Tommaso Ciampa was so close to winning back the NXT championship, only to be stopped by, of all people, Johnny Gargano. When NXT TakeOver: Portland was over, Adam Cole escaped with the title after scoring the win in the main event.
Ciampa had the match won in the closing minutes but the referee was nowhere in sight to count the pin. Then Gargano came down to the ring to cheer on his once-again friend, or so it seemed. Instead, he hit Ciampa with the title and cost him the championship that he has fought so hard to win back following neck surgery that nearly ended his career.
This marks the latest chapter in what has been a long feud between the former DIY teammates. It looked like the two were once again on-screen friends following Ciampa's surgery and Gargano winning the title last year. Instead, the bitter feud will continue two years after it began.
It was a strong night from top to bottom of the six-match NXT TakeOver: Portland card. Both Keith Lee and Rhea Ripley successfully defended their championships while the Broserweights (Matt Riddle and Pete Dunne) upended Bobby Fish and Kyle O'Reilly to win the NXT tag team titles in a wild back and forth match.
NXT TakeOver events seem to always deliver but this one went above and beyond expectations and is a strong early contender for the show of the year.
Check out Sporting News' complete coverage of NXT TakeOver: Portland below.
(All times Eastern.)
NXT TakeOver: Portland live updates
Adam Cole defeats Tommaso Ciampa to retain the NXT championship
10:05 p.m.: Ref bump and he goes flying out of the ring. Ciampa has Cole down and out but there's no referee to make the count. Johnny Gargano is at ringside cheering Ciampa on. The champ reaches for the title, which was in the ring, and Gargano grabs it. He then smashes Ciampa in the head with it. Cole makes the cover as the referee recovers and he gets the three count. An incredible match to cap off an awesome night of wrestling.
10:02 p.m.: Roderick Strong is on the apron distracting the referee while Fish and O'Reilly attack Ciampa. Ciampa won't be denied though and he throws Cole over the top onto all of UE and then he hits a dive onto all of them. It's him and Cole in the ring again and Cole comes back again with another Last Shot but Ciampa kicks out at the last second.
10:00 p.m.: Cole jumps on top of the announcer's table and finally connects with the Panama Sunrise. He puts Ciampa in the ring and looks to finish him off but instead, it's Ciampa who goes on the offensive and drops Cole. He makes the cover but the champ somehow kicks out. Cole then with a crossface but Ciampa gets out and slaps it on himself. Cole almost taps out but somehow gets to the ropes.
9:57 p.m.: Cole with a pair of strikes to the head sends Ciampa outside the ring. Cole goes for a dive but Ciampa nails him and the champion goes crashing into the floor. They go back in the ring where Cole hits a ushigoroshi but can't put Ciampa away. They exchange shots and then Cole with the Last Shot but Ciampa rolls to the apron before he can be pinned. Cole to the top rope and goes for Panama Sunrise on the apron but Ciampa catches him and gives him another Air Raid Crash on the apron. This is wild, wild stuff.
9:52 p.m.: They're fighting on the top rope and Cole sets him up for the Panama Sunrise again but instead it's Ciampa with the Air Raid Crash. Cole kicks out of the pin attempt. They go outside the ring again and Cole goes for a powerbomb but instead is on the receiving end of one on the announcer's table. Ciampa gives him a second one as Cole goes crashing through the table. He tosses Cole in the ring and goes for a running knee but instead, it's Cole with a superkick. Ciampa comes back with Project Ciampa and makes the cover but Cole survives again. The crowd is on its feet.
9:45 p.m.: Ciampa is hung up in the corner and Cole takes advantage with a Backstabber, again targeting Ciampa's back and neck. He goes for a neckbreaker but can't get it. Instead, Cole with a kick to the head and goes for Panama Sunrise but instead its Ciampa connecting with a knee to the head.
9:42 p.m.: They're fighting outside the ring again and Ciampa connects with a running knee that levels Cole. He stares at the championship, allowing Cole time to recover. Ciampa misses a kick to the head and Cole whips his surgically repaired neck into the announcer's table. The tide has turned.
9:37 p.m.: A methodical pace early on as they exchange moves. They go outside the ring and Cole drops Ciampa with a boot to the face and then mocks Ciampa by patting himself on the back. Now the challenger is ticked off as he throws Cole face-first into the post and then drives him into the barricade with a hard knee.
9:32 p.m.: Even before they touch, the crowd chants "Psycho Killer" and "Adam Cole". You can feel the tension and excitement already.
9:27 p.m.: Main event time. This show has been fantastic and these two will no doubt have their working shoes on to try and properly cap off this show.
The BroserWeights (Matt Riddle and Pete Dunne) defeat The Undisputed Era (Bobby Fish and Kyle O'Reilly) to become NXT tag team champions
9:22 p.m. FINISH: Riddle and Dunne come back with simultaneous kicks to the head of O'Reilly. Then stereo strikes to Fish and the Broserweights are the new NXT tag team champions. That was ridiculously insane - a crazy good tag team match from beginning to end.
