Let’s start off by discussing the title I’ve chosen for this article, which I’ll admit is a little harsh. Ranking all of the NXT TakeOvers from ‘worst to best’ implies that the lowest events are weak – which is obviously quite misleading.
Since the very first NXT TakeOver in mid-2014, WWE’s developmental brand has produced some of the best wrestling events in the world, period. Yes, as we’ll see, there’s been a gradual improvement over time; but taken as a collective, NXT’s Network specials have been unbelievably strong.
This is partly down to the constant strength of the NXT roster. As each class is moved up, piece-by-piece, to Raw or SmackDown, WWE’s Florida-based brand is consistently replenished with some of the most talented wrestlers on the face of the planet.
However, with wrestling undergoing something of a golden age in terms of quality, this can’t be the only reason. Yes, TakeOver-era NXT has always boasted an incredible collection of talent, but so have the Raw and SmackDown rosters of recent years.
The other key factor, therefore, must be the brand’s booking and presentation. Away from the clutter of the main roster, NXT has been able to focus on stripped-back, intense storytelling, with a nod to old-school Southern booking (of which we know Triple H is a huge fan).
Visually, as well, NXT remains the coolest part of WWE. From the distinctive black and yellow aesthetic to a focus on slightly more intimate venues, each TakeOver hits that sweet spot between independent charm and sports entertainment sleekness.
However, this is indeed a ranking, and although it’s been very difficult, we’ve listed all 21 NXT TakeOvers from worst to best. How does your favourite stack up? Let’s find out…
22. NXT TakeOver: Unstoppable
Where: Full Sail University – Winter Park, Florida
What: Although nominally the ‘worst’ TakeOver on this list, this show certainly had plenty to enjoy: an intense affair between Becky Lynch and Sasha Banks, a frenzied opener of Finn Balor vs. Tyler Breeze, and a brutal title match to end the night.
Kevin Owens retained his NXT Championship against Sami Zayn by relentlessly attacking his former best friend, resulting in the match being called off. It could be argued that this brought TakeOver: Unstoppable’s biggest match to a deflating end, but it was nothing if not effective, establishing Owens as the big bad heel on the block.
Of course, every heel champion needs a popular challenger – and they don’t come much more imposing than Samoa Joe. He gave the show its most memorable moment, striding into a WWE arena for the first time and staring KO down as the crowd lost their minds.
Star of the Show: Becky Lynch. Joe’s debut stole the show, but the most impressive wrestling performance came courtesy of the Lass-Kicker. An edgier Becky than we’re used to these days, the Irishwoman still couldn’t pick up the victory against Sasha Banks – but helped her less-experienced foe to the match of the night.