By Zack Zimmerman
NXT Takeover: Toronto
Aired live on WWE Network
Toronto, Ontario at the Air Canada Centre
The show opened with a video package spotlighting some of the stars from, and events that have taken place in, Toronto. It declared Takeover Toronto would be next in the great lineage, and briefly went over all of the matches that will be featured on the show… Inside the very full looking arena, the commentators welcomed viewers in front of a crowd they said was over 12,000…
On the stage, a choir sang a “glorious” intro leading into Bobby Roode’s music. He emerged from the choir as they and about 12,000 people in Toronto sang along. Roode made his entrance in a dazzling silver and black robe, complete with a cape. He got a huge reaction from his hometown crowd. Tom Phillips and Corey Graves checked in at the commentary booth and briefly ran down the rest of the card. Tye Dillinger was out next, and the crowd that clearly saw nobody to boo in the match as they popped big and did the “10” chant.
1. Bobby Roode vs. Tye Dillinger. The crowd chanted “both these guys” and “this is awesome” before they touched. The two began to brawl shortly thereafter, with Dillinger getting the better of the exchange and knocking Roode out to ringside. They re-entered, only for Dillinger to take Roode out on the other side. Roode fought back, but Dillinger stayed in control with a whip into the barricades and a back body drop to the floor. Back in the ring, Roode begged off but inadvertently did the “10” gesture. He did 10 punches in the corner with the crowd unable to agree on whether to count or just chant “10.”
Shortly after the four-minute mark, Roode dumped Dillinger out of the ring and then ambushed him from behind to shift the momentum of the match. The crowd chanted “10” with every number the referee counted while they fought at ringside. Back in the ring, Roode worked Dillinger over in the corner with stomps and chops. Roode worked slowly and hit a jumping sledge from the middle turnbuckle. Dillinger got in a hope spot, but Roode put him right back down with a neckbreaker.
There must’ve been something amiss with the ring, as the crowd chanted “fix the apron.” Dillinger mounted a comeback with a reverse atomic drop and a bunch of stomps in the corner with the crowd chanting along. Dillinger lowered his kneepad for his finish, but Roode left the ring and looked to be walking out. Dillinger retrieved him and tossed him back into the ring, but Roode was waiting with a spinebuster for a near-fall.
The crowd was split with chants for both guys before Roode hit a big superplex on Dillinger for another near-fall. Roode lowered his own kneepad and teased hitting Dillinger with his own finish. There was a rapid-fire sequence of near-falls with roll-ups and a superkick from Dillinger, which led to a double-down and standing ovation from the crowd.
Back on their feet, they traded forearms and countered out of each other’s finisher, but Dillinger caught Roode by the legs and got him in the Sharpshooter. The crowd reacted big for the false finish, but Roode reached the ropes. Dillinger charged at Roode in the corner but Roode avoided. Ripped quickly capitalized by sending Dillinger crashing into the ringpost and planting him with the impaler DDT for the win.
Bobby Roode pinned Tye Dillinger in about 16:30.
Replays aired, Bobby Roode celebrated his win, and Corey Graves suggested Roode replace Justin Trudeau as Canadian PM. Roode left the arena first, which left Dillinger in the ring apologizing to the crowd. He got a nice consolation ovation and one more “10” chant…
Zim Says: I saw most of that match in Boston on Thursday, but they added a few bigger spots that gave it a bit of a boost. I wasn’t blown away but the crowd helped keep things going and both guys were working hard once the match got into gear. Not a bad match, but not particularly memorable either aside from the fun entrances, even with the time they were given.
A video package recapped the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic which has narrowed down to TM61 vs. The Authors of Pain in the finals… Back in the arena, the Authors made their entrance. The “crash cage” as they’re calling it, was hanging directly above the center of the ring. Yikes. TM61 were out next. The lights lowered and so did the cage. Once it was in the ring, the referee escorted Ellering inside and it was raised back up before the bell rang.
