Dakota Kai and Raquel Gonzalez def. Shotzi Blackheart and Ember Moon to Win the Women's Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic
As little as I care about the women's tag team division on the main roster, it is absolutely alive and well in NXT if this match was any indication. This was a wise choice to kick off the show as all four ladies did great work and kept things exciting throughout. I was expecting Moon and Blackheart to get the feel-good win, but Kai and Gonzalez winning made more sense because they're a true team and have been for almost exactly a year now. Here's hoping they'll be the ones to take the titles to NXT where they belong.
NXT North American Champion Johnny Gargano def. Kushida
I hate when the announcers use the "dream match" tagline so loosely because more often than not, it doesn't apply. I don't know if I'd go so far as to call this a dream match (and I'm a big fan of both guys), but it was terrific and I was happy they received as much time as they did. It was easily the best bout Kushida has had so far in NXT, while Gargano was back to being Johnny TakeOver after a few less-than-stellar TakeOver performances. My only issue with this was that there was never any doubt that Gargano was retaining the title. However, predictability isn't always a bad thing and I'm glad Gargano held onto it. His reign should last a littler longer and there's plenty of opponents for him to face before he drops it again.
MSK def. Grizzled Young Veterans to Win the Men's Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic
It's wild to me that it's been almost a year since the NXT Tag Team Championship has been defended on a TakeOver special, yet you'll get a tremendous tag team match like this (meaning tag team wrestling isn't dead in NXT after all). Seriously, this was stellar stuff. I don't know about anyone else, but not only was this my match of the night, it was one of my favorite matches of 2021 so far. They wrestle such different styles that it made for an outstanding outing (akin to the DIY vs. Revival matches from 2016). Grizzled Young Veterans are slowly proving why they deserve to be recognized as a top tag team while MSK are already off to a strong start in NXT despite never winning the tag titles while in IMPACT. The best part of all was that it could have gone either way, though MSK taking home the trophy was logical after the heels won in the women's Dusty Classic earlier in the evening. I'd love to see a rematch between these tandems down the road, preferably over the NXT Tag Team Championship.
NXT Women's Champion Io Shirai def. Mercedes Martinez and Toni Storm in a Triple Threat Match
This Triple Threat was loaded with talent, and although it was a quality contest, it ended up being the weakest match on the card. Obviously, that's a testament to how exceptional every other matchup on the show was, but it didn't reach the level it should have in my opinion. Plus, the finish felt a bit abrupt. Only 12 minutes for these three was slightly disappointing, but again, it was a very well-wrestled match for what it was. Similar to Gargano vs. Kushida, this suffered from a predictable outcome as it's clear NXT is building toward Shirai vs. Gonzalez for the title, likely over WrestleMania weekend.
NXT Champion Finn Balor def. Pete Dunne; Adam Cole Attacked Kyle O'Reilly
I've been waiting for Balor vs. Dunne for a while and it definitely delivered. It was as hard-hitting, as physical and as intense as I thought it would be with both guys beating the crap out of each other. Balor has been on another level since returning to NXT and Dunne can always be counted on for that big fight feel as well. This was a top-notch main event with another clean win for Balor. It would have been a bit underwhelming if the show ended there, so I was happy that they went off the air with a huge angle instead that saw Cole turn on Balor and O'Reilly and kick off (literally and figuratively) what it is bound to be a split for Undisputed Era. Regardless of whether you think it was time for that or not, there's no doubt that it will get people excited about the NXT product again, if only to see what will happen next. NXT needed a spark of some sort and this was it. Now, let's see where they go from here with it and if it will be for the best long-term. Where Roderick Strong and Bobby Fish wind up out of this is especially intriguing to me.
This was easily my favorite installment of TakeOver during the pandemic era (I don't count Halloween Havoc because that was a television special). The brand is still suffering from not having those rowdy fans at Full Sail University, but it was also missing a sense of urgency. I'd argue this event brought that back, or at least made the appropriate steps in bringing it back with that show-closing angle and the signing of Eli Drake (now known as LA Knight). There's a bunch more people on the way, so the influx of fresh faces will be nice and is needed. Most importantly, the action on this show was just fantastic. I'd give four of the five matches at least four stars, and even the Triple Threat was pretty good albeit substandard for the women of NXT. They needed to leave viewers looking forward to Wednesday's episode and they managed to do just that. I wouldn't go so far as to say this was one of the best TakeOver events of all-time, but I loved it and not just because it's Valentine's Day.