NXT TakeOver: Toronto – November 19th 2016
Air Canada Centre: Toronto, ON, Canada.
This is going to be an easy review. NXT Takeover: Toronto was an absolutely awesome show. That’s pretty much it.
Of course, I couldn’t just get away with leaving it there so let’s have a look at what made this NXT Takeover the best WWE show of the year by a country mile. All of the matches either lived up to expectations or completely surpassed them. Bobby Roode & Tye Dillinger had a very good opener that the crowd went nuts for. TM61 vs. The Authors of Pain was much better than it looked on paper. DIY & The Revival delivered the MOTY candidate that everyone was anticipating. Asuka/Mickie James, which could have gone one way or the other, turned out to be a pretty strong match. Then Samoa Joe & Shinsuke Nakamura put on a great, hard-hitting, main event which built nicely as the match went on and led to a surprising title change. The crowd also played their part in taking the show to the next level, as they were white hot for the opener and didn’t even burn themselves out during the outstanding Tag Team Championship match.
It was easy to find things to complain about with the card before the show started: Main event caliber Bobby Roode wasting his time with mid-card Tye Dillinger, for example. The fact that TM61 & The Authors of Pain were in the final of the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic. Mickie James not having worked on the big stage for nearly six years and being thrown straight in with Asuka not only exposed the lack of depth in the NXT women’s division, but the match could have ended up being a messy clash of styles. Also, for some people the first Joe/Nakamura match was somewhat of a disappointment so believe it or not there were a few fans not all that excited for the rematch. All of the negatives one could imagine were ultimately dispelled during the first few moments of Bobby Roode’s entrance and from that moment on it was clear Takeover: Toronto was going to be a special show.
Bobby Roode vs. Tye Dillinger – Roode over in 16:28. Roode had a choir to help sing his “Glorious” entrance music; it was great. Match was fairly basic, however the crowd were insanely hot for the two Canadians and chanted, “This is awesome” before they even did anything. Dillinger shone early and landed a Backdrop on the floor then did the 10 Punch in the corner. Roode cut him off and sent him into the barricade to start the heat. Dillinger got some hope spots in then made his comeback. Things picked up when Roode hit a Superplex for a near-fall; Roode stacked up Dillinger and put his feet on the ropes but the referee saw. Dillinger got a nice near-fall with a School Boy then hooked the Sharpshooter to a massive pop. They traded Inside Cradles then Roode posted Dillinger’s shoulder and finished him of with the DDT. – This was easily Dillinger’s best performance to date, although I don’t really see where he goes from here other than back into mid-card obscurity in NXT. Roode on the other-hand should unquestionably be involved in the main event scene on the main roster. (*** ¾).
2016 Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic Final: TM61 vs. The Authors of Pain w/Paul Ellering. – Authors of Pain over in 8:61. Ellering was suspended over the ring in a shark cage, because they have that goofy new Crash Cage toy gimmick to sell. Match was fairly short, however it didn’t need to go any longer than it did. Hot start, with Shane Thorne doing a crazy somersault dive on to everyone off the scaffolding which supported the shark cage. Authors got the heat on Thorne and killed the momentum after the huge dive by sitting in a Chinlock. Nick Miller made the comeback and TM61 hit their Thunder Valley finish but the pin was broken up. Ellering did the old-school gimmick of dropping a chain down from the cage, however it was never used and the heels won clean with the Last Chapter. – The Authors of Pain are still really green and if had this gone any longer they were in danger of being exposed. At least they will be working with Gargano & Ciampa in the future. (***).
