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DeMarco’s NXT Takeover Toronto Ratings & Analysis

Immediate reaction to NXT Takeover Toronto, including the hard-hitting main event with Adam Cole and Johnny Gargano!

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Adam Cole Johnny Gargano WWE NXT Takeover Toronto

Greg DeMarco tunes in to WWE NXT Takeover Toronto (2), and delivers his immediate reaction to each match, including the hard-hitting main event with Adam Cole and Johnny Gargano!

WWE NXT rolls into Toronto to set the bar for everyone as they take over Toronto for the second time at NXT Takeover: Toronto. Their first visit to Toronto was quite the success, and tonight we’ll see if they can deliver once again.


Check out Mitchell’s NXT Takeover: Toronto Results & Recap!


NXT Tag Team Championship: The Street Profits (c) vs. Bobby Fish & Kyle O’Reilly

The Street Profits are OVER, but over in a way that works on the main roster. Music, dancing, red solo cups, athleticism used in a larger-than-life manner. They are crazy talented, but at times they felt a half-step behind. That’s not a knock on them, they were working with a duo who quote possibly might be the most fluid tag team in the entire world. Bobby Fish and Kyle O’Reilly are in the same category as The Revival, The Usos, SCU, and… well… Roderick Strong and Kyle O’Reilly.

None of this is meant to knock on Montez Ford and Angelo Dawkins. They delivered a great performance and were more than worthy of being in this match. But my (long winded) point is simply this: their best days are in front of them, on the main roster. They’ll deliver kick ass matches with The New Day, The Usos, and The Revival, as long as they aren’t lost in the shuffle on Raw and/or Smackdown. They have all the tools, and there’s nothing wrong with being a half step below (and behind) members of The Undisputed Era.

Outside of a small handful of awkward spots early, this was a great match. The Lifted Blockbuster while O’Reilly had Dawkins in a guillotine was fantastic, and Montez might be one of the few people in the world electric enough to (eventually) hit a People’s Elbow.

All that said, I fully expected Fish and O’Reilly to win here, which makes me doubt some of my other predictions for tonight. If NXT really is headed to FS1 (I think it is), then there’s nothing wrong with having your tag champions appearing on WWE television in the build-up.

The Street Profits beat The Undisputed Era after a Montez Ford frog splash – *** 1/2

Io Shirai vs. Candice LeRae

Io Shirai was always my favorite member of the Sky Pirates (nothing agianst Kairi Sane, either), and I think heel Io, the “Joshi Judas” as Mauro Ranallo called her, is a fantastic character. Headed into this match, I really needed to see something out of Candice LeRae. She’s only really excelled in intergender matches, not doing her best work against women. Would she deliver here?

Before I get to that, I need to discuss the match itself. Everyone was OMG SO EXCITED about having two women’s matches on this Takeover card, but I am not so sure this was a good fit. Candice is fiery and tough, but she’s not quite at the level of Io, Shayna, and the many NXT women who have come before them. Candice, much like The Street Profits discussed above, might see her best days on the main roster (think babyface Alexa Bliss) or, dare I say, AEW (with her connect-the-spots style). Had this been a 6- or 7-match Takeover card? I say this belongs. But on the traditional 5-match Takeover card, I think other matches may have delivered in this spot.

As for Candice LeRae herself, this match didn’t do much to change the opinion I had going in. It was rough to watch Io Shirai have to walk and sometimes jump into positions for Candice to do something. Io really carried Candice in this match, showing just how brilliant of a performer she is. Candice was often slow when she needed to be fast, and fast when she needed to be slow. Kicking out of big spots is understandable in the right situation, and the Avalanche Spanish Fly and Moonsault weren’t those situations. In the end, the right person won (also the person who carried the entire match).

