NXT TakeOver Toronto (November 19, 2016)

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NXT has been kind of in a weird transitional period since the brand split depleted their roster. How will that affect NXT’s first big event out of the Great White North? Let’s check it out yo!

Match 1: Bobby Roode vs. Tye Dillinger

It’s Canadian vs. Canadian in Canada in this opening bout. Bobby Roode is out first with a goddamn choir to sing his theme song as he makes his way down to the ring. Sorry Tye Dillinger, your entrance cannot compete with that.

The crowd is hot for these two sons of Canada as the match gets underway. Dillinger takes control early. They go to the floor and Roode sends Dillinger into the barricade, taking control of match.

Back in the ring, Dillinger makes a comeback, but it’s short lived. After Roode avoids the Tye Breaker he hits a spinebuster and follows up with a superplex that nearly gets him the win. Roode mocks Dillinger but eats a superkick. Dillinger goes for a pin, but Roode kicks out. Dillinger hits another superkick and scores another pinfall. The crowd goes nuts.

Roode and Dillinger trade rights in the middle of the ring before engaging in a series of counters before Dillinger is like, “HEY GUYS REMEMBER FAMOUS CANADIAN WRESTLER, BRET HART?!” and locks in the Sharpshooter.

He and Roode then try for rollups. Dillinger eats a ringpost and Roode capitalizes, hitting a DDT for the win.

Winner: Bobby Roode

This was a pretty awesome opening bout. Good back and forth between both guys that the audience was really into. Roode’s entrance is going to be hard to top.

Match 2: Authors of Pain (w/ Paul Ellering) vs. TM-61

This is the final match in the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic. Paul Ellering gets locked in a cage that’s going to be suspended from above the ring like it’s Starrcade ‘84 or something. This gimmick exists not because Paul Ellering has fucked over TM-61 countless times in the months leading up to this bout, but because the cage and crane (that’s not being used to actually raise or lower the cage) are apparently some sort of WWE toy playset.

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Mer-chan-di-sing! Clap! Clap! Clap! Clap!

The Authors attack as soon as the bell rings but get sent to the outside by TM-61. The four men brawl on the outside. Thorne climbs up the Crash Cage’s crane and hits a crazy dive onto the Authors. Holy shit! Holy shit! Holy shit!

Thorne somehow manages to get tripped up on the apron and land on his head, allowing the Authors of Pain to capitalize and take control of the match while Ellering shouted instructions down from the cage.

The Authors keep Thorne isolated for awhile, but the crowd’s not all that into it. It’s a fine bit of wrestling, but is just kind of “meh.” Thorne finally tags in Miller who comes in like a house on fire, tossing Authors left and right. He hits a moonsault for a near fall.

From here the match dissolves into chaos and while the ref is distracted, Ellering drops a chain down to the Authors who try to use it to no avail. The chain is tossed and looks like it flies into the audience where it probably wrecked someone’s shit. Luckily this event is taking place in Canada, where life is cheap.

TM-61 rally a bit and make a brief comeback, but ultimately they are no match for the power of a pair of hosses and the Authors of Pain pick up the with after hitting the Last Chapter.

Following the match Triple H, William Regal, and Goldust sans Goldust attire come out to present the Authors of Pain with a trophy and take some commemorative photos.

Winners: Authors of Pain

This was an okay match. Thorne jumping off the Crash Cage Playset was a pretty good high spot, the sort of which we don’t really get all that often in WWE anymore, but ultimately I thought it was kind of a disappointing end to an overall disappointing tournament. A lot of it was probably because of bad luck more than anything. Hideo Itami getting hurt probably kept Ibushi from going further than he did. The same’s probably true of Austin Aries.

That being said, I’m a fan of big hosses, so I hope they use this win to turn the Authors of Pain into a legit threat to whoever is tag team champs at the end of the night.

Match 3: The RevivalⒸ vs. DIY

This is a best of three falls match for the NXT Tag Team Championship. I’ve said it before, and I’ll probably say it again, but I love the fact that the big feud ending match stipulation in NXT is a Two Out of Three Falls match.

Gargano and Dawson start things off. The crowd is thoroughly behind Gargano. Decent back and forth between the two, but eventually DIY cut Dawson off from his partner. Dash distracts the referee and Dawson rakes Dargano’s eyes allowing The Revival to take control of the match.

