Alright so I’m killing a few birds with the same stone today. So today’s is supposed to be ‘favourite promotion’, but as I’m only doing this on WWE I decided to write about my favourite brand… NXT… On top of that I’ve had this blog planned for a while as I’ve been watching these matches back for this purpose over the last few weeks. Also I am doing my retro SmackDown blog today so I don’t want to spend all my time typing away today. So without wasting anymore time here is my rundown of the best of NXT… TakeOver matches! Here is my list of the top 30 NXT TakeOver matches of all time!!!
30. Io Shirai vs Candice LeRae – TakeOver: Toronto (2019) = ****1/2
Two of the best women’s wrestlers on the roster put on a clinic here. Io getting the win just after her heel turn when she turned on her former friend.
29. Sami Zayn vs Adrian Neville (C) for the NXT Championship – TakeOver: R-evolution (2014) = ****1/2
In Zayn’s do or die match he finally accomplished his goal of becoming NXT Champion.
28. DIY (Tomasso Ciampa & Johnny Gargano) vs Authors Of Pain (Akam & Rezar) (C) with Paul Ellering in a Ladder Match for the NXT Tag Team Championship – TakeOver: Chicago (2017) = ****1/2
A tremendous ladder match were the babyfaces came short in their quest to win back their titles, before Ciampa went and changed the course of NXT history forever.
27. Shinsuke Nakamura vs Samoa Joe (C) for the NXT Championship – TakeOver: Brooklyn 2 (2016) = ****3/4
With the majority of the crowd desperately behind him, Nakamura won the title at just his third TakeOver to begin one of the all-time great NXT rivalries.
26. Johnny Gargano vs Adam Cole (C) for the NXT Championship in a 2/3 falls stipulation match – TakeOver: Toronto (2019) = ****3/4
Well this was something wasn’t it? A dramatic conclusion to the most amazing trilogy of matches between these two across 2019. The spot to end the match was one to remember.
25. Aleister Black vs Velveteen Dream – TakeOver: War Games (2017) = ****3/4
The night when The Experience really began. The night when we saw the breakout performance of the future of the company. And most importantly, for the Dream at least, HE SAID HIS NAME!
24. Johnny Gargano vs Tomasso Ciampa (C) in a Last Man Standing match for the NXT Championship – TakeOver: Brooklyn 4 (2018) = ****3/4
Whilst not of the level of their first two TakeOver battles, this was still a great match when Ciampa quite literally stumbled his way to keeping his precious Goldie.
23. Undisputed Era (Adam Cole & Bobby Fish & Kyle O’Reilly) vs Sanity (Eric Young & Killian Dain & Alexander Wolfe) vs Authors Of Pain (Akam & Rezar) with Paul Ellering & Roderick Strong in a War Games match – TakeOver: War Games (2017) = ****3/4
NXT’s first go at the War Games match showcased a new 3 teamed format that was entertaining but would’t be repeated. Era winning set the tone for what was to come.
22. Undisputed Era (Adam Cole & Roderick Strong & Kyle O’Reilly & Bobby Fish) vs Tomasso Ciampa & Keith Lee & Dominik Dijakovic & Kevin Owens in a War Games match – TakeOver: War Games (2019) = ****3/4
Despite being draped in gold at the time it was Team Ciampa who were the victors here thanks in some part to a surprise cameo from Kevin Owens. Ciampa hitting an Air Raid Crash on Cole off the top of the cage through two tables below was an unbelievable spot.
21. Bayley vs Sasha Banks (C) for the NXT Women’s Championship – TakeOver: Brooklyn (2015) = ****3/4
In one of the most revered women’s matches of all time the super babyface Bayley delighted the Brooklyn crowd by beating main roster-bound Sasha Banks. Before the famous 4 Horsewomen curtain call took place.
20. Ricochet vs Adam Cole (C) for the North American Championship – TakeOver: Brooklyn 4 (2018) = ****3/4
On what was the day of my 23rd birthday I was treated to a brilliant match between two of my favourites. What more could I ask for?
19. Velveteen Dream vs Tomasso Ciampa (C) for the NXT Championship – TakeOver: War Games (2018) = ****3/4
Despite having all the babyface support you could fathom behind him, Dream was unable to pull off the huge upset as the Blackheart of NXT kept his Goldie for yet another day.
18. Sasha Banks vs Bayley (C) in an Ironwoman Match for the NXT Women’s Championship – TakeOver: Respect (2015) = ****3/4
When you consider this show was held at Full Sail, the sheer noise this crowd makes during this match and their emotional investment in it is amazing. An unbelievable match with so much drama that ended in an amazing moment when Bayley kept her newly won title, and was greeted by the whole NXT roster as was Banks in her NXT farewell.
17. Ember Moon vs Asuka (C) for the NXT Women’s Championship – TakeOver: Brooklyn 3 (2017) = ****3/4
In her final match on the brand, the greatest NXT superstar of all-time (don’t even try and argue) Asuka put on a clinic, and when all assumed she wouldn’t, she not only kicked out of The Eclipse, she beat Ember Moon and her record breaking went on… for now…
16. Walter vs Pete Dunne (C) for the WWE United Kingdom Championship – TakeOver: New York (2019) = ****3/4
In just the most brutal and stiff match you’re likely to see, the historic title reign of Pete Dunne came to an end at the hands of the monstrous Walter.
15. Matt Riddle vs Velveteen Dream (C) for the North American Championship – TakeOver: New York (2019) = ****3/4
Two of the most fan-favourite superstars in recent TakeOver memory had what was an amazing match from a psychology standpoint. Despite Riddle wearing the local sports teams colours, and Dream being the much more theatrical of the two early on… the crowd were far more behind Dream… and so… they appeared to switch, and suddenly Riddle was the more heelish one, and Dream did the big babyfcae Hulk up spot and everything… it was genius to watch.