2. The Authors of Pain (Akam and Rezar w/o Paul Ellering) vs. TM61 (Nick Miller and Shane Thorne) in the Finals of the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic. TM61 took the fight to the Authors right out of the gate and wiped them out at ringside with dives. Thorne climbed up the rig that is holding the cage and hit a huge flipping senton onto the Authors. Things got back into the ring around the two-minute mark, where the Authors quickly managed to get the better of Thorne and isolated him.
The Authors worked Thorne over with a combo sidewalk slam and diving stomp. The camera occasionally panned up to Ellering looking very uneasy suspended up in the cage. Thorne showed signs of fight but he was quickly tossed overhead with a choke suplex by Akam. Rezar tagged in, but he was unable to contain Thorne who managed to reach Miller for the hot tag.
Miller came in and showed off some power with impressive suplexes to both Authors. He delivered a hard sliding forearm to each before hitting a big moonsault off the top row onto Rezar for two. TM61 managed to reverse the powerbomb sandwich with simultaneous ‘ranas and they connected with Thunder Valley, but the other Author broke up the pin attempt. Action spilled out to ringside, meanwhile Ellering dropped a chain into the ring. Thorne thwarted the attempt at a loaded punch, but he fell victim to the Last Chapter shortly thereafter as Miller had been taken out at ringside, and it was all over.
The Authors of Pain defeated TM61 in about 8:20 to win the 2016 Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic.
The cage containing Ellering was lowered and he was released to congratulate his team. Replays were shown of the big dive and several other spots including the finish. Back in the ring, Triple H, William Regal, and Dustin Rhodes (sans Goldust paint) were in the ring to present the trophy to the winners. The Authors hoisted the trophy up to close the segment… [C]
Zim Says: That was as good as anyone could’ve hoped for I think. It was all-action and didn’t overstay its welcome. That said, I don’t think 2016’s Dusty Classic will go down as one of the stronger tournaments in modern wrestling. I don’t like what it did to the quality of the tournament, but I understand the Authors winning to keep them going strong as potential next title challengers.
A graphic and video package hyped the NXT Tag Team Title match up next… Back in the arena, #DIY made their entrance to a good reaction from the Toronto crowd. The champions were out next to comparably good heat.
3. NXT Tag Team Champions The Revival (Scott Dawson and Dash Wilder) vs. #DIY (Tommaso Ciampa and Johnny Gargano) in a two-out-of-three falls match for the NXT Tag Team Championships. Gargano and Dawson opened up with a fast-paced exchange with Gargano nearly getting a flash pin right at the onset. Gargano and Ciampa used tandem dropkicks around the two-minute mark to take out both members of The Revival, but it was mere seconds later that Dawson cut Ciampa off. Ciampa showed fight, but he remained isolated by the champions while they used frequent tags and team offense to keep him reeling.
Gargano and Dash both tagged in at the four-minute mark, with Gargano coming in hot and taking out both members of the revival. Gargano hit a jumping neckbreaker on Dawson for a two-count, but after a quick tag sequence, Gargano’s slingshot spear was countered into a Shatter Machine for the first fall.
The Revival won the first fall in about 5:30.
Gargano recovered slightly and showed heart, but The Revival had the clear advantage and kept him in their half of the ring. Dawson racked Gargano with the Gory Special , but Gargano twisted out of it. He caught the head of Dash and kicked off of Dawson for a big tornado DDT. Gargano finally reached his corner and tagged Ciampa, but Dash had attacked from ringside to sidetrack the referee and so he didn’t see the tag. Retaining their advantage on the worn-out Gargano, they hit a Hart Attack for a near-fall.
Dash hoisted Gargano onto the top turnbuckle and looked for a back superplex, but Gargano shifted his weight and came down on top of Dash. Once again he reached his corner, this time tagging in Ciampa with the referee’s notice. Ciampa ran wild on offense with jumping knees and a modified fameasser for a near-fall. He stayed in control and tossed Dawson overhead with hat trick German suplexes. Ciampa followed up immediately with a running knee, but Dawson kicked out just before the referee counted three.
