The Full Series:
We continue on with the top 25 matches in NXT Takeover history as we kick off the Top 20.
20. Bayley vs. Sasha Banks (Takeover: Respect)
Two months prior in Brooklyn, Bayley and Sasha Banks put on a performance that many consider to be one of the greatest matches in not only NXT history, but in WWE history. Now back at Full Sail University, the two ladies were going to go at it one more time though this time, they would make more history by competing in an Ironman match. In addition, they would be the main event of the show which was the first time that a woman’s match would main event a supershow in WWE history. Both women were determined to put on another instant classic and while this match may not have been on the same level as the Brooklyn match, it was still a fantastic match. Both women would beat the crap out of each other and they were smart to keep Sasha ahead of Bayley for most of the match, and a great spot was Sasha taking the headband from Bayley’s superfan Izzy and wearing it in a mocking fashion. The crowd dynamic was different as well as the Full Sail crowd was hot for the match, but obviously being smaller than the Brooklyn crowd there was a different vibe as well. But much like she did in Brooklyn, Bayley refused to stay down for long and managed to steal the lead from Sasha in the last few seconds of the match to win and retain the title. This was a tremendous match as both women put on a great effort and even called back to some of the spots in Brooklyn, and again while the match was not quite up to the level of the Brooklyn match it was still a fantastic match and deserves a spot in the top 20.
19. The Authors of Pain and Roderick Strong vs. Sanity vs. the Undisputed Era (Takeover: WarGames)
As I had mentioned in the Excellent Adventure regarding WrestleWar 1992, while WCW had many kooky and crazy gimmicks over the years there is no denying that their greatest creation ever was WarGames. While the WarGames match was watered down severely in the later years of the 1990s, it was still revered enough by fans that they were constantly hoping that WWE would someday revive the gimmick. Finally after nearly 20 years since the last WarGames took place in WCW, it was announced that NXT would bring the gimmick back for their show on Survivor Series weekend. The first WarGames match in WWE history would feature three teams similar to the one that took place at Fall Brawl 1998, and the three teams would be the Undisputed Era, Sanity, and the makeshift team of the Authors of Pain and Roderick Strong who had turned down an offer to join the UE. The structure was slightly altered from the WCW version as there was no roof on the cage and an added stipulation was that if anyone left the cage, they would forfeit the match for their team. What followed was a tremendous brawl as all nine men gave their all in the match which included various weapons that Sanity introduced into the match when they entered. The match would go almost 37 minutes and all nine men would use the cage and the weapons to destroy each other, and in the end the UE would end up standing tall at the end and ending 2017 on a strong note for them while also building momentum going into 2018. It was a fun re-introduction to the gimmick and it was smart to give it to NXT since it gave them their own gimmick match going forward.
18. Pete Dunne vs. WALTER (Takeover: New York)
May 20th, 2017 was the date that Pete Dunne’s reign as WWE United Kingdom Champion began when he defeated Tyler Bate in Chicago, and for 685 days Dunne would keep a hold of the title including a successful defense at Takeover: Blackpool which was NXT UK’s first big show. That show would also feature the debut of WALTER, who was the newest signing to the brand and was clearly going to be positioned as one of the top stars. Dunne wasted no time and demanded to face WALTER in a match while putting his title on the line, and WALTER quickly accepted as he vowed to end Dunne’s historic reign. Now the match between Dunne and Bate was a technical masterpiece which I might go into further detail later in the list, but this match was just a complete stiff fest as both men beat the crap out of each other for the almost 26 minutes that they got. WALTER would use his power and his lethal chops to knock Dunne down repeatedly, but Dunne continued to fight back as he did everything he could to cut WALTER down and keep his reign going. The crowd was red hot for the match and showed great respect to both men and the brand as well, and at any point you could see either man escape with the win. In the end, WALTER’s power proved to be too much and he showcased some high-flying skills which was uncharacteristic for him, and he would win the title and end Dunne’s legendary reign. Despite losing the title, Dunne looked strong even in defeat as he took everything WALTER gave him and gave it right back, but it was time for his reign to end as WALTER was going to be the new top dog on the NXT UK brand. This was a tremendous match and both men gave everything they had, and it was deserving to be included on this list and in the top 20.
17. Ricochet vs. Johnny Gargano (Takeover: Phoenix)
As 2019 started, there was an air of uncertainty surrounding Johnny Gargano as his issues with Tommaso Ciampa were clearly clouding his judgment, and it was clear that Ciampa was pulling the strings by egging Gargano on. He even went as far as to convince Gargano to challenge for the North American Title held by Ricochet, and Ricochet wanted to know which Gargano he would be facing in Phoenix and Gargano responded with a superkick. Needless to say, this match was very highly anticipated among some of the other big matches that weekend, and being live in attendance for it was even more exciting for me and made me look forward to it even more. Suffice to say, this was a fantastic match as both men went all out for the 23 and a half minutes that it got and they put on possibly the best match of the weekend. This was a great showcase for both men as Ricochet showed off his flying skills and Gargano returned the favor with some nasty moves, and I can say safely that I was on the edge of my seat the whole time watching the match live. The inner conflict within Gargano was also a good story as he played it straight for most of the match, but then got dirty in the end when he pulled the padding off the floor and slammed Ricochet onto it similar to what he did to Ciampa in their matches. I will say that I was a bit shocked by the ending as I had expected Ricochet to retain and Gargano’s frustrations to continue, but instead they had Gargano win the title which was a cool moment though it was clear that it was setting up something for our next show. Nonetheless, it was a great win for Gargano and his first one since New Orleans last year, and the match was tremendous and definitely belongs on this list.
16. The Authors of Pain vs. #DIY (Takeover: Chicago)
As we entered the spring of 2017, the tag division was being dominated by the Authors of Pain who had defeated #DIY back in January at San Antonio, and then they solidified their dominance when they won the triple threat in Orlando. As we head into Chicago, #DIY would finally get their straight up rematch against the Authors and the match would be made a ladder match which would possibly give them an advantage. You knew that giving these two teams ladders to work with would lead to a fun spotfest, and sure enough that’s what we got as both teams destroyed each other as they were given the main event spot of the show. The Authors would use their power to dominate #DIY and used the ladders to their full effectiveness, and #DIY would use the ladders to try and take out the Authors which included duel dives from #DIY onto the Authors as they were laid out on ladders. The Authors would continue to power their way through the match and a key moment was Gargano saving Ciampa who had injured his leg yet continued on and taking a ladder shot instead, and #DIY would finally get the edge and seemingly had the match in hand only for the Authors to wipe them out and leave with the titles. It was a tremendous match and both teams gave their all, but amazingly the main moment to come out of this was not so much the match but the ending when Ciampa attacked Gargano after the match. This would end up leading to the end of #DIY and the beginning of arguably one of the greatest feuds in NXT history, but again let’s not discount how amazing the match was and it deserves its ranking on the list.
That concludes part 3 of the series and tomorrow will bring part 4 as we head into the top 15.