The NXT North American and Women’s Champions team up against their challengers!
Before TakeOver 31 and their respective title matches, the Evil Genius and Archer of Infamy take on Mr. & Mrs. Wrestling in a Mixed Tag Match! Will Io Shirai and Damian Priest make sure Johnny and Candice don’t get their way?
- Dakota Kai VS Shotzi Blackheart; Shotzi wins.
- The Cameron Grimes Invitational Stepping Stones to the Moon: Cameron Grimes VS Ariel Dominguez; Grimes wins.
- Cameron Grimes VS Ridge Holland; Grimes wins, by disqualification.
- KUSHIDA VS Tony Nese; Kushida wins.
- Adam Cole VS Austin Theory; Cole wins.
- Kayden Carter w/ Kacy Catanzaro VS Xia Li; Carter wins.
- Mixed Tag: Io Shirai & Damian Priest VS Candice LeRae & Johnny Gargano; LeRae & Gargano win.
PLAY BY PLAY
Dakota Kai w/ Raquel Gonzalez VS Shotzi Blackheart!
#CobraKai and the wild child were in the NXT Women’s Championship Contender Battle Royal, but neither won it all. Dakota wants payback on Shotzi for eliminating her, but will Shotzi just welcome her to the ball pit?
The bell rings, Dakota says Shotzi doesn’t need to worry about Raquel at ringside, and then she pie faces her! Shotzi trips Dakota, has the legs, but Dakota pushes her away. Dakota dodges a boot, Shotzi whips but Dakota reverses. Shotzi blocks the monkey flips but runs into a waistlock. Shotzi pries free, waistlocks back but Dakota ducks down to trip Shotzi up. Dakota runs, Shotzi ducks the kick to roll Dakota, TWO! Dakota trips and jackknifes, TWO! Shotzi Oklahoma rolls Dakota, TWO! Dakota gets up, Shotzi atomic drops her, trips her, and has both legs for a Jeff Hardy leg splitting leg drop! Shotzi drags Dakota up, wrenches and arm-drags Dakota around. Shotzi spins Dakota for an armbreaker!
Shotzi holds onto the wrists to kick Dakota from below, then spins to victory roll her! TWO, but Shotzi whips Dakota! Dakota reverses. Shotzi holds ropes and side steps to snap Dakota back and get a takedown! Shotzi laces up the legs for a drop into a modified Muda Lock! Dakota endures this Cattle Muda-lation, and Shotzi bridges up to drop down her weight! Shotzi drops again and keeps the arms hooked, but Dakota rocks and gets free to a Fujiwara! Shotzi endures, clasps hands, fights her way up and she arm-drags Dakota again. Dakota is in the corner, Shotzi storms over to throw forearms, but Dakota counter punches to rock Shotzi! Dakota bumps Shotzi off buckles and digs her boot in. The ref counts, Dakota stops at 4, but Shotzi hits back!
Dakota forearms Shotzi, sweeps the legs and digs her boot in again. The ref counts, Dakota lets up but scrapes Shotzi’s face. Shotzi gets up but Dakota reels her in for a snap suplex! Cover, TWO! Dakota grows frustrated and Raquel argues the count, too. Dakota throws forearms in the corner, puts Shotzi on ropes and digs her knees in! The ref counts, Dakota stops at 4 to run, but into Shotzi’s drop toehold! Dakota ends up on ropes now, but Raquel saves her from the cannonball! Raquel glares at Shotzi, Shotzi turns around into Dakota’s URENAGE BACKBREAKER! Cover, TWO!! Shotzi survives and Dakota is furious as NXT goes picture in picture.
Dakota cools off, stalks Shotzi and mocks her. Dakota chokes Shotzi against ropes, bumps her off buckles, then runs side to side to BOOT her! And then again! Dakota snapmares Shotzi to a cover, TWO! Dakota stands on Shotzi but lets off at the ref’s count. Shotzi staggers away, Dakota clinches but Shotzi throws body shots. Dakota grabs hair but so does Shotzi. Dakota throws Shotzi down, covers, TWO! Dakota drags Shotzi around, turns her over and laces up the legs. Dakota chinbars Shotzi and brings her into the Bow ‘n’ Arrow! Shotzi endures being bent back, pops out to cover, TWO! Dakota escapes and gets up to clobber Shotzi!
Dakota throws forearms on Shotzi in the corner, then runs back in, only for Shotzi to boot her! Shotzi hops up, FLYING SUNSET! Cover, TWO!! Dakota BOOTS Shotzi down! Cover, TWO! Shotzi clings to the ropes while Dakota seethes. Dakota drags Shotzi from the ropes, drags her up into a seated cobra twist and stretches her! Shotzi endures as Dakota cranks on the crossface. Shotzi gets her arm free and arm-drags Dakota away! NXT returns to single picture as Shotzi dodges Dakota to bait her into a corner. Shotzi goes up and over Dakota, rolls and comes back to shotgun dropkick Dakota into buckles! Shotzi hits a corner splash, snapmares Dakota and runs for the SLING DOG!
