TakeOver: Toronto

TakeOver: Toronto
Date: August 10, 2019
Location: Scotiabank Arena, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Commentators: Nigel McGuinness, Beth Phoenix, Mauro Ranallo

We’re going north for this one with the second Takeover from Toronto. The second part is rather appropriate as the main event is a rematch (of a rematch) with NXT Champion Adam Cole defending against former champion Johnny Gargano in their second 2/3 falls match. A lot of the show centers around Cole’s Undisputed Era so there is certainly a theme. Let’s get to it.

There is no special narration for the opening video, which is your standard highlight package, though we do watch the crowd watching it from the arena. At least they’re not cutting back and forth between a normal video and the crowd watching shot.

Tag Team Titles: Street Profits vs. Undisputed Era

Kyle O’Reilly and Bobby Fish are challenging for the Era. The Profits won the titles in a four way ladder match in June and the Era say that was a fluke win. The champs have their always high energy entrance as the fans have the red solo cups. Dawkins takes O’Reilly into the corner to start and shouts that O’Reilly thinks he’s a joke. A takedown goes to Dawkins but it’s off to Fish, who gets run over with a big shoulder.

The champs start taking turns on Fish’s arm until a shot to Ford’s face gives Fish a breather. O’Reilly comes in but everything breaks down for a few seconds, with Fish walking into a double flapjack. O’Reilly gets knocked outside and manages to get Dawkins to follow him, allowing Fish to get in a surprise shot to take over for the first time. Some running/sliding knees to the ribs have Dawkins in trouble and O’Reilly adds a Samoan drop.

Mounted palm strikes set up a front facelock but Dawkins wins a slugout with O’Reilly. A backdrop lets Ford come in off the tag and it’s a standing moonsault for two. Ford hits the spinebuster but O’Reilly breaks up a People’s Elbow. Instead, Ford goes with a Rock Bottom for two on Fish. Dawkins gets knocked off the apron, leaving Ford to get caught with an elevated DDT into a wheelbarrow suplex for two.

We settle down to Ford being in trouble, including a superplex from Fish and a top rope knee to the knee. O’Reilly slaps on an Achilles lock with Fish adding a top rope headbutt and the fans are rather nervous. Dawkins comes back in and spinebusters Fish onto O’Reilly for the save. Ford makes the hot tag and everything breaks down.

A spinebuster/super Blockbuster combination gets two on O’Reilly and they’re all down again. The slugout is on with Dawkins and Fish being knocked outside. O’Reilly is sent to the floor as well, meaning it’s a big running flip dive from Ford. Back in and a spear from Dawkins sets up Ford’s frog splash to retain the titles at 15:50.

Rating: B+. I had the Street Profits retaining in my predictions and even I’m surprised that they pulled it off. Every sign pointed to the Era winning the titles here but I’m glad they didn’t. There was no need to have them get the belts back outside of setting up the Era having all of the titles as the Profits needed the win a lot more than the Era. It was a hot opener with an only slightly cooler ending, but the Profits winning is better in the long run.

Ricochet is here.

We recap Io Shirai vs. Candice LeRae. Candice had tried to help Shirai win the Women’s Title but Shirai kept coming up short. Shirai snapped and turned on LeRae, saying that she didn’t need anyone’s help. Tonight is about revenge for LeRae and for Shirai to prove herself.

Io Shirai vs. Candice LeRae

Candice starts the fight before the bell and it’s Shirai bailing to the floor. That means a baseball slide from Candice but Shirai suplexes her onto the announcers’ table to knock her silly. That’s only good for a nine so Shirai keeps pounding her down for a cocky near fall. The early chinlock goes on until Candice fights up with a headscissors, only to have Shirai land on her feet. A camel clutch goes on for a bit but Shirai misses a missile dropkick.

Candice hammers away in the corner and gets two off a brainbuster, setting up an Iron Octopus of all things. That’s broken up as well so Shirai tries the 619, which is countered into a neckbreaker. Candice is sent to the apron though and now the 619 hits the back of her head. That goes nowhere as Candice sends her outside for a suicide tornado DDT, which looked better than expected.

