NXT Takeover: Portland

Moda Center, Portland, Oregon, February 16, 2020

NXT returns today for its latest Takeover event, with a much-anticipated match card. Packed with four championship bouts and two grudge matches, Takeover: Portland has the potential to be one of the best in the brand’s steeped history, as Rushonrock’s King Of The Ring, Andy Spoors, reports…

Not since War Games back in November have the Superstars of NXT had a PPV chance to showcase their considerable talents. Some star-making turns at both Survivor Series and the Royal Rumble (Keith Lee brushing shoulders with Brock Lesnar and Roman Reigns as one example) have seen stock in NXT rise.

With Wrestlemania rapidly approaching, both NXT and WWE’s rosters will be looking to secure their place on the biggest weekend in the industry’s business. This is especially true for Tommaso Ciampa. After a severe and potentially career-ending injury forced the previous NXT champ to miss last year’s Mania weekend, the chance of redemption comes against Adam Cole.

An emotional documentary following Ciampa’s journey from being forced to relinquish the title he held so dearly to his eventual return to action destroyed his previous heel persona. The intricacies ‘Psycho Killer’ poured into his character were replaced with an unfamiliar underdog story, but his dedication to the craft makes it every bit as believable.

With Adam Cole putting his title on the line, it could be a tricky night for his stable, the Undisputed Era. Bobby Fish and Kyle O’Reilly put their NXT Tag Team Championships up against this year’s Dusty Rhodes Tournament winners and makeshift team of The BroserWeights.

A series of highly amusing social media videos has seen Pete Dunne and Matt Riddle become the odd couple on their journey to Portland. Both men are incredibly talented as individuals, but the stacked nature of the roster means neither Superstar gets lost in the ether waiting for their next big feud. Expect some brutal, fast-paced action and a potential upset, triggering a series of matches running through to Tampa.

The potential carrot of a WrestleMania match against Royal Rumble winner, Charlotte tantalisingly dangles over Rhea Ripley vs Bianca Belair. Ripley has done nothing but impress since War Games and Belair’s outstanding showing in the Rumble strapped a rocket to her star. There can be no doubt that both of these future stars are ready for the here and now too. There is a long history of stellar women’s matches and this has all the hallmarks of joining them.

Some wrestlers are destined to fight forever. Keith Lee and Dominik Dijakovic have been synonymous with each other long before their NXT days. Carving a path of destruction, the two mammoth-sized men have been defying the laws of physics since their indie days. This could be the biggest stage the pair have had together and surely both will be looking to make the most of every minute they have.

After the shocking betrayal at War Games, it would be fair to say Dakota Kai and Tegan Nox’s very personal rivalry, hasn’t set the world alight as hoped. A brutal street fight could either end or kick-start what had the potential to be one of the best female feuds the brand has seen. Missed opportunities need to be rectified and it could take every bit of Kai and Nox’s in-ring chemistry to pull something special out the bag. 

And so on to a match that has every wrestling fan, no matter their persuasion, salivating at the very prospect of it: Johnny Gargano taking on Finn Balor. After the latter took out Johnny Wrestling, the hatred for each other has intensified. Each Superstar has a case to say they are Mr. NXT and a fast, frantic and jaw dropping match looks set for Portland. The weight of expectation has arguably never been heavier, but if any two were more equipped to deal with it, it’s these two.

A special musical performance from Poppy will just add to the spectacle. NXT seems to find a way to deliver above anything they’ve done before. If they achieve that feat tonight, the WWE Universe is in for something truly incredible. 

Full Match Card

NXT Championship Match

Adam Cole (c) vs. Tommaso Ciampa

NXT Women’s Championship Match

Rhea Ripley (c) vs. Bianca Belair

NXT Tag Team Championship Match

The Undisputed ERA (c) vs. Matt Riddle & Pete Dunne

NXT North American Championship Match

Keith Lee (c) vs. Dominik Dijakovic

Street Fight

Tegan Nox vs. Dakota Kai

Johnny Gargano vs. Finn Bálor