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All 22 WWE NXT TakeOver Specials Ranked From Worst To Best

Brooklyn, New Orleans, WarGames and more...

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


WWE


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.

21. NXT TakeOver: Respect


WWE


Where: Full Sail University - Winter Park, Florida

What: The fact that the second-lowest show on this list features one of NXT's most famous matches is a testament to the overall strength of the TakeOver era.

The final two matches aside, TakeOver: Respect could be seen as a standard weekly episode of NXT, which perhaps explains its low standing here. But the event was infused with a palpable big-fight feel thanks to the final of the Dusty Rhodes Classic, and the first ever Iron Woman Match.

Sasha and Bayley grabbed the headlines with a classic display of storytelling, their energy making the half-hour bout whizz by. Elsewhere on the card, momentum was slowed slightly by the close proximity of several tag team tournament matches - but things were wrapped up wonderfully with a crowd-popping win for favourites Finn Balor and Samoa Joe.

Star of the Show: Sasha Banks. Although fans love to cheer for Sasha these days, she's always been at her best as a heel. Here she delivered one of the finest pure-heel performances in NXT history, pulling out every dirty trick in the book to hinder her opponent, and even reducing Bayley-superfan Izzy to tears on the outside. Her frosty exterior was melted in the aftermath however, as she bid farewell to NXT in a tearful send-off featuring Triple H and Stephanie McMahon.

20. NXT TakeOver: Fatal 4-Way


WWE


Where: Full Sail University - Winter Park, Florida

What: The second ever TakeOver had some understandable growing pains to contend with. The card featured quite a lot of filler, including a Hair vs. Hair match between Enzo Amore and Sylvester Lefort, which frustratingly ended without either man losing their mane.

Bull Dempsey defeated Mojo Rawley in a lightning-quick squash, but things picked up massively with the show's final matches.

Charlotte saw off a valiant Bayley to defend her NXT Women's Championship, before Adrian Neville retained his own title in a thrill-a-minute four-way match featuring Tyler Breeze, Tyson Kidd, and ultra-popular Sami Zayn.

The storytelling here was superb, with the usually-babyface Neville pulling the referee out of the ring to deny Zayn victory - before scooping the win for himself.

Star of the Show: Adrian Neville. The shades of gray displayed by Neville were a crucial part of the best feud in the early TakeOver era. Despite being an uber-talented high-flyer, the Newcastle native showed real desperation in utilising heel tactics to keep a fragile grip on his championship. It made the payoff at TakeOver: R Evolution all the more exciting, as we'll see...

19. NXT TakeOver: The End


WWE


Where: Full Sail University - Winter Park, Florida

What: A show that was rumoured to be the final TakeOver ever actually left us with more questions than resolutions. Although a good event, it was clearly a transitional TakeOver in hindsight, bridging the gap between Dallas and Brooklyn II.

Finn Balor failed in his bid to win back the NXT Championship from Samoa Joe, succumbing to the larger man in a bruising Steel Cage Match. This would be Balor's first defeat in WWE while in his painted 'Demon' persona - and his last TakeOver match before departing for the main roster.

Beloved babyface tag team American Alpha surprisingly lost their titles back to The Revival, a result which really demonstrated NXT's faith in Dash and Dawson, but seemed a little baffling at the time.

Future NXT Champion Andrade 'Cien' Almas made his TakeOver debut, but didn't catch on with the crowd as much as WWE would maybe have liked. Even though he defeated Tye Dillinger, it was clear that changes would have to be made - changes which ultimately transformed his WWE career.

Stars of the Show: American Alpha. Gable and Jordan's title reign was cut brutally short in defeat to The Revival, but the all-American babyfaces played their role to perfection, milking every drop of sympathy and heartache out of the Full Sail crowd.

18. NXT TakeOver


WWE


Where: Full Sail University - Winter Park, Florida

What: Although the first NXT TakeOver may seem small-time compared to some of the more recent editions, it remains a fun and impressive show - one fully deserving of its status as originator.

The card was kept simple, with four singles matches, one tag match, and no outlandish stipulations. It represented the flashpoint of several straightforward, sensibly-booked feuds, an early example of NXT's blueprint over the years. More frills may be occasionally added these days, but everything continues to follow this early framework.

