WWE NXT TakeOver: XXV: Results: Winners, Grades, Reaction and Highlights
Championships were up for grabs and vendettas were settled Saturday night at NXT TakeOver: XXV.
The vacant tag team titles were decided in a brutal, breathtaking ladder match, an NXT original set his sights on a North American Championship held by the modern equivalent to his eccentric character, the gatekeeper of the women's division defended her title against the latest challenger to her throne and the two greatest Superstars of this generation of the brand squared off for its top prize.
Who left with their arms raised in victory, what do the wins mean for the Superstars involved and how will it affect NXT going forward?
Find out with this recap of one of the greatest TakeOver extravaganzas of all time.
Matt Riddle vs. Roderick Strong
A vicious assault by Roderick Strong to Matt Riddle not only smoothed over mounting tensions between The Messiah of the Backbreaker and Undisputed Era leader Adam Cole, but it also set in motion the opening match of Saturday's WWE Network event special.
The vengeful Riddle grounded Strong with a series of suplexes and punished him with a flying punch to the face. Strong halted his momentum, though, dropping him with a backbreaker to the ring apron. Like a shark smelling blood in the water, he continued his focused attack.
The master striker and former mixed martial artist fought his way back into the match and unloaded on Strong. He sent him to his back with a nasty kick to the chest. Riddle ducked a discus clothesline, delivered Go To Sleep and scored a near-fall off a wicked German suplex.
Strong rocked The Original Bro with a nasty enzuigiri and delivered a superplex from the top rope.
Riddle responded with a V Trigger, a beautiful powerbomb and another knee strike for a close two-count. He scaled the ropes, came off but crashed back-first on to Strong's knees. The enforcer of Undisputed Era delivered a nasty backbreaker, a powerbomb and the Strong Lock.
Riddle survived, unloaded with a series of knockout elbows and tried for the Bromission. Riddle, though, was in too much pain to properly apply it. Instead, he delivered a reverse neutralizer for the pinfall victory.
Riddle defeated Strong.
What. A. Match.
The opener of TakeOver: XXV was a fantastic bout that channeled the proper intensity and physicality, combined it with some extraordinary near-falls and saw the right Superstar go over as Riddle continued his roll in NXT.
Strong was as good as he has been under the WWE umbrella, while Riddle continued to prove why he is the future face of the entire brand.
A damn fine match, this was representative of the greatness expected at these NXT TakeOver specials and a reminder that every star is out to steal the show from every spot on the card.
Fatal 4-Way Ladder Match for the NXT Tag Team Championships
The Viking Raiders relinquished the NXT Tag Team Championships in May, convinced no team was able to defeat them for them. Saturday night, former titleholders Kyle O'Reilly and Bobby Fish, The Forgotten Sons, The Street Profits and Danny Burch and Oney Lorcan battled in a Fatal 4-Way Ladder match to crown the new champions.
Just when it looked like The Undisputed Era's Fish and O'Reilly were gaining the upper hand early, a tope suicida from Wesley Blake of the Forgotten Sons halted their momentum. Not to be outdone, big man Angelo Dawkins of The Street Profits launched himself off the top rope and wiped out everyone at ringside.
The Street Profits were highlighted, as Montez Ford delivered a big leapfrog into a seated senton on Blake, who was placed on a ladder. A big flapjack from the babyfaces sent Steve Cutler face-first into the same ladder.
Fish and O'Reilly returned to the squared circle, and the former delivered a wheelbarrow German suplex to Ford on to the ladder.
In a cool moment, Cutler delivered a beautiful powerbomb to O'Reilly into the ladder Fish was standing on, downing the favorites to win the match.
With the opposition down, Blake and Cutler scaled the ladder in hopes of retrieving the gold. Dawkins and Lorcan pulled the off and each Superstar took turns holding The Forgotten Sons for their partners to takedown.
Jaxson Ryker, sensing his team was in dire straits, entered the ring and laid waste to anyone around him. He utilized the ladder to demolish his team's opponents and sent Lorcan sailing into a ladder with a nasty back body drop.
Undisputed Era, Street Profits and Lorcan and Burch teamed up to obliterate Ryker and ensure he would not be a factor in the remainder of the match.
The action continued to break down until Fish, O'Reilly, Lorcan and Burch found themselves atop the ladders. The Forgotten Sons, though, cleared them from the ring in breathtaking fashion and set up the ladder for themselves to climb.
A big spear from Dawkins and a springboard on to the ladder from Ford, followed by a hard right hand, earned The Street Profits their first titles.
The Street Profits defeated The Forgotten Sons, The Undisputed Era and Oney Lorcan and Danny Burch to win the NXT Tag Team Championships.
