In terms of landscape-shaping nights, it doesn’t get much bigger than what’s to come at NXT TakeOver: In Your House, with four of the six matches on the card capable of being no-brainer main events.
Adam Cole defends his NXT championship against Velveteen Dream in a Backlot Brawl, representing Dream’s last shot at Cole’s title. Charlotte Flair defends her NXT championship against both Rhea Ripley and Io Shirai. Former North American champion Johnny Gargano takes on current champ Keith Lee. Tommaso Ciampa faces the recently debuted Karrion Kross.
There’s also a six-woman tag-team match pitting Mia Yim, Shotzi Blackheart and Tegan Nox against Candice LeRae, Dakota Kai and Raquel González. Also, Finn Balor takes on Damian Priest.
Sean Coyle is breaking down the action as it happens, with a rating that breaks down each match on a 0-to-5 scale.
(c) – Indicates defending champion
NXT women’s championship: Charlotte Flair (c) vs. Io Shirai vs. Rhea Ripley
Match in progress…
Karrion Kross def. Tommaso Ciampa
Karrion Kross made a name for himself outside the WWE, and he’s already made a considerable impact in the early stages of his NXT run thus far. Sunday’s match was unquestionably the most important one of his career to date.
Kross found himself across the ring from one of the pillars of NXT, Tommaso Ciampa, and made a tremendous statement by dispatching the former NXT champion without much trouble.
Ciampa and Kross sized each other up at the start and traded strikes, but a Kross suplex shifted the advantage his way. Kross created even more distance on the outside of the ring when he lifted Ciampa by the neck with both hands and slammed Ciampa back-first onto the edge of the ring.
Kross continued to dominate back inside the ring with a bevy of suplexes. However, seemingly out of nowhere, an aggressive Ciampa began to execute his comeback via quick strikes and a draping DDT — but that comeback didn’t last long. As he attempted to connect with the Fairy Tale ending, Kross reversed it into a modified F-5 followed by his straight jacket guillotine choke – and just like that, it was over.
What a night for Kross. In a short amount of time, he displayed natural command in the ring, an impressive moveset and defeated one of the faces of NXT.
What’s next? The rise of Kross should continue. It’s only a matter of time before he finds himself near the top of the heap on Wednesday nights.
Backlot brawl for the NXT championship: Adam Cole (c) vs. Velveteen Dream
What a run it’s been for the leader of the Undisputed Era. Adam Cole is the longest reigning NXT champion in history with over a year on top. And with his victory over Velveteen Dream at TakeOver: IN Your House, that run doesn’t appear to be on its last legs by any means.
Dream has had quite an NXT career himself, and despite his popularity shooting sky high, culminating with a North American championship reign, the NXT championship seems like a fading possibility. After Sunday’s loss, he can’t challenge for the NXT championship for as long as Cole is holding the belt.
The backlot brawl wasn’t quite as dramatic or over the top a setting as the cinematically styled matches that preceded it, but they certainly leaned into the scenery. Cole entered the parking lot, which led to a ring surrounded by cars, in an Undisputed Era-themed monster truck. Dream drove a yellow Lamborghini and dressed as the iconic Negan from “The Walking Dead.”
Dream attempted some quick pinfall attempts to begin the match, but he wasn’t going to put the champ away that early. A frustrated Cole attempted to leave in a nearby car, but Dream began to smash the car with a baseball bat. As they slugged it out, a random car drove up and asked the combatants if either one of them ordered an Uber driver in a bit of comic relief.
Cole was able to create some distance between he and Dream when he tossed Dream into a nearby steel post. The champ’s next move was to play a bit of hide and seek. He snuck into a building and as Dream opened the door, he used a fire extinguisher on Dream.
The pair eventually made their way back to the ringside area, where Dream brought a ladder into the equation, and as Cole laid on top of a car, Dream ascended the ladder. However, as Dream neared the top, Roderick Strong and Bobby Fish drove up and attempted to distract Dream. Cole climbed up the other side of the ladder, but was pushed down and landed on the windshield of the same car, shattering it.
From there, Cole’s comrades ambushed Dream and tossed tons of steel chairs inside the ring, but were surprised by Dexter Lumis, who was hiding under the ring, steel chair in hand. He attacked Strong and Fish with the chairs, locked them in the trunk of a car and drove off.
Back inside the ring, Dream reversed Cole’s Panama Sunrise attempt into a Dream Valley Driver and followed the up with a Purple Rainmaker elbow drop off the top rope and connected with Cole, who was sitting upright on a chair. But that still wasn’t enough to win the title. Cole responded with a low blow and hit the Panama Sunrise onto the chairs to retain his NXT championship.
What’s next? Cole’s historic title reign continues and many potential contenders are waiting in the wings. Perhaps Balor could throw his name in the hat after an impressive victory tonight. For Dream, it could be a call to Raw or SmackDown, or else it’s back to the drawing board.
NXT North American championship: Keith Lee (c) def. Johnny Gargano
Johnny Gargano’s heel run alongside his wife, Candice LeRae, has been incredibly entertaining, and after setting the bar for what he can do as a bad guy against Tommaso Ciampa, Gargano turned his attention to Keith Lee and a second North American championship reign.