Shotzi fires up but Raquel coaches Dakota. Dakota walks into a KNEE, and a ROLLING ELBOW! ENZIGURI! Dakota is back on the ropes, the ref keeps Raquel back, CANNONBALL! Shotzi brings Dakota up, chicken wing to TIGER SUPLEX! Bridging cover, TWO!! Dakota survives and Shotzi grows frustrated. Raquel coaches Dakota but Shotzi runs in, only to get BOOTS! Dakota staggers, hip tosses Shotzi into a trapped-leg cover, TWO!! Shotzi escapes and Dakota talks things through with Raquel. Dakota drags Shotzi up, fireman’s carries, but Shotzi fights out. Shotzi baits Dakota into another corner to put her on the apron. Shotzi forearms, but her shoulder gets a KICK!
Shotzi ends up on the apron, Dakota goes out to follow, but Shotzi kicks Dakota’s legs out! Dakota even lands on Shotzi’s knees in the process! Shotzi stands up, throws forearms on Dakota, but Dakota counter punches! Shotzi kicks Dakota’s legs, Dakota SCORPION KICKS! Dakota boots but Shotzi blocks to spin and QUESTION MARK KICK! Shotzi has Dakota for SLICED BREAD to the apron!! Shotzi takes herself out, practically! The ref checks on them both, somehow they’re both okay to continue! Shotzi gets in the ring first, builds speed, but Raquel trips her up! So Rhea TACKLES Raquel into steel steps! Referees rush out to get Rhea to leave, but Raquel wants to give chase! Dakota runs Around the World, Shotzi dodges the boot to roll her up! Shotzi wins!!
Winner: Shotzi Blackheart, by pinfall
A nasty spill could not stop NXT’s Tank Girl, and Shotzi was able to #TCB! Will Shotzi barrel through the rest of the NXT Women’s Division to challenge whoever is champion after Sunday?
NXT holds a dual video interview with Santos Escobar and Isaiah “Swerve” Scott.
The NXT Cruiserweight Champion and the only man to pin him twice, let alone once, are set to battle for that title at TakeOver: 31. To start, Tom Phillips asks Swerve about how he has Escobar’s number yet falls short in the matches. That’s true. Swerve has had his shots but it’s hard to believe there was fairness to those matches. Swerve is the better competitor, is still the only man to pin Escobar in NXT and all of WWE. So frankly, when they have their rematch, Swerve will come out on top.
Phillips asks Escobar if Swerve is right about things being fair this time around. Escobar laughs but tells Swerve he is a parasite that Escobar just can’t get rid of. It doesn’t matter, Swerve just lingers. And there’s nothing Escobar hates more in life than things that linger. Escobar vows Swerve will lose again and tie up loose ends. Swerve complains about what’s fair and what’s not. But Escobar promises this will be fair. Will it? Swerve can’t believe that. Every time they face off for the title, there’s always something or someone. El Legado del Fantasma interfering, a loaded lucha mask waiting under the ring, there’s always a bag of tricks. Escobar says those are excuses. When it counts, Swerve just can’t deliver.
What Escobar calls excuses are actually reality. And the reality here is that Swerve has adapted to everything in this business, and in life. Swerve is ready for whatever Escobar will throw at him. Good, Escobar is glad Swerve has prepared himself. Swerve isn’t just prepared. He is ready to show us all what he’s truly capable of. And he’ll show how the champion is just a fraud. But that’s the difference between them. Swerve makes things about himself. That is why he will fail. Escobar has built the division back up in his image, and infused it with respect for lucha libre, from which Cruiserweight wrestling was born, a culture that Swerve has no respect for. All that “showcasing” will not be enough. What Swerve claims are a “bag of tricks” is actually a century of tradition. Escobar vows to bury Swerve with it, but Swerve says he can try.
NXT hears from the anonymous alumni.
“I’ve heard them say you can never go back home. Too many roads in life to take. But sometimes, you have to stop and look around you to see that home may not be the same place it was when you left it. And you realize, doing something about it will be your best moment.” Just who or what is returning to NXT at TakeOver?
NXT presents Prime Target: Kyle O’Reilly!
“When I first stepped into a wrestling ring, a small kickboxing gym in British Columbia,” he took to it like a fish takes to water. He felt at home. This is something he has put every once of himself into for his entire adult life. Even if he never made it to NXT, just wrestling for a few dollars every other weekend, he would still be doing it with his everything. “This is my love, my passion.” The Undisputed Era is the best thing that ever happened to him professionally and personally, because these are three guys who are legitimately his best friends.
