You can scroll to the end for a TLDR recap of the show. No introduction needed for tonight.
Opening: Cane Hill performs It Follows over a montage that is hyping TakeOver. Decent, but the focus was on the wrestlers, so I like it. 13,955 are in attendance inside of the sold out Smoothie King Center.
Match #1: NXT North American Championship Ladder Match: Ricochet v. EC3 v. Lars Sullivan v. Killian Dain v. Velveteen Dream v. Adam Cole
Adam Cole is still selling anger that he has to wrestle twice tonight. The Dream has custom gear again tonight and it’s great. Ricochet gets the big time entrance compared to the other guys. Ricochet and Adam Cole seem to have the backing from the crowd. That’s not to understate how over EC3 and the Dream also are right now.
EC3 bails at the bell and the big men clear the ring. EC3 urges them to fight, but they corner him outside. Ricochet comes out of nowhere with a springboard shooting star press to the floor to take out Sullivan and Dain. Ricochet gets a ladder set up, but the Dream cuts him off. Ricochet just defies gravity for a minute, but he gets knocked off the top rope to the floor. Cole attacks the Dream and levels Dain with a step-up enzuigiri. Cole hits the Dream with the Last Shot neckbreaker.
EC3 catches Cole with a jawbreaker and a Stinger Splash. Sullivan comes in and overpowers Cole and EC3. Dain tosses Sullivan out of the ring and hits a suicide dive. There’s just all-out brawl in the ring, but Sullivan hurls a ladder at them to knock them all around. He uses a ladder as a battering ram to take everyone out. Sullivan press slams the Dream chest first on a ladder. Ricochet wants a sunset flip powerbomb on Sullivan off the ladder, but he can’t do it. It takes 3 more guys to bring him down with a big powerbomb. Cole is poised to grab the belt, but Dain cuts him off. Cole talks trash to Dain, but he gets killed with a head butt. Dain back drops Ricochet onto a ladder.
EC3 gives Dain a face buster off the ladder, and then he and Cole crush Sullivan in the corner with it. Now they pull out the big ladder to build a bridge between the ring and table. Cole and EC3 exchange high fives, but Cole doesn’t like EC3 stealing his catch phrase. Cole gives him an AA on the ladder, and then it’s a super kick party. Cole nails Ricochet off a springboard with the final perfect super kick. Cole goes for the belt, but Sullivan pushes the ladder over. The Dream flies across the ring with a Purple Rainmaker on Dain. Then he lands another on Cole. Now the Dream hits a third to the back of Ricochet’s head.
Sullivan tries to avalanche a ladder onto the Dream in the corner, but Dream hits him in the face with the ladder. The Dream goes to the top of the ladder and flies off the very top with a Purple Rainmaker to Sullivan! The Dream gets a hand on the belt, but EC3 powerbombs him on a propped up ladder! EC3 takes the two big men out and starts the climb. Adam Cole won’t let him, so EC3 nails him with a beautiful TKO off the third or fourth rung. EC3 climbs again, but Dain pulls him off and drills him with a bicycle kick. Dain puts a ladder onto EC3 and crushes him with a running senton. Now Dain goes for a Vader Bomb, but Cole gets on his back. Dain hits the Vader Bomb onto the ladder (still on top of EC3) with Cole on his back.
Ricochet tries to take it to the big men, but Sullivan hurls him across the ring. Dain throws Ricochet the other way and out of the ring. The two big men go at it again with Dain getting the upper hand. Sullivan catches Dain in mid-air and slams him down. Sullivan climbs to lots of booing, but Ricochet is back in and delivers a huge head kick. He tries to climb, but Sullivan tips the ladder backwards. Ricochet instead moonsaults mid-fall onto Cole and Dain on the floor. Crazy spot.
EC3 puts Ricochet on the top rope, but eats a kick and falls on top of a ladder. Ricochet delivers a huge shooting star press onto EC3 and the ladder. The Dream is now back in the match. He puts Ricochet on a ladder bridge, but he and the Dream both end up on the bridge. The Dream stands up on the bridge and somehow delivers a rolling Death Valley Driver on the bridge!