14. War Raiders (Hanson & Rowe) (C) vs Aleister Black & Ricochet for the NXT Tag Team Championship – TakeOver: New York (2019) = ****3/4
What other way could they kick off what would end up being the best TakeOver to date, than with an absolute fucking BANGER!!! One of the best tag team matches I’ve ever seen in WWE, and was followed by a super-cool farewell for Black and Ricochet from the adoring crowd.
13. Rhea Ripley & Candice LeRae & Tegan Nox & Dakota Kai vs Shayna Baszler & Io Shirai & Bianca Belair & Kay Lee Ray in a War Games Match – TakeOver: War Games (2019) = ****3/4
Once again the women of WWE were given a shot, and once again they smashed it out the ball park. For my money the best War Games Match in NXT so far saw Rhea Ripley continue her dominant run at the end of 2019, pinning then champion Baszler after a Rip Tide onto a trash can.
12. Pete Dunne vs Tyler Bate (C) for the WWE United Kingdom Championship – TakeOver: Chicago (2017) = ****3/4
Every story has a beginning. And what would be a 685 day reign as UK Champion began with a brilliant match between the two Dudley natives in Chicago, made all the more special by Jim Ross being on the call.
11. Tomasso Ciampa vs Adam Cole (C) for the NXT Championship – TakeOver: Portland (2020) = *****
The most recent ‘proper’ TakeOver concluded with a classic between two men with as many of those as all but one other superstar on this list. Ciampa’s quest to get back his Goldie came to a shocking end with a turn that was supposed to lead us to Tampa Bay, but it didn’t quite go like that sadly…
10. Tomasso Ciampa vs Johnny Gargano in a Chicago Street Fight – TakeOver: Chicago (2018) = *****
The follow up to their all-time classic (more on that shortly) didn’t have such a happy ending, but was just as dramatic and just as brutal.
9. Johnny Gargano vs Ricochet (C) for the North American Championship – TakeOver: Phoenix (2019) = *****
Gargano’s dissent into darkness led him to finally become Johnny Champion in a match so good it actually took away from the Ciampa vs Black main event somewhat.
8. Aleister Black vs Johnny Gargano – TakeOver: War Games (2018) = *****
With Gargano having been revealed as Black’s attacker revenge was sought in one of the better technical matches you’re ever likely to see. Simple a delight to watch.
7. DIY (Johnny Gargano & Tomasso Ciampa) vs The Revival (Dash Wilder & Scott Dawson) (C) in a 2/3 falls match for the NXT Tag Team Championship – TakeOver: Toronto (2016) = *****
In happier times for both these teams they had one of the better tag rivalries we’ve seen on the black and gold brand, peaking in this tag team wrestling masterclass.
6. Johnny Gargano vs Andrade ‘Cien’ Almas (C) with Zelina Vega for the NXT Championship – TakeOver: Philadelphia (2018) = *****
Just a classic of great wrestling. Not much more to be said.
5. EC3 vs Killian Dain vs Adam Cole vs Velveteen Dream vs Lars Sullivan vs Ricochet in a ladder match to crown the first ever NXT North American Champion – TakeOver: New Orleans (2018) = *****
This championship has had a heck of a history so far, and it got underway with the best ladder match in company history… BAY BAY!!!
4. Sami Zayn vs Shinsuke Nakamura – TakeOver; Dallas (2016) = *****
In the King of Strong Style’s WWE debut he came and wowed the wrestling world with an all-time classic match.
3. Adam Cole vs Johnny Gargano (C) for the NXT Championship – TakeOver: 25 (2019) = *****
This top three really could be in any order imo, so watch all three when you can and make your own mind up, because this and the next two matches are three of the best I have EVER seen!
2. Tomasso Ciampa vs Johnny Gargano in an Unsanctioned Match – TakeOver: New Orleans (2018) = *****
In his first match back Ciampa aimed to end Johnny Wrestling once and for all, and in another all-time classic it was the heroic Gargano who got the win to cap off one of the best TakeOver’s ever… one of… but not quite the number one…
1. Johnny Gargano vs Adam Cole in a 2/3 falls match for the vacant NXT Championship – TakeOver: New York (2019) = *****
In typical NXT fashion the greatest TakeOver match of all time, that ended the best TakeOver of all time… wasn’t even supposed to happen. With Tomasso Ciampa out injured and forced to vacate the title, the NXT Championship would be contested for by long time contender Johnny Gargano, and his new foe Adam Cole. Perhaps the most telling thing about this match was how before it began, and in the early stages, the live crowd seemed absolutely desperate for Cole to win… but as it went on, and the story the two guys told, the reaction Gargano got when he won the third and final fall was absolutely monstrous! One of the best professional wrestling matches I have ever seen in my entire life.
Yesterday in my blog it may have all seemed like doom and gloom in the wrestling world at the moment, but last night wrestling twitter seemed a much happier place, already I saw Matt Cardona (the fka Zack Ryder) has the best selling T shirt on pro wrestling tees, EC3 put out a promo teasing a new character, Karl Anderson appears to once again be ‘Machine Gun’ and teased a return to Japan, Mike Kanellis has a new t shirt out too… those are just some of the tales and along with the heartwarming tributes to the late great Howard Finkel, it seems people are dusting themselves down and going forward preparing. Preparing for what none of us know, but once this is all over it seems a new era of pro wrestling may be upon us. And that with it brings hope, and that I think we all need right now.