17th Feb2020

‘NXT Takeover: Portland 2020′ PPV Review

by Nathan Favel

Welcome to this review of NXT Takeover: Portland 2020, right here on Nerdly. I’m Nathan Favel and we’ve got a bunch of big matches here, so let’s get right to ‘em.

NXT-TakeOver-Portland-2020

Match #1: Keith Lee def. Dominik Dijakovic – NXT North American Championship Match

The following is courtesy of wwe.com:

Chalk up yet another instant classic for Keith Lee and Dominik Dijakovic — but give the advantage to The Limitless One. Lee is still the NXT North American champion after besting Dijakovic Sunday at NXT TakeOver: Portland in the latest chapter of their storied series. And much like the previous encounters, this one again brought sights we couldn’t believe. With one win apiece and two draws between them in past meetings, neither competitor was able to surprise the other. For two rivals who have always been ultra-competitive but full of mutual respect, things got nasty early with Dijakovic yelling in Lee’s face while pummeling him, but that only rallied the Portland NXT faithful behind Lee. A second-rope Death Valley Driver by Dijakovic seemed to shake the entire arena, but wasn’t enough to keep Lee down. Not deterred, The Rare Breed again demonstrated gravity-defying athleticism, unleashing a springboard senton from the ring to a seated Lee on the outside, causing the Moda Center to come unglued. With Dijakovic’s top-rope Spanish Fly not enough to finish off Lee, The Rare Breed tried to close things out for good by setting up The Limitless One for Feast Your Eyes — but he was unable to hoist him above his shoulders and Lee capitalized by hitting the Big Bang Catastrophe for the win. With a “Maberry Strong” shirt in tow for his entrance, Lee’s performance was a worthy tribute to his high school football coach Daniel Maberry, who died earlier this month after a battle with Lymphoma. The Limitless One shared a moment of sportsmanship with his foe afterward, pulling Dijakovic to his feet for an emotional embrace after the two once again tore down the house.

My Opinion: 4.1 out of 5 – This was really damn good. I wouldn’t wanna piss these guys off in a dark alley. Lee continued his unofficial run towards the NXT Title here by going blow for blow with the guy who is large enough to wear me as a pair of boots. If Oprah had Lee on her show for an interview, he’d probably eat her and the damn submarine. There’s just so much action in here to not get excited about. Now this is how you open a show.

Match #2: Dakota Kai def. Tegan Nox – Street Fight Match

The following is courtesy of wwe.com:

A brawl three months in the making brought all the emotion, intensity and barbarism you’d expect. But it was someone no one expected — Raquel Gonzalez — playing a decisive role in Dakota Kai’s brutal victory over Tegan Nox in the first-ever Street Fight in the history of NXT’s Women’s Division. Nox, who looked to avenge her betrayal at the hands of her former best friend, was once again caught off-guard by the nefarious Kai. The Captain of Team Kick refused to let Nox even finish her entrance, ambushing her from behind in an act that was, quite frankly, completely consistent with everything we’ve seen in recent months after Kai’s change of heart. The bitter enemies wasted little time taking advantage of the stipulation, almost immediately destroying a section of the ringside barricade and introducing foreign objects, including a trash can, innumerable chairs and even a cricket bat that shattered across the ring post on an errant swing by Kai. With both women understanding the pain that comes with a devastating knee injury, it was Nox who escalated the violence to new heights. First repeatedly bashing Kai’s surgically repaired right knee with a steel chair, then stomping on it as it sandwiched that same knee moments later, Nox left Kai with little to do but cry out in helpless anguish. Even though she likely could have claimed a pinfall after hitting The Shiniest Wizard, Nox wasn’t yet satisfied. The hunger for retribution consumed her, and she sought to quench it by wrapping a chair around Kai’s neck before setting her across the table. With Nox on the top rope perhaps looking to finish off not only the match, but maybe Kai’s career, Gonzalez intervened and instead was the one who sent Nox crashing through the table. The Captain of Team Kick had just enough left to slither atop Nox for the 3-count. Three months ago we were asking, “Why, Dakota? Why?” And now we ask the same question of Gonzalez. Not even Kai appeared to have answers for the vexing question, looking as confused as anyone in attendance as Gonzalez helped her to her feet afterward.

My Opinion: 3.8 out of 5 – This was a really good brawl that had a lot of satisfying fighting, but a lame finish that let all the air out of the room. These two ladies worked hard to sell the feud and, apart from the lousy interference finish, they were able to deliver a grudge match of the most grueling order.

