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"Picking the worst TakeOver of 2018 is like picking which among five different-coloured Tesla Model S cars is the least-luxurious."

The NXT TakeOver PPVs have been delivering in full spades. But just before we get to a few of the best moments, here's some food for thought: there has never been a TakeOver considered to be genuinely bad. Cultaholic's mid-2018 list of all the TakeOvers up to then ranked "From Worst To Best" basically admitted that it was inaccurately named, because even the show at the very bottom of the list (NXT TakeOver: Unstoppable) still got a nod for being entertaining with several great bouts and moments. A better name would have been "Every NXT TakeOver Ranked From Least-Best To Best".


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    NXT TakeOver: ArRIVAL 
  • Sami Zayn doing everything he possibly could to beat Cesaro, including two Yoshi Tonics, multiple Frankensteiners, and the Helluva Kick. He couldn't put the Swiss Superman down, especially after a hellacious uppercut in mid-air. While Zayn lost, the post-match show of respect from Cesaro highlighted their real-life friendship and Zayn now earning Cesaro's storyline respect.
  • Adrian Neville ending Bo Dallas' NXT title reign. After months of lucky wins led to the hated Dallas becoming the longest reigning NXT champion, his luck finally ran out at NXT ArRIVAL in a ladder match.

    NXT TakeOver 3: R-Evolution 
The event was quite possibly not only the most awesome wrestling event of 2014, but a potential watershed moment in the future history of WWE itself:
  • The event opened with the NXT/WWE debut of Kevin Owens against CJ Parker. After being driven to Manly Tears upon the crowd's embracing applause of him during his entrance, Owens awaited Parker's entrance, then immediately cut off the expected standard match-opening sequence by crushing Parker in the corner immediately after the bell, going on a flurry which culminated in an over-the-top suicide plancha done with the grace and agility of a cruiserweight. Owens would go on to generally dominate the match, though he did get busted open hardway from the bit of offense Parker did get in, before pinning him decisively with a pop-up powerbomb. An ultimately fitting and very strong WWE debut for one of the most violent athletes in wrestling.
  • Before TakeOver 3, Finn Bálor promised the Ascension that he'd bring something to their match that they'd never seen and boy, did he deliver. Bálor's entrance began with dramatic lighting and a foreboding Heartbeat Soundtrack, leading into his already-impressive hard metal music theme and the reveal on stage of the return of his Prince Devitt body paint tradition. This paint job resembled predatory teeth from his chin to the top of his chest (that made his neck look like the maw of the other half of his namesake, the demon king Balor), and accentuated his theatrical entrance to the point it drew "holy shit" chants before he even started down the aisle and even had Konnor and Viktor noticeably reeling and contemplating their predicament at ringside. As the match itself went forward, Bálor had the entire crowd behind him and Itami, and they quickly began to overwhelm the Ascension with their speed, agility, and energy. Konnor and Viktor did take control of the action for a while, making sure to single out Itami because they knew they wanted nothing to do with Bálor, but once Hideo was able to get them off his back long enough to tag in Bálor, the flurry returned and pretty much never let up until Itami and Bálor decidedly finished the Ascension with simultaneously double foot stomps and pin covers. When you can thoroughly and convincingly freak out and overwhelm, first mentally, then physically, the very guys who've been doing exactly that to everyone else for the past year-plus, you are definitely the man in the yard. The crowd's response to the opening salvo? MARKING OUT CHANTS!
  • The NXT Women's Championship match between former Beautiful Fierce Females Sasha Banks and Charlotte at TakeOver 3 was widely considered by fans to be one of the best women's matches for quite some time. Banks and Charlotte came in with loaded history and plenty of heat, and both proceeded to deliver in the ring, with Sasha's performance winning over many fans who had been skeptical of her abilities and Charlotte using her gymnastics background to display creativity in the ring that WWE Divas haven't been allowed to show in years. In the end, Charlotte would win this surefire candidate for any Women's Match of the Year poll with what could best be called a Super Natural Selection.
  • The finale to Sami Zayn's incredible series of matches with Adrian Neville throughout 2014 for Neville's NXT Championship, culminating in Sami finally beating Neville for the title. First, let's paint the picture: Zayn and Neville, close friends since the days of Generico and PAC, faced each other for the gold several times throughout the year, throwing all they had at each other every single time, showcasing the talent and passion that has gained them the respect of the independent wrestling world. Each time, Neville would take a shortcut or capitalize on a lowered guard in order to retain his title. Between frustrations and redemption match series and constant pestering from Neville about how he lacks the pragmatism to be champion, Sami reached a boiling point before TakeOver 3, shoved Neville's respect into the backburner, and declared that if he couldn't beat Neville at the event he would quit NXT.