Adam Cole is so proud of Kyle. They’ve known each other for 12 years, travelled the world together, and Cole has known for a long time that Kyle is one of the best. “Blood on our lips and smiles on our face,” Kyle, Cole, Roderick Strong and Bobby Fish have all gone to war against each other and alongside each other. That’s what’s special about the Undisputed Era, “It is real.” More than anything, Kyle wants to be the NXT Champion. There is nothing more important to him right now. It is cliché, but Kyle has had his sights set on Finn Balor for a long time. As Kyle came to America, Balor was already big in Japan. When Kyle went to japan, Balor was in NXT. When Kyle got to NXT, Balor was on Raw.
“Needless to say, the fact that this match is finally happening is one thing. But to put in the main event of TakeOver and it’s for the NXT Championship, that’s what the last 15 years has been building up for.” Every moment, match, opportunity, country and company, it has all led to this Sunday. Kyle thrives under pressure, and if he wins, the Undisputed Era will be the same as when Cole won. This is just the second wave of the Golden Prophecy. And that is Undisputed.
NXT has an update on Tegan Nox.
As they tweeted out earlier today, NXT informs us that after the attack from Candice LeRae backstage, Tegan has suffered another torn ACL. The Shiniest Wizard again must recover and repair, will she ever get past being the comeback kid?
Backstage interview with Johnny Gargano and Candice LeRae.
They “feel awful” for Tegan, but this was karma. Tegan broke their TV, Candice tears Tegan’s ACL. Even Stevens now. But moving on from that, their mixed tag match with Io Shirai and Damian Priest- Johnny scoffs at that. He knows Sarah is nervous, but just breathe. NXT’s Power Couple is teaming up tonight, but what are they hoping to accomplish before TakeOver and their respective title matches? Sunday is destiny for them. Gargano said they are destined to be the first married couple to be champions in NXT, and that is already here. It starts tonight, and finishes at TakeOver. The Garganos compliment Sarah, but they don’t really mean it. But will this twisted fairy tale of theirs really have a happily ever after?
Cameron Grimes VS ???
The Technical Savage didn’t win the gauntlet like he wanted, but there’s still time for it to be Grime Time in NXT. Before his match, Grimes gets the mic to say, “To tell you the truth, I’m not in the best mood right now.” Last week, he had all the opportunities, but it was all taken away to a match called the Gauntlet Eliminator! Whose idea was that? Not Regal’s, he’d make something way better! But Grimes can cheer up! Grimes is gonna make a match right now! How about this? The Cameron Grimes Invitational Stepping Stones to the Moon match! What you think of that?
To make it better, Grimes has handpicked each of his opponents tonight. Here comes the first opponent: Joey Pistachio! Actually the jacket says Ariel Dominguez but Grimes is right about him being the NCAA Champion in the 85 pound weight class. Ariel is here, all the way from San Diego, California, and he’s here to go to the moon! “Pistachio” gets in the ring and the match begins!
The Cameron Grimes Invitational Stepping Stones to the Moon: Cameron Grimes VS Ariel Dominguez!
CAVE-IN!! Cocky cover, Grimes wins!
Winner: Cameron Grimes, by pinfall
The fastest win of Grimes’ career, is against a man quite literally half his size. Grimes feels great about it, but admits that was a little rough. But he wouldn’t be the man he is if he didn’t have more competition lined up. The second opponent is: “Joey Strong.” But whether that’s his real name or not, it doesn’t matter, because RIDGE HOLLAND tosses the guy out to the stage! Holland HEADBUTTS Joey over and over and then throws him off the stage! Also, judging from Joey’s singlet, his real last name is “Lockhart.” Grimes introduces himself to Holland and says that he’s a big fan. Holland is great, really. But he’s not part of this invitational! If Holland is here to shake his hand, that’s fine. But this isn’t a match. Holland HEADBUTTS Grimes instead! This IS a match, and here’s the bell!
Cameron Grimes VS Ridge Holland!
Holland grabs Grimes for more headbutts, and then an OVERHEAD SUPLEX! Grimes to a corner and Holland storms over to club away on him! Holland CLUBS and CLUBS and crossface forearms over and over! Grimes scrambles away but Holland stomps him at the ropes! The ref counts, but Holland won’t stop!! The ref rings the bell!
Winner: Cameron Grimes, by disqualification
Holland doesn’t care, he just wants to turn Grimes into Carolina tar! Grimes flops out of the ring, probably thinking he’s on the moon. Will Holland bring him back down to earth next time they meet?
Backstage interview with Austin Theory.
Theory requested this interview time, is it about his recent struggles? Struggles? “Theory” and “Struggles’ do not belong in the same sentence. As for Damian Priest, that should’ve never happened. Theory should’ve been in the gauntlet match Kyle O’Reilly won. Theory saw the Prime Target video, and it is very touching and inspirational to learn it took Kyle 15 years to finally get an NXT Championship match. But that’s a long time. More than half Theory’s life. Theory was already part of WrestleMania at 22, but Kyle is the future? Kyle should try to be catching up to Theory. Will Theory prove he is the one everyone should be putting stock into?
