Wrestling Review: NXT TakeOver: Phoenix (2019)

Four championships are on the line and one grudge will finally be laid to rest as the Talking Stick Resort Arena in Phoenix, Arizona, plays host to NXT TakeOver: Phoenix. Tomasso Ciampa steals the spotlight once again as he defends his NXT Championship against the Dutch Destroyer, former champion Aleister Black. After being denied a chance to reclaim his title by Johnny Gargano, Black will be out for vengeance as he seeks to once again get his hands on NXT’s top prize. Gargano, meanwhile, will be seeking to take his first single’s title in NXT when he faces off against the human highlight reel Ricochet for the NXT North American Championship. Shayna Basler defends the NXT Women’s Championship against the un-de-fea-ted Bianca Belair, whilst the NXT Tag Team Championships will be on the line as Kyle O’Reilly and Roderick Strong defend against Hansen and Rowe, the War Raiders. Kassius Ohno also looks to avenge his six second loss to Matt Riddle as they fight in a heated rematch.

+ Shayna Baszler (c) vs Bianca Belair (NXT Women’s Championship): I was wary with how high in the car this was placed, due to Belair’s inexperience, and at first it seemed my fears were going to be correct. But once this got going, and it seemed that Belair settled into her rhythm, this was really, really good. It did go on that single minute too long, but aside from that this was a great showing from both women
+ Ricochet (c) vs Johnny Gargano (NXT North American Championship): something about Ricochet bothers me; he is so crisp and smooth, but I can’t help but notice him not go from move-to-move, but go from sequence-to-sequence too “easily”. It wasn’t until Ricochet had already busted out his greatest hits that I got into the match. Gargano’s character work was the highlight, but even the most basic of Ricochet’s athleticism warrants acknowledgement, because he just makes it all look so easy. This was fantastic, with callbacks to past storylines and as much back and forth action as you could ask for
+ The Undisputed Era (Kyle O’Reilly & Roderick Strong) (c) vs War Raiders (Hansen & Rowe) (NXT Tag Team Championships): just from the War Raiders’ incredible entrance I knew this was going to be special. This was absolutely incredible from the very beginning, with some of the greatest feats of agility you’ll ever see – Hansen is going to be a huge star, whether he stays in a tag team or not. And yeah, I’ll be the one to say it: Strong and O’Reilly are a better team than ReDragon ever were

Tommaso Ciampa (c) vs Aleister Black (NXT Championship): this was really, really disappointing. Ciampa should be the guy you hate but have to respect, and Black should just be kicking people into pieces, so of course that is not what happened. Both guys played against type, and it made for a slow, uninspired, and worst of all, emotionless championship main event. This really killed the hype I had for both guys, and as a long, long time Ciampa fan, that is hard to say
Matt Riddle vs Kassius Ohno: I guess this was fine, but Riddle has already defeated Ohno 2-0 over the past months, so I don’t know why we needed to see this again. It was fine from a striking standpoint, but it still felt unnecessary
– it’s simultaneously good bad that NXT has so many stars, but there was still numerous notable omissions: Adam Cole, Kairi Sane, Velveteen Dream, the Street Profits, Io Shirai and Oney Lorcan & Danny Burch were all sorely missed

Should you watch this event: All of the TakeOver shows are ‘good’, but I think this was unfortunately one of the ones that was just as good. The main event was really disappointing, but all three other title matches were good or great. Hopefully either the competitors are switched up next time, or the matches can be done differently.

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