Back in and a top rope double stomp to the back gets two more on Shirai, who is right back with a Crossface. That’s reversed as well with Candice flipping over so Shirai puts her on her shoulders, only to get reverse hurricanranaed for two. Ms. LeRae’s Wild Ride gets two and the fans declare this to be awesome. Shirai catches her on top with a super Spanish Fly for another near fall and frustrated screaming ensues. A double underhook backbreaker plants LeRae again and the moonsault….gets two? With nothing else working, Shirai grabs a Koji Clutch to knock LeRae out at 15:00.

Rating: B. That was a good change of finisher for Shirai as something like a moonsault isn’t befitting a new heel persona. You need to have her do something a bit more sinister and they had set up all of the neck stuff throughout the match. Candice was always going to come up short here and it wouldn’t have made sense to have her win over the newly heel Shirai. They were both working here though and I was buying Shirai being angrier and more aggressive than usual here.

Here’s an unscheduled Matt Riddle through the crowd to call out Killian Dain for a fight. Dain comes through the crowd and the fight is on with Dain hitting a jumping kick to the head. Referees come out for the save with Dain stomping on Riddle’s bare foot. Riddle doesn’t care and they fight to the stage so Dain goes for the eyes. Some knees to the face put Dain down and Riddle takes care of security, including with a GTS to a guard. Dain uses the distraction to hit a crossbody, only to have Riddle jump on his back for a choke. They dive off the stage with Riddle being crushed through a table to finally wrap up a hot fight.

Evolve Champion Austin Theory is here.

We recap the North American Title match. Velveteen Dream has held the title longer than anyone in its history and Roderick Strong pinned him in a tag match. Then just to mess with what seemed to be an obvious ending, Pete Dunne was added to the mix as a wildcard.

North American Title: Velveteen Dream vs. Roderick Strong vs. Pete Dunne

Dream is defending and goes full Canada with his entrance, complete with an army of Mounties (and yes with the Mountie song of course), who then morph into Toronto Raptors dancers before Dream himself comes out. Strong says the other two don’t matter and it’s Dream being sent outside early on. Dunne clotheslines Strong down and it’s time to go after Strong’s fingers.

Dream is back in and tosses Strong but it’s the big showdown with Dunne. That lasts all of one stare though as Strong comes back in and gets punched in the face by the champ. A Bret Hart pose looks to set up the Sharpshooter but Strong slips away. That just means it’s time for Dream and Dunne to beat him up at the same time, with Dream holding the arm for Dunne’s stomp.

Strong is sent outside so Dream can gyrate the hips, earning himself most of a cross armbreaker. It’s too early for the Bitter End as Dream slips out, only to get crotched against the post (Mauro: “NOTHING BUT NUTS!”). The backbreakers start for Strong and the UNDISPUTED chants get going again. Back in and Dream finally gets the Sharpshooter but Dunne comes off the top with a double stomp to Dream’s back for the save. Dunne starts throwing suplexes and alternates with stomps onto both of them.

Strong and Dream get together to beat him up before fighting each other (duh). Dunne is back up as well and it’s a three way slugout for a triple knockdown. Dream and Strong get their fingers snapped but it’s a Dream Valley Driver to Dunne, an Olympic Slam to Dream and an X Plex to Strong to put everyone down. Dunne catches Dream up top and Strong joins them for an Olympic Slam to Dunne, which brings Dream down with them.

Strong is up first with a backbreaker to Dunne, who tries to grab a triangle. They go into the corner with Dream hitting a springboard Purple Rainmaker to Dunne for the break. You know, because he can do that. Back up and Strong grabs a Stronghold on both of them at once. That falls apart so Dream tries a double Dream Valley Driver, which is a bit too much for him.

Dunne snaps a pair of fingers and hits the Bitter End on Strong but Dream has the referee. The delayed cover is cut off as Dream grabs the referee’s hand at two. Dream gets sent outside as Strong grabs the Stronghold on Dunne. The save doesn’t take long and it’s the Dream Valley Driver on Dunne, with Strong coming back in for End of Heartache. Dream makes another save and steals the pin to retain at 17:25.