NXT hears from Kushida.
“The migration to this new environment, the United States, has been truly the biggest event that has happened to me and my family. It was a struggle to juggle my work and private life. It was hard to concentrate. But now it’s time! The setup is complete. I can concentrate on the ring.” Now Kushida will show the real him. He hasn’t had many opportunities at titles, injuries set him back, and now he is impatient. He’s changing gears, ramping it up a notch, and will go “ballistic.” Everything has its meaning, and TakeOver will see an explosion. Velveteen Dream will learn HE is the stepping stone, and Kushida will become the core of NXT. “The new Kushida is VICIOUS! Here I come, TakeOver!” But first, we’ll see the Timesplitter tune-up, after the break!
KUSHIDA VS Tony Nese!
Before taking on The Experience, the Super Junior wants to give us all a sample of the new aggression he is about to unleash! Will the Premier Athlete wish he could go Back to the Future to avoid this?
The bell rings, Nese and Kushida circle, approach, but Nese flexes on Kushida. Kushida enziguris! And Kowata Kicks, and Penalty Kicks the arm out! Kushida whips, Nese holds ropes to throat chop back! Nese hotshot bulldogs Kushida down! And drags him out to whip him, but Kushida reverses to POST Nese! The crowd goes wild as Kushida puts Nese in and kicks the arm again! And again! Kushida whips, Nese slides under to pump handle, but Kushida gets the arm! Kushida wrenches Nese for a bulldog to the arm! Nese gets to a corner, Kushida is after his arm again! The ref counts as they’re in the ropes, but he just gives Nese another arm bulldog! Kushida gives Nese DANIELSON STOMPS! Kushida doesn’t stop the stomps, then he wraps the arm into the Hoverboard! Nese taps, Kushida wins
Winner: Kushida, by submission
Kushida shows us he wasn’t kidding! This was a faster, meaner and more precise Kushida here tonight. But the lights change purple, and Dream speaks from the titantron. “Will the real Kushida please stand up?” Because it doesn’t matter who shows up, the spotlight will be too bright for Kushida. Dream always puts on his best performances under the brightest lights. See you Sunday. A simple message for simple game plans: win. Who will see that plan through to success at TakeOver?
NXT Media finds Grimes backstage, nursing his eye.
Grimes tells cameras to get out of his face or direct him to William Regal! But then Grimes walks into Dexter Lumis! Lumis is back?! Grimes walks past the “freak,” and storms off down the hall. Between Northern Grit and the Tortured Artist, will the Carolina Caveman have to be much more careful walking around Full Sail these days?
NXT returns to Adam Cole in the ring.
The former champion makes a surprise appearance as he says, “Three years. For three years, the Undisputed Era has been part of NXT. And for three years, we have dominated. We’ve done what we want, when we want, and nobody has been able to stop us.” The prophecy came true! They said they’d win every title and they did! But even more important than that, people in the locker room knew that if you crossed them, you would pay. Then the prophecy ended and they lost their titles. And somewhere along their way, people felt the Era changed. People felt like they could say whatever and there’d be no repercussions.
Cole is telling us here and now, “Nothing has changed! We are the same Undisputed Era that won the first-ever WarGames match in WWE history! We are the same Undisputed Era that has DOMINATED this brand unlike anybody has or anybody will!” So then, Austin Theory, if you want to run your mouth about Kyle, fine. Do Cole a favor and bring your ass down to this ring to say that to Cole’s face! Theory does make his way out to the ring and he wants Cole to calm down. Why is he so mad? Cole dares Theory to get in the ring since he’s so big and bad.
But if not, fine. Cole keeps this simple so even Theory can understand. Two options: bring your stupid face in and fight like a man; stay right there, so that the rest of the Era can beat him where he stands and make him BEG to go back to option one. Theory decides to take option one and heads for the ring. The ref gets in, too, and this is a match!
Adam Cole VS Austin Theory!
Cole dodges Theory to CHOP and forearm and CHOP! Theory staggers, Cole follows to fire off forearms! Cole stomps away on Theory in another corner, lets off as the ref counts, then goes after Theory at the ropes. Cole KICKS Theory, BOOTS him down, then dares him to get up. Theory stands, Cole gives him a neckbreaker! Theory pushes Cole away but Cole stomps him down. Cole drags Theory up, wrenches and whips but Theory grabs ropes to bail out! Theory mocks the UE sign, but Cole goes out to BOOT him down! Theory sits up in a daze, Cole tells him he’s nothing. Cole bumps Theory off the apron, the ring count climbs to 5 but Cole refreshes it. Cole whips Theory into steel steps!
