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

Watch: WWE Network

Bobby Roode def. Tye Dillinger

It’s not often to see a match where a lot of the offense and transition work is based around throwing someone over the top rope (that isn’t the Royal Rumble, of course). I have to give Roode a good amount of credit, for he took a crowd that desperately wanted to be in his corner, but he managed to work a pace that showed he was a clear heel. It also created nice dynamics within the match, as Dillinger’s offense really popped in a way that it often doesn’t. Does exposing the knee feel heelish to anyone else aside from me? I guess it was a nice pay off when Roode went to do the Tye Breaker himself. Dillinger is very good about using his voice to draw attention when necessary. The roll ups after the sharpshooter didn’t seem to get the desired effect, but the multiple post bumps in to the DDT was a good finish that made Roode look smart. ***


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Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic Finals
Authors of Pain def. TM61

The jump off the structure was very fun. I can’t pay attention to this match because I am constantly afraid Ellering and the cage will come crashing down in to the ring. I wish the Authors had more double team spots to get over how  Ellering has gotten them on the same page. Miller’s hot tag fell pretty flat, but I loved the powerbomb counter which made it seem like TM61 had really scouted the match ahead of time. I don’t understand the failure of the chain shot if it leads directly to an Authors win. **

NXT Tag Team Championships (Two Out of Three Falls)
DIY def. The Revival (c)

I try desperately to not prejudge things and go in with the same expectations for every match, but this seems like it will be awesome. The Revival are great actors. They play off of each other and have such a rich visual relationship. There is a comfort in this match that is wondrous. All four men understand their roles very well, and the timing and creativity of spots (like the finish in the first fall) are to be commended. It would never happen, but I would love for The Revival to get the same gimmick that the Briscoes did in ROH where, they won a bunch of two out of three falls match in two straight. The Revival wrestle as the smartest tag team in history.

It’s interesting, because I get the impression that Ciampa and Gargano are supposed to be the lifelong fans living their dreams, but everything the Revival does seems like kids who watched a ton of wrestling and took notes on why people lost. Just as I type this, hubris gets the best of them and they give away a fall due to their own stupidity. Great nearfall with the slingshot DDT. Everything leading up to it made it seem real. It’s a credit to both teams that they still tried to do character work as they got “This is Awesome” chants. I wish Dawson would spin in to the El Pozo like they do in Mexico. I have bit on like, five different nearfalls at this point. That chop block made me jump out of my seat. The actual finish seemed a bit contrived, but was a perfect visual. A finish made for a video package. ****1/2





NXT Women’s Championship
Asuka (c) def. Mickie James

Random note that will have no bearing on my thoughts on the match: Asuka’s wrestling attire always remind me of Doug Funny as Quailman. One of the more subtle strengths of Asuka as a wrestler is that her style is so precise, it makes it easy for an opponent to work a simple narrative around it. That being said, a lot of time at the start of this went to stuff that seemed a little frivolous. Kudos to Mickie James for being willing to bump like Chris Colt and Kota Ibushi had a country music singing baby. A single fan tried to start a “Trish’s Lover” chant, but I thought for a long time he was chanting “Crispin Glover” which would have been way better. I wish some of the transitions in this were a little smoother, because Asuka is showing great vulnerability in James’ submission. This never really came together as a narrative, but as a collection of little vignettes it was fine. I don’t want to say it was bad because I think it just focused on things I don’t value as much within a wrestling match. **1/2

NXT Championship
Samoa Joe def. Shinsuke Nakamura (c)

Joe is at his best when he is a 280 pound Steve Grey, staring daggers to his opponent, wrestling in a total vacuum, intent on killing another human being. In the early moments of this, Joe is electric on offense. The close ups on his face add so much. Nakamura’s selling has been great so far. I love when it looks like wrestlers have learned from previous encounters, but Joe is so good at looking totally natural and instinctual, as though wrestling for him is almost an out of body experience. Nakamura provides a nice contrast, cajoling the crowd, imploring them to participate and cheer him on. Both men come across as opposite sides of the same coin. Joe did some really subtle and interesting things while selling in regards to his balance. For example, he was able to hit his powerslam and other maneuvers at an equal speed to his usual performance, but due to the damage he had sustained, he was always slightly more off kilter than he normally was, tilting ever so much closer to danger. I’m not normally a guy who needs a brisk pace, but this match is veering dangerously close to HHH Mania Main Event slow. Joe cheating was really done well, and it speaks to how good his timing is. Everything looked perfect, and towed the line between premeditated and spur of the moment. I liked large swathes of this and the individual performances, but the match didn’t come together as much as I would have liked. ***1/2


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