NXT TakeOver: Toronto 2019 – Review

With so many possible scenarios and permutations going in to the show NXT TakeOver: Toronto 2019 had the potential to be one of the most unpredictable and fascinating shows for some time. Headlined by Adam Cole and the Undisputed Era’s quest to be draped in Gold by the end of the evening, as well as a women’s title match and a potential show stealing match between two of the best female wrestler’s on the planet. It promised to be a heck of a show. It as always did not disappoint.

KICK OFF SHOW

The panel of Charly Caruso, Sam Roberts (who this time wasn’t as intolerable as usual in his role as the heel analyst) and the ever-improving Pat McAfee (who was wearing a denim jacket as well as a denim shirt combo with the jacket having his name sewn onto it). They previewed the upcoming show and the card in full. The main thing to come from the kick off show was the reveal that the third fall for the main event would be some form of steel cage with weapons emblazoned on its walls for the two men to inflict suffering to one another with. This is going to be something else!

MAIN SHOW

We began with a promo video being played on the titantron as the Slipknot theme song for the show being played.

Street Profits (Angelo Dawkins & Montez Ford) (C) defeated Undisputed Era (Bobby Fish & Kyle O’Reilly) to retain the NXT Tag Team Championship 

Street Profits came out first and got a good pop. Era came out after and got maybe a bigger one (partly down to O’Reilly being Canadian I’d presume). This was a great match and really picked up towards the end and the crowd matched the level of the in-ring action with the noise they made. The crowd seemed split between the two teams throughout with duelling chants. Dawkins and O’Reilly tried to out-mock one another during the opening exchanges, Ford (who was absolutely fantastic in this match and gave off the impression he could be a big singles star someday) was eventually tagged in as Street Profits began to work over Bobby Fish’s arm. They had some really good back and forth double team moves, Dawkins got a hot streak of moves before being eventually outnumbered. Eventually Ford got in and hit a big lariat and then a standing moonsault (which for a built, 6 foot 4 guy was a hell of a feat). Montez then hit a spinebuster and , appeared to tease and set up a People’s Elbow, only for Kyle O’Reilly to grab his leg when Ford was running the ropes. Later on Fish & O’Reilly hit a cool ddt – German suplex double team move, and not long after Fish hit a big exploder off the top rope and O’Reilly followed this up with a big knee drop before locking in a leg submission. Dawkins jumped in to break up the hold, and later ran wild after getting tagged in, and with the help of Ford they hit a ‘Doomsday Blockbuster’ on Kyle O’Reilly that got a 2 count with Bobby Fish making the save. A huge brawl followed involving all 4 men, and after that Montez Ford flew over the ropes for a tope con giro, that again for a fairly tall guy to do was a really cool visual. Back in the ring (with the crowd at fever pitch by now) Angelo Dawkins followed up on his spot in their title win at the last TakeOver with spears again here to both Fish & O’Reilly. This allowed for Montez Ford to climb up and hit a big frog splash on Kyle O’Reilly for the CLEAN win. Street Profits retain and this now really legitimises them as very credible champions. As per usual with NXT tag title matches and TakeOver show openers, this was a good, good match.

****1/4

They showed my favourite man called Trevor (and yours) in the crowd, aka Ricochet. He, shockingly enough, was well liked.

Io Shirai defeated Candice LeRae 

I’m delighted to write this was a good match. Heel Io Shirai came out and had me swooning I’ll just say that… She was the scariest heel I’ve seen in the women’s division for some time and when you think of just how much a contrast that is from the Genius of the sky mega-babyface she was before you have to credit her skills as a versatile performer. Candice was Candice in that she played the fighting babyface who is a good wrestler to an exceptional standard. It was nice to see LeRae be the one to take the fight to Shirai as she attacked Io before the bell had rung. Eventually Io suplexed Candice onto one of the announce tables which did not look fun to take. Io took charge of the match from here on, until she missed an attempt at a missile drop kick and LeRae got back into it. She got an octopus lock in and then blocked an attempted 619 and followed up with a neckbreaker. However Io Shirai did hit the 619, and not long after in an amazing spot Candice went flying to the outside of the ring with a tope which turned into a ddt to the floor that looked awesome. Candice hit a double footstomp for a nearfall, then another via a reverse-rana, before a 3rd near pin that came after she hit a move associated with her indie tag team partner Joey Ryan, which if you knew was a nice touch. The crowd popped big for Io hitting a top rope Spanish Fly, only for Candice to kick out of the pin. Io then countered a backslide attempt from Candice into a backbreaker. Shirai then went to the top and hit her Moonsault finisher… but CANDICE KICKED OUT!!! The crowd popped big for that as I think they thought, and us watching on the TV all assumed also, that Candice was going to get the win. But not long after Io locked in the Koji Clutch and Candice eventually passed out and Jessica Carr the ref rang the bell. The crowd were gutted their hero Candice didn’t win but they were totally invested into this match. Io Shirai came off as a megastar heel here and if Shayna was to lose the title you could easily see Io holding it for just as long and being just as unbeatable. Candice was also very good here. This was the best women’s match I’ve seen this year and one of the best women’s matches I’ve seen for a while.

