Since the first NXT special five years ago, WWE’s “third brand” has delivered some incredible shows. Often, they’ve been the best of the lot when included as part of a big PPV weekend. While Saturday’s Takeover XXV show was fine, and featured a very solid main event, it’s unlikely that this one will be remembered as one of the promotion’s best offerings.

The standout match saw Adam Cole take on Johnny Gargano for the NXT Championship. The last time these two faced off, it was in an epic 2-out-of-3 Falls Match that was going to be hard to top in any circumstances. They played off of that one early here, with Cole going for a Last Shot right off the top, as that was the move that earned him the first fall in their previous encounter. The match used some good, basic psychology, with Gargano focusing on Cole’s arm and Cole going after Gargano’s knee, throughout the battle. At one point, Cole was recovering on the outside and using his arm to lean up against the apron, so Gargano hit a flying stomp onto Cole’s outstreteched arm. Later, back in the ring, Cole hit a missile dropkick to Gargano’s knee, which looked neat. A couple of times during the match, the two entered into a superkick war, the first one ending when they simultaneously hit running ones on each other while on the floor. Later, there was a scary moment that saw Gargano use Cole’s weakened arm to whip Cole down from the top rope – it looked like Cole landed flat on his face, but luckily he appeared to be uninjured. And it wasn’t long until he clamped on a Figure-Four Leglock to further weaken Gargano’s knee. By mid-match, the intensity had really picked up. A great moment saw Gargano try for a flying dive to the floor, but his knee slowed him down, and Cole was able to capitalize by hitting Gargano mid-dive with a high enziguri to the face, which he followed up with a Panama Sunrise from the apron to the floor.

Adam Cole clobbers Gargano. Photo by George Tahinos, SLAM! Wrestling.

In the ring, Gargano ducked the Last Shot, so Cole instead tried to submit Gargano with his own move, the Gargano Escape. The champ wouldn’t surrender, and hit a reverse hurancarana. But Cole rolled through that and hit another Last Shot – but only got a two count! A frustrated Cole tried to bring a chair into the ring, but the referee intervened, going to the floor to yank it out of Cole’s hands. Unfortunately for him, he was the one that Gargano hit on a flying dive attempt. The ref’s grogginess led to a missed pinfall by Gargano. A desperate Cole beckoned to the back, suggesting that his Undisputed Era stablemates would come down for an assist with the ref down, but this was merely a ploy to buy himself some time, as Gargano turned his attention away from Cole for a bit in anticipation. This led to a fantastic sequence that saw Cole escape a Gargano Escape by smashing Johnny’s weakened knee. The damage caused Gargano to fall while trying to put Cole away, leaving him easy pickings for another Panama Sunrise and a Last Shot that put him down for good and left Cole as the new champ.

After the match, the Undisputed Era came to the ring, and the show ended with Cole sitting atop of their shoulders celebrating his win.

NXT Takeover XXV – Full Results


Match 1: Roderick Strong vs. Matt Riddle


Strong takes it to Riddle. Photo by George Tahinos, SLAM! Wrestling.


Riddle took the early advantage with some technical wrestling, an impressive trio of rolling gut-wrench suplexes, a huge Superman punch that saw Riddle launch himself off the ring steps. But Roderick chilled the Original Bro’s momentum with a backbreaker that dropped Riddle hard on the ring apron. Strong took over, alternating between ground and pound and power moves like an Olympic Slam and his patented backbreakers. Riddle was able to withstand the punishment and fought back with a storm of kicks, a GTS and a German suplex, but he couldn’t keep Strong down for the count. A wicked sequence saw Strong hit Riddle with everything but the kitchen sink, but Riddle kicked out. Shortly after that, Riddle kicked out after a Final Flash. Riddle tried for a moonsault, but ate Strong’s knees for his troubles. Strong locked in a Boston Crab, but Riddle powered out and locked on a Bromission. Strong powered out of that, but then fell prey to a Cradle Frontslam that earned Riddle the pinfall victory.

Winner: Matt Riddle

Match Rating: 7/10

Shawn Michaels and the “Road Dogg” Jesse James were shown in the crowd.

Match 2: Street Profits (Ford & Dawkins) vs. the Forgotten Sons (Cutler & Blake) vs. Oney Lorcan & Danny Burch vs. the Undisputed Era (Fish & O’Reilly) vs. – Ladder match for the NXT Tag Team Championship match


The ladder war wages on. Photo by George Tahinos, SLAM! Wrestling.