    The TakeOver 3 finale, despite being preceded with the crowd turning against Neville for his antics against the ultra-popular Zayn, was yet another display of why these two are among the very best in wrestling today, both hitting each other with amazing impact moves and scoring multiple near-falls—until Neville pulled the referee in the way of a corner attack. From there, Zayn had an opportunity to strike Neville with his title belt, and appeared super tempted to do it, but ultimately stuck to his morals and decided not to take the shot. Neville, having recovered, took advantage for a roll-up from behind, but Zayn was able to kick out, Exploder-suplex Adrian into the corner, then finally nail him with the Helluva Kick, pin him for the three-count, and obtain the NXT Championship. Finally vindicated, Zayn would celebrate his championship win heartily with the fans as well as pretty much every babyface in the NXT locker room, all overjoyed at Sami's accomplishment and the awesome match it took place in, with the most fitting theme music ever played for a celebration on NXT in the background. Neville, after convalescing in the corner for five minutes, was helped up by Pat Patterson, then had a staredown with Sami as the music stopped. Zayn stuck his hand out to an angry-looking Neville, who eventually kicked the leg away…only to instead embrace Sami and raise his arm in respect.
    • The whole thing is a Moment of Awesome not just for Zayn and Neville as wrestlers and performers, but for the NXT creative department's construction of their characters through this angle as overseen by Triple H and Dusty Rhodes. They managed to construct an epic, dramatic feud between a Combat Pragmatist and a consummate Face practically made of Incorruptible Pure Pureness, where the pure guy's quest to beat the pragmatic guy follows a condensed versionnote  of a standard shonen series arc, with the two players involved being friends the entire time and remaining as such in the end without it taking away from either the seriousness or the believability of it all. A top-level wrestling storyline that's a) centered around the wrestling, b) fresh in its juxtaposition of friendship and rivalry between competitors, and c) legitimately heartwarming and awesome on every level? Talk about a combination not seen in a million years!
    • The above moment is cut short and replaced with a different kind of awesome moment at the very end of the show, when NXT newcomer Kevin Owens, a longtime friend and rival of Sami's, returned to the ring after everyone else left, offering to help Zayn to the back…only to suddenly take him down with a harsh STO type move on the ramp, then viciously powerbomb him back-first into the edge of the ring apron. Within the kayfabe it's a despicable betrayal, especially given the stretcher spot, but this is particularly awesome for those who recall the days of Kevin Steen in Ring of Honor as the Antichrist of Professional Wrestling, as well as the heated feud which stemmed from Steen's violent betrayal of El Generico. We're getting Kill Steen Kill, Take 2. On NXT.
  • How popular was TakeOver 3? Well, first off, after it aired, the wrestling section of Reddit actually sent Triple H a fruit basket as a thank you gift for it. Think that through, internet wrestling fans sent notorious Base-Breaking Character Triple H a token of their thanks. This is extra notable in light of the fact that this was just weeks off of CM Punk's incredibly shocking tell-all session on his best friend Colt Cabana's podcast which took over the wrestling world and painted a VERY torrid spotlight on WWE and especially Triple H. This show singlehandedly won him back all the goodwill that he'd lost in the eyes of the fans and the younger talent and then some.

    Furthermore, only days later the main roster held a pay-per-view called TLC: Tables, Ladders, Chairs…and Stairs which found itself widely panned as inferior to TakeOver 3 in every way, with only Luke Harper vs. Dolph Ziggler's opening ladder match for the Intercontinental Championship and Bray Wyatt vs. Dean Ambrose's main event TLC match even coming close to the acclaim of TakeOver 3. Reports started coming in that main roster talent were becoming resentful of the fact that they weren't getting the booking that NXT guys were or the associated accolades, and that some of the wrestlers at TLC phoned in their matches in a form of "silent protest" in favor of Triple H, knowing they wouldn't be able to match the NXT special's quality. At the same time, NXT wrestlers have begun to feel like they've got the must-see product and should be getting paid on the level of the main roster.

    Between TakeOver 3 and TLC bringing the programming discrepancy between the two rosters to the forefront, Vince McMahon's remarks during his appearance on "Stone Cold" Steve Austin's podcast in the week following Punk's exposé (especially the "brass rings" comment, which Hunter took a subliminal shot at following TakeOver 3, and the ill-advised "millenials" comment, whereupon EVERYONE started shitting on Vince), and the well-documented monetary troubles of the WWE Network, we now have a groundswell in the company where a wide range of folks, from fans to superstars to company investors, are wanting to see Vince McMahon and executive producer Kevin Dunn ousted from power—preferably in favor of TRIPLE H.

    NXT TakeOver 4: Rival 
  • The show opened with Tyler Breeze vs. Hideo Itami. Breeze showed more of an impressive mean streak in this match, continuing to grow organically as a fierce competitor within the otherwise campy "Prince Pretty" gimmick and even attacking Itami's leg with a Figure 8 corner post leg lock ala Gail Kim. Itami, meanwhile, got to both tease the GTS to a massive semi-pop once again as well as showcase some of the force that his educated feet are capable of, even while selling the damage Breeze had been doing to his favorite kicking leg (the left). In the end, the former Kenta won the day with what a Busaiku-like running kick finisher in a solid opener.
  • Blake and Murphy defended their newly-won tag team titles against the Lucha Dragons. The champs' performance in particular was impeccable, in spite of the Lucha Dragons giving it everything (a slight botch from Kalisto aside, anyway), and they set out to prove that they didn't just get lucky and stack up a small guy when they won those tag team titles. Blake and Murphy had one of the best impact spots of the night, with a highly angle double team toss-up into a neckbreaker on Sin Cara. Despite the Dragons' flurries (including a spike hurricanrana from Kalisto and a couple of school boy powerbombs from Sin Cara), Blake and Murphy held on with an impressive running suplex-frog splash combination for the finish, showing both in and out of kayfabe that they were truly deserving champions.
  • The NXT Championship #1 contender's match between Adrian Neville and Finn Bálor. We got Bálor's freakish body paint entrance all over again, but this time we saw what he was capable of against an opponent who would not be intimidated by his demon king antics. Bálor and Neville came at each other with everything and put on a dynamic wrestling clinic, a match with ebbs and flows which told the story of "whoever can execute their top rope finisher first is gonna win the match". The crowd was more or less behind Finn, who inevitably won the match with his Coup de Grace super high double foot stomp, and once again a disappointed Neville walked off after showing respect to his opponent while being thanked profusely by the fans.
  • The fatal four way match for the Women's Championship in which Charlotte put her title on the line against Sasha Banks, Bayley, and Becky Lynch. Becky and Sasha both came in with a game plan involving working together, with great results at first…but soon after communications broke down, Becky attacked Banks with a strong pump handle back suplex and then went on to compete fiercely in her own right, making a statement that she belongs amongst the top ladies of NXT. Crowd favorite Bayley came into the match focused and aggressive, and when she got her momentum surges in, she got them in good and came extremely close to taking the title home on at least two occasions. Sasha Banks used both her deviousness and her technical chops to perfection, taking the floor several times during this match. Charlotte, meanwhile, took much more of a beating than she gave in this bout. Ultimately, in the end, Sasha would capitalize on a Super Belly to Bayley delivered onto Charlotte, going for a crossface submission attempt on the champ and then converting into a crucifix pin to take her down for the 1, 2, 3 and become the new NXT Women's Champion.
    • For 90% of women's matches, you'll be lucky to get more than a three star rating—three and a half might as well be the best you can hope for. Well this match got awarded a solid four star rating.
  • A villainous moment of awesome for Kevin Owens in the NXT Championship title match. Picking up where he'd left off in the two-month buildup towards this match, Owens continued pissing Sami Zayn off by constantly stalling. This lasted until Zayn suddenly hit a somersault plancha over the ref onto Owens, jump-starting the offense and then staying on Owens. When Zayn got too caught up in punching Owens up on the turnbuckle, Kevin quickly capitalized, then went on to complete control and brutalize Sami with a series of vicious moves which either practically sent him flying out of his pants or flattened him out on his feet. Even the commentators compared the match to John Cena vs. Brock Lesnar, as much like Lesnar Owens was in control almost the entire match. Oh, Zayn had his near falls and flurries of life, but in the end Owens won the title in dominant fashion—as in, the referee had to literally call a KO and stop the match to ensure that Owens didn't powerbomb barrage a possibly-concussed Zayn into becoming a permanent fixture on the mat. Impressive on its own but as Owens himself repeatedly reminded the audience, he had only been in NXT for two months. Damn.
    • Sami Zayn gets a retroactive Moment of Awesome during this match. By now, the Pop-up Powerbomb has been firmly established as a One-Hit Kill that can beat pretty much anyone. However, Sami Zayn managed to kick out of, not just one, but three consecutive powerbombs. There is a reason he's the superstar with the best chance of beating Kevin Owens.

