NXT TakeOver: Portland was hosted by the Moda Center in Portland, Oregon and was aired exclusively on the WWE Network. Every NXT Championship was scheduled to be on the line, except for the NXT Cruiserweight Championship, which made the event highly anticipated.
This TakeOver was the final one before WrestleMania 36, so the stakes were very high as to who will walk into Tampa, Florida as champions. Here are live reactions to each match.
NXT North American Championship
Keith Lee vs. Dominik Dijakovic
Cool back and forth in the beginning to get the crowd amped up. I don't understand why the champions have been coming out first. Not a fan of that. A few moves from Dijakovic that did not look very clean, which the fans noticed. Moonsault by Dijakovic got the crowd back into it. Wow! Awesome avalanche Death Valley Driver by Dijakovic, and nice pounce to rebound from Lee! Crowd is really into this match, as expected. Double front chop from Lee, and the crowd says "one more time." I guess they were not satisfied.
Wow! What a springboard diving senton from Dijakovic! This is really good. This was the match I was looking forward to the most, and it has not let me down. Innovative Spirit Bomb sequence from Lee, with Dijakovic rolling out the first one. This is incredible stuff.
When I interviewed Keith Lee, he stated that Dijakovic is his favorite person to compete against. Definitely makes sense why. If you have not seen their indie matches against each other, go check them out. Their matches in NXT are worth watching and watching again as well.
Big Bang Catastrophe by Lee. Match over. Awesome start to the show, and it definitely set the bar high. It seems like Dijakovic legit could not lift up Lee, which caused an audible in the finish sequence. Regardless, it was a great match. Awesome show of respect from Lee in the end as well. I'm looking forward to where NXT North American Champion Keith Lee will be come WrestleMania weekend.
Street Fight: Dakota Kai vs. Tegan Nox
Honestly, I have not been very invested into this feud, mainly because the momentum of it after Kai turned at NXT TakeOver: WarGames was not as strong as it could have been. Also, Nox defeated Kai on NXT television, and I do not think they should have competed against each other until TakeOver. However, the feel of this match is good so far, and the crowd is into it.
Odd spot from Nox, doing a senton on the trash can to Kai instead of just kicking her. I seemed like she legit hurt her back doing that, and Nigel McGuinness even mentioned it. Nice German suplex spot from Nox on the trash can. Botched flipping lung blower (Mauro Ranallo called it The Chiroprator), but they rebounded from it fine. Interesting tribute to Molly Holly from Nox with the Molly-Go-Round.
Nice tease from Nox with the punt while Kai was in a guillotine position on the chair, and sequential counter from Kai with the bicycle kick. Kai is looking like a good heel throughout the match, but Nox is showing a darkside too. Makes sense, seeing how Kai destroyed her at WarGames.
Good emotion in the match, with Nox damaging Kai's knee and setting up the table. Does not look like the crowd was into Racquel Gonzalez, and the botched table spot on Nox did not help either. This helped Kai get the win, but it makes me wonder if this will continue at TakeOver: Tampa in some kind of tag team match.
Finn Balor vs. Johnny Gargano
Split reaction from the crowd to start the match. I hope that Triple H looks at this and make a mission to have Finn Balor do more heelish tactics to elicit jeers from the crowd, similar to what happened when he turned on Gargano. It does not help the babyface when the heel is being cheered. The push-ups during the head scissors was a good example of how easy it is for Balor to get booed when he acts like a heel. You'd never hear a crowd split chants when Baron Corbin is in a match.
Good back and forth action overall, with the crowd continuing to split the chants. Good counter from Gargano to block the 1916 and push into the steel steps. Fans were into the boot, enziguiri, Pele kick sequence, which led Gargano to fall on Balor for the two count. Another cool sequence, missed Coup de Grace, countered into the Gargano Escape. Reversed into a double stomp, but Gargano counters into another Gargano Escape. Crowd was really into this sequence.
Not liking how the fans are booing Gargano as the match progresses. Especially when Balor is supposed to be the clear heel in the match. However, he get cheered with he pulls the table lid cover. This is why characters matter, because it should not cause such a flip-flop reaction.
Balor gets cheered when he does the Coup de Grace, jeered when he does the guns taunt, but cheered again after hitting the 1916 and the finish. Again, this is why characters need to be more emphasized in pro wrestling, because it causes more emotional investment from the fans and longer storylines.
