The Best Matches All-Time At The NXT TakeOver Before WrestleMania

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NXT Invasion
[Image via WWE]

WrestleMania season is finally amongst us! Just like any WrestleMania season wrestling fans from all over are gearing up for a weekend of great wrestling and moments. Yet there’s one thing in particular fans are looking forward to seeing and that’s “WrestleMania Moments.” Before some of those moments happen, the day before WrestleMania, a big show takes place. I’m talking about the NXT TakeOver before WrestleMania.

Since the first one in Dallas, The NXT TakeOver Before WrestleMania has become quite the spectacle. In fact, some say it’s a better show than WrestleMania itself. Some could even say that the true “Grandest Stage Of Them All” really is the show that usually happens the night before WrestleMania.

It could certainly be considered such, as NXT has always managed to destroy at all of their TakeOver events. However, it seems that during WrestleMania weekend, they always bring it. Since we’re huge NXT fans, we can safely say that the event tends to deliver year after year.

This is why we decided to make a list to show off the best matches to ever take place at the NXT TakeOver before WrestleMania. We think you’ll agree that these matches are the true best ever!

 

The Undisputed Era (Adam Cole & Kyle O’Reilly) (c) vs Authors Of Pain vs Pete Dunne & Roderick Strong – TakeOver: New Orleans

Undisputed Era NXT TakeOver New Orleans
[Image via WWE]
  • For NXT Tag Team Championship
  • Dusty Tag Team Final

The Undisputed Era has been at full strength for nearly two years now. However, it was this match brought us the beginning of the four-man team we see today. This match had a lot going into it, as the Dusty Tag Classic and the NXT Tag Team Titles were both up for grabs.

On top of this, Adam Cole was fresh off his win in the North American Title Ladder match that opened the show. Of course, Cole had to step in for the injured Bobby Fish to defend the Era’s NXT Tag Titles.

The Authors Of Pain seemed to be the favorites going into this match but Roddy Strong & Pete Dunne had something to prove. However, one could also say The Undisputed Era also had a lot to prove. Dunne & Strong changed the momentum of the match near the end and ran wild on the other four men.

Dunne hit the Bitter End and followed with the pin that was broken up by Roderick Strong, his own tag partner! An End Of Heartache and a pinfall later, The Undisputed Era picks up the win with the help of Roddy, and the rest is history.

 

Aleister Black vs Andrade Cien Almas – TakeOver: Orlando

aleister black vs andrade cien almas nxt takeover orlando
[Image via WWE]
  • Aleister Black’s WWE Debut

When you’re making your debut on an NXT TakeOver Before WrestleMania, you want to leave a lasting impression. Aleister Black did that and then some. Black was lifted out from under the stage in a coffin. To complement the visual was a chilling and incredible theme song written by the hardcore rock band, Incendiary.

The crowd in attendance loved it, wrestling Twitter was raving about it, but the former Tommy End was standing across the ring with the former La Sombra, Andrade Cien Almas. Of course, Almas wasn’t about to take it easy on Black on his first big NXT TakeOver. These two had a really good match that saw Black picking up his first NXT victory.

This began the undefeated streak that he carried proudly for some time through his NXT career. Fortunately for the fans who wanted more from these two, this wouldn’t be the last time they met on NXT’s grandest stage.

 

Bayley(c) vs Asuka – TakeOver: Dallas

Asuka vs Bayley NXT TakeOver Dallas
[Image via WWE]
  • For NXT Women’s Championship

Aleister Black wasn’t the only person in NXT who was knocking off heads and keeping an undefeated streak alive. Asuka stayed undefeated her entire next run. However, that run wouldn’t have been as prestigious without gold around her waist, which she captured on this night by choking out then-NXT Women’s Champion, Bayley.

Bayley fought and fought but just couldn’t overcome Asuka, dropping the title she helped to make a big deal for the brand. Maybe it was because she wasn’t ready for Asuka?

Bayley was able to become a top player in NXT because of her toughness, as well as her strong will to never give up. However, on this particular night, her fighting spirit wasn’t able to overcome The Empress of Tomorrow. On this night, Asuka fully cemented her name as a top player herself. It was this match that allowed her to go onto her historic run as THE dominant champion in NXT history.

She couldn’t have picked a better place to do it than an NXT TakeOver Before WrestleMania.

 

Finn Balor(c) vs Samoa Joe – TakeOver: Dallas

Balor vs Joe TakeOver Dallas
[Image via WWE]
  • For NXT Championship

Finn Balor will forever be one of the first faces you see when you think about NXT. It might be because he still holds the record for the longest NXT Championship reign at 292 days. During his incredible reign, however, one of his most dangerous foes was the man he defended the NXT Title against at NXT TakeOver: Dallas, Samoa Joe.