Sullivan levels the Dream and puts him on the outside ladder bridge. Sullivan gives EC3 the Freak Accident off the ring apron and through the ladder (and the Dream) on the floor! Now Dain puts Ricochet on another ladder bridge. Dain picks up Cole and gives him a sort-of Michinoku Driver through the ladder (and through Ricochet). Everyone is dead as they all reset. Sullivan is up first and goes for the belt. He gets a hand on it, but Dain cuts him off. EC3 is back in with a ladder and hits both guys. Now 2 ladders are set up. Cole and EC3 climb the second ladder. The Dream sets up a third ladder and both he and Ricochet climb that one.
Cole gives EC3 a Russian leg sweep off the ladder and they hit the ropes. Ricochet destroys the Dream with a neckbreaker off the ladder. Sullivan gives Dain a Freak Accident off the ladder. Sullivan is bleeding, but Ricochet flies in from somewhere to take Sullivan off the ladder. Ricochet almost gets the title, but Cole dumps him to the floor. Cole climbs and Adam Cole is the inaugural North American Champion!
Winner: Adam Cole to WIN the NXT North American Championship
Thoughts: That was a crazy match and I obviously struggled to keep up with it. There were some crazy ill-advised spots in there – especially where EC3 looked to land on the bottom rope. Speaking of EC3, he was really out of sync a few times there, but I’m sure he will clean it up as he works more in NXT. Ricochet and the Dream were the highlights in the match overall. It was a really fun match and Adam Cole finally gets some gold.
Match #2: NXT Women’s Championship: Ember Moon © v. Shayna Baszler
I’m pretty sure Lzzy Hale of Halestorm is playing out Ember Moon, so that’s pretty cool. Ronda Rousey is in the crowd to cheer on Shayna Baszler. Moon misses a drop kick at the bell and Baszler KO’s her with a right hand that sends Moon to the floor. On the floor, Moon drop kicks Baszler into the steps. Moon drills Baszler with a Code Breaker from the second rope. Moon tries to kick Baszler from the ring apron, but Baszler catches the kick and flips Moon on her face. Baszler slams Moon into the barricade, but can only get a 1 count in the ring.
Moon escapes a submission but eats a high knee and a gut wrench suplex for a 2 count. Moon gets Baszler with a head scissors takedown and the handspring corner clothesline. Moon rolls up Baszler for a near fall, but then Moon gets leveled with another huge knee to the face. Moon comes back with a kick to the face, but Baszler tries for a rear naked choke. Moon manages to break it by crushing Baszler into the mat. Moon comes back with more kicks and a suplex. Moon nips up and nails a sort of sliding reverse STO for a near fall.
Moon misses a springboard cross body and Baszler tries to break her arm. Moon counters and ends up turning the tables and stomping on Baszler’s arm. Baszler sells that she’s seriously hurt. Moon goes to the top rope for the Eclipse, but she gets crotched. Baszler tees off with kicks to Moon’s head while she hangs from the top rope. Baszler uses the post and rams her shoulder into it twice to try to pop it back into place. Moon comes off the top rope and nails Baszler with the Eclipse on the floor! Unfortunately, they’re both down as the referee starts his count.
They both thankfully get in the ring at a count of 9. Baszler surprises Moon with the Kirifuda Clutch,but Moon breaks it by attacking Baszler’s injured arm. Baszler locks in a triangle, but Moon deadlifts her for a powerbomb and a close near fall. Moon goes back to the top rope, but Baszler blocks the Eclipse and transitions into the Kirifuda Clutch! Moon tries to break the grip, but Baszler holds on with her one good arm. Moon keeps fighting, but can’t quite get to the ropes. Baszler rolls her to the middle of the ring and Moon continues to fight. She finally passes out and the referee stops the match! Shayna Baszler is the new Women’s Champion! Baszler, Rousey, and Duke all hug at ringside.
Winner: Shayna Baszler via Stoppage and NEW NXT Women’s Champion
Thoughts: That was a massive improvement over their last match for sure. There was some great drama in this and I’m not sure if it was the goal, but Baszler sure comes off as more of a babyface by fighting through the pain, relocating her shoulder, etc. Overall, I think this was a good move. Ember Moon is really good and belongs on a bigger stage making more money. This was a really good match, in my opinion.