    NXT TakeOver: Unstoppable 
  • The WWE debut of Samoa Joe, who has a staredown with Kevin Owens.
  • Sasha Banks and Becky Lynch continued the recent trend of the women's title match stealing the show (it got over 15 minutes, the longest of the night, and is considered the match of the night). Both women tore the house down in a masterpiece featuring technical mat wizardry, strong storytelling and brutal hard-hitting spots reminiscent of 90s Japanese joshi. Banks eventually tapped out Lynch with the Bank Statement, but it was the post-match moment that fans will remember. Becky struggled to compose herself in the ring, visibly exhausted and beat up after giving her all, and the crowd started to chant her name and sing her theme song in a show of appreciation, moving her to tears and cementing her Heel–Face Turn after spending months as Sasha's lackey.
  • Another standout moment that crosses over with Nightmare Fuel: During the match, Sasha Banks locks in a modified Armbar and then, to add more pressure, stands on Becky Lynch's arm as it's being wrenched past her shoulder blade! It legitimately looked like Becky's arm was about to be snapped in half or ripped out of it's socket, the move was THAT brutal.
  • The first half of Sami Zayn's rematch against Kevin Owens was one of these for Zayn, with Zayn smashing Owens around the ring, outside the ring, into the crowd and back into the ring. Zayn repeatedly dodged and countered Owens' moves, including repeated pop-up powerbombs. If Zayn hadn't gotten over-eager and walked into a pop-up powerbomb against the apron (and been forced onto the disabled list by a legitimately torn rotator cuff), Owens might well have been in serious trouble. Of course, post-powerbomb, it was a very different story...

    NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn 1 
  • Even before it took place, the event sold out from the Barclays Center-13,000 tickets (officially over 15,000). Then the event itself:
  • The intro featuring Triple H was all sorts of awesome. The show started with him under a spotlight, alone in the NXT ring, Playing Against Type with a quiet, subtle speech outlining the history of NXT, with references to the names of previous TakeOvers. He raised his arms, cuing the house lights to a rabid 15,000+ person crowd going absolutely bonkers. It was a goosebumps moment when everyone who didn't know already realized the degree to which this once small, tucked-away developmental sub-promotion had taken a life of its own.
    Triple H: It started as a whisper...
    Until you screamed it at the top of your lungs.
    We gained momentum... you made us unstoppable.
    We had a vision for change... you made it a revolution.
    We told you "we are the future" until you told us... the future... is... now.
    (The lights come up at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, revealing the crowd.)
  • Jushin Thunder Liger proved he could still go at 50, taking on and defeating Tyler Breeze.
  • The Vaudevillains, with the help of Blue Pants (to counter Alexa Bliss), finally won the Tag Titles from Blake and Murphy.
  • The freakishly athletic Apollo Crews (the former Uhaa Nation) made his debut, defeating Tye Dillinger in a fun match.
  • Samoa Joe used his Coquina Clutch to make Baron Corbin unconscious, handing Corbin his first significant/clean loss. The match itself was a physical clash in which the much-maligned Corbin showed he could stand toe-to-toe dishing out and absorbing punishment with one of the best in the game and make it look believable.
  • Sasha Banks, making her entrance in a black Cadillac Escalade (with a security detail), then faced Bayley, who, in a tribute to Dusty Rhodes, had yellow polka dots on her headband, for the NXT Women’s title. It was the culmination of a effectively simple storyline years in the making as Bayley the underdog finally won the NXT women's championship from Sasha Banks who'd never believed she could do it. These two wrestled for over 15 minutes, and the crowd was into it the whole time. Notable spots included Sasha with a somersault over the top rope to the outside, Sasha smashing Bayley’s injured hand against the steps and ringpost, and Bayley reversing the Banks Statement into one of her own. The match finished with Bayley performing a Reverse Frankensteiner from the second turnbuckle and then finishing it with a Bayley-to-Belly. Then the two, along with the other two "Four Horsewomen," all embraced in the ring, similar to The Curtain Call.
    • See that note above about how rare it is for a women's match to rate over a three? This one clocked in at a four and a half star rating, the highest in WWE history (tied with Asuka vs. Ember Moon II from the 2017 edition); this match (and the below-mentioned rematch) were consensus picks for, if not THE match of the year, two of them.
  • Finn Balor defended his title against Kevin Owens in a ladder match, which included a Coup De Grace from the top of the ladder.