Io Shirai beat Candice LeRae with a modified Koji Clutch – *** 1/4

Matt Riddle decided to interrupt a Takeover for the second time in his short NXT history, this time calling out Killian Dain and brawling throughout the arena with him. It wasn’t a match, but it was an impressive fight that ended with both men (and a local extra) going off the stage and through a set of tables on the floor. It was a great way to cement this feud, and get both men some Takeover air-time.

NXT North American Championship – Velveteen Dream (c) vs. Pete Dunne vs. Roderick Strong

The dance routine that led to Dream’s entrance was very Toronto, and perfect for this show. Velveteen Dream paying tribute to The Mountie was even better. Dream is a bonafide star, and it’s no shock that he rated so highly in the much talked about non-fan survey that we discussed on a recent Greg DeMarco Show. Fish & O’Reilly losing in the opener seemed to take the crowd out of Roddy’s entrance a little, as you expected their result to match his. Neither Strong nor Pete Dunne were going to compare with their entrances, but they showed the intensity that they’ll add to the match–making one I expected to be great.

Shout to Nigel McGuinness for using 205 Live history (Drew Gulak pinning Akira Tozawa to win Tony Nese’s Cruiserweight Championship) to tell the story of the triple threat match rules. I also love the nod to the history between Pete Dunne and Roderick Strong, as Roddy turned against Dunne at Takeover in New Orleans.

As for the match itself? If nothing at all, it should prove beyond all reasonable doubt that Roderick Strong as a true ring general. Triple threat matches can be formulaic, and Strong directed traffic in such a way (often from the outside) that made this one of the most unique triple threat matches I’ve ever seen. Having two opponents also made Velveteen Dream focus on what he does best, and that’s tell stories.

(Side note: Velveteen Dream’s “Sharpshooter” was a Texas Cloverleaf. But he looked good doing it, and should add that to his regular arsenal.)

Velveteen Dream going over was a surprise to me, only because I felt like he was destined to challenge for the NXT Championship sooner rather than later. Given that the next Takeover is War Games, this result makes sense. The biggest result for me is wanting to see more of Roderick Strong vs. Pete Dunne–just give those two men an entire episode of NXT and I’ll be happy.

Velveteen Dream beat Roderick Strong and Pete Dunne to retain the NXT North American Championship – ****

NXT Women’s Championship – Shayna Baszler (c) vs. Mia Yim

As Mia Yim heads to the ring for her first Takeover match, I am reminded of what I myself said about this match as part of our staff picks: Mia Yim needs to look brilliant in a loss here to really cement herself in the women’s division. I believe Mia can be women’s champion, but she isn’t built to that point just yet. Baszler entered the ring as the only two-time NXT Women’s Champion, with her current reign at day 286 and her total days as champion at 419 (the second longest, behind Asuka).

Baszler (allegedly roommates with Yim) is such a throwback and I love it. She picks apart a body part, but she also sells like a champ. Mia went after right Baszler’s arm early, and Shayna showed the effects throughout the match. Mia Yim also didn’t shy away from breaking the rules, showing the challenge any opponent of Shayna’s is facing when trying to secure that championship.

Baszler winning was the right result, as Mia Yim isn’t quite there yet. As for Mia? I am not so sure this was the star making performance she needed, but she had some serious support behind her late in the match. Baszler’s performance was brilliant as usual, down to her having to use a Triangle Choke to win since the Kirifuda Clutch was rendered less than effective thanks to the arm injury.

Shayna Baszler beat Mia Yim by tapout to retain the NXT Women’s Championship – ***1/2

Two Out Of Three Falls for the NXT Championship – Adam Cole (c) vs. Johnny Gargano

The “gimmick” behind this match was that each man picked a fall–Gargano selected a Street Fight, and Adam Cole picked a straight up singles match. William Regal revealed his fall during the Kickoff, and it was a Steel Cage Match where the cage was full of weapons. Interesting of note is that the crowd was decidedly behind Adam Cole during the entrances and introductions–the second straight Takeover where that happened.