Rating: B+. I’m not sure what they’re going to do with the title now as Dream has held the thing for six months and doesn’t really have anyone left to fight for the thing. That being said, NXT knows how to build someone up in a hurry and there is a good chance that they could do just that at a moment’s notice. The cool thing is NXT has all the talent they could need to put together a challenger, but more importantly they know how to do it. The match here was quite good, though it never hit that next level.

We recap Mia Yim vs. Shayna Baszler. Mia grew up in a horrible situation and had to fight from the streets to get here. Baszler doesn’t think anything of her and thinks Yim is just a thug. Shayna has held the title for a long time now and thinks Yim is going to be just another challenger.

Women’s Title: Mia Yim vs. Shayna Baszler

Mia is challenging and comes out with a bunch of people in black with their faces covered to not the strongest reaction. Baszler goes to the arm to start but gets armdragged down a few times. Miz traps the arm between the steps and post for a dropkick and Baszler is in early trouble. Back in and Shayna takes her down for some left handed punches and a stomp on Mia’s left arm.

The champ stays on the arm by wrapping it around the bottom rope and then bending it at a rather disturbing angle. A pull of the hair gets Mia out of trouble so Shayna dropkicks her for two. Back up and they seem to get completely out of sync as they run the ropes for a bit. Mia sends her to the floor and shouts OK before hitting a suicide dive. A tornado DDT gets two but Baszler kicks her in the face for two with the fans not even teasing a reaction to the kickout.

Mia goes up top and traps Shayna’s arm for a super Code Blue and another near fall. Shayna pulls her into the Kirifuda Clutch but Mia pulls the bad arm for the break. A stomp on the champ’s arm (Mia: “This is karma.”) looks to set up a cross armbreaker but Shayna rolls over into the Clutch again. Another pull of the arm gets Mia out, only to have Shayna wrap her legs around the neck for another choke and the tap at 14:42.

Rating: C+. I actually sighed in relief when Baszler retained. Mia tries and has a good story but I could never take her seriously with the name Head Baddie In Charge. She never felt like the big challenger who could take the title and I was almost dreading the idea of her taking the title. The problem now though is who can challenge Shayna for the title as she has almost completely cleaned out the division. That’s where they need to bring some people up, and NXT knows just how to do something like that.

Walter and Tyler Bate are here.

We recap Johnny Gargano vs. Adam Cole. They’ve fought at the last two Takeovers with Gargano winning the vacant title and then losing it to Cole the next time. The idea here is Cole believes he belongs at the top and Gargano wants to earn his legacy by getting the title back. Each fall has a different stipulation: regular match, street fight, weapons filled cage.

NXT Title: Adam Cole vs. Johnny Gargano

Gargano, in Wolverine inspired gear, is challenging and the first fall is a regular match. Cole is roughly 18x more popular than Gargano during the Big Match Intros. Feeling out process to start with an early Last Shot and Gargano Escape attempt missing for each. Cole can’t hit the Panama Sunrise either as Gargano sends him outside for a running dropkick through the ropes. Cole’s running knee hits steps and Johnny sends the knee into the apron. Back in and it’s Indian Deathlock to keep Cole’s knee in trouble and an enziguri makes it worse for the champ.

Cole is fine enough to pull Gargano outside for a wheelbarrow suplex onto the apron. Back in and a neckbreaker sets up a triangle choke to Gargano, who gets smart by grabbing the bad leg. An ankle lock is quickly broken up with Cole sending him face first into the middle buckle. The Panama Sunrise still doesn’t work as the leg gives out and Johnny sends him into the corner as well. Gargano’s rolling kick to the head and it’s a fisherman’s driver for two.

Cole misses a superkick in the corner and Johnny stomps on the leg again, setting up the Figure Four. The rope gets Cole out of trouble and it’s a German suplex for two on Johnny. Another Panama Sunrise is countered into a sunset driver to give Johnny two more. Cole STILL can’t get the Sunrise as the leg gives out but he’s fine enough to catch a diving Gargano in a gutbuster.

