Emanating from Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Announcers: Corey Graves, Tom Philips
BOBBY ROODE VS. TYE DILLINGER
DUSTY RHODES TAG TEAM CLASSIC FINAL- TM-61 vs. THE AUTHORS OF PAIN
NXT TAG TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP- THE REVIVAL (c) vs. DIY
NXT WOMEN’S CHAMPIONSHIP- ASUKA (c) vs. MICKIE JAMES
NXT CHAMPIONSHIP- SHINSUKE NAKAMURA (c) vs. SAMOA JOE
WARNING: MATCH RESULT SPOILERS AHEAD
Well, for whatever reason, WWE has decided to take a trip up north to “Bizarro Land” for its packed out Survivor Series Weekend. Of course for a lot of us, Survivor Series won’t even be the best thing about Survivor Series Weekend. No, that particular distinction goes to the latest NXT TakeOver special, and boy howdy, it did not disappoint.
While its something of an underpopulated card on paper, TakeOver: Toronto more than made up for it by delivering the excellent in-ring action that has become very much par for the course when it comes to NXT. Hype and expectations were high for just about everything on the card, and it showed in the crowd’s rabid reception of every match on the card. Whether it was Bobby Roode’s glorious entrance replete with gospel choir, the phenomenal Tag Team Title Match, or Mickie James making her surprising comeback, just about everything on the show was simply scintillating.
The Tag Team Title match in particular was absolutely outstanding. The Revival is, without a doubt, the single best heel act in WWE right now. Everything about Scott Dawson and Dash Wilder, their no-frills ring style, abhorrent heel tactics, and endless supplies of smug arrogance, screams “uber-heel”. Best of all is that they go out of their way to avoid the “cool heel” trap that so many other heels these days fall into and its helped net them tremendous heat and put over all their opponents ten-fold. And speaking of the Revival’s opponents, Tomaso Ciampa and Johnny Gargano deserve every bit as much credit as their opponents for making the Tag Title match so sensational, proving once against that they are two of the best performers not just in NXT, but the entire company, period. Basically, The Revival and DIY just seem incapable of not delivering Match of the Year candidates every time they get together, and it makes me super, super hope they don’t screw these teams over when they finally get the call-up
This is to take nothing away from the in-ring action elsewhere on the card. Bobby Roode and Tye Dillinger put on an excellent match that served as an solid starter for the show. The fact that both were native Canadians only served to pump up the crowd all the more. Mickie James’ and Asuka’s title clash was also a fantastic bout, with James looking to be in great shape and still in top form as an elite competitor. Asuka really hit her stride in this match from a character standpoint, and her ever-increasing confidence and arrogance offers some tantalizing and promising story-line potential. And of course there was the night’s final bout for the NXT Championship, which thrilled just by Shinsuke’s violinist-laden entrance alone. The match itself was a brutal, war-torn affair that sold every bit of the animosity that has been built between the King of Strong Style and the Samoan Submission Machine, and didn’t feel at all flat like their previous bout had tendencies toward. Joe’s win over Nakamura was something of a shock, and while there may be some divisiveness over whether it was a good call or not, the quality of the match that preceded it meant it was hard to be too disappointed by the end result, even if it means Nakamura’s inaugural title run has fallen rather short as a result.
Really, the only match on the show that failed to live up to NXT’s high standards was the final of the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic. While TM-61 and The Authors of Pain are by no means poor tag teams, both still feel like they’re finding their footings as stars in their own right, and it resulted in the match feeling a bit flat and lacking in star-power. But then again this was the problem that plagued pretty much the entire Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic from the get-go, so its not all that surprising that it carried through into this match. It also doesn’t help too much that TM-61 has already been jobbed out to the Authors of Pain a few times, so it was difficult to buy them as credible threats to the undefeated Authors of Pain. Also, while the whole “locking Paul Ellering in a cage above the ring” thing was kind of neat (and allowed for some excellent high spots from TM-61) it ultimately came off as feeling overly gimmicky, given how gimmick-free the show was as a whole it feel very out of place on the card. Its disappointing to have to say this, given that I like both the teams involved (not the least because TM-61 is reppin’ ‘Straya), but it doesn’t change the fact that there was too much missing from this year’s Tag Team Classic to make it a classic (ironically).
TakeOver: Toronto is the latest excellent show in a seemingly unlimited supply of excellent shows that NXT has been cranking out. Even if some of the ultimate results leave a bitter taste at times, and even in spite of the final of the dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic severely underwhelming, the sheer excellence in the wrestling going on and the elite level of in-ring story-telling displayed by all the performers on the card easily overrides the down moments of the show. Of course, I recommend this show, I recommend the golly shit out of it.