in his mouth. Riddle slips out of a suplex and lands in a hold. Riddle tries a rear waistlock, but Ohno stomps his foot then grinds it. Ohno with a German suplex. Ohno lands Yes! kicks. Ohno looks like he bites Riddle’s toe! Then a powerbomb for a close nearfall. “Ohno almost broke his losing streak at Takeover!” says Ranallo. Ohno to the top, moonsault barely hits Riddle but gets a nearfall. Riddle suddenly locks in a sleeper, but Ohno rolls to the ropes. Ohno seems to beg for mercy on the mat and offers a fist bump. Riddle seems to consider it, grabs Ohno’s hand and kicks Ohno. Suplex to Ohno, then elbows on the mat, Ohno is tapping wildly but the ref doesn’t see it until Riddle turns him around.
Winner: Matt Riddle in 9:22. Riddle did a good job of showing fire and emotion here, and a wide variety of moves. I enjoyed the end, with Ohno tapping out not to a hold but an relenting assault, very unique. Not a great match, but Riddle has continued his streak of delivering his end of the match quite well.
Backstage a limousine pulls up, two women get out, then out steps Velveteen Dream to saunter in. They advertise Dream for next Sunday at the World’s Collide event.
Vignette for Ricochet defending the NXT North American Championship against Johnny Gargano. It’s kind of funny how they both say “Gargano” so much and you can hear how Ricochet just mandles it.
Gargano has strong support from the crowd on his way to the ring.
3. NXT North American Champion RICOCHET vs. JOHNNY GARGANO – NXT North American Championship Match
Crowd support seems evenly split as they move into some very aggressive chain wrestling. Gargano with a crucifix for two then right back to the mat. Another cover by Gargano, one. Ricochet eludes a kick to the face, then they look for a test of strength, which transitions to more mat work. Shoulder tackle from Gargano, Ricochet kips up, gets put down again. Gargano tries another crucifix, Ricochet gets to his feet. This is lightning fast offense. Ricochet gets a kick caught, flips away. Head scissors from Gargano but Ricochet lands on his feet and Gargano looks flustered. Ricochet smirks at him. Ricochet offers a handshake and asks which Johnny he will get tonight, Gargano takes the hand up, then cheap shots Ricochet, then drives him into the corner with chops. Ricochet bounces all over the place, head scissors, kip up, dropkick to send Gargano outside, then a moonsault to Gargano from the apron to the outside.
Ricochet returns Gargano to the ring, but runs into a back elbow. Then wrangle on the turnbuckles, Ricochet back to the mat then to the top, thinking Frankensteiner, Gargano slips out and sends Ricochet’s jaw into the top turnbuckle. Dropkick to the back of Ricochet’s head for a two count. Gargano applies a neck crank of sorts, Ricochet elbows out. Ricochet sweeps, moonsault, Gargano kicks Ricochet out of the air from the mat, then neckbreakers Ricochet’s head into his knee and covers for two. Gargano leverages Ricochet to the mat to apply holds and covers. Gargano tries a sunset flip, Ricochet blocks. Ricochet dodges the slingshot spear, hits a moonsault but Gargano was on his knees so he lands hard. Gargano to his feet first and they trade strikes. Ricochet with head scissors, then an attack in the corner, 619, springboard European uppercut and Gargano is down. Ricochet with a suplex, then a brainbuster for a nearfall.
Gargano ducks a springboard uppercut, Ricochet wants a dropkick, Gargano catches into a powerbomb, then tries to cinch in the Gargano Escape, but Ricochet blocks. Ricochet rolls Gargano into a cover for two, ducks a kick, then takes one on the apron. Ricochet blocks the slingshot tornado DDT and dumps Gargano over the ropes, corkscrew dive to Gargano. The crowd has a “Mamma Mia!” chant going on. Gargano takes an uppercut, then ducks, takes a standing shooting star press then a moonsault from the second turnbuckle for two. The tussle on the top, Ricochet thinks avalanche Samoan drop maybe? Gargano wants a Frankensteiner, Ricochet blocks, Gargano gets it, Ricochet lands on his feet. Gargano dodges a backflip kick, then trade shots, superkick to Gargano, backflip kick to Gargano. This action is insanely fast. Ricochet with a backelbow but Gargano catches him and transitions to the Gargano Escape, Ricochet gets to his feet, picks up Gargano and hits a suplex into the turnbuckle.
