Every NXT TakeOver Ranked from Worst to Best | Smark Out Moment

Every NXT TakeOver Ranked from Worst to Best

Posted by Callum Wiggins Monday, June 3, 2019
Over the last five years, NXT has been constantly giving fans a reason to smile on Saturday nights. NXT Takeovers have become a standard for quality and consistency, somehow always managing to meet and exceed expectations and deliver some of the greatest shows in WWE's long history.

NXT Takeover Rankings WWE

When people say 'there's no such thing as a bad Takeover', they mean it. But, some are better than others. And that is the task I've taken on here, to rank every single NXT Takeover from worst to best to commemorate their 25th show on June 1, 2019. I've done this based on my views on the match quality, production value, and the show's importance in making NXT what it is today.

Obviously, these rankings are just my opinion, and each of these shows has at least one great match or moment that makes them worth watching again. If you agree or disagree with how I've ordered arguably the greatest series of wrestling events in history, then I invite you to leave your own thoughts and rankings in the comments section below.

With that out of the way, let's get to the rankings!

25. NXT Takeover The End

NXT Takeover The End 2016

While it feels odd to be starting these rankings with 'The End', in my view this stands out as the weakest Takeover card to date. The last to take place in NXT's home of Full Sail University, the main event between Samoa Joe and Finn Balor was reasonably underwhelming, despite being held inside a steel cage and staging Demon Balor's first defeat.

The undercard did feature an exceptional Tag Team Championship rematch between The Revival and American Alpha. But beyond this, no other match lingers long in the memory, especially the lackluster debut of Andrade Cien Almas as a babyface Chippendale.

24. NXT Takeover Unstoppable

NXT Takeover Unstoppable 2015

NXT Takeover Unstoppable is best remembered as Becky Lynch's coming out party. Long before she became The Man and one of WWE's hottest commodities, Lynch established herself as one of the Four Horsewomen in a stellar championship match with Sasha Banks.

Outside of this watershed moment, the rest of the card was a story of untapped potential. Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn's clash was hampered by Zayn's injury status, while Finn Balor and Tyler Breeze didn't click as you might've expected. Add a couple of average tag matches and Baron Corbin vs Rhyno battle and it's safe to say this Takeover was not Straight Fire.

23. NXT Takeover San Antonio

For others, I imagine this Takeover would appear significantly higher on the list. But I was never a huge fan of Bobby Roode's run in NXT outside of his Glorious entrances, and so the event in which he captured the NXT Championship from Shinsuke Nakamura was always going to leave a little sour taste in the mouth.

This show did feature a fun Fatal 4-Way Women's Championship match, Authors of Pain defeating DIY for the tag titles and Roderick Strong's first Takeover appearance. But it's not a show that carries a great deal of significance in the long legacy of NXT Takeovers.

22. NXT Takeover Fatal 4-Way

NXT Takeover Fatal 4 Way 2014

NXT Takeover Fatal 4-Way is something of a one-match card, but what a match it was. The four-way main event featuring Adrian Neville, Tyson Kidd, Tyler Breeze and Sami Zayn was all-out excitement with plenty of fantastic near-falls, with the manner of Neville's victory setting the wheels in motion for his feud with Zayn going forward.

Outside of this, the rest of the show is largely forgettable. Charlotte Flair defended her title against Bayley before the Hugger had really hit her stride, The Ascension lost their belts, their undefeated streak and their long-term prospects, while squash victories for Baron Corbin and Bull Dempsey didn't add any level of excitement.

21. NXT Takeover Respect

NXT Takeover Respect 2015

The first and so-far only Takeover event main-evented by a Women's Championship match, Bayley and Sasha Banks delivered an excellent follow-up to their encounter in Brooklyn with an emotional, hard-thought Iron Woman match.

The rest of the card couldn't keep up with this closing act, which was helped by the lack of an NXT Championship match, as Finn Balor and Samoa Joe teamed up to win the inaugural Dusty Rhodes Classic Tournament. However, Respect is also notable for featuring the debut of the irrepressible Asuka.