9:19 p.m.: This match is quite insane with the back and forth strikes and suplexes. O'Reilly wipes on Dunne outside the ring with a flying knee. He then drops a knee off the top rope onto Riddle's knee and puts him in a kneebar but Dunne finally gets back to the ring and breaks it up. He gets pushed into his corner and accidentally knocks Riddle to the floor. Riddle then gets in the ring and goes for a spear but O'Reilly sidesteps him and he wipes out Dunne. UE hit Enter the Dragon but somehow Dunne kicks out.
9:14 p.m.: Out on the floor, Dunne tries to kick Fish in the head but misses and instead kicks the post. Meanwhile, in the ring, O'Reilly and Riddle exchange moves including Riddle with a knee to the head. He sets up O'Reilly for a suplex but Fish from behind with a chop block. UE double teams Riddle but he connects with a knee to both of them and finally makes the tag to Dunne.
9:10 p.m.: UE is keeping Dunne trapped in the ring including a Dragon Screw leg whip across the ropes. O'Reilly goes for a running boot in the corner but misses and hits his own partner, allowing Dunne to tag in Riddle. He goes wild with an exploder suplex and each of his opponents and then a GTS into a German suplex on O'Reilly. He's a machine.
9:05 p.m.: Pete Dunne is amusing himself by stomping on Fish's left hand and then twisting his arm in an awkward position. Fish makes the tag and O'Reilly hits a flurry of kicks and knees.
9:00 p.m.: The Broserweights drive down to the ring in the BroMobile with the Dusty Rhodes tag team trophy in tow. Riddle decides to start a sing-along of "how much Fish could Bobby Fish fry if Bobby Fish could fry fish?" including the words coming on the screen with a bouncing fish going across the words. Fish and O'Reilly are not amused and attack them. Here we go!
Rhea Ripley defeats Bianca Belair for the NXT women's championship
8:55 p.m. FINISH: Belair with a huge body drop that sends Ripley hard to the floor and then she lands a tope. Ripley gets to her feet and drops Belair onto the steel steps and they go back in the ring. Ripley goes to the top rope but Belair fights her off and tries to hit a superplex but it's Ripley who lands a Riptide and scores the win. Good match and both worked really hard.
As Ripley is posing with the title, she gets attacked from behind by Charlotte Flair. She grabs a mic and says that she'll see Ripley at WrestleMania so it's official: Ripley vs. Flair for the NXT women's championship at WrestleMania 36. Before Flair leaves, she tosses Belair into the steel steps.
8:48 p.m.: Belair goes for a suplex but awkwardly drops Ripley down on the side of her leg. The champ comes back with a backdrop and then simply picks Ripley up and drops her face-first. Ripley then with a modified Cloverleaf submission but Belair gets out. Ripley goes to the top rope and two exchange hard slaps to the face before Belair whips the champion in the midsection with her hair and then press slams her to the mat.
8:41 p.m.: Ripley uses her power early on as she attacks Ripley's left arm. Belair with a backflip out of the corner but then runs into a pair of boots to the chest and then with a nasty chop that drops the challenger.
8:35 p.m.: Second championship of the night up for grabs in this one. Big opportunity for Belair who continues to impress.
Finn Balor defeats Johnny Gargano
8:28 p.m. FINISH: Balor with a Sling Blade and Gargano then goes for a superkick but misses and he eats another Sling Blade and then gets dropkicked into the turnbuckles. Balor goes to the top for the Coup de Grace but Gargano moves and slaps on the Gargano Escape. Balor gets out but Gargano puts it on again before Balor slithers out of the ring. Gargano then connects with a shotgun dropkick that sends Balor into the barricade and then wants to put him into the announcer's table but instead, Balor picks him up and drops him onto the table. Then he runs across multiple tables and hits a flying dropkick. He puts Gargano back in the ring, hits the Coup de Grace and then finishes him off with the 1916 DDT. Awesome, awesome match.
8:24 p.m.: Balor with some nasty stomps to Gargano's face before he goes out of the ring. He avoids a dive as Balor lands on his feet but Gargano drops him with a superkick. They go back in the ring with Balor hitting a kick to the face but Gargano comes back with a big shot of his own and then Balor with a Pele kick. The action is definitely picking up as they stand toe-to-toe and exchange punches. Balor misses a stomp and Gargano turns it into a DDT but cannot get the win.
8:20 p.m.: Gargano comes back and knocks Balor outside the ring. He goes for a dive but Balor catches him and tries to hit the 1916 DDT but Gargano shoves him into the ring steps. Gargano then goes to the apron and connects with a cannonball dive. Back in the ring, it's Gargano hitting a slingshot spear but he can't get the three count.
8:15 p.m: Gargano is focused on Balor's left arm while Balor is going after his left knee including a stomp to the back of his knee. It's back to a methodic pace before Balor ties up Gargano's knee and tries to make him submit.
