Pro Wrestling

NXT Takeover Phoenix Recap: Gargano and Ciampa, the New 2-Man Power Trip

A darker version of DIY returns...


Photo Credit: WWE

Being the bad guy always pays off. On the heels of his first singles title win, Johnny Gargano is finally following in the footsteps of his former DIY tag partner turned bitter rival Tommaso Ciampa. Do whatever it takes to win, no matter who suffers. DIY has returned, but not as the underdog duo fans once loved. These two are now NXT’s version of the 2-Man Power Trip.

Granted, this isn’t a perfect comparison if you remember the old Austin-Triple H storyline. But in terms of how this the heel version of DIY is about to run roughshod over the entire brand, the shoe fits. We might need to start counting the days on how long the War Raiders will hold those tag titles.


Match #1: The War Raiders defeat The Undisputed Era for the NXT Tag Team Titles

You couldn’t ask for a better opening match. For me, the big standout was the War Raiders showcasing their athleticism. Hanson was hitting cartwheels ala Bam Bam Bigelow and the finishing sequence was one of the smoothest on the entire card. The big spots, like Roderick Strong’s superplex on Hanson, were spaced-out well and the near-falls didn’t come off as excessive (a rarity these days).

DIY looks primed to the be the dominant force for the foreseeable future, making me question how long the Raiders will hold these belts.

  • The War Raiders entrance made me even more ready for the final Game of Thrones season
  • Who else thought the ring might break on the Strong-Hanson superplex like Lesnar-Big Show?



Matt Riddle defeats Kassius Ohno

Solid match considering the time given. The storyline going in was Ohno’s jealously of Riddle and frustration with being unable to beat him on two previous attempts.

There were some interesting spots here. Ohno exploited Riddle’s bare feet with stomps and even bitting a toe to get out a submission attempt. Riddle’s best spot was a sleeper hold suplex that leads to the Bromission elbow strike finish.



Johnny Gargano defeats Ricochet for the North American NXT Title

The Match of the Night for me. Early on, Ricochet asked his opponent, “Which Gargano are we gonna get tonight?”

It was a simple question that did an excellent job of illuminating the desperation of Gargano’s character. For all the signature moments and fan love, a singles title had alluded him while his former tag team partner and sworn enemy sits as the world champion.

For most of the first half, Ricochet was a step ahead. They had a perfect chain wrestling sequence that ended with Ricochet flipping to his feet and Gargano befuddled on the canvas.  Later, Gargano was about to hit a top-rope hurricanrana. Ricochet defied gravity and landed on his feet. Slingshot DDT? Ricochet caught him mid-move and dumped him to the outside. Ditto on the crossface attempts.

That’s when Gargano switched to heelish tactics in removing the floor padding and exposing the concrete. He displayed his evil streak with a reverse rana and brainbuster on said concrete, the latter leading to the slingshot DDT and pin.

This will be the page-turner for the Gargano character and it made perfect sense for him to join Ciampa at the show’s end. After years of being honorable, Gargano now sees the immediate benefits in bending the rules.

Aside from a few slow minutes in the middle, you couldn’t ask for much better.

  • I pray for Ricochet’s knees every time he does those flip counters from the top rope and lands on his feet.




Shayna Baszler submits Bianca Belair, retains NXT Women’s Title

Although I would’ve preferred Bianca getting more offense, I really enjoyed the story of this match. The pre-show set the tone with Sam Robert going on a diatribe about Belair’s title shot signifying a drop in NXT Takeover quality, going as far as calling the young title challenger “overrated” and questioning the legitimacy of her hair whip move. Even some in the crowd picked up on this with isolated overrated chants early on.

It wasn’t until the middle of the match that the ladies found each other’s rhythm. From there, it picked up quickly with Belair’s athleticism making for some nice spots, including a tumbling pass into a spear. With Belair’s height and strength, it made her offense much more believable as an equal to Baszler’s. In addition, Belair might have executed the best hair whip of her young career — it sounded like Baszler got hit with a leather strap and the champ sold it beautifully.

Outside interference and a ref bump would rob Belair of the title, but the crowd was firmly behind her. She was the first woman to power up to her feet and out of Baszler’s choke submission. In fact, she did it twice before finally passing out.

Considering Baszler’s cronies, I could see this extending until Wrestlemania weekend before Bianca gets the big win. Oh and Sam Roberts, Bianca sends her regards.



Tommaso Ciampa pins Aleister Black, retains NXT World Title

Gotta be honest — this one didn’t do much for me. Didn’t help that the crowd wasn’t much into it until the final minutes. I can’t say it’s a chemistry issue because they’re first match was quality. I began checking out once Ciampa lowkey no-sold the Black Mass by rolling away.

Don’t get it confused — this wasn’t a bad match. Just not one on the level of previous Takeover main events nor the Ricochet-Gargano match we got on this card.




After the cameras went off, we got a post-match brawl involving DIY, Adam Cole, Velveteen Dream, Ricochet and Aleister Black. Sign me up for this six-man tag!

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