The event was weighted heavily towards its second half, as the final three matches all clocked in at over 15 minutes. Crucially, however, all three were compelling in different ways.

Tyler Breeze and Sami Zayn shared a mile-a-minute number one contender's match, Charlotte saw off Natalya for the honour of becoming NXT Women's Champion, and Neville retained his title against Tyson Kidd in a dramatic back-and-forth main event.

Star of the Show: Charlotte. It seems strange in hindsight, given the explosion of women's wrestling in WWE, but when Paige vacated the NXT Women's Championship it seemed like a huge blow for the division. Instead, Charlotte immediately gave the title a new dose of prestige, defeating Natalya in a fantastic bout with both women's legendary relatives cheering them on from ringside.

17. NXT TakeOver: San Antonio


WWE


Where: Freeman Coliseum - San Antonio, Texas

What: "The show's called TakeOver, right!?" screamed Seth Rollins, dashing into the ring during a seemingly-innocuous commentary segment between matches. The Raw Superstar's anarchic entrance was a rare example of a main roster storyline crashing into NXT, and sent an already-enthusiastic crowd into overdrive.

The show itself wasn't quite so chaotic, although it did have its moments. Asuka defended her Women's Championship against three opponents in a frenzied bout, while the Authors of Pain demolished Gargano and Ciampa to wrench the Tag Team Championship from the beloved babyfaces.

The main event was a lot more ponderous, but still compelling in its own way, as Bobby Roode took on champion Shinsuke Nakamura. In a match clearly drawing from old-school influences, the experienced Roode targeted Shinsuke's leg throughout, costing Nakamura the chance to make a winning pinfall attempt late in the match. Roode recovered, hit a pair of Glorious DDTs, and crowned himself NXT Champion earlier than many would have expected.

Star of the Show: Shinsuke Nakamura. His title reign may not have been as flawless as many expected, having already won, lost, and won the belt from Samoa Joe in previous months - but Nakamura again looked impressive in defeat here. It's surprising that one of the most dangerous men in New Japan history makes for such a good loser, but in San Antonio, he again demonstrated his ability to put someone over in expert fashion.

16. NXT TakeOver: R Evolution


WWE


Where: Full Sail University - Winter Park, Florida

What: It only took NXT three attempts to deliver their first truly great TakeOver, featuring a stellar card from top to bottom, and some of the strongest performances of the Full Sail era.

Like many memorable wrestling events, everything on R Evolution adopted a slightly different style to the rest of the card. Kevin Owens' victory over CJ Parker was an exciting debut, even if the future Juice Robinson accidentally shattered KO's nose with an early palm strike. In truth, it probably added to the match.

With Owens looking like a tank straight from the off, tension was alleviated with a brutally quick victory for Baron Corbin, who demolished Tye Dillinger in seconds.

Women's Champion Charlotte kept a scrappy Sasha Banks at bay in the penultimate match of the night, before Neville passed the torch to Sami Zayn in one of NXT's best storyline matches ever.

Neville had gradually been displaying more and more heel tendencies throughout his reign, so when Zayn was ironically given the chance to cheat and win the title he coveted, it resulted in the Full Sail crowd begging him not to do so.

Star of the Show: Sami Zayn. You'd never see a crowd plead with Steve Austin or The Rock to obey the rules, but the desire to see Zayn maintain the pureness of his victory is a testament to his uncanny charm as a pure babyface. NXT could have booked him to lose, painting him as naive like so many WWE babyfaces before him - but Zayn's law-abiding ways were rewarded with victory. It was the most feel-good of title changes.

15. NXT TakeOver: London


WWE


Where: Wembley Arena - London, England

What: NXT's first foray into foreign territory was met with a molten hot crowd - an arena of stereotypically boisterous, chanting English fans, who were rewarded with a consistent card from top to bottom.

The headline matches perhaps weren't overly-magnificent when compared with the marquee efforts of other TakeOvers, but they certainly served a purpose - and were backed up by a series of big moments on the undercard.

Asuka kicked things off with a warmly-received victory over Emma, cementing her place as the future of NXT. Enzo and Cass whipped the crowd into a frenzy but were unable to take the titles from a resolute Revival.

Bayley fended off Nia Jax in an underrated tactical battle, wearing down the bigger woman over the course of 13 hard-fought minutes, before Finn Balor crowned the evening with a successful title defence against Samoa Joe.