Revival managed to take control briefly and looked for a spike piledriver, but Ciampa interfered and came off the top with a crossbody onto Dawson. Dash tried to run into the ring, but the referee held him off, distracted, while Gargano and Ciampa hit their running knee and super kick combo to even things up.
#DIY won the second fall in about 13:35.
A replay of the finish aired while both teams were granted a few moments to recover. The crowd rallied and the third and final fall was underway. Dash and Ciampa traded “yay-boo” shots in the center of the ring. Dawson tagged in from ringside thinking it was blind, but Ciampa noticed and stayed in control. Gargano tagged in with a huge slingshot DDT for a good near-fall and the crowd reacted big.
The Revival got the better of Gargano with a blind tag and hit a wicked running uppercut and German suplex combination, but Ciampa broke up the pin at two point nine. Gargano fought off both members of The Revival with shots and got another near-fall with an inside cradle. Dash retrieved one of the tag title belts from ringside before Ciampa charged and wiped him out. Gargano looked for his rolling kick, but with the referee distracted Dawson got the belt up and Gargano kicked it instead. He sold his leg big and Dawson put him in the reverse figure-four that Gargano tapped to in their first title match. The end looked imminent and the crowd reacted as such, but somehow Gargano held out and reached the ropes as the crowd came unglued.
The Revival smirked and looked to set up #DIY’s own finish, but they missed and collided. Gargano and Ciampa snuck up behind and hit the Shatter Machine for a crazy near-fall. Dawson snuck in the ring and rolled Gargano up with a handful of tights, but the referee noticed right before the three-count. Dash charged in and hit a hard chop block on Gargano. He looked to set up the leglock, but Gargano reversed into a rollup. They exchanged rapid pin attempts before Gargano slipped to the side and sank in the Gargano Escape. Dawson ran in to break it up, but Ciampa intercepted and grounded him with the bridging armbar. After a struggle in the center of the ring, the champions submitted and the crowd erupted.
#DIY beat The Revival to win the NXT Tag Team Championships in about 22:15.
The new champs celebrated with their belts as the crowd chanted “you deserve it.” A long series of replays recapped the amazing clash before Gargano and Ciampa celebrated with the ringside fans…
Zim Says: Incredible. That has to be the frontrunner for NXT Match of the Year and probably deserves to be in the big-picture MOTY conversation. Thee teams work so well together. They built this story so consistently. They paid it off in a rewarding and redeeming way. That’s everything I want from my wrestling. Near-perfection.
Jim Ross was shown sitting at ringside… A video package built up the NXT Women’s Championship encounter between undefeated champion Asuka and the returning Mickie James… Back in the arena, that old familiar music hit and Mickie James made her entrance to a nice pop. She looked nervous but excited to be back. Asuka was out next to a nice ovation of her own. All of the fans in the front row around ringside and up the ramp had Asuka masks on which made for a pretty cool visual. Both ladies were given formal in-ring introductions.
4. NXT Women’s Champion Asuka vs. Mickie James for the NXT Women’s Championship. The two locked up and didn’t let go, rolling in and out of pin attempts before finally mutually relinquishing the hold in favor of a handshake and intense stare-down. They appeared to be evenly matched in the early going before Mickie caught Asuka with a sliding kick. Asuka slipped out to ringside for a powder and the commentators noted the infrequency of that happening.
Mickie invited Asuka back into the ring and the two continued to trade holds. The crowd tried to sing Hey Mickie but couldn’t fully get themselves gathered. Meanwhile, Asuka caught Mickie with a sliding hip attack that sent Mickie to ringside. Asuka similarly invited Mickie back into the ring, but cut her off and knocked her back out to ringside. Mickie fought back with a ‘rana off the ring apron, but Asuka caught a kick attempt and crunched Mickie overhead with a scary German suplex at ringside. They teased a count-out, but the crowd took it about as seriously as chanting “10” with each count.
