Cole celebrates with the Undisputed Era

The “Bay Bay” Era Begins – NXT “TakeOver: XXV” Review

So, this snuck up on us, didn’t it? NXT has achieved its 25th official TakeOver. They’ve given us a hell of a lot over those 25 shows and now they plan to give a hell of a lot more with yet another strong card. This show featured Roderick Strong taking on Matt Riddle, a chaotic four team ladder match, Shayna Baszler going one on one with Io Shirai, a returning NXT veteran taking on the Velveteen Dream, and a rematch for the ages. Not to mention WWE have announced a new UK TakeOver, this time in Cardiff. Let’s stop teasing and get into it.

Matt Riddle defeated Roderick Strong via Bro Style Gotch Neutraliser

Backbreaker to Riddle

What a way to open the show, just have to guys who hate each other try to kill each other. This was an eclectic mix of stiff strikes, submissions and power moves that saw each guy try to one-up each other in the punishment department. Strong clearly painted a target on the back of Matt Riddle and went after it with a series of backbreakers, an Olympic Slam and even busting out the Stronghold. He even through in vicious forearms and knee strikes to try and knock out the Original Bro. However, Riddle would not stay down, coming back time and time again to dole out strikes of his own, a Bro to Sleep, the Bro Mission and finishing the match with his own version of the Gotch Neutraliser. It was a frantic opening bout that offered some insanely brutal striking spots. Both men were intense and added to the grudge match feel of the match. There was a flicker of occasional flashiness in a match dominated by pure striking and wrestling to ramp up the stakes. When Strong hit the Tiger Driver, it looked like it would end the match but Riddle was just too strong. Hopefully Roderick Strong learnt not to mess with the Original Bro.

Street Profits defeated Fish & O’Reilly, Lorcan & Burch and The Forgotten Sons to become the new NXT Tag Team Champions

Ladders fall and so do bodies

Let’s pay our respects to most of the competitors in this match because my god did this look like it hurt. The amount of punishment Kyle O’Reilly alone took was enough to fill a match of this size. Ladders went flying into people, people went flying and so many spots looked so unnecessarily dangerous that someone like me could not help but enjoy it. That being said this match could polarise a lot of people. It was a total spot fest that saw every team show off in the brutality department. Forgotten Sons had fun attacking everyone with ladders, Undisputed Era was there to dominate early on and eventually just be punching bags, Montez Ford took the overly high spots and Lorcan and Burch were as gritty and scrappy as always just now there were ladders. The match took a turn when Jaxson Ryker saw his team needed help and laid waste to everyone before having everyone turn on him and pummelled him half to death. No one is coming out of this match unscathed but Street Profits have come out of it as new NXT Tag Team Champions. This is one to watch if you need an extreme dose of chaos but be warned it is not for the faint of heart. Also, once again, RIP Kyle O’Reilly’s back as it was subjected to open ladder landings, falls and he was nearly decapitated by a flying ladder. Not really the best of nights for him.

NXT North American Champion Velveteen Dream defeated Tyler Breeze via Purple Rainmaker

A post match selfie between Dream and Breeze

Next up was a battle between the former Supermodel of NXT and the Velveteen Dream for the North American Title. Tyler Breeze had returned to NXT to reclaim the respect he had in the Black and Yellow brand and had decided to use Velveteen Dream’s North American Title to do it. Unfortunately for Breeze, Dream did not want to go down without a fight. This was the ultimate battle of one-upmanship as Breeze had come back ready to fight whilst Dream was more than willing to enjoy some flamboyant fun. Breeze controlled the match early but Dream slowly kept bringing himself back and would not stay down for long. He disrespected Breeze on multiple occasions by hitting the Unprettier and using Tyler’s phone to take a selfie with his downed opponent. Both men were continuously reversing each other and hitting big moves but could never quite seal the deal. It would take some shenanigans to win as Dream rolled out of the ring after being hit by the Beauty Shot. Tyler Breeze was struggling to drag him back into the ring so he tried to get the ref to break the count. Dream tried to attack with the title but Breeze reversed, leaving himself open to the Dream Valley Driver and the Purple Rainmaker to win. It was a sneaky victory but the pair still shared a selfie together as a sign of respect after the bell. This was fun and it’s nice to be reminded of how well Tyler Breeze can actually wrestle when given the chance. He wasn’t being comedic or goofy, he was just there to fight and the crowd loved it.

NXT Women’s Champion Shayna Baszler defeated Io Shirai via Kirifuda Clutch

chair assissted moonsault from Io Shirai

Shayna Baszler feels like she’s been the Women’s Champion for a long time now. She totally deserves it but her newest challenger, Io Shirai, felt like the woman to break that reign. However, she was unable to get the job done. She put up a hell of a fight and fought through a hell of a lot of arm-focused attacks and holds to nearly take out the champ. Unfortunately, a missed Moonsault led to a bridging pin attempt that gave Shayna the opening she needed to conquer another foe. Io had come from the underdog position and nearly had the match won had she not made that one small error. She didn’t have to worry about the rest of the Horsewomen either as Candice LeRae came out with a kendo stick and smashed it to pieces over the interfering henchwomen. The most interesting part though going forward, came after the match when Shirai snapped and broke a kendo stick over Shayna, hit her with a Moonsault, then ended the assault with another Moonsault, this time holding a chair. Io walked away battered and angry, Shayna left broken. The match was exciting enough, plenty of back and forth fun but it was the post-match change in Io that has me excited.

Adam Cole defeated Johnny Gargano via Last Shot to become the new NXT Champion

A superkick from Cole to Gargano's head

Now to end the show with one of the most anticipated rematches in NXT history, Cole vs Gargano II. This was a war. Both men know each other inside and out, so they had to innovate and confuse to make sure they could get one up on each other. Both men took to targeting limbs too as Cole went for the knee of Gargano and Gargano went for the arm of Cole. From there we had a mix of technicality, submission wrestling, power moves and striking contests to flesh out a back and forth battle of brains, cunning and pure heart. We got new moves from both men and some trickery from Cole as he pretended to signal out the rest of the Era. There were some shenanigans with a chair and a ref bump but this never played too far into it and Cole cemented his win with a combination of the Panama Sunrise and the Last Shot. It was a joy to watch and I am exceptionally happy to see Cole get the title as he so rightly deserves. He won it on his own and by using his own smarts and deceit. We are in for a new Undisputed Era of NXT TV as the title is on one of the most outspoken people on the brand. This was definitely the best match on the card and one hell of a main event. Also just as an aside, I will never get over the irony of Drake Younger telling people they can’t take weapons in the ring.

chair assissted superkick

So, there you have it, NXT TakeOver XXV, done and dusted. A surprising show that just popped up with a very little warning. It didn’t foreshadow a WWE PPV like it normally would and stood strong as a standalone product. Not to mention there was the announcement of NXT UK TakeOver Cardiff though its date, August 31st is in a pretty difficult slot clashing with All Out and NJPW’s Royal Quest. I have no doubt the show will be amazing but what a date to contend with… (Triple H said later the date was chosen before WrestleMania 35).

They also had a video package teasing Damian Preist or, as many will know him, ROH’s Punishment Martinez. Anyway, back to the epilogue, this was a strong show that stayed strong from start to finish despite the Kyle O’Reilly murder and slightly sloppy ladder match. I’d definitely say give it a watch as there is a lot of fun to be had. Welcome to the Adam Cole Era, Bay Bay.

(All images courtesy of wwe.com)

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