Takeover 31

Takeover: 31
Date: October 4, 2020
Location: Capitol Wrestling Center, Winter Park, Florida
Commentators: Wade Barrett, Beth Phoenix, Vic Joseph

It’s already time for another Takeover after less than two months away. I’m not sure what that is going to mean but they haven’t exactly had a ton of time to set things up. That being said, this is Takeover and if anyone can make something like this work, they are absolutely the best option. Hopefully they can live up to the hype, which isn’t that strong this time. Let’s get to it.

The opening video looks at the Capitol Wrestling Corporation, complete with some clips of the old Washington DC show from the 50s/60s. That switches into the Capitol Wrestling center….which is basically Full Sail with cages instead of Plexiglas and the Thunderdome virtual fans. I’d rather just watch more of the old footage.

North American Title: Johnny Gargano vs. Damian Priest

Priest is defending and the threat of the kick to the face sends Gargano bailing. Back in and another big boot misses so Priest goes for the spinwheel kick to take Gargano down. It’s too early for the Reckoning so Priest kicks Gargano in the chest to send him into the corner. Priest tries an Old School rope walk but gets knocked down and kicked in the knee. Gargano flips him from the apron to the floor and there’s a suicide dive into the fence. A ram into the steps makes it worse.

Back in and Gargano kicks away at the legs but has to slip out of a Razor’s Edge attempt. More kicks at the legs have Gargano down but Priest is back up for the slugout. An exchange of kicks to the head sets up a springboard punch to Gargano’s face to stagger him again. Gargano sends him shoulder first into the post and it’s time to head outside. Priest counters the suicide dive but Gargano slips out of South of Heaven.

The toss Razor’s Edge onto the apron gives Priest two and frustration is setting in. They slug it out until Gargano heads to the apron. One Final Beat is countered into South of Heaven for two so Priest heads up top. Gargano rolls to the floor so Priest loads up the running flip dive, with Gargano pulling security in the way to take them out instead. The referee calls out help and Gargano gets in a low blow.

The low superkick gives Gargano two and it’s time for the Gargano Escape. That’s broken up so Gargano puts it on again with the legs tied for a bonus but Priest makes the rope again. Priest heads to the apron and Gargano tries to knock him onto the steps at ringside. That’s broken up but Gargano superkicks him out of the air. One Final Beat onto the steps is countered into a hanging Reckoning to retain the title at 16:42.

Rating: B. They had me wondering who was going to win here and they went with the right choice as Priest needs this win way more than Gargano. This was a good back and forth match as Gargano was trying to pick him apart but there was too much size and power from Priest to make the plan work. Really good stuff here though and Priest got the big win that he has been needing.

We recap Kushida vs. Velveteen Dream. Kushida was brought in as the big signing and then he beat Velveteen Dream in a North American Title qualifying match. Dream attacked Kushida, so Kushida went full angry mode and went after Dream’s arm. It’s time for a showdown.

Kushida vs. Velveteen Dream

Kushida jumps him during the long form entrance so Dream, still favoring the arm and looking like he is covered in dust, grabs a chair to wreck some stuff. The referee says ring the bell anyway and Kushida goes straight for the armbar. A hard slap to the face connects and a kick to the ribs staggers Dream again. The running Tajiri handspring kick to the face puts Dream on the floor again, followed by a nasty arm wrench back inside.

Dream manages to knock him outside for a change and a top rope shot to the face drops Kushida again. Dream tells him to COME ON MARTY before bringing it back inside for an uppercut for two. The sleeper of all things goes on and Kushida is in more trouble. That’s broken up so Kushida spears him down and hammers away. A cartwheel into a basement dropkick (with Dream not quite in place) keeps Dream down and Kushida stomps at the back and chest.

Dream’s shoulder is sent into the post and he screams that he’s sorry. Kushida sends it in again but walks into a superkick to put both of them down. The Purple Rainmaker is countered into the cross armbreaker but Dream grabs a powerbomb. Kushida puts on another armbar so Dream escapes again counters with the Dream Valley Driver…but Kushida hangs on for the Hoverboard Lock and the tap at 13:10.

