WWE NXT Takeover: Phoenix 1/26/19 Live Review By Kurt Zamora

Welcome one and all to the official TJRWrestling Live Coverage of NXT Takeover: Phoenix! The NXT Year End Awards were announced on the pre-show, and the winners are as follows.

NXT Breakout Star of 2018

2018 NXT Takeover of the Year
Takeover: New Orleans

2018 NXT Rivalry of the Year
Tommaso Ciampa vs. Johnny Gargano

2019 Future Star of NXT
Io Sharai

2018 NXT Match of the Year
Andrade “Cien” Almas vs. Johnny Gargano
NXT Title Match – Takeover: Philadelphia

2018 NXT Male Competitor of the Year
Tommaso Ciampa

2018 NXT Female Competitor of the Year
Kairi Sane

2018 NXT Tag Team of the Year
Undisputed Era

2018 Overall Competitor of the Year
Kairi Sane

Can’t say I would pick Kairi to win Overall Competitor of the Year, but I think it’s clear where a lot of the voting was coming from. With all that out of the way, it’s now time for Takeover! Standard video package playing off the desert atmosphere in Arizona and shots of rattlesnakes ready to strike, while going over the matches we have tonight. Mauro Renallo, Nigel McGuinness, & Percy Watson are our announcers.

NXT Tag Title Match
War Raiders vs. The Undisputed Era (c)

Awesome entrance for War Raiders playing off their viking style. Cool to see them get the treatment like that. Crowd was into it. They were more into the Undisputed Era though. The champs jumped the challengers as soong as the bell rang. Raiders were able to regroup and Rowe ended up bodyslamming Hanson off the apron onto the champs on the floor. Raiders had the first pin attempt after a double team cannonball. The champs were able to finally single out Hanson and spent the next portion of the match working him over in their corner.

Rowe made the hot tag and did a tilt a whirl powerbomb where he threw Roddy into O’Reilly, which was a cool move. Hanson tried a dive through the ropes but the champs got out of the way and he landed hard on the floor. Rowe working his best to go 1 on 2, but O’Reilly chop blocked the leg to keep them with the advantage. O’Reilly tried a triangle choke, but Rowe powered him up, only to have Roddy make a blind tag and come from behind with a half and half backbreaker. Great heel work by Roddy where once Hanson got back on the apron, Roddy tried to knock him back down. It didn’t work, but the ref prevented Hanson from doing anything, which led to the champs being able to double team Rowe.

Rowe threw Roddy into O’Reilly on the apron, but still wasn’t able to get the tag and Roddy ended up smacking him with a great looking dropkick for two. Rowe with a dead to rights knee to face on O’Reilly that finally allowed him to get a tag to Hanson. Hanson’s athleticism literally brought the crowd to their feet as he cartwheeled out of a move from O’Reilly, after a seated splash on Roddy, and then gave O’Reilly one hell of a lariat. Hanson ran the ring with his splashes and O’Reilly tried to catch up to him once but ended up kicking Roddy right in the face, which lead to a good near fall for Hanson.

Crazy action from all four guys as it finally starts to break down. Raiders hit a pop-up powerslam on O’Reilly and then Hanson dove on Roddy through the ropes to the outside. Great near fall in the ring on O’Reilly. Crowd was going nuts for the match at this point. Rowe powerbombed O’Reilly and Hanson came off the top rope with a big splash, but Roddy was able to break it up. O’Reilly avoided the Fall of Man, which lead to Roddy superplexing Hanson off the top rope. Impressive to say the least. O’Reilly came off the top rope with a big knee drop, Hanson was still able to kick out. First, “This is Awesome!” chant of the night, and well deserved.

