WWE took over Staples Center in Los Angeles, California this past weekend with back–to–back events starting with NXT Takeover on Saturday night followed by WWE Survivor Series to wrap it all up on Sunday night. Both nights the arena was filled with high energy crowds for hours of intense, high-paced action. NXT Takeover events continue to be the superior wrestling shows when paired with a main roster PPV event the following day. With Triple H in charge of the creative direction of the show as well as the booking, the rise in success the brand has seen in the last 3 years has been astronomical compared to the early days of NXT.
Two of the standout matches from NXT Takeover were Aleister Black vs Johnny Gargano and the NXT Championship match between Tommaso Ciampa and Velveteen Dream. The former saw the return to the ring for Black, who had been sidelined for months with an injury. Johnny Gargano proved why he is one of the most entertaining NXT superstars of all time as he partook in his record setting 11th Takeover event. It’s hard to imagine him being utilized in a similar way on the main roster, which is why he is one of the few performers that I hope never leaves the NXT brand.
In an incredible back and forth matchup for the NXT Championship, Tommaso Ciampa retained his title against rising superstar Velveteen Dream. Since returning as a heel and winning the championship, Ciampa has become one the most entertaining performers on the entire WWE roster both on and off TV. The rise in popularity for Velveteen Dream has been nothing short of spectacular and the combination of the two performances by both men provided audiences with one of the best matches of the year.
The action packed night concluded a barbaric War Games match between The Undisputed Era and the team of Ricochet, Pete Dunne, and The War Raiders. Using two rings surrounded by one giant cage, the two teams battered each other for over 45 minutes using chairs, kendo sticks, tables, the cage itself, and sacrificing their own bodies at any cost to secure the victory. The MVP’s of the match go to Ricochet, Roderick Strong, and Warbeard Hanson, all whom put in exceptionally magnificent efforts in this chaotic affair.
The following night was the 32nd annual WWE Survivor Series event and while it was not as great as NXT the night before, it still provided us with many fun matches and moments to make it a satisfying show to see live. For the first time ever, I got to see the likes of Brock Lesnar, Daniel Bryan, Rey Mysterio, Drew McIntyre, and Jeff Hardy wrestle live which was a huge thrill for me as a longtime fan. Team RAW swept the night with wins over Team Smackdown, proving they were the more dominant show once again. Overall, as better as Survivor Series could have been, the event lived up to my expectations and was a great cap to a fun weekend of professional wrestling.