Backstage: Adam Cole is with the trainer and he’s in rough shape.
Match #3: NXT Tag Team Championship & Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic Final: Undisputed Era (Adam Cole & Kyle O’Reilly) © v. Authors of Pain (w/ Paul Ellering) v. Roderick Strong & Pete Dunne
Dustin Rhodes and Jeff Jarrett are ringside to watch this one. Adam Cole is taped up and hurting. This is going to be another crazy one. The Authors immediately target Cole. Dunne gets hip tossed to the floor. O’Reilly gets destroyed with a neckbreaker / powerbomb and Cole barely saves him from a pin. The Authors clear a table and they drive Cole through it with a double powerbomb. O’Reilly takes out both Authors with knees and kicks. Dunne and O’Reilly trade submissions and strikes. That was a great sequence with those two.
Strong catches O’Reilly with a backbreaker. Strong nails a half nelson backbreaker on O’Reilly, but O’Reilly reverses another attempt into a guillotine and then a triangle. At the same time, he locks in an ankle lock on Akam. Rezar then powerbombs Dunne onto O’Reilly to break all the submission holds. All the sudden, this is now an actual tag team match and not a tornado style match. Rezar and Strong are the legal men, I guess. Rezar throws Strong with an overhead belly to belly. O’Reilly is also a legal man. Rezar dumps him on his head with a nasty German suplex and O’Reilly tumbles out of the ring.
Ok, so one person from each team can be in at once. Adam Cole is still down in the wreckage of the table. The Authors continue beating down Strong. Strong blasts Rezar with an enzuigiri. Pete Dunne gets a hot tag and lays waste to Akam. O’Reilly goes for a German suplex on Dunne, but he lands on his feet and kicks a satisfied-looking O’Reilly in the head. Dunne catches Rezar with a DDT for a near fall. Dunne and O’Reilly just lay into each other with strikes until Akam takes them both out with a double lariat. The Authors connect with the Super Collider. The Authors drop O’Reilly with the Last Chapter, but Strong breaks up the pin attempt.
Rezar throws Strong into Pete Dunne, who falls out of the ring. Strong delivers an Angle Slam, but Rezar kicks out. Dunne gets a tag and lands a double stomp onto O’Reilly on the ring apron. They hit a double team Bitter End on Rezar, but Akam breaks up the pin. Strong drives Rezar into the steps. Pete Dunne crushes O’Reilly with the Bitter End, but Strong attacks Dunne!!! WHAT! Strong hits Dunne with the End of Heartache and puts O’Reilly on him for the win! Strong finally turns heel and Undisputed Era might now be a foursome. Strong puts the Undisputed Era armband on! Bobby Fish joins them on crutches to celebrate.
Winners: Undisputed Era via pinfall to RETAIN the NXT Tag Team Championship and WIN the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic
Thoughts: I was all set to complain about how the rules seemed to only matter here and there, but then Roddy Strong went and turned heel. I’ve been calling for it for months, but I did not even give it a thought for this event. I assume it was done so someone can defend the tag titles with O’Reilly while Fish is injured, but Strong could really benefit from this. Wow, what a shocker.
Match #4: NXT Championship: Andrade ‘Cien’ Almas © (w/ Zelina Vega) v. Aleister Black
The champion makes his entrance briefly in another mask. They go right at it at the bell and Almas absorbs a ton of kicks. Black almost breaks his neck on the springboard moonsault attempt, but recovers and springboards out of the corner and to the floor to take out Almas. Almas kicks out of a pin and rolls to the floor. Black goes after him, but Vega sends Black into the ring steps with a hurricanrana. Almas pounces on Black back in the ring and throws him shoulder-first into the post.
The crowd is almost split as Almas is still riding the wave from Philadelphia. Almas uses the ropes to lock in a draping arm bar and then a springboard drop kick puts Black down. Almas continues to focus on Black’s arm, but Black breaks the arm bar. Black eats a boot to the face and gets caught in the draping arm bar again. Almas tries another springboard, but he lands on a knee to the face. Black wins a striking contest and finishes with a running knee to the head of Almas.