Roddy hit an Olympic Slam on Hanson but still only a two count. They then hit their Total Elimination, but Hanson still kicked out. Mauro pointed out that was the first time that move has been kicked out of. I lost what happened to Rowe in all this action. Hanson, some damn way, hit a handspring back elbow on the champs. That’s amazing. Rowe came back in and they hit a double team powerslam/powerbomb on the champs. O’Reilly was set up for Fall of Man and they hit it… New champs!! Wow, I did not see a title change coming there, but once Hanson kicked out of Total Elimination, it seemed headed that way. What an incredible tag match. The pacing of the match was pitch perfect. The crowd was red hot for it, which made it even better. Solid 4.5 star match to start the night!

Winners: New NXT Tag Champions, War Raiders

Pete Dunne and Toni Storm were shown in the crowd.

Kassius Ohno vs. Matt Riddle

Looks like Riddle has his first shirt for NXT, but I don’t see it on WWE Shop’s website yet. He was wearing it and I saw people in the crowd. This match already going longer than last Takeover. Riddle came flying off the stairs to take out Ohno with a flying forearm. Ohno wearing Phoenix Suns inspired gear, which seems odd since he’s a heel. Riddle hit a gutwrench suplex on Ohno and then tried a sunset flip powerbomb over the top rope and onto the floor, but Ohno held on to the ropes and then stomped Riddle in the face. It’s impressive Riddle does all of that while barefoot.

Ohno with a running leg drop that led to the first two count of the night. Ohno is all over Riddle with multiple forearm strikes and a kick that sent Riddle over the top rope. Ohno rammed Riddle’s head into the ringpost and then sent him into the steel steps. They showed a slo-mo replay of one of Ohno’s kicks while Riddle was against the ropes and I’m surprised Riddle didn’t swallow a tooth. Riddle fired up as he gets back into the ring and Ohno couldn’t keep him down. Riddle with a rear naked choke, but Ohno gets out of it and stomps right on one of the feet of Riddle. Riddle recovered to connect with a bridging German suplex for a two count.

Riddle kicked Ohno relentlessly until Ohno just straight up bit the big toe of Riddle. That was gross, but effective. Ohno connected with a top rope moonsault, didn’t catch all of it, and got a two count. Ohno with two senton splashes, but Riddle caught him with the rear naked choke again until Ohno got to the ropes. Ohno tried begging off and wanted a fist bump but instead got a knee to the face and then a sleeper suplex, which was impressive considering Ohno’s size. Riddle went nuts and just unloaded with unprotected elbow strikes to Ohno and Ohno had to tap out. Cool MMA finish, but came out of nowhere a bit and so the crowd didn’t react to the tap like you’d expect. Another good showcase for Riddle and this was the best Ohno has looked in quite awhile.

Winner: Matt Riddle

The Velveteen Dream is shown coming out of a SUV limo with two beautiful women by his side.

The World Collide tournament will stream on WWE Network next Saturday at 8p Eastern/7p Central.

NXT North American Title Match
Ricochet (c) vs. Johnny Gargano

I’m not even going to pretend like I’ll be able to keep up with these two. I’m just buckled up for the ride. There were no shortages of Gargano supporters as he made his entrance. Gargano with some Arizona State colored attire. Ricochet with some cool black and red attire. His ring jacket looks Spiderman-esque. The crowd could not be more hyped for this match, I can literally feel the buzz through my TV. Fun chain wrestling to start, as you would expect. The suspense is great as they work at a slower pace here in the beginning. They had a back and forth exchange that I can’t even begin to describe, with neither being able to get the advantage, and ended with Gargano going for a hurricanrana, but Ricochet landing on his feet.

Ricochet went for a handshake after that exchange but Gargano ended up slapping him in the face. Ricochet landed his handstand headscissors and then a dropkick that sent Gargano to the floor. Ricochet off the apron, steps off the bottom rope and hits a perfect moonsault on Gargano. They went back in the ring and Ricochet got Gargano on the top rope and tried a hurricanrana, but Gargano slid out and pulled Ricochet down face first into the top turnbuckle. Great counter. Gargano with a dropkick to the back of Ricochet’s head for a two count.

