The Full Series:
We are back with the next installment of this series as we continue counting down the greatest matches in NXT Takeover history.
15. The War Raiders vs. Ricochet and Aleister Black (Takeover: New York)
Coming out of Phoenix and going into New York, it was announced the Dusty Rhodes Classic would happen yet again with the winning team earning a tag title shot against the War Raiders. While it seemed like an established team like the Undisputed Era would win or perhaps another team like the Street Prophets or the Forgotten Sons would get the nod, instead the put together team of Black and Ricochet would win the tournament and the title shot. The two men had just started appearing on the main roster as a team and were set to challenge for the Smackdown Tag Titles in the Fatal 4-Way, but before then they would have one final match with NXT and have a chance to win two sets of tag titles in one weekend. This was the perfect match to kick off the show as the crowd would be red hot for both teams, and the teams showed each other great respect as they tried to one up each other. Eventually, both teams would unload their full arsenals on each other in trying to get the win, and after 21 minutes of intense action the Raiders would end up getting the clean win and retained the titles. This was a fantastic match as both teams went all out and put on a phenomenal match, and this was a great way to kick off what would end up being overall one of the greatest Takeovers in history. What happened after the match was just as memorable as the Raiders showed their respects to Ricochet and Black, and then Ricochet and Black got a great sendoff from the NXT fans as they prepared to be on the main roster full time. While I have a bit more sentiment to the UE/Raiders match from Phoenix since I was live for that, this was clearly the better match and it deserves to be in the top 15 of this list.
14. Tommaso Ciampa vs. Johnny Gargano (Takeover: Brooklyn IV)
Now we are getting into the part of the list where ranking these matches is getting extremely hard as this is a match I’m sure most would have higher than where I have it. The feud between Gargano and Ciampa was one of the best in NXT history as they had two tremendous matches prior to this, and then Gargano’s rage would lead to Ciampa defeating Aleister Black to become the new NXT Champion. It was announced that Ciampa would face Black and Gargano in a Triple Threat at this show, but Black would be found laid out in the parking lot of Full Sail which was used to cover a groin injury he had suffered. As a result, we would have our third straight singles match between Gargano and Ciampa, but this time it would be for the title and it would be a Last Man Standing match. Knowing how violent their last two matches were, you knew that this one would be no different especially since one of them would have to stay down for a 10 count. Needless to say, the two men deliver another vicious brawl as they try to once again outdo what they did in the previous two matches though honestly this was probably the worst of the three though that’s not saying it was bad because it was a great match. Both men did whatever they could to try and keep the other down for the 10 count, and you could see Gargano’s frustration building when Ciampa continued to beat the count. Gargano would then handcuff Ciampa to a part of the stage and could’ve been content since Ciampa would have a hard time standing up, but he let his anger get the better of him again and ended up costing himself the match. While it would’ve been a good win for Gargano, it was fine to have Ciampa win since he just won the title and you wanted to build towards Gargano finally taking out Ciampa and winning the title. Again, it might seem that this match is way too low on the list, but this is getting difficult at this point and we are really entering elite territory with the rest of these matches coming up on the list.
13. The Revival vs. #DIY (Takeover: Brooklyn II)
It was pretty clear that the Revival were the tag team of the year for 2016 as they were putting on great matches and solidifying their status as one of the best teams in recent history. After their great feud with American Alpha early in the year, they would begin a new feud this time with the newly formed team of Johnny Gargano and Tommaso Ciampa. After facing each other in the Cruiserweight Classic that year, Gargano and Ciampa began teaming up and gained plenty of steam as they looked to earn themselves a title shot. They would even earn a non-title win over the Revival and were granted a title shot here, and it was here where Gargano would officially dub their team #DIY since they had done it themselves to get to this point. While the matches between the Revival and American Alpha were really good, this match was fantastic as both teams went all out for the 19 minutes they got and put on a tremendous match. You could tell that #DIY were the perfect foils for the Revival as they played great faces-in-peril and the Revival used their precision offense to pick #DIY apart. The crowd was red hot for the match and they were solidly behind #DIY as they were hoping to see them get the win and become the new champions. The ending sequence was really hot as #DIY pulled out all the stops to get the win, but the experience of the Revival just proved too much as they forced Gargano to tap out and they retained the titles. It was the right decision especially since the Revival had just traded the titles with American Alpha a few months ago, and you could build towards a rematch between the Revival and #DIY which we might get into later in the list. As for this match, it was a great match and both teams showed why they were the best at the time, and the match deserves its spot at this point in the list.