Ricochet heads to the top but Gargano rolls across the ring and to the apron. Ricochet stalks, but Gargano drops to the outside. Ricochet charges, jumps over the turnbuckle and ringpost to hit a dive, puts Gargano in the ring, springboard 450 splash for a very close nearfall. Ricocher to the top again, shooting star press, Gargano gets knees up, inside cradle for a nearfall. They are both slow to recover. Gargano preps a low superkick, hits it and Ricochet flies through the ropes. Gargano with a suicide dive, Ricochet catches him over his shoulders, Gargano transitions to a reverse ‘rana, rolls Ricochet in, slingshot DDT, nearfall. Gargano rolls outside for some reason and mutters to himself. He rips the mat up from outside just like NXT Champion Tommaso Ciampa did to him. Gargano preps the handing DDT while being warned by referee Drake Wertz. Gargano shakes his head then puts Ricochet back in the ring. He tries to cover, Ricochet catches him with a cover for two. Massive clothesline from Ricochet, then to the rope for a Phoenix Splash, misses, to his feet, superkick from Gargano, Ricochet catches Gargano, and puts him in the Gargano Escape to reverse the roles. Gargano won’t tap to the Gargano Escape and gets to the ropes and slips away from Ricochet.
The match is now over the 22 minute mark and they both head to the apron. Gargano shoves Ricochet into the ring post, then looks at the exposed concrete. Gargano pulls Ricochet down and hits a suplex onto the concrete. Wertz immediately drops down to check on Ricochet. Gargano rolls Ricochet intot he ring, then prepares his next move on the apron. Slingshot DDT, cover, win.
Winner: Johnny Gargano in 24:35. What. A. Match. That was incredible. The number of counters and reversals, the nearly relentless pacing, and the hard-hitting moves, plus the emotional investment made this a match for the ages.
Video package on NXT Women’s Champion Shayna Baszler defending against Bianca Belair.
Nita Strauss is shown in the audience. Formal introductions are performed.
4. BIANCA BELAIR vs. NXT Women’s Champion SHAYNA BASZLER – NXT Women’s Championship Match
The referee for this match is Jessika Carr, who always enhances Baszler’s matches. Carr keeps them apart before the bell when Baszler holds the title up in Belair’s face.
Lockup and Belair forces Baszler to the corner then gloats a little. Another lockup, and Belair again gets the advantage and is all smiles. She tries to tell Baszler she is un-duh-feet-ed, but Baszler turns it around, then tries “overrated”, Belair pushes her down and says “un-duh-feat-ed”. They wrangle. Shoulder tackle from Belair and she wipes her hands like it was easy. Belair bounces all over the place, sends Baszler through the ropes and gloats again. Belair slams Baszler’s face on the apron, then Baszler puts her over the corner then uses Belair’s long hair the yank her shoulder into the ringpost. Carr immediately leaves the ring to check on Belair, then returns to the ring to start a ten count. Belair barely beats the count and Baszler mounts and pounds for a two count. Baszler wrenches the wrist and sets up the Baszler Stomp and hits it. Belair flops all over the ring and Carr rushes to the corner to check on her. Belair says she is good, so Baszler immediately goes to the attack, then puts an armbar on the injured arm, spinning around. Belair stumbles into the ropes.
Baszler is just eating Belair for lunch. Cover for two. Baszler returns to the arm, and Belair sells pain. Belair punches out, Baszler with a sleeper, Belair backs her to the corner, Baszler hits strikes, stout kick to the chest for two. Belair’s cockiness is gone, she looks like she is just trying to get out of this match alive now. Baszler makes fun of Belair, tells her she is overrates, Belair lands a monstrous slap, dodges a running knee, and shoulders Baszler into the corner. Hip toss and shoulder tackles while selling the arm, then a dropkick. Belair spears Baszler, cover for two. Belair tries to get come feeling back into the arm, another cover for only one. Baszler surprises Belair with a triangle attempt, Belair blocks, tries a splash, Baszler blocks, then hits a leaping knee for two.