Cole says Theory mocked the wrong people, then he drags Theory up into the ring. Theory gets Cole at the ropes but Cole PELES first! Theory checks his face but Cole is on him with another neckbreaker! Cover, TWO! Theory survives that Rude Awakening, but then he talks trash about going #AllDay. Cole stomps Theory, drags him back up and snap suplexes him down. “Wrong guy, Austin. Wrong guy.” Cole drags Theory up to club him back down! Theory gets to a corner, Cole laces his leg in the ropes to dropkick him in the stomach! Theory falls with the leg twisted up, and Cole wraps on a chinlock to grind him down. Cole tells Theory to quit but he refuses. Theory tells Cole they’re “Undisputed Crap” but Cole just wrenches harder.
Cole and Theory stand up, Theory fights out but runs into a back elbow! Cole storms back after Theory to knee him down and put him in the corner. Theory hits the buckles hard, Cole throws more forearms then wrenches for a corner to corner whip. Theory reverses, runs in but is put on the apron. Theory shoulders into Cole, slingshot somersaults to shotgun dropkick! “THAT is undisputed!” Cover, TWO!! Theory grows frustrated but the crowd fires up as NXT goes to break.
NXT returns and Theory is stomping a mudhole into Cole! Theory talks smack but fans rally up as he drags Cole up to snapmare and stomp! Theory slaps Cole around before clamping on a chinbar armlock combo. Cole endures, Theory digs his elbow into Cole’s face, but Cole fights up. Cole fights back, Theory knees low and hits a backbreaker! Theory hits a standing moonsault! Cover, TWO! Theory has his arrogance back as Cole gets to a corner. Cole elbows him away, then boots him away! Cole rallies with clotheslines now, and another BOOT! Theory sits up in another daze, but Cole stalks him to ropes. Cole brings Theory into a waistlock, Theory standing switches but Cole PELES and BACKSTABBERS! Cover, TWO!
Cole grows frustrated but he has control again. He gets up while Theory stirs. Cole brings Theory to a fireman’s carry but Theory fights off. Theory whips, Cole reverses and BOOTS again! And then the fireman’s carry, USHIGOROSHI! Cover, TWO!! Theory survives but Cole smirks. Cole might actually respect Theory now, but he’s not going to take it easy on him. Cole goes to a corner, Theory anchors a foot but Cole stomps him. Cole hops up, takes aim, and leaps, PANAMA-NO! Back drop, and no sunset flip, MULE KICK to the back! Theory drags Cole up, torture rack, for the TOWER HACKER BOMB! Cover, TWO!! Cole is a Triple Crown winner for a reason!
Theory talks trash on Cole and throws forearms. Cole gives them back. They brawl from mat to their feet, Cole gives as good as he gets, then runs, into Theory’s elbow! Theory runs, into a SUPERKICK!! Theory ends up on the apron from that one! Cole sees him floundering, drags him up, but Theory hotshots! Theory slingshots, into another SUPERKICK! Suplex, UNDISPUTED BRAIN BUSTER! LAST SHOT SHINING WIZARD! Cover, Cole wins!
Winner: Adam Cole, by pinfall
And THAT is Undisputed! “Kyle O’Reilly was born ready! Nobody wants this more, nobody has earned an NXT title shot more.” Cole promises Kyle will #ShockTheSystem, but it won’t be a shock to the UE. Will this new Undisputed Prophecy come true this Sunday?
NXT returns with a backstage interview with Io Shirai and Damian Priest.
The champions are teaming for the first time ever against their respective challengers. How confident are they against the Power Couple? Hah, that’s cute. They can keep that nickname, because these two are keeping the titles. Tonight is a preview of TakeOver as the Women’s Champion and North American Champion, “the rockstars of NXT,” take care of business. Shirai says she is on another level than Candice, and Priest is literally on a different level than Gargano. In the end, that is why Johnny and Candice have no chance at becoming champions. She’s ready to rock, and Priest likes that. Will the champs stay golden all the way through Sunday?
Kayden Carter w/ Kacy Catanzaro VS Xia Li!
NXT’s Ninja Warriors are a great tag team, did very well in the Women’s Battle Royal, but things are about to get spicy! Will Xia Li divide and conquer KC Squared?
The bell rings and Xia circles with Kayden. They tie up, Xia rolls Kayden, ONE! Kayden sits on the cover, ONE! Xia sunset flips, ONE, Kayden is up but Xia sweeps the legs! Cover, ONE, Kayden reverses the roles to sweep and cover, ONE! The crowd cheers the fast and furious technical exchange, and both women fist bump out of respect. A bit different compared to the scowling Xia did last time these two faced off in that tag match. But they go again, Kayden waistlocks, Xia standing switches, but Kayden drops down, slides under and waistlocks back. Xia uses ropes but Kayden still O’Conner rolls. TWO, Kayden springboard missile dropkicks! Cover, TWO!
