Monday, February 24, 2020

WWE: NXT Takeover: Portland Review - February 16th, 2020

NXT Takeover: Portland
February 16th, 2020

Commentators - Mauro Ranallo, Beth Pheonix, & Nigel McGuinness

POPPY performs two songs from her latest album to kick off the show. It ruled bc she rules and I've missed good live music performances on WWE programming.

1) Keith Lee (c) vs. Dominik Dijakovic - North American Title Match

Lee's first defense against his greatest rival in/out of the WWE. They've had one prior singles meeting in NXT and their match in PWG's BOLA tournament in 2017 is what put them both on the map, so to have this here is pretty special. They know it and the crowd knows it. Great staredown to start before they go nuts on each other. Starts off a little slow/rocky, but builds into everything you love about both guys. Some new, insane spots like Dijakovic front flipping off the top rope to the floor onto a seated Keith Lee. Great facial expressions to match all the crazy shit and the crowd bit on all of it. Awesome opener and first defense for Lee and a fantastic nother chapter written in their rivalry.

Match rating - ****1/4

2) Tegan Nox vs. Dakota Kai - Street Fight

This is a deep seeded personal rivalry that dates back to last year's War Games and the first ever women's street fight in NXT. Didn't have a lot of expectations for this however it turned out to be pretty fuckin great. Only negative was one slip up on a canadian destroyer spot and the interference near the end could be seen as such, but I thought it gave a strong, what the fuck finish and the spot was YIKES. But yeah. This whole thing had me entertained from bell to bell and not just that - had me into what they were doing and even pulled me to the edge of my seat a couple of times. They somehow followed Lee/Dijakovic's banger and didn't look out of place or a tier below AT ALL. Great stuff from both women, interested to see where this goes in regards to the finish.

Match rating - ****

3) Finn Balor vs. Johnny Gargano

This is the best Finn Balor match since the Brock title match at Royal Rumble over a year ago and that was Finn's best match in another one or two years. Finn had an aggression and look in his eye here that I haven't seen in a very long time. He seemed super motivated and controlled this match AND it got time, so he was able to sink his teeth into it and also not let it become the generic over the top Gargano big match. Balor dissects Gargano, works him over, lots of cut offs and moments to build heat that built up to an awesome finish. I was super impressed with this because I honestly feared for the worst due to the dull formula both these two can fall into -- this was the opposite. Plus, a motivated, aggressive Balor gets the win?? Perfect.

Match rating - ****

4) Rhea Ripley (c) vs. Bianca Belair - NXT Women's Championship 

We needed a cool down after three straight bangers and while this was that in a way, it definitely was still high energy and very back & forth. It felt like a solid NXT TV main event more than a NXT PPV Title Match but I can't really complain with what we got here. Just super fun, competitive title match that gave Ripley a little more solidification in her reign and Belair look like a valid threat. Ripley retains and Charlotte attacks her after the match and wants her at WrestleMania. CRAZY. Charlotte won the Women's Royal Rumble and will challenge for the NXT title at WrestleMania. 

Match rating - ***1/2

5) Kyle O'Reilly & Bobby Fish (c) vs. Matt Riddle & Pete Dunne - NXT Tag Team Championship Match 

Mother of pearl. These four wrestle a super similar style, a hybrid style that I love. And here they got the perfect platform to just do what they do best and it ruled. They isolate Dunne for the Riddle hot tag and shit breaks down. The crowd was into everything and the drama really came into play when Dunne kicked out of Chasing the Dragon. Riddle & Dunne eventually are able to overcome and dethrone the Undisputed Era. It's complicated bc I don't like the pairing two random people together thing but Riddle & Dunne work and booking them like this really solidifies them and also the importance of the Dusty tag tournament. Awesome match. 

Match rating - ****

Later this week - Keith Lee and Mark Henry will be on WWE Backstage. 

6) Adam Cole (c) vs. Tommaso Ciampa - NXT Championship Match

Aye aye aye... This was... Something. After such an awesome show, they just had to end it with a NXT wannabe, overbooked epic. There was some good stuff here, but with every un-needed false finish and interference, my rating trickled down. The post story with continuing Gargano/Ciampa was another breath out of my lungs as far as my opinion on this match goes. Two guys doing stuff with a decent story behind it but it went way too long and was booked way too much like an epic like EVERY stereotypical big NXT title match in the HBK booked era. Which is what makes it NOT an epic. It's like once Gargano/Almas tore the house down they did it again with Gargano/Ciampa and burned it out. Then did it with Gargano/Cole and it was good then they overkilled that. Now they did the same thing here and are bringing us back around to Gargano/Ciampa again and that's just disappointing. 

Match rating - ***

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