Once again, I’m back like spinal cords, looking to deliver yet another Running Diary. This time, it’s for the 31st NXT Takeover event. This has been a very interesting build, seemingly “rushed” and building a new main event player in Kyle O’Reilly. There are very good matches up and down the card, and I’m looking forward to it. No more wasting time. Say it with me, folks…
LESS DEW EET!!!
(0:00) NXT is at the WWE Performance Center tonight, and they’ve renamed it the Capitol Wrestling Center, which is a nod to the Capitol Wrestling Corporation. The CWC was founded by Vince McMahon’s grandfather, Jess, and ran by Jess, Vincent J. McMahon, and Toots Mondt. If you’ve been following my work for years, you’d know I’ve written all about how important Toots Mondt is to the wrestling scene. We might not be watching the sport that we love so much today if not for him. If you don’t know the name, look him up and see how he helped to change the wrestling business forever.
(0:04) Our first match tonight is Damian Priest defending the North American Title against Johnny Gargano. The Capitol Wrestling Center looks cool. It’s still pretty much the same look of the Performance Center that we were used to during the last few months, but with a little more of a light show, and some chain link fence to go with the plexiglass around ringside. We have a combination of live people in attendance and the gazillion screens of virtual fans like the Thunderdome has. It’s actually a good touch to combine the layout. It’s less distracting than having nothing but virtual fans.
(0:07) Not that I ever thought he was asstastic, but I’m finding myself enjoying Priest’s work more and more these days. He is performing with a new level of confidence, and it shows.
(0:09) I understand the reason that the plexiglass is still there, but it’s pretty dumb that there’s chain link fence right in front of it. That’s an entirely unnecessary look.
(0:13) Woi Bar-ruh just said Priest is 6’7″, even though WWE.com has Priest listed at 6’5″. Either way, Priest looks so much taller. He’s super lanky, and the NXT roster (as well as rosters like Ring Of Honor before he got to NXT) is filled with shorter wrestlers, making him look taller than he is. He comes across like a seven-footer. He just doesn’t wrestle like one, which helps him to stand out even further.
(0:16) As I wrote about in my WWE Draft column, I just don’t see any reason for Gargano to remain in NXT. He has accomplished everything since arriving.
(0:17) Brutal looking Razor’s Edge, driving Gargano onto the ring apron. I’m not sure if you’re aware of this, but that’s the hardest part of the entire ring.
(0:20) These wrestlers have to figure out something else other than looking at the Referee during the count to choreograph that they’re kicking out at two. It happens at least once in every match, but especially in NXT, where the formula is to have a ton of kick outs in every match.
(0:22) Referee gets distracted by Priest accidentally taking out some ringside crew, allowing Gargano to deliver a low blow… for two.
(0:23) Second time Priest has been called 6’7″ on commentary… and literally as I type that, it’s mentioned a third time. Someone might want to tell WWE.com that Priest had a growth spurt.
(0:25) Priest absolutely SPIKES Gargano with a rope-assisted Reckoning and gets the victory. Good start to the show. I’ll say 3.25 stars, but if you wanted to go to 3.5, I’d do nothing but nod my head. With the loss, I’m now fully expecting Gargano to be drafted to Raw or Smackdown.
(0:28) Our next match is KUSHIDA looking to continue his path of destruction through accused sex offenders by facing The Velveteen Dream. KUSHIDA’s time in NXT has been less successful than I was hoping it would be. With all the controversy surrounding Dream these days, it might be a better idea to truly kickstart a KUSHIDA push by giving him a win here.
(0:32) Dream makes his entrance wearing yellow rubber gloves, as he apparently has some dishes to wash before the match.
(0:32) KUSHIDA continues his aggressive streak, attacking Dream before the match is underway.
(0:34) Dream’s attempt at a Doc Brown cosplay is making him look stupid, as his spray-on hair color is all over his forehead and the side of his face.
(0:38) LOL @ even Bar-ruh mentioning how ridiculous Dream looks tonight.