Ricochet came back and tried a standing moonsault in the ring, but Gargano got his feet up and kicked Ricochet across the ring while he was in mid-air. Gargano with a nice submission, almost like a seated Octopus Hold. Ricochet blocked a sunset flip and tried a deadlift suplex, but Gargano escaped. Gargano went for his spear through the ropes but Ricochet moved out of the way and forced him into the mat, followed by a standing moonsault to the back of Gargano. Ricochet with a 619 in the corner and then a high springboard back elbow. Ricochet then somehow turned a Northern Lights suplex into a brainbuster combination for a two count.

Gargano avoids another springboard move from Ricochet and then turns a rolling hurricanrana into a sit out powerbomb for two. Gargano with a Crossface that he tried turning into the Gargano Escape, but couldn’t do it. Gargano went for his slingshot DDT but Ricochet caught him in mid air, which lead to a great visual from Gargano. Ricochet dumped him over the top rope and Gargano landed HARD on his ribs on the edge of the ring. Of course Ricochet follows that with a flawless dive over the top rope onto Gargano.

Ricochet with a standing shooting star press right into a BME for a two count. Both men went to the top rope and Gargano ended up trying a hurricanrana, Ricochet blocked it, tried powerbombing Gargano, who still turned that into the hurricanrana he wanted, but Ricochet landed on his feet. The crowd came unglued for that. My God. This is as advertised. Ricochet tried a Lethal Injection, but Gargano caught him in mid air with a Russian Leg Sweep and turned it into a Gargano Escape. Ricochet deadlifted Gargano to get out of that and then did a fallaway slam into the turnbuckles on Gargano.

Ricochet went back to the top rope but Gargano rolled all the way to the other side. Gargano got on the apron and Ricochet was going to try something crazy, but Gargano just went to the floor. Ricochet basically said no sweat and jumped from the ring, over the turnbuckle and ring post to hit a somersault senton splash on Gargano! Immediately back in the ring and Ricochet with a springboard 450 splash but only a two count. Ricochet right back to the top rope and tried a shooting star press but Gargano got the knees up, small package but Ricochet managed to kick out. Incredible.

Ricochet was on his knees and Gargano superkicked him out of the ring, which wasn’t his intent. Gargano decides to dive through the ropes, but Ricochet catches him in a fireman’s carry. Gargano somehow turns that into a reverse hurricanrana and straight spikes Ricochet on his head! Right back in the ring and Gargano with his slingshot DDT, Ricochet kicked out!! My God. Gargano is frustrated now and he pulled the ring mats up on the floor and he wanted to do Ciampa’s draping DDT. Gargano thinks better of it though after the ref talks to him, but Ricochet rolls him up, Gargano kicked out.

Ricochet to the top rope one more time for a Phoenix Splash, Gargano moves and superkicks Ricochet! Ricochet hooked Gargano in the Gargano Escape though! Gargano got to the ropes. They end up on the apron and Gargano shoved Ricochet into the ring post. They’re on top of the exposed floor now, Gargano with a brainbuster on the concrete!! Gargano tells Ricochet that he wins and then absolutely spikes Ricochet with his slingshot DDT! 1-2-3… Gargano has won finally!!! What an ovation for Gargano. What a war!! That went about 26 minutes by my count and was absolutely amazing. It kept climbing and climbing and climbing. The crowd was hanging on their every move. Wow. 5 stars EASILY. I’m in disbelief honestly.

Winner: New North American Champion, Johnny Gargano

NXT Women’s Title Match
Bianca Belair vs. Shayna Baszler

Tough spot for these women, that’s for sure. There was no filler between these matches to help the crowd come down either. Big match introductions for this one. Bianca looks a little nervous, which can’t really blame her. Strong tie-up attempts to start the match with clean breaks. Bianca tried to smack talk, but Shayna kicked the legs out from under her. Shayna tries the same thing and gets the same result. Belair sends Shayna to the floor, but Shayna grabs the pony tail on the opposite side of a ringpost and pulls it and Belair into the ringpost. Creative spot.

