HomeWrestlingNXT Takeover: Vengeance Day Review: Undisputed Over?

NXT Takeover: Vengeance Day Review: Undisputed Over?


Photo Credit: WWE

It’s only fitting that we start this at the most shocking part of the night – the end. On August 19, 2017, at NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn III, The Undisputed Era was born with Adam Cole’s arrival to NXT. With the core three of Cole, Fish, and O’Reilly intact, Roderick Strong would soon join them. They would all hold the NXT titles simultaneously, be a constant in the NXT iteration of War Games, and have memorable feuds with the likes of Keith Lee, Johnny Gargano, Authors of Pain, etc. The O’Reilly title air guitar and the Adam Cole ‘BOOM’ during their theme song will surely be missed. If there was a benchmark to achieve in NXT, these four men certainly did it together.

With that and a legendary four-year run, all good things must end. Adam Cole, leader of The Undisputed Era and NXT’s second triple crown champion, has been supplanted by the rise of Kyle O’Reilly as a singles competitor. O’Reilly’s sign of respect to Balor after his title match seemed to be the last straw. There’s a built-in storyline here that could take the NXT Championship picture into the summer.

Cole and O’Reilly are not strangers to fighting one another. O’Reilly has had a chance at the ROH title and while Cole was in Bullet Club, he robbed him of it. Check out their match from ROH: Final Battle 2016. Cole would best O’Reilly here and somehow would always be the thorn in his side. Before you do the inevitable KOR/Balor III title match, Cole and O’Reilly have to fight for the soul of The Undisputed Era. If there’s even a soul to salvage at this point.

Roderick Strong is caught in the middle, and Bobby Fish is going to be out for a while with a torn bicep. It’s a classic story of Cole wanting to get one last run as NXT’s coveted title and O’Reilly having to overcome a friend and old nemesis for an ultimate babyface run.

With that, let’s get into the show itself:

Dakota Kai & Raquel Gonzalez vs. Ember Moon & Shotzi Blackheart (Women’s Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic finals): Gonzalez’s strength and aura were well protected most of the match. She always felt imposing, and it would often take both Moon and Blackheart to get an advantage over her. I know it may have felt that the match’s story was backward with Moon/Blackheart working over Kai’s knee and Gonzalez getting the hot tag, but look toward the future with them winning the Dusty Classic.

Shayna Baszler and Nia Jax are the current women’s tag champs on a collision course with Bianca Belair and Sasha Banks. With Shayna and Raquel, there’s already built-in history there with how she used to pick on Kai during their time in NXT together. If Baszler/Jax retain, Kai/Gonzalez would be the face team. You can also do an iteration where Belair/Banks become champions, then drop them to Kai/Gonzalez to give NXT a title that should be featured more on Wednesday nights and give Belair/Banks’ Mania feud a little juice going into April.

The team of Moon and Blackheart really gelled as the tournament went on. They both feed off each other’s energy, especially in terms of their kamikaze-like style. If you wanted to keep them together in case of a Kai/Gonzalez title reign, for the time being, that might be the way to go.

Johnny Gargano (c) vs. Kushida for the North American ChampionshipThis match was all about playing chess, countermoves, and ring psychology. Each man systematically going for each other’s arm, discarding the technician style wresting for hard strikes and near falls. Trying so hard to best each other, it reminded us why Gargano’s reemergence as a heel in NXT has been so good and the acclimation of the right way of building up Kushida. This is a perfect pair to go against each other.

I like how Kushida targeted Gargano’s arm to where he couldn’t lock in the Gargano Escape. He countered One Final Beat early, but it was the one that happened on the outside on the ramp that was ultimately the beginning of the end. This feud between the two is not over. A rematch would entail Kushida finally getting Gargano to tap to the Hoverboard Lock, which means even more now because of how things unfolded.

Grizzled Young Veterans vs. MSK (Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic finals): Grizzled Young Veterans are no strangers to fighting a tag team like MSK. They’ve had brilliant matches with South Wales Subculture over on the NXT UK brand. The team knows how to tweak their style to high-flyers. GYV was dominant for most of the match, cutting off Carter for a good duration of it. Lee and Carter would get the upper hand here and there with their innovative style. However, mostly, it was all GYV. To where James Drake is doing 450 splashes.

It set up this feel-good story of MSK overcoming all of this and winning the Dusty Classic. Even though they are new to NXT, they have been one of the impressive teams in a men’s tag division that needed a fire ignited within it. Grizzled Young Veterans are not out of the title picture by any means. If MSK were to beat Lorcan and Burch, I could see these teams feuding for a good period.

Io Shirai (c) vs. Toni Storm vs. Mercedes Martinez for the Women’s Championship: One of the clever things about this match is how they kept the interaction between Shirai and Storm to a minimum. There would be spurts of offense against each other here and here. Teases of big moves, but they are clearly saving their best for a singles match. Martinez isolated both women a lot, and it kept her looking like a threat. Even though she took the pin, it wasn’t in the fashion that she lost anything.

This match was supposed to go a little longer, but the announce table collapsed on its own when Storm tried to clear it. Still, it was a good match that showcased three of the top women on the brand.

Finn Balor (c) vs. Pete Dunne for the NXT Championship: The second coming of Finn Balor in NXT has been something to see. From his matches with Gargano, Thatcher, two with O’Reilly, and now Pete Dunne, there’s a brutality to them. He will literally fight through a broken jaw to inflict as much pain as he can against you. This revitalization of his career after his main roster stint has been a more vicious side to his character. Something that rivals his first NXT Championship run, and may even surpass it.

The match between Balor and Dunne was a great bookend to a show that shined from top to bottom. They may have teased some mat work in the beginning, but it turned into an all-out slug fest. Dunne was able to show what he’s known for during his NXT UK title run and Balor works to his strengths. This match was full of hard strikes, injured fingers, and two men who just wanted to inflict as much damage as possible against one another.

While O’Reilly and Karrion Kross are lurking for Balor, I don’t want Dunne to go away just yet. In the time that we have, we can get another condensed match from these two on Wednesday night television.

NXT TakeOver: Vengeance Day is now streaming on WWE Network.

Murjani Rawls
Murjani Rawlshttp://www.murjanirawls.com
Murjani is a journalist, self-published author, podcast producer, and photographer working out of the tri-state area. Since 2014, Murjani has been stretching his creativity and passions. He has contributed over 18 websites and over 1,000 articles to his journalism portfolio, providing timely commentary on music, television, movies, politics, sports, and more. Murjani has photographed over 250+ artists spanning many musical genres, is a Rotten Tomatoes-approved critic, and has covered festivals such as Lollapalooza, Sundance Film Festival, and SXSW. Murjani has five self-published books of poetry, three of which have reached the top ten in new releases on Amazon upon release. He is currently the Culture Editor at DraftKings Nation / Vox Media. He was previously staff writer at The Root, senior editor & writer at Substream Magazine, and senior writer, editor, and podcast producer at The Pop Break.


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