Star of the Show: Bayley. In a show without one truly standout performance, I'm giving this one to Bayley, who showed that she can be just as compelling a champion as challenger. Nia may not be the most consistent women's wrestler on the roster, but in the right hands she can be made to look a beast. She did so here thanks to her ring-savvy opponent, even in defeat.

14. NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn III


WWE


Where: Barclays Center - Brooklyn, New York

What: Although the weakest of NXT's three Brooklyn events so far, the most recent still ranks up there in terms of overall quality.

The card may not have been quite as eye-catching as other TakeOver: Brooklyns, but contained several matches that delivered without question. Hideo Itami and Aleister Black stiffed the hell out of each other, Almas and Gargano flew at one another in a thrilling opener, and Asuka saw off Ember Moon in the best match of their feud.

The main event between Drew McIntyre and Bobby Roode may have disappointed some, but was still a solid title match. Moreover, Drew's capturing of the NXT Championship was an emotional moment of redemption for the man who'd originally left WWE under a cloud of disappointment.

Of course, he was immediately upstaged by the debuting Adam Cole, who jumped him from the crowd and aligned with Kyle O'Reilly and Bobby Fish to instantly change the landscape of NXT.

Star of the Show: Ember Moon. Ember failed in her final attempt at defeating the indestructible Asuka, and although she lost, she departed for the main roster with her head held high. This was a magnificent performance, one which set her in good stead for her future Raw career.

13. NXT TakeOver: Orlando


WWE


Where: Amway Center - Orlando, Florida

What: Compared to the chaos of other TakeOvers around this time, NXT's 2017 WrestleMania weekend event was a relatively sensible affair. Booking-wise, at least.

No titles changed hands on this show, with the Authors of Pain going over huge, seeing off both DIY and The Revival in the match of the night. In the main event, Bobby Roode once more defeated Shinsuke Nakamura, besting his rival in another slow-paced, deliberate encounter.

In the women's title scene, Asuka beat Ember Moon to further cement her status as the most unstoppable force in NXT.

Despite following a rather conservative booking blueprint, however, the action itself was often wild and wonderful. Several matches kept the crowd on the edge of their seats, and even though Roode and Nakamura's long main event was a divisive one, the energy of WrestleMania weekend really bolstered this show - making it one of the best of the year for any promotion.

Star of the Show: The Revival. Although unsuccessful in their attempt to win back the tag titles, Dash and Dawson were perhaps the most important factor in the three-team elimination match. From forming an unlikely alliance with DIY to valiantly falling in the face of much larger opponents, they performed various roles throughout the bout to perfection.

12. NXT TakeOver: Rival


WWE


Where: Full Sail University - Winter Park, Florida

What: Here we go, the best TakeOver of the event's early stages - but what made it stand so much among its peers? The answer is probably the fact that it contained several important matches, not just for the event itself, but in terms of NXT's future.

The crowning moment of the show, in hindsight, must unquestionably be the 'Four Horsewoman' NXT Women's Championship match - a line-up that hasn't yet been replicated on the main roster. All four key figures of the women's revolution squared off, with champion Charlotte defending against Becky Lynch, Bayley, and Sasha Banks.

In the end, it was the latter who picked up the victory, despite being maybe the least-fancied of all the competitors heading into the bout. This was the beginning of a career-defining transformation for The Boss, the effects of which can still be seen to this day.

In the main event, Kevin Owens brought proceedings to a sickening halt by Powerbombing Sami Zayn into oblivion, winning the NXT Championship by a shocking referee stoppage. It established KO as the new dominant force of the brand, and helped successfully bring his notorious indy mean-streak into the WWE spotlight.

Star of the Show: Kevin Owens. Although all four of the horsewomen are deserving of praise, the results of their historic match would be seen much later. The most immediate impact, however, came courtesy of KO, who delivered perhaps the most merciless performance in NXT history. Well, at least until Tommaso Ciampa came along...

11. NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn II


WWE


Where: Barclays Center - Brooklyn, New York

What: A show of new beginnings, from Ember Moon busting out the Eclipse for the first time (demolishing Billie Kay in the process) to Bobby Roode making his incredibly-received debut.

For Bayley however, this was the end of her NXT stint - unquestionably the best stint of her career so far. She was unable to wrest the Women's Championship back from Asuka, receiving a thunderous ovation as she departed the developmental brand.