A Samoan driver gives Cole two and it’s a double clothesline for the double knockdown. Gargano is up first and hits the slingshot DDT for two but the slingshot spear hits a superkick. Cole’s fireman’s carry backbreaker gets two so it’s time for a chair. The referee throws that out and Cole gets in a low blow for two. Cole sits in the chair but Gargano gets up and takes it away, setting up a shot to Cole’s back for the DQ at 20:50.

Gargano shrugs and unloads with the chair as the second fall, a street fight, begins. Cole bails to the floor so Gargano throws the chair at his head and hits the slingshot DDT. They fight into the crowd with Gargano beating Cole all over the place, though he does stop for a picture with a fan’s phone. Gargano hits a superkick and they head back to ringside with Cole being driven through the timekeeper’s area.

They fight onto the announcers’ tables with Gargano backdropping his way out of a Pedigree to send Cole through the Spanish Announcers’ Table in the huge crash. Gargano throws Cole back inside, plus a table and some chairs. The fireman’s carry backbreaker gives Cole two but he stops to wedge a chair in the corner. That’s not a good idea as Gargano lawn darts him into the chair, setting up the Gargano Escape for the tap and the tie at 29:37.

The weapons cage lowers, showing off the barbed wire around the top. There is no escape here and you can only win by pinfall or submission. They slug it out with superkicks slowing down the kendo stick shots, only to have them beat each other senseless with the sticks. Stereo superkicks put both guys down and the fans find this awesome. A reverse hurricanrana sends Cole into a chair for another superkick and a near fall.

Cole gets in a chair shot to the back and a Backstabber with a kendo stick across the throat connects for two. Johnny gets in a blast with a fire extinguisher and hits a tornado DDT onto the open chairs, with Cole’s face hitting the open edge for a rather terrifying landing. Gargano goes up to try and grab a sledgehammer but has to stop for a spinning sunset bomb instead. Cole goes up top and throws a ladder at Johnny, who ducks to avoid a bad case of death.

Now the super Panama Sunrise gives Cole two and another one off the ladder gives Cole two more. The Last Shot in the chair only hits knee though and Gargano grabs the STF with the kendo stick. Cole bites his way to freedom so Gargano sledgehammers him in the ribs. Instead of following up, Gargano loads up two tables and climbs the ladder, only to have to come back down when Cole rolls away.

Instead Gargano hits a super Canadian Destroyer for two as these kickouts are getting comical. Gargano isn’t done and pulls out a bag of tools, including some wire cutters to cut some barbed wire down. Cole climbs onto the top of the cage and gets on the table bridged over the corner, right above the two tables already set up. Gargano puts the wire on his head and they dive off through a table (Mauro: “MAMA F’ING MIA!”), with Cole covering to retain at 51:05.

Rating: A-. This was way past the point of going long for the sake of going long with the kickouts and non-covers being ridiculous more than once. Gargano almost has to go up to the main roster full time now as there is nothing left for him to do. You can find something else for Cole to do as he has a bunch of people to defend against, but after seeing these two fight for about two and a half hours in three matches, I never need to see them together again. Crazy violence (the ending and the DDT onto the chair were nuts) and an awesome match, but it needed to be a good bit shorter.

Overall Rating: A. It exceeded my expectations with only the Women’s Title match not being very good, but it wasn’t really close to some of the Takeovers they’ve done before. What worries me the most are the rumors of the move to Fox Sports 1, as this could be the last of the great Takeovers under the classic formula. We can worry about that later though because this was another excellent show. I’m hoping they get the right amount of time and build to the next one so it can have some fresh matches, but what we got here was quite good and a way to wrap up the summer with a great show, though not as great as before.


Street Profits b. Undisputed Era – Frog splash to O’Reilly

Io Shirai b. Candice LeRae – Kofi Clutch

Velveteen Dream b. Pete Dunne and Roderick Strong – End of Heartache to Dunne

Shayna Baszler b. Mia Yim – Leg choke

Adam Cole b. Johnny Gargano – Crash through a table

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