Match #3: Finn Bálor def. Johnny Gargano

The following is courtesy of wwe.com:

First Finn Bálor cost Johnny Gargano his streak of TakeOver appearances. Then he spoiled Johnny TakeOver’s return to the black-and-gold brand’s biggest stage. The Prince earned the most impressive win yet in the second act of his NXT career, conquering Gargano in a seesaw battle at NXT TakeOver: Portland. As two of the most prominent flag bearers in the brand’s history, Bálor and Gargano both entered intimately familiar with what it takes to steal the show at a TakeOver — and it was Gargano’s first since being put out of action for weeks by Bálor’s 1916 DDT on the steel ramp back in October. Appropriately so, the bout’s opening minutes featured a series of one-upsmanship with neither man lacking in self-assuredness. Bálor was as arrogant as we’ve seen him, performing push-ups while applying a head scissors to his opponent. Much of the encounter was a battle to control the bout’s pace. The Prince, opting for a more methodical tempo, largely neutralized Gargano’s right leg with a vicious dragon screw leg whip. From there, Bálor proceeded to expertly dissect the weakened limb with an encyclopedia of strikes and holds, convincingly reminding everyone of his technical wizardry. But Gargano also scored a fateful blow on Bálor’s right arm, quickly turning the match into a battle of attrition. With both men’s stamina severely depleted, the match digressed, with the lone remaining question being who could dig deeper into their reserves. It was Bálor. Withstanding extended time locked in the Gargano Escape on multiple occasions, NXT’s Prince capitalized when Gargano seemed to lose focus. Clearing the announce table for a high-impact maneuver he hoped would be a decisive blow, it was Gargano who had the table turned against him — literally. Bálor dropped Gargano abdomen-first across a monitor on the table, then darted from the adjacent table to completely floor his foe with a John Woo dropkick. Rolling Johnny Wrestling back into the ring and delivering perhaps the hardest-hitting Coup de Grace ever delivered, Bálor at last had Gargano exactly where he wanted him. He unleashed a hellacious 1916 DDT, finally connecting with the maneuver that had failed to hit on so many occasions earlier in the match. Finn Bálor was already a world-class talent before his return to NXT. But this latest incarnation — The Prince? He may be even better.

My Opinion: 4.3 out of 5 – This was a very strong match that was a banner moment for the brand. This is one of those matches that you can point to for NXT as being why this brand should exist. I bet this stands the test of time.

Match #4: Rhea Ripley def. Bianca Belair – NXT Women’s Championship Match

The following is courtesy of wwe.com:

Rhea Ripley may have conquered her latest challenge, but her next obstacle might be the biggest of her career. Moments after retaining her NXT Women’s Championship with a hard-earned win against Bianca Belair, Ripley was blindsided by an attack from Charlotte Flair — and The Queen finally had an answer for The Nightmare’s challenge, declaring that she would see her at WrestleMania. Prior to that sequence, Ripley went through a battle that was as hard-hitting as it was fast paced. With two women who are strangers to encountering adversaries capable of matching their strength, it was Belair trying to use her edge in athleticism in order to taste gold for the first time in her career. While the EST wasn’t able to succeed in that endeavor, it wasn’t for lack of trying. Belair gave Portland a flashbulb-worthy moment with a scintillating senton over the top rope to the outside. Setting Ripley up for a possible superplex in the match’s closing moments, Belair initially blocked The Nightmare’s attempt at a sunset flip powerbomb counter. But it was Ripley ultimately outmaneuvering The EST, countering with a pump handle into The Riptide to make the victory academic. Ripley’s moment of triumph was cut short with the arrival of The Queen, who blasted her from behind before grabbing a microphone to officially accept Ripley’s WrestleMania challenge. But she wasn’t done. Charlotte delivered a Natural Selection and then locked eyes on the NXT Women’s Title — the first championship she ever claimed in WWE — and held it high above her head, perhaps giving us a sneak peek of what we’ll see on The Grandest Stage of Them All.

My Opinion: 3.4 out of 5 – This was a fun match that never quite got out of first gear and didn’t feel like a Pay Per View match. The wrestling was good, but it was never more than just good. There’s nothing bad in here, but there’s nothing worth remembering either.

Match #5: The BroserWeights def. The Undisputed ERA – NXT Tag Team Championship Match

The following is courtesy of wwe.com:

In less than two months’ time, Matt Riddle & Pete Dunne formed an unlikely team, forged an even unlikelier bond and capped it all off by accomplishing the unlikeliest feat of all. The BroserWeights are the new NXT Tag Team Champions after toppling division stalwarts The Undisputed ERA, lengthening their list of accolades after an already improbable Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic victory. Once again arriving in style in the BroserMobile with the Dusty Cup in tow, Riddle & Dunne egged their enemies on from the entrance, with The Original Bro again asking, “How much fish could Bobby Fish fry if Bobby Fish could fry fish?” Fed up with the hijinks, Fish & Kyle O’Reilly met them to begin the fisticuffs prior to the bell even sounding, beginning things at a breakneck pace before the referee gained enough control to officially start the match. Riddle’s engine was infallible, adding an element of controlled chaos to the bout with his signature high-octane offense as soon as he entered. But it was Dunne’s grit that gave The BroserWeights second life when seemingly all was lost, as he somehow found a way to kick out after Fish & O’Reilly hit Chasing The Dragon. From there, Riddle & Dunne delivered double-team maneuvers to both opponents so scripted that one could be convinced they had been teaming for years. With The Original Bro launching Fish into a leaping kick from Dunne, all that was left was the three-count and an emotional celebration for the unlikeliest of bros.