Xia bails out but comes back to trip Kayden up! Xia spins Kayden to ROCK her with that right! And then drags her out more to DUMP her on the ground! Kacy coaches Kayden but Xia gets back in the ring. Xia waits for Kayden to return, Kacy coaches Kayden on but Xia stomps away! Cover, ONE! Kayden gets to a corner, Xia is after her with a CHOP! Xia fires up and fires off knees! And a back kick! Cover, ONE! Xia tries again, ONE! Again, ONE! Xia gets spicy with the ref, Kayden staggers about and into a corner. Xia is after her, Kayden elbows her away. Kayden kicks but Xia blocks and trips. Kayden kicks Xia to a corner, Kacy coaches her up but Xia is after her. Kayden CHOPS, forearms, knees and repeat!
Kayden whips, Xia reverses, Kayden wheelbarrows, victory rolls and MULE KICKS! Cover, TWO!! Kayden is frustrated, Xia shoves her but then sunset flips up and over, TWO! Kayden sits up, brings Xia up, Xia bucks her to a prawn hold but Kayden rolls through to sunset Xia! Kayden wins!!
Winner: Kayden Carter, by pinfall
Xia can’t believe she got caught like that! Kayden still shows respect with her hand held out, but Xia shoves her down! Kacy asks what her problem is, but Xia shakes her off, too. Xia is going from spicy to burning with anger, will she explode soon enough?
NXT returns to Shawn Michaels in the ring.
The NXT Championship sits on a table as HBK says, “This Sunday, on the WWE Network, Finn Balor will be defending his NXT Championship against the #1 contender, Kyle O’Reilly. Gentlemen.” Balor and Kyle step in and we have our face-to-face. There isn’t animosity here, but please shake hands before you sit down. They shake hands and take their seats at the table. Balor wishes Kyle a congrats for winning the gauntlet match. Balor has the utmost respect for Kyle and what he’s done, and looks forward to their match. The feeling is mutual for Kyle, there’s nothing but respect. HBK appreciates all that, but let’s get to the heart of the matter.
Balor has told us all, and HBK agrees, this is the best Balor yet. But Balor is facing someone who HBK has said for a long time, the best kept secret in wrestling today. How does Balor prepare for a guy like Kyle? Balor doesn’t think this is a secret. Maybe a fringe, casual fan doesn’t know Kyle, but the business watches Balor because Balor watches the business. Balor has known how great Kyle is. Kyle has proven himself in the NXT Tag Team Division, but more importantly, Kyle has proven himself around the world as a singles competitor. Balor knows how hard that is.
Kyle likes Balor. He is a fan of Balor. Sitting here and seeing Balor expertly stroke his own ego, thinking he can beat Kyle. Balor is a fighting champion, and this is what a fighting champion does: defends the title, even when defeat is certain. And that’s what this is, Balor. “Absolute certain defeat.” Oh? Well there’s one thing Balor isn’t so sure about. Is Kyle going to show up with Undisputed Era, or be a man? He’ll be a man. But he appreciates the question. See this? One hand, and then the other, watching each other. That is how UE has operated since the beginning. That is the foundation to their success. But this Sunday isn’t about the UE. It is about Kyle’s moment.
HBK says that in regards to that, the elephant in the room is the “apparent conflict” that Kyle could be champion and that could upset Cole. Anything to that? Kyle says this “nonexistent power struggle amongst the Era boys, quite frankly, is laughable.” Yes, ol’ Grimey had a point with his, “You ain’t nothin’ like Adam Cole, hurr hurr,” and that’s true. They’re nothing alike because Cole is a beautiful man! Kyle has mismatched ears, freckles all over, and- Balor vows to slap the freckles off Kyle’s face. Now there’s the Prince! “A good Irish boy, this one.” Kyle welcomes that. Balor can’t say Kyle got lucky or making other excuses. Balor agrees, there’ll be no room for excuse from Kyle. And no room for jokes. Balor has proved himself for 20 years.
Big whoop! Kyle’s been here 15, so what’s another 5 years? Every month since walking in here, it’s been “the biggest match of my career.” This week, next week, and this Sunday. This isn’t the biggest match of Kyle’s career, but of Kyle’s life. Balor explains what “the big whoop” is. It’s understanding the difference between the main event of one night, versus the main event that alters your life. Not just for Kyle, but for everyone watching. Kyle gets it. Balor’s first big title defense. No one ever loses their first defense, right~?
But the truth is, Kyle being considered the underdog is BS! Kyle is not the underdog here, because Balor has never faced Kyle, or anyone like Kyle. Kyle will change Balor’s mind. “There’s something about the sound of a man’s knee caps exploding, tends to say a certain opinion.” And this Sunday, the so-called tag team specialist will do it again.
