NXT TakeOver: XXV Review

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NXT TakeOver: XXV was this past Saturday at the Webster Arena in Bridgeport, Connecticut. TakeOvers typically serve as an appetizer to a big WWE pay-per-view and more times than not outshine their big brother brand, but WWE’s developmental brand has this weekend all to themselves as WWE sets off to Saudi Arabia for Vince’s big oil, blood money Super ShowDown payday.

NXT TakeOver events almost never disappoint. I was at NXT TakeOver: New York with my daughter and that was one of the better TakeOvers in NXT history from the pre-show all the way until the lights went out. I was excited to see how the follow-up to such a great show would hold up.

Matt Riddle def. Roderick Strong

What a way to kick off the show! I love Matt Riddle. I really like Roderick Strong. I wasn’t sure how this one would end up since both men really could have used a win.

This was a hard-hitting match. Strong is an absolute professional and Riddle is still relatively young in the business, so this was a really nice pairing to see just what Riddle is capable of. Riddle continued to sell his back. There were a couple miscues from Riddle which Strong was quick to bail him out of, but solid showing overall.

Strong hit Riddle with a flurry of offensive moves… jumping knee strike, running forearms, spiked to the mat. It was brilliant! Strong broke out of the Bromission and just when you thought it was over, Riddle caught Strong, hit him with the Bro Derek and scored the pin for the win.

3 3/4 STARS

The Street Profits def. Undisputed Era, The Forgotten Sons, Oney Lorcan and Danny Burch in a Fatal Fourway Ladder Match for the vacant NXT TAG TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP

Not gonna lie, the NXT Tag Team division isn’t what it once used to be. For me, there’s the Undisputed Era and then there’s everyone else. That said, this match was awesome from start to finish. I love The Street Profits but didn’t expect to see them ever see tag team gold. Orcan and Burch felt like a throw-in, but a welcomed one. The insertion of Ryker made sense. I like them building him as a monster heel, but it felt like it was at the expense of an already weak tag division. With the departure of Lars Sullivan, that role hasn’t been filled yet. Looks like Ryker’s the guy.

This match was awesome. The Undisputed Era started cleaning house early and showed why these two are the best in the division. There were some killer spots here. There were some great exchanges here. The finish was terrific as the Forgotten Sons clean house and are ready to climb the ladder. Dawkins comes out of nowhere to spear Blake through the ladder. Ford springboards onto the ladder, knocks off Cutler and pull down the titles for the win.


Velveteen Dream (c) def. Tyler Breeze – NXT NORTH AMERICAN CHAMPIONSHIP

This is a matchup wrestling fans never knew they wanted to see. It just makes sense to see NXT’s original showstopper vs. NXT’s current. WWE fans are used to seeing Breeze as a comedic act, but Breeze was aggressive here. He brought the fight to Dream. The two went at it for close to 17 gorgeous minutes. Dream trying to hit the Unprettier on Breeze. Supermodel kicks galore! Quite a few stellar near falls.

Unfortunately, the finish was the only weak part of the match for me. Breeze hit Dream with the Beauty Shot, but Velveteen rolled out onto the floor. Tyler tried to get him back in the ring, but was unable to. Breeze runs into the ring to break the countout. Dream grabs the belt to hit Breeze with it, countered by Breeze, but he’s distracted by the exchange. Velveteen runs in hits Breeze with the Dream Valley Driver, comes off the top rope with the Purple Rainmaker and pins Tyler Breeze for the win.

3 1/2 STARS

Shayna Baszler (c) def. Io Sharai – NXT WOMEN’S CHAMPIONSHIP

Like the NXT tag division, the women’s division is currently undergoing a bit of realignment, so forgive me for not being too excited for this match. I know the IWC loves Io Sharai, but I have yet to see what the fuss was all about until this match. Io looked great in defeat. She came out swinging as soon as the bell hit. Her moonsault is a thing of beauty when it’s outside of a tag match or a Battle Royal. If you thought Baszler had reached her peak, you’d be wrong. Baszler looked stronger than ever in this match as she continues to refine her style.

I’m not a fan of the whole “Golly Gee! We’re friends!” angle that WWE tends to do with the women wrestlers, but it was nice to see Candice go out there and lay waste to Shafir and Duke when they threatened to interfere. There were some great near falls. I liked how Sharai saved some face in defeat by just barely being conscious enough to tap out to the Kirifuda Clutch.

That’s where my likes ended. I hated the post-match beatdown by Io. It wasn’t necessary and made her look more like a sore loser than someone who had been pushed over the edge. Made her look like a heel. She didn’t get the same reaction from me that I gave to Becky when she beat down Charlotte post-match. We’ll have to wait and see how this evolves and what the fan reaction will be.

3 3/4 STARS

Adam Cole def. Johnny Gargano (c) – NXT CHAMPIONSHIP

I absolutely loved Cole vs. Gargano 1 from NXT TakeOver: New York. These two cannot put on a bad match, but I was slightly disappointed to hear there would be a rematch at NXT TakeOver: XXV. That said… I absolutely loved this match.

This was a definitive win for Cole. No interference from the rest of the Undisputed Era. No real villainous crap. Cole worked over Gargano’s knee. The rumor was Gargano has been dealing with a knee issue, so this was a nice way to feed off of that rumor. These two traded superkicks. They hit each other with the other’s finisher. There was a bit of a miss towards the end of the match, where the two had to redo the spot. It didn’t take away from the match. What took away from the match a bit was all the near falls. This was False Finish City, Bitch! Cole hit the Panama Sunrise and the Last Shot to finally get the pin over Gargano and become your new NXT Champion.


4 1/4 STARS

NXT TakeOver: XXV
  • Matt Riddle def. Roderick Strong
  • Fatal Fourway Ladder Match - NXT TAG TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP
  • Velveteen Dream (c) def. Tyler Breeze - NXT NORTH AMERICAN CHAMPIONSHIP
  • Shayna Baszler (c) def. Io Sharai - NXT WOMEN'S CHAMPIONSHIP
  • Adam Cole def. Johnny Gargano (c) - NXT CHAMPIONSHIP


NXT TakeOver: XXV was a terrific show. The set was a little disappointing, but the wrestling did not disappoint. The ladder match had some brutal spots. There was some hard hitting from start to finish. Was nice to see Tyler Breeze see utilized properly. I hope this opens up opportunities for other underutilized talents to float between brands. The championship match was a lot of fun. The crowd never let up. This format, number of matches and the timing were perfect. After an insulting week of WWE programming, NXT TakeOver: XXV reminded us just what the company is able to achieve with the right people at the wheel.