20. NXT Takeover

NXT Takeover 2014

All the way back to the beginning in 2014, Takeover was a successful follow-up to NXT's first feature-length show, Arrival. The show is best remembered for a fantastic tournament final between Charlotte Flair and Natalya, with The Queen claiming the first of what would be many title reigns with her father Ric in her corner.

There were also very good matches like Adrian Neville vs. Tyson Kidd and Tyler Breeze vs. Sami Zayn to make up the meat of this show. But they had to make up for two less-than-stellar matches that opened the show in Adam Rose vs. Camacho and The Ascension vs. Kalisto & El Local.

19. NXT Takeover Toronto

NXT Takeover Toronto 2016

One of the many Takeovers over the years to have the show stolen by its tag team division, DIY captured the NXT Tag Team Championships against The Revival in an outstanding 2-out-of-3 falls match, long before fractures would form in their partnership.

This was undoubtedly the best match of the night, but the rest of the card was not short on quality. Mickie James made her return to WWE in a losing effort against Asuka, while Samoa Joe became the first two-time NXT Champion by unexpectedly defeating Shinsuke Nakamura in the main event.

18. NXT Takeover WarGames 2018

NXT Takeover WarGames 2018

Again, this might be controversially low on the list for some people's tastes. But, for me personally, the main event WarGames match, though intense and violent, went on far too long and was unnecessarily overbooked. It was far from bad, but ended a strong card on a muted note.

What certainly lived up to the hype though was Aleister Black vs. Johnny Gargano, which upheld the glowing reputation of Johnny Takeover. The rest of the card ranged from good to great, with Velveteen Dream's first NXT Championship match, Shayna Baszler and Kairi Sane going 2-out-of-3 falls, and Matt Riddle's 6-second debut win over Kassius Ohno.

17. NXT Takeover Rival

NXT Takeover Rival 2015

In one of the most unique main events in Takeover history, Kevin Owens' completed his rapid ascent to the NXT Championship by demolishing Sami Zayn to a referee stoppage. The first match of their heated rivalry rounded off a strong show, which also featured Finn Balor against Adrian Neville and a strong Fatal 4-Way Women's Championship match.

It wasn't all smooth sailing though, as Blake & Murphy continued their lukewarm tag title reign against The Lucha Dragons, while Baron Corbin and Bull Dempsey had a brief yet boring No DQ match.

16. NXT Takeover Orlando

NXT Takeover Orlando 2017

The first of the pre-WrestleMania shows on this list, Orlando is hampered in my eyes by another prolonged Bobby Roode and Shinsuke Nakamura main event. Likewise, the opening eight-person tag while fun felt a little underwhelming for a weekend of this magnitude.

The rest of the card was packed with quality though. From Aleister Black's awesome debut against Andrade Cien Almas, to the all-action triple threat elimination tag team match, to the exceptional first encounter between Asuka and Ember Moon, these matches would have fit right in on the Grandest Stage of Them All.

15. NXT Takeover London

NXT Takeover London 2015

Maybe this is some nationalistic bias coming through, but I thoroughly enjoyed Takeover London for the atmosphere the crowd created throughout. Bayley showed incredible guts to overcome the powerful Nia Jax, while Finn Balor and Samoa Joe's series of matches began at this event.

Add into the mix the severely underrated Asuka vs. Emma clash and a strong tag team encounter between The Revival and Enzo & Cass, it was a consistently solid show carried forward by the boisterous, electric audience.

14. NXT Takeover Phoenix

NXT Takeover Phoenix 2019

One of the most recent shows on this list, the highlight was an incredible Tag Team Championship match between War Raiders and Undisputed Era which got the show off to a blistering start, and set a bar that arguably nobody else could top.

Still, everyone tried their hardest to achieve that goal. Johnny Gargano and Ricochet put on a slick wrestling clinic, there was a well-told story between Shayna Baszler and Bianca Belair, and it was capped off with a solid main event battle between Tommaso Ciampa and Aleister Black.

13. NXT Takeover Brooklyn III

NXT Takeover Brooklyn III 2017

The Brooklyn shows have fast-become NXT's equivalent to WrestleMania, presenting some of the strongest cards in the brand's history. Brooklyn III, although the weakest of these in my opinion, was no exception, especially with a typically brilliant Johnny Gargano match with Andrade Cien Almas, and the fantastic final one-on-one match to date between Asuka and Ember Moon.