Rating: C+. They got the ending right again, but this time it didn’t hit that next level. Kushida as the aggressive guy attacking Dream for the sake of injuring him was a little weird, but given how nothing he has been so far in NXT, this is an upgrade. Hopefully we get more of him, and I can go for seeing Dream getting hurt anytime now. What we got was good, but they didn’t quite convey their hatred of each other very well.

Post match Kushida isn’t done and grabs another armbar until referees have to come out for the save. Kushida goes after the arm AGAIN and tears at it some more to really make Dream scream. That might be a way to get rid of him for a bit.

HALLOWEEN HAVOC is back on October 28. It only took twenty years.

We recap Santos Escobar vs. Isaiah Scott for the Cruiserweight Title. Escobar won the tournament to crown the new champion but Scott beat him during the tournament. Scott got a shot at the title but lost to a loaded headbutt, setting up the rematch.

Cruiserweight Title: Isaiah Scott vs. Santos Escobar

Escobar is defending and gets taken down by an early anklescissors. A standoff doesn’t last long as Scott sends him outside for a moonsault, followed by a middle rope corkscrew dive to take the champ down again. Scott isn’t done as he hits a big Fosbury Flop to take him down again. Escpbar’s arm is bent around the post on the floor for two back inside but Escobar snaps the neck across the top rope to get his first breather.

The suicide dive drives Scott into the barricade and it’s time to slowly stomp away back inside. That includes some SPANISH TRASH TALKING (so you know he’s serious) until Scott pops him in the jaw. Scott sends him outside for a bit, followed by the rolling Downward Spiral for two back inside. A DDT out of the corner gives Scott two more but here’s Legado del Fantasma for the distraction. Escobar grabs a shoulderbreaker (might have been a botched something else) for two and they head to the apron.

A springboard hurricanrana sends Escobar into the other two and here’s Ashante Adonis to take care of Legado. Back in and Escobar hits a jumping superkick into the Phantom Driver for a rather close two. Escobar hits Three Amigos but the frog splash is blocked. Scott snaps the arm and the House Call connects, setting up a 450 for two more. They go to the apron with Escobar knocking him head first into the post to knock Scott silly, setting up a double underhook facebuster to retain at 14:22.

Rating: B. They had me believing that the title would change here (and I wanted it to as I like Scott a good deal) but Escobar winning is the right call after he only won the title a few months ago. I’m not sure who is going to take the title from him, but they had a very solid back and forth match here. Having Adonis get rid of Legado make it more interesting so well done on a nice swerve before the ending.

We recap Candice LeRae vs. Io Shirai for the Women’s Title. Shirai won the title earlier in the year and LeRae got sick of losing all the time. That means a heel turn to follow the Gargano Way and now it’s time for her to go evil and try for the title again.

Women’s Title: Io Shirai vs. Candice LeRae

Candice is challenging and gets dropkicked outside early on. Back in and Shirai sticks the landing on a monkey flip attempt before the threat of a shot to the face sends LeRae outside again. The Asai moonsault takes LeRae down for two more LeRae catches her with a Backstabber out of the corner for the same. A clothesline gives LeRae two more and there’s Hennig necksnap to make it worse.

The armbar goes on, followed by a backbreaker for two more on the champ. A suplex gives LeRae some more near falls but the senton misses, allowing Shirai to double stomp the ribs for her own two. Shirai hits a good looking springboard missile dropkick for two more and the Meteora keeps LeRae in trouble. They trade German suplexes with LeRae following up with a Backstabber into a Lionsault for another near fall. Shirai snaps on a Crossface, which is reversed into the Gargano Escape to crank on the champ’s shoulder.

The rope is grabbed but LeRae hits the referee by mistake. Shirai’s Air Raid Crash connects but the moonsault hits knees, bumping the referee again. LeRae’s Wicked Stepsister gets no count so here’s Johnny Gargano, in a referee shirt, to count two. Gargano grabs the title and drops it to LeRae as the referee gets up. The distraction lets LeRae hit a belt shot for two so she takes Shirai up top. That earns her a super Spanish Fly from Shirai, setting up the moonsault (which connects almost perfectly for a change) for the pin to retain at 16:40.