The Revival heel it up, isolating Gargano and distracting the ref so he can’t see the heelish antics they are up to. Gargano is basically early 80s Ricky Morton, getting his shit ruined by the Revival and completely unable to make the tag. At about five minutes in the Revival hit the Shatter Machine to pick up the first pinfall.

Gargano tries for a roll up but the Revival maintains control of the match, completely grounding Gargano and cutting him off from Ciampa. They taunt him and yell for him to give up, but Gargano doesn’t roll like that. He hits a tornado DDT and tries for the tag, but Ciampa gets pulled to the floor by Dash before the tag is made.

Eventually Ciampa gets tagged in, but the ref doesn’t see it so he gets sent out. The Revival are like, “HEY CANADA! REMEMBER THE HART FOUNDATION? CHECK THIS OUT!” and then nail Gargano with the Hart Attack and score a near fall, but it takes more than throwback Bret Hart moves to put away Johnny Wrestling, who finally makes it to his corner and…HOT TAG!!!

Ciampa comes flying in with a dropkick and knee strikes. He goes on a tear taking out fools left and right. Dawson gets German suplexed three times in succession by Ciampa who then hits him with a running knee strike nearly scoring a pinfall.

The Revival go for a spike piledriver on Gargano but Ciampa makes the save. DIY then hit Dawson with a superkick/knee strike combo platter to tie it up one all.

With the match all tied up Ciampa and Dash trade blows center ring. Dawson comes back in and kicks Ciampa right in the face as he is wont to do and Gargano tags himself back in. He nearly scores a second pinfall, but The Revival fight him off with an assisted German suplex and nearly score a win themselves. Gargano keeps coming though. Probably because of “heart” or “fighting spirit” or something. It makes for a good storyline since he blames himself for DIY losing the last time they face The Revival.

With the ref distracted, The Revival bring in a title belt and Dawson uses it to block a kick from Gargano. The Revival then attack the belt injured leg of Gargano, but he somehow survives. Dawson’s split open and bleeding from above the eye (probably from the belt spot).

The Revival heel it up some more and go for DIY’s finisher, but they do not succeed. Where they failed, DIY succeed and they hit the Shatter Machine and almost get a three count.

Dawson nearly scores a pinfall of his own with a rollup and a handful of tights. He continues to work Gargano’s leg and the pair then go through several pinning combos. Gargano finally locks in the Gargano Escape. Ciampa is all like, “HEY CANADA REMEMBER THAT GREAT CANADIAN WRESTLER CHRIS BENOIT?!” and slaps on a Crippler Crossface that causes Tom Phillips to be like, “Ciampa locks on the….uhhh….submission maneuver of some sort.” DIY cause both the champions to tap out simultaneously.

Winners and New NXT Tag Team Champions: DIY

This was the best NWA  Tag Team Championship match of 1984! All kidding aside this was a fantastic match and should be in contention for Match of the Year. The story was great with Gargano getting redemption after losing the last match, the in ring action was great, and the fact that the heroes emerged triumphant was great. Kudos all around.

Match 4: AsukaⒸ vs. Mickie James

The NXT women’s roster probably suffered the most from the brand split to the point that they basically had to admit that no one they had on the roster was close Asuka’s level and so they brought back Mickie James to challenge her for the NXT Women’s Championship. I always liked Mickie James back in the day, so I’m happy for her to get another chance with the WWE.

James and Asuka have a decent back and forth in the opening moments of the match, with James trying to slow things down. Auska’s hella quick though and her speed proves to be too much for the former Trish Stratus stalker.

Both women know a thing or two about mind games and try to mess with one another, sarcastically holding the ropes open  for one another whenever they go outside of the ring. James and Asuka trade kicks before Asuka lands a pair of hip attacks.

Out on the floor, Asuka hits a German suplex and then heads back into the ring as the referee administers the ten count. James makes it back into the ring, but Asuka keeps on the attack, hitting a corner dropkick followed by mounted strikes. Asuka then goes for a hip attack but misses. She follows up with a series of kicks that do connect.

James fights back and gets Asuka in a single leg crab before locking in the Muta Lock in the middle of the ring. Asuka manages to survive and sends James into the corner. The two then trade forearms before James hits a neckbreaker. James gets in control and a series of clotheslines follows.

