NXT TakeOver Portland: Adam Cole vs. Tommaso Ciampa

Originally published at https://www.postwrestling.com/2020/02/16/nxt-takeover-portland-adam-cole-vs-tommaso-ciampa/

Welcome to our coverage of NXT TakeOver: Portland from the Moda Center.

Braden Herrington & Davie Portman will have a POST Show up later tonight with a full rundown of the show on a special Sunday night edition of upNXT.

Our latest TakeOver opening borrowed quotes from Theodore Roosevelt to differentiate this from Worlds Collide that featured Winston Churchill.

Poppy performed “Fill the Crown” live in the Moda Center at the beginning of the show.

Mauro Ranallo, Nigel McGuinness, and Beth Phoenix are on the call tonight.


*Keith Lee over Dominik Dijakovic in 20:21 to retain the NXT North American title
*Dakota Kai over Tegan Nox in a Street Fight in 13:27
*Finn Balor over Johnny Gargano in 27:23
*Rhea Ripley over Bianca Belair in 13:32 to retain the NXT women’s title
*Matt Riddle & Pete Dunne over Kyle O’Reilly & Bobby Fish in 17:00 to win the NXT tag titles
*Adam Cole over Tommaso Ciampa in 33:12 to retain the NXT title


Dijakovic was wearing a shirt with the images of Kobe and Gianna Bryant on it. He is donating all the proceeds from his gear to the MambaOnThree Fund.

Ranallo immediately compared their feud to that of Roddy Piper and Buddy Rose setting up a Don Owen reference from McGuinness for the Pacific Northwest tie-in.

I thought about last week’s match between Hiromu Takahashi and Rye Lee during this match. It’s not the same comparison as a match but the philosophy was. They structured the match around several big moments instead of going from one big spot to the next and overwhelming the audience’s senses. It’s a matter of taste for which style you prefer.

In this example, it appeared to work by the end. Early on, the crowd was up for anything risky but then settled down for everything in between. After Dijakovic hit a Death Valley Driver from the top, the audience seemed very engaged.

The big spot was on the floor with Lee placed into a chair and superkicked. Dijakoviv executed a springboard somersault dive on Lee in the chair down on the floor and they replayed this numerous times. It was spectacular and the audience lost its mind.

Each landed on their feet from choke slam attempts, then Dijakovic landed on his feet from a Spirit Bomb. A second Spirit Bomb was hit and Dijakovic kicked out to a thunderous response. Dijakovic hit a one-man Spanish Fly and then lifted Lee for Feast Your Eyes and lost his balance. Dijakovic tried to lift again, sold his back unable to lift Lee and Lee countered with the Big Bang Catastrophe to win the match.

WINNER: Keith Lee at 20:21 to retain the NXT North American title

The final five to seven minutes were very heated with the crowd in Portland. It seemed like Dijakovic was supposed to hit Feast Your Eyes or have it countered, if they changed it on the fly, then more credit to them for thinking on their feet. It was a solid match and afterward, they shook hands and showed mutual respect for the other.


“Oh my God, it’s Raquel Gonzalez”

Kai immediately attacked Nox during her entrance and they fought through the crowd with Kai taking a spear through the guardrail on their way to the ring.

This match excelled due to the intensity of both especially Nox playing the emotional one out for revenge. It complimented the stipulation and both laid it in to add an air of aggression the feud commanded.

There were several uses of weapons including trash cans, lids, a cricket bat that Kai broke over the post, and a table for the end.

Nox hit a German suplex dropping Kai onto a trash can. On the floor, Kai used duct tape to tie Nox to the turnbuckle and attacked her with kicks. Nox was broken free and started attacking Kai’s knee with a laptop and a chain. She placed Kai’s knee through the chair and did the Pillman stomp before landing the Shiniest Wizard (that needs to be renamed as it sounded silly in such an intense match setting). Nox stated she wasn’t done yet and brought a table into the ring.

Kai was placed on the table with her neck put through a chair. Nox climbed to the top when she was attacked by Raquel Gonzalez (the former Reina Gonzalez, who was in both Mae Young Classic tournaments). Gonzalez dropped Nox through the table off the top turnbuckle and Kai stole the victory.

WINNER: Dakota Kai at 13:27

I thought Nox performed very well in this match and Kai was very aggressive in the role of the heel. This didn’t feel like a major grudge match on television, but they did translate it well during the match. The finish didn’t get over because no one in the building knew who Gonzalez won so it felt like a convenient “out”.

Gonzalez raised Kai’s arm and they appear to be a pairing coming out of this show.


This was an outstanding match and clocked in at close to thirty minutes.

