NXT TAG TEAM TITLE MATCH:
Street Profits(c) vs. Undisputed Era (Bobby Fish & Kyle O'Reilly) - 8/10
An excellent action-packed opener. These are probably my two favorite teams in the world to watch right now (the Briscoes and the Revival are close behind, though). The Street Profits are an awesome babyface combination and Ford's selling was great, and reDRagon have always been an absolute machine.
CANDICE LERAE vs. IO SHIRAI - 8.25/10
The story here was both women working over the head and neck. The crowd went nuts for the whole thing, they had several fantastic reversals, and they made every single spot mean something. Candice becoming the first person in NXT to kick out of Io's moonsault, then passing out in Io's weird Koji Clutch variation was a great way for symbolize Io's turn, and with the added benefit of giving her a new, less crowd-pleasing finisher and allowing Candice to save some face by not tapping out while still losing cleanly.
MATT RIDDLE CALLS OUT KILLIAN DAIN - Decent segment. We were supposed to go to the North American Title match next but Riddle interrupted the proceedings, demanding that Dain come out and fight him right now. Dain obliged, also coming out of the crowd in an attempt to sneak up on Riddle but Riddle saw the ploy coming and was alert in all directions, so he was able to intercept Dain.
They brawled for a bit, with several waves of security trying to break them up. Riddle kept trying to choke Dain out while Dain tried to get him off by ramming him into things. They ended with a big senton off the stage through a table on the floor, with Dain getting up as they cut away. This was a good brawl in and of itself, but I really didn't need to see Riddle take yet another big gimmick senton to end the brawl and put him down. It feels very redundant at this point.
NXT NORTH AMERICAN TITLE MATCH:
The Velveteen Dream(c) vs. Roderick Strong vs. Pete Dunne - 9.25/10
TVD came out dressed as... well... what you'd expect if The Velveteen Dream decided to dress up as a Mountie. He was surrounded by Toronto Raptors dancers. The thing I liked the most about this is that I fully believe that TVD not only isn't a Raptors fan, but doesn't give a single solitary sh*t about basketball. But he does care about being a champion and being associated with champions, so he went to the current NBA Champion's promotions office and set up this display, just to make himself feel like more of a champion and to make sure everyone else felt that way about him, too.
These guys had a phenomenal and very creative three-way. I always enjoy it when someone comes up with some new twists on the usual spots for these matches, or ways to make usual spots you'd see in singles matches into three-way spots, and these guys did an amazing job of that. They did hit on one or two of my pet peeves (like stopping the count by holding the referee's arm up in the air), but other than little things like that, this was AWESOME, and you really should go out of your way to see it.
NXT WOMEN'S TITLE MATCH:
Shayna Baszler(c) vs. Mia Yim - 8.5/10
These two did an awesome job telling their story, but it was a very weird story. In addition to both working on the other's arm, they told the story of Mia using "street fight" tactics such as hair-pulling or crushing Shayna's arm between the steps and the post, and even something like a Tarantula, which is technically an illegal hold. Shayna was definitely the bully, but Mia's tactics made her a little bit hard to root for, as Shayna almost felt like the babyface at times. Still, their selling and storytelling were excellent, and I think a lot of people went into this firmly believing that Shayna's title reign was going to end, so the false finishes were all very easy to bite on.
THREE STAGES OF HELL MATCH FOR THE NXT TITLE:
Adam Cole(c) vs. Johnny Gargano - 9.75/10
Gargano has Wolverine-themed gear. The first fall here- Cole's choice- will be a regular singles match, the second fall- Gargano's choice- will be a street fight, and the third fall, if necessary, will be chosen by Commissioner Regal himself.
The first fall was absolutely fantastic, with lots of great twists on the usual and some callbacks to their previous matches, as well as storytelling with the injured body parts and starting to build up certain ideas to pay off later. That match ended with Cole winning by DQ after Gargano chose to get revenge on Cole for an undetected low blow with a chairshot. He then beat Cole up with the chair a bunch and they brawled all around the arena and did their big carnage spots, with Gargano eventually picking up the win to send us to the mysterious final fall, which turned out to be...
Raven's Clockwork Orange House of Fun. Yes, really. They didn't use that name of course, but it's a cage with no top but a bunch of weapons hanging on it and you can't win by escaping the cage. They did more big carnage spots here and paid off some of the things they had set up earlier and completed the other story they had been telling, which was that Gargano's desire to punish Cole would wind up costing him.
This was every bit as long and epic and full of references to other matches as you'd expect it to be and is certainly one of the best matches of the year, but a few small things all combined together to prevent me from giving it the full 10/10. First, they definitely seemed to forget about heir previously worked-on body parts for the second fall and part of the third. I also had a lot of trouble digesting the idea that Mr. Law and Order and Technical British Wrestling William Regal would give them a sledgehammer and brass knuckles and handcuffs and barbed wire to use on each other. Then there was the finish, which I had two issues with. The first was that their big fall at the end looked way too "jump on the out of three" to be believable, and the finish itself felt very indecisive, which is the exact opposite of what we were promised.
Another stereo-typically fantastic TakeOver show, complete with the expected MOTY-level matches. You can copy and paste any of my previous "this TakeOver was awesome and you should go watch it right now" lines from previous TakeOver shows here. In Hunter we trust.
STUPID ANNOUNCER QUOTES
1. Mauro Ranallo described this event as taking place "north of the 49th parallel."
Toronto is five and a half degrees south of the 49th parallel.