It’s TakeOver time once again. This time unburdened by a PPV the following night; Portland would be its own standalone experience. It was full of top tier matches and grudges that could all be show stealers. Tommaso Ciampa would try to reclaim Goldie, Johnny Gargano was coming for Finn Balor, Tegan Nox wanted to kill Dakota Kai for her betrayal and the Broserweights were out for tag team gold. The show opened with the dark sounds of Poppy and transitioned into…
Keith Lee defeats Dominik Dijakovic via Big Bang Catastrophe
When in doubt, open the show with one of the biggest stars in NXT right now. Keith Lee has become an NXT megastar and rightfully now holds the North American Championship. He decided to give his old rival/frenemy Dominik Dijakovic a shot at his title. The pair made full use of the opening slot putting on an absolute banger. It played out like a best of compilation of their previous match’s best moments with a splash of new countering and ever more maddening agility. Some of the highlights include a murderous pounce into the turnbuckle, A Spinning Angle Slam from the top rope by Dijakovic, a springboard cannonball to a seated Lee from Dijakovic and so much more. It was highlight to highlight and strike for strike between the duo. It was a masterclass in big man wrestling with the pair kicking out to the bitter end. Dijakovic couldn’t hoist Lee up into the Feast your Eyes so Lee powered him up for the Big Bang Catastrophe. He won the match and brought Dijakovic to his feet and showered him with respect after the match. It was fitting end to the Kaiju saga these two have put on and a wholesome way to start the show.
Dakota Kai defeats Tegan Nox via Raquel Gonzalez and an evil table
Next up was the most personal match of the night. Dakota Kai betrayed Tegan Nox at War Games and tried to end her career. Nox was out for revenge and was going to any length to do it. The pair were so eager to tear each other apart that it resulted in the first ever TakeOver women’s street fight. Dakota Kai didn’t even get an entrance as she ambushed Nox during hers. Nox made her pay though by driving her through multiple barricades. The pair continued to up the ante with a series of extreme spots and brutal punishments. Kai kept kicking the hell out of Tegan whilst Tegan used trash cans to get her point across. There was an incredibly memorable pair of spots where Dakota Kai nearly decapitated Nox with a trash can lid and Nox imploded a trash can with a German Suplex. It was all violent fun and appeased my deathmatch tendencies. The end came as a random shock as Raquel Gonzalez came out to save Dakota Kai from certain death by putting Tegan through a table with a choke bomb. The table didn’t break though so I hope Tegan is okay after that.
This was my show stealer match as it was personal, violent and dripping with drama. I love street fights and this was a prime example of one done right. The stakes were high, the violence levels higher and the intrigue at its highest.
Finn Balor defeats Johnny Gargano via 1916
That was followed by another grudge match. Finn Balor marked Gargano on his return to NXT and put him out of action. Now Gargano was back and he was going to make Balor pay. Finn proclaimed himself the Prince of NXT and wanted to see what the hell the deal was with Johnny Gargano. Meanwhile Gargano wanted to get his hands on the guy who left NXT behind, an NXT where Gargano picked up the pieces and became the top star. This was a much more traditional match than the previous two. Both men knew each other well and both men were more interested in breaking the other through technical and striking ability. Both men went for limbs as Balor had a bad arm and Gargano got a bad leg through a Dragon Screw. Balor was brutal in his attacks to the knee, bending it in ways it really shouldn’t. Though to his credit, Gargano didn’t slouch either, throwing himself into his offense. The problem was the match felt rather dragged out. When it was going fast and furious it was fun, but there were long sections of grind down that brought down the match. The last moments were devastating to Gargano as he was dropped onto a monitor and announcer table, John Woo-ed into a barricade, crushed with the Coup de Grace and finished with 1916. The Prince ruined another NXT star’s night, claiming another victory in a triumphant return.