Shinsuke Nakamura was the show's biggest winner, finally becoming NXT Champion by breaking Samoa Joe's jaw in the main event of the evening. It was an accolade he seemed pre-destined to seize upon joining NXT, but seeing him actually do so was another thing entirely.

Star of the Show: DIY. In what was probably the highlight of TakeOver: Brooklyn II, The Revival successfully defended their tag titles against DIY. In the eyes of many, this was the breakthrough match for Gargano and Ciampa, who earned a boatload of new fans thanks to their battling (but ultimately losing) performance.

10. NXT TakeOver: Toronto


WWE


Where: Air Canada Centre - Toronto, Ontario, Canada

What: Not a one-match show by the traditional sense of the term, but an event in which one match eclipsed everything else by being on a truly special level.

We might as well start by talking about it. After defeating DIY in Brooklyn, The Revival were booked in a 2-Out-Of-3 Falls rematch for TakeOver: Toronto. Weeks before the event, fans were already predicting that it would steal the show - but it managed to exceed even the loftiest of expectations.

In a bout of incredible skill, pacing, drama, and technical brilliance, Gargano and Ciampa finally won the tag titles - all four men bulldozing their way to Match of the Year nominations across the board.

Of course, the rest of the show was perfectly enjoyable. Mickie James returned to WWE and gamely challenged Asuka, proving that she still had more than enough in-ring ability to compete on the biggest stages. In the main event, Samoa Joe shockingly avenged his Brooklyn loss to Nakamura, a bout that seemed destined to end in a victory for the Japanese star. It's an example of NXT's commitment to throwing a few curveballs our way over the years, meaning that no main event is ever certain.

Star of the Show: The Revival. No tag team in recent memory has blended old-school psychology and new-age action with such success as The Revival. The pair may have come up short here, but staked a claim as the world's greatest tag team. It's a magnificent match, and one that continues to reward upon repeat viewing.

9. NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn


WWE


Where: Barclays Center - Brooklyn, New York

What: Several women's matches can be seen as important ones in the women's revolution, with Charlotte vs. Natalya, the Four Horsewomen match, and the WrestleMania 32 triple threat all prime examples.

None, however, burn as bright as Sasha Banks vs. Bayley at NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn. Although the culmination a simple heel champion vs. underdog babyface storyline, this was an absolutely superb match - both in terms of the action itself, and the emotional performances of both women, who really understood the scale of the occasion.

This was the biggest moment on a show of big moments. It's not every day you see a WWE-produced special kick off with NJPW legend Jushin Thunder Liger, for example.

The main event also saw an excellent contest, a Ladder Match between Finn Balor and Kevin Owens - but make no mistake about it, the evening belonged to Bayley and Sasha.

Star of the Show: Bayley. Yes, it's important that Bayley won the NXT Women's Championship here, but her performance itself was even more crucial. It solidified her as one of the best babyfaces in NXT, and possibly WWE as a whole - someone capable of drawing the support of a crowd like few other.

8. NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn 4


WWE


Where: Barclays Center - Brooklyn, New York

What: NXT's most recent (and best) trip to New York, and a particularly gut-wrenching show in terms of emotion. Gargano fell to Ciampa for the second successive match - but this time it was entirely his own fault, plummeting from the stage while attempting to dish out unnecessary punishment.

To open the show, the Undisputed Era dished out a similarly heartbreaking loss to Moustache Mountain, closing out their series of excellent matches in dramatic fashion. A key moment saw Tyler Bate caught in an agonising submission, only to fight out of it as Trent Seven teased throwing in the towel, before launching it into the crowd. It was a neat reversal of a previous moment in their rivalry, and a display of both teams' historical awareness.

O'Reilly and Strong still prevailed, but were jumped after the match by NXT's hot new tag team - the imposing War Raiders.

It wasn't all doom and gloom, however. Kairi Sane outwrestled Shayna Baszler to become the eighth NXT Women's Champion, while Ricochet snatched the North American title from Adam Cole in a truly sensational bout - arguably the best of the night.

Star of the Show: Adam Cole. He may have walked out of Brooklyn empty-handed, but Cole put on the best display of the night, demonstrating exquisite skill and storytelling ability in defeat to Ricochet. Just look at the timing on that superkick.