Belair continues to sell the arm as Carr starts a double count. They get to their feet to trade blows. Baszler dodges rights, Belair looks like Rocky struggling to land a shot on Creed, then Belair whips Baszler with the hair from the ropes. Baszler is bleeding from the hair whip. Belair tries to lift Baszler up, Baszler escapes, sends Belair into Carr. Belair nails the KOD but Carr is out cold in the corner. Belair loses her mind. Belair is beside herself, then Marina Shafir enters the ring, takes a spear, here comes Duke, chicken wing slam on Duke into Shafir, but Carr is still out. Baszler locks in the Kirafuda Clutch, Carr comes back to life. The crowd is booing mercilessly. Carr is trying to not call the match. Belair manages to get to her knees, then stand up, then turn Baszler around to her front, then hit a suplex somehow. Belair stumbles to the ropes and then the apron, then to the top. Duke interferes, gets kicked onto Shafir on the outside, 450 splash, Baszler catches her and locks in the Kirafuda Clutch. Belair rolls over, Baszler yanks her back to the mat. Belair to her knees, then her feet, she collapses. Belair tries again, to her knees, then her feet. Baszler won’t release the hold, Belair slowly fades to the mat, then is unresponsive. Carr calls for the bell.
Winner: Shayna Baszler in 15:17. Great match. The drama in it was so high. Belair started off cocky and arrogant and ended as perhaps the most redmeat babyface in the company. I don’t know how but they managed a full-fledged face turn for Belair by having her lose.
Post-match, Baszler tells Belair that the loss wasn’t her fault because she didn’t belong there at all. Belair looks determined to win it next time.
Velveteen Dream is shown in he audience with his two female friends. The crowd chants his name and he acts like he isn’t sure if they are saying his name. If there was any true conflict between Dream and WWE, it is cleared up, as he is getting a ton of screen time on a show that he isn’t booked on.
A final video package airs, for NXT Champion Tommaso Ciampa finally having to face Aleister Black for the title.
5. ALEISTER BLACK vs. NXT Champion TOMMASO CIAMPA – NXT Championship Match
Starting just after 9 PM Eastern, there is a lot of time for this match of some post-match drama. Hot start, they tumble through the ropes on the lockup and still maintain it outside, then break and go back to the ring. Ciampa slaps Black, Black takes him down. Ciampa with a wristlock. Black looks noticeably slimmer. Ciampa steps on Black’s hair, drawing the ref’s ire. Black backs Ciampa to the corner, then leaps over Ciampa. Black takes Ciampa over two times in a row with headlocks. Ciampa yanks an ear when the ref can’t see. Back drop from Black, then another headlock takeover. Referee break in the corner, cheap shot from Ciampa. Black bounces out of a corner with rights, takes a knee to the middle. Black lands kicks, sends Ciampa through the ropes, wants to leap outside, Ciampa dodges so Black springboards into the center of the ring. Black sits down to look at Ciampa, Ciampa kicks him in the head. Black leaps over the top rope to Ciampa on the outside, then lands knees to Ciampa on the inside of the ring. Black catches a kick then trips Ciampa, springboard moonsault from the middle rope gets Black two. Ciampa rolls outside to get a break, then trips Black up, but Black kicks him down. Ciampa slams Black’s foot into the ring steps then throws him into the stairs. Black sells a knee.
Ciampa suplexes Black into the ring steps and Black sells his knee even more. Ciampa continues to work the knee back in the ring. Ciampa calls Black a one-trick pony. Ciampa slams the knee into the ringpost, then again and again. Black sells the knee and Ranallo in the background can be seen cringing. Ciampa slams Black’s knee onto the Spanish announce desk, then he sits on the announce desk like Black does and claps. Ciampa grabs a bottle of water from the desk and starts to sip it, but Black comes alive and hits a kick to Ciampa and the bottle, sending water everywhere. Ciama into the ring and Black stumbles into the ring, but Ciampa kicks his legs out again. Ciampa steps on Black’s face to the five count. STO from Ciampa, then he continues on the leg. Ciampa sets up a Tree of Woe and keeps attacking the knee. Black kicks Ciampa with his free foot and escapes the tree. Ciampa to the second rope, Black manages a stepup enziguri to clear them both to the outside.