8:10 p.m.: They exchange chops and the Gargano hops the ropes and connects with a spear on the apron. Gargano lines him up for a dropkick on the floor but Instead Balor hits a Sling Blade. These guys are so smooth.
8:05 p.m.: Some back and forth mat wrestling to start this one. They're slowing down the pace following the previous match but it probably won't take long before the pace picks up. They exchange rollups before Gargano connects with a kick to the jaw.
8:00 p.m.: This should be a fun grudge match. Even before the match, it's an amazing battle of abs as both guys are ripped.
Dakota Kai defeats Tegan Nox in a Street Fight
7:52 p.m. FINISH: Nox uses a big steel chain and a chair on Kai's knee and she's hobbling around now. Nox then sets up a table in the ring and puts Kai on it as well as a chair around her neck. Nox goes to the top rope but NXT newcomer Racquel Gonzalez comes from out of nowhere to stop her. She then pushes Nox off the top rope onto the table — which didn't break — and Kai then gets the pin. Afterward, Gonzalez helps up Kai and then holds her hand up in victory although Kai isn't sure what is going on. Good match but a curious ending.
7:47 p.m.: This is very intense and physical including Kai whacking Nox in the head hard with a trash can lid and later Nox connecting with a German suplex onto a trash can. Nox puts Kai's head on a chair and tries to kick it but Kai moves out of the way and ends up kicking the chair into Nox's face. Outside the ring tapes Nox to the ring post and blasts her with a few kicks before trying to hit her with a laptop she took from the broadcast table. Instead, Nox gets it drills her in the knee.
7:42 p.m.: They've got trash cans out from under the ring and Nox puts one on her head and then delivers a kick but takes a bad landing.
7:37 p.m.: Nox is first to out and as she's posing walking down to the ring, Kai attacks her from behind. They brawl in the crowd and Nox comes back with a spear through a ringside barricade sign before Kai hits a DDT on the same sign. They finally get in the ring and the bell rings.
Keith Lee defeats Dominik Dijakovic to retain the NXT North American championship
7:30 p.m. FINISH: This match is officially crazy as Lee hits two Spirit Bombs and both times, Dijakovic kicks out of pinfalls. The crowd is eating this up and can't believe Lee didn't score a win yet. Lee goes to the top rope but Dijakovic tosses him off to the floor. Lee gets up and gets back to the top but goes down hard as Dijakovic lands an avalanche Spanish Fly. WHAT? Lee survives and connects with the Big Bang Catastrophe and finally gets the victory. That was nuts. I'd say it was too much for the opening match on a show but this is NXT: TakeOver and the bar is really, really high.
7:26 p.m.: Lee with some devastating double-handed chops outside the ring. He puts Lee in a chair and kicks him in the face before returning to the ring and goes flying with a somersault flip. Whoa!
7:21 p.m.: They fight up on the top rope and Dijakovic connects with an avalanche Feast Your Eyes but again cannot get the pin. Not only does Lee survive but he comes back with a big pounce that launches Dijakovic head-first into the turnbuckles.
7:16 p.m.: Dijakovic hits a Cyclone Kick and then a corkscrew moonsault off the top but Lee kicks out of the pin. Amazing athleticism on display.
7:11 p.m.: Dijakovic is a very good big man but Lee is a freak of nature for his size as he breaks out a hurricanrana early on. Dijakovic goes for a Fosbury Flop to the outside but Lee catches him. The challenger escapes and then connects with a suplex on the apron.
7:05 p.m.: Poppy starts the show off with a song and now it's a battle of the big boys.
6;56 p.m.: Quick predictions before the show gets underway: Ciampa, Ripley, Balor, Kai, Broserweights, and Lee.
6:48 p.m.: I was just about to guess what match would start the show but I don't have to anymore as it was just announced that Keith Lee vs. Dominik Dijakovic for the NXT North American championship will get things going. It's the continuation of a long-running feud between the big men that precedes their time with NXT.
6:42 p.m.: Dijakovic is planning a special entrance tonight and for a great cause.
6:35 p.m.: Remember Mansoor who won the biggest Battle Royal in WWE history last year in Saudi Arabia? Well, WWE finally found a role for him - TakeOver pre-show co-host.
6:30 p.m.: Welcome to Sporting News' live coverage of NXT TakeOver: Portland. It should be a fantastic night of NXT action with six matches, which is the most ever for a TakeOver event. And this is an awesome card including the big Cole versus Ciampa title match on the top of the card.
NXT TakeOver: Portland lineup
— Adam Cole vs. Tommaso Ciampa for the NXT championship
— Rhea Ripley vs. Bianca Belair for the NXT women's championship
— Johnny Gargano vs. Finn Balor
— Dakota Kai vs. Tegan Nox in a Street Fight
— The Undisputed Era (Bobby Fish and Kyle O'Reilly) vs. The BroserWeights (Matt Riddle and Pete Dunne)
— Keith Lee vs. Dominik Dijakovic for the North American championship