NXT TakeOver: Toronto
November 19, 2016
Air Canada Centre – Toronto, Canada

Watch: WWE Network

Meet our previewers:

  • Jeff Hawkins: Co-Host of Shake Them Ropes, post-Smackdown contributor at Fightful.com. Send carbs. Follow him on Twitter @crapgame13
  • Rich Kraetsch: Co-owner of Voices of Wrestling, co-host of Voices of Wrestling flagship podcast. Send all complaints to Joe Lanza. Follow him on Twitter @VoicesWrestling

Two-out-of-three falls match for the NXT Tag Team Championship
The Revival (Scott Dawson and Dash Wilder) (c) vs. DIY (Johnny Gargano and Tommaso Ciampa)

Jeff Hawkins: Things have changed on the NXT landscape with the main roster brand split. There are divisions that aren’t as deep as they once were, and as a result I think some plans have been put off for the time being. I tend to think one of those is the teased Gargano/Ciampa split. But that’s based on my prediction that (spoiler) the Authors of Pain will win the Dusty Classic. The Revival are a big card attraction, always bringing something new to the table and I don’t expect any less here. This feud feels like it’s been in limbo because the division has been cleaned out and due to injuries on the roster making the Dusty Classic feel cold and stale. The loss at the Los Angeles NXT show needs to be paid off, and I think it’s done here to help bring some life back into the division. I think this will be the match of the night, and If I’m wrong about the result, I won’t be terribly upset, as it means the Revival and TM-61 will be dance partners and a hot feud between two former friends, which could lead to another great program. Prediction: Johnny Gargano and Tommaso Ciampa

Rich Kraetsch: The tension between Gargano and Ciampa is building by the day which is good. It makes for a fun dynamic in all of these matches as you wonder IS THIS WHEN CIAMPA TURNS?! I don’t think we’re there yet, which again, is a good thing. Let this team build up more and more, let the eventual turn be that much more heartbreaking. They need a little bit of triumph before they fail and a title win here could be just that triumph. I don’t have to tell you much about this match because if you’ve seen these two work before, you know it’s going to be great. Their Tag Title match at NXT Takeover: Brooklyn II is a low-key MOTY contender and may slip into my Top 10. Can this live up to those lofty standards? I can’t imagine why not. This has my attention more than any other match on the card. Prediction: Johnny Gargano and Tommaso Ciampa

Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic Tournament Final
The Authors of Pain (Rezar and Akam) vs. TM-61 (Nick Miller and Shane Thorne)

Jeff Hawkins: This year’s tournament has been a disappointment by any metric. Some of it is the fault of the brand split and just not having teams or wanting to go out and get some. Some of it is due to injuries, because Hideo Itami needs to be out there taking powerslams in front of 50 people. But mostly, the teams that they have just aren’t terribly interesting right now compared to the Revival and D.I.Y. Exhibit A: two teams in search of a promo that’s remotely interesting in the Authors of Pain and TM-61. The former are big, and mean and have a menacing manager who….stands there and points. The latter are clean cut good looking charismatic Aussies with great in-ring skills that haven’t really shown either aspect in NXT. Miller and Thorne are the very definition of “guys.” Now don’t get me wrong, neither of these teams getting a hearty “meh” is the all their fault. The creative direction has been lacking, and it seems like there is an initiative to “teach to the test” for the main roster, with stilted backstage segments and situations full of exposition. It didn’t help that TM-61 got here with a match that got “Botchamania” chants live and the Authors of Pain got here by beating two PWG favorites in Hollywood. I think the path of least resistance here is to build monsters, as it’s been the gameplan for the owner for years. Prediction: The Authors of Pain

Rich Kraetsch: Last year’s Dusty Classic was among my favorite stories in pro wrestling. A dynamic event featuring top-tier tag matches throughout. This year… well, it hasn’t been that. It hasn’t been close. With that said, I’m happy with this final. A weird, 90s kid part of me really enjoys The Authors of Pain, their look, the way they work and of course, the dynamic of Paul Ellering as their manager. Their in-ring isn’t great, hell, it’s not even good but there’s something fun about them being different, a throwback, old school. I’m a sucker for a beefy, bruiser tag team, what can I say? TM61, is certainly not as Mighty as they were in Pro Wrestling NOAH as they’ve yet to feel fully comfortable in their role in NXT. At some point they’ll go up against the top-tier teams in the division and that’s where we’ll hopefully see them finally bloom. Until then, they are a work in progress. Prediction: The Authors of Pain