By the end of the introductions, the BAY BAY Counter (patent pending) was up to 2. It wasn’t announced (unless I missed it), but the first fall was the straight up singles match. To remind you, I picked Johnny Gargano to win the straight up singles match, Adam Cole to win the Street Fight thanks to interference from his Undisputed Era brothers, and Cole would win the final fall by manipulating whichever stipulation Regal selected. The announce team did share that Cole won a coin-toss to have his fall take place first.

I didn’t love Johnny Gargano basically giving away the first fall by hitting Adam Cole with a chair, because it didn’t lead to Gargano immediately winning the second fall. The opening fall was fantastic, as expected from these guys, and really played off their first two encounters. The second fall was fun, and we learned that even when no one is hiding under the ring, there’s both a monitor and a sledgehammer present.

When the cage lowered for the third fall, there were already some chairs and tables in the ring. It was a great scene as the cage lowered, with the staff making sure everything was properly in place as Cole looked on in fear and Gargano had a sadistic smile on his face. You got the immediate sense that Gargano had the decided advantage going into this third and deciding fall. I also realized I might be wrong about no one being under the ring, and Tommaso Ciampa could be under there.

The third fall was overkill for me, but if this is the feud ender than I get it. I was probably the only person in the world that was happy we didn’t have thumbtacks in that bag–but I hate thumbtacks. There is was too much to talk about during that fall, but the final spot was a sight to behold. On the replays it was apparent that Adam Cole took the brunt of that spot. I must say that Mauro Ranallo’s line during the post-match was the most appropriate thing I’ve ever heard a commentator say: “For those who get it, no explanation is needed. For those who don’t, no explanation will ever be enough.”

Adam Cole beat Johnny Gargano in a Three Stages Of Hell Match – ****1/4

Overall Impression

Another great NXT Takeover event, but the brand isn’t where it once was. The first two matches felt like undercard matches that would fit better as NXT weekly show main events. But the top three matches definitely fit in with NXT. The talent is there on the brand, and I think Adam Cole will take this brand to some amazing heights in 2020.


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Opinion

NXT Minus 6: A Tale of Two Champions

Bradley Jay is here with the WWE NXT Minus 6, and we have new champions. Two very, very different new champions.

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Bradley Jay is here with the WWE NXT Minus 6, and we have new champions. Two very, very different new champions.

Our two new champions could not be more different…

Karrion Kross return vignette airs during NXT TakeOver: WarGames

6. Doomsday Saito comes to the ring and gives a painful, cliched promo. Any wrestler in the back could have said those exact words. Train harder and beat people up. He’s angry. We get it. The only thing Saito could do that would interest me is move to RawDown. On the other hand…

[EDITOR’S NOTE: Not gonna lie, that promo was wasn’t even hot garbage. It was cold garbage.]

Raquel Gonzalez & Rhea Ripley And Bianca Belair Celebrate | Franky Monet Debut | WWE NXT Highlights - YouTube

5. Raquel Gonzalez delivers a genuine, heartfelt promo that only she could give. Tears of joy. It told her story, and it’s exactly why she got the pop and the chant she deserved. The addition of Rhea Ripley and Bianca Belair, complete with throwback pic, was icing on the cake. I’m excited for whatever Gonzalez does next. Speaking of…

WWE: Dakota Kai on what she misses about New Zealand and her quest to be NXT champion | Newshub

4. Fantasy booking alert!!! Two weeks ago, Raquel Gonzelez told the world I was the one who believed in her. I was the one who made her a champion. Then Rhea Ripley shows up, and Bianca Belair shows up, and I’m the one sent to the back. How quickly you forget who your real friends are. I was the one who took you to the top, and chicka, I am the one who is going to drag you to the bottom. I used you to get to the top and that’s exactly what I’m going to do. I am Dakota Kai.