    NXT TakeOver: Respect 
  • A month before the next TakeOver took place, it was announced that the main event would be, in a likely first for the company, a 30-minute Iron(wo)man rematch between Bayley and Sasha for the title.
  • Sasha and Bayley's Iron(wo)man match. We have a Women's Championship match as a main event in a WWE event. And not only is it another amazing match with excellent character psychology showing an angry determined babyface and a bitter desperate heel, but the entire crowd was completely behind it, booing whenever Sasha did something blatantly heelish and cheering everything else. To show its power, this bout was the first time in its 44 year history that the Pro Wrestling Illustrated Match of the Year went to a women's contest (their match at TakeOver: Brooklyn was first runner-up).

    NXT TakeOver: London 
  • Emma and Asuka pushed each other to their absolute limit in a hot opener, with Dana Brooke backing Emma up outside the ring with cheating maneuvers straight out of Eddie Guerrero's playbook and an incredibly tense finish that saw Asuka win with a nasty spin kick to the face of Emma.
  • Enzo and Cass put on their best match ever against Dash and Dawson for the titles, only losing when the champs started to go after Cass's previously injured knee and slammed Enzo from the top rope. Carmella also elbowed Dawson in the face when he tried to use her as a human shield.
  • Baron Corbin handed Apollo Crews his first loss in their grudge match, once again putting on another great showing against a well-acclaimed wrestler in the process.
  • Bayley took advantage of Nia Jax's arrogance and inexperience to work around Nia's incredible physical advantage. Even after being thrown around the ring like a rag doll, Bayley was able to eke out a submission victory by refusing to give up and repeatedly trapping Nia in the one move her broken body could still perform, a guillotine choke, to retain her championship.
  • Finn Balor and Samoa Joe's match for the NXT title began with a modified version of Finn's demon entrance that saw him come out as Jack the Ripper. The match itself was a brutal back-and-forth, with both wrestlers delivering some of the most physical performances of their careers.

    NXT TakeOver: Dallas 
  • American Alpha wins the Tag Team titles in an excellent opener over The Revival.
  • Austin Aries is the first one to ever escape Baron Corbin's End of Days and gets him with a rollup.
  • Before the Sami Zayn vs. Shinsuke Nakamura match began, the crowd was already chanting "HOLY SHIT" and "THIS IS AWESOME." The match itself was nothing short of legendary, prompting a "fight forever" chant from the crowd.
  • Asuka won the NXT Women's title from Bayley in another great NXT women's match. In a bit of Death by Irony, Asuka won by outhugging Bayley.note 
  • Despite the interruptions to patch up Samoa Joe after getting busted open over his eye, he and Finn Balor put on an absolutely brutal NXT Championship match. Finn's entrance has him as the Demon swinging a chainsaw around!note 

    NXT TakeOver: The End 
  • After a hard and brutal match, The Revival becomes the first 2X NXT Tag Team Champions after beating American Alpha. After the match, two unknown bruisers take down Jordan and Gable. Coming out to the arena is Paul Ellering which prompts a HOLY SHIT chant as the new team leaves with Paul.
  • Austin Aries vs. Shinsuke Nakamura. The two of them have a great match with each other going back and forth with each other, one segment involving Austin hitting Nakamura with a Death Valley Driver on the edge of the ring. The end comes with Nakamura hitting Austin with a reverse exploder suplex, then hitting him with the Kinshasa.
  • Nia Jax vs. Asuka for the NXT Women's Title. In this David vs. Goliath match, Nia uses her strength and size against Asuka, powering out of many of Asuka's submissions, taking the Empress of Tomorrow to town. Asuka brings Nia down with flurries of attacks before kneeing her in the face to pin her down. Also for good measure, the theme for the Asuka video package is "Karate" from Babymetal.
  • Finn Balor vs. Samoa Joe for the NXT Championship in a Steel Cage match. The two of them are in a brutal fight with each other, tossing each other into the walls of the cage as well as bringing all hell into the ring. Samoa Joe puts Finn Balor, and the Demon, down by hitting him with a Muscle Buster from the top rope!

    NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn 2 
  • The opening match saw No Way Jose, entering with a conga line, taking on Austin Aries in a fun match. After Aries won, he continued to attack Jose, causing Hideo Itami to make the save. He laid out Aries with the Go To Sleep.
  • Bobby Roode made his NXT debut, beating Andrade "Cien" Almas. Special mention to Roode's GLORIOUS entrance.
  • Ember Moon (the former Athena) made her debut, with another cool entrance, against Billie Kay. Kay held her own, but Ember's athleticism and badass finisher were too much.
  • The Revival had another classic tag match, this time using a bit of sneakiness to beat Ciampa and Gargano.
  • Bayley and Asuka continued the streak of very-good-at-worst NXT Women's Title matches, with Bayley giving everything she had, but unable to beat Asuka. After Asuka showed respect, Bayley got a standing ovation, hugged the other three Horsewomen at ringside, and walked out, in what is likely her final NXT match.
  • In the main event, Samoa Joe defended the NXT title against Shinsuke Nakamura, who had Lee England Jr. playing his theme. After a match that saw each kick out of the other's finisher, and a real broken jaw from Joe, Nakamura hit a second Kinshasa to become the new champion.

