WWE NXT Takeover: XXV
by Samoa Rowe
June 1, 2019
From the Webster Bank Arena in Bridgeport, Connecticut. Our hosts are Mauro Ranallo, Nigel McGuinness, and Beth Phoenix. This event is a bit of an anomaly in NXT Takeover history, as it's a standalone event outside of Full Sail that is not attached to a major main roster pay-per-view. There is also a bit of a shift in the NXT status quo as for the first time, a main roster guy, Tyler Breeze, is making a conscious full time return to the black and gold brand. NXT also seems to have lost some of it's "alternative" cool credibility due to the emergence of AEW, but there's still a full, loud crowd in attendance (Green Smiley Fan now has a Yellow Smiley Fan beside him).
Roderick Strong vs. Matt Riddle
Strong gets a nice ovation from the fans, but Riddle is clearly the favorite as he's serenaded with "bro" chant. Riddle kicks his flip flops off at Strong to set the tone. They start with aggressive chain wrestling and Riddle scores a waistlock takedown. They restart and Riddle hits a series of gut wrench suplexes. Strong catches Riddle in mid-air with a forearm to the face and takes control with a vicious backbreaker onto the ring frame. Riddle continually attempts to strike his way back into the match, but Strong cuts him off with his own stiff shots and targeted attacks to the back. Riddle finally connects with a wild brainbuster and is good enough to sell his back while running wild through Strong. Riddle's Go To Sleep and German suplex only gets 2. Strong answers with a succession of moves, complete with a superplex for a great nearfall. Strong hits a crazy series of strikes and connects with a hard backbreaker for a RED HOT nearfall. Riddle kicks his way back into the contest and nails a powerbomb and knee to the face for another great false finish. Strong counters a moonsault with his knees, connects with a gutbuster and powerbomb into a pin for 2.5, and then a Boston Crab! Riddle claws out and applies the Bromission and elbows the head, which Strong manages to block, causing Riddle to counter with a Styles Clash variation for the win at 14:45. The fans give them a standing ovation, and for good reason, as this was wall to wall action, had great false finishes, and felt like a fight all the way, ****¼.
Winner: Matt Riddle
I'm watching this on Hulu, so I have to sit through commercials. Better than giving WWE any money at this point.
NXT Champion Johnny Gargano warms up backstage. Shawn Michaels and Road Dogg are hanging out in the front row.
NXT Tag Team Championship (Ladder Match):
Street Profits (Angelo Dawkins and Montez Ford) vs. Forgotten Sons (Steve Cutler and Wesley Blake) vs. Oney Lorcan and Danny Burch vs. The Undisputed Ere (Bobby Fish and Kyle O'Reilly)
WWE decided to call War Raiders up to the main roster and then make them disappear off the face of the Earth, leaving us with vacant tag titles in NXT. On paper, this match does not feel Takeover-worthy, but NXT talent tend to rise to the occasion in situations like this. Bell rings and it's a cluster, with some guys instantly heading to nap at ringside. The UE manage to clean the ring and go for a ladder, but Wesley Black takes them out with a suicide dive. Dawkins follows with a top rope dive onto the brawling field. Teams battle to climb the ladder and O'Reilly takes a horrific bump onto the side of a ladder and writhes in pain to the floor. Forgotten Sons hoist the ladder over their shoulders and batter their opponents around until Lorcan and Burch catch them both with Germans! (EXPLETIVE DELETED!). Street Profits take cover, hitting leap frog sentons and flap jacks with an on the ladder. O'Reilly can barely walk but manages to break up the Profits with a missile drop-kick. UE hit a Codebreaker/German combo to put Ford through a ladder! Fish climbs, but Blake stops him by powerbombing O'Reilly into the ladder. Forgotten Sons set up a bigger ladder, UE get in their way, so Cutler delivers a boot through O'Reilly's chest mid-way up the ladder. The Sons climb and get caught by the Street Profits in Electric Chairs, ripe for Lorcan's uppercut and Ford's blockbuster! O'Reilly finds himself alone in the ring, but Jaxson Ryker runs in for a powerbomb on a second ladder. The match comes to a screeching halt as Ryker cleans out the ring and the fans chant "We forgot you." All six non-Sons competitors gang up on Ryker and take him out with repeated ladder smashes. Ryker takes a dive from Ford, but gets up, prompting a dive from Lorcan. Ryker is finally dead, so Lorcan and Burch get their obligatory dominant run. Lorcan and Burch meet the UE at the top for a slugfest, but the Street Profits push them both off. Forgotten Sons try to sneak up the ladder, but Ford springboards to the top and secures the tag titles at 21:45! I liked this so much more than I was expecting, shame on me for doubting them, ****.
