The SmarK Rant for NXT Takeover Toronto – 08.10.19
Live from Toronto, ON. Shout out to my friend Rahim, who is there tonight and hopefully enjoying the show!
Your hosts are Mauro Ranallo, Nigel McGuiness & Beth Phoenix
NXT tag team titles: The Street Proffits v. Bobby Fish & Kyle O’Reilly
Dawkins does some trash talk on Kyle in the corner to start, then takes him down and rides him on the mat. Fish comes in, but gets overpowered, and Ford gets a nice dropkick for two. The Proffits double-team in the corner as Mauro notes “both teams have more chemistry than a periodic table”. Is it too late to switch to another language track? Undisputed with a cheapshot on Ford and O’Reilly works him over in the corner, but Ford escapes with another dropkick. Back to the babyface shine as they flapjack Fish, but he SWEEPS THE LEG…
The Era works on Dawkins in their corner and Fish gets a slingshot senton for two and follows with a samoan drop. Kyle with the ground and pound elbows, but Dawkins backdrops Fish and makes the hot tag to Ford. Superkick for Kyle and a backdrop suplex for Fish sets up a standing moonsault for two. And then Ford teases a People’s Elbow, but O’Reilly cuts him off. He gets a Rock Bottom instead for two, but Fish calmly clips the knee and the Era hits a sick double team DDT into a german suplex for two. They fight to the top and Ford blocks a superplex, but Fish crotches him for a second try. Exploder into a flying knee from O’Reilly and he puts Ford in the Achilles lock, but Dawkins slams Fish on top of O’Reilly to break it up. Hot tag Dawkins and he slams the Era all over and hits O’Reilly with a capture suplex…but runs in the knee strike. Ouch. Ford makes a blind tag and comes in with a blockbuster for two, but Fish makes the save. We get a double slugfest and everyone is out, so Ford puts the heels on the floor and follows with a dive. Back in, Dawkins spears both guys and Ford follows with a frog splash on O’Reilly to retain at 17:03?! Well that’s pretty surprising. Kind of weird that they’d tease the Era doing a Four Horsemen title sweep and then kill it off in the first match already. A really great opener with non-stop action. ****
Io Shirai v. Candice LaRae
Yeah, Evil Shirai is pretty hot. LaRae attacks to start and runs Io into the table, but Shirai teases a powerbomb off the apron and then suplexes Candice onto the table and decides to take the count instead. Back in, Io pounds away on the mat and flapjacks Candice into a low dropkick for two. Io with the chinlock and she escapes a flying headscissors by landing on her feet, then puts LaRae down with a dropkick and goes to a neck vice. Air Raid Crash gets two. Candice backdrops out of a powerbomb attempt, but Shirai goes up and misses a dropkick. LaRae slugs away in the corner and gets a brainbuster for two. LaRae tries an Octopus, but Shirai drops her on the ropes and they awkwardly fight to the top rope. Io dropkicks her to the apron and follows with the 619, but LaRae sends her to the floor and follows with a diving DDT. Back in, LaRae with a double stomp for two. Shirai takes her down with a crossface, but LaRae rolls it over for two, so Io just NAILS her with a running forearm and follows with a german suplex. And then LaRae hits her own and tries a springboard, but Shirai catches her with a german suplex for two and both of them are out. Shirai comes back with double knees in the corner, but misses a second one and LaRae gets a reverse rana for two. LaRae with a middle rope neckbreaker for two. LaRae goes up and Io follows her up with a top rope Spanish Fly, for two. They slug it out and LaRae gets a small package for two, and a backslide, but Shirai reverses into a double underhook backbreaker. This sets up the moonsault, and that only gets two as well. Shirai has had enough and takes her down with a Koji clutch to finally finish things off, and LaRae is out at 15:00. Couple of rough spots but they just worked and worked and it was incredible drama by the end. ****1/4
Matt Riddle comes out and apparently wants Killian Dain, so Killian jumps out of the audience to oblige and they brawl for a bit before the refs break it up, and then Riddle lays him out with knee strikes on the entrance and beats up all the security geeks for good measure. And then Dain also lays waste to the geeks, so Riddle puts him in a sleeper and Dain rams him into the LED board to break it up, and then dives off the stage and through a table along with another security geek. So that was quite the deal.
North American title: Velveteen Dream v. Roderick Strong v. Pete Dunne
So Dream’s entrance of course steals the show again, with a Mountie tribute, into a Raptors dance routine. Strong dislikes Dream’s showboating, so he attacks right away and tosses him, but Dunne puts him down with a lariat and tries for the fingers. Dream saves and he’s ready for some fisticuffsmanship, but Strong dumps Dunne and all three guys are in a stalemate. Dream with a dropkick on Strong and he offers up Strong’s fingers, allowing Dunne to stomp them. Aw, that’s sweet. They dump Strong and then Dunne goes after Dream again and takes him down with an armbar. Dream teases his finish, but Strong yanks him crotch-first into the post and then destroys both guys on the floor with backbreakers in an awesome sequence. Back in, that gets two on Dunne. Strong ties him up with a hold on the mat and follows with a dropkick for two, and they slug it out into a Strong backbreaker for two. Dream flies back in and dumps Dunne, and a legsweep gets two. Backbreaker and Dream goes up for a Bret elbow, and that sets up a Sharpshooter. Dunne saves with a missile dropkick and fights with Dream on the floor, and then hits both guys with a moonsault out there.
