NXT TakeOver – Portland [Review]: The Smark Side.

“Pastor” Shawn Puff

What’s up, people?!?! It’s your boy Shawn Puff and while this isn’t the Smarks, Spotmonkeys & Suuuuuuuperkicks podcast, this is The Smark Side— an NXT TakeOver: Portland review.

TakeOvers are always great and this was no exception. Actually, it might have been the best NXT show in a while and will definitely be on the radar for PPV Event of the Year at this year’s Apostle Awards. I’ll tell you one thing; if nothing else comes out of it, it’s clear and obvious that nobody in the business has more heel heat than Sam Frickin Roberts.

North American Championship
Keith Lee [c] v Dominik Dijakovic
What a match to start off a card! Just wow. Even though we’ve seen these two work together on more than one occasion in the past, I was still looking forward to this one and it didn’t disappoint. No matter how many times I watch him, I’m always amazed at the athleticism and agility of Lee. I never miss an opportunity to bask in his glory. This man has future Universal Champion written all over him. I called this match to be the show-stealer of the night and it very well might have been. Put it to you this way.. I watched this match again immediately after the show went off the air. We needed this after that god awful Poppy song to start the night. – 4.25/5

Street Fight
Tegan Nox v Dakota Kai

I love me some Dakota Kai… and some Tegan Nox. I mean… who doesn’t? But seriously, what is it with female talent getting 5 times hotter after a heel turn? Just sayin’. This was the first women’s street fight in NXT TakeOver history and they really delivered. The table botched a spot at the end. I say fire the table. But I’ll argue that it made the whole thing just seem more vicious. A lot of violence and not your normal/normal screeching female match. Well done by both ladies and the debut of Reina Gonzalez only added to this one. It’s going to be interesting to see where this feud goes next. – 3.5/5

Johnny Gargano v Finn Balor

I think I’ve made my disdain for Johnny Failure more than known here. And it’s not that he’s not a good wrestler. It’s that weak ass, horrid theme song. Yeah, I know. You love that song. It’s on your playlist. That’s great. Jeremiah Planez is on my playlist. That doesn’t make it a viable wrestling theme song.

Anyway, despite my feeling for Geekgano, I have to admit that he puts on one hell of a show. I’d call him “Johnny TakeOver” except he constantly loses at TakeOvers. Oh well. Enter The Prince, Finn Balor. I loved this guy in NXT and hated him on the main roster. Mainly because he was a smiley little puss that was insufferably annoying, but now, the Prince is back and I am 100% behind him. Balor Club isn’t for everyone anymore, but it sure as hell is for me.

Remember when I said that Lee v Dijakovic was going to steal the show? Well, that was before this match happened. Holy. Shit. These two left it all in the ring and then some. And that ending?!?! Wow. If you only watch one match on this card (you’re dumb because this show was straight fire), this is the match to watch. It didn’t happen in Japan so I can’t give it five bibles but it was as close as you’re going to get. – 4.75/5

NXT Women’s Championship
Rhea Ripley [c] v Bianca Belair
My girlfriend can’t stand Bianca Belair and her hair. She said it looks like something that we saw pulled out of someone’s nether regions on Grossness. That might be a little bit of an exaggeration, but I’m not the biggest Belair fan myself. Yes, I know, I don’t even go here either but it doesn’t matter because she just comes off as ghetto and thotish to me. Ripley is the real deal and deserves to be the first NXT star defending a title at Mania. She just fits the part and while both have a bright future here, Ripley is going to be the bigger standout.

I expected this to be the better of the two women’s matches of the night, but it kind of fell a little bit short. I guess when you’ve all but looked past this match to set up your Mania match it kind of kills any momentum and anticipation for this one. While a solid match, this one just didn’t have the same shine against the rest of the card. And don’t get me going on the lackluster ending. Guess it’s onto Wrestle Mania. WOOOOOOOOOO!!! – 3/5

NXT Tag Team Championship
Undisputed Era [c] v The Broserweights
Wow. Keith Lee and Donovan Dijakovic take another back seat to this one. This card just keeps getting better. When Riddle and Dunne won the Dusty Classic, I thought it was bad booking and that they shouldn’t job out established teams to thrown together teams in a tournament to crown the best team of the year. But, they really did it with these two. Their chemistry is great and I really looked forward to their promos week after week leading up to this one.

My girl loves Matt Riddle. She got a fist bump from him at EVOLVE last year and likes to mention that she shared his DNA that night, as bad as that sounds.. Brooooo… step off my girl. Anyway, this one was an instant classic. Remember when I said if you only watch one match on this card?? Don’t. Watch it all. Don’t skip this match. Just don’t. Great match all around and I’m sure it’s not the last we’ve seen of these two teams battling it out. I mean… we still haven’t gotten an answer to the most important question of them all, “How much fish could Bobby Fish fry if Bobby Fry could fry fish?” – 4.5/5

NXT Championship
Adam Cole [c] v Tommaso Ciampa
Before I get into this one, I have to warn you that there are spoilers ahead… Cole and Ciampa have been nothing short of amazing thus far. This was no exception. The storytelling. The heat. The bumps. The spots. The interference. The swerve. The set-up for the future. This is everything you want for a match of this magnitude. A lot of the IWC was upset with the ending and how they did it, but I thought it was perfect. It brings a new beginning to the Ciampa / Gargano feud with a different twist this time around. The heart and soul of NXT turning heel?? Nobody saw that one coming.

It also sets up Cole to be on the verge of breaking Finn Balor’s NXT Championship reign when they inevitably meet at TakeOver: Tampa. I would love to have seen Ciampa walk out of Portland with Goldie around his waist again, but at the end of the day we’re getting Ciampa / Gargano again but with the roles reversed and Balor / Cole, two former Bullet Club leaders finally meeting in the middle of the ring. I don’t know about you, but this match got me psyched for April already. – 4.75/5

As a whole this show was nothing short of amazing. Every Takeover, I wonder if this is going to be the show that falls short and disappoints. I actually thought this one was very predictable. BUUUUT, it still delivered ten-fold. TakeOver: Portland was everything it needed to be. It lived up to every expectation and then some. It did everything it needed to from wrapping up loose ends to opening new stories to setting up Mania Weekend. It was one of the best TakeOvers in a long time (maybe since TakeOver: New Orleans). This one scorched the earth.

Overall = 4.25/5 Bibles

-Shawn Puff

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