Winners and new NXT Tag Team Champions: Street Profits
NXT North American Championship:
The Velveteen Dream © vs. Tyler Breeze
I have to admit, seeing Breeze back in NXT, with his full entrance, and portrayed like a star, fills me with nostalgia (for 2014, whatever) and it's a shame he didn't get a better opportunity on the main roster. Maybe the War Raiders will follow him back. I can dream, right? Speaking of Dreams, if the main roster screws up Velveteen Dream, then WWE is beyond hope of ever having another breakout star in the current state of affairs.
Crowd mostly likes both guys, but Velveteen is the favorite, and Breeze does get some booes. They start with some chain wrestling, to which Breeze wins the first exchange, leading to him posing on the turnbuckles. Breeze then aggressively pulls Dream in to a modified gutbuster, but Dream counters a dive with a forearm. Springboard moonsault gets 2 for Dream. Breeze recovers and wrenches Dream's legs around the turnbuckle, followed by a flying forearm. Breeze tries again but Dream counters with a forearm. Dream seems to have hurt his knee, making him vulnerable to Breeze's half crab. Dream escapes and loses his temper smashing Breeze into the announce table. Dream turns up the awesome by taking a selfie posing with the title and the hurt Breeze with his own phone. The antics allow a desperation superkick from Breeze, but Dream recovers with a Dream Valley Driver for 2. They trade blocks and counters until Breeze connects a super kick for 2. Another series of counters results in a DreamDT for a lukewarm nearfall. Both guys sell exhaustion as the crowd seems to peter out as well, but still manage dueling chants. They trade Tombstone reversals to no avail and Dream maneuvers into an Unprettier for a 2 count. Breeze blocks a flying elbow drop with his knees and hits his own Unprettier for a great nearfall! Breeze follows with a Beauty Shot and Dream has to roll to the floor to save himself from a cover. Breeze can't seem to move Dream back to the ring and pleads with the referee to stop the count, allowing Dream to attempt a belt shot and then hit a desperation DreamDT to secure the win at 16:50. The first half of this was fantastic stuff, the second half was a bit more labored, but it ended on a hot note and it was great seeing Breeze get to shine again, ***½.
Winner and still North American Champion: Velveteen Dream
Breeze catches Dream about to use his phone for another selfie and takes it back... only to have a moment of respect and take a selfie of them together. What a sickening display of good sportsmanship.
NXT Women's Championship:
Shayna Baszler © vs. Io Shirai
It's starting to feel like Baszler has been champion forever, so I'd welcome a title change here. They lock up and given an opportunity for a hard kick, Baszler mockingly kicks Shirai lightly instead. Shirai takes exception and gets a burst of offense, complete with a baseball slide drop-kick. Baszler drags Shirai off the turnbuckles and hyperextends her hand with a stomp to establish control. Baszler tries to do the same to Io's other arm and ends up eating a German suplex. Shirai mounts a one-handed comeback, hitting a 619 and springboard missile drop-kick. Shirai desperately applies a crossface (smartly modifying it to account for her bad hand) but Baszler counters with a side slam. Shirai escapes a draping arm submission and missile drop-kicks Baszler off the turnbuckles to set up a top rope moonsault! Shirai hits double running knees and signals the win when Baszler's henchwomen show up, but Candice LeRae makes the save waving a kendo stick. Meanwhile, Baszler almost steals it with an inside cradle but Shirai's palm thrust sets up a missed moonsault. They trade pinning predicaments until Baszler wraps around for her modified rear naked choke. Shirai hangs in there for several seconds before succumbing to the hold at 12:21. This was fun when Shirai was teasing an upset, very well worked match that built to a satisfying crescendo, ***½.