Finn and Joe had one heck of a brawl that led to Joe being busted open. This brought back the Joe of old that we all know and love, which could’ve gone very badly for Balor. It was awesome seeing these two men headline the very first NXT TakeOver together.

Samoa Joe has been working hard for years and deserved this more than anyone. Meanwhile, Finn made his name known tearing it up in Japan, building his brand the entire time. For their first main event for NXT TakeOver Before WrestleMania, this is was great. Finn Balor was able to put away the angry and bloody Samoa Joe. Thus, continuing his legendary reign as one of NXT’s greatest champions.

 

The Velveteen Dream(c) vs Matt Riddle – TakeOver: New York

Dream vs Riddle NXT New York
[Image via WWE]
  • For NXT North American Championship

Only a year before this very night Matt Riddle was making headlines by working the most indie matches during WrestleMania weekend In New Orleans. He had, according to a lot of fans and insiders, the best match of the weekend against Will Ospreay on WWN’s Super Show that week.

Matt Riddle successfully captured the Evolve Title from Zack Sabre Jr that weekend and now a year later he’s fighting for NXT gold at The NXT TakeOver Before WrestleMania. This time, he was working against one of wrestling’s fastest rising stars, The Velveteen Dream.

The Dream was just in a ladder match the year before battling to become the first North American Champion and now, only a year later, he’s defending that said title. 

Dream and Riddle had a fantastic wrestling match that could’ve gone both ways. Unfortunately for the Original Bro, he wasn’t able to capture gold as he did the year prior. The Dream successfully defended his most prized possession and gave the NXT universe quite the experience.

 

Pete Dunne(c) vs WALTER – TakeOver: New York

Dunne vs WALTER - New York
[Image via WWE]
  • For NXT UK Championship

For the first time ever the United Kingdom Championship was up for grabs at NXT TakeOver, There wasn’t a better matchup for this than the Bruiserweight vs The Ring General. This happened just a year prior to this WALTER was making headlines during WrestleMania weekend where he was having an amazing match after amazing match on indie shows.

The most notable was his match against PCO at Joey Janela’s Spring Break 2.

WALTER did, however, get a small taste of WWE during a WrestleMania Axxess session when he took on Kassius Ohno and turned a lot of heads his way. WALTER would go on to have one heck of a run in the indies. At one point, he even captured the Progress World Title, leading him to NXT UK.

Pete Dunne had built up quite the repartition for himself as well over the years with his amazing run as Progress Champio. His run in the UK Tournament resulted in his appearance in the finals, but a loss to Tyler Bate. However, months later, he righted his wrongs by defeating Bate at NXT TakeOver: Chicago for the title.

This was the first time the United Kingdom Championship was showcased on this big of a stage and these 2 went all out to show the world that their division was more than legit. Heading into the match, Dunne had been champion for a grand total of 685 days!

Dunne did all he could to survive, but unfortunately, he came up short as WALTER stood tall with the NXT United Kingdom Championship in his hands.

 

The Revival(c) vs American Alpha – TakeOver: Dallas

Alpha vs Revival TakeOver Dallas
[Image via WWE]
  • For NXT Tag Team Championships

There was a period when tag team wrestling was at an all-time low. Tag teams were just thrown together and were never given any actual time to grow. Tag title matches were just thrown on the undercard and honestly, no one really cared. Thankfully for the fans of tag team wrestling, NXT changed that and gave us some of the best tag matches of all time.

American Alpha was formed when Jason Jordan was looking for the perfect tag partner and finally decided to give Chad Gable a chance. Together, the two made magic happen. Both men were incredible amateur wrestlers and gelled together like peanut butter and jelly.

American Alpha climbed and climbed to the top of the ranks to get this match. However, the team they had to face wasn’t an easy one. They were looking across the ring at a modern-day Arn and Tully, The Revival. Scott Dawson and Dash Wilder had a huge hand in the resurrection of tag team wrestling in WWE.

They put on classic after classic in the tag division, and this match was one of those classics.

The Revival showed why they were the “top guys” but unfortunately for them, they were outmatched by American Alpha. Jordan & Gable picked up the win and captured their first titles in WWE, the NXT Tag Titles. 

 

Asuka(c) vs Ember Moon – TakeOver: Orlando

Asuka vs Ember - Orlando
[Image via WWE]
  • For NXT Women’s Championship

During Asuka’s reign of Dominance, people were starting to doubt if anyone who could stop her, then came Ember Moon. Ember Moon was the first person to come close to putting the taste of defeat on Asuka’s lips. Ultimately, she made a believer out of the entire NXT Universe in her epic encounters with the Empress.

