The last WWE NXT Takeover show of 2016 took place at Toronto’s Air Canada Centre. I was lucky enough to attend the event since I live about two hours away. It was a great night full of quality wrestling. The reason it’s taken me more than a week to write a review is because it’s been an awful week for me after suffering a foot injury and writing has taken a bit of a back seat.
I already wrote some thoughts from attending the show live and now I’m ready to watch the broadcast version of the show while offering up my review, so let’s get to it.
WWE NXT Takeover Toronto
August 20, 2016
Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Ontario
The opening video package showed clips of famous Canadian wrestlers as well as moments in WWE’s Toronto wrestling history. It moved on to focusing on the matches that were a part of the show.
Analysis: As this was going on, a choir was walking onto the stage getting ready for Bobby Roode’s entrance, so we were ready to make a lot of noise.
A choir was on the staging singing “Glorious” for Bobby Roode. His music hit and Roode emerged to a thunderous ovation even though he’s a heel. We were singing along with the song because that’s what you should do with a song as good as this.
Analysis: Roode acts like a heel, but he’s from Peterborough, Ontario outside of Toronto. As you know from watching WWE, Canadian fans treat anybody from Canada as a face for the most part, so that’s why he was cheered so much. A lot of Canadian wrestlers end up moving to the US. Roode still lives in the Peterborough area, though.
The announcers Tom Phillips and Corey Graves welcomed us to the show. They talked about what else was to come on the show.
Tye Dillinger, the Perfect 10, also received a huge ovation for his entrance because he’s from St. Catharines, Ontario and is billed from Niagara Falls, Ontario. If you watched this show, Survivor Series and Raw then you know the “Ten” chant was strong at all three shows.
Their history is pretty simple. They were briefly a tag team, but Roode turned on Dillinger to set up this match.
Bobby Roode vs. Tye Dillinger
Fans chanted “this is awesome” before they even locked up. Dillinger was on fire early with a clothesline that knocked Roode out of the ring multiple times after clotheslines. The crowd was chanting for both guys as Dillinger whipped Roode into the barricade and hit a back body drop. Dillinger with punches in the corner as the crowd chanted “ten” for all of it. Back body drop by Roode sent Dillinger over the top to the floor. Roode followed up on the floor with a forearm shot to the back of Dillinger. Roode dropped Dillinger face first onto the barricade. Roode worked over Dillinger in the ring as the crowd chanted “This is Glorious/Perfect Ten” as the announcers bickered over Roode turning on Dillinger. Roode with a hard whip into the corner followed by a corner clothesline. Roode jumped off the middle rope with a forearm smash to the back. Dillinger with a backslide for two. Roode came back with a neckbreaker for two. There was a “fix the apron” chant because one side of the apron was pulled up from where it was supposed to be. This crowd didn’t miss anything. Dillinger came back with an atomic drop, leaping clothesline, forearm smashes, a knee lift and a clothesline. Dillinger exposed the knee, but Roode left the ring to avoid an attack. Dillinger sent him back in and Roode hit a great spinebuster for a two count. They went up top with Roode hitting a superplex for a two count with Graves saying it was better than super it was Gloriousplex. Fans chanted “this is awesome” for them.
Roode mocked the “ten” chant, exposed the knee and got a rollup with his feet on the ropes. The ref stopped the count because he saw his feet on the ropes. Dillinger with a rollup of his own gets two and a superkick gets two. Both guys were down as the crowd gave them a big ovation and chanted “NXT” as well. They exchanged forearm strikes and they went for finishing moves, but they both fought out of it. Dillinger applied a Sharpshooter to a huge ovation. Roode fought it and got to the ropes. Roode sent Dillinger into the steel post and hit an Implant DDT for the pinfall win after 16:28 of action.
Winner by pinfall: Bobby Roode
Analysis: ***3/4 A very good match that featured a lot of great back and forth action as well as nearfalls. There was even a cool submission moment with Dillinger busting out the Sharpshooter to nearly with the match with that move. I like how even it was because they could have booked it in a way that made Roode look even stronger, but Dillinger had a lot of offense and was able to really show what he can do. I think this could be looked back on as a breakthrough match for Dillinger. A win for Dillinger would have been great for his career, but I expected Roode to get the victory because he’s likely going to be in the main event scene soon. Even in defeat, Dillinger impressed a lot of people with this performance.