Asuka goes for a high cross, but misses and James gets her with the flapjack. She follows with a Thesz Press off the ropes for a two count. Mickie James goes for a DDT but Asuka counters it into a rolling arm bar. James escapes the hold and hits a spin kick for a near fall.

She then goes for another DDT, but again Asuka counters it and goes for the Asuka Lock. She gets it locked on and Mickie James has no choice but to tap out.

Post-match Mickie James offers her hand to Asuka who smirks and merely holds up the NXT Women’s Championship before walking away.

Winner: Asuka

This was a really good match and I thought it was a really good use of a veteran wrestler. I honestly like when NXT has done this in the past, bringing in older guys to work a program with the NXT talent, and when the roster is as thin as it is right now it makes even more sense.

Mickie James seemed to be in great shape and gave a really strong performance and I wouldn’t mind seeing her show up somewhere in the WWE/NXT universe again in the near future.

Match 5: Shinsuke NakamuraⒸ vs. Samoa Joe

Joe’s out first looking all business. He wants his belt. Nakamura comes out next and quickly answers the question of how he could top his last Takeover entrance where a violinist played his theme song. The answer? Lots of violinists playing his theme song. Joe is thoroughly unimpressed by this an pantomimes going to sleep as violinists rock the fuck out in the ring with Nakamura.

The match gets underway with Nakamura blasting Joe with some kicks. Joe responds with some kicks of his own. They’re trying to make these seem like a legit MMA style fight.

They go to the outside and Nakamura kicks Joe over the barricade. They brawl outside for awhile before making their way back into the ring. Joe hits an enziguri and goes for a running boot, but Nakamura stops him with a knee strike. Joe stays in control though and nails Nakamura with a back elbow and a kick to the back.

Nakamura fights back with knees, but Joe begins to target Nakamura’s knees forcing him to start using kicks which he follows up with a knee bar. They go back to floor where Nakamura battles back and hits a running knee strike that he follows up with even more knee strikes. Yo dawg, I heard you like knee strikes so put knee strikes in your knee strikes so you can knee strike while you knee strike…

Nakamura gets Joe in a front facelock, but Joe fights out of it and nails Nakamura with an atomic drop which he follows with a boot and a senton, nearly picking up the win. He goes for a powerbomb and nearly scores another pinfall. He then goes for a Boston crab, followed by the crossface but Nakamura escapes. He goes up top but is hit with an enziguri. Joe isn’t in control long as Nakamura pulls him to the apron and hits running knee #39,291 to take control again.

They go back into the ring and Nakamura hits Joe with a knee strike off the second rope. Joe gets back to his feet and they trade strikes. Nakamura hits more knees because he’s Nakamura and that’s what he does. Joe gets German suplexed, but isn’t down for long.

Joe attacks Nakamura’s knees again then goes for a Muscle Buster but Nakamura avoids it and levels Joe with a Kinshasa. He goes for a pin, but Joe kicks out. Nakamura tries for another Kinshasa, but Joe avoids it and locks in the clutch. The crowd starts to sing Nakamura’s theme music to try and fire him up but Joe hits Nakamura with a German suplex, a Dragon suplex, and a straitjacket suplex in rapid succession for a near fall. Joe is bleeding from his eye for some reason. Nakamura fights back and sends Joe to the floor with a Kinshasa.

Out on the floor Joe takes Nakamura on a trip to Dick Kick City and then plants Nakamura on the steps. He rolls Nakamura back into the ring and hits the Muscle Buster for the one, two, three.

Winner and New NXT Champion: Samoa Joe

This match was okay, but not the best match either of these two have put on this year. Nakamura especially seemed to be kind of on autopilot and basically just spammed knee strikes throughout the match. Joe won so it’s clear that this feud isn’t done. I hope their rematch is a little more dynamic than this one was. It would be great if someone told Nakamura that there are other moves he can do besides knee strikes.

Final Thoughts

By and large this was a really good card. The weakest match was probably the Tag Team Classic finals, but even that had a cool spot with Thorne jumping off a crane onto giant men. The NXT and Women’s Championship matches were both awesome (the women’s match a little more so due to a returning Mickie James), but the tag team championship match was far and away the match of the night (and probably one of my top matches of the year).

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