Event: WWE NXT TakeOver: Portland
Date: February 16, 2020
Location: Moda Center, Portland, OR
NXT presented their first pay-per-view of 2020, TakeOver: Portland last night and wrote a whole new chapter on the Road To WrestleMania.
Three championships were on the line and only one title changed hands on the evening of top-notch performances. The compact, thrilling, entertaining show delivered a lot more than what anyone could’ve possibly expected and sent fans home happy with a bunch of twists and turns.
Here’s how the PPV went down, with our grades and analysis for the inaugural TakeOver of the decade.
NXT North American Championship: Keith Lee (c) vs. Dominik Dijakovic
The opening match of the show saw two big men clashing for the title. Dijakovic sported a t-shirt in memory of Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna; the ring gear would be auctioned and the funds would be donated to the Mamba & Mambacita Sports Foundation.
The match saw a constant shift in momentum as Lee and Dijakovic kept unloading on each other. Lee kicked out of a Spanish Super Fly and retaliated with a Big Bang Catastrophe on a seemingly hurt Dijakovic for the pin to retain.
Post-match, Lee helped Dijakovic to his feet as a show of respect and both men posed in the corner for a big round of applause.
Result: Keith Lee (c) defeated Dominik Dijakovic to retain the NXT North American Championship
Analysis: The match featured a lack of selling until Dijakovic nursed his back during the final moments leading to the finish. The outcome was quite predictable, yet the crowd curiously watched every referee count expecting a swerve. The heavyweight showdown featured the perfect in-ring chemistry and hopefully, fans will witness another equally entertaining rematch between the two babyfaces down the line.
Street Fight: Dakota Kai vs. Tegan Nox
The former best friends tore the house apart as Kai blindsided Nox during her entrance, thus choking her completely for the rest of the matchup.
Nox’s stellar comeback would’ve earned her the victory over her former bestie had it not been for the debuting Raquel Gonzalez who drove Lady Kane through a table as Kai crawled over and scored the pinfall victory.
Result: Dakota Kai defeated Tegan Nox
Analysis: The intense build had produced an air of deep emotions and the match was brutal nonetheless. The extremely personal rivalry lived up to the hype and the Street Fight theme did justice to bring out the best in both women. The debut of Gonzalez was a meaningful way to wrap things up with a necessary heel victory leaving Nox with a new rival coming out of Portland, and it’s fair to assume that Lady Kane will seek total redemption, presumably in time for TakeOver: Tampa.
Finn Balor vs. Johnny Gargano
Both former NXT Champions had been waiting for this moment to establish their superiority in the intense rivalry as chants of “both these guys” buzzed the arena.
Gargano and Balor reached deep in their arsenal to showcase every possible move they could to provide the crowd with a thorough dose of entertainment. The Prince eventually had the final laugh courtesy of a Coup de Grace and 1916 DDT.
Result: Finn Balor defeated Johnny Gargano
Analysis: A strong “Match Of The Year” contender that showcased Balor’s cold, ruthless side and Gargano’s vengeful babyface gimmick, it’s evident that a heel victory was the only way to climax the solid storytelling. The hard-fought victory rightfully cements Balor as the authoritative heel on the NXT roster while Gargano’s loss opens up the possibility of yet another fairytale program in his career.
NXT Women’s Championship Match: Rhea Ripley (c) vs. Bianca Belair
The build for the title showdown had been decent but the match turned out to be on a completely different level as Belair looked to take Ripley down for a potential spot against Charlotte Flair at WrestleMania 36.
Ripley had no problem in putting Belair away with a Riptide to retain her title in a dominating fashion.
Post-match, The Queen blindsided The Nightmare and accepted the triumphant champion’s challenge for a title match at WrestleMania before driving The EST into the steel steps on her way back.
Result: Rhea Ripley (c) defeated Bianca Belair to retain the NXT Women’s Championship
Analysis: The title showdown was essentially booked to set up the WrestleMania 36 program between Flair and Ripley. The result was predictable right off the bat, but Belair was booked strongly enough to emerge as a potential threat to Rhea’s WrestleMania spot. The lackluster finish leaves room for a rematch between the two NXT Superstars and given the beatdown The EST suffered at the hands of The Queen post-match, it’s safe to assume that WWE is leaning towards a Triple Threat title matchup featuring all three women during WrestleMania weekend.
NXT Tag Team Championship Match: The Undisputed Era (c) vs. The BroserWeights
The improbable rise of the winners of the 2020 Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic, The BroserWeights attained newer heights with their title clash against The Undisputed Era. The tournament victory had instantly earned Matt Riddle and Pete Dunne a shot at Bobby Fish and Kylie O’Reilly’s gold and the babyfaces didn’t fail to make the most of this opportunity.
The BroserWeights had some obvious miscommunication; Dunne first collided with Riddle, knocking him off the apron, and The King Of Bros accidentally speared The Bruiserweight moments later.
Despite their shortcomings and flawed in-ring chemistry, The BroserWeights managed to dethrone The Undisputed Era off a Bro 2 Sleep combo.
Result: The BroserWeights defeated The Undisputed Era to become the new NXT Tag Team Champions
Analysis: While Fish and O’Reilly are the standard-bearers of the tag team division in NXT and it was time for new guys to step up. The coronation of Riddle and Dunne adds a whole new flavor to the entire tag team scene that has been dominated by the Undisputed Era for the last two years.
The miscommunication and lack of chemistry hints that The Broserweights won’t last long together and neither they should; both Riddle and Dunne are valuable singles stars than as a team and it’s best to keep them that way. However, the makeshift team has delivered entertaining matches and enjoyable segments, and fans should thoroughly enjoy the union while it lasts.
NXT Championship: Adam Cole (c) vs. Tommaso Ciampa
A brutal matchup, a thorough “Match Of The Year” contender, Cole and Ciampa left it all in the ring in the main event of NXT’s final stop on the Road To WrestleMania.
Deep into the match, Bobby Fish, Kyle O’Reilly, Roderick String all interfered but Blackheart took them out as Cole realized that he would have to fight forever to put him away. Further interference, referee bumps, low blow ensued as the desperate Undisputed Era leader looked to retain the title by any means.
The lack of a referee didn’t allow Ciampa to score the pinfall who had otherwise pinned the champion for a count of a quarter of a minute.
Moments later, Johnny Gargano appeared at ringside and betrayed Ciampa to allow Cole retain the gold in his hardest-fought title match to date.
Result: Adam Cole (c) defeated Tommaso Ciampa to retain the NXT Championship
Analysis: Cole’s exploitation of Ciampa’s surgically repaired neck was a realistic way for the champion to retain while establishing Blackheart as an even bigger babyface who fell just short of what he had promised to accomplish. Gargano’s shocking heel turn opens yet another chapter in the lengthy DIY saga, pointing at one final showdown between the frenemies down the line.
The finish essentially paves way for a new challenger to Cole’s gold while allowing Ciampa to quietly step out of the title picture and feud with Gargano for the time being. However, there’s also a parallel possibility of Blackheart enjoying two programs simultaneously; the creative could potentially merge both feuds together for an epic Triple Threat title showdown at TakeOver: Tampa, saving the Gargano vs. Ciampa singles matchup for a later date.