Post match, Roode left the victor. Dillinger was alone in the ring grabbing his neck as the crowd chanted “ten” in support of him. He got a big ovation from the crowd as he left the arena.
A commercial aired for WWE Network content.
The NXT Women’s Champion Asuka was shown getting ready in the locker room.
A video package aired to show highlights of the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic leading to the finals.
For the next match, Paul Ellering was forced to be suspended in a cage above the ring to prevent interference.
Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic Finals: Authors of Pain (Akam & Rezar w/Paul Ellering) vs. TM-61 (Nick Miller & Shane Thorne)
Akam worked with Miller early. Akam is Canadian, but most fans don’t know that so they weren’t cheering him. TM-61 worked together to send AOP guys out of the ring. Miller nailed a suicide dive on Akam. Rezar put Thorne on his shoulders and climbed up the apparatus that was holding the cage. Thorne kicked Rezar away and jumped off the structure about 12 feet high with a dive onto the Authors of Pain guys on the floor. Rezar knocked down Thorne on the apron to take control. Akam with a diving foot attack off the middle rope for a two count. Akam missed a corner charge on Thorne. Rezar tagged in and Thorne got free to tag in Miller. Miller with an impressive body slam as well as a suplex. Back suplex by Miller on Rezar. Miller with running forearm smashes for both Authors of Pain guys. Miller up top and he hit a perfect moonsault off the top rope on Rezar for a two count. Double headscissors by Thorne and Miller countered Powerbomb attempts. Thorne was the legal man as they hit their double team Thunder Valley move that’s like a double team spinebuster. Miller hit a dive over the top and Miller hit a dive as well. Ellering dropped a chain into the ring that Rezar picked up. Rezar missed a punch and the chain went flying into the crowd. Rezar with a one handed spinebuster. Authors of Pain hit the Last Chapter double team move – clothesline into a legsweep – on Thorne for a pinfall win at the 8:20 mark.
Winners by pinfall: Authors of Pain
Analysis: **1/2 That was a good match for the time given. I was impressed with the aerial skills of TM-61 because they could show off what they can do. It was under ten minutes, though, so it was tough to have a truly great match. The result was no surprise because the Authors of Pain have been booked like unbeatable monsters. I can see AOP winning the NXT Tag Titles in 2017 with TM-61 as the team that beats them for the titles. They can use this match to give them some backstory too.
The trio of NXT boss Triple H, on screen GM William Regal and Dustin Rhodes aka Goldust were in the ring with the Dusty trophy. They congratulated the Authors of Pain on the victory.
Analysis: They were my pick to win the tournament when it started. As I mentioned earlier, they have been booked as an undefeated duo and I expected that to continue through the tournament.
A commercial aired for the 205 Live cruiserweight show that starts on WWE Network November 29 at 10pmET every Tuesday.
The team of #DIY Johnny Gargano and Tommaso Ciampa were shown walking backstage getting ready for their match.
A video package aired to set up the #DIY vs. The Revival match for the Tag Team Titles. I was really looking forward to this match.
NXT Tag Team Championships 2/3 Falls: The Revival (Scott Dawson & Dash Wilder) vs. #DIY (Johnny Gargano & Tommaso Ciampa)
Gargano started with Dawson. Ciampa tagged in and they hit a double dropkick on the heels for a two count. The heels worked on Ciampa a bit with Dawson slamming Wilder onto Ciampa by having Wilder hit a legdrop on Ciampa. Ciampa sent Wilder sternum first into the turnbuckle. Gargano tagged in with an overhead belly to belly to wilder and a bulldog/clothesline spot on both heels. Gargano neckbreaker on Dawson gets two. Gargano was in the heel corner. He tried to hit Dawson with a slingshot spear, but it was blocked and the champs hit Shatter Machine (double team Codebreaker) with Wilder pinning Gargano for the first fall.
Winners of first fall: The Revival 1-0
Analysis: Great move by Dawson to counter Gargano’s move into the finisher. It’s also smart for the heels to get the first fall to build up to the faces trying to come back.
