NXT Tag Team Champions Street Profits def. Undisputed Era
You can always count on NXT's tag team division (specifically Kyle O'Reilly and Bobby Fish) to kick off these TakeOver specials on a high note. We've never seen them clash with Street Profits before, so this was a fresh match that I enjoyed quite a bit. There was a lot of fun wrestling and the crowd was pretty divided throughout. Like most people, although I'm a big fan of Street Profits, I was fully expecting Kyle O'Reilly and Bobby Fish to take the titles here, especially since it looks like Street Profits are on their way up to the main roster full-time. I was pleasantly surprised by the outcome because it keeps them in NXT for a little longer (where they belong), gives them an extended run as champions, and doesn't rush the belts back onto Undisputed Era so soon. They'll regain the gold eventually and it didn't have to be on this show.
Io Shirai def. Candice LeRae
I can't not say enough good things about Shirai's heel persona. She's firing on all cylinders right now and seeing her new entrance on the big stage was super cool. We haven't had two women's matches on a TakeOver since 2015 (if I'm not mistaken), so not only was it awesome that they had the opportunity to wrestle on this show, they knocked it out of the park. LeRae was the perfect babyface and Shirai had a stellar showing. They were given plenty of time and the crowd was with them every step of the way. I loved that Shirai won by submission and that LeRae was made to look credible in defeat. When's the rematch?!
Matt Riddle and Killian Dain Brawled
I didn't expect to see Riddle on the show, so that was a welcome treat. This entire angle was handled exceptionally well with Riddle emerging from the crowd, calling out Dain and then brawling with him off the stage. Dain looked like a beast, the crowd rallied behind Riddle and they managed to further their feud without having a match. Now I'm looking forward to them facing off more than I was a week or two ago.
NXT North American Champion Velveteen Dream def. Pete Dunne and Roderick Strong in a Triple Threat Match
I had high expectations for this and it did not disappoint. All three guys work wonderfully together and the action was very entertaining. After O'Reilly and Fish lost earlier in the evening, the outcome of this contest wasn't predictable and thus the nearfalls were more suspenseful. The last quarter or so was especially excellent and Dream hitting his elbow drop out of nowhere to pin Dunne and retain his title was a genuine shocker. Since Strong wasn't pinned, I expect him to continue chasing the championship in the months ahead and eventually win it.
NXT Women's Champion Shayna Baszler def. Mia Yim
This was easily the weakest match on the card as well as the weakest women's title match on a TakeOver in some time. While I think Yim is championship material, she wasn't ready to take the title here if the reaction she received from the crowd was any indication. They had a pretty good match and I liked the drama, but Baszler winning felt like a foregone conclusion from the get-go. It'll be a big moment when she does drop the belt, though, no matter who it is.
NXT Champion Adam Cole def. Johnny Gargano in a 2-out-of-3 Falls Match
I feel like most people will be divided on the long length of this match, but I personally had no problem with it. In fact, I was thrilled that each fall was given an ample amount of time and not rushed. The first fall was terrific and Gargano getting himself disqualified was smart because it gave him the advantage going into the Street Fight second fall (we typically see the heels do that sort of thing). The second fall was exactly what it needed to be and set the stage for the third fall (a Lethal Lockdown-esque matchup) nicely. As sick as I am of seeing Steel Cage matches in WWE, this was a unique twist on it as the cage was covered in weapons. They beat the holy hell out of each other with everything they had at their disposal and it was brutal to watch (in a good way). I'm not huge on hardcore matches, but this was spectacular stuff. This is how you properly blow off a feud. I truly believe that Gargano vs. Cole will go down as one of the most amazing wrestling trilogies of all-time. All of them had something different to offer and were instant classics. Cole has a ton of potential challengers to his champion, though I'm left wondering what will become of Gargano. A move to the main roster would make the most sense, but I know I'm not alone in saying that I'm scared for his future on either Raw or SmackDown Live. I fear that they'll have no clue how to handle him and will relegate him to the undercard (or, worse yet, 205 Live).
What's funny is that this was another outstanding event from NXT yet it wasn't even their best special of the year (I still give the nod to TakeOver: New York and not just because I was there to see it live). Of course, comparisons aside, this show was an absolute treat to watch and I appreciated that not everything went down the way I thought it would. That main event was obviously a Match of the Year candidate and the rest of the card was incredible on the whole. If Baszler vs. Yim was a bit better, this would have been a Top 10 TakeOver. Either way, NXT once again leaves me loving wrestling more than I already did. TakeOver: WarGames III should be very, very interesting.