NXT Takeover Phoenix was a truly eventful show, seeing two titles change hands, some amazing matches take place, and a surprising reunion happen. Since its inception, NXT Takeover has held a deserved reputation for providing some of the best pro wrestling in the world. While ostensibly WWE‘s developmental league, NXT regularly puts on shows that put the Raw and SmackDown rosters to shame. A lot of the credit for this has to go to Triple H, who produces NXT and guides it creatively, while father-in-law and WWE boss Vince McMahon still runs things on the main roster.
Despite NXT being in a near constant state of roster turnover as stars who’ve made it big there graduate to the bigger stages of Raw and SmackDown, just about every Takeover event has managed to knock things out of the park from a quality standpoint. The lead-in event to tomorrow’s annual Royal Rumble, NXT Takeover Phoenix was no different, playing host to five matches that were all terrific in their own ways.
Two of those matches also saw NXT’s prestigious championships won by first time title holders. In the opening match, the powerful duo known as the War Raiders were able to finally end the long tag team title reign of the Undisputed Era stable’s Roderick Strong and Kyle O’Reilly. In the third bout of the night, Johnny Gargano finally managed to capture singles gold, albeit by questionable means. Gargano blasted the now former North American champion Ricochet with a vicious brainbuster on the concrete floor, followed by spiking him in the ring with a slingshot DDT for the pin.
Elsewhere on the card, Matt Riddle once again bested Kassius Ohno, and Shayna Baszler just barely retained her NXT women’s championship following a strong challenge from Bianca Belair. Then came the absolute beast of a main event between NXT champion Tomasso Ciampa and challenger Aleister Black. After a valiant effort by Black, the leg-focused assault on “The Dutch Destroyer” by the ruthless Ciampa proved too much, allowing Ciampa to hit a series of high impact moves and pick up the victory to retain.
Then, in a somewhat low-key but still memorable moment, as Ciampa celebrated with his NXT title on top of the ramp, new North American champion – and Ciampa’s recent bitter rival – Johnny Gargano came out to join in the festivities, holding his gold high. Ciampa then did the same, as former tag team champions DIY officially reunited for the first time since their break-up at NXT Takeover Chicago in 2017. DIY is back, and with both holding championships, they may now be unstoppable.