Back in the ring, Asuka barely caught Mickie with a running dropkick in the corner as the crowd dueled with chants for both ladies. She tied Mickie up with a wacky stretch in the ropes, but missed another hip attack attempt. She didn’t miss a beat however, as she teed off on Asuka with some wicked kicks to the chest. Mickie caught one of them and trapped Asuka in a half crab. Asuka was nearing the ropes, so Mickie transitioned the hold nicely and bridge back into a Muta Lock. Asuka managed to reach the ropes a short time later.
Center-ring, the two traded shots. Mickie ducked a spinning backfist and responded with a hard slap to the face. Mickie fired up with a series of clotheslines and ducked a crossbody attempt by Asuka before planting her with a flapjack. Mickie went to the top rope and came off with a diving Thesz Press for a near-fall. She looked to follow up, but Asuka caught her in an armbar. Mickie scrambled to the ropes to break the hold, however, and connected with an initial kick which set up her spinning back roundhouse Mick Kick. She made the pin, but Asuka reached the ropes.
Again, Mickie looked to follow up, but Asuka managed to sink in the Asuka Lock. Mickie rolled and struggled, but Asuka’s grip seemed to tighten with each movement and Mickie was forced to tap out.
Asuka forced Mickie James to submit in about 13:05 to retain the NXT Women’s Championship.
Replays aired. Once they concluded, Asuka was shown celebrating in the ring as Mickie made it back to her feet. Mickie extended her hand respectfully, but Asuka just held her title belt over Mickie’s head and smiled arrogantly before leaving the ring without looking back. Mickie was teared up in the ring as the crowd began to cheer her and they cut the segment off…
Zim Says: Very good match. I’m really impressed with how Mickie not only managed to keep up with Asuka, but brought a lot to the match herself. This was one of Asuka’s stronger title matches and it was perhaps first time I’ve really bought in on Asuka selling for an opponent. If you’re Asking me, Mickie earned herself a contract with that performance. As for Asuka, the over-confidence is starting to get a little grating actually and I think that’s intentional. I presume Ember Moon is next in line, and if that’s the matchup I think it works better with heel Asuka as opposed to making the fans pick. I suppose time and storytelling will reveal all.
Pat Patterson was shown sitting ringside… Samoa Joe and Shinsuke Nakamura were shown walking backstage and a graphic promoted the upcoming main event. The video package from the pre-show aired to hype the match up….
Back in the arena, Samoa Joe made his entrance. There were some vocal supporters in the crowd as a pretty sizable “Joe” chant picked up, but didn’t last too long. The lights went out as NXT Champion Shinsuke Nakamura was the final man to enter on the show. As he walked down the ramp, he picked up a train of violinists along the way who played his music along with the speakers and the singing crowd. There were four violinists in the ring and five at ringside who carried on as he danced and hit his pose. He closed with the “yeaoh,” but the crowd wasn’t done as they carried on singing. Once they finished, they capped off with a big “NXT” chant. Both men were given full in-ring introductions with the crowd soundly behind the champion.
5. Nakamura Samoa Joe vs. NXT Champion Shinsuke for the NXT Championship. The two traded leg kicks to open before Nakamura goaded Joe into a knee to the gut. He followed up with a jumping knee drop and Vibrations in the corner, which sent Joe out to take a powder. Nakamura went out in pursuit and caught Joe with a boot that sent him over the barricade and the two brawled out into the crowd. Things returned to the ring a few moments later where Joe caught Nakamura with the back elbow in the corner and followed up with a hard twisting enzuigiri.
Joe looked for a running face wash, but Nakamura cut him off with another hard knee to the gut and rained a couple of knees down. Nakamura looked to follow up in the corner, but Joe caught him and spiked him to the mat with a uranage slam. Joe followed up with a boot and a swinging elbow drop for an early two-count. Nakamura fired back with some knees, but Joe hit a super unique move that can best be described as a sit-out kneebuster. He followed up by sinking in a kneebar, which Nakamura managed to slip out of but damage had been done.