7. NXT TakeOver: Chicago II


WWE


Where: Allstate Arena - Rosemont, Illinois

What: This one probably doesn't feel like one of the six best of all time. A fantastic show, sure, but probably not top six.

I'm pretty sure that's because of the amazing quality the rest of 2018 - and late 2017 - turned out, making TakeOver: Chicago II one of the most overshadowed NXT shows of all.

However, watching it back, it's clear that this show was something special, possibly delivering the hottest start of any TakeOver. The first two matches were utter knockouts, with Danny Burch and Oney Lorcan putting up a spirited underdog performance against the Undisputed Era, followed by a brilliant blend of athleticism and storytelling from Ricochet and Velveteen Dream.

The centrepiece, though, was clearly Gargano/Ciampa II. Perhaps one of the most eagerly-anticipated rematches in WWE history, it couldn't help but fall short of the breathtaking original. That doesn't mean it was a let-down, however, as the pair still put on one of the most captivating matches of 2018.

Star of the Show: Tommaso Ciampa. If the first match was Gargano's tale of heroism and redemption, this was Ciampa's dark triumph. His ultra-heelish antics made Gargano transcend his babyface self, turning him into a warped version of his former tag partner. Ciampa was able to take advantage and picked up the most beautifully disheartening of victories.

6. NXT TakeOver: Dallas


WWE


Where: Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center - Dallas, Texas

What: NXT TakeOver: Dallas felt big, partly because it was NXT's first WrestleMania weekend show, but also because of a massive card.

The biggest attraction was, unquestionably, Shinsuke Nakamura. Shockingly snatched from New Japan, the internet darling was immediately set up against Sami Zayn - a match that many were already predicting for Match of the Year contention.

Elsewhere, Asuka would attempt to snatch the torch (and the title) from Bayley, while crowd favourites American Alpha would have a shot at overcoming the technical mastery of The Revival.

All three matches delivered in spades, and while the main event (Balor vs. Joe) was hindered by a nasty cut to the challenger, it still drew the show to an acceptable close.

This felt like a watershed moment for NXT, transforming TakeOver events into something bigger and better - the beginning of a snowball effect that continues to this day.

Star of the Show: Sami Zayn. Although Nakamura was the major name heading into the show, and picked up a wonderful debut win, I'm going to have to give the edge to his vanquished foe. Sami gave his all in this match, not just dishing out his own brand of exciting offence, but selling brilliantly for the newcomer.

5. NXT TakeOver: Chicago


WWE


Where: Allstate Arena - Rosemont, Illinois

What: This show is chiefly remembered for two things: an excellent match, and an excellent piece of storytelling.

First, the match in question - an out-of-nowhere hit between UK independent scene standouts Pete Dunne and Tyler Bate. Although the pair had impressed in the prior UK Championship Tournament, it was still a surprise to see them given such a big platform so quickly.

To say Dunne and Bate made the most of the opportunity would be a huge understatement, as they delivered many people's WWE Match of the Year (with only Cena and Styles' Royal Rumble classic coming close).

The end of the show saw a similarly wonderful match, a chaotic, dangerous affair between DIY and the Authors of Pain. However, the real story came afterwards. As the show drew to a close, and the beaten challengers made their way up the ramp, Ciampa suddenly turned on his best friend - a swerve we'd all been expecting for a long time, without ever being sure exactly when. The feud that followed has been nothing short of breathtaking.

Star of the Show: Pete Dunne. He may have been the beaten finalist of the first UK Championship Tournament, but Dunne emerged as the biggest new star of the competition. His ascent continued here, as he won the WWE United Kingdom Championship from Tyler Bate with one of the most impressive TakeOver debuts in history.

4. NXT TakeOver: Philadelphia


WWE


Where: Wells Fargo Center - Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

What: Not since John Cena vs. CM Punk at Money in the Bank 2011 had Dave Meltzer awarded a WWE match five stars. Then TakeOver: Philadelphia came along.

Truth be told, this show is great for a number of reasons, not just Andrade Almas and Johnny Gargano's fantastic main event title match. However, that NXT Championship bout is unquestionably the biggest factor.

Not only did it earn a full 5-star rating, but it solidified Almas' position as champion, while simultaneously building intrigue for an eventual Gargano/Ciampa showdown (with the former jumping the latter right at the end of the show).