HBK says Balor is champion, so he gets one final word. “Kyle. You’re witty, you have charisma. You are really, really good in the ring. I believe you have everything it takes to be NXT Champion. And you will be, if this title was on anybody else except for Finn Balor.” HBK thanks them for their time. But who triumphs when it’s time to back up all these words at TakeOver 31?
Mixed Tag: Io Shirai & Damian Priest VS Candice LeRae & Johnny Gargano!
The Evil Genius and the Archer of Infamy face their TakeOver contenders together in this special sampler main event! Will the Pint-Sized Poison Pixie and her Wednesday Knight take the first steps toward a historic power couple reign?
The “rockstar” champions fire up and rush the ring to brawl with Johnny and Candice! Things are furious under the strobe lights, but the challengers bail out! The referee hurries in to cool everyone off, Mr. & Mrs. Wrestling complain as they take their corner. Priest starts for his team so Gargano gets in. The bell rings, Gargano fires off a haymaker but Priest kicks. Gargano gets under and uppercuts, but Priest grabs him to throw him to a corner! Gargano dodges to CHOP and forearm but Priest shoves, kicks and swings. Gargano dodges those but not the BOOT! Priest fires off fast hands in the ocrner, Cnadice protests but Priest stops at the ref’s count.
Priest whips Gargano corner to corner, scoops him for a BIG sidewalk slam! Gargano rolls away, Candice tells Priest to back off, and Candice checks on her husband. Priest tags Shirai in so Candice has to come in! The crowd is thunderous as these two step to each other. Candice fires off but Shirai gives it back! Candice knees low, whips Shirai to a corner then runs corner to corner, but Shirai dodge and kicks back! Shirai goes up, leaps, but Candice gets under. Candice comes back, Shirai waistlocks but Candice blocks the German to standing switch and roll up! TWO, SHirai FLAPJACKS Candice! Then basement dropkicks!
Candice gets to a corner as the crowd fires up. Gargano gets in the way of the bullet train, but Priest backs Shirai up. And ROUNDHOUSES Gargano into the corner! Candice gets a bit of hubby’s buns as Priest leaps in to hit the back elbow! Then Shirai runs in, Gargano bails out so that Candice takes the SHINKANSEN alone! Some husband he is. Candice bails out, Priest gives Shirai a boost for an INFAMOUS CROSSBODY! Direct hit on Mr. & Mrs. Wrestling at the ramp, and NXT goes picture in picture!
Shirai drags Candice up and puts her in the ring. Shirai stomps Candice around, and in the corner! The ref counts, Shirai lets off, but then digs her boots in! Shirai swings to meteora! Candice flounders around, Shirai drags her up and throws her! Shirai runs but Gargano redeems himself by taking the tiger feint kick for Candice! Candice hits Shirai with a DRAPING NECKBREAKER! Cover, ROPEBREAK! Candice is furious as she clubs away on Shirai! Shirai gets to a corner, Candice slaps her around, then hauls her into another corner to ram her into buckles! Candice snapmares Shirai into a chinlock and grinds her down. Shirai endures, fights back and fights up, but Candice throws her down. Candice talks trash to Priest but he tells the little lady to calm down.
Shirai knees Candice back! Candice rolls Shirai away to dropkick her down! Cover, TWO! Shirai flounders but Candice drags her away from Priest. Candice has a neck wrench as NXT returns to single picture. Shirai endures, the crowd rallies up but Gargano talks smack. Candice knees Shirai, clubs her, and paces. Gargano is the only one applauding as Candice kicks Shirai. Candice toys with Shirai, tells her the belt will be Candice’s, but Shirai gets up to SHOTEI! Candice wobbles, Shirai counter punches her and waistlocks her for a GERMAN! Both women are down, hot tag to Priest! Gargano gets in but gets clobbered over and over! Priest ROUNDHOUSES Gargano, and LRAIATS him in the rebound!
The crowd fires up as Priest aims and fires the flying back elbow in the corner! And then BROKEN ARROW! Cover off the toss, TWO! Gargano crawls to a corner but Priest brings him back up. Priest reels him in, Canadian racks to a crucifix, but Gargano slips off! Gargano boots Priest back, hops up, TORNADO COMPLETE SHOT! Gargano grits his teeth, fires himself up and kicks, but Priest ducks to kick away! Gargano enziguris, Priest staggers and Shirai tags in! Candice is now legal, but Shirai missile dropkicks Gargano! Shirai rallies on Candice with shoulders, then underhooks, but Candice fights out of the Tiger Driver! Shirai ducks the enziguri and drops down on Candice for the crossface!