****1/2

After this we had Matt Riddle come out through the crowd and call out Killian Dain. Eventually the Belfast beast came out and the two brawled all over the place. Lots of officials and security people came out to try and separate them. The brawl came to a dramatic conclusion with Dain hitting almost like a crossbody that sent Riddle and one of the ‘officials’ crashing through a load of tables that were at the areas below and next to the entrance ramp. I liked this as it got these two on the show in some form and teased what I’m sure is going to be a real war when they eventually have the match for real.

Evolve Champion Austin Theory was pictured in the crowd… Hmmm…

Velveteen Dream (C) defeated Roderick Strong and Pete Dunne in a triple threat match to retain the NXT North American Championship

Dream’s entrance saw a number of people come out dressed as Canadian wrestling legend… THE MOUNTIE as THE MOUNTIE’S theme song blared out… until order was restored and the performers took off their outfits to reveal they were dancers of the local championship winning Basketball team the Toronto Rapters. Naturally this got Dream an even bigger babyface pop. Strong and Dunne more so got good pops coming out. They did a number of spots where two of the three would double team the other. Strong at one stage hit multiple backbreaker-type moves to both men, Dream got a giant pop by doing the sharpshooter to Roderick Strong, but Dunne broke it up with a double drop kick. After Strong went to the outside Pete Dunne hit a big moonsault to the floor. After exchanges between the three there was a spot where Strong and Dunne were on the top rope and exchanged who seemed in charge, before Dream joined them and it resulted in both Strong and Dunne crashing to the floor whilst Dream was also sent flying as Dunne had grabbed Dream by his fingers and launched him off the top as well. In another great spot Pete Dunne had Strong in a triangle hold in the corner of the ring, but Velveteen Dream broke it up by leaping from the top of the opposite turnbuckle and hitting a diving elbow to Strong. Strong later had his StrongHold submission on both men at the same time, Dream tried to outdo him but failed in trying a double Dream Valley Driver, but Dunne was able to hit a double signature move hitting both men simultaneously with the finger break spot. Dunne looked to have the match won with a Bitter End but Dream stopped the pin. They all hit a series of big moves on one another and the finish came about when Strong hit the End of Heartache to Dunne but Velveteen came flying in with his big elbow drop and this sent Strong off of Dunne and Dream manoeuvred himself into position for the pin. Three way matches can sometimes but clusterfucks but this was great fun. The three guys, who I noted could not have had more different routes to where they are now in the business if they tried, all mixed really well. Three big crowd favourites really put on a show and the most over guy of the three got the win. Undisputed Era’s quest to be draped in Gold was failing at an alarming rate so far. This was a really good match.

****1/2 

Shayna Baszler (C) defeated Mia Yim to retain the NXT Women’s Championship 

Yim came out accompanied with a load of people all wearing her backwards cap and a bandana covering her face get-up. Shayna appeared to once again get the only proper heel ovation from the crowd during a TakeOver show. This was a proper fight between two women who had a really personal build up so it made sense they’d be extremely physical with one another. After the early grappling spilled to the outside of the ring Yim trapped Baszler’s arm between the ring post and the steel steps, and then she kicked the steps so that her arm got the full brunt of being trapped between the two obstacles. Baszler would get her own back by targeting an arm of Yim throughout. They really just exchanged strikes and submission attempts in what, with both women hurt and selling arm injuries, became a battle of who could survive the longest. After Yim had gained a nearfall from an avalanche Code Red Shayna almost immediately tried to lock in the Kirifuda Clutch… but as Yim had attacked Shayna’s arm all match Yim was able to grapple her way out of the hold. And in a call back to Baszler’s signature spot Mia Yim then stomped on Shayna’s injured arm. Yim further targeted the champion’s arm with an Armbar, only for Shayna to again get the clutch locked in… but again Yim was able to get out of the weakened Baszler’s hold. So because Shayna was too hurt to beat Yim using her arms, she moved into a head scissors that Yim couldn’t get out of so she was forced to tap out. This was great booking for me as it came across as very logical thinking from Shayna and something that you’d think she’d do if this were a shoot. I like when stuff makes sense and is logical. This was not on the level of the other women’s match on the card, but I don’t think anyone expected it to be and I’m not saying this was a bad match by any means. In fact this match was good. We did not see either of Marina Shafir or Jessamyn Duke (who had both been taken out by Yim in the build to this match in recent weeks) at any point.

***3/4 

Ahead of their main event match at the NXT UK TakeOver show at the end of the month both UK Champion Walter and his challenger Tyler Bate were pictured at ringside in the crowd.

