TakeOver XXV & Other Thoughts on NXT

So after watching this past weekend’s NXT TakeOver XXV, I felt it appropriate to write up another one of these. For those of you who are in various Facebook groups with me, some of this may sound familiar, but I figured I’d post it here as well and expand upon it.

First off, leading up to this event, we were given a nice piece on the WWE Network called Target: TakeOver XXV, which was essentially a hype piece for the show. It outlined the various competitors’ histories with each other and brought you up to date on all the current feuds to be either furthered or resolved at this TakeOver event. It was a really nice piece to bring any fans who may not watch the weekly program up to speed and get them excited for the upcoming show…which, for the first time in quite awhile, ran the Webster Bank Arena in Bridgeport, Connecticut by itself, not attached to a main roster Pay Per View!

Going into the event, there was really one thing on my mind here and that was that I’d like to see Undisputed Era get a clean sweep in their matches since in recent months, the group had been de-emphasized and had kind of taken a back seat to a number of new & exciting talent and needed a good night to make a statement.

1) Matt Riddle had just lost to Velveteen Dream at the last TakeOver event, so I didn’t so much have a problem with him going over Roderick Strong here to redeem him. And while I know I’ve been critical of Roddy in the past, his in-ring work is really second-to-none and he’s really great at making others look like a million bucks! I’ve always felt he lacked a bit in the charisma department, but I’ve really liked his character since joining the Undisputed Era. I think the association with that group has really done wonders for him in giving him some personality and some edge to his character — as I told him at the meet & greet at Carolines in NYC. While I’m also interested to see where his dissension with Adam Cole leads, I’d much prefer he stay with the group.

2) I’ve been thinking this for awhile about the Street Profits…while Angelo Dawkins is decent and has been a work in progress for some time now, Montez Ford is really something special! He’s got that “it” a lot of wrestlers lack. He’s super athletic & all his stuff looks real crisp. If allowed, I think he can be something BIG…he’s got a ton of charisma and is really gifted with his athletic ability! Hopefully, they don’t miss the bus with him like they have so many other talents! With that being said, when the Street Profits got the extended entrance, I had a feeling that sealed Kyle O’Reilly & Bobby Fish’s fate, but again, I really think the world of Montez Ford, so it’s nice to see that team finally win a notable match — their first on a TakeOver event!

3) By this point, after the first two losses for the group, Adam Cole absolutely HAD to win or else it would’ve been a really sad night for the faction, so I’m really happy for him to finally take home the big prize. I’m sure this is FAR from the last time we’ll see Adam Cole vs. Johnny Gargano for the NXT Championship. I was also amazed to hear the crowd flip on Gargano and cheer for Adam Cole throughout this match! For what Cole lacks in size, he more than makes up for on the mic! He comes off as super passionate about his craft and can talk anyone into a building…which is such a valuable quality! Plenty of guys these days are terrific workers but lack the ability to express their desires on a mic effectively and it’s one of the many reasons that the main roster product suffers.

The Shayna Baszler/Io Shirai match was again, a very strong outing here, where they told a story here that Shayna had learned from a past mistake when she released her choke hold on Io when Io turned it into a pinning move. Remember, this is how Shayna had lost to Ember Moon way back when, (and I’m sure they’ve done this at least once since, but…) so seeing her get out of it this time was a nice way to show that she had grown and learned from her previous mistake. It was also surprising to see Io completely lose it after being defeated…certainly an interesting twist, we’ll have to see where this leads!

Truth be told, this wasn’t the match I really wanted to see at this show…I’m a big Bianca Belair fan and would love to see the EST of NXT get another shot at the NXT Womens Title (and hopefully win it!), but alas, it wasn’t in the cards for this show. What we were given was a great match though, and one I certainly wasn’t unhappy with.

And finally, Velveteen Dream taking on the returning Tyler Breeze was a great showing for Tyler. In this one match, he was able to return to his roots here in NXT and remind us of how great of a performer he can be. The story here was that Tyler made his return to NXT after an unimpressive run on the main roster for the last almost 5 years. Dream had reminded him of his time spent backstage in catering and being wasted while Tyler’s take on Dream was that he was a cheap knockoff of himself, and so they did battle for the NXT North American Championship.

Their interaction on NXT television was especially great with Dream offering a “selfie with the Champ” to Breeze while Breeze told Dream that “If you put your phone number on your tights and nobody calls, it’s because nobody’s interested” before laying out Dream. Judging by the finish to this match, I’m pretty sure we’re not done with these two yet, however in their post-match “respect segment”, an angry, dejected Breeze took a selfie with Dream and they went their separate ways…which makes me think that maybe we are done with these two for a little while. It would’ve been a nice way to re-establish Breeze as a legit competitor had he won the title, but I guess that’s not the direction they were heading in.

One thing I’d like to touch on here is the amazing announce job being done by Mauro Ranallo, Nigel McGuinness & Beth Phoenix! But especially, the play-by-play guy, Ranallo…he does such a superb job of calling all the action while clearly also getting excited while doing so! They’re really a refreshing mix of personalities who each bring great in-ring experience to the conversation, but at one point during the Dream/Breeze match, you could see Ranallo reaching for and quickly fiddling through his notes to come up with the name of Breeze’s Supermodel Kick while not missing a beat. In the past, when commentary got to be as awful as we’ve gotten used to on the main roster, I had trained myself to ignore the commentary and focus specifically on the story being told in the ring. However, on Saturday night, I realized during this show how much I’ve reverted back to listening to the commentary in NXT since they typically actually talk about the current match going on and provide a credible soundtrack to the moves & holds being performed.

So once again, NXT comes through with flying colors and reminds me why I still consider myself an avid fan of professional wrestling.

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