The Full Series:
It’s time now to reveal the Top 25 matches in NXT Takeover history, and if you missed the first part that featured the introduction to this project and the honorable mentions. Now let us begin unveiling the top 25 matches with the first 5 being released today:
25. The Undisputed Era vs. Oney Lorcan and Danny Burch (Takeover: Chicago II)
2018 was a year where the tag division of NXT was being dominated by the Undisputed Era, originally by Kyle O’Reilly and Bobby Fish until Fish got hurt and Roderick Strong stepped in to be O’Reilly’s partner. At the same time, Oney Lorcan and Danny Burch were young stars looking to break out of the pack on NXT and decided to team up to try and take out the UE. So here at the second edition of Takeover in the Windy City, Lorcan and Burch get their shot at becoming tag champions by facing O’Reilly and Strong. What we would get was 16 minutes of one of the hottest tag matches to that point as both teams went all out and put on a great match to kick off a pretty strong show. This might be an unpopular opinion, but I always believed that O’Reilly had better chemistry with Strong than he did with Fish though that’s not a knock on Fish since they had great chemistry from their days in ROH and the indies. On the flip side, Lorcan and Burch had gelled quickly together as a team and they took O’Reilly and Strong to the limit only for O’Reilly and Strong to get out of Chicago with a solid title defense. The crowd dynamic was also interesting as they were clearly behind O’Reilly and Strong during the match, but they do give Lorcan and Burch a standing ovation out of respect after the match. In the end, the match was worthy of a spot on the list though it only manages to just make the list ahead of some of the honorable mentions.
24. Aleister Black vs. Johnny Gargano (Takeover: WarGames II)
The summer of 2018 saw one of the more interesting angles in NXT history with who took out Aleister Black ahead of Brooklyn IV, and after much speculation and some teasing by Nikki Cross it was revealed that Gargano was the assailant. It was an interesting dynamic as Gargano justified his actions because of his ongoing issues with Tommaso Ciampa, but Black vowed to make him pay for his sins as they were set to face off at WarGames II. On what ended up being a pretty stacked card with two big matches still ahead of it, the two men would put on a really fun match that featured a lot of big spots and stiff shots. Both men would go all out and were given plenty of time to work with as they went just over 18 minutes, and they would go back and forth numerous times as each man tried their best to keep the other down. In the end, Black would finish Gargano off with a stiff Black Mass before officially absolving him of his sins and hitting a second stiff Black Mass to get the win. This was a solid win for Black after losing the NXT Title over the summer and the loss would just continue to add frustration to Gargano going into 2019. Overall, this was a great match and was just enough to make it onto the top 25 list ahead of some other great matches.
23. The Undisputed Era vs. the War Raiders (Takeover: Phoenix)
As 2019 started, the Undisputed Era pretty much had a stranglehold on the tag titles since late 2017, and they had turned back every challenge heading into this show where they faced their toughest task to date. The Raiders stated their claim to the titles when they attacked the UE after their title match at Brooklyn IV, and then the Raiders would defeat the UE in the WarGames match in November. So now as we head into the desert of Phoenix, the Raiders were set to finally end the UE’s run as champions and become the new dominant team of the division. With a packed crowd in the Talking Stick Resort Arena which I was fortunate to be a part of, these two teams would open the show and tear down the house with a fantastic match. The two teams were given 17 minutes and used the most of it as the UE tried everything in their power to escape with the titles, but in the end the power of the Raiders was too much and they would end the UE’s reign as champions. This was one of the best openers of 2019 thus far and obviously being there live helps secure it a spot in the top 25, and I feel that it deserves a spot on this list even if it is this low.
22. The Authors of Pain vs. #DIY vs. the Revival (Takeover: Orlando)
The tag team goodness on this list continues with another tag match that features three of the most memorable teams in the history of NXT. 2016 saw the rise of the Revival as they dominated most of the year as tag champions aside from a brief run by American Alpha, and the second half of the year saw them had a great feud with #DIY which will be highlighted later in the list (spoiler alert). And then you had the Authors of Pain who were going to be the dominant power team and they had momentum winning the Dusty Rhodes Classic in 2016, and at San Antonio two months prior they won the titles from #DIY in dominant fashion. Now, both the Revival and #DIY would get their shot at the titles here in Orlando in a triple threat elimination match, and the question was whether either team could dethrone the Authors. The three teams would go on to have a great 24 minute match that saw the Revival and #DIY do everything they can including forming an unlikely alliance, but the Authors would overcome it and eliminate #DIY first much to the chagrin of the crowd. The Revival would put up a strong fight in what ended up being their final outing in NXT, but they would put the Authors over strong and give the Authors a solid title defense against two top teams. This was a tremendous match where all three teams looked strong with the Authors looking the best since they left as champions, and this was worthy of making the list even though it wasn’t enough to make the top 20.
21. Adrian Neville vs. Sami Zayn vs. Tyson Kidd vs. Tyler Breeze (Takeover: Fatal 4-Way)
2014 was the year of Adrian Neville as he had won the NXT Title at Arrival from Bo Dallas, and he had successfully defended it against Kidd at the very first Takeover. Following that, Kidd would continue to hound Neville while Breeze and Zayn also staked their claim for a title shot, and after Neville defeated each man in singles matches he was given the chance to choose one to face at Fatal 4-Way. But being the fighting champion he was, he chose to face all three men at once to prove that he was the best and so that there was no question as to who was the best. What we ended up getting was one of the best Fatal 4-Way matches in history as all four men went all out and put on a fantastic match. The crowd was completely invested in this match and this was during the time when they were hoping Zayn would finally have his moment, and he came so close to doing so only for Neville to manage to escape with the win and the title. It was a fine ending to give Neville a solid title defense while also continuing the feud with Zayn, which would lead to a match at the next show where Zayn might finally get his moment in the sun. This match was a great match during the early days of Takeover and merited a place on the list even though it didn’t quite make the top 20.
That concludes part two and up next will be part three where we begin to reveal the top 20.