    NXT TakeOver: Toronto 
  • The 2/3 falls match between #DIY and The Revival for the NXT Tag team championship. Despite the deviousness of Dash and Dawson, #DIY won the day with a simultaneous Gargano Escape and armbar on both members of the Revival to win the titles.
  • Bobby Roode pulls off another GLORIOUS entrance, with a full choir (and the crowd) singing his theme. Tye Dillinger also got a huge wave of love, in fact, the crowd was chanting "Both these guys!" and "This is awesome!" before their match even started.
  • The Authors of Pain got taken for a ride by TM61, though in the end the Authors came out on top to win the Dusty Rhodes Classic.
  • Mickie James vs. Asuka for the Women's Title was the closest Asuka had come to losing since making her debut in NXT, showing the veteran still had moves to keep up with the next generation of women's wrestling.
  • Samoa Joe defeats Shinsuke Nakamura to become the first 2X NXT Champion. Nakamura's entrance has his theme played by 10(!) violinists to top his Brooklyn 2 entrance.

    NXT TakeOver: Orlando 
  • The Authors of Pain defended their belts in a match against The Revival and #DIY where despite the latter teams teaming The Authors of Pain overcame both of them in one of the best matches of the year.

    NXT TakeOver: Chicago 
  • The United Kingdom Championship match. Despite having relatively no build, it received enormous praise, enough for it to win "Match of the Year" at the NXT Year-End Awards. Tyler Bate and Pete Dunne went to absolute war with the two of them doing some pretty great mat wrestling before pulling out insane spot after spot, including Bate performing a beautiful corkscrew senton and Dunne executing a nasty X-Plex from the floor to the apron. The crowd was 100% into it throughout the entire fifteen minute battle, giving both men numerous standing ovations.

    NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn III 
  • Drew McIntyre beating Bobby Roode for the NXT Championship was great enough on its own, with both wrestlers pulling out all the stops and taking increasingly more severe punishment, including Drew flying over the top rope with a suicide dive on Bobby, culminating on both of them hitting their finishers, and Drew taking two Glorious DDTs before hitting a second Claymore to finally take the win.
  • What may be even more awesome is what happens after Drew wins. Kyle O'Reilly and Bobby Fish, who previously debuted by attacking both the Authors of Pain and SAnitY after their match, now once again appear at ringside to confront Drew. It turns out that it's just a distraction, because who comes in and attacks the new NXT Champion from behind? ADAM COLE BAY BAY!
  • The NXT Women's Championship match was an absolutely tremendous matchup. In what many call one of the best women's matches the WWE has ever had, it not only marked Asuka's final match in NXT (not to mentioned she had left the brand undefeated) but showcased Ember Moon's phenomenal talent as a wrestler.
  • Sanity and the Authors of Pain had a wildly outrageous brawl that resulted in Sanity's first title win in WWE.
  • Johnny Gargano and Andrade "Cien" Almas put on a excellent opener that ignited the Brooklyn crowd for the night. The ending was nothing short of genius, involving Almas' manager Zelina Vega momentarily distracting Gargano by throwing a DIY shirt at him (not even three months after Tommaso Ciampa's betrayal of Gargano), allowing Almas to pick up the win.

    NXT TakeOver: WarGames 
  • The WarGames match itself was insane, with such spots as two simultaneous towers of doom, a superplex from Roderick Strong to Adam Cole off the top off the cage, Alexander Wolfe german suplexing one of the Authors of Pain through a table and Killian Dain doing a goddamn Van Daminator!
  • In another match on the show, The Velveteen Dream finally earning the respect of Aleister Black, after a hard-hitting match.
  • After so many chances, Ember Moon finally wins the NXT Women's title in a four-way battle. The ending is great as it looked like Moon was out of it as Peyton Royce set up Nikki Cross only for Moon to fly off the top to hit them both with her Eclipse finisher and pin Cross for the belt.
  • Andrade "Cien" Almas winning the NXT Championship from Drew McIntyre in an outcome that no one saw coming.

    NXT TakeOver: Philadelphia 
The beginning of what many called the finest year in the history of NXT.

  • Aleister Black and Adam Cole beat the absolute hell out of each other in a phenomenal extreme rules match.
  • Everything about Johnny Gargano vs. Andrade "Cien" Almas for the NXT Championship was nothing short of flawless. They put a spectacular MOTY candidate in front of a white-hot crowd, not even a month into 2018, and became the first Dave Meltzer-rated Five Star Match for WWE since CM Punk vs. John Cena in 2011. As quoted by Mauro Ranallo, "You could not ask for more, out of an NXT Championship match."

    NXT TakeOver: New Orleans 
ALL OF IT. It's already being hailed as one of the best WWE events in years (let alone the best of all TakeOvers), bookended by two utter classics:

  • The PPV opened with the ladder match for the newly-revealed NXT North American Title. It did not disappoint. It was filled with some of the most nasty spots the brand has ever seen including:
    • The Velveteen Dream dropping his elbow hard off a ladder onto Lars Sullivan.
    • Killian Dain has EC3 down on a ladder and climbs the ropes with Adam Cole leaping onto his back...and Dain just does a Vader Bomb onto EC3 off the ropes with Cole still hanging on top of him!
    • Ricochet is being pushed backward off the ladder and in mid-air turns it into a moonsault onto Cole and Dain on the outside.
    • Dream performing a beautiful yet horrifying cartwheel Death Valley Driver to Ricochet on a ladder suspended in the air.
    • Sullivan and Main destroying not one but two ladder bridges in spectacular manner by smashing their opponents onto them.
    • Adam Cole finally dumping Ricochet back and climbing the ladder to become the first NXT North American champion.
  • Shayna Baszler making Ember Moon pass out to win the Women's title in a great match that many agreed surpassed their effort in Philadelphia (props to the unique way Baszler countered the Eclipse into the Kirifuda Clutch).
  • Roderick Strong and Pete Dunne are primed to win the tag titles in a three-way battle...until Strong pulls off a massive Face–Heel Turn and joins The Undisputed Era. Even Cole and O'Reilly were shocked but delighted by Strong's turn. It says something about the show as a whole that some fans joked that the tag match "dragged it down" by being merely very good.
  • A fantastic battle culminates in Aleister Black upsetting Andrade "Cien" Almas for the NXT title. The final move has Vega trying to leap at Black, who dodges so she's caught by Almas. As Almas spins around trying to handle her, Black hits the Black Mass while Almas is still holding Vega, knocking Vega out of the ring so Black can get the pin.
  • As soon as the main event of Johnny Gargano v. Tomasso Ciampa was finished, many reviews were calling it the greatest match in NXT history. For 37 minutes, the duo put on an all-out war with amazing spots such as Ciampa grabbing the crutches of a fan to attack Gargano. It culminates in Gargano seemingly falling for Ciampa's begging for mercy, sitting down in a Call-Back to their match at the WWE Cruiserweight Classic, only to dodge Ciampa's cheap shot with his leg brace, then using it himself in an STF to force him to tap out. Also, the fact that Ciampa managed to get nuclear heat from the infamously smarky NXT audience is a CMOA in itself (and hey, being booed this loud and long is the greatest compliment a heel can get!)
    • It cannot be understated how amazing this match was. It was the culmination of an entire year's worth of storyline, starting from Ciampa's betrayal of Gargano at Chicago and continuing throughout his injury, up until his return, where he cost Gargano his NXT career by attacking him during his NXT Title match with Andrade "Cien" Almas. After that, all bets were off — Gargano had spent almost all of the time Ciampa was away ignoring any and all thoughts about his former best friend, having been thoroughly traumatized by the betrayal to the point that anything having to do with #DIY had become a Trauma Button for him. But this? This had finally caused Gargano to return Ciampa's hatred in spades, going as far as to stalk the man himself in person in the following weeks until the unsanctioned match was scheduled, with Gargano's reinstatement to NXT on the line. Even before the beginning bell rung, every person in the arena and those watching at home could feel the tension between the two men, from Gargano's Tranquil Fury and Death Glare to Ciampa's Trash Talk. All of it conveyed exactly what this was — not a match, but a fight to the finish, between two former best friends that absolutely despised each other.
  • Both the ladder match and Gargano/Ciampa got a Five Star rating from Dave Meltzer, making TakeOver: New Orleans the first WWE show to have at least 2 matches rated five stars in WON history! When measured by average, it got a higher rating than Wrestle Kingdom 12! Not an easy task at all!
    • One really has to give it up for Johnny Gargano himself. In the span of four months and two TakeOvers, he's had back-to-back Five Star classics, joining an elite group of superstars with at least two of those under his belt. Among the legends he's tied for in Five Star matches? Shawn Michaels, Bret Hart, and "Stone Cold" Steve Austinnote , just to name a few. Johnny FREAKING Wrestling indeed.
  • To top it off? This PPV was held at WrestleMania 34 weekend, meaning that, once again, an NXT PPV surpassed the reception and popularity of The Showcase of the Immortals.

    NXT TakeOver: Chicago II 
  • Even before the start of the match, fans were outright cheering for The Undisputed Era's Roderick Strong and Kyle O'Reilly, flanked by Adam Cole, who were the heels against the team of Oney Lorcan and Danny Burch. The babyface team even got some pretty notable boos during the the first half. By the match's end? The latter duo won over the fans despite the loss. This match was the opener of the show, and it ignited a white-hot Chicago crowd, setting the stage for the rest of the PPV.
  • The Velveteen Dream and Ricochet had an all out incredible battle lasting nearly a half hour, complete with both men performing the other's moves trying to one-up the other, including Ricochet performing Dream's Purple Rainmaker!
  • The women's title match, despite it clocking just below ten minutes, was a fun bout, as Shayna Baszler just didn't know what to make of the insane Nikki Cross, who just wasn't intimidated by the fearsome former MMA fighter at all. Still, she held her own long enough to lock in the Kirifuda Clutch on the Scot. Cross refused to tap, smiling as she passed out.
    • Not to mention the look of sheer rage on the face of Baszler during the final moments of the match.
  • A missed Black Mass aside, Aleister Black vs. Lars Sullivan still managed to be a good match, with Black hitting two Black Mass kicks to make up for the missed one, with the latter hitting on a bloodied Sullivan's face, finally putting the monstrous big man down for the count. While Lars lost, he looked like an absolute beast as he fought Black, providing the champion his biggest challenge yet.
  • Johnny Gargano and Tommaso Ciampa once again put on one of the most violent and outstanding matches of the year, this time in a Chicago Street Fight.
    • Prior to the entrances, as Gargano made his way through the backstage area, his wife Candice LeRae stopped him; to give him the crutch used in New Orleans before saying, "Kick. His. Ass!".

    NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn IV 
  • In the superb tag title match, Tyler Bate has Roderick Strong by the legs with Kyle O'Reilly hanging on his back and proceeds to do an airplane spin/swing combination. When O'Reilly tries to choke him, Bate flips Strong to his feet and proceeds to German suplex both men at once.
  • Ricochet's performance had Mauro proclaiming "this guy is a Cheat Code!" That includes blocking a Cole super kick in mid-air then trying a standing Lionsault only for Cole to kick him in the middle of it. Despite that, Ricochet is able to hit Cole with a hurricarana off the apron and into the ring en route to pinning him for the North American title.
  • The rubber match between Kairi Sane and Shayna Baszler, this time for the NXT Women's Championship, was arguably the best WWE women's match of the entire year up to that point (possibly even surpassing Charlotte Flair/Asuka).
  • Though not quite the quality compared to their two previous encounters (which, of course, are two massive tough acts to follow), the Last Man Standing match between Johnny Gargano and Tommaso Ciampa was an absolutely insane battle with both of them pulling out extremely vicious spots.