Bianca selling the shoulder hard now, as she doesn’t get into the ring until 9. Shayna immediately starts the manipulation of Bianca’s arm and does the stomp to the exposed elbow. Shayna is all over the arm. Big knee to the face of Bianca that got a two count. Crowd wants to get into this match, but they’re just working a slow pace. Shayna tells Bianca she’s overrated and Bianca slapped her in the face. Bianca with a couple shoulder tackles and a dropkick. Bianca used the injured shoulder for a spear on Shayna, so she wasn’t able to keep her down for three.

Belair with multiple stomps and then tries her splits splash but Shayna got the knees up. Another knee strike to the face of Belair, but only a two count. Both women are nailing each other with strikes to the face. Belair goes to the hair whip, which sounded like a gunshot and absolutley drilled Shayna and it immediately leaves a welt. Belair tries the Glam Slam, but Shayna escaped and then shoved Belair into the ref, so she’s out. Belair hits the KOD on Shayna and clearly had the three count, but there was no ref. That of course lef to Shafir and Duke coming out to help their friend. Shafir was wearing a nose guard, so I guess she broke her nose this weekend. Belair manages to dispose of them, but of course Shayna is able to then lock on the choke as the ref comes to. Belair is somehow able to power up, which the crowd is solidly behind Belair now, and she turns Shayna around and turns it into a suplex! Great spot.

Belair to the top rope and she kicks Duke off the apron. She goes for a 450 splash, but Shayna scoots out of the way and locks on the choke again. The crowd wants her to break it again and she’s trying all she can. She gets to her feet for just a second, but Shayna powers her back down. Belair up a third time! She ran out of energy though and crumples back down. Shayna had to switch hands to continue to keep the choke hooked and Belair finally just passed out. She didn’t tap and in a VERY tough spot, she managed to get this crowd 100% behind her and they wanted her to win. If they wanted to create a top babyface in the division, I think they’ve accomplished that. The first loss is tough, but it’s gotta happen sometimes and they made Shayna EARN that win. Bianca looked tremendous in defeat and I think she’s going to get another shot at Shayna and I wouldn’t be surprised to see her be the one to dethrone. The match went about 15 minutes, so I’m glad they were given time to tell that story for Bianca.

Winner: Still NXT Women’s Champion, Shayna Baszler

Velveteen Dream is now at ringside with his ladies.

NXT Title Match
Aleister Black vs. Tommaso Ciampa (c)

Big match introductions for this one. Nothing special on the entrances. Strong tie up to start and both men send each other to the floor while still locked up. Back in the ring and Ciampa slapped Black, and Black came back with a takedown and got Ciampa into the ropes. Ciampa got back on the advantage and started working over the left arm of Black. Black avoided the Fairy Tale Ending and goes to a headlock on the mat. Both men working each other over early. No one with a true advantage. Black with a couple kicks and then his fake out lionsault back into the ring. Black goes to his seated position in front of Ciampa and Ciampa kicked him straight in the face.

Ciampa tried to send Black to the floor but failed. Black throws Ciampa out instead and then does a somersault dive over the top rope. Flurry of strikes from Black once back in the ring. Black with a knee to the side of Ciampa’s head and then landed a standing Lionsault for a two count. They end up on the floor and Black went for a kick, but Ciampa grabbed the leg and then swung it backwards, sending Black’s heel into the steel steps. Then Ciampa threw him legs first into the opposite stairs. Ciampa followed up with a suplex into the stairs, which Black’s legs landed hard on.

Ciampa focused all of his attack on the left leg of Black once back in the ring. Ciampa wrapped the leg around the knee post multiple times and then does a kneebreaker on the Spanish announce table. Black escapes for a minute after a kick that Ciampa wasn’t expecting, but when they got back in the ring, Ciampa dropkicked the leg out from under Black. Ciampa eventually went to the top rope but wasn’t able to do anything as Black came at him with a hard step up enziguri that sent both men over the top rope and tumbling to the floor.

