NXT: Takeover Toronto occurred Saturday night and man, what a show it was. NXT on the WWE Network is one of the best wrestling shows out there and for good reason. Too often in wrestling today, companies want to over complicate things with over dramatic storylines that border, and often fall, into ludicrousness. NXT strips back some of the nonsense that has become commonplace in wrestling today and brings it back to basics.
Match #1-Bobby Roode vs Tye Dillinger
Before the match even starts, we get Booby Roode’s entrance and man was it a trip. A choir is on stage singing his theme song. Was it silly? Yes. But it also played into the over confidence his character has. A perfect meld of song and performer.
Tye Dillinger comes out and his outfit made him look like an extra from the movie Barbarella. The jury is still out on his character. He’s a good guy now due to Bobby Roode turning on him during the first round of the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic and personally, I just don’t have a good feel for his character. I don’t have too much invested in him to honestly care.
The match was pretty solid but not a five star classic by any means. This is not the last time these two will meet. It sets up a rematch somewhere down the road and hopefully the next time these two will meet, Tye Dillinger will have a better connection with me. Then I will care more about this match.
Match #2-The Authors of Pain (with manager Paul Ellering) vs TM-61 (The finals of the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Tournament)
This match suffered in my opinion due to the two teams in question not really having a connection with fans as of yet. The Authors of Pain are still pretty new to NXT. A brilliant move was bringing Paul Ellering in as their manager. Paul Ellering was the manager of The Road Warriors back in the 80’s. Long-time fans are very familiar with his work and his inclusion as The Authors of Pain manager gives them some much needed menace they may have had to work a lot harder for without him.
During the tournament, Paul had interfered in all of their matches to The Authors of Pain benefit. The General Manager of NXT, William Regal, declared that for this match, to prevent any interference, Paul would be hanging above the ring in a shark cage, a call back to over thirty years ago when he had to do the same in the infamous Last Battle of Atlanta match between Buzz Sawyer and Wildfire Tommy Rich.
The match itself was all right. One spot worth catching was when Shane Thorne from TM-61 climbs the crane holding the shark cage and does a moonsault onto The Authors of Pain. Other than that, the two teams are still pretty new on the scene so I didn’t feel any connection with either of them.
Winner-The Authors of Pain
Match 3: #DIY (Johnny Gargano and Tommaso Ciampa) vs The Revival (Dash Wilder and Scott Dawson) for the NXT Tag Team Championship in a 2 out of 3 Falls Match
This match has been brewing since the last Takeover special in Brooklyn. Over the past few months, The Revival have been besting #DIY in match after match, setting up a do or die moment for Gargano and Ciampa.
I loved the two out of three falls stipulation. It’s a way to build up tension that may not have been there. The Revival are old fashioned bad guys. They’ll take any advantage they can in order to win. They’re also a formidable duo in the ring, able to bring it to anyone. #DIY are your classic good guy team.
The match was one of the best I’ve seen this year. The Revival scored the first pin fall. They set up a Johnny Gargano injury shortly after the first pinfall which made it more difficult for #DIY to pull off the win but pull it off they did. This match really brought me back to when I was a kid and watching tag teams like Tully Blanchard and Arn Anderson face off against The Road Warriors. If you see one match from this show, make it The Revival vs #DIY
Match #4-Mickie James vs Asuka for the NXT Women’s Championship
One of the biggest accomplishments of NXT has been giving women the chance to actually perform in the ring as more than just eye candy. From current WWE Superstars like Charlotte, Sasha Banks, Becky Lynch, and Bayley, to NXT performers like Asuka and Ember Moon, they’ve given women the platform to perform in a way I have never seen before.
What NXT has also done is found ways to bring back older talents in meaningful ways. Mickie James has not wrestled for WWE in over six years. The way they brought her back for this match made her seem a credible threat to Asuka. They hyped up Mickie in the right way.
The match was pretty good. It’s not a classic but the goal here was to give Asuka another win in her undefeated streak against a talent that is very much a threat. With Asuka winning the match, I have to question whether this was a one off for Mickie James or if we may see her again, getting her revenge against the NXT Women’s Champion.
Match #5-Samoa Joe vs Shinsuke Nakamura for the NXT Championship
This is another match built up from NXT: Takeover Brooklyn. Shinsuke had won the NXT Championship from Samoa Joe during that match and since then, Samoa Joe had gone on a rampage to force Nakamura to face him in a rematch. If this happened on Raw or Smackdown, we would have seen Joe do silly stuff like run over Nakamura’s car with a monster truck or something silly along those lines. In NXT, we had the two men just beating the hell out of each other, building up the tension that boils over in this match.
These two had the unenviable task of following The Revival vs #DIY match. They didn’t try to top it. They just decided to beat the hell out of each other which was just what was needed. Samoa Joe is one hell of a heel, bad guy. While he doesn’t have a bodybuilder physique, you know by looking at him he could beat the hell out of you.
Shinsuke is a force of nature. The natural charisma this guy has is amazing. One fear I would have if he joined the main roster would be Vince McMahon giving him some sort of stereotypical gimmick, especially with Nakamura not quite being gifted on the mic due to the language barrier. That would be a shame because without saying much, you instantly like this guy and want to see him succeed. His entrance alone, while nothing like the great entrance he had during Takeover Brooklyn, was still a sight to behold.
The ending was a bit of a downer with Joe winning but at the very least it sets up another rematch between the two. I had hoped with a Joe loss we’d be seeing him move to the main roster with either Raw or Smackdown but I’ll settle for having him on a show that can showcase him in the right way.
Winner and new NXT Champion-Samoa Joe
This was a great show. From top to bottom, you will be entertained. While other Takeover specials have done better in the ring, this show was still great to watch. A bad NXT Takeover is still better than most main roster events and that’s saying something. Watch the replay of NXT: Takeover Toronto on the WWE Network and watch the latest episodes of NXT on Wednesdays on the WWE Network.