Elsewhere on the card, The Undisputed Era bumped and sold their way to a cheap (but captivating) victory over the outgoing Authors of Pain, while Aleister Black and Adam Cole hacked lumps out of one another in a surprisingly visceral Extreme Rules match.

Star of the Show: Johnny Gargano. This was the event that cemented Andrade Almas as a worthy NXT Champion, but as fantastic as his performance was, he couldn't have done it without Johnny Wrestling. Gargano was at his babyface best, falling for Almas and Zelina Vega's heel trickery, but fighting back with double the fire each time.

3. NXT TakeOver: WarGames


WWE


Where: Toyota Center - Houston, Texas

What: The most visually bizarre TakeOver of all happened to also be one of the best ever, as the unorthodox double-ring setup thankfully didn't distract from the action of the undercard.

The most eagerly-anticipated bout was, of course, the eponymous WarGames match between three squads of three - from which Adam Cole would emerge victorious as the slimy, Edge-like opportunist.

That match was phenomenal, as was the NXT Championship showdown between Andrade Almas and Drew McIntyre. Despite losing his title - and picking up an unfortunate injury along the way - McIntyre righted his previous TakeOver performance against Bobby Roode, putting on a match of far greater quality.

The other major talking point of the night saw a star-making performance from Velveteen Dream, who displayed an ungodly amount of presence and charisma en route to a loss against Aleister Black.

Star of the Show: Velveteen Dream. Despite being in his early-20s, Dream proved himself an utter pro wrestling natural here, controlling the crowd and pacing the match with the experience of a veteran. It probably remains his best TakeOver match so far - although he and Ricochet pushed it close - but brighter things are almost certainly in store for the former Tough Enough contestant.

2. NXT TakeOver: WarGames II


WWE


Where: Staples Center - Los Angeles, California

What: For the second year in a row, TakeOver: WarGames delivered in a massive way. It was topped by perhaps the strongest closing stretch of any TakeOver - a pair of incredible singles matches topped by another excellent update to the WarGames canon.

The main event did divide opinion; some felt it was too long, while others enjoyed the restated emphasis on teamwork and tactics. A format change saw two squads of four go at it in a truly epic battle for dominance, the major highlight being Ricochet's outrageous double moonsault from the top of the structure.

Further down the card, both former DIY teammates brought their A-game in excellent singles matches. Johnny Gargano was defeated by Aleister Black in a smooth display of wrestling expertise, one in which action and storytelling were balanced finely.

Tommaso Ciampa successfully defended his NXT Championship against Velveteen Dream in maybe the loudest match of the night, the LA crowd entirely behind the cocky young challenger. Several near falls had everyone believing that he might actually do it, only for Ciampa to innovatively use the double-ring set-up to escape with his title reign intact.

Star of the Show: Velveteen Dream. Once again, Dream stole the show at a WarGames event. After last year's breakout effort against Aleister Black, he came up agonisingly short in pursuit of the NXT Championship - proving, in the process, his calibre as a top-level worker as well as a charismatic presence.

1. NXT TakeOver: New Orleans


WWE


Where: Smoothie King Center - New Orleans, Louisiana

What: Although much of this list was a hugely difficult task to order, I didn't have great difficulty selecting the best TakeOver ever.

This year's WrestleMania weekend show in New Orleans blew everything else out of the water, and should be regarded as one of WWE's best events ever. It really was that good.

Gargano and Ciampa's groundbreaking 'unsanctioned' main event was the best thing on the show, of course, but there was so much more to enjoy here as well.

From Johnny's cathartic victory to Aleister Black's title win over Adam Cole, the anarchic 5-star Ladder Match to Roderick Strong's dastardly heel turn, this was a show chock-full of action, suspense, surprise, and a host of excellent performances from some of the best wrestlers in the world.

Star of the Show: Johnny Gargano. There are a handful of wrestlers who could have been mentioned here: Ciampa, Adam Cole, Aleister Black, Andrade Almas, Shayna Baszler, Ember Moon, and so on. But Gargano's performance in the main event was something else, carrying the support of the entire NXT fanbase on his back in one of the most groundbreaking (yet traditional) storylines of the modern era.

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Jack G. King

Written by Jack G. King

Head of News at Cultaholic.com | [email protected]