Black lands a springboard moonsault for a near fall. Black gets caught on the top rope and eats a big chop. Almas wants a superplex, but Black blocks and goes for a sunset flip powerbomb. Almas lands on his feet, but misses the drive-through knees. Almas then turns Black inside out with a German suplex. Almas connects with the double moonsault starting from the top rope for a near fall. Almas wins a striking match with some nasty forearms and a big back elbow. Black then beheads Almas with a running boot.
They level each other with double head kicks. Black gets hip tossed on his head in the corner and Almas once again can’t connect with the drive-through knees. Almas dumps Black to the outside, and then nails a corkscrew plancha to the floor. Beautiful move. Vega gives Almas the title belt and the referee takes it away. While he’s doing that, Vega gives Black another hurricanrana in the ring and spikes him right on top of his head! Black still manages to kick out. Almas wants the Hammerlock DDT, but Black counters with the Black Mass! Vega pulls Almas’s foot to the rope to break the pin.
Black wants a moonsault to the floor, but Vega once again stops him. Almas knocks Black down and goes for the double stomp to the floor. Black slumps in the corner and Almas finally crushes him with the drive-through knees. Black still manages to kick out. Almas goes to the Hammerlock DDT, but Black gets out again. Almas manages to still catch Black with a drop kick to the back of the head as Black went for the Black Mass kick. Black slumps against the post like Gargano and he gets crushed again with the drive-through knees. Almas tries for the draping Hammerlock DDT, but Black back drops him to the floor.
Black dives over the top tope with a front flip plancha to take out Almas, but rolls right into the Hammerlock DDT back in the ring! Black kicks out! Vega tries a cross body from the top rope, but Black ducks and Almas catches her. While he’s holding Vega, Black destroys him with Black Mass and we have a new champion! That’s the first time I’ve seen Aleister Black smile.
Winner: Aleister Black via pinfall to WIN the NXT Championship
Thoughts: It started out a little clunky, but they really picked it up. Almas is absolutely phenomenal. Black deserves to carry the title, but part of me hates to see Almas’s reign end. Overall, this was a really strong match and a new era in NXT.
Match #5/Main Event: Unsanctioned Match / If Gargano Wins, He’s Rehired: Johnny Gargano v. Tommaso Ciampa
Triple H had Johnny Gargano sign a hold harmless agreement earlier (William Regal is storyline sick and not present tonight; or maybe he’s really sick, I don’t know). Ciampa is out first with no music. The biggest heel in wrestling right here. Ciampa soaks in some Asshole and You Suck chants. There’s another chant that I can’t type here, but it rhymes with Duck You, Ciampa. Gargano never took his eyes off Ciampa for his entire entrance.
Referee Drake is wearing a black shirt and gloves, so you know this is serious. After a face-off, they start punching each other. Gargano grounds and pounds, then nails a slingshot spear. Ciampa tries to fight back but Gargano stomps a mudhole in him in the corner and the crowd erupts. Gargano clotheslines Ciampa to the floor, and then flattens him with a dive. I think I see Shane McMahon ringside. If not, he has a clone. Ciampa takes advantage, but Gargano throws him over the railing. Gargano dives over the railing and into the crowd to take Ciampa down again.
Ciampa drops Gargano stomach first on the railing and clubs Gargano. Ata Johnson is also ringside with Rock’s daughter and they were almost casualties there. Gargano eats a backbreaker on the floor as the crowd lights up Ciampa with booing. Ciampa lifts up the mats on the floor to expose the concrete. Ciampa wants a suplex on the concrete but can’t connect. Gargano kicks him in the head and throws Ciampa over the announcer’s table. There’s a Momma Mia chant since Mauro is temporarily offline. Gargano wants a pile driver on the table, but Ciampa hits him with an iPad. Ciampa then suplexes Gargano off the table to the floor and Gargano lands with a splat. Great spot.
Ciampa back suplexes Gargano through part of the announce table that was propped up. There’s another loud F You, Ciampa chant. Ciampa kicks Gargano in the back and then stomps his face. A hard Irish whip sends Gargano upside down in the corner and on top of his head. Gargano fires up with forearms, but then Ciampa drops him with another back suplex. Gargano kicks out at one. Ciampa locks in a sort of Texas Cloverleaf, but Gargano won’t give up and makes the ropes – but of course there’s no rope break. Ciampa just stomps on the back of Gargano’s head repeatedly and sarcastically applauds. Vicious.