My Opinion: 4.1 out of 5 – This was another great match for this show. Tag team wrestling was the name of the game and they played that game to perfection. I’m glad that the new team got the straps. There’s something to this Edge & Christian knock-off that has legs to it. There was a lot going on here, so don’t feel bad if you missed something. The gist is that this was a marathon of hard-hitting action at the highest level. Damn good.

Match #6: (Main Event) Adam Cole def. Tommaso Ciampa – NXT Championship Match

The following is courtesy of wwe.com:

The NXT Title is Tommaso Ciampa’s lifeblood, but thanks to Johnny Gargano, he’s still without it. Ciampa and NXT Champion Adam Cole treated Portland to a battle of wills that seemingly would not end until Gargano intervened to deal The Blackheart the decisive blow with that very same title, allowing Cole to retain in a stunning sequence of events. Before Gargano’s shocking interference, the bout was everything you’d expect from two men whose lives have come to depend on holding the black-and-gold brand’s top prize. While Ciampa showed off the more scientific side of his game early on with a slew of holds, an act of disrespect by Cole ended that deliberate approach in a hurry. The Blackheart responded by launching Cole into the ring steps, steel post and announce desk before obliterating him with a ruthless knee strike — allowing him to reclaim his own trademark applause. Ciampa took a moment to admire Goldie at ringside, never losing sight of what he had come to Portland to do. But a resourceful wheelbarrow suplex by Cole that sent Ciampa’s surgically repaired neck into the side of the announce table upended things. The maneuver not only swung the momentum of the match in Cole’s favor, but also gave Cole the requisite time to gather himself and settle into the unrattled approach we’re used to seeing out of the Panama City Playboy, who began to systematically target Ciampa’s neck, hitting enziguris, Ushigoroshis and backstabbers to put The Blackheart in dire straits. Ciampa didn’t just refuse to relent — he completely emptied his quiver. Cole kicked out of Project Ciampa and withstood two power bombs onto the announce desk, the second of which sent him crashing through the table into a pile of rubble. The Blackheart also hit a jumping air raid crash from the second rope — shades of how he claimed victory for his team over Cole and The Undisputed ERA back at TakeOver: WarGames — as well as another onto the apron after a failed Panama Sunrise. Meanwhile, Cole found the mark with The Last Shot, but Ciampa astutely rolled to the ropes to avoid being pinned. As they have in so many of Cole’s matches before, The Undisputed ERA made their presence felt. Roderick Strong was the first to arrive and distract the referee, allowing Bobby Fish & Kyle O’Reilly to take Ciampa out with a high-low attack, but that wasn’t enough for Cole to get a 3-count. Even three consecutive superkicks and a last shot weren’t enough to put Ciampa away, leaving Cole in utter disbelief. The referee was incapacitated moments later when Cole shoved Ciampa into him, rendering the scene completely lawless. Cole immediately exploited the situation with a low blow, only to have Ciampa respond in kind with one of his own on a Panama Sunrise attempt. Hitting The Fairytale Ending seemingly put the champion away — but no referee was available to count the pin. Suddenly, Ciampa had a supporter at ringside with the arrival of Gargano. Initially cheering him on as Ciampa crawled toward the NXT Title that had been placed in the ring earlier by O’Reilly, Johnny Wrestling became Johnny Turncoat, plucking the title from his former partner’s grasp before clocking him across the face with it. Cole took advantage and laid across Ciampa for the pin. And with that, Ciampa’s nearly year-long odyssey back to the championship he never lost was incomplete, all thanks to the former best friend he had already gone through hell and back with. Almost three years after The Blackheart betrayed Gargano and tried to take away his tag team partner’s livelihood, Gargano showed that some things are never truly forgotten.

My Opinion: 3.7 out of 5 – This was very long match that disappointed, despite the score, because it had no psychology. Moves of the most violent sort were implemented as a means to an end and nothing more. The whole match was like a facsimile of what the promoters think a PPV match should look like, rather than just delivering a PPV main event. As a spectacle, this was quite good, but as a thrilling fight to the death (so to speak), this failed.

News Of The Night:

  1. Raquel Gonzalez turned heel on Tegan Nox.
  2. Johnny Gargano turned heel on Tommaso Ciampa.

Final Verdict: 4/5

This was a great show that was a bit off, despite the quality wrestling. The heel turns were lame and the lack of selling in so many places was awful. That being said, there was a lot of great action and, whether it was the best or not, it still was good when it needed to be.

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