A lot of wrestling fans complain about WWE, from their booking to their lack of character development, lagging storylines, and lackluster matches. There are exceptions, but many fans see today's WWE in a slump that makes it hard to get through Monday Night Raw, much less the monthly PPVs. However, what most people seem to agree on is the fact that the NXT TakeOver events are universally excellent.
In NXT, there is less overbooking of the talent, and many of the stars there set out to prove they deserve their spots. Many times, they openly make sure everyone knows they are there to prove they are better than the main roster. From top to bottom, the TakeOver events are incredible affairs, but these 10 main events from NXT TakeOver are the best of the best.
Tommaso Ciampa vs. Johnny Gargano appears on this list three times -- and for a good reason. They put on the best matches in NXT, and possibly the entire WWE, every time they stepped into the ring with each other. This match was their third time to fight with each men winning once against the other.
The former tag team partners were not mortal enemies, and this was a blood feud. This third match was a Last Man Standing Match, and the two beat the hell out of each other for over 30 minutes and ended when Gargano was so consumed by hate that he hit a devastating knee strike to Ciampa -- despite injuring his knee earlier. As a result, he couldn't get back to his feet and lost. This match was the lesser of the three and was still amazing.
Kevin Owens and Finn Balor had a lot to live up to as it followed one of the best women's matches in NXT history when Sasha Banks battled Bayley. It speaks wonders that the men not only lived up to expectations but had one of the best NXT TakeOver main events in history at NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn.
Finn Balor came out as the Demon in this ladder match. Joe gave Balor, the champion, more than he could handle, but the Demon wouldn't give up. The two used the ladders to a great extent with creative setups and devastating impact. The end came when Balor sent Owens onto a ladder bridge and then hit his coup de grace from the ladder onto Owens. It was a great NXT ladder match.
The second Johnny Gargano vs. Tommaso Ciampa match on this countdown was the main event of NXT TakeOver: Chicago II. This was the second match between the two former tag team partners, and it was a Chicago Street Fight, where anything goes.
The two men who trust each other completely in the ring went all the way and did everything they could and more to put on a show that the fans will never forget. For 35 minutes, they hit each other with anything and everything. The end -- and this was becoming a pattern -- saw Gargano so full of hate that he wouldn't stop to accept the win and ended up falling into a DDT on the wood so Ciampa could steal the win, despite being injured and handcuffed.
NXT TakeOver: London saw Finn Balor, as the Demon once again, defend his NXT Championship against Samoa Joe. While Balor would later lose his title to Joe, he was able to retain the belt here in a match that surpassed that later title loss by a long shot.
Samoa Joe was aggressive and was at his best in this match, and Finn Balor sold the beating well but was the perfect resilient face, and although he took on the Demon persona, it worked. This match started strong and then told a great story all the way through and Balor eeked out the win after a flurry of moves, with a Double Stomp.
This TakeOver main event was the second NXT TakeOver War Games. While the first WarGames was great and brought back the excitement of the old WCW gimmick match, the second year upped the level and was even better than the first. That is because there were exciting daredevils like Ricochet and Adam Cole, technically proficient stars like Roderick Strong and Pete Dunne, and amazing tag moves by War Raiders and Undisputed Era.
These eight men fought for 47 minutes, and the action never slowed down. This was a long match that never felt long and had amazing moves that just blew the audience away. Ricochet hitting the moonsault from the top of the cage was only one example, and the good guys won to send the fans home happy.
As fans on the main roster saw for a while, there is nothing better than watching Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn beating each other up. This feud goes all the way back to Ring of Honor where they were friends and tag team partners and then enemies. The two reunited in NXT when KO congratulated Zayn on winning the NXT Championship and then destroyed his friend.
The NXT TakeOver: Rival main event was Zayn defending his title against Owens. These guys have worked together for 10 years, and they know how to put on a great match with a ton of energy and storytelling and did it masterfully here. The title changed hands when Owens injured Zayn so severely the officials had to stop the match and award the title to KO.
Sasha Banks and Bayley turned in one of the best NXT matches ever at NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn, but their work at NXT TakeOver: Respect was more significant because it was the main event. The two women fought in a 30-minute Iron Man match with Bayley as the champion and Sasha Banks wanting the title.
After 14 minutes, Sasha Banks had already beaten Bayley twice (compared to one win from Bayley) and made Bayley's biggest fan Izzy cry. Then things got exciting. These two women tore it up, Sasha never got another pin, and Bayley won 3-2 when she kicked Sasha in the head over and over until Banks finally gave up. They got a standing ovation, and even the other wrestlers came out to honor them.
NXT TakeOver: R Evolution was the third-ever NXT TakeOver event, and Adrian Neville was defending his title for the third time in a TakeOver event. His opponent here was the resilient Sami Zayn, a man who the crowd was completely behind but wasn't seeing success for his hard work.
Zayn was about to give up, and he said if he didn't beat Neville in this title match, he would retire and leave wrestling. Zayn could have come back later under a mask as El Generico, but NXT played this straight and fair. Neville actually tried to cheat to win and failed. When Zayn had the chance to cheat, he chose not to, and this time it didn't backfire, with Zayn hitting the Helluva Kick and winning the NXT title.
The third match between Johnny Gargano and Tommaso Ciampa on this list was the first between the two men. It was also the one that Gargano won. The rules were that there were no rules as this was an unsanctioned match since Ciampa had hurt Gargano and Johnny waved all protections from WWE if he fell to injury.
At this time, Gargano was the fiery babyface who could do no wrong. Ciampa was the dastardly heel who would do anything to win at all costs. Then, shockingly, Gargano did anything and everything to hurt his former friend. The match lasted for 37 minutes, and the final stretch was perfect wrestling, and it ended in a beautiful moment where Gargano used a knee brace across Ciampa's face with the STF to force the tap out. This was a five-star match.
For pure heart and guts, there is not a match better than Gargano vs. Ciampa at NXT TakeOver: New Orleans. However, when it comes to in-ring action and a perfect professional wrestling match, Gargano vs. Andrade Cien Almas at NXT TakeOver: Philadelphia is the best main event match in TakeOver history.
Almas was the champion and Gargano was the babyface that everyone in the arena wanted to see win and finally take home the title that eluded him. It would not happen, but the match was perfection. These two men fought for 32 minutes, and Almas won with the hammerlock DDT. This was not only the best NXT TakeOver main event ever but possibly the best match in NXT history.