Going into Mania weekend, one of the things many fans look forward to around the world is NXT TakeOver. TakeOver’s are always top notch with the best matches booked for the biggest PPV of the yellow and black brand. This year was no different.

Let’s break down each match and result from NXT TakeOver: New York.

War Raiders (C) def. Aleister Black & Ricochet.

The night kicked off with War Raiders defending their NXT Tag Team Championships against the dynamic duo of Aleister Black and Ricochet. Black and Ricochet won this tag title opportunity when they beat the Forgotten Sons in the finals of the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic. I’ll be honest, I was looking forward to this match because Black and Ricochet were in it but oh my god, War Raiders are one of the best tag teams in the world, hands down.

From bell-to-bell, this match did not slow down. Aleister Black and Ricochet did their usual high-flying/striking style which is always impressive. However, Hanson and Rowe were maybe the MVP’s of this match, they worked their butts off. This match had everything you could ask for, there was striking, mat wrestling, and high-flying from both teams. Hanson and Rowe are capable of things that athletes of their size should not be able to do and they are absolutely changing the stereotype of what “big men” can do.

Black and Ricochet genuinely looked like they were going to win at one point when Black hit a Black Mass and Ricochet hit a 630, but Hanson broke it up. Ultimately War Raiders pinned Black and Ricochet with their leg drop/slam finisher, and retained their tag team titles. After the match, Hanson and Rowe put the belts down between them and Black and Ricochet, giving the departing team a bow. They cleared the ring and it was clear that this was Black and Ricochet saying goodbye to the black and yellow brand. Both men were visibly emotional as the crowd gave them a standing ovation.

The new tag team gave the crowd a bow as a thank you, and left the NXT ring seemingly for the final time. This was a fantastic match and honestly could have main evented a TakeOver. I did not have particularly high expectations going into this match but they were blown out of the water. War Raiders are one of the best tag teams in the world, and I can’t wait to see who challenges them next (probably Undisputed Era).

Velveteen Dream (C) def. Matt Riddle.

Following that insane match we had the North American Champion The Dream vs The Bro. Riddle had an ordinary entrance but as per usual Velveteen Dream’s was incredibly extra and I loved it. He essentially came out as the statue of liberty with a torch and the crown, that guy is a million bucks. This match was an amazing display of athleticism and the story telling was perfect all the way throughout. They really played to Riddle’s MMA experience in this match making it very striking and submission heavy. He got multiple incredibly smooth submissions on Dream throughout the match including a monkey flip into an armbar.

Riddle controlled most of this match using his MMA style and Dream sold Riddle’s offense and the injuries that came of it flawlessly. It is crazy to think that Dream is only 23 years old, doesn’t come from an indy background and is already this good. Dream hit a German Suplex on Riddle at one point and he popped right up which I found interesting since he wants a match with Brock. Nonetheless, Riddle countered a Rainmaker into a Bromission but Dream countered that into a roll-up and got a sneaky win to retain his title.

This was perfect, it was a very fun match where Riddle looked extremely strong but Dream kept his title which I think is the best decision he should have a long run.

WALTER def. Pete Dunne (C).

This was maybe the match of the night with the only competition being the main event. We saw highflying type matches, but this was just an absolute brawl and very much followed the British Strong Style type of wrestling. This was another match that did not stop and these two men worked their butts off during this entire match that felt like it went 30 minutes. This was very much Pete Dunne’s mat wrestling style vs WALTER’s brutal strength.

Dunne and Walter chopped and punched and slapped the daylights out of each other and they did not hold back in the slightest. WALTER out powered Dunne throughout the entire match and dominated much of it, which showed the heart of Dunne because he kept on fighting back. There were spots in this match that literally made me gasp which I don’t do much after watching wrestling for over 10 years. Dunne took to the sky a couple times which he doesn’t really do, hitting a moonsault from the second rope onto the floor, and literally hitting a Cupe de Grace from the second rope to WALTER on the floor which looked so painful.