Back in, Dunne suplexes Strong onto Dream and gets two and tries to stomp both guys at the same time, but they fire back from the mat. This turns into a triple slugfest and everyone gets superkicks, and then they all hit their big moves on each other in sequence. Dream goes up and Dunne cuts him off with SMALL JOINT MANIPULATION, but Strong brings both guys down and everyone is out. That was more like Dream hurling himself off the top unrelated to the other two, but either way. Dunne tries a triangle on Strong, but Roddy slams out of it. So Dunne goes for the fingers, but now Dream goes up and hits a coast to coast elbow on Dunne to break that up. Strong hits both guys with knees and powerbombs Dunne onto Dream for two, then somehow puts both guys into the Stronghold at the same time. Dream recovers with a superkick and tries to do the Dream Driver on both guys at the same time, but Strong escapes with a knee. So Dunne snaps the fingers of both guys at the same time and hits the Bitter End on Strong for two, as Dream makes the save by taking out the ref. This merely angers Dunne, and he wraps up the Dream in a submission and curbstomps him. Strong with a german suplex on Dunne, but he lands on his feet, so Strong rolls him into the Stronghold instead. Dream saves and tosses Strong, and hits the Dream Driver on Dunne, but Strong slips back in and hits Dunne with End of Heartache, and Dream steals THAT pin and retains at 17:32. This is turning into a rough night for the Undisputed Era. Another surprising result tonight, but the match was crazy and hard-hitting. ****1/2
Meanwhile, Mayans MC is apparently still a thing that’s on TV. I gave it about 4 episodes and then checked out, but I guess FX needs to air SOMETHING.
NXT Women’s title: Shayna Baszler v. Mia Yim
Shayna tries the arm to start and Yim SWEEPS THE LEG…
…but Baszler takes her down with an armbar anyway. Yim makes the ropes right away and comes back with a rana and a cannonball in the corner, but she tries a dive and Shayna cuts it off with a forearm. I don’t feel like going hard with the “Mia Yim is a GANGSTA!” is a particularly effective character turn for her, but they’re the professionals. Yim uses the stairs to take out the arm, but Baszler gets a head kick in the ring and things kind of grind to a halt for a bit. That was weird. Shayna takes her down and stomps the hand to take over, and a kick gets two. Shayna goes for the wristlock, but Yim fights out of it, so Shayna clotheslines her for two. Yim gets a rollup for two, but Shayna dropkicks her for two. Yim makes a comeback and slugs away, then puts Baszler on the floor with a suplex and follows with a tope. Back in, that gets two. Shayna gets a knee strike for two as this match isn’t particularly going anywhere and the crowd is dead. Yim gets a Tarantula and goes up, but Baszler cuts her off, so Yim gets a sunset bomb off the top instead, and that gets two. Yim comes back with kicks, but walks into the choke. Baszler’s arm is injured, however, and Yim is able to escape and get her own armbar attempt, which Shayna reverses into the choke again and then turns it into a headscissors choke to finish at 14:38 instead. Yeah, this never worked for me, whether it was too much of a style clash or just Yim being too green, I dunno. **1/2 Thankfully they didn’t pick Yim to end the Baszler run because I don’t think that would have went over particularly well.
NXT title, 2/3 falls: Adam Cole v. Johnny Gargano
There is a lot of time left, like a lot a lot, so it probably shouldn’t be a shock if they go long. Nigel calls the crowd “polarized” but it sounds like they’re split between Adam Cole and Adam Cole.
First fall, Regular wrestling match:
They trade wristlocks on the mat to start and Cole grabs a headlock, but they quickly go for the finishers and we nearly get the mutually assured superkick destruction before they back off. They each tease middle rope moves, but Johnny puts him on the floor with a rana and follows with a baseball slide. They fight on the floor and Cole kicks the stairs by mistake, so Gargano drops the knee on the apron, THE HARDEST PART OF THE RING. Back in, Johnny wraps up the Indian deathlock, but Cole makes the ropes. They slug it out on the apron and Gargano tries a slingshot DDT out there, but Cole counters with a wheelbarrow suplex into the apron, which need I remind you is THE HARDEST PART OF THE RING? Back in, Cole with a neckbreaker and he goes to work on that neck, with another neckbreaker for two. Cole with the headscissors on the mat, but Gargano twists it into an anklelock to escape, so Cole runs him into the corner. Cole tries the Panama Sunrise and lands on his bad leg, so Gargano suplexes him into the turnbuckles. They slug it out and Johnny SWEEPS THE LEG…
…but Cole fights back, so Gargano hooks the bad leg and hits the fisherman’s driver for two. They slug it out in the corner and Johnny double-stomps the knee like a complete dick and goes to a figure-four. Cole makes the ropes and comes back with a wheelbarrow suplex for two. They trade kicks and Cole gets the best of that, but Gargano blocks the Panama Sunrise and hits a sunset driver for two. They fight to the top and Cole’s knee gives way, but he suckers Johnny into a dive and hits a code breaker on the way down and then a Michinoku Driver for two. They slug it out on the mat and put each other down with a clothesline, but Cole bails and blocks a dive with a head kick. He tries another suplex into the apron, but Johnny reverses into the railing and gets a slingshot DDT in the ring for two. Another try, but Cole superkicks the shit out of him and hits the ushigoroshi for two. Cole retrieves a chair, and then waits for the ref to grab it and kicks Johnny in the nuts for two. Oh that was great. Cole teases the chair again, which allows Gargano to superkick him, and a frustrated Johnny hits him with the chair and that’s a DQ at 20:52 to give Cole the first fall. So Gargano is like “Eh, what are you gonna do?” and destroys Cole with the chair while he’s got the chance.