(0:40) It’s a shame that Dream’s mere appearance makes so many people feel gross, as he could/should be a future World Champion. He has always understood the business, how to deliver in the ring, how to advance his character, and everything that comes with it.
(0:41) KUSHIDA is trying to break every bone in Dream’s arm tonight. Credit to Fightful’s Jeremy Lambert, who said he’s trying to make sure Dream isn’t able to text anymore.
(0:46) KUSHIDA picks up the win by submission. He locked on his armbar, and simply would not let go, no matter what. Dream had him up, delivered a Dream Valley Driver, but KUSHIDA refused to let go. Good match. After the bell, KUSHIDA attacks Dream again, locking in another submission. Oh… okay. I’ll give the match 3 stars.
(0:50) It’s announced that the episode of NXT on October 28th will be called Halloween Havoc. Yes! That was always my favorite WCW pay-per-view event.
(0:51) The NXT Cruiserweight Title is on the line next, as Santos Escobar defends against Isaiah “Swerve” Scott. This has “show stealer” written all over it.
(0:54) I’ve said it before, and it’s worth repeating here… Escobar has the in-ring skills and the character work to be a big success on the main roster. Whether or not it happens remains to be seen, but he can definitely be the next big Latino star that Vince McMahon has been searching for. You know… other than Dominik Mysterio.
(0:57) I love that this is a Lucha Underground reunion, with the former King Cuerno and Killshot going at it.
(0:59) Twitter is going crazy over the fact that Vic Joseph is sitting at the ringside announce table with two other announcers that are clearly not Beth Phoenix and Woi Bar-ruh. Why are they even there?
(1:01) The further into the show we get, the more I’m starting to dislike the look of the Capitol Wrestling Center. They’re trying too hard to take too many bits and pieces from other things. They want to retain the Performance Center look, but they also want to feature The Thunderdome, but they also want to create the atmosphere of an illegal fight club like Raw Underground, and so on.
(1:04) Been an entertaining match so far. These two have the live crowd really into it.
(1:06) Joaquin Wilde and Raul Mendoza come out to interfere, but it leads to nothing. Ashante Adonis comes out to (kinda) even the odds for Swerve.
(1:10) I’m finding myself really getting into this one. It was already good, but they’ve both kicked things up a notch or two in the last few moments.
(1:11) Escobar retains the title after Swerve was sent face-first into the exposed steel of the turnbuckle. Very, very good stuff. Let’s say 4 stars.
(1:16) Next up, the NXT Women’s Title match, with Io Shirai defending against Candice LeRae. I was thinking LeRae would go to the main roster with Gargano, so I’m not expecting a title change here.
(1:21) Every time Candice is announced as being from Riverside, I always… ALWAYS… yell out “RIVERSIDE, MOTHERFUCKER!!!” Shout-out to Roland Bishop.
(1:23) Male heel turns in the land of WWE almost always come accompanied by the wrestler growing a beard. Female heel turns in the land of WWE almost always come accompanied by the wrestler changing her hair color. Lazy writing.
(1:27) No, but seriously… what the hell are those two randos doing next to Vic Joseph? Whenever they’re shown on camera, neither of them is saying anything, so it’s not like they’re doing commentary in another language. They’re just sitting there, staring at the monitors and watching the show.
(1:29) There’s a big fight feel to this one, even though technically LeRae isn’t Io’s biggest or best challenger.
(1:32) Io is so fucking good with her high-flying offense. “Genius Of The Sky” is quite the fitting nickname.
(1:34) You know how some people in wrestling are too nice in real life to really and truly come across well as a heel on television? I feel Candice LeRae is on that list. She’s not doing a terrible job or anything. She just seems like too nice a person to know what it’s like to portray a terrible person on television. I could be wrong. I’ve never met her. I’ve only heard stories and go by what I see and feel when I watch.
(1:35) Ref Bump!
(1:36) Ref Bump Part Deux! What is this, an Attitude Era main event?
(1:37) Johnny Gargano runs to the ring wearing a Referee shirt, and even that isn’t enough to get a three-count for his wife.