Santos Escobar loses the Cruise Championship to Kushida | Superfights

3. No more Santa Claus Ice Cream Bar. Santos Escobar has earned his name back. His match with KUSHIDA is everything great about NXT. Say it with me. Good things happen when you let wrestlers wrestle! Fast paced. Great action. Surprise ending. I’m going 4.5 stars. Give me a match that good every Tuesday and I’m a happy camper. 

WWE NXT results – 13/04/2021 (Raw and Smackdown Champions appear, Franky Monet debuts) » FirstSportz2. Right now, I don’t know if any two wrestlers have better chemistry than Swerve Scott and Leon Ruff. Every time they get together, it’s electric, and this week was no different. This is quickly climbing into Rivalry of the Year territory. I thought I was happy to see Swerve pick up the victory and move on. Then Ruff goes insane in the membrane and now I’m excited to watch them fight forever.

WWE News: Roderick Strong 'Resigns' From NXT, Video of Karrion Kross' NXT Promo | 411MANIA

1. This week’s That’s Why I Love Wrestling goes to…Roderick Strong. Kayfabe. Work. Shoot. I don’t care. Strong deserved a better goodbye than what he got. He is the Perfection of Performance (shout out to the Hitman). He and Kyle O’Reilly were the best version of the Undisputed Era tag team champions. I always got excited for a Strong match because I knew he’d deliver. Roderick Strong is exactly the kind of wrestler that makes me love wrestling. Until he returns, he will be sorely missed.


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Steve Cook’s Fave Five: April 2021

It’s a little more than halfway through April! You know what that means…

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It’s a little more than halfway through April! You know what that means.

It’s time to talk about my current five favorite wrestlers like I’m Booker T. Let’s break down the Fave Five!

5. Samoa Joe

I figure what happened between Samoa Joe & WWE was the following: WWE offered Joe an announcing contract since either they didn’t want to use him in the ring or their doctors wouldn’t clear him to wrestle. Joe looked at the contract, noticed the financial discrepancy, realized he could probably get NJPW to let him train young boys in California for that kind of money and said “thanks but no thanks”. Nothing else really makes sense to me.

Unfortunately, those who thought that WWE wouldn’t utilize Joe to their fullest potential were right. It wasn’t all WWE’s fault though. Joe had a lot of miles on his tires when he got there. Injuries are always more of a concern with larger wrestlers the older they get. And when Joe was healthy, he did get to do some good stuff and show people a glimpse of the Samoa Joe that people like me raved about back in the mid to late 2000s.

In any event, Joe got his WWE run. It was a thing that happened. I’d be shocked if he doesn’t wind up in AEW because he seems like the kind of guy Tony Khan would throw all the money at. Should be fun!

4. Kris Statlander

AEW does have a pretty insane number of factions right now. It risks the possibility of all of the groups blending together, with none of them really capturing the attention of fans. However, there are positive things about AEW’s faction warfare that shouldn’t be overlooked. It makes booking fresh matches to fill cards pretty easy. You can have groups facing off each week, but in different combinations that keep it fresh.

Another good thing: It can help us decide how we feel about characters that we might be on the fence about. Kris Statlander’s character was a topic of discussion from the moment she entered AEW. A lot of people weren’t sure how to take her. Wrestling aliens, or wrestlers who think they’re aliens, aren’t exactly common. Its the kind of thing that gets over in the indies, because those feds attract fans that are more willing to buy into unique concepts. Mainstream is a tougher sell.

Aligning Kris with the Best Friends makes sense to those in the know, since she came up working shows with them. It also helps people that don’t know about her figure out more. The Best Friends are a happy go lucky group that are the whitest of white meat babyfaces you’ll find in AEW, and that’s a good thing. They’re welcoming to people with unique personalities, as Orange Cassidy’s presence establishes. A friendly alien couldn’t ask for a better group to surround herself with, and from their appearances so far she seems like a perfect fit.

Add in the fact that the time on the shelf helped her get into better shape and refine her look & presence, and the sky’s the limit for Statlander. As long as she can stay in the ring, I’m expecting big things from her in 2021.