The heels beat on Gargano on their side of the ring. Wilder hit a headbutt on Gargano and noted they were two time champs. Dawson applied the Gory Special submission. Gargano broke free and hit a kick on Dawson while he nailed a DDT on Wilder. Dawson went under the ring to pull Ciampa off the apron, but Ciampa fought it off. The referee didn’t see the hot tag leading to the Revival hitting the Hart Attack double team clothesline for a two count. Wilder with a back body drop on Gargano off the top, but Gargano turned it into a cross body black. Ciampa hot tag against Dawson with a missile dropkick, running knee in the corner, back elbows, boot to the face and a leg lariat to the back of the head for a two count. Ciampa with three German suplexes in a row to Dawson followed by a running knee strike for a two count. Fans were chanting “this is awesome” for them. The heels went for a double team move, but Ciampa came back with a cross body block off the top for two. The ref told Wilder to get out of the ring, so Ciampa and Gargano did a double team move with Ciampa hitting a running knee while Gargano hit a superkick to the head of Dawson at the same time.
Winners of second fall: #DIY 1-1
Analysis: That looked nasty. Great spot to give #DIY a fall to even up the match.
Ciampa had a slug fest with Wilder that he won. Dawson tagged in, countered an arm bar into a pinfall attempt and nailed a boot to the face. Gargano tagged in as Ciampa dropped Dawson face first into the mat. Gargano jumped over the top rope and hit a DDT on Dawson for a two count. Wilder tagged in and the heels did a great double team uppercut into a German Suplex spot for a two count as Ciampa made the save. By this point in the math the crowd was so into it they were standing up for a lot of it and chanting “this is awesome” regularly. Dawson sent Ciampa into the ring post. The heels worked on Gargano in their half of the ring until Gargano got an inside cradle for a two count that everybody thought was the end of the match. Wilder brought one of the tag team titles into the ring. Ciampa took out Wilder with a clothesline that sent them out of the ring. Gargano kicked Dawson, who had the title in his hands, so Gargano’s leg was hurt as he kicked the title. Such a cool spot. Inverted figure four by Dawson, which was a move that Dawson used to beat Gargano in their last title match. Gargano nearly tapped, but he was able to crawl to the ropes to huge cheers from the crowd. Dawson had a bit of blood, but it wasn’t that bad. The Revival teased a double team move, but Wilder actually kicked Dawson instead. Gargano and Ciampa hit the Shatter Machine finisher that Revival uses to a huge ovation for the one…two…no. Wow what a nearfall that was! Most of us thought that was it. Dawson came back with a rollup using the tights, but the ref saw it, so he stopped the count. Wilder sent Ciampa into the ring post outside the ring. Gargano kicked Dawson out of the ring, which led to Wilder clipped the back of the left leg of Gargano, so both legs of Gargano were hurting. Gargano and Wilder exchanged pinfall sequences. Gargano did a Crossface like move. Ciampa locked Dawson in an armbar. In a great visual, Dawson & Wilder were holding eachother’s hand to prevent the tap as the crowd was rabid! We were going wild! The image of the people in the background told the story. The heels tried to fight out of it and then both guys tapped out! New champs! The legal finish was Gargano forcing Wilder to submit. Gargano & Ciampa got the win at the 22:15 mark. Wow! What a match!
Winners and New NXT Tag Team Champions: #DIY (Gargano & Ciampa)
Post match, Gargano & Ciampa held the titles in their arms as the fans showered them in “you deserve it” chants. Replays aired of all the great spots in the match. Following the replays, Gargano & Ciampa soaked in the cheers while The Revival were on the stage looking sad about the loss.
Analysis: ***** That’s five stars out of five. It’s rare, but that’s what that this match was. One of the best matches of the year and maybe the winner. One of the best tag team matches I have ever seen. I had high expectations going into the match after their Brooklyn match, but they managed to top themselves with this performance. There were so many things to like about the match as they did some spots similar to their last match, they built on those things and they teased the finish several times in the last five minutes. There’s really nothing to pick apart as far as complaints go. The pacing was great, the match time was the right amount and the work was exceptional. I think making it a 2/3 falls match was a way to differentiate it from their previous match. The chemistry between the teams is amazing. Gargano & Ciampa wrestle more of the fast paced, current era style of wrestling with a lot of kicks and high impact offense. The Revival are old school tag team wrestlers who don’t look physically imposing, but they are so well schooled when it comes to technical tag team wrestling. From a storyline standpoint, it was exactly what it needed to be with the faces overcoming the heels for the biggest victory of their careers. Five stars, gentlemen. What a f’n great match this was that I enjoyed so much live when I saw it at the arena and I liked it even more watching it on the broadcast today. All four of these guys are ready for the main roster obviously, but if they want to do this match at every Takeover for the next year I’m perfectly fine with that too. If The Revival were on the main roster, Vince McMahon would be too consumed with trying to give them a stupid gimmick (see Breezango as the "fashion police") and I doubt they'd get to have meaningful matches as often.