Black can’t suplex Ciampa with the leg hurt, but he is able to superkick him and is able to fire back. Ciampa with a small package just as Black gets momentum and a two count. Both men countered holds back and forth. Black avoids a Fairy Tale Ending and Ciampa avoids Black Mass. Black hit a bridging German suplex for a two count. Black tried lifting Ciampa up for Black Mass, but his leg gave out and Ciampa came back with a Dragonscrew into a half crab. Black escaped and hooked on a half crab of his own, which Ciampa got out of quickly since Black couldn’t sink it in deep.

Ciampa rolled to the floor and Black tried a Golden Triangle moonsault but Ciampa cut him off. Black was draped on the top rope and Ciampa hit a nasty Tower of London on the apron, which got a near fall. Ciampa mocked Black by lifting him with his boot, and then they both trade jumping knee strikes. Both men just wildly throwing haymakers. Lot of near fall attempts. Black avoided the running knee from Ciampa and then hit a running double foot stomp. He still can’t suplex Ciampa but he knees Ciampa in the back and finally hit the brainbuster for a two count.

Ciampa went back to the floor and Black slowly is able to hit the Golden Triangle moonsault. Black slips on the water on the outside, not sure if purposely, but that leads to a natural transition where he’s caught off guard and rolls into the ring and right into a Fairy Tale Ending. He managed to kick out though. Now it’s Ciampa’s turn to expose the concrete in the same exact spot that Gargano did earlier. Ciampa gets into it with the ref, which allows Black to jump off the apron with a double knee strike. Black sells the knee but as they get back into the ring, Black connects dead on with Black Mass! Black with the crawl, but Ciampa rolled over on his stomach at the very last moment so Black couldn’t make a pin. Black went for a second Black Mass, but Ciampa pulled the ref into it. Black didn’t connect but it allowed Ciampa get get Black tied up in the ropes and hit his draping DDT. He goes right for the Fairy Tale Ending, but Black kicked out a second time! Ciampa hit the Fairy Tale Ending a third time, and kept it locked in for a fourth. Black escaped, kicked Ciampa in the head and went for Black Mass, but the leg gave out one last time, which led to the fourth Fairy Tale Ending and Ciampa puts Black away. Not my favorite match, but a solid effort by both men. That’s a pretty decisive finish for Ciampa, so that leads me to believe this is in fact Black’s swan song in NXT. Nothing keeping him here anymore. It went just under 30 minutes if my math is correct.

Winner: Tommaso Ciampa retains

The show ends with Ciampa making his way up the ramp and Johnny Gargano showing up behind him. Gargano raises his title first and then Ciampa smiled and raised his up as well. You felt the turn coming, but the show goes off the air with that visual of both members of DIY holding their titles high in the air and are they truly back together? The show went 2 hours and 35 minutes.

K-Tank’s Final Take: Ricochet and Gargano absolutely should’ve gone on last. You could still have that final visual with Ciampa coming up behind Gargano and it works just the same. I don’t know what it was about Ciampa and Black that I didn’t like, but I just wasn’t feeling it. That finish did nothing for me, I know that. If Black survived three finishers, he’s on an adrenaline rush where the leg shouldn’t have given out right then, especially immediately after he just connected with a high kick. I guess we’re to believe the twist of his body was what caused the leg to go out on Black Mass, but I just wasn’t feeling it. That final visual obviously leaves one hell of a cliffhanger and since we’ve got 2+ months to get to Takeover: WrestleMania, there’s no need to rush it. It’s just been a tremendous ride so far, so let’s let it play out at their pace. I don’t think anyone is complaining. The Tag Title match was insane and my 2nd favorite match of the night, but don’t sleep on the women’s match.

Thanks everyone for tuning in with me tonight! Hope you all enjoy the Royal Rumble and until next time, don’t do anything I wouldn’t do… but if you do, name it after me!