12. The Undisputed Era vs. Mustache Mountain (Takeover: Brooklyn IV)
While 2016 was clearly the year of the Revival, 2018 was the year of the Undisputed Era as they had dominated the tag division which I had mentioned before earlier in the list. Meanwhile, the team of Trent Seven and Tyler Bate, affectionately known as Mustache Mountain, were slowly gaining steam as a team and they even upset the UE in the UK on June 26th to become the new champions. Unfortunately, their reign would only last two weeks when the UE would regain the titles on NXT TV, and now the two teams would face off here in the rubber match in Brooklyn for the titles. This was another big showcase here for Mustache Mountain similar to the position that Lorcen and Burch were in a few months ago, but unlike Lorcen and Burch, Mustache Mountain had gotten a brief reign as champions and looked to become champions once again. As was becoming the norm for Takeover, the tag title match would open the show and once again it did not disappoint as these two teams would put on an excellent match. As I had mentioned earlier, I thought that O’Reilly and Strong had better chemistry as a team while Seven and Bate had a great veteran/youngster team dynamic. They did a great job in building off their previous matches and they went all out for the 18 minutes that they got, and there were several times during the match that you thought Mustache Mountain would come away with the titles. In the end though, the UE would end up walking away with the win and keeping the titles, but their celebration was short-lived as they were attacked by the War Raiders after the match which would set up the next big feud for the UE. Considering that there aren’t many more tag matches coming up on this list, the fact that this match is this high on the list is a testament to how great it is and it deserves its spot here on the list.
11. Johnny Gargano vs. Tommaso Ciampa (Takeover: Chicago II)
So coming out of Takeover: New Orleans where Gargano had gotten a measure of revenge against Ciampa and gotten his job back, he was ready to move on and step up to become a challenger to Aleister Black and the NXT Title. However, Ciampa refused to let the issue slide as he attacked Gargano before the scheduled match, and then the two would have a confrontation which led to Gargano accidentally knocking down his wife Candice LeRae. Because of this, Gargano would demand to face Ciampa one more time and this time it would be a Chicago Street Fight, which was very fitting since this show would be in Chicago and was where Ciampa first turned on Gargano. It was clear the dynamic was going to be much different between this match and the previous one as the New Orleans was more about Gargano doing what he could to save his career, and now this match was more about both men beating the crap out of each other with anything they could get their hands on. One of the cool touches was before the match when Gargano was heading to the ring and LeRae handed him a crutch to use, and she simply told him to kick Ciampa’s ass which gave Gargano plenty of motivation. As expected, these two men would indeed go all out and beat the crap out of each other, and they put on an even more violent match than they did back in New Orleans. One of the best moments of the match was when Ciampa took the mat off the ring exposing the boards, and you wondered how they would utilize that though they were smart to wait. Obviously, the moment of the match was when Ciampa took Gargano’s wedding ring off, spit on it and threw it away only for Gargano to put him through several tables in a callback to what Ciampa did to him a year ago. It was an amazing moment and one where Gargano could’ve let it go, but he went over the edge when he saw his ring gone and he was intent on destroying Ciampa though it would lead to his downfall as Cimapa DDT’d him on the boards to get the win. While it did lack a bit of the raw emotion from New Orleans though again the dynamic was clearly different, this was still a fantastic fight and one of the best of the year. This is another one where many might question me not having it in the top 10, but it was close to getting there and putting it at #11 I thought was a perfect spot for it.
That concludes part four of this series and we will be back tomorrow for part five as we kick off the top 10.