- Paul “Triple H” Levesque, who oversees the global touring brand of NXT, expressed his excitement over the show and Adam Cole's first title victory.
BRIDGEPORT, CT—The Adam Cole era has begun in NXT.
Cole defeated Johnny Gargano at the Webster Bank Arena to begin his first-ever run as NXT champion.
Paul “Triple H” Levesque, who oversees the global touring brand of NXT, spoke with the media following the TakeOver event, and expressed his excitement over Cole’s title victory.
“Adam Cole has every single tool,” Levesque said. “He can talk, he can work, he has that charisma. It’s been a long time coming. I’m excited for him to have the ball and see where it goes.”
Cole and Gargano wrestled during WrestleMania weekend at the NXT TakeOver in Brooklyn, which Gargano won in a two-out-of-three falls match. The story of the TakeOver XXV encounter saw Cole, who is a former three-time Ring of Honor champion, punish the right knee of Gargano. Victory was finally attained at the 32-minute mark.
“There are certain talents who are leaders, and Cole is a leader,” Levesque said. “We’ll see where the brand heads under his leadership.”
In other action, Shayna Baszler retained her NXT women’s title in a victory over Io Shairai.
“Shayna is like the scariest person here,” Levesque said. “She’s ferocious, and she can just break you down. She’s still putting everything together, but her aura is just spectacular.”
Pound-for-pound, the 5’4”, 119-pound Shirai makes a compelling argument for most talented wrestler in the world. But this match ultimately served as another opportunity for Baszler to showcase her brilliant style of physicality.
“Io is amazing, and she came out of this even better than she came in, even in a loss,” Levesque said. “Shayna is just one of those dominant champions. Somebody’s going to get a huge reaction if they ever take her down.”
NXT’s vacant tag team titles were also on the line in a four-way ladder match featuring Street Profits, the Undisputed Era’s Kyle O’Reilly and Bobby Fish, as well as The Forgotten Sons and the team of Oney Lorcan and Danny Burch. The Street Profits’ Angelo Dawkins and Montez Ford were victorious, marking their first run in NXT wearing tag team gold.
“They deserve it, they’re both extremely hard workers,” Levesque said. “You put them together, and they begin to become more than the sum of their parts. They bring the best out of each other.”
There were spectacular high spots in the match, and the four-way ended on a high note when Ford leapfrogged from the top rope onto the ladder to knock off Forgotten Son Steve Cutler and secure the titles.
“Dawkins and Ford, it took them a little while to find their groove together in the ring,” Levesque said. “When you’re that charismatic, you have to be able to handle that charisma in the ring, otherwise it doesn’t work right. It took them a while to get there, but now they’re there.”
Those searching for the match of the night needed to look no further than the opening contest, which pitted Matt Riddle against Roderick Strong.
Riddle won a physical encounter, further cementing his status as one of wrestling’s most unique performers. A former UFC star, Riddle is dripping with athleticism, authenticity and charisma.
“Riddle has this charisma about him that makes you just want to watch him,” Levesque said. “He’s spectacularly fluid in his movements, and his background in MMA, and the way he utilizes it, makes him different than anybody. He’s just kicking the surface of where he’s going to go. It’s going to be incredible to watch him perform over the next few years.”
The chemistry between the perpetually underrated Strong and the dynamic Riddle made for a gripping contrast.
“There was no question where I wanted to start the show,” Levesque said. “I knew they would blow the roof off the place and set a tempo for the night.”
The North American championship was also on the line, and the Velveteen Dream successfully defended his title against the returning Tyler Breeze.
In the buildup to the match, Dream repeatedly criticized Breeze for his inability to succeed on WWE’s main roster. Breeze, who is the only wrestler to have performed at the first-ever TakeOver as well as the 25th event, was the aggressor in the match, but the story told saw him eventually fall prey to the Dream’s cunning intelligence.
“They both proved they belong,” Levesque said. “Velveteen is a young guy at the top of his game, and Breeze earned the opportunity to be home here. Hopefully he can show the world how good he really is. That’s not to take away from anything he’s done here, but now he gets to come back here and show a different side of what he is.”
Levesque also commented on the announcement of the upcoming NXT UK show on August 31, which takes place in Cardiff, Wales, on the same day as All Elite Wrestling’s All Out show.
The two shows are unlikely to compete directly against one other, as the NXT UK show will start at 3pm ET, hours before All Out.
“August 31 is a date we have had for a long time,” Levesque said. “We just hadn’t announced because it wasn’t the right time.”
Levesque noted he was especially proud of TakeOver XXV, as it stood as a standalone show instead of serving as the opener for a WWE pay per view weekend. Only a week after the success of AEW’s Double or Nothing pay per view and two weeks after WWE’s Money in the Bank, TakeOver XXV delivered a show worthy of its claim that it offers the most action and excitement in all of wrestling.
“This brand can stand on its own, and tonight was special,” Levesque said. “This was the highest grossing WWE event we’ve done in this building. We’ve done Raw and SmackDown here, and this outdrew them.
“The talent wanted to walk out of TakeOver and make a statement, and our statement was, ‘Follow that.’ ”
Justin Barrasso can be reached at JBarrasso@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @JustinBarrasso.