3. Tay Conti

Sometimes, all one needs is a change of scenery to approach their true potential. Tay spent a few years at the WWE Performance Center learning how to be a professional wrestler. During her time there, Tay never showed much in the way of potential. Even though she had a combat sports background and had the type of physical appearance that gets attention, Conti’s TV time was very limited and uneventful. She seemed like one of those wrestlers that was bound to stay in developmental until WWE gave up on them, then drop off the face of the earth without most wrestling fans noticing.

Tay’s story took a different route. She ended up being one of the cuts that AEW took an interest in, and was brought in for the Deadly Draw Women’s Tag Team Tournament. Her teaming with Anna Jay worked well on & off-camera, and she pretty much fit right in with the group immediately. She started training with Dustin Rhodes, and pretty much immediately started looking better in the ring & figuring out what worked for her. Now, she’s one of the people helping AEW’s women’s division go to a higher level.

This isn’t meant to denigrate WWE’s Performance Center or its methods. There just isn’t a wrestling training center out there that’s going to work for everybody. Tay had to find what worked for her. The people that recently got cut will have to do the same. Hopefully, the people that recently got signed by WWE will thrive in that environment.

2. Bianca Belair

We’ve recently seen three new Women’s Champions under the WWE umbrella, all of whom are great in their own way. I’ve talked about Rhea Ripley before, she’s got unlimited potential and so far she’s done very well on the main roster. Raquel Gonzalez is doing very well on NXT and her push to the championship made perfect sense & got over. I do think the best of the title changes was Bianca’s defeat of Sasha Banks in the main event of WrestleMania Saturday. It was a special moment for Bianca, a very fun match to watch, and a great performance from both Bianca & Sasha Banks, who did everything she could to make Bianca in that match.

You see the video of the NXT segment up above, with the three current Women’s Champions under the WWE umbrella celebrating together. Apparently there was a picture taken in 2019, and there were pictures taken after this week’s NXT, with Triple H making sure to get in there as he likes to do with all new champions. I’ve never really been a fan of that sort of thing, even the “Horsewomen” celebrations on previous NXT shows didn’t do much for me.

Besides the usual complaints people have about things like that, the thing that I didn’t like was how Rhea & Raquel came off. They were all smiling & happy like they were Big Daddy Cool Diesel after beating Mr. Bob Backlund in 1994. Completely against what Raquel has been up to this point, and what Rhea has been when she’s been at her best. Hopefully this is just a one-time thing for Rhea for the portion of the NXT audience that likes their lady wrestlers crying & happy after their performances, and hopefully it’s leading to Raquel getting dismembered by Dakota Kai, who can’t be happy about her heater winning the championship and then turning into Smilin’ Diesel.

Fortunately for Bianca, it does nothing to affect her character or our opinion of her. That’s why I think her title run will go best. I’m also putting her here because I’m pretty well convinced there isn’t a wrestling move or spot she can’t do well. Insanely talented, and the more experience she gets the better she’ll be.

1. Darby Allin

Sometimes you just want to watch something that’s stupid fun. Something that doesn’t need too much thought in order to enjoy it. Just people doing crazy things to entertain an audience. Darby Allin matches are just what you need when you’re looking for something like this. There isn’t anybody crazier in pro wrestling today than Darby, which is probably for the best. I’m convinced this kid has a death wish.

The one thing that kinda gets me about Darby sometimes is how he kicks out of everything. Poor Matt Hardy wasn’t going to beat that kid unless he shot him with a gun, and apparently there’s a metal detector at Daily’s Place. (Shoutout to Matt by the way, hell of an effort in that match.) But then I remember that Darby Allin is a daredevil and constantly posting videos online where he’s jumping off high places and doing crazy things. Obviously, it’s going to take a little more to beat a daredevil than your average pro wrestler.

What’s it going to take to beat Darby Allin? That’s a good reason to keep watching.


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