Winner and still NXT Women's Champion: Shayna Baszler
Io Shirai is a sore loser and goes nuts with kendo stick shots on Baszler. Shirai hits a moonsault, and then a second chair-assisted moonsault for good measure. What a fantastic display of poor sportsmanship. Crowd loves this.
Stephanie McMahon is in the front row. I hope she's taking notes.
Johnny Gargano © vs. Adam Cole
Rapper Josiah Williams performs a custom version of the UE theme for Cole during his entrance. No live music for Gargano's entrance, so he's totally losing. There's no feeling out process as they sprint through an exchange and both land on their rears in a stalemate. Match restarts with chain wrestling but it quickly gets heated, with them trading blocks on the floor until Cole counters with a back body drop, which Gargano sells a shoulder injury. Gargano recovers and hits a double stomp off the apron through the arm of Adam Cole. Despite the assault, Cole rebounds and takes control working over the knee. Gargano takes a slew of abuse but manages a powerbomb counter to buy time. Gargano unleashes his bag of tricks for a flurry, but is unable to pin Cole with a Flatliner. Slingshot spear by Gargano gets 2, and his body motion suggests that his bad knee prevented him from fully hitting the attack. Cole counters with a backstabber off the turnbuckles! Cole follows with an enziguri and burning hammer facecrusher for a good nearfall. They stumble through an extended SUPER KICK PARTY and both go down! Crowd LOVES this. Gargano is up first and hits a slingshot DDT for 2, and the crowd chants "Fight Forever." Cole rebounds and drops Gargano's head on his knee a couple of times for another nearfall. Cole perches on the turnbuckles and takes a nasty landing on his head when Gargano wrenches him off and into the GargaNo Escape, but Cole reverses into the Figure Four! Gargano reverses for a break, and they take turns viciously attacking each other's injured body parts! Cole tries to rip off Johnny's knee pad, but takes a spike DDT. Cole recovers at ringside and counters Gargano's dive with a SUPERKICK to the head! Cole leaps off the apron for a CANADIAN DESTROYER ON THE FLOOR! Cole rolls Johnny into the ring, but he KICKS OUT! Cole talks some smack and misses the Last Shot, but steals GargaNo Escape, but Johnny escapes and hits his own Last Shot for a great nearfall! They slug their way to their feet, Cole nails a series of kicks to the head, but Gargano spins into a lariat and nails a reverse rana, but Cole pops up for a Last Shot, but GARGANO KICKS OUT! Cole has run out of ideas and retrieves a chair. The ref argues with Cole and Gargano inadvertently wipes him out with a missed dive. Cole misses a chair shot and Gargano superkicks it into his face, but there's no ref to count. Cole pretends to summon the UE troops to lure Gargano into a DDT trap and the ref is back for a scary nearfall. Gargano returns the favor by playing possum to lure Cole into the GargaNo Escape. Cole elbows the knee to escape and repeatedly targets it with superkicks. The Panama Sunrise and Last Shot finish Gargano at 31:47, to a huge ovation. Just an epic, grand match, full of great psychology and character moments. I was worried this would break down into them just hitting moves and kicking out, but this was so much more, with the injured body parts making all the difference down the stretch, ****¾.
Winner and new NXT Champion: Adam Cole
Final Thoughts: While it seems that NXT is moving out of their second golden age, this Takeover did a lot to suggest otherwise. The overall direction of the brand may be troubling, but they sure do know how to put on a great Takeover when they need to. Easy Thumbs Up.
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