Five years ago, NXT offered its first TakeOver event from the brand's home at Full Sail University in Winter Park, Florida. Often outshining its WWE pay-per-view counterparts, TakeOver events have consistently dazzled, thrilled and delivered throughout its five-year run.
Between the opening match at that inaugural show between Adam Rose and Camacho and the most recent TakeOver match in New York between Johnny Gargano and Adam Cole, there have been some of the greatest matches and moments -- not just in the WWE during the time, but in all of professional wrestling.
In honor of the 25th TakeOver event on Saturday night in Bridgeport, Connecticut, here are our picks for the 25 greatest TakeOver moments:
25. NXT TakeOver: Rival --?Sasha Banks becomes the NXT women's champion in a Fatal 4-way against the rest of the Four Horsewomen?(Feb. 11, 2015)
Four pillars -- or Horsewomen -- of the WWE's women's division as we know it today delivered an in-ring gem at TakeOver: Rival. The match quality was something we'd come to expect from Sasha Banks, Charlotte Flair, Becky Lynch and Bayley as their careers ascended. This particular night and moment, however, belonged to Banks, who stood tall winning her first of many championships as part of the WWE.
24. NXT TakeOver: London -- Finn Balor's 'Jack the Ripper'-style entrance steals the show, defeats Samoa Joe to retain the NXT championship (Dec. 16, 2015)
Finn Balor's TakeOver title matches were "extraordinary," but his entrances took things to the next level. His entrance in London may have been his most visually awe-inspiring.
23. NXT TakeOver: Respect -- Finn Balor & Samoa Joe win the inaugural Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic?(Oct. 7, 2015)
The Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic was created to honor one of the most brilliant minds and mentors in the history of professional wrestling. Since that time, there have been four winners, the first of which came at TakeOver: Respect, in which the duo of Finn Balor and Samoa Joe captured the Dusty Cup.
22. NXT TakeOver: Unstoppable -- After an unsuccessful challenge to Sasha Banks' title, the crowd salutes Becky Lynch?(May 20, 2015)
Before there was "Becky 2 Belts" and a WrestleMania main event, Becky Lynch had worked her way up from obscurity to the NXT women's title picture. At Unstoppable, her challenge for her former ally's title came up short, but as Lynch sat in the ring post-match in tears, the crowd chanted her name and sang her theme song. It was just a glimpse at the cult following that Lynch would later gain.
21. NXT TakeOver: R Evolution -- The Demon Finn Balor makes his debut?(Dec. 11, 2014)
Perhaps the most chilling entrance since the Undertaker's debut in 1990 came when Finn Balor debuted his demon persona at TakeOver: R Evolution when he teamed with Hideo Itami. The music, the body paint, Balor's mannerisms -- they set the stage for one of the most consistently acclaimed and anticipated entrances in the history of WWE.
20. NXT TakeOver: WarGames?--?Aleister Black defeats Velveteen Dream, but Dream earns Black's respect?(Nov. 18, 2017)
The Dream told Aleister Black he would make him say his name. Dream may have lost the match, but when Black said, "Enjoy infamy, Velveteen Dream," after the match, the Dream got what he really wanted out of his NXT TakeOver debut: a match that opened eyes to his in-ring prowess.
19. NXT TakeOver: New York -- WALTER ends Pete Dunne's nearly two-year reign?(April 5, 2019)
What a way to make a TakeOver debut. After one of the more physical matches of the year, WALTER put an end to the brilliant 685-day U.K. championship reign of Pete Dunne and became the third champion in that brand's history.
18. NXT TakeOver: Rival -- Kevin Owens gets his prize?(Feb. 11, 2015)
After a shocking turn on his longtime friend Sami Zayn, Kevin Owens received a title shot and defeated Zayn for the title via technical knockout after officials stopped the match following five pop-up powerbombs.
17. NXT TakeOver: New Orleans -- Roderick Strong turns on Pete Dunne, and joins the Undisputed Era?(April 7, 2018)
This was the moment that the Undisputed Era, as we know it in May 2019, was born. Not only did the faction claim the NXT tag team championships and win the Dusty Classic, but it gained a member when Roderick Strong turned on Pete Dunne, his tag team partner that night, allowing the Undisputed Era to claim victory.
16. NXT TakeOver: Toronto -- DIY finally gets the tag team titles in a two-out-of-three-falls match over The Revival?(Nov. 19, 2016)
There are deservedly a lot of Johnny Gargano/Tommaso Ciampa moments on this list, but this was their crowning achievement as a tag team. In a stellar two-out-of-three-falls match against The Revival, #DIY lost the first fall but came back for the second fall. In the third fall, both members of #DIY eventually got both members of The Revival in their submission holds, leading to simultaneous tap-outs in a match WWE.com called its match of the year.
15. NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn 4 -- Ciampa retains his title in a Last Man Standing match after Gargano cannot get back to his feet?(Aug. 18, 2018)
The Gargano-Ciampa saga has been the premier storyline in NXT history. The journey has been compelling and this Last Man Standing match was arguably its finest chapter. The final moment saw Gargano injure his knee while attempting to put Ciampa away, preventing him from answering the 10 count.
14. NXT TakeOver: Dallas -- Shinsuke Nakamura's NXT debut is a hard-fought, classic win over Sami Zayn?(April 1, 2016)
The highly anticipated debut of Shinsuke Nakamura in NXT didn't disappoint. Even though the result wasn't really in doubt going in, these two put on an impressive display -- from trading dozens of forearms as the crowd exploded to the Kinshasa off the middle rope.
13. NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn -- Bayley defeats Sasha Banks to win the NXT women's championship?(Aug. 22, 2015)
Before they became the inaugural WWE women's tag team champions, Bayley and Banks had an intense rivalry in NXT. At TakeOver: Brooklyn they delivered the greatest chapter of said rivalry and stole the show in the process. After the match, in an iconic moment, Bayley, Banks and fellow Four Horsewomen Charlotte Flair and Becky Lynch celebrated the crowning achievement in the ring.
12. NXT TakeOver: Phoenix -- Tommaso Ciampa and Johnny Gargano pose with their titles at the top of the ramp at the end of the show?(Jan. 26, 2019)
After Tommaso Ciampa defended his NXT championship against Aleister Black, he was met on the entrance ramp by Johnny Gargano, who defeated Ricochet earlier in the night for the North American championship. Gargano's character was a lot more gray at that point, driven more for personal success than doing what was right, or getting revenge on Ciampa. The two posed together at the top of the ramp, a reversal of what happened when they split, where Ciampa attacked Gargano at the top of the ramp.
11. NXT TakeOver: Chicago -- Pete Dunne claims the U.K. championship from inaugural champion Tyler Bate?(May 20, 2017)
Considered by many to be the best match of 2017, Pete Dunne and Tyler Bate put on a clinic. Dunne's victory marked the beginning of his monumental 685-day title reign.
10. NXT TakeOver: New Orleans?-- Adam Cole wins a six-man ladder match to become the inaugural NXT North American champion?(April 7, 2018)
NXT debuted the new title in style with an amazing six-man ladder match worthy of a max rating no matter what system you use. Featuring Adam Cole, Velveteen Dream, Ricochet, EC3, Killian Dain and Lars Sullivan, the match featured a variety of styles that came together in spectacular fashion.
9. NXT TakeOver -- Charlotte defeats Natalya to win vacant NXT women's championship?(May 29, 2014)
Two cornerstones of today's WWE women's division battled at NXT TakeOver in 2014 for the vacant NXT women's championship. Charlotte's win, coupled with Ric Flair and Bret Hart at ringside, made for one of the most memorable TakeOver matches and memories of all time.
8. NXT TakeOver: New Orleans -- Johnny Gargano wins an unsanctioned match over Tommaso Ciampa to get reinstated to NXT?(April 7, 2018)
One of the most emotional moments of the Gargano-Ciampa feud came when Gargano locked in his Gargano Escape, aided by Ciampa's knee brace, and got Ciampa to tap out, resulting in his reinstatement to the NXT roster. As Gargano celebrated the win with wife Candace LeRae, it seemed like the feud could've ended there, but we're glad it didn't.
7. NXT TakeOver: WarGames?-- The Undisputed Era defeats SAnitY and Roderick Strong/Authors of Pain in the return of the WarGames match?(Nov. 18, 2017)
There were over 30 War Games matches between 1987 and 2000, many of which were classics. In 2017, NXT revived the classic match stipulation of years past and, boy, did it deliver as the Undisputed Era reigned supreme.
6. NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn III -- The Undisputed Era is born?(Aug. 19, 2017)
It might've been enough for Drew McIntyre's title win to make the list, taking the championship away from Bobby Roode, but the real moment came after the match when Adam Cole made a shocking debut, attacking the new NXT champion. He was joined by Bobby Fish and Kyle O'Reilly, who reunited earlier in the night to attack the Authors of Pain and SAnitY, who previously competed in the tag team championship match.
5. NXT TakeOver: Dallas --?Asuka wins the women's championship from Bayley?(April 1, 2016)
Asuka was an unstoppable force in NXT and perhaps the greatest superstar in the brand's history. TakeOver: Dallas marked the beginning of her historic 522-day NXT women's championship reign -- one that came to an end only due to her vacating the title upon her graduation to the main roster.
4. NXT TakeOver: Respect -- Bayley defeats Sasha Banks in the first women's headliner and first Iron Woman match (Oct. 7, 2015)
In the first "Iron Woman" match and the first women's match to headline an NXT TakeOver, Bayley and Banks did not disappoint. Bayley picked up a submission decision with mere seconds remaining to retain her women's title.
3. NXT TakeOver: New York -- Johnny Gargano defeats Adam Cole in a two-out-of-three-falls match to win NXT championship?(April 5, 2019)
Johnny Gargano's NXT journey has been tumultuous and challenging, yet riveting and gratifying. Following the destruction of the #DIY tag team in the summer of 2017, Gargano chased the NXT championship for over a year. After numerous unsuccessful attempts and constant hurdles, his career culminated with this two-out-of-three-falls classic with Adam Cole in which he finally captured the gold.
2. NXT TakeOver: R Evolution -- After a classic match between Sami Zayn and Adrian Neville, Kevin Owens attacks his longtime friend?(Dec. 11, 2014)
This moment marked the beginning of the NXT/WWE version of this longtime independent storyline. It was the ultimate shock moment after Sami Zayn finally won the big one with his NXT career on the line. Owens, who had been busted open after making his debut earlier in the night, performed his still-brutal powerbomb on the apron on his friend Zayn.
1. NXT TakeOver: Chicago -- #DIY breaks up; Tommaso Ciampa turns heel (May 20, 2017)
After failing to reclaim the NXT tag team championship in an excellent ladder match, the unthinkable happened to the revered duo of #DIY, Johnny Gargano and Tommaso Ciampa. As the show appeared to be going off the air, Ciampa attacked Gargano and created the most villainous character in NXT history.