In terms of landscape-shaping nights, it doesn’t get much bigger than what’s to come at NXT TakeOver: In Your House, with four of the six matches on the card capable of being no-brainer main events.
Adam Cole defends his NXT championship against Velveteen Dream in a Backlot Brawl, representing Dream’s last shot at Cole’s title. Charlotte Flair defends her NXT championship against both Rhea Ripley and Io Shirai. Former North American champion Johnny Gargano takes on current champ Keith Lee. Tommaso Ciampa faces the recently debuted Karrion Kross.
There’s also a six-woman tag-team match pitting Mia Yim, Shotzi Blackheart and Tegan Nox against Candice LeRae, Dakota Kai and Raquel Gonzalez. Also, Finn Balor takes on Damian Priest.
Sean Coyle is breaking down the action as it happens, with a rating that breaks down each match on a personalized 0-to-5 scale.
(c) – Indicates defending champion
Backlot brawl for the NXT championship: Adam Cole (c) vs. Velveteen Dream
Match in progress…
NXT North American championship: Keith Lee (c) def. Johnny Gargano
Johnny Gargano’s heel run alongside his wife Candice LeRae has been incredibly entertaining, and after setting the bar for what he can do as a bad guy against Tommaso Ciampa, Gargano turned his attention to Keith Lee and a second North American championship reign.
The result was a tremendously entertaining clash of styles, and despite Lee’s successful retention of the title, it seems like their story is far from over.
Lee illustrated his immense power advantage early and often in tossing Gargano around, but Gargano squirmed out of predicaments time and again — resorting to gouging eyes and targeting Lee’s fingers on multiple occasions, building upon previous damage he’d inflicted.
Gargano picked his spots. Any time he had a chance to inflict some sort of damage on the big man, he did. He hit an enziguri, stepped on Lee’s hand, and continually connected with strikes to Lee’s injured eye. Gargano maintained that advantage throughout a good portion of the middle stages of the match.
Lee’s comeback was right around the corner and it began with a modified neckbreaker in which he slammed Gargano’s neck onto his knee. Even more impressively, after Gargano reversed a spirit bomb attempt into an arm bar, Lee managed to lift him with one arm, slam him to the mat and nail Gargano with a monster clothesline.
Gargano’s psychology game was on point, though, and seemingly every time Lee attempted a power move, Gargano ripped and tore at the injured hand of Lee. Gargano’s reversals were excellent in the match, highlighted by his reversing of Lee’s Big Bang Catastrophe power slam into a small package for a very close near fall. Shortly after that, Gargano turned a suicide dive to the outside of the ring into a tornado DDT on the champ.
However, after Lee recovered, he body checked Gargano through the plexiglass that surrounded the ring in what was one the best spots of the match. As Lee carried Gargano towards the ring, Gargano’s wife Candice LeRae stepped in and attempted to stop him — but Lee’s significant other Mia Yim was right behind her and chased LeRae off. The distraction allowed Gargano to gouge Lee’s eye with a key and connect with his slingshot DDT, but neither that, nor the ensuing superkicks, were enough to put Lee away.
The resilient Lee responded with a spirit bomb, followed by another power bomb and then his Big Bang Catastrophe power slam for the win.
What’s next? While a clean win would appear to give both Lee and Gargano a chance to head in separate directions, there’s almost certainly at least a mixed tag match including LeRae and Yim to come.
Finn Balor def. Damian Priest
After being revealed as Finn Balor’s sneak attacker, Damian Priest entered Sunday’s TakeOver looking for the biggest win of his NXT career. Although Priest wasn’t able to capture the North American championship in two attempts in the past few months, a win vs. Balor could propel him back into a championship conversation.
Balor wasted no time getting things going, as he charged and connected with a dropkick to Priest right out of the gate. After maintaining that advantage for a minute or two, a reversed Irish whip into the steel ring steps outside of the ring turned the tide, and Priest was suddenly in control.
Priest proceeded to hit a side slam onto the edge of the ring while standing on the ring steps to gain leverage and showed no signs of slowing down, with both an elevated flatliner and a nice-looking, leaping reverse elbow. Balor did enough to stay in the match, despite getting caught with a falcon arrow and connected frequently with strikes, but Priest continued to bring the offense and impressively executed a razor’s edge to Balor onto the edge of the ring and the bottom rope.
Balor continued to battle back, but Priest was the one connecting with the high-impact moves, including a modified top rope choke slam. But Balor simply wouldn’t quit. The turning point of the match saw Balor nail Priest with a forearm that sent Priest tumbling to the outside onto the steel ring steps. As Priest crawled back into the ring, Balor connected with a Coup de Grace on the back of Priest and followed it with a second on Priest’s midsection to pick up the victory.
What’s next? While a win over Balor would have put Priest in a championship conversation, it’s Balor who is in that conversation now.
Mia Yim, Shotzi Blackheart, def. Tegan Nox vs. Candice LeRae, Dakota Kai, and Raquel Gonzalez
This match featured several different rivalries crossing over at once, and there’s no denying the overall level of talent in the match. Mia Yim and Candice LeRae have been at each other’s throats while their significant others, Johnny Gargano and Keith Lee, face off for the NXT North American championship. Shotzi Blackheart and Tegan Nox have butted heads with Dakota Kai and Raquel Gonzalez on recent episodes of NXT TV in recent weeks.
There was no sticking to natural rivalries, although each of those sequences was particularly charged. Gonzalez illustrated her strength advantage early on, getting the better of both Yim and Nox. After a tag, Kai and Nox took center stage to continue their long standing rivalry with some nicely timed sequences.
Frequent tags and drastic swings in momentum were the story of the night, until they took to the skies. After Blackheart was caught out of midair by Gonzalez after attempting a suicide dive, Yim, LeRae and Nox connected with various planchas to the outside of the ring.
Yim and LeRae had a nice exchange in which Yim connected with a beautiful dragon suplex, but their battle got so intense that they tussled with each other all the way backstage, which left us with a standard two-on-two tag team bout.
That opened the door for the Nox and Blackheart to gain leverage, culminating with Nox hitting her patented shiniest wizard knee strike onto heated rival Kai for the pinfall victory.
What’s next? The Yim-LeRae conflict should continue in the coming weeks, but with a definitive win for Nox over Kai, perhaps they’ll finally go their separate ways. There are certainly plenty of options with a deep NXT women’s division.
Still to come
– NXT women’s championship: Charlotte Flair (c) vs. Io Shirai vs. Rhea Ripley
– Tommaso Ciampa vs. Karrion Kross