Analysis x2: I have more praise for this match. To put it in perspective in terms of WWE history, I think it’s one of the best tag matches ever. My three favorite traditional tag team matches in WWE history (not counting TLC matches, which is why I say traditional) are Angle/Benoit vs. Edge/Mysterio at No Mercy 2002, Benoit/Jericho vs. Austin/HHH on Raw in May 2001 and this match.
Analysis x3: The only other five star rating I gave a WWE match this year was Nakamura vs. Zany at NXT Takeover Dallas. I didn’t give Styles vs. Cena at SummerSlam a five star rating, but that match is also in the the discussion for match of the year next month.
There was a shot of WWE Hall of Famer Jim Ross seated at ringside for the event.
The video package aired to set up NXT Women’s Champion against challenger Mickie James. They had no interaction building up to the match, so it was more about building up Asuka as an unbeatable champion against Mickie’s return.
Mickie James made her entrance. She received a huge ovation from the crowd for what was her first match in over six years. She said: “I’m back, baby” into the camera. Once her music stopped, she received a nice “welcome back” chant.
Analysis: I was so happy to see her back in a WWE ring. She should have been there for the last six years and the fact that it took six years for her to get back sucks, but I’m glad it happened.
Asuka made her entrance. Regarding the Asuka masks at ringside, those were given to the fans at ringside by somebody in WWE. Smart move by them.
NXT Women’s Championship: Asuka vs. Mickie James
They had a stand off to start with a lot of staring and a handshake with both women going face to face. Asuka took her down with a shoulder tackle, Mickie went for a headlock and Asuka grabbed an armbar. Sliding dropkick by Mickie sent Asuka out of the ring, who took a breather on the floor. Fans chanted “you still got it” at Mickie, but as she said on our podcast a few weeks ago she never lost it. Mickie held the ropes open to let Asuka back into the ring. Fireman’s carry takedown by Mickie took her down and Asuka went to a leg scissors. Kick by Asuka, kick by Mickie and Asuka nailed a flying hip attack to knock Mickie out of the ring. Asuka held the ropes open for Mickie. It led to Mickie blowing her a kiss, so Asuka hit a running hip attack to knock her out of the ring. Good heel move by Asuka. Mickie came back with a kick followed by a headscissors takedown. When Mickie went for the Mick Kick, Asuka grabbed her foot for an ankle lock and Asuka nailed a German Suplex on the floor. Wow that’s a great spot you don’t see in women’s wrestling matches very often. Mickie crawled back in to the ring to break the ten count. Corner dropkick by Asuka.
Asuka applied a submission hold using the ropes. She went for a running hip attack, but Mickie moved and Asuka was caught in the ropes. Hard kicks by Asuka, Mickie yelled “come on” and caught a kick by Asuka. Single leg crab by Mickie. Muta Lock submission by Mickie, which was very impressive as she bridged back to lock up the feet and head of Asuka. They had a bit of a slugfest with Asuka looking angry, which led to Mickie hitting a neckbreaker. Clotheslines by Mickie followed by a forearm smash. Asuka missed a cross body block off the middle rope and Mickie came back with a flapjack. Mickie went up top and hit a Thesz Press for a two count. That’s one of her signature spots. Asuka came back with a cross armbreaker, but Mickie got to the ropes. Mickie kicked the knee of Asuka. Mickie avoided the kick to the head and hit a spinning Mick Kick for a two count as Asuka got her foot on the rope. Another cover by Mickie earned a two count. Asuka countered the DDT attempt by going for the Asuka Lock submission. Mickie tried to fight out of it and even got a nearfall. Asuka was relentless in holding onto the submission. She held on for more, so Mickie was forced to tap out at the 13:07 mark.
