It appears that a big change is coming to the black-and-gold brand. Last week, 13 NXT superstars were released from their contracts and a reported edict from Vince McMahon is that the overall format of the developmental brand will change going forward. Of course, nothing could end up happening and NXT may remain NXT; however, with the brand failing to take down All Elite Wrestling and create new stars (this is Vince and the company’s fault) then its apparent that the days of the NXT that we know and love is coming too end. To celebrate, let’s take a trip down memory lane and revisit some of the greatest matches of the company’s past.
Here are the top five NXT TakeOver matches since the company’s birth in 2013:
Johnny Gargano vs. Andrade For The NXT Championship (NXT TakeOver: Philadelphia)
NXT started off 2018 hot with this TakeOver pay-per-view that featured an instant classic between Johnny Gargano and Andrade. The newly crowned NXT Champion had huge momentum coming into the title match thanks to his manager Zelina Vega, whereas Johnny Gargano was trying to finally move forward with life following the betrayal of his former tag team partner, Tommaso Ciampa. The chemistry was off the charts between these two and the story of the match was simple but compelling. Counter after counter, move after move, near fall after near fall, it was impossible to not be on the edge of your seat for this amazing encounter and everyone involved was fantastic. Most notable player is Zelina Vega, who played the heel manager to perfection. That sequence of Vega nailing a hurracarna, which allowed Andrade to connect with his signature hammerlock DDT, only for Gargano to kick out was an incredible emotional run. This was one hell of a match that will be in the NXT record books forever.
Asuka vs. Ember Moon For The NXT Women’s Championship (NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn III)
There much buzz surrounding this match as NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn III seemed primed for Asuka to finally dropped the NXT Women’s Championship. “The Empress of Tomorrow” had reigned over the division undefeated for over a year, beating the likes of Mickie James, Bayley, Nia Jax, Nikki Cross, and several other high caliber of talents on the women’s roster. With the rumors of Asuka being called up to the main roster, the bookers played off that buzz and we got one of the greatest women’s matches in the brand’s history. That nearfall of Asuka kicking out following Ember Moon’s finisher, The Eclipse, was pulse-pounding and the dymanic between the two women was amazing. Asuka may have emerged victorious, but Ember Moon was made into a star after her tremendous performance.
Johnny Gargano vs. Tommaso Ciampa Last Man Standing Match For The NXT Championship (NXT: Brooklyn IV)
How could I not put arguably the best rivalry that NXT has ever produced? For nearly three years, this company had been slowly building up this feud between Ciampa and Gargano until their explosion at NXT TakeOver: Chicago following their failed attempt to win back the NXT Tag Team titles. The Johnny Gargano/Tommaso Ciampa feud proved that Triple H and company knew how to tell a well-crafted wrestling story and their Last Man Standing match at NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn IV further cemented that notion. This was a violent and brutal match between two men that hated each other and the range of emotions and physicality translated well to audiences. The ending was also a clever one, with Johnny Gargano’s emotions getting the better of him and Ciampa capitalizing off his angry foe. An unforgettable match that helped anchor an incredible feud.
DIY vs. The Revival Two out of Three falls For The NXT Tag Team Championship (NXT TakeOver: Toronto)
Back when NXT had the best tag team division in professional wrestling, The Revival was one of the hottest acts due to their old-school approach to the sport. Enter Tommaso Ciampa and Johnny Gargano, a team who stylistically didn’t match up to the NXT Tag Team Champions; however, the clash of styles managed to work in the favor of the historic contest. In front of a hot Toronto crowd, these two produced an incredible bout that showcased just how amazing tag team wrestling can be and emotions were through the roof from beginning to end. There have been several tag team bouts that have come close to matching this classic contest, but as of now, this encounter remains the best tag team TakeOver match in the company’s history.
Tyler Bate vs. Pete Dunne For The NXT UK Championship (NXT TakeOver: Chicago)
In a rematch from the NXT UK Tournament championship finals, Pete Dunne and Tyler Bate showcased why the wrestling scene was so hot in the United Kingdom with this incredible bout that represented the UK brand extremely well. The story was simple, Dunne entered the bout with a chip on his shoulder after failing to beat an injured Bate during the finals earlier that year. The more experienced wrestler (Dunne) looked to prove that Bate’s win was a fluke. Both men pulled out all the stops and used moves that are rarely seen in North America, but the classic ended with big a title change. Dunne and Bate got many fans excited over the bright future of the next generation in the WWE.
Here are the honorable mentions:
Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Sami Zayn (NXT TakeOver: Dallas)
Bayley vs. Sasha Banks for the NXT Women’s Championship (NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn)
Johnny Gargano vs. Adam Cole for the NXT Championship (NXT TakeOver: New York)
Six-Man Ladder match for the NXT North American Championship (NXT TakeOver: New Orleans)