The result was a tremendously entertaining clash of styles, and despite Lee’s retention of the title, it seems like their story is far from over.
Lee illustrated his immense power advantage early and often in tossing Gargano around, but Gargano squirmed out of predicaments time and again, resorting to gouging eyes and targeting Lee’s fingers on multiple occasions and building on previous damage inflicted.
Gargano picked his spots. Any time he had a chance to inflict some damage on the big man, he did. He hit an enziguri, stepped on Lee’s hand and continually connected with strikes to Lee’s injured eye. Gargano maintained that advantage throughout a good portion of the middle stages of the match.
Lee’s comeback was right around the corner, and it began with a modified neckbreaker in which he slammed Gargano’s neck onto his knee. Even more impressively, after Gargano reversed a spirit bomb attempt into an arm bar, Lee managed to lift him with one arm, slam him to the mat and nail Gargano with a monster clothesline.
Gargano’s psychology game was on point, though, and seemingly every time Lee attempted a power move, Gargano ripped and tore at the injured hand of Lee. Gargano’s reversals were excellent in the match, highlighted by his reversing of Lee’s Big Bang Catastrophe power slam into a small package for a very close near fall. Shortly after that, Gargano turned a suicide dive to the outside of the ring into a tornado DDT on the champ.
However, after Lee recovered, he body checked Gargano through the plexiglass that surrounded the ring in what was one the best spots of the match. As Lee carried Gargano toward the ring, Candice LeRae stepped in and attempted to stop him, but Lee’s significant other, Mia Yim, was right behind her and chased LeRae off. The distraction allowed Gargano to gouge Lee’s eye with a key and connect with his slingshot DDT, but neither that nor the ensuing superkicks was enough to put Lee away.
The resilient Lee responded with a spirit bomb, another power bomb and his Big Bang Catastrophe power slam for the win.
What’s next? Although a clean win would appear to give both Lee and Gargano a chance to head in separate directions, there’s almost certainly at least a mixed tag match including LeRae and Yim to come.
Finn Balor def. Damian Priest
After being revealed as Finn Balor’s sneak attacker, Damian Priest entered Sunday’s TakeOver looking for the biggest win of his NXT career. Although Priest wasn’t able to capture the North American championship in two attempts in the past few months, a win vs. Balor could propel him back into a championship conversation.
Balor wasted no time getting things going, as he charged and connected with a dropkick to Priest right out of the gate. After maintaining that advantage for a minute or two, a reversed Irish whip into the steel ring steps outside of the ring turned the tide, and Priest was suddenly in control.
Priest proceeded to hit a side slam onto the edge of the ring while standing on the ring steps to gain leverage and showed no signs of slowing down, with both an elevated flatliner and a nice-looking, leaping reverse elbow. Balor did enough to stay in the match, despite getting caught with a falcon arrow and connected frequently with strikes, but Priest continued to bring the offense and impressively executed a razor’s edge to Balor onto the edge of the ring and the bottom rope.
Balor continued to battle back, but Priest was the one connecting with the high-impact moves, including a modified top rope choke slam. But Balor simply wouldn’t quit. The turning point of the match saw Balor nail Priest with a forearm that sent Priest tumbling to the outside onto the steel ring steps. As Priest crawled back into the ring, Balor connected with a Coup de Grace on the back of Priest and followed it with a second on Priest’s midsection to pick up the victory.
What’s next? While a win over Balor would have put Priest in a championship conversation, it’s Balor who is in that conversation now.
Mia Yim, Shotzi Blackheart and Tegan Nox def. Candice LeRae, Dakota Kai and Raquel González
This match featured several rivalries crossing over at once, and there’s no denying the overall level of talent in the match. Mia Yim and Candice LeRae have been at each other’s throats as their significant others, Johnny Gargano and Keith Lee, face off for the NXT North American championship. Shotzi Blackheart and Tegan Nox have butted heads with Dakota Kai and Raquel Gonzalez on recent episodes of NXT TV.
There was no sticking to natural rivalries, though each of those sequences was particularly charged. Gonzalez illustrated her strength advantage early on, getting the better of both Yim and Nox. After a tag, Kai and Nox took center stage to continue their long-standing rivalry with some nicely timed sequences.
Frequent tags and drastic swings in momentum were the stories of the night — until they took to the skies. After Blackheart was caught out of midair by Gonzalez after attempting a suicide dive, Yim, LeRae and Nox connected with various planchas to the outside of the ring.
Yim and LeRae had a nice exchange in which Yim connected with a beautiful dragon suplex, but their battle got so intense that they tussled with each other all the way backstage, which left us with a standard, two-on-two tag team bout.
That opened the door for Nox and Blackheart to gain leverage, culminating with Nox hitting her patented shiniest wizard knee strike onto heated rival Kai for the pinfall victory.
What’s next? The Yim-LeRae conflict should continue in the coming weeks, but with a definitive win for Nox over Kai, perhaps they’ll finally go their separate ways. There are certainly plenty of options with a deep NXT women’s division.
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