The champ worked over WALTER’s fingers a ton during this match and he sold it exceptionally well, consistently from start to finish. I have to say this was my first time seeing a WALTER match and I was extremely impressed, when you look at him you don’t expect much, but he is an incredible performer and is made for big stages. The two went back and forth shocking the crowd and even getting a “UK” chant at one point. Dunne put in a valiant effort and really showed his heart. Near the end of the match Dunne looked like he may pull out the win when he hit a Bitter End, but it was not enough to end the match.

The two traded blows a few more times but ultimately ended up on the turnbuckle where WALTER no joke powerbombed Dunne to the other side of the ring. WALTER then climbed the turnbuckle and hit a massive splash to pin Dunne and end the 600+ day reign. Pete has literally built this brand off his back these past couple years and while it was said to see such a historic reign end, it opens him up to at least go to NXT prime where we can get tons of fresh feuds and matches.

Shayana Baszler (C) def. Kairi Sane, Io Shirai, & Bianca Belair.

This was probably my least favourite match on the card but it was still fantastic. This was super fun, and it made the three challengers look very good. What was really interesting was at one point Io and Kairi went at it and man is that a rivalry I would like to see down the line. Everybody really got a chance to shine, Belair got to show off her strength multiple times, Kairi and Io got to fly and of course Shayna asserted her dominance. At the end of the match Belair hit a K.O.D on both the Sky Pirates which was a crazy spot, and came close to getting the win.

But of course, Shayna would get back in the ring and lock on a Kirifuda Clutch which made the EST tap out, and Shayna retained her NXT Women’s Championship. While I am in no way a Shayna fan and kinda want her to lose that title, this was a super fun match and planted seeds for Io vs Kairi which would be an absolutely insane match.

Johnny Gargano def. Adam Cole.

Then we had our main event of the evening and I think this was my favourite match of the night just beating Dunne vs WALTER. This was of course meant to be Johnny Gargano vs Tommaso Ciampa but of course, he required immediate neck surgery and was forced to vacate the NXT gold(y).

I think Adam Cole was a perfect choice to fill the role of Ciampa and WWE did a fantastic job giving this a build with little time before the big show. I said in my predictions that these are two of the best wrestlers in the world and in my opinion they absolutely proved it tonight. This was of course 2/3 falls and they really played on that story excellently. This was a mix of storytelling, action, and excitement. The match started out a bit slow but by the end of the match everybody watching, myself included were on the edge of their seats. Cole won the first fall with the last shot, which immediately set up a bit of an underdog story as Gargano would have to come from behind in order to win.

Gargano won the second fall with the Gargano escape and Cole tapped right away which was brilliant because he knew he had another fall so he tapped out quick to minimize the damage from the hold. The final fall is when this match turned into a 5 star match. Gargano kicked out of a lot in this fall and Cole dominated the majority of this fall hitting Gargano with all kinds of knees and neckbreakers. The match ended when Undisputed Era distracted Gargano who had Cole in the Gargano escape and it looked like this would lead to Cole getting the heel win. Johnny ended up taking out Undisputed Era.

Then Johnny would get Cole in the Gargano escape and Cole would almost get to the rope but Johnny would role the submission back into the middle of the ring. Of course Adam Cole tapped, the Barclays Centre exploded, and Johnny’s dream had finally become a reality. This match was perfect from start to finish, as I said it started out slow but by the end it was one of the most thrilling matches I have ever seen. The near-falls, the story of Gargano fighting back from a one-fall deficit, it was a perfect way to finally crown Gargano.

Then after the match he celebrated with his wife, Candice, and the crowd. As Gargano made his way to the ramp backstage, Tommaso Ciampa game out to congratulate Gargano. He hugged Johnny and you could tell it was a real emotional moment between friends and I think it closed the chapter on this feud, at least for now.

This was a fantastic show, from start to finish there was not one bad match and I loved it. Each match was incredibly unique and every superstar showed up to steal the show. We say this every year, but Mania will have a tough time competing against TakeOver.

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