They had the crowd early on with a dramatic scene-setter and already feeling important by the time the bell rang. Early, Gargano attacked Balor’s left arm and Balor attacked with a dragon screw through the ropes to weaken the left knee of Gargano.

It was a slow build, but the audience was with it. They had an inventive spot where Balor hit the Pele kick but was stunned from an enzuigiri, so Gargano collapsed on top for a two-count.

It escalated after Balor absorbed a superkick and came back with a John Woo dropkick and missed with the coup de grace. Gargano locked in the Gargano Escape and Balor escaped after two applications of the hold with a rope break at the end.

On the floor, Balor was shot into the guardrail from the John Woo dropkick, which led to some boos aimed at Gargano. Gargano was dumped onto the announcer’s desk as Balor landed his own John Woo dropkick running from one desk to the next and Gargano flew off it. He rolled Gargano into the ring to land the coup de grace and 1916 for the victory.

WINNER: Finn Balor in 27:23

This show has been outstanding three matches in. Balor was terrific as the heel and I felt the pacing was very good with their timing perfect for what they were doing and keeping the audience’s attention for an extended period. Obviously, a lot of directions with this outcome and sets up Balor for a big match at the next TakeOver. The opening match was completely different, but each was solid in its own way as different matches.


For Black History Month, Belair had ‘Black History In The Making’ written on her robe and gear. Belair’s parents were seated in the front row.

It picked up during a sequence of slaps in the corner going back-and-forth. Belair hit a military press after using the hair whip to the chest.

The Riptide and KOD were each countered followed by a big boot from Ripley and spear from Belair as both women were down. Ripley took an enormous back body drop to the floor and crashed landing on her feet. This was followed by a tope con giro from Belair.

It climaxed with a battle on the turnbuckle where Belair blocked a sunset bomb, Ripley used a pump handle and spun Belair off the turnbuckle into the Riptide for the victory.

WINNER: Rhea Ripley at 13:32 to retain the NXT women’s title

I thought the match was good but didn’t exceed the expectations I had for it. I think the audience saw the outcome as a foregone conclusion and that may have hindered it. Both worked hard and they didn’t overstay their welcome with the time allotment, which is a credit given what they’ve had to follow.

After, Charlotte Flair attacked Ripley and accepted the challenge for WrestleMania. Then, she sent Belair into the steel steps before exiting.


‘How many legs could Bobby Fish break if Bobby Fish could break legs?’ – Nigel McGuinness

Matt Riddle and Pete Dunne came out in shirts that read ‘How Much Fish Could Bobby Fish Fry if Bobby Fish Could Fry Fish?’ and puts the words on the screen to encourage the chant while Riddle repeated it over and over until O’Reilly and Fish attacked them on the aisle.

This was off the charts and a tremendous tag match.

It built up to a hot tag from Riddle, who was phenomenal during the comeback and attacking O’Reilly and Fish including Bro-tons to each. Riddle was alone with O’Reilly and hit the Final Flash and a German suplex and O’Reilly responded with a rolling elbow and they were both down. I thought these two were the stars of the match, although that’s not a slight on the others. Riddle was stopped after a chop block to the knee that would be focused on later.

O’Reilly did a variation of the Les Kellett clothesline bouncing off the middle rope, knocked back and bounced off the bottom rope.

O’Reilly applied the sharpshooter and Fish had a rear-naked choke on Riddle, which was broken when Riddle drilled O’Reilly with a knee and then broke out of the choke. O’Reilly returned with a knee off the top to Riddle’s damaged knee and applied a kneebar, which was broken by Dunne with a stomp off the top to O’Reilly’s wrist.

They teased a breakup between Riddle and Dunne when Dunne was knocked into his partner and sent him off the apron. Then, Riddle stormed the ring, missed O’Reilly with a spear and tackled Dunne. This led to Chasing the Dragon on Dunne, who kicked out for a monstrous response as everyone bought it.

The Broserweights made one final comeback with an X-Plex into a Riddle powerbomb and a Bro 2 Sleep into an enzuigiri from Dunne delivered to Fish and Riddle pinned him. The place exploded for the end.

WINNERS: Matt Riddle & Pete Dunne in 17:00 to win the NXT tag titles

Excellent match and there have been three high-quality matches on this card, so far. I loved this match and they’ve hit on something big with Riddle and Dunne. Riddle has every quality necessary to be a top star on any brand.


It was a long, dramatic presentation and some are going to hate that this is becoming the norm for big main events. For me, it comes down to the end and if the time invested pays off for the viewer.

In the early stages, they teased Cole going after Ciampa’s neck that needed to be focused on. Cole used a wheelbarrow suplex onto the announcer’s desk for the first major spot. This opened Cole’s offense to target the neck with Ushigoroshi’s and attempt the Panama Sunrise several times, including once on the apron that was turned into an Air Raid Crash. Cole later hit the move on the floor and they sold it big regarding if Ciampa could continue – he did.