(1:38) An actual Referee is out to get rid of Gargano, and it allows LeRae to hit Io with the title belt… for two. Of course. All this overbooking shit is killing the flow of the match. It isn’t necessary at all.
(1:39) Io retains the title, as expected. It was a good match until it was overbooked off a cliff for no fucking reason. I’ll still give it 3 stars.
(1:41) As Io celebrates her win, Toni Storm appears on the big screen to announce that she is back in NXT. Oh, I am ALL for Toni Storm being Io’s next challenger. Yes!
(1:42) The mystery vignettes were revealed to be for… Ember Moon. Wow. That’s actually a good surprise, especially considering Bo Dallas was everyone’s prediction. Ember and Toni making their returns to NXT definitely add a boost to a division that just lost Mercedes Martinez and Mia Yim, and is rumored to possibly be losing some combination of Candice LeRae, Raquel Gonzalez, and Rhea Ripley.
(1:45) Main event time. Finn Balor vs Kyle O’Reilly for the NXT World Title. When I see O’Reilly move up to the main event, and all of the video packages for how close Undisputed Era are, I can’t help but shake the feeling that we could be looking at a “Randy Orton wins the World Heavyweight Title, only to be kicked out of Evolution” situation here.
(1:49) To follow up that last point, if Balor drops the belt tonight, it would be the shortest (other than Karrion Kross having to give it up due to injury) NXT World Title reign in almost four years, going back to when Samoa Joe and Shinsuke Nakamura were passing the title back-and-forth.
(1:54) Before the build to this match, the last televised singles match for O’Reilly was nearly two years ago, when he defeated Hanson (now known as Ivar of The Viking Raiders) on a random episode of NXT. That’s his last televised singles match, period.
(2:02) Balor’s chops sound like gunshots.
(2:02) A bit of a slow and methodical start to the match thus far. More of a technical bout, as to be expected, than a fast-paced car crash.
(2:05) Balor kicks O’Reilly in the midsection, and you can just about FEEL the air leave KOR’s body as he stumbles and crumbles to the mat. If you’ve ever had the wind knocked out of you, you understand.
(2:08) This is going to be one of those matches that isn’t for everyone. It was “slow” to begin with, but has gotten a bit slower since the liver kick. It’s just a ring style that some people dislike, especially when they’re more used to an action-packed NXT style that features two people going 100 miles per hour from bell-to-bell. I’m digging this, but I can already see some of the negative reviews coming.
(2:12) O’Reilly is either bleeding from the mouth or has a bloody lip. This has been every bit as hard-hitting as you would think with these two involved.
(2:16) The live crowd has already given this match a “This Is Awe-Some” chant, but they aren’t as animated as they were for, say, the Escobar vs Swerve match.
(2:19) Almost like they heard my thoughts, the crowd livens up a bit, delivering some passionate “N-X-T” chants.
(2:21) Damn, Finn, did Kyle destroy one of your Lego sets or something? You’re turning his insides to mush with all these stomps.
(2:22) Speaking of stomps, Balor delivers the big one from the top and gets the win. He is pouring blood from his mouth after catching a running knee with his teeth. Very good match. I’d say 4 stars, definitely. As I said, though, I fully acknowledge that the match won’t be for everyone.
(2:24) Well, we didn’t get Undisputed Era being ordered to attack O’Reilly by a jealous Adam Cole.
(2:25) As we’re about to go off the air, Ridge Holland is shown at ringside with a beaten Adam Cole. He dumps Cole over the barricade and leaves as Roderick Strong and Bobby Fish run to the ring. Cole is selling internal injuries, and appears to have a black eye, as well. That was pretty random. The show ends with UE checking on their fallen leader.
It was the night of NXT action we’ve all come to know from the brand through the years. With Takeover, you’re always going to get a show that features in the vicinity of five matches. Every match on the card ends up being good, with one or two being very good. That’s the bare minimum. What did all of you think, ReaderLand? As always, hit me up in the comments section below or on Twitter (@HustleTheSavage) and let me know what you think. I’ll be back on Wednesday in my usual spot, so keep your peepers peepin for that. Until then, be good to one another.