Rating: B-. Again I like the result, though the Gargano referee deal was a little weird. LeRae looks more comfortable as a heel though and Shirai can be awesome when she gets rolling. She needs some fresh challengers though and that could be an issue as there aren’t a ton of top level people to challenge for the title (or at least ones they would put against her at the moment).

Post match Toni Storm pops up on screen to say she’s back in NXT and coming for the title.

With Shirai still in the ring, the mystery person arrives. The helmet comes off and it’s….Ember Moon. Two new challengers in a row is something different, but I’m glad Moon is back as her career was looking like it was in danger for awhile there.

We recap the main event. Finn Balor won the vacant NXT Title by defeating Adam Cole and then Kyle O’Reilly won the first ever Gauntlet Eliminator to become the new #1 contender. This has been built up as a near dream match for the title, with Balor getting in the line of “if this was against anyone else, you would leave with the title”.

The Undisputed Era wishes O’Reilly luck.

NXT Title: Finn Balor vs. Kyle O’Reilly

Balor is defending and we get the always cool long walk from the back. They fight over arm control to start before rolling to a standoff. A headlock takeover puts O’Reilly down but he pulls Balor into a cross armbreaker to send Balor over to the ropes. O’Reilly grabs a DDT onto the arm to drive Balor down and it’s time for some shots to the ribs. The armbar keeps Balor in trouble until he slips out for a basement dropkick to the face.

Balor gets in his own armbar and throws in some air guitar on the arm for the salt rubbing. O’Reilly fights out of the hammerlock and hits a running knee to the ribs. The rush of strikes put Balor down as things are starting to pick up. O’Reilly rolls some butterfly suplexes into a double arm DDT for two more but Balor kicks him square in the ribs for a knockdown. Balor gets in a hard whip into the corner and it’s time to kick O’Reilly down again.

A Reverse chinlock goes on but O’Reilly fights up to hit a running knee. The Regal Plex gives O’Reilly two and they’re both down. Balor loads up the running dropkick but gets his own leg dropkicked out. It’s Balor up first with an abdominal stretch to say on O’Reilly’s midsection but the 1916 is countered into a kneebar. Balor reverses that into a Sharpshooter, sending O’Reilly to the ropes.

O’Reilly fights up and they trade big shots for the double knockdown. 1916 is countered again and O’Reilly hits a brainbuster, followed by a cross armbreaker. That’s reversed as well and Balor pulls him up into 1916 for a rather near fall. O’Reilly bends the knee around the rope and a top rope kick to the chest has the champ down again. A top rope knee to Balor’s knee sets up the heel hook and Balor is in big trouble.

The very long crawl is on though and Balor finally makes the rope. Balor’s knee is good enough to hit the double stomp to the chest but O’Reilly hits a German suplex…right into another stomp from Balor, who can’t follow up. O’Reilly is mostly done though and the Coup de Grace connects to give Balor the pin to retain at 28:32.

Rating: A-. Match of the night here and it felt rather different than your usual NXT main event. These guys beat each other up and tried to pick the other apart until one of them just couldn’t get up again. They had you believing that O’Reilly could pull off the big upset and that’s a tough move to pull off. O’Reilly looked like a star, but Balor feels like the ace around here, and he likely will be for a long time. Very good match here, though it never quite hit that top gear.

Post match respect is shown…but here’s Ridge Holland, carrying an unconscious Adam Cole and dropping him at ringside. The Undisputed Era runs out to chase him off and check on Cole to end the show.

Overall Rating: B+. And that puts it in the lower tier of Takeovers, because that’s how high the bar has been set with this series. This was another awesome show but it wasn’t really even close to what they’ve done before. I’d put that on the lack of time to really set things up, which is where NXT tends to make things shine. Very good show though, with nothing close to bad and an excellent main event, but give them more time for the next one.


Damian Priest b. Johnny Gargano – Hanging Reckoning

Kushida b. Velveteen Dream – Hoverboard Lock

Santos Escobar b. Isaiah Scott – Double underhook facebuster

Io Shirai b. Candice LeRae – Moonsault

Finn Balor b. Kyle O’Reilly – Coup de Grace

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