This was a fun match that told a great story.
Throughout, The Forgotten Sons hung around and hung around. When Ryker made his presence felt, it looked like this one might be their chance to build heat for their team, win the titles and become the champions a babyface team like The Street Profits would chase.
Instead, the resilient heroes fended off the challenge of the opposition and delivered the performances of their young careers en route to their first championship reign.
Resilient is the right word to describe the new champions.
Dawkins has undergone several gimmick changes and repackagings, and at one point, he looked destined to be released from his contract. He continued to put in the work, found a tag team partner he had incredible chemistry with and the rest is history.
The Street Profits were never the most heavily featured team in the division. Oftentimes, they were overlooked. Hard work, continued dedication to their craft and an undeniable connection with the audience earned them the opportunity they received Saturday night. Now it is their turn to repay the faith the audience and management had in them.
Best of all, the match was brutal and reflective of four teams trying their damndest to win championship gold. That is what fans want and deserve out of a high-profile title bout.
North American Championship Match: Velveteen Dream vs. Tyler Breeze
Two of the most eccentric personalities in the history of NXT squared off Saturday, as Tyler Breeze returned to the brand that made him a star to battle one of its most prominent young competitors, The Velveteen Dream, for the North American Championship.
Breeze, more focused and determined than ever before, targeted Dream's knee and flattened him with a forearm off the apron. Prince Pretty, a student of Lance Storm, applied a familiar half Boston Crab in an attempt to tap out the champion. Dream, though, reached the bottom rope and forced the break.
The challenger was super aggressive as he took the fight to Dream but left himself open for a big kick that allowed the champion to create space. Breaking the referee's count, he headed back to the floor and repeatedly bashed Breeze's face into the announce table.
Dream added insult to injury, snapping a selfie with a beaten down Breeze and the North American Championship.
But Breeze fought back into the match and teased a tombstone piledriver that Dream reversed. More reversals followed and an Unprettier from Dream to nearly secure his win. The champion tried for the Purple Rainmaker, but Breeze got his legs up and caught Dream's elbow.
Breeze delivered the Supermodel Kick and Unprettier but could only keep his opponent down for two.
The Beauty Shot should have won it for Breeze, but Dream expertly rolled to the arena floor.
Dream grabbed the belt from ringside and tried to use it, but Breeze grabbed it and tossed it away. The distraction allowed Dream to re-enter the ring, deliver the Dream Valley Driver and score the win with the Purple Rainmaker.
Dream defeated Breeze to retain the title.
Another match, another "A" grade, thanks to a stellar performance from a driven Breeze and continued excellence from Dream. Kudos to commentator Mauro Ranallo for expertly telling Breeze's story and the fans for buying into the various near-falls.
The finish would seemingly set up a rematch between the competitors, hopefully in the near future.
Breeze as the grizzled veteran seeking that one win that turns his luck around is a character that suits him and adds a new layer to his gimmick. Most surreal about his performance, though? The guy has been wasted on WWE Main Event, wrestling matches no one sees, with his talents underutilized by a boss and creative team who seemingly have no idea how to use his character or tell the type of story we saw here tonight.
NXT Women's Championship Match: Io Shirai vs. Shayna Baszler
Io Shirai faced her most monumental match since the Mae Young Classic Final in October when she challenged Shayna Baszler for the NXT Women's Championship on Saturday. Hoping to replicate the success she had against The Queen of Spades in her home country of Japan, Shirai entered the match as the underdog hoping to dethrone the dominant champion.
Baszler stalled early and paid for it in the form of a baseball slide dropkick from her top contender. It was only a matter of time, though, before Baszler turned the tide and inflicted serious damage to her opponent's hand.
The unforgiving Baszler targeted her opponent's injured hand, focusing her attack on it as she attempted to take that particular weapon away from Shirai. The challenger delivered a deadlift German suplex but was unable to hold her grip for the count.
A springboard dropkick followed, but The Queen of Spades shot her shoulder off the mat at two.
Moments later, Shirai delivered a wickedly beautiful moonsault that wiped out Baszler on the arena floor.
Double knees from Shirai followed before the challenger scaled the ropes. Marina Shafir and Jessamyn Duke appeared, but Candice LeRae came from out of nowhere to obliterate the Horsewomen with a kendo stick.
Back in the ring, Shirai survived the choke out and tried for the moonsault. Baszler moved, and the challenger landed on her feet. The fight continued, with Shirai trying for the la magistral cradle. Baszler countered into the choke and forced Shirai to try to fight her way out of it.
The suffering was too much, though, and Shirai had no choice but to tap out in order to live to fight another day.
