NXT Takeover: Phoenix – Review

War Raiders vs. The Undisputed Era (c) – NXT Tag Team Championship Match

This was a good enough match that never fully clicked for me. What I’ve enjoyed most about Undisputed Era’s title defenses is their commitment to being total bastards – they hurt one of their opponent’s limbs, then attack said limb mercilessly, or something like that. This match didn’t really have that. There was a heat section, sure, but it never felt like Undisputed Era had full control, and therefore this felt like a standard formula tag match. Also, I can’t help but feel as though this match exposed the War Raiders somewhat. Yes, they are large and surprisingly athletic, and they do cool spots and all, but it seemed to me like they were dragging the pace down. Maybe I’m just trying to find someone to blame for this match being merely good and not excellent like I hoped, I don’t know. ***1/4

Matt Riddle vs. Kassius Ohno

What about this feud necessitated a third match? Why did Keith Lee have to get jobbed out to Ohno on NXT TV to set up said match? Matt Riddle is cool and good at wrestling and I like him, and it’s well past time for this feud to be over so he can move on to whatever’s next. This match was totally serviceable and nothing more, although the third act was surprisingly satisfying. **1/4

Johnny Gargano vs. Ricochet (c) – NXT North American Championship Match

Unquestionably the match of the night, Gargano vs. Ricochet was a fantastic blend of exciting mat work, cool flips, and storytelling. Gargano’s reputation precedes him of course, so I’m going to take this opportunity to geek out about Ricochet. Ricochet is so good! He does everything in ring at a tremendous level, and is the exact opposite of an empty flips dude. He’s great at mat-based stuff, and he sells well without overselling, and he even has good strikes! And then, of course, there are the flips. My god, this guy has such good flips. Anyway, Ricochet rules and Gargano rules and this match rules and you should watch it. ****3/4

Bianca Bel Air vs. Shayna Baszler (c) – NXT Women’s Championship Match

This was another very good but not quite great Baszler match, and also a great showcase for Bianca Bel Air. The story was exactly what it needed to be as well – Bianca is athletically gifted as all hell and a very good wrestler, but her undefeated streak was mostly against lesser opponents. Once she was facing the champ, she could absolutely hang, but she couldn’t get by on her athletic skills alone (although they obviously helped), and in the end, she solidified her position as a future champion and star, even in defeat. Here’s my thing with Shayna Baszler. In some ways, I think I like the idea of Baszler more than the actual experience of her matches. Her persona is great and I love how she’s evil because she chooses to be, not because she has to be. But because she’s such an obvious badass with such dangerous offense, it doesn’t make sense for any of her matches to go past 15 minutes or so, and that’s limiting. ***3/4

Aleister Black vs. Tommaso Ciampa (c) – NXT Men’s Championship Match

Back in summer, I wasn’t sure if giving the belt to Ciampa made sense. I didn’t think his feud with Gargano needed the belt, and I was concerned that he wasn’t ready. All Ciampa has done since then is kill it, and I fell foolish for ever thinking those things in the first place. His matches rule. His promos rule. His ongoing saga with Gargano rules. He’s doing the best job of everyone on a stacked roster, and he deserves to be champion forever and ever. Aleister Black is very good, as well, and did everything this match asked of him admirably. This was an admirably old school match, built around Ciampa working Black’s leg, and the match resolved when the limb work resolved. In wrestling, the simplest way to book something is often the best way. ****1/4

One thought on “NXT Takeover: Phoenix – Review

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s