Aleister Black vs. Hideo Itami was solid if lacking a little bite, as could also be said for the Tag Team Championship match. But it featured a strong main event with Drew McIntyre becoming champion, with a memorable parting image of The Undisputed Era's arrival.

12. NXT Takeover Chicago II

NXT Takeover Chicago II 2018

While yet to develop the same reputation as Brooklyn, Chicago is gradually becoming NXT's second city. Their second stop in the Windy City was capped-off with a hard-hitting street fight between NXT's greatest rivals - Tommaso Ciampa and Johnny Gargano.

Although the Aleister Black/Lars Sullivan and Shayna Baszler/Nikki Cross matches weren't to everyone's tastes, there was universal acclaim for both the opening tag match pitting Undisputed Era against Lorcan & Burch, and Ricochet's bout with Velveteen Dream.

11. NXT Takeover Brooklyn II

NXT Takeover Brooklyn II 2016

Back in Brooklyn for the sequel to its premier show, and this event carried on its fine reputation. This was cemented with yet another incredible Tag Team Championship match, with The Revival battling DIY evoking unbelievable reactions from the NXT faithful.

Shinsuke Nakamura and Asuka represented their homeland of Japan excellently by winning their respective championship matches, and although there was some dross on this card like Austin Aries vs. No Way Jose, the quality of the tag match mixed with great production value for Bobby Roode and Ember Moons' debuts made this a special occasion.

10. NXT Takeover R Evolution

NXT Takeover R Evolution 2014

Traveling all the way back to the third Takeover show, and this night was all about Sami Zayn. The beloved underdog that never caught a break finally captured the big one, ending the long reign of Adrian Neville in one of Takeover's greatest-ever matches.

Plus, R Evolution is a pivotal show for the introduction of Kevin Owens to WWE (as well as his beautifully produced heel turn on Zayn later in the night), the first Takeover showings for both Finn Balor and Hideo Itami, and the spiritual start of the critically acclaimed series of matches between Charlotte Flair and Sasha Banks.

9. NXT Takeover Brooklyn IV

NXT Takeover Brooklyn IV 2018

The most recent show carrying the Brooklyn moniker is in my view the best since the original, rounded-off by a deeply personal and show-stealing Last Man Standing match between Tommaso Ciampa and Johnny Gargano with the championship at stake.

This was the pinnacle of a show that was consistently strong. Adam Cole and Ricochet did their best to match the main event's level, the lovable Kairi Sane temporarily ended Shayna Baszler's reign of terror, and The Undisputed Era continued to dominant tag team wrestling with another gripping match against Moustache Mountain.

8. NXT Takeover WarGames

NXT Takeover WarGames 2017

Although the first WarGames match under the NXT umbrella gave the match a whole different context, it resulted in a fun, hectic main event, with Undisputed Era coming out on top over SAnitY and Roderick Strong & AOP.

However, the names on everyone's lips after WarGames were those of Aleister Black and Velveteen Dream after their awesome storytelling showcase on this show. Add to that the start Andrade Cien Almas' successful title reign and the crowning of Ember Moon as NXT Women's Champion, and that adds up to another great show.

7. NXT Takeover Philadelphia

NXT Takeover Philadelphia 2018

Philadelphia was in many's eyes birthplace of 'Johnny Takeover', as Johnny Gargano's main event title match with Andrade Cien Almas became the first NXT match rated five stars in the Wrestling Observer. An awesome contest filled with reversals, counters, outside shenanigans and more.

The supporting cast to this main event was also exceptional, highlighted by a brilliant Extreme Rules match between Aleister Black and Adam Cole. Philadelphia also witnessed the first strong clash between Ember Moon and Shayna Baszler, while The Undisputed Era began their year of dominance over the NXT tag team scene.

6. NXT Takeover Chicago

NXT Takeover Chicago 2016

The greatness of NXT's first visit to Chicago is unique it that the NXT Championship match was arguably the weakest on the card. Instead, the night is best remembered for the incredible Tag Team Ladder match main event between AOP and DIY, with the iconic closing scenes of Tommaso Ciampa turning on his best friend Johnny Gargano.

