Monday, October 5, 2020

WWE: NXT Takeover 31 Review - October 4th, 2020

WWE: NXT Takeover 31 

October 4th, 2020

The 31st NXT Takeover event and the start of a new era as the performance center has been redesigned as the Capitol Wrestling Center. 

1) Damian Priest (c) vs. Johnny Gargano - North American Title Match 

As I said when watching this, this is where Johnny belongs, in hot openers, not hot opener style matches billed as main events. Not to hate too bad bc I like Johnny, I’m just so glad he’s out of the main event picture. Damian Priest is the perfect opponent for him and they proceed to knock this out of the park. Lots of back and forth and big moves. They tease the same stair spot that fucked Priest up at the last Takeover before going into the finish. Priest retains in a great match with a huge victory. 

Match rating - ***3/4

2) KUSHIDA vs. Velveteen Dream 

KUSHIDA is PISSED and I love it. He absolutely tears Velveteen apart here with nothing stopping him. Dream fights back but KUSHIDA is focused and keeps his attack focused on the arm in the most vicious ways. I hope they keep this momentum going for KUSHIDA and don’t let him flop. Flipping hoverboard lock off the top rope. Dream rolls through and Death Valley driver’s  KUSHIDA but KUSHIDA KEEPS IT FUCKING LOCKED IN AND DREAM TAPS. 

Match rating - ***3/4

3) Santos Escobar (c) vs. Isaiah “Swerve” Scott - NXT Cruserweight Title Match 

Wooooooowwww. How in the actual fuck was this so good? I had no backstory to this, but it had me on the edge of my seat for the entire final half of the match. Swerve looked like an absolute STAR, throwing out a ton of high flying moves early and stunning the champion. When it goes into back and forth, we get a run down from Mendoza & Wilde and Swerve hits a damn step up flying rana throwing Escobar onto them. Ashante Adonis runs down for the save and this feels like actual chaos. A couple kick outs later and we are in the midst of one of the best cruserweight title matches of all time. The finish came off a little weak with the camera angle, but this was still so insanely good and better than it had any right to be. This is the best cruserweight title match alongside Rush/Garza from earlier this year and makes me want to tune in to 205 Live if these guys are even still on that?? I hope so because they could really develop some goooood shit off this match, but I won't get my hopes too high.

Match rating - ****1/4 

4) Io Shirai (c) vs. Candice LeRae - NXT Women’s Title Match 

This pretty much ruled. The only thing I disliked was the Johnny Gargano interference. He adds so much unnecessary melodrama to a match that was good on its own without the overbooking, but atleast it’s happening here and not in the main event (hopefully). None the less, this was another great match on an awesome show. Candice hits the god damn curb stomp ala Super Dragon. Shirai hits a insane Spanish fly off the top rope followed by a deep ass moonsault for the pin to retain. 

Match rating - ***3/4 

Post match, Toni Storm is on the screen and says she’s coming back to NXT. THEN Ember Moon returns. The women’s division just got hella re-spiced up. 

5) Finn Balor (c) vs. Kyle O’Reilly - NXT Championship Match 

I was insanely stoked for this. I have been a massive fan of Kyle O’Reilly since his first real rise as a singles competitor in the 2013 Battle of Los Angeles so to see him here getting such a huge main event and opportunity warmed my heart. Everyone surrounding this story from Adam Cole to the commentators hyped this up just as highly as it should have been. Kyle felt like the true underdog finally about to get his moment. I was also excited about this as Finn's first defense because Finn has been better in his NXT return than he was on the main roster, but still not peak Finn level and I felt Kyle could guide him to one of his best matches yet. None the less, this gets going and the vibe is epic to begin with Strong, Fish, & Cole sending O'Reilly out to the ring on his own. Finn comes out and Kyle stares him down from the ring. They work on the mat for a while. Balor throws the first big strike and ends up targeting the mid section about 5-6 minutes in with a super stiff kick to the gut which Kyle sells SO FUCKING WELL. This becomes the story of things. Balor targets the abdomen/liver, Kyle targets the legs of Balor. They scrap and fight and are very stiff from start to finish. Kyle has a bloody mouth and is worked over with abdominal stretches and various strikes to the stomach. So much awesome selling from Kyle. And on the flip, when Kyle would fire back and work the leg, it was even more vicious with the different directions he would have Balor's leg/foot twisted. O'Reilly hits a knee to the jaw in the corner near the end that apparently broke Balor's jaw as we saw blood pouring from the mouth of the champion as he fired back and hit a coupe de grace on the mat and then off the top rope, traditionally, thus ending this war. This wasn't an all timer, but it was a fucking fight and it showed that Finn is tough as nails and deserves this title reign and that Kyle can undoubtedly hang. It was also the best NXT Title main event this year and I'm thankful to be out of the melodramatic shit and back to just pure wrestling. 

Match rating - ****1/4

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