This was Moon’s first major match on an NXT TakeOver Before WrestleMania, and she made her name known that night. Unfortunately, she came up just a little short against Asuka. Asuka saw how close she was to be defeated during the match. This led her to use the referee to her advantage, causing a distraction. This allowed her just enough time to land a head kick that finally put Moon away.

It would not be much longer until Asuka wanted to move on to more lands she could conquer. When she did, she handed over the NXT Women’s Title, officially vacating it. Then when Ember Moon finally won the Women’s Title, Asuka was on hand to officially give her biggest NXT rival the title.

 

The War Raiders(c) vs Aleister Black & Ricochet – TakeOver: New York

War Raiders vs Ricochet and Aleister Black NXT
[Image via WWE]
  • For NXT Tag Team Championships

After winning the Dusty Rhodes Tag Classic, Aleister Black and Ricochet looked to continue their momentum. They wanted to show that their success as a tag team wasn’t a fluke by taking on the defending NXT Tag Champions, The War Raiders. Black and Ricochet have been in the business for a while now.

However, neither spent much time in the tag division, much less tagging together as their opponents had.

The War Raiders, former IWGP Heavyweight Tag Champions & ROH Tag Champions, had no plans of letting an inexperienced tag team ruin their big moment on an NXT TakeOver Before WrestleMania. The former team known as War Machine had an excellent tag match with Black and Ricochet, setting the bar high for the rest of the show that followed.

The conclusion of this clinic saw The War Raiders successfully defending their gold. However, Black and Ricochet didn’t go down easily as they said their farewells to the NXT faithful with one last mat classic.

 

Andrade “Cien” Almas(c) vs Aleister Black – TakeOver: New Orleans

Andrade vs Black New Orleans
[Image via WWE]
  • For NXT Championship

The first time these two met at an NXT TakeOver Before WrestleMania it was all about bragging rights. However, this time it was about walking out of New Orleans with the NXT Championship. Andrade was on a hot run as champion, delivering at other NXT TakeOver events by putting on great match after great match.

Almas looked to keep his hot streak going here but there was one thing standing in his way, Aleister Black. On a hot streak of his own, Black looked to capture his first title since jumping to WWE. It all came full circle for Black as he was facing the man he defeated in his debut only a year prior.

Now with gold on the line, the two men knew they wanted to steal the show. In our opinion, they may have done exactly as they intended.

The former Progress Tag Team Champion Aleister Black and Andrade left it all in the ring, yet again delivering for the NXT faithful. The end of the match saw Aleister Black walking away champion and etching his name at the top of the mountain. Andrade moved on to the other WWE brands, where he happens to be a championship player yet again.

 

The Authors Of Pain(c) vs DIY vs The Revival – TakeOver: Orlando

Revival vs Authors of Pain vs DIY - Orlando
[Image via WWE]
  • For NXT Tag Team Championships

When you think about the great tag team rivalries of the past 10 years, one of the first sure to pop up will be The Revival vs DIY, and rightfully so. These two teams put on some of the most magical matches known to man. However, a monkey wrench was thrown into the equation at NXT TakeOver: Orlando.

In this match, yet another team was invited to the party, the Authors Of Pain.

The elimination stipulation was questionable at first, but in the long run, it really played out in DIY’s favor. Ciampa and Gargano of DIY were the first tag team out. After the exit of DIY, it was down to AOP and The Revival. The Revival gave everything to show us why they were one of the best tag teams in WWE history.

However, AOP overpowered the top guys and closed the book on this match by defending their tag titles. 

 

Adam Cole vs Johnny Gargano – TakeOver: New York

Gargano vs Cole NXT New York
[Image via WWE]
  • For NXT Championship

This match had so much going into it that just made it special at the end of it all. Johnny Gargano has been known as Johnny TakeOver for a while now. That’s because of his ability to deliver the match of the night on every single NXT TakeOver he’s on. However, one thing that always bit Johnny in the butt was that he was never able to win the big one.

We mean, Johnny never seemed to be capable of winning when it mattered the most. His numerous solo title chances ultimately proved this more than anything else.

He has overcome hard losses inside and outside the ring after his own best friend Tommaso Ciampa betrayed him. Johnny felt that he needed this win more than ever. However, Adam Cole, the first-ever North American Champion, needed this just as much. The two men could not possibly be held back by one random roll-up. 