Baszler defeated Shirai to retain.
This was one of Baszler's finest title defenses to date.
The Queen of Spades continues to deliver in these high-profile performances. Her confidence is clearly higher than it has ever been, and like Johnny Gargano, she has become synonymous with TakeOver specials.
The post-match attack by Shirai, which saw her use a kendo stick before delivering a moonsault with the assist of a steel chair, was a great way to further the feud without having to book a title change or tired old disqualification.
Shirai seems poised to dethrone Baszler sooner rather than later. But for now, unless the champion is getting called up to the main roster imminently, this was the right decision.
NXT Championship Match: Johnny Gargano vs. Adam Cole
In New York in April, Johnny Gargano realized his dream of capturing the NXT Championship by defeating Adam Cole in a Best 2-Out-of-3 Falls match. Without the safety net of extra falls, Gargano defended his title against Cole in the main event of Saturday's historic TakeOver: XXV.
An early exchange left Cole on the floor, needing to regroup. Gargano maintained control through the opening moments, with Cole repeatedly attempting to create space but finding himself on the receiving end of a targeted attack to the left arm by the champion.
Not to be outdone, and recognizing the significance of the moment, Cole seized an opening and attacked his opponent's knee.
Gargano fought through the pain, delivered a big kick and a step-up enzuigiri. A tornado flatliner then earned him a two-count.
Cole answered moments later with a backstabber to a flying Gargano for a near-fall of his own. He followed up shortly thereafter with a burning hammer facebreaker for another two-count as frustration began setting in.
Champion and challenger exchanged forearms and then traded superkicks both in and out of the ring, leaving them lying on the arena floor as Ranallo reminded fans of the champion's advantage that states a title cannot change hands on a count-out.
A slingshot DDT back into the squared circle scored Gargano a two-count. A double stomp to the back of Cole's neck left the challenger staggered. Before Gargano could execute a short sidekick, Cole rolled to the floor. A momentary delay by Gargano allowed Cole to catch him with an ushigoroshi on the floor.
He withstood an attempt by the challenger to finish him off and applied the Garga-No Escape. Cole fought out, though, and applied the Figure Four. Forced to endure tremendous pain in his injured knee, Gargano nearly had his shoulders pinned to the mat.
Injuries to both men set in and forced them to strike each other with whatever available limbs they had left.
Gargano sailed through the ropes with a suicide dive, but Cole caught him with a superkick in midair as chants of disbelief poured down from the stands. On the floor, Cole delivered the Panama Sunrise. Back in, he was still only able to keep Gargano down for two.
Cole tried for the last shot, but Gargano countered into the Garga-No Escape. Cole, though, reversed that into his own version of the submission. The champ fought out and delivered a Last Shot of his own for a near-fall as chants of "fight forever" spilled from the stands.
The Superstars traded kicks, and Gargano delivered a lariat that turned Cole inside out. Superkicks were traded before Cole delivered a reverse rana and last shot.
You guessed it: two-count.
Frustrated, Cole retrieved a chair from under the ring, but referee Drake Wuertz stopped him from using it. Gargano then exploded through the ropes with a suicide dive that wiped out the official. A superkick from Gargano to Cole, knocking the chair back into his face, failed to score the win because there was no one to count the pin.
Cole suckered in Gargano, teasing involvement by Undisputed Era, only to deliver a modified piledriver. Two-count.
The challenger then set up the champion for a Last Shot, but Gargano fell face-first, too exhausted to hold himself up. Or so we thought. Gargano played possum, forced Cole to drop his defenses and suckered him into the Garga-No Escape.
But Cole then targeted the knee of his opponent, delivered another Panama Sunrise and one more Last Shot to win the title.
Cole defeated Gargano to win the title.
This was every bit as good as their match in New York.
Cole and Gargano knew expectations were high, knew what they accomplished in their previous contest and built on spots previously established to deliver a five-star wrestling match wherein the better wrestler outlasted the other for the gold.
It was a simple story—one told to perfection here—that captivated the audience and kept the fans invested with every near-fall. It was a thing of beauty that raised the bar for future championship encounters.
It also coronated Cole and announced the dawn of the Undisputed Era.
Gargano is going to head to the main roster, perhaps as soon as Monday. If and when he does permanently arrive on the main roster, he leaves behind a legacy deserving of recognition as the greatest Superstar in NXT history.
That is quite the achievement given the names that have come and gone, yet he deserves it. No one has done more to elevate the significance of the brand and its live specials. His influence will be felt for years to come.
Now, it will be up to Cole to carry the mantle going forward, a task he is more than equipped to complete.