Bobby Roode vs. Tye Dillinger

Jeff Hawkins: Tye Dillinger is an interesting conundrum for me. He has everything the main roster really wants for midcard success, whatever that means: a catchphrase, a gimmick, a go-to crowd pleasing taunt. Right now the former heel is in that “been here so long the people now respect him to the point of wanting him pushed” slot that I would assume talent both like and dread. Have a breakout match, and maybe you get more. Or, perhaps higher ups get annoyed by the crowd trying to dictate what you should be, win or lose. But this is the wrong moment for that verdict. Personally, I’m experiencing deja vu watching Bobby Roode, as I have the same feelings I do when I watched him debut in TNA. He looks like a million bucks, he acts like a million bucks, what’s missing in the connection for me? Possibly he’s never felt like a million bucks, and I say that without snark, but with genuine wonder if I’m correct or if I’ve missed something. Example I found Beer Money more crowd pleasing “sports entertainment” than a great tag team. He has a great entrance, and it appears the issues with his finisher have been resolved. Now I want that “main event player” feeling on the other aspects. Bobby Roode has to win, and they have to see if he has the goods to carry the company in a feud with Nakamura. Anything less, and we’re spinning our wheels. Prediction: Bobby Roode

Rich Kraetsch: I’m in love with this feud and its simplicity. Roode is not an evil person by nature, he’s just, irrational, he doesn’t see anything wrong in his actions, the way he treats people, how he ditched Dillinger and begging him to be his partner. Dillinger is a guy who’s scratched and clawed to finally get to this point in his career and Roode still thinks he’s pathetic. It’s a great story told in very simple steps, it’s Pro Wrestling 101. The crowd should be super pumped for both guys which will make the dynamic of this match fun, even if the in-ring work isn’t up-to-par with the rest of the card. Roode is definitely winning, but Dillinger will put up a hell of a fight and may even gain more in losing than he would winning. Prediction: Bobby Roode


NXT Women’s Championship
Asuka © vs. Mickie James

Jeff Hawkins: Certainly the most intriguing match on the card. Mickie James holds an interesting place in women’s wrestling. She never quite gets the accolades that Trish Stratus and Lita get from the WWE despite having good but not necessarily great matches with talent far below her level in addition to the two historical pillars, and some bad angles. When she went to TNA, as opposed to Gail Kim, who had great matches, Mickie James had good matches and some bad angles. Now that she’s come back from the dead after being hit by a train, she gets Asuka, who will hit her like a train. I would love to see Mickie do some hard hitting and fall short. This could also be a situation where time has passed Mickie by, and it just doesn’t click. Thus, my intrigue. Asuka’s great, but as I noted on Shake Them Ropes when I went to the NXT show, they don’t have her doing more than hip checks, kicks and a Stinkface. I hope they take the restraints off her offense as well, because she’s fantastic. Prediction: Asuka

Rich Kraetsch: I have no idea what to expect. As someone who doesn’t follow independent women’s wrestling, I haven’t seen much from Mickie James since her TNA departure. We haven’t seen much of her on NXT TV either, so it’s hard to fully grasp what she’s going to bring to the table. She’s undoubtedly excited to go toe-to-toe with Asuka and the match should have a fun dynamic but I’m struggling with my expectations for the match. Is this going to be an Asuka destruction like we saw against Bayley or will Mickie, who we haven’t seen on WWE TV in years go neck-and-neck with the supposed buzzsaw of the NXT women’s division? Prediction: Asuka

NXT Championship
Shinsuke Nakamura © vs. Samoa Joe

Jeff Hawkins: The build didn’t feel like much, but angry Samoa Joe has been great. The issue for me is the feeling they’ve gotten lazy with Shinsuke Nakamura in many ways due to his popularity. It’s as if they’ve bought an expensive Italian sports car without realizing they had to learn how to drive manual transmission. They’re stoked to have Nakamura, they show him off to all their friends, but they really are showing him off in the garage and promising “someday, we’ll go for a ride.” I’m of the opinion this is Joe’s NXT swan song and he debuts at the Rumble after some minor odds and ends are cleaned up to fill space for NXT’s remain 2016 shows. Prediction: Shinsuke Nakamura

Rich Kraetsch: I’m conflicted. Once the bell rings I’ll be all-in on this match. I’ve loved angry, bitter Samoa Joe. Shinsuke Nakamura is Shinsuke Nakamura, of course I’m a fan. But what has this build been? Catching up with NXT over the last week, I’m constantly thinking to myself — what’s the hook? Why should I care? Joe beat up Nakamura, Nakamura went away for a few weeks, Nakamura came back… match. In one sense, it’s a very simple build — Joe wants his title back and Nakamura wants revenge on Joe but it just hasn’t played out well on TV. I’m just having trouble wrapping my head around the gravity of this main event and I think the NXT creative has too. There’s no doubt, the match will be good. Nobody will be surprised if its match of the night but I’m still left a little empty by the build. My excitement level is nowhere near where it should be. Prediction: Shinsuke Nakamura