Ciampa goes under the ring, but can’t find what he wants. He asked the referee if he moved ‘it’. Instead, he knees Gargano in the side of the head. Ciampa steals crutches from someone in the crowd that has a broken leg. Ciampa stalks Gargano with a crutch and stands him up with one. Ciampa swings and misses twice and Gargano fires back with a roll-up kick. Gargano tries to knock Ciampa onto the exposed concrete, but he can’t and gets his legs swept.
Ciampa wants a suplex from the ring to the concrete, but eats a step-up enzuigiri instead. Ciampa blocks the slingshot DDT on the apron. He tries to drop Gargano to the concrete again, but Gargano slides out and powerbombs the living hell out of Ciampa on the concrete! That sounded insane. There’s a You Deserve Itchant. Somehow Ciampa is still alive and rolls back into the ring. Both guys stare each other down from opposite corners and start fighting over the crutch. Gargano wins the tug of war and smashes Ciampa repeatedly with the crutch in the stomach, back, and knee.
Ciampa back drops Gargano to the floor to get some breathing room, but Gargano cracks him across the back of the head with the crutch and gets the slingshot DDT in the ring, but Ciampa kicks out! What a shot with that crutch. Gargano takes off the middle turnbuckle to expose the steel. He tries to lawn dart Ciampa into it, but he slips out. Ciampa deposits Gargano on the apron, then counters a slingshot spear attempt with a knee to the head. Ciampa hits a spinning powerbomb for a near fall. Ciampa motions for the #DIY finisher and hits Gargano with a running knee to the back of the head, but Gargano kicks out again.
Ciampa wants another powerbomb, but Gargano just lays into him with clotheslines and stiff slaps to the face. Gargano goes for a tilt-a-whirl, but Ciampa takes his head off with a clothesline. Gargano and Ciampa sort of botch the reverse hurricanrana, so Gargano locks in the Gargano Escape. Ciampa gets to the ropes but that doesn’t matter. Gargano rolls back to the middle of the ring, but Ciampa digs into Gargano’s eyes to break the hold. Ciampa starts to peel his wrist tape off and tries to choke Gargano. Gargano blocks it and they tee off on each other with punches. Gargano gets the advantage, but Ciampa punts him with a low blow and then cracks Gargano across the back with crutch. Ciampa destroys him with Project Ciampa, but Gargano kicks out! This guy is insane.
Ciampa is frustrated as Gargano crawls back toward him. Gargano and Ciampa continue slapping each other. Gargano hits a super kick and a lariat. He lawn darts Ciampa into the steel! Gargano hits the super kick and then squares him up for the KO super kick, but Ciampa kicks out!! You have to be kidding me. Gargano goes to the top rope, but Ciampa is there to deliver a knee to the face. Ciampa tries for a move, but Gargano elbows him into oblivion. Ciampa ends up delivering a top rope Project Ciampa and Gargano f’ing kicks out!! Ciampa removes his knee brace as he sells a knee injury after that impact.
Ciampa exposes his knee and tries to knee Gargano in the head, but Gargano hits him across the knee with the brace. Gargano breaks the crutch in half and goes to hit Ciampa in the head with it, but he stops and has second thoughts. Gargano can’t finish Ciampa. Gargano tosses the crutch down and sits next to Ciampa like old times. Ciampa tries to take his head off with the brace, but Gargano ducks and locks in the Gargano Escape. Gargano then locks in an STF using the knee brace to pull Ciampa’s head back and Ciampa taps! Gargano wins! Candice LaRae joins him in the ring to celebrate.
Winner: Johnny Gargano via submission to regain his job in NXT
Thoughts: That was just absolutely awesome. These guys tore it down and I don’t really have the words. Watch this again. Overall, another great event.
- Adam Cole won the NXT North American Championship
- Shayna Baszler beat Ember Moon to win the NXT Women’s Championship
- Undisputed Era retained the Tag Team Championship and won the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic after Roderick Strong turned heel and joined the group
- Aleister Black beat Andrade Almas to win the NXT Championship
- Johnny Gargano beat Tommaso Ciampa to regain his job in NXT