The referee has a double count going on. Black gets to his feet, then Ciampa, they roll into the ring. Black suddenly makes a comeback but is hampered by his knee pain. A kick to the face stuns Ciampa and Black starts a rally. A roundhouse gets Black one. Sudden small package by Ciampa, then Ciampa tries the Fairytalke Ending, Black escapes. Then escapes another. Black thinks Black Mass, the knee doesn’t let him plant. Black sits down on a sunset flip for two. Roundhouse and a German suplexes get Black two. Black sets up Black Mass, but his knee pain is a problem. Dragon Screen leg whip into a single leg crab from Ciampa. Black tries to the get the ropes, but can’t, he kicks Ciampa away. They strike each other, Black into a single leg crab, but he can’t put enough weight on his leg and is forced to break the hold.
Black knocks Ciampa off the apron, but Ciampa moves fast enough to escape, hits a Tower of London to the apron for a nearfall. Ciampa hits a bit knee to Black’s head in the ropes, two count. Ciampa looks to set up Black Mass, but Black responds with a knee, then Ciampa hits one back. Ciampa is still on his feet, Black is on his back. The set up a trade of blows to a mixed crowd reaction. Ciampa ducks a kick, hits a big boot, takes one, Ciampa rolls Black up for two, Black and Ciampa trade roll ups for two apiece. Black catches a kick and trips Ciampa, and drops a knee pad. Black counters a low dropkick with a double stomp, but the knee stops a suplex. Jumping knee to the back of Ciampa’s head, brainbuster gets Black two. Ciampa rolls outside. Black to the outside, second rope moonsault to Ciampa, Black slips on the water. Ciampa hits Fairytale Ending mid-ring, but Black kicks out.
Ciampa considers his options, then goes outside to rip the mat up. The announcers recall that Gargano did this to Ricochet earlier. The referees rolls outside to chide Ciampa. Ciampa brings Black to the apron an dCiampa yells at the ref and shoves him as they argue. Ciampa turns around and takes a leaping knee from Black, sells his head shitting the concrete. Ciapa gets rolled into the ring, and stumbles right into Black Mass, but Black is slow to cover and Ciampa rolls onto his front, and Black doesn’t have enough left in the tank to roll Ciampa over and cover. They try to stand. Ciampa looks like walking dead. Black wants another Black Mass, Ciampa pulls the ref between them, draping DDT by Ciampa, Fairytale Ending, Black kicks out again. Ciampa sets up a third, hits it. Doesn’t release, doesn’t cover, he stands up, and wants a fourth, Black with a kick, thinks Black Mass, his knee gives out, Ciampa uses the opportunity to hit the Fairytale Ending for the win.
Winner: Tommaso Ciampa in 26:33. Really good match here, with a coherent, strong story being told of Ciampa being vicious and willing to do anything to win, and Black having a strong heart and drive. Unfortunately, this match had to follow the Gargano – Ricochet match which felt so much more important thanks to the Gargano storyline adding so much emotional impact.
Post-match, as Ciampa poses on the ramp, Johnny Gargano comes out behind him holding the NXT North American Championship. They glare at each other, then Gargano holds up his belt, and Ciampa stands next to him holding his up in a sign of solidarity. But they still look at each other, and each other’s belts.
Final Reax: This event had everything that I expected it to have in terms of match quality and drama. There was not a single let down in this event, other than the fact that the Ohno – Riddle match was on it at all. The match itself was fine and what I expected, but the feud has long overstayed its welcome and is not providing any additional development. The match endings almost completely defied my expectations and predictions, which is always enjoyable.
(Justin James has been covering NXT for PWTorch.com since NXT’s beginnings. Read his TV report every Wednesday night at PWTorch.com and listen to him as part a roundtable conversation on the “PWT Talks NXT” edition of the PWTorch Dailycast every Thursday. Search “pwtorch” to subscribe free. Following NXT Takeover event, Justin is part of a special post-event VIP Roundtable discussion with Kelly Wells, Tom Stoup, and Harley Pageot.)