NXT Women's Championship
Rhea Ripley vs. Bianca Belair
These are two of my personal favorites in all of WWE, so I was looking forward to this NXT Women's Championship match. However, I feel that there is no way that Belair will win this match, which makes it so predictable not to be very engaged in. Nice entrance by Belair, and Ripley should have pyro with her entrance when she does that stomp. It will add more to her star power. I bet Charlotte Flair appears at the end.
Awkward suplex move, and looking a Belair's face for a moment showed that she was not pleased with how that move looked. The crowd really got into it when they started slapping each other, and the military press from Belair, followed by the boot from Ripley and rebound spear from Belair.
Look like this is the night of the tope con hilo, and we saw Dijakovic do a springboard into Lee sitting on a chair, Gargano do it after running on the apron, and Belair do it from inside the ring to the outside.
Ripley gets the win with the Riptide while Belair was on the second rope. Well, there's Charlotte, as expected. She attacks Ripley from behind and challenges her at WrestleMania 36. She also throws Belair into the steps. I think this was unnecessary, since Belair needs to be protected as much as possible.
NXT Tag Team Championship
The Undisputed Era (Kyle O'Reilly & Bobby Fish) vs. The Broserweights (Pete Dunne & Matt Riddle)
Hilarious that WWE actually made t-shirts from Riddle cutting that promo on Bobby Fish on NXT TV. This NXT tag team championship match has been fun to watch. Crowd clearly behind the Broserweights, especially the forearm and kick sequence between O'Reilly and Riddle. Nice tandem ankle lock spot.
This match has been exciting. I'm not big into "this is awesome!" chants, because it is overused, but I agree with the crowd here. Crowd has been into it the whole match. Miscalculations from Riddle and Dunne, with Riddle accidentally spearing Dunne, but they were able to recover and beat Undisputed Era for the tag team titles! Very good title match to watch, and it is cool to see the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic winners successfully cash-in.
Adam Cole vs. Tommaso Ciampa
My initial thoughts are that Cole will retain the title since Fish & O'Reilly just lost the tag team titles. It also draws a more emotional appeal if a babyface is chasing the NXT title heading into WrestleMania weekend. However, they have been really building on Ciampa relinquishing the title around this time last year, which could lead him to win the title again.
Split chants from the crowd, which immediately makes me shake my head on Cole needing to up his heel game more. Hilarious moment where Ciampa gives some love to the fan. Looks like that made his whole life.
Cole with the wheelbarrow suplex on Ciampa. Good way to sell the neck issues. That makes Cole look more like a heel, as well as builds the comeback story for Ciampa. Nice jumping knee strike counter from Ciampa from the attempted Panama Sunrise.
Yikes. Sick avalanche Air Raid Crash and powerbomb onto the table from Ciampa to Cole. Table didn't break, so of course Ciampa did it again to break it. Nice close two count from Cole after the Project Ciampa signature move. Crowd on their feet clapping for the match, which I agree. Very good match.
Cole keeps executing neck moves, Ciampa keeps kicking out, while still holding his neck. Good story arc. Another sick Air Raid crash on Cole from Ciampa onto the apron. Cole with a Panama Sunrise on the outside, comes in the ring to a Willow's Bell from Ciampa, then Cole kicks out of Fairy Tale Ending. Amazing, emotional sequence.
Rest of UE coming out to cause a distraction is a good addition to the comeback story arc. Ciampa defies the odds, but comes into a cavalcade of superkicks, followed by the last shot. Ciampa still kicks out. Another Fairy Tale Ending, but no referee due to him being out cold.
Wow! Interesting twist to the match with Johnny Gargano coming out and turning heel on Ciampa by pulling the title and hitting him with it. It is odd that he would do that after losing to Balor, as well as already culminating their bitter feud, but we could be seeing yet another match between the two during WrestleMania weekend.
Overall, very good TakeOver. Having this Sunday spot came with a lot of pressure, since NXT is being viewed as a third brand. From the start time until the end, TakeOver lasted the duration of a regular WWE pay-per-view, with only six matches on the main card. NXT superstars were showcased properly, and with it being the first TakeOver event on a Sunday, it definitely had a PPV feel to it.
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