Adam Cole (C) defeated Johnny Gargano in a 2 out of 3 Falls Match to retain the NXT Championship 

I may be wrong but I feel there’s going to be a lot of different opinions from people who saw this match. But as always I’m going to give my review and opinion and my view only and you can make what you want of it. So… Gargano came out with Wolverine inspired gear. Adam Cole as the “heel” champion maybe got the biggest ovation of the show. It was made very clear in the build up that this would be the definitive end of these two’s rivalry, and it ended in a way that would be befitting of that. The first fall would be a classic one on one wrestling match. I didn’t take an awful lot of notes on this one as I was just so emotionally invested in it… and as I’ll get into a lot went down and it was a LONG match. So the first fall was unsurprisingly just a good wrestling match between two men who in their first two matches put on the two best WWE matches this year by a mile and two of the best in company history. The finish of fall one was fascinating, Cole went to the outside and got a steel chair, and after the ref had his back turned to get rid of the chair Cole just punt kicked Gargano low, however Gargano kicked out at 2. The first fall came to an end when Cole was arguing with the ref about the chair and turned around into a big superkick by Gargano. And then Gargano used the chair and hit Cole with it! So Adam Cole had won the first fall by DQ. It quickly became clear that Gargano had in mind that he would sacrifice the first fall in order to get more of a head start and just beatdown Cole in the second fall. As the announcer explained the second fall was a street fight Gargano now (legally) attacked Cole with a load of chair shots. Cole rolled to the outside for mercy, so Gargano just launched the chair right into Cole’s face which even sat in my BAY BAY t shirt made me laugh out loud. After Gargano took Cole right around the arena and through the crowd beating him up the two made it back to the ringside area. Gargano jumped into Cole with a crossbody and they crashed through the barricade. Cole then took them both to the nearby announce table, but Gargano countered with a backdrop that sent Cole crashing through the adjacent announce table. Gargano got two tables and put them in the ring (bare this in mind as you read on). Cole hit a shining wizard, followed by a Ushigoroshi on a chair for a near fall. After in frustration Cole wedged a chair in one of the corners of the ring, only for Gargano to use that to his own advantage by picking Cole up and launching him into the chair. After this Gargano locked in the Gargano escape to level the match at a fall a piece. And so now was the time for the weapon filled cage… I’m not even sure how I go about explaining just how much chaos happened so I’ll do my best to say the highlights in some form of order (should also note that it was announced that this fall could only be won by pinfall or submission and NOT by escaping the cage): They exchanged kendo stick shots, Gargano jumped down from a ladder to hit a hurricanrana, Cole was hit with a superkick whilst sat in a chair, Gargano sprayed Cole in the face with a fire extinguisher before jumping down for a ddt that got a nearfall, Gargano with more kendo stick shots and then got hit with a superkick after bringing a sledgehammer (that garnered a Triple H chant from the crowd), Cole got two nearfalls after Gargano twice kicked out of the Panama Sunrise, Gargano locked in a crossface with the help of a kendo stick but Cole would BITE Gargano’s hand to break the submission, Gargano got a nearfall with a top rope Canadian Destroyer, Gargano retrieved wire cutters and climbed the cage before cutting a piece of the barbed wire that was across the top of the cage, Cole saw this and tried to escape somehow, they made their way to a side of the cage that conveniently has some form of platform set up so they could stand on it level with the top of the cage… Now, remember those tables Gargano had bought in earlier? They were by now set up side by side and below the platform the two men were now stood on! Gargano tried to rake Cole with the barbed wire, but the commotion sent them both crashing through the tables below in what was a horrific looking bump, and one of those tables split into a gazillion pieces. Cole was the one who was able to put his arm over Gargano and that got him the pin. Gargano was flat out and pretty much didn’t move at all after. Cole’s back looked in terrible shape and I think it may have been splinters that cut his back up. Strong, Fish and O’Reilly came out after to help their victorious yet battered leader to his feet as the show closed with Era together at the top of the ramp with Gargano still flat out in the ring. This match went FORTY SIX MINUTES, the first fall was simply a great wrestling match, the 2nd more of a brawl and the third was just weapon spot after weapon spot with a horrible looking spot to end it. I don’t think it was of the level of their two previous matches, but that’s an incredibly difficult standard to live up to and nonetheless this was a great match.

****3/4

In has since emerged that after the show went off the air a lot of officials as well as his wife Candice LeRae came out to try and help Gargano to his feet. NXT General Manager William Regal also came out to embrace Gargano. Regal raised Gargano’s arm at the top of the entrance ramp to allow Gargano to soak in the standing ovation he deserved. I think you can figure out what this looks like… keep an eye out the next three nights of shows in WWE…

Overall this was yet another great TakeOver with 5 matches that were all varying levels of good. This was a star making night for the Street Profits as well as both Io Shirai as a heel and Candice LeRae as a great wrestler. I’m a little lost as to what the future of the NXT Championship will be as with Gargano having now seemingly been removed from title contention, Dream still North American Champion and Matt Riddle having Killian Dain to deal with I couldn’t pick who will face the champion next now… Same for Shayna Baszler as champion too. But overall another job well done by NXT.

Josh. 

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