This one was filled with a bunch of spots and with eight people in there, it was almost too busy and chaotic. Montez Ford hit the first real highlight of the night with a flying press that saw him leap over a pair of opponents who were brandishing a ladder, halfway across the ring, and over the ropes and onto other opponents on the floor. The Forgotten Sons put a ladder over their shoulders to take out a couple of the other teams, but then they got caught in a double German suplex. The ladder got hurled across the ring, and luckily didn’t hit anyone. A few people got dropped on ladder bridges. The Era guys used some good strategy, where one would climb the ladder while the other would defend the ladder, but that doesn’t work when the defender gets caught, picked up, and thrown against the ladder, knocking down the climber. At one point, all of the teams momentarily teamed up to stop the Sons as they were near the top. They got caught in stereo electric chairs, with one getting a flying spinning elbow and the other a flying Blockbuster. This led to Jaxson Ryker, the other Forgotten Son, to come to the ring. He took every other team out, until they joined forces and demolished him with a ladder But he was evidently some kind of Jason Vorhees, as he’d keep getting back up, even after getting hit with flying dives by Ford and then Lorcan. Lorcan and Burch used ladders to hit the Profits with a Malachi Crunch with ladders, and then they set both of them up. As they climbed, the Era guys raced up the other sides, and there was a slugfest on top of the ladders. The Sons tipped both ladders over, and it looked like they were going to get the win. Suddenly, the Profits raced in, threw them both down, and retrieved the belts for the win.

Winners, and new NXT Tag Team Champions: the Street Profits

Match Rating: 7/10

Match 3: Tyler Breeze vs. Velveteen Dream (c) – NXT North American Championship match


The Dream remains NXT North American Champion. Photo by George Tahinos, SLAM! Wrestling.


The advantage changed hands several times in the opening minutes, until finally Breeze took firm control, taking Dream down with fancy mat wrestling, which quickly turned into some aggressive kicks and stomps. Dream lured Breeze to the floor and capitalized with a thrust kick to Breeze’s face that left Breeze dazed and prone for a head clubbering on the announce table. Dream taunted Breeze, including taking a selfie with a downed Breeze, but wasted too much time and Breeze recovered. In the ring, Dream went for a flying elbow, but Breeze got his knees up. Breeze followed that up with an Unprettier, but only got a two-count. Dream rolled out of the ring and was going to get counted out. Breeze went back in the ring to plead with the referee (Toronto’s Darryl “Hornet” Sharma) to break the count so Dream couldn’t keep his belt in such a cheap way. As he did that, Dream grabbed the belt and brought it into the ring to use as a weapon. Breeze snatched it out of his hands, and as the ref took it away, Dream used the distraction to hit a Dream Valley Driver and a Purple Rainmaker for the pin. After the match, Breeze snapped a selfie with Dream in a sign of respect for Dream.

Winner, and still NXT North American Champion: Velveteen Dream

Match Rating: 6/10

Match 4: Io Shirai vs. Shayna Baszler (c) – NXT Women’s Championship match


Io Shirai soars. Photo by George Tahinos, SLAM! Wrestling.


The two started off disrespecting each other, Shayna shoving Io’s face with the underside of her boot, and Io giving her a receipt in the form of a slap. Shayna injured Io early on with the Reality Check, and took control, working on Io’s hurt arm for several minutes. Io tried to fight back with a German suplex, but her injured arm wouldn’t allow her to maintain the bridge. She still fired up enough to hit Putski Hammer and a 619, and then locked on a crossface. Later, she would land a huge moonsault from the top turnbuckle to Baszler on the floor. Back in the ring, Io hit a missile dropkick, and then running double knees in the corner. As Io looked to finish things, Baszler’s friends Jessamyn Duke and Marina Shafir headed towards the ring. But Candace LeRae came out and took them both out with a Singapore cane. A great series of moves and countermoves ultimately saw Baszler lock on the Kirifuda Klutch. Io fought it, but ultimately she was forced to tap out.

Winner, and still NXT Women’s Champion: Shayna Baszler

Match Rating: 7/10

After the match, Io blindsided Baszler with the Singapore cane, knocking her silly. She then asked LeRae for a chair, which she used to enhance a moonsault on Baszler for extra damage. The commentators debated whether Io’s actions were justified given all the history between her and Baszler (and Baszler’s Horsewomen faction) or whether she had just snapped. The NXT Universe were clearly okay with it, chanting “You deserve it” to the downed champion, who was clearly in pain after the assault.

Stephanie McMahon was shown in the audience.

Match 5: Adam Cole vs. Johnny Gargano – NXT Championship match


Winner, and new NXT Champion: Adam Cole

Match rating: 9/10

Show Rating: 7.5/10