Chicago also put the United Kingdom Championship in the spotlight, as Pete Dunne and Tyler Bate wrestled a MOTY classic to launch the Bruiserweight's 685-day reign. Add Asuka defending her women's title in a fun Triple Threat and Roderick Strong besting Eric Young and it added up to a pivotal event in NXT's storied history.

5. NXT Takeover XXV

NXT Takeover XXV 2019

The most recent NXT Takeover more than lived up to its billing as a celebration of the brand and the 24 shows that had come before it. It featured quality matches from top to bottom, capped off with a truly epic NXT Championship bout, where Adam Cole wrenched the title away from Johnny Gargano.

This was supplemented with a wild Fatal 4-Way Tag Team Ladder match to crown The Street Profits as champions, Tyler Breeze's celebrated return against the flamboyant Velveteen Dream, and Matt Riddle and Roderick Strong putting on an MMA-style masterpiece.

4. NXT Takeover Dallas

NXT Takeover Dallas 2016

When you think of NXT Takeover Dallas, you think the arrival of Shinsuke Nakamura. I credit the unbelievable quality of Nakamura's debut against Sami Zayn for introducing me to NJPW, and at the time many considered it the greatest match in NXT's history.

That alone would be enough to rank it towards the top, but then you add one of the greatest tag team matches in NXT history with American Alpha toppling The Revival, Finn Balor besting Samoa Joe and the start of Asuka's indomitable Women's Championship reign, and Dallas was a show befitting a WrestleMania weekend.

3. NXT Takeover Brooklyn

NXT Takeover Brooklyn 2015

NXT has been credited as the heart of WWE's Women's Evolution, and the first Brooklyn show embodied this with what many consider the greatest women's match in NXT or WWE history, as Bayley carried the momentum of the crowd to a stunning victory over Sasha Banks, with all Four Horsewomen sharing an emotional celebration post-match.

This was the high point of a deep and strong show. Jushin Thunder Liger made his one and only stop in NXT to battle Tyler Breeze, The Vaudevillains became Tag Team Champions, Apollo Crews and Samoa Joe made their Takeover bows and Finn Balor cemented his title reign and banished Kevin Owens to the main roster in a Ladder match main event.

2. NXT Takeover New York

NXT Takeover New York 2019

As it has on so many occasions prior to this, The Barclays Center played host to an outstanding Takeover card, topped by the first legendary encounter between Johnny Gargano and Adam Cole. A layered, hard-hitting 2-out-of-3 falls match with the vacant NXT Championship at stake, Gargano finally climbed the summit of the Yellow Brand by forcing Cole to tap twice.

The closing epic was supported by several other awesome matches, from War Raiders against Aleister Black & Ricochet in the opener, to the end of Pete Dunne's historic UK Championship reign at the hands of WALTER. Add an all-action women's Fatal Four-Way and Velveteen Dream vs. Matt Riddle, and you have a terrific event.

1. NXT Takeover New Orleans

NXT Takeover New Orleans 2018

Although New York was a phenomenal show, when choosing my favorite Takeover, I couldn't shake New Orleans from my mind. This was the location for the first and in many's eyes best match in the brilliant, deeply personal match between Johnny Gargano and Tommaso Ciampa, with Gargano gaining revenge for Ciampa's betrayal from months prior.

This was just the tip of a spectacular event. The first NXT North American Champion Adam Cole was crowned in an insane 6-Way Ladder match, Shayna Baszler established herself as the Alpha Female of NXT by winning the title, Aleister Black began his critically-acclaimed title run, and today's iteration of The Undisputed Era was forged with Roderick Strong's unexpected heel turn. From top-to-bottom an fantastic, important and legendary show.

Do you agree with how I've ranked every NXT Takeover?
How would you order this incredible series of shows?
Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

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Callum Wiggins hails from Essex in the United Kingdom. He recently graduated from the University of York with a degree in History and has been a fan of professional wrestling since 2002. Outside of wrestling, he is also a fan of Arsenal FC and enjoys video games, darts, and Formula One. Follow him on Facebook, Twitter.


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