The single best moment of the match came after Willow’s Bell followed by the Fairy Tale Ending. Ciampa had this look on his face of elation that he had finally done it, went for the cover and Cole kicked out. This was when the match took off and the crowd in Portland was adamant that Ciampa needed to win.

Ciampa countered out of a crossface to apply his own, which McGuinness had a great line stating the neck damage has rendered his arms useless and told a great story. Then, Roderick Strong ran out to distract the referee while Kyle O’Reilly and Bobby Fish attacked Ciampa. Cole attacked Ciampa with superkicks and the Last Shot that Ciampa kicked out from for a thunderous response.

Ciampa was shoved into the referee, who was out, Cole hit a low blow and came off the turnbuckle into a low kick from Ciampa. Ciampa hit the Fairy Tale Ending, the referee was out, and the audience counted loudly.

Ciampa went to grab the title belt on the canvas and Johnny Gargano appeared and pulled it away. Gargano blasted Ciampa with the belt and Cole rolled on top to win.

WINNER: Adam Cole at 33:12 to retain the NXT title

I didn’t feel this match at the main event level until around the 25:00 mark. The final 8-10 minutes were very solid, and the audience was electric for Ciampa nearly winning the title. In the end, I thought it was a very strong presentation, but they had to work hard to get to that level after everything this crowd has seen tonight.

The major news was Johnny Gargano attacking Tommaso Ciampa and setting up a rematch where Gargano is the heel.

Overall, I thought this was a fantastic show and the added match was not dragging as the show lasted just over three hours. All the matches received more than enough time.


Beth’s reaction to getting hit with sweat was great. This match is nuts

The Keith Lee vs. Dominik Dijakovic was awesome! My MOTY so far.

A very WWE finish to an awesome Street Fight, the crowd sounds done

A bit torn on Lee-Dijakovic because it was a great match but at a certain point of their matches, it just feels like they’re kicking out of way too much stuff. Like kicking out a top-rope spanish fly two seconds after it lands really takes away the significance of it and there were like 10 spots that felt like that. That said, the crowd was in it and reacting exactly how they should to those spots had they been given more tension, so there’s not much to nitpick with.

I didn’t hate the Reina/Raquel Gonzalez interference as much as others did. It explains why they bothered having another match with Nox already getting her win back. And if you’re going to debut a monster of a division, this was a good way to go about it on a big stage with a big move. You’re almost always going to get a dead crowd after something like that with a brand new wrestler, so I can’t kill it for that. It did bring back one of my pet peeves with announcers - knowing exactly who a mystery person[s] is when almost no one else does (another example is Excalibur doing something similar with the Butcher and the Blade). Really takes the starch out of it when they’re just “oh it’s just that person we all know here.” That just makes me think I misplaced someone because they didn’t make any sort of impression in the first place. Let them have a fresh platform to introduce themselves on NXT and let fans wonder for a few days about them.

Finn vs Gargano was awesome guess Balor goes for the gold but would love if he challenged Walter at Mania Takeover

Glad to see the Ripley/Storm match was just an off night for the two…because the Ripley/Belair performance was much better.

Well…I can certainly say I didn’t see that ending coming to the main event.

Balor vs. Gargano was my match of the night.

I thought Ripley vs. Belair was better than Ripley vs. Toni Storm last month, even though the finish wasn’t in doubt, and Charlotte’s appearance made everything before it secondary.

I think Ciampa’s been great and Adam Cole has been a steady anchor for NXT, but by the end of that main event they definitely did too much. The multiple kickouts are one thing, Ciampa popping right back up from a Canadian Destroyer on the floor is another. After all of that, including each guy surviving the other’s finisher, it was three screwy finishes altogether (Era interference, ref bump, and the surprise Gargano turn) and a title belt to the noggin to decide it. After watching this show late and sleeping on it, it was overkill to me.

On the plus side, I guess Gargano turning heel an hour and change after losing to Balor is better for him than languishing as a babyface who can’t challenge for a title. A few options to go with from here.

I enjoyed the rest of the matches too, even with Raquel/Reina’s Butcher & Blade-esque introduction.

I see a lot of Criticism about the Gonzales introduction. I thought the only issue I had was that Kai seemed surprised by it. Kai needed a heater/body guard. Hard to be a convincing convicting heel when you are constantly outnumbered by everyone. I mean Nox has Lerae, Rhea is also anti-Kai after Wargames. So having back up makes sense. I also get the impression that Shayna and Bianca May be headed up soon, so it is a good idea to fill out the division a bit especially with Io out for who knows how long. Building up Kai as a contender for after Mania makes sense.