Winner by submission: Asuka
Analysis: ***1/2 It was an awesome match that was very competitive with a good mix of technical wrestling, submissions and psychology. Asuka worked as a bit of a heel, but it wasn’t like she fully turned. Mickie showed a lot of fire coming back when she was down, which has always been one of her biggest strengths. It might be Asuka’s best match in WWE although I’m not sure what I rated the matches with Bayley. I think that says a lot about Mickie’s talent level because this was the first match they ever had and it was that good. The finish of the match was strong because Mickie kept trying to fight out of it, but Asuka was so aggressive with it that Asuka forced her tap out. The result didn’t surprise me or anybody watching. I would love to see them face off again, though.
Post match, Asuka celebrated with her title. Mickie extended her hand for a shake. Asuka countered by just holding up the title in her face. Asuka left the ring first.
Mickie was alone in the ring as the crowd gave her a big ovation for her effort. Mickie smiled with tears in her eyes as the crowd showed her the respect she deserved. It went on for about a minute, but the camera cut away at that point.
Analysis: This was one of my favorite moments of the night. Mickie had tears in her eyes because she loved being in a WWE ring again for the first time in six years. I have been good friends with Mickie for about seven years. I’ve run her website and help with her social media. Even without being her friend, I feel that if this match doesn’t earn her more of an opportunity in WWE on Raw or Smackdown then then I’ll be very disappointed.
The announcers went over the great matches that took place so far.
There was a shot of Canadian wrestling legend Pat Patterson at ringside.
The NXT Champion Shinsuke Nakamura and Samoa Joe were shown walking in separate parts of the arena.
A long video package aired showing the history of this rivalry going back to when Nakamura won the NXT Title from Joe at Takeover Brooklyn three months earlier. At that point, Joe made the rivalry more personal with an attack that led to Nakamura doing a stretcher job. Nakamura came back, brought the fight to Joe and they went into Takeover after doing a great job of making it feel like a personal rivalry.
Analysis: I thought they should have made this a Street Fight or Last Man Standing kind of match because it felt like a heated rivalry. Making it a regular match didn’t seem enough to me.
Samoa Joe made his entrance. He’s the heel that got some cheers out of respect from the crowd as well. His entrance is pretty basic.
Nakamura’s violin entrance was up next. This was a sight to behold. A lot of fans had their phones out to take pics and record it as he entered the building with violin players in the aisle as well as in the ring. We all hummed along with the music as well. It was such a cool experience. The entrance took nearly five minutes. I’ve never marked out so hard for violins before. I can only imagine what it’s going to be like to see him on the WrestleMania stage one day.
NXT Championship: Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Samoa Joe
They brawled on the floor early on as fans were still humming the Nakamura song. Nakamura hit a boot to the face that sent Joe over the barricade into the crowd. The match ended by countout. Just kidding. The ref wasn’t counting apparently. Nakamura sent Joe over the barricade and back into the ring. Joe nailed a perfect enziguri kick. Nakamura came back with a knee to the gut. Knee strikes by Nakamura. Boot to the face by Joe followed by a one armed slam. Joe with a running back elbow, kicks to the chest and an elbow drop gets two. Joe picked him up, hooked the legs of Nakamura and drove him knee first into the mat. Joe applied a knee bar on the left knee of Nakamura. When Nakamura got back to his feet, Joe sent him out of the ring. Joe nailed a running forearm smash while doing a suicide dive. Joe went for a move on the steps, but Nakamura fought out of it momentarily and Joe took him down. Cover by Joe gets a two count. Spin kick by Nakamura led to both guys being down at the same time. Running dropkick by Nakamura, a lefty kick to the head and a righty kick to the head. Running forearm smash by Nakamura. With Joe on the top rope, Nakamura hit a running knee to the ribs for a two count. Slam by Joe, atomic drop, kick to the head and a senton gets two.