Candice flails, reaches, endures, Gargano drags Shirai out of the ring! Priest comes around to choke grip and lift, but Gargano lands on his feet to mule kick from the apron! Shirai SHOTEIS Gargano! Candice cradles Shirai, TWO! Shirai wheelbarrows but Candice turns it into a FACEBUSTER! Step-up senton! Candice grins as she springboards, LIONSAULT flops! Shirai underhooks, TIGER BACKBREAKER! Shirai has Candice in the drop zone and climbs up top, but Gargano gets Candice out of the ring! Shirai shouts at Gargano, but Priest BELL CLAPS and ROUNDHOUSES Gargano! Gargano is down, Shirai still gives him the MOONSAULT!
Tag to Priest, Priest grabs Gargano for the dragon sleeper! The ref is busy telling Shirai to go back to the corner, he doesn’t see Candice LOW BLOW Priest!! Shirai goes after Candice but the damage is done! Shirai stomps Candice down, Gargano slingshots, ONE FINAL BEAT!! Cover, the Gargano Way wins!!
Winners: Johnny Gargano & Candice LeRae, by pinfall
Mr. Wrestling secures the victory only because Mrs. Wrestling kicked the Archer of Infamy in his arrow! Shirai shouts at Gargano but Candice hits her with a BACKSTABBER! And in a bit of premature celebration, Gargano grabs the belts and hands the Women’s title to Candice. They raise the belts up as if they’ve already won. But if #TheJohnnyGarganoWay only succeeds when they’re both together, do either of them stand a chance on their own?
An incredible go-home for NXT! Not much was advertised match-wise, but they were all solid to say the least. A lot of great stuff has also been added to TakeOver 31 given circumstances are clearly keeping the NXT Tag Team Championships off the card. The Cruiserweight Championship getting to be on TakeOver is exactly what I was hoping for, and while the video call interview segment was just a tad awkward, Escobar VS Swerve is going to be great once again. Kushida put a hurting on Nese, Dream had a good promo for keeping it simple, and their match is going to be a lot of fun, too. It is truly a shame Tegan is out of action again, her story with Candice had so much going for it. We can only hope Tegan can recover and still wrestle at all.
Dakota VS Shotzi was really good, and I like that Rhea and Shotzi are basically being teamed together again. I felt like these two meshed very well when going against Aliyah and Mercedes Martinez, they’ll do the same here against Dakota and Raquel, and maybe, just maybe, NXT starts getting properly involved in the WWE Women’s Tag Team Championship scene. Though, if WWE is keeping their stupid Draft as just Raw and SmackDown, it seems not at all likely. Grimes was hilarious, thinking he could do the same scrub gauntlet Ariya Daivari did on 205 Live, and just hilarious in general as Holland not only mauled that jobber but then mauled Grimes. Lumis returns, too, so maybe what was meant to be Lumis & Dream becomes Lumis & Holland to put some literal heavy hitters in the tag division.
I like that this mysterious return is being kept so secret, it’s not even clear if it’s a male or female superstar. The robot voices are more male and female, the person picked up a TakeOver flyer that had both the men’s and women’s title matches on it, and in the current era, the only difference between the male and female title belts is color, which gets washed away in the night vision green. It cold be Bo Dallas, it could be Ember Moon, it could be… Paige? Maybe not, that’s something that might’ve leaked by now. And while Paige was literally born into wrestling, I feel like she’s fine with where she is in both WWE and in life right now. Though the robot-cyborg gimmick could work for her as much as it does Ember with injuries being the only thing in her way, and the idea of her repairing herself to retake NXT.
I like that the story of Xia Li, and by proxy KC Squared, is getting airtime. They’ve all been around for a good amount of time, really working hard to be notable parts of NXT, and this is it paying off. Xia continues to be a sore loser of sorts, and a full Heel turn would be something interesting to see. The Mixed Tag match was a great main event, and it was a bit out of nowhere to see Priest and Shirai work so well together, but I suppose you credit the fact they have a common enemy in Johnny and Candice. But the math indicates that the #NXTPowerCouple standing tall tonight, touching the belts no less, means they’re not both winning. Maybe Gargano gets the better of Priest, being that Gargano is the Triple Crown winner, I’m not sure about Candice. If Tegan wasn’t actually out with the torn ACL, I could see her interfering with the women’s title, but now it’ll just have to be a clean win for Shirai.
Adam Cole basically being the big brother to Kyle against Theory was unexpected, but that match Cole and Theory had was incredible. It felt on par with a midcard title match, in which case the reputation of Cole being an NXT Triple Crown was itself the prize. The Prime Target for Kyle was incredibly well made, but if he doesn’t win… In the face-to-face, Kyle sure came in with a bit of ego, but he did make some good points. They’re both much more experience than the average fan probably realized, so this isn’t an underdog story but two peers who finally meet to see who is really the better man. It’d be so wild if Kyle won, but this also feels like it’s meant to puff Kyle up so much that he falls that much harder when he loses.
My Score: 9.3/10