Rhea Ripley defeats Bianca Belair via Riptide
Next up was Rhea Ripley defending her NXT Championship against the winner of the contender’s battle royal. Often overlooked and honestly, not my first choice of opponent, Bianca Belair made this match a big deal. She may have also been Rhea’s first challenger who outmatched her in strength. That dynamic made this match a strong style bout of power vs power. The pair traded the whole match with Bianca making Rhea work to retain. This match to me made Belair even more of a star. She may have lost but she made her case as a challenger. If it weren’t for a top rope spot gone wrong then she may have continued to fight another day. She was caught into a pump handle and dropped with the Riptide after putting up one hell of a fight. She had Ripley’s number at multiple occasions with spears, strikes and so much more. It was the second Kaiju fight of the night that saw the Nightmare stand tall. After her win, she was attacked from behind by Charlotte, who stole the moment by announcing that she would be seeing Ripley at Mania. She attacked Belair on the way out for good measure.
The Broserweights defeated The Undisputed Era via Dunne In Bro (I don’t know the actual move name)
Time for the Dusty Classic winners to take their rightfully earned title shot. The Broserweights had blazed a trail through the tournament and the hearts of the NXT universe. This odd but at the same time completely logical team had one more obstacle between them and the NXT Tag Titles, The Undisputed Era. The challengers made their entrance in style with the Broserweight-Mobile. From here, Matt Riddle took the piss out of Bobby Fish until the Era had enough and swarmed. Both teams brawled around the outside. When the action became official, it was a match of epic proportions as both teams brought the best out of each other. It was brutal strikes, amazing grappling, double team moves galore and more as UE went out of their way to punish Dunne and Riddle for entering their division. The Broserweights gave as good though as Pete Dunne kept attacking hands and Matt Riddle looked like a tank. This was all enjoyment from start to finish as both teams suffered miscommunications and both teams nearly won so many times. It was nail bitingly tense. Plus, the charisma between Dunne and Riddle really shines as a dynamic odd duo. They won the gold meaning Matt Riddle has his first gold within NXT. Talk about a feel-good moment from an amazing match.
Adam Cole defeats Tommaso Ciampa to retain his NXT Championship
Last but not least was the NXT Title shot and the battle for Goldie. Adam Cole has been holding onto Goldie as Ciampa had to go for surgery. He had made the championship his own and now the ghost of NXT past had come to haunt him. Ciampa is fighting to get his life back whilst Cole is trying to get rid of the most persistent thorn in his side, it was going to be a clash of epic proportions. This was unbelievable.
It started with the two feeling each other out and showing that they’d done their homework before Ciampa took Adam Cole for a violent ride around the ring. He hit multiple running knees across the ring apron and into the time keepers area. He looked to be murdering Cole until Cole retorted with a Wheelbarrow Suplex into the announcer’s table. From there, Cole made Ciampa work his way back into the match with a slew of neck focused attacks. It become much more even from that with both men trading like no tomorrow. Every time it looked to be over, there’d be a kick-out or a reversal. Things just got more and more deadly as both men tried to keep one upping the carnage. Now as a deathmatch writer, I see all kinds of nasty spots but there were moments in this match where I was concerned for the landings these guys were making. It was a rough watch at times but also incredibly enthralling. As expected, when things got dicey for Cole, the rest of the UE interrupted with Cole and Fish hitting No Man’s Land on the outside but even that wasn’t enough to put down Ciampa. When the ref was knocked out both men traded low blows just to assure the audience that type of finish wasn’t coming. Ciampa knocked out Cole but there was no ref to make the count. Gargano came out looking like he’d aid Ciampa but instead he clocked him in the head with the belt allowing Cole to win. Everyone in that arena was shocked and probably exhausted, that match was intense.
So, there you have it, NXT TakeOver Portland reviewed for your reading pleasure. It was another excellent show from the black and yellow brand with Kai and Nox, The Broserweights and the main event stealing the show. Every match shone in some regard but I think the street fight was my match of the night. It’s great to see that NXT is continuing to be WWE’s strongest brand. That’s all I really have to say, it was a great show and you should watch it if you love the NXT style of wrestling. The main is a bit of an investment to watch but it definitely delivers.