NXT Tag Team Championship, Two-out-of-Three Falls: The Revival (Scott Dawson & Dash Wilder) (C) vs. DIY (Johnny Gargano & Tommaso Ciampa). – DIY became the new champs at 22:18. Outstanding match. First fall was essentially a condensed TV match, with the faces getting their shine, the heels cutting them off, big comeback and a finish. The Revival hit Gargano with a nasty-looking Shatter Machine to get the first fall at 5:11. Second fall was the long heat segment and Gargano sold forever. Revival hit a Hart Attack and constantly cut off Gargano from making the tag. Ciampa finally got the hot tag and ran wild with big knee strikes then he hit Dawson with three Germans. Near-fall on Dawson with a knee strike. Revival went for a spike Piledriver but they were foiled and DIY hit their tandem Superkick/Knee Smash combo to take the second fall at 13:37. Third fall was basically a long parade of near-falls and it was absolutely wondrous to behold. The following moves/spots all led to great near-falls: Gargano hit a Slingshot DDT. Revival landed a German Suplex/running Uppercut combo. Inside Cradle from Gargano. Dawson blocked a kick from Gargano with the Tag Title belt and hooked a Reverse Figure-Four which was the finish for the Brooklyn match. Gargano’s selling was out of this world. Revival tried to hit DIY’s finish but missed and Gargano & Ciampa hit the Shatter Machine for another insane near-fall. The finish was tremendous, as Dash smashed Gargano with a brutal Chop-block and set up for another submission, but Gargano reversed and they traded yet more near-falls. Gargano locked in the Gargano Escape and Dawson ran in to break it up, however Ciampa cut him off and applied the Bridging Armbar. Both heels were caught in the middle of the ring and they both tapped-out to send the crowd into delirium. – Just go watch this match right now. (**** ¾).
NXT Women’s Championship: Asuka (C) vs. Mickie James – Asuka retained in 13:07. They intelligently started out slow to give the crowd some time to breathe after the previous match. Story was that they were both evenly matched early on. Asuka rolled out for a breather and Mickie held the ropes to invite her back in. Asuka sent Mickie to the floor with a Hip Attack then held the ropes for her, but cut her off while she was climbing back in. Mickie landed a Hurricanrana on the outside, however Asuka took over with a big German Suplex on the floor. Asuka landed some kicks then Mickie came back with a single-leg Boston Crab. Mickie made her comeback after landing a stiff slap and got a near-fall with a Seated Senton off the top. Asuka hooked an Armbar but Mickie got to the ropes. Mick-Kick got a near-fall. Finish saw Asuka counter the Mickie-D-T and after a struggle she applied the Asuka-Lock to get the tap. – Mickie looked really good here and Asuka sold a lot for her. She probably did enough to earn herself a contract or a trainers role at the very least. The next challenger for Asuka is a big question. Ember Moon would probably be the best choice, however they would have to start the build almost immediately in order for her to come off as a credible challenger in time for January. (*** ½).
NXT Championship: Shinsuke Nakamura (C) vs. Samoa Joe. – Joe became the new NXT Champion at 20:12. Great main event. Nakamura had about nine violinists play him out to the ring; it was awesome. They started off with some striking exchanges and quickly ended up on the floor for a brawl in the crowd. Joe took over with an Enzuigiri in the corner then followed up with a big Tope. Joe teased sending Nakamura into the steps but Nak escaped. Nakamura got some strikes in for some hope, however Joe cut him off and did all his signature spots: The back chop/kick/elbow combo, big sentons and the Powerbomb into a Boston Crab, into an STF, into a Crossface. Nakamura came back with a flying knee off the ropes for a double-down then landed a big German Suplex. Joe went for the Muscle Buster but Nakamura countered and hit the Kinshasa for a near-fall. Joe avoided a second Kinshasa and hooked the Coquina Clutch; Nakamura fought out while the crowd sang his entrance theme. Joe went deep into his play book and broke out the Chimera-plex(!!!) for a big near-fall. Finish was great and played into the storyline of the feud, as Nakamura sent Joe to the floor with a Kinshasa to the back. Joe slammed Nakamura onto the steps with a Uranage – the same spot that put him out for weeks – then rolled him back inside and hit the Muscle Buster for the win. – This was a level above their Brooklyn match, which I actually enjoyed more than others. The intensity was great and fit perfectly with the heated nature of the feud. Unlike the majority of most WWE PPV main events, which consist of a million near-falls from about five minutes in, this match was worked at a completely different pace and purposefully built to the key spots with logic and gravitas. Presumably Nakamura will get the belt back when NXT goes to Japan in December, which is fine I suppose. It would have been nice if the announcers made more of an effort to put over that this was the first time Nakamura had lost in a singles match, but whatever. I’ve loved this feud since day one – it really peaked over the last month with all the wild brawls on NXT TV – so the fact that we’re going to get a third Joe/Nakamura match is something I am very happy about. (**** ½).
Survivor Series has zero chance of coming anywhere near the quality of this show.