Originally, this match was supposed to look different because Tommaso Ciampa was the champion before the event. However, due to an injury, he was forced to relinquish the title. This forced NXT General Manager William Regal to make this match 2 out of 3 falls, meaning the winner could not possibly be argued.

These two men showcased how good they really are and put on a near-perfect match. This match saw Mr. Takeover himself finally achieving his goal of becoming the NXT Champion. There truly wasn’t a better place to do it than at an NXT TakeOver before WrestleMania.

 

EC3 vs Adam Cole vs Velveteen Dream vs Lars Sullivan vs Ricochet vs Killian Dane – TakeOver: New Orleans

Ladder Match New Orleans
[Image via WWE]
  • For Inaugural NXT North American Championship

WrestleMania weekends are synonymous with legendary ladder matches. Therefore, it was only a matter of time until an NXT TakeOver before WrestleMania had its own. NXT accomplished this by deciding to have a ladder match to crown the first-ever NXT North American Champion.

This was the brand’s new mid-card title to rival that of the United States & Intercontinental Titles on the other brands.

The six men in the match more than deserved their spot in it. We saw it all in this match, from high spots to power spots to hideous car crashes, these six competitors left it all out there.

It was clear going into it that the crowd had 2 favorites, Ricochet & Adam Cole. It was hard not to want it for them both after the success those two had on the indies. This is taking nothing away from the other 4 competitors however, as they all worked hard to get positioned in this spot.

At the end of the night, it was Adam Cole that stood tall on the ladder with the belt in hand. Ultimately, the win made this NXT TakeOver before WrestleMania undisputed.

 

Shinsuke Nakamura vs Sami Zayn – TakeOver: Dallas

Nakamura vs Zayn NXT
[Image via WWE]
  • Shinsuke Nakamura’s WWE Debut

On this night, the chants of “fight forever” and “both these guys” were forever etched into the vocabulary of all wrestling fans. All of this came as a result of the spectacle that was witnessed here between Sami Zayn & Shinsuke Nakamura. Sami Zayn was arguably the most beloved superstar in NXT up to that point, and the fans stayed dedicated to him through everything he went through.

Zayn felt lost and didn’t really know what was next for him. He was injured the year prior, causing him to miss months after needing shoulder surgery. His comeback seemed to coincide with the debut of one of New Japan Pro-Wrestling’s most notable stars, Shinsuke Nakamura. The Japanese Sensation was jumping to WWE, starting with NXT and was going to debut at NXT TakeOver: Dallas.

This gave NXT General Manager William Regal the incredible idea to have the two face off. The former El Generico & King of Strong Style’s match was highly anticipated and managed to deliver in every way possible.

The two worked so well together,  yet this was shockingly the first time they ever touched in the ring. It certainly didn’t seem like it at all, as their chemistry was so tight that you’d think they have been working each other the past 4 months. That’s just how good these two are.

Nakamura picked up the huge win in his debut. However, sadly after the defeat, Sami Zayn would be made his exit from NXT. Zayn went out delivering one of the very best matches we have ever seen, which is not a bad way to leave if you ask us.

 

Johnny Gargano vs Tommaso Ciampa – TakeOver: New Orleans

Ciampa vs Gargano Unsanctioned Match
[Image via WWE]
  • If Johnny Wins, He Gets His Job Back

Ciampa and Gargano were once the best of friends and put on wrestling clinics while teaming as DIY. However, after Ciampa betrayed Gargano and ruined his life, they became bitter enemies. At NXT TakeOver: Chicago, DIY failed to win back the NXT Tag Titles. Ciampa then turned his back on Gargano with a vicious assault.

However, karma struck hard as Ciampa actually tore his ACL during the assault, causing him to miss months of action as a result. Meanwhile, Johnny Gargano became a solo act and managed to get back on a winning track.

However, after being away for a while, Ciampa would make his return in an impactful way. Gargano faced Andrade “Cien” Almas for the NXT Title at NXT TakeOver: Philadelphia in a 5-star wrestling clinic! While he lost, Johnny made a huge impression on the fans that night.

As he made his way up the ramp, he turned to wave goodbye to the fans. Shockingly, Ciampa returned to attack Johnny with a crutch from behind.

Gargano felt he could still beat Andrade, putting his career on the line to entice him into a rematch. Ciampa took this opportunity to screw over Johnny, costing him the win and losing his job.

Something had to be done to end their battles. Thus, NXT GM William Regal made an unsanctioned match for NXT TakeOver: New Orleans. If Johnny wins, he’ll get his job back.

They took each other to hell and back, telling an amazing story of what it’s like to hate your own best friend. At the end of the night, it would be Johnny standing tall with the victory, getting his job back. It is still one of the greatest NXT matches ever!

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