    NXT TakeOver: WarGames II 
  • Shayna Baszler vs. Kairi Sane, despite being just over ten minutes long, was (as usual) an explosive battle. One spot had Sane deliver a jumping implant DDT on the apron.
  • Aleister Black vs. Johnny Gargano was a brutal, hard-hitting match that saw both unleash absolute hell against each other, with the deluded once-babyface Gargano displaying excellent heel work throughout, especially in the closing stages, where he essentially suckered in Black to finish him with a Black Mass, only for Gargano to avoid the kick to deliver a Garga-No Escape. Black was able to escape the submission and deliver a scintillating spinning knee strike onto Gargano's head, and then delivered a step-up knee strike, this time without the knee pad. Lifting Gargano's head up with his foot, he delivered a cringe-inducing (in a good way) Black Mass. Not enough, he lifted Gargano's head once again, told him, ''I absolve you of all your sins.'' and delivered a second one for emphasis to what he had done to him three months prior. Last rites for Johnny Wrestling, indeed.
  • The NXT Championship Match between Tommaso Ciampa and The Velveteen Dream was nothing short of a masterpiece. Dream's outfit, as per usual in his Takeover matches, is an homage, this time to Hollywood Hulk Hogan, in Los Angeles no less, and all throughout the match he continued to use moves inspired by the man and other classic wrestlers, from the legdrop, to the figure-four/eight, amongst others. Ciampa, as per usual, delivered his end of the match, being the nasty heel he's always been, and at one point even bullied Mauro Ranallo! This nearly cost him the title, as Dream took advantage of a distracted Ciampa to deliver a Rolling Death Valley Driver for a two count. One mistake from Dream, a missed Purple Rainmaker onto the outside of the ring, led to Ciampa quickly delivering a draping DDT onto the metal bridge between the two rings, bringing an end to another spectacular title match.
  • Over the course of 47 minutes, the WarGames Match between The Undisputed Era and the team of War Raiders, NXT North American Champion Ricochet, and WWE UK Champion Pete Dunne was an absolute joy to watch, with so many epic moments from both sides:
    • At one point, Rowe managed to deliver a powerslam to O'Reilly and, after being handed Strong onto his shoulders courtesy of Hanson, a powerbomb to Strong at the same time!
    • A brilliant move from Bobby Fish, as the last man for UE to enter the cage, he took the lock of his own shark cage and proceeded to the other cage, locked it in, and threw the key away! The last man for the other team, Pete Dunne, could do nothing but watch as he waited for the officials to find a way to break open the cage as UE took advantage of the numbers game to wear down the rest of Dunne's teammates. Eventually the officials found bolt cutters to break open the cage, and Dunne proceeded to introduce more weapons inside the cage, evening the odds. Dunne enters the cage, and WarGames officially starts.
    • The Undisputed Era had finally been able to bring down three of their four opponents, leaving Pete Dunne at their mercy. Despite that, he managed to fight off and even bring down all four (albeit temporarily) at the same time!
    • After most of the competitors had been taken down to the ring courtesy of a multi-man Tower of Doom in which everyone sans Ricochet went down to the mat, Ricochet proceeded to deliver a backflip senton from the top of the cage!
    • Hanson manages to perform, of all moves, a handspring double elbow onto both O'Reilly and Strong! A man of his size shouldn't have been able to do a move used primarily by men almost half his size and weight, but he damn well did, and the crowd was in absolute shock and awe.
    • The above moment was just one of many times in the match where Hanson is easily busting out moves normally reserved for competitors on 205 Live. Upon entering the match, he manages to nail a freaking cartwheel to dodge Adam Cole, sprints from one corner to the other to decimate Cole and O'Reilly with brutal corner clotheslines, nails UE with springboard Hart Attacks, and saves Ricochet from tapping out to Kyle O'Reilly's submission by performing a splash onto O'Reilly through the table! If the latter moment wasn't enough, the turnbuckle he leapt from? It wasn't even the one in the same ring. Killian Dain would be proud of him.
    • In the closing moments, Adam Cole manages to superkick a jumping Ricochet and counters Dunne's Bitter End into a DDT, and also gives him a Last Shot. Dunne kicks out at two. Cole lowers the knee pad for another Last Shot, only for Dunne to avoid it and give him the Bitter End this time. Ricochet finishes Cole off with a 450 Splash, and both champs pin Cole, giving their team the victory.

    NXT UK TakeOver: Blackpool 
The event was in a tough position: it was the first TakeOver for the NXT UK brand, and had to follow four of the best (if not THE four best) TakeOver events the brand had ever produced. Yet, it still pulled up its weight thanks to its selection of talent (what with the UK indie scene in general being at its peak), as well as some of the niftiest surprises.

  • In the opener, Zack Gibson and James Drake, the Grizzled Young Veterans, faced off in a duel against Moustache Mountain (Tyler Bate & Trent Seven, who came to the ring homaging the British Bulldogs) to determine the inaugural NXT UK Tag Team Champions. The match was bestial, with spots such as Tyler Bate picking up both Gibson and Drake for an Airplane Spin, the Tope-Suicida-into-Doomsday-Device combo, and the Ticket to Mayhem, where Drake grabbed Seven and dropped him onto Gibson's Codebreaker. The crowd was red-hot throughout, with the people of Blackpool making their disdain for Liverpool's Finest known. The match got 4 1/2 stars from big ol' Dave.
  • Jordan Devlin and Travis Banks were set up to face at the event, but Banks wasn't medically cleared to wrestle after Devlin attacked him in the pre-show. At the match itself, both of them engaged in a brutal brawl before the bell could ring, which ended in Banks's knee being stomped upon the steel steps, sending him to the nursery. So... who came in his place? GM Johnny Saint and his assistant Sid Scala crafted a plan and brought in... FINN BÁLOR! What followed was a Teacher vs. Student duel where Devlin was made equal, if not better, than the first-ever Universal Champion, who won the match after hitting a Coup de Grace... for the fourth time.
  • In the only match with a stipulation, Dave Mastiff and Eddie Dennis tore each other apart in a No Disqualification match. The match was slow, but both of them made every hit count and look painful, with an early domination of the massive Mastiff, forcing Dennis to take measures to control his enemy. The match ended with Mastiff throwing Dennis through a table the latter brought to the ring, and Dennis failing to throw his opponent through it. Even though Mastiff got the win, both men looked terribly strong.
    Henry T. Casey: Yes, Mastiff got the win, but wins and losses don’t matter as much as Cody wants them to. From Dennis catching his super-heavyweight opponent in mid-air, to repeatedly getting back up from serious punishment, this match showcased his fighting spirit, and left people tweeting about how they’re his newest fans.
  • Rhea Ripley and Toni Storm battled for the NXT UK Womens Champion in a classic match. Each of them got a previous winnote , so this duel was to settle the score once and for all. Toni came to the duel as the fan-favorite underdog (#WeSupportToni was in full force) against the dominating and hated Ripley, who dominated most of the match, only for Toni to turn the tide and hit a Storm Zero in order to pick up the win and become the new Womens Champion. The only shortcoming of the match? It had a very short time.
  • And this leaves us at the main event. The owner of the longest WWE title reign in the history of the company, Pete Dunne, WWE UK Champion, faced Joe Coffey in a brutal duel for Dunne's championship. For over half an hour, the Bruiserweight and the Iron Man exchanged brutal hits, spots and moments, including Ankle Locks, headbutts, Dunne's trademark fingerbending and kicked-out Bitter Ends, and Coffey's electric chair into german suplex combo and powerbomb into apron.
  • And just after the awesome main event comes the second biggest surprise of the day: the debut of WALTER. Coming down to Dvorak's Symphony No. 9 IV and with a flowing greatcoat, he plants a big boot to take Joe Coffey out of the ring, and faces Pete Dunne making his intentions clear without even saying a word.