Joe wore him out and then settled into what looked like a half-applied half crab to tweak the knee. Nakamura fought out with an upkick, but Joe sent him crashing to ringside and followed up with a high-impact elbow suicida through the ropes. Joe set up the ring steps and teased the same slam that took Nakamura out for a couple of weeks. Nakamura avoided it, but Joe was still firmly in control. Nakamura caught Joe with a desperation back heel kick and both guys were slow to get up.
Nakamura fired up with a flying karate kick and a follow-up series of kicks and knees. He hung Joe up across the top turnbuckle and charged in with a running knee to the gut for his first two-count shortly after the ten-minute mark. Nakamura applied a front facelock bordering on a guillotine, but Joe put him down with an atomic drop, a boot, and a jumping senton for a two-count of his own.
Joe hit a hard powerbomb, and when Nakamura kicked out, Joe transitioned into the high-angle crab, and then the STF, and then the crossface. Nakamura managed to work into an armbar of his own, but it didn’t have much of an effect as Joe fought out and hit a quick powerslam for another two-count. The fight went out towards the apron, where Nakamura draped Joe across the apron and came down with a leaping knee drop. Back in the ring, Nakamura hit the second rope Kinshasa and both guys were down. They teased a double-down, but the crowd was busy chanting “ten” with each count.
Back on their feet, Nakamura fired off a series of strikes that rocked Joe. Joe fought out of the reverse powerslam, but Nakamura called an audible and sent Joe crashing overhead with a German suplex. Nakamura teased the Kinshasa several times, but Joe reversed by taking out the knees. Joe set up the Muscle Buster, but Nakamura slipped out and caught Joe with a quick sliding Kinshasa for a near-fall. Nakamura looked for another, but Joe slipped behind and locked in the Coquina Clutch.
The crowd sang Nakamura’s song as Nakamura tried to fight out of the choke, but Joe put a stop to that when he hit the Chimera-plex (a German, a dragon, and a straight-jacket suplex in succession) for a good near-fall of his own. Joe looked to follow up, but Nakamura tripped Joe up into the ropes and caught him with a Kinshasa to the back of Joe’s head. The momentum carried Joe to ringside. The referee and Nakamura went out in pursuit. There was a scuffle which led to the referee being pushed aside and Joe kicking Nakamura in the balls. Joe spiked Nakamura onto the ring steps with the spot that put Nakamura on the shelf, and then quickly tossed him back into the ring where he sealed the deal with the Muscle Buster for the pinfall.
Samoa Joe won the NXT Championship from Shinsuke Nakamura in about 20:09.
The crowd reacted with some shock and Joe was slow to get back to his feet. The commentators pointed out that Samoa Joe is the first man to become two-time NXT Champion. Replays aired and Joe stood tall over a fallen Nakamura in the ring with his title held high. The show closed with Nakamura just beginning to stir in the ring as the damaged but unbroken new champion staggered up the ramp…
Zim Says: Very nice match with a somewhat surprising finish. Given the tag title match earlier in the night, it would’ve been foolish for these two to go out and try to out-work them, so they did a great job of bringing something different. The physicality of the match felt in line with the story these two have built. It wasn’t the match of the show, but it also didn’t feel like a down main event as I would argue became a pattern of Finn Bálor’s run as a champion and challenger.
I think show was the best that it possibly could have been. All of the matches had potential drawbacks that I think were very nicely negated. The pacing of the show was also a big positive, which is commendable considering the potential the show had to peak and fall off after the tag title match. Every match delivered at the high end of my expectations, so I can’t walk away from this show feeling any other way than thoroughly satisfied. I’m curious who they see lined up for Joe as a challenger, but I’d imaging it’ll be a couple of weeks before we get a song indication with the next show or two presumably having been taped before this show. I’ll be joining Jason Powell for an audio recap of this show, and I’ll be back as always for live coverage next week. Thanks for reading along.
Comments? Questions? Criticisms? Corrections? Reach me on Twitter @DotNetZim.