Valentine's Day means love and relationship goals to most, but for wrestling fans, this year, it meant NXT TakeOver: Vengeance Day.
*As Always Spoilers Ahead*
Valentine's Day means love and relationship goals to most, but for wrestling fans, this year, it meant NXT TakeOver: Vengeance Day. This TakeOver marked the first for the new year, and it most definitely set the course for the direction of the NXT brand for 2021 moving forward. The pre-show started the tone as Eli Drake made his debut as LA Knight.
Women's Dusty Cup Final
The event kicked off as Shotzi Blackheart & Ember Moon faced off against Dakota Kai & Raquel Gonzalez to determine the first-ever women's team to win the cup. The odds on favorites to win from the very start of the tournament has been the formidable duo of Raquel & Kai as the only tenured team in the bracket. Moon & Blackheart to put up quite a fight and show decent cohesiveness. However, Kai & Gonzalez prove they have them beat in cohesion except in one moment where Ember almost capitalizes on a rare miscue between the two. Raquel kicks out of an eclipse, and several other big moves, coming off as unbeatable tonight. The dystopia wasteland pairing kicks it up a notch, pulling off incredible double team moves on the outside, but Raquel disposes of Moon before focusing on Shotzi. The green-haired upstart tries to take the goliath woman off guard, but Gonzalez and Kai prove too much as they pin her together, leaving her no chance to kick out. Blackheart showed heart in this match, but it was the obvious choices of Raquel & Kai who became the inaugural women's Dusty Cup winners. I give this match a 5/10 star rating due to the obvious outcome. The only reason it is rated this high is that these two meeting Nia & Shayna has great potential.
North American Championship Match
This match started weirdly as The Way made their entrance but realized Austin Theory was missing causing Indie and Candice to leave Jhonny alone in the match against Kushida. Once the bell rings, the match takes a very technical based shape with constant back and forth and lots of submission attempts. However, like all NXT matches, they take the action outside the ring. Jhonny eventually hits a final beat to the challenger on the ramp and then follows it up with another one landing inside the ring this time and picking up the win to retain his title. I rate this technical master class a 6/10, deducting points for the weirdly unnecessary Austin Theory angle.
Men's Dusty Cup Final
The Grizzled Young Veterans enter their second Dusty Cup final after losing to the odd couple duo of The Broserwiegts last year. Their opponents, however, enter into their first TakeOver as they debut in the cup, upsetting the entire bracket MSK. Both teams had considerable upsets in the tournament. The GYV went back to their NXTUK roots as they took on this match in a manner they would have there. For instance, Gibbson talked his way down to the ring as his team aggressively started the match. The matchup's beginning establishes each team's roles as GYV are the more grounded heels, and MSK is the quick spot monkey high flying faces. Each team does well in establishing these roles and complement one another. The Veterans almost get the win early on by outsmarting the younger competitors. This is the point in the match the go home effect seems to kick in as MSK get a hot tag and begin their unbelievably unorthodox maneuvers frustrating the Vets. Ultimately allowing MSK to pick up the win and become the 2021 Dusty Cup winners landing them a future shot at the NXT tag team titles. 7/10 stars is the rate I give this fantastic tag team bout.
NXT Women's Championship Triple Threat Match
Martinez, Storm, and Io don't even allow for the official ring announcements showcasing the title's importance. Martinez tries to gain early dominance, but the champion beats her to it. However, Martinez neutralizes the opposing champ by knocking her out ringside. Making her chances much more achievable by focusing solely on Toni Storm. The champ miraculously shows back up rather quickly, not allowing the outcome of her title to be determined without her being present. Each woman takes turns on top, but Io time and time again gets the last laugh on each exchange, like when she hits a 619 on Martinez. Of course, the action again is taken ringside as the announce table is broken and Io flies off everything in her vicinity. Once the action gets back in the ring, Toni and Martinez hit each other with their best shots only to keep kicking out. Io hits her moonsault out of nowhere, continuing her reign as a dominant champion. As expected from the NXT women's roster, this match was spectacular, and I rate it 7/10 stars.
NXT Championship Match
Pete Dunne and Fin Balor put on a match that would be regarded as a classic anywhere. Nothing less would've been expected from champion and challenger, both being at the peak of their careers now. In the very contested bout that continuously goes back and forth throughout, Dunne constantly takes advantage of the many injury-prone areas on Balor, such as his jaw and shoulder. For much of the match, Dunne remains dominant until desperation takes over for Balor. More classic back and forth packages occur. One of these happens with an attempted comeback by Dunne, but his knee gives out. Balor momentarily takes advantage, but Dunne quickly comes back. Balor eventually takes the knee out again to regain control and perform his signature corner dropkick. Dunne reverses the Coup de Grace into an armbar. The ref almost stops the match, but Balor says he can go on to where he surprisingly gains the upper hand until Dunne hits the Bitter End. Finn kicks out, and the two UK wrestling masters go counter for counter, ending up where Dunne has his mouthpiece removed. Balor finally hits his finisher, following up with 1916 and getting the win. As Finn celebrates retaining his championship, Oney & Burch jump him. The three allies gang up on the champ, but then Shock The System blares, and O'Reilly, Strong, and Cole come to the aid of Balor. They all stand tall and even tease a possible joining of Balor to the UE until Cole drops both Balor and O'Reilly before leaving everyone confused, especially Rodrick Strong. Thanks to the added drama of the ending, I give this stellar main-event 8/10 stars.
Overall I rate this TakeOver a 7/10 as the card was an evenly rising build with a memorable and exciting ending. The Undisputed Era has been the firm foundation of NXT for years, and now that is in a questionable state, which is intriguing for fans. The set was also incredible, as all TakeOver sets usually are.