Second fall, STREET FIGHT:
Gargano just NAILS the terrified Cole with the chair by tossing it at him outside, and then hits him with a dive and they immediately brawl into the crowd. Gargano with HOT COFFEE to the head and he comes off the barricade with a double axehandle and stops for a selfie with a fan’s camera. Cole fights him off, but Gargano superkicks him and then puts him in a rolling chair and runs him into the sound rigging. They fight back to ringside, as Gargano puts him through the barricade from crowd-side and tears up the announce table. Cole escapes a powerbomb and rakes the eyes, but Gargano backdrops him through the Spanish table and has this awesome heel sneer on his face. But he’s not done, and brings in the tables, but Cole cuts him off with a shining wizard and an ushigoroshi onto the chair for two. I will say, the drama of the second fall is limited for Cole’s pin attempts, because there’s zero chance they don’t finish with the giant cage above the ring, so it’s good that there’s only one of them. Cole goes up, but Gargano lawn darts him into the chair and gets Gargano Escape for the second fall at 29:38.
Third fall, EXPLODING BARBED WIRE WEAPONS DOUBLE HELL CAGE MATCH
Holy shit, I was joking about the barbed wire when I was writing out the match stipulation and it turns out there really is barbed wire! The crowd chants “Thank you Regal” because they’re all a bunch of sadistic sickos. So we’ve got chairs, tables, handcuffs, chains, sledgehammers, ladders, barbed wire, kendo sticks, and other accoutrements scattered onto the cage for fun. But where’s the second cage with dogs roaming outside? Or the sharks with frickin’ laser beams? They immediately slug it out and Gargano gets a kendo stick, as does Cole, and that turns into a home run derby before they superkick each other down. Gargano comes back with a reverse rana and Cole lands on a chair, so Johnny superkicks him out of it for two. Johnny sets up a table in the corner, but Cole beats on him with a chair and then runs him into another chair that’s hanging on the cage. Cole with a backstabber via kendo stick for two.
More chairs get set up and they fight on the top, but Johnny sprays him with a fire extinguisher and follows with a tornado DDT for two. Cole took the bump headfirst onto the edge of a chair, which I don’t even know how he’s alive. But he must be, because Johnny keeps beating on him with a kendo stick and then spies a sledgehammer on top. He gets stopped by the power of zip-ties, so Cole tries to chase him up and Gargano powerbombs him and retrieves the hammer on his second try. Had he been wearing Captain America gear instead of Wolverine, that would have worked way better. Cole cuts him off with a superkick and goes for the ladder, then follows with Panama Sunrise for two. Cole sets up the ladder and climbs for some reason, which turns out to be another Panama Sunrise off the ladder. I mean, impressive, but you’re actually jumping from the same height as the top rope and it’s not like it adds more force. He puts Gargano headfirst onto a chair and tries a Last Shot, but that misses and he hits the chair, allowing Gargano to crossface him with a kendo stick. So Cole bites him to escape. They fight over the sledgehammer and Johnny hits him in the ribs with the hammer, then sets up a crazy ladder and table death machine in the corner. So Cole gets put on a table, and Gargano climbs the ladder, but Adam foils his plan by rolling off the table. Dastardly.
So that whole deal gets left behind for a bit and they fight up the other corner, where Johnny gets his own Canadian Destroyer off the top rope, which gets two. Johnny finds a burlap sack, which actually draws boos because the crowd wanted thumbtacks and instead there’s tools inside. So Gargano uses wire cutters to strip off some barbed wire from the cage, and Cole runs away and hides on a table on top of the cage. “Please don’t die”, pleads the crowd. Well at least we have free health care up here. Because they’ll need it. And they fight over the wire, at which point both guys fly off the cage and land through Chekhov’s Table below, allowing Cole to roll over and pin him to retain at 51:00. Well at least one of the Undisputed Era left with a title tonight. That was one of the craziest finishes ever and this was quite possibly the best match in WWE history. ****** OH YEAH I SAID IT.
I mean, the Baszler match was kind of a drag, but everything else, even the Matt Riddle impromptu brawl, was ****+, so despite the lowered expectations this one crushed it and on the scale of Burn It / Avoid It / Skim It / Watch It / Binge It, it breaks the scale again. BINGE IT, Bay Bay!