    NXT TakeOver: Phoenix 
  • The War Raiders' entrance includes various people dressed off in viking armor (and among them was Rowe's real life wife Sarah Logan) at the sound of viking horns.
  • Ricochet and Johnny Gargano putting up an absolute clinic not unlike the former's spectacular match with Will Ospreay years ago. Both men brought out the best in each other, with ridiculous counters and insane high-flying moves from both these guys that ended with Johnny Wrestling winning the North American title.

    NXT TakeOver: New York 
Up to this point, New Orleans was widely considered to be the absolute best of the NXT TakeOver events. New York had faced an immense amount pressure due to it 1) taking place during WrestleMania weekend, and 2) being the culmination of Johnny Gargano's long-awaited coronation as NXT Champion (which unfortunately faced even more uncertainty due to Tommaso Ciampa's untimely injury). But just when you thought NXT couldn't top itself, THEY DID.
  • The opening match had Ricochet and Aleister Black challenging the War Raiders for the tag team titles. It was nothing less than a series of absolutely insane spots that included the Raiders hitting Ricochet with a combination German suplex/lariat broken by Black leaping off the top rope. Before that was Ricochet hitting a fallaway slam on Hanson as well as all four topping themselves with leaps over the top rope onto each other.
    • In many of Ricochet's matches, you usually expect him to bounce about the ropes and dodge his opponent's moves with ease. Normally, this is countered by a man of his size doing the same, so it can be quite the sight to see Hanson pull it off just as well as him, doing cartwheels and rolls and even countering with one of his signature handspring elbows.
    • The post-match show of respect from Hanson and Rowe to Black and Ricochet was beautiful - a pair of deep bows from the younger champs to the newly-promoted Black and Ricochet, marking their final night as NXT performers.
  • Velveteen Dream makes his entrance dressed as the Statue of Liberty carried on a platform. He and Matt Riddle proceeded to have a terrific battle with numerous near falls before Dream wins.
  • In a brutal battle that brought new meaning to the term "stiff fight", WALTER finally ended Pete Dunne's record reign as U.K. champion.
  • In the astonishing main event, Johnny Gargano, at long last, wins the NXT Championship in a bout that saw many near-falls, with Johnny Wrestling kicking out of many and fending off the Undisputed Era to finally win the big one. This match also has the distinction of being the first 5.5 star match in WWE.
    • To put it in perspective, Dave Meltzer, who gave the above rating, called it "the greatest match in WWE history." Not NXT history, WWE history.
    • With his Victory over Adam Cole at NXT TakeOver: New York Johnny finally won his first ever NXT championship, but also secured his spot in NXT history of being the first man to become an NXT Triple Crown Champion.

    NXT TakeOver: XXV 
Being that this is NXT's 25th TakeOver and the one that would need to follow not only TakeOver New York (aka what many called one of the greatest nights in wrestling, let alone NXT history) but also Double or Nothing, this one had a lot to live up to. And yet NXT, being what it was, once again delivered in spades.
  • Matt Riddle and Roderick Strong start the night with a bang, with the two having a stiff and hard-hitting match that played to both men's strengths well and had the crowd pumped from beginning to end.
  • NXT's tag-team scene once again shows why it's one of the best in the world with 4 teams going at it in a chaotic ladder match reminiscent of the one from New Orleans. Highlights include Kyle O'Reilly taking bump after bump, some onto ladders, Jason Ryker destroying everyone in his path, Lorcan and Burch bringing really stiff strikes to the bout, and The Street Profits (literally) climbing the ladder to greatness, winning the Tag Titles to much acclaim.
  • Io Shirai pulling her own against Shayna Baszler despite interference from the latter's fellow MMA Horsewomen. Despite tapping out to her, Shirai would not show weakness in defeat by taking out Duke and Shafir before proceeding to hit Shayna with a moonsault while holding a steel chair to show that their war was far from over.
  • Having closed out New York with what many called WWE's greatest match, Johnny Gargano and Adam Cole had a lot to live up to to put it mildly. While most would say their previous bout was better, the fact that it came damn close to matching it shows how well these two are at their jobs, with ridiculous counters and near-falls as the crowd was practically split rooting for either men. In the end Cole hit the Last Shot on Johnny Wrestling to win the NXT Title and become their 2nd Grand Slam Champion. How did Uncle Dave rate this match? 5.25 Stars, giving NXT it's 2nd match rated more than 5* in the span of a few months.


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