Joe nailed a Powerbomb. Nakamura kicked out of that, so Joe turned it into a Boston Crab. Joe turned it into a STF followed by a Crossface. This was when some fans were chanting “Chris Benoit” and a lot of us were booing to shut them up. Nakamura got out of it and walked right into a powerslam for a two count. Nakamura on the top rope, so Joe hit a leaping kick to knock him down. Nakamura came back with a kick to the head followed by a knee strike on the apron. Nakamura jumped off the middle rope with a knee to the face. Both guys were down again as the ref counted and the fans chanted “ten” for the count. I like how we booed when the ref stopped counting. They exchanged forearm shots with Nakamura winning that slugfest. Nakamura hit an impressive German suplex for two. Joe avoided a corner attack and nailed a sweep kick to take out the knees of the champ. Joe set up for the Muscle Buster, Nakamura slipped out of it and hit the Kinshasa for one…two…and no. I thought that was it, but Joe kicked out of his finisher. Joe slapped on a sleeper as the fans hummed the Nakamura song to rally the champion. Joe came back with a German suplex, a Dragon suplex and a straight jacket suplex for two. That was impressive. Joe missed a forearm strike, so Nakamura hit a running knee to the back of the head that knocked Joe out of the ring. The ref checked on Joe on the floor. Nakamura was on the floor as well, so Joe shoved the ref out of the way and Joe kicked Nakamura into the groin. Joe with a one armed slam onto the steel steps. Joe sent Nakamura into the ring, hoisted him to the top rope and Joe hit the Muscle Buster for the one…two…and three. That’s it at the 20:12 mark.
Winner by pinfall and New NXT Champion: Samoa Joe
Analysis: **** Four stars out of five. A very good match from two veterans who told a nice story with Joe coming up with the victory. Nakamura’s knees were the target of Joe for the entire match. Joe was the aggressor for much of it and used a variety of different offensive moves to slow down Nakamura. Joe controlled the majority of the action with Nakamura never really looking like he was in full control. That’s why I thought Nakamura was going to win because I kept waiting for that comeback of his, but it was not enough to get the win. Joe was booked in a way that made him look so dominant. It’s pretty rare for a champion to win a title rematch, but Joe did it. Charlotte did it at Hell in a Cell as well.
The title change surprised me because this was Nakamura’s first Takeover title defense. I thought his title reign would last longer. Then I thought about it some more, saw that they are doing a title match at a NXT event in Japan in a few weeks and it made this title change more acceptable because they are probably going to have Nakamura win the title back in his home country of Japan. After the loss, a lot of us thought that maybe this means Nakamura is going to the main roster. I don’t think so because doing another title change in Japan makes more sense. It's ridiculous that both of these guys aren't on the main roster by now, but they are also needed in NXT.
Post match, both guys were selling exhaustion in the ring. There were camera shots of stunned people in the crowd. Joe’s old theme song started playing for some reason. They figured that out and played Joe’s real song.
Joe held up the NXT Title as he became a two time NXT Champion. He stood over a fallen Nakamura, who was still down.
Analysis: After the broadcast ended, Nakamura got up, received a huge ovation from the crowd and went up the aisle to end the night.
The show had a run time of 2 hours, 24 minutes.
Analysis: Five matches in under 2 hrs, 30 mins is good to see.
Five Stars of the Show
1. Johnny Gargano & Tommaso Ciampa
2. The Revival
3. Mickie James
4. Samoa Joe
5. (tie) Shinsuke Nakamura
5. (tie) Bobby Roode
That’s more than five people. Oh well. I couldn’t limit myself on a show as good as this.
I give the show a 9 out of 10.
This show was amazing. Being there live likely makes me biased in terms of the score, but I don’t think I’m being too biased with that number. It was a fantastic night of pro wrestling from top to bottom.
When you only have five matches in 2.5 hours it’s a lot easier to book the matches. There were no run-ins, there were no major angles that took place and nothing happened that really shocked people except perhaps the outcome of the main event. What NXT does is it simplifies pro wrestling by letting the matches tell the story. The match time of every match felt right. Nothing was too long or too short.
I’ll remember a lot of things about this show from the amazing tag match to Mickie’s return to the entrance of Roode and Nakamura as well as the reception for Dillinger.
It was one of the most fun nights I’ve ever had at any wrestling event.
I highly recommend a NXT event in your area if the are ever there, especially if it’s a Takeover.
Here are my NXT Takeover rankings for 2016.
Toronto – 9 (out of 10)
Dallas – 9
Brooklyn II – 9
The End – 8.5
For what it’s worth, all of those scores are higher than every WWE main roster PPV score.
Thanks for reading.
John Canton – firstname.lastname@example.org