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Kevin’s NXT TakeOver 31 Review

October 4, 2020 | Posted by Kevin Pantoja
NXT Takeover 31
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Kevin’s NXT TakeOver 31 Review  

NXT North American Championship: Damian Priest [c] vs. Johnny Gargano

No fancy in-ring announcements for this one. It’s Johnny’s third straight TakeOver going after this title. He uses his quickness to avoid Priest early but eats a spinning heel kick. Priest uses his power to keep Gargano down and on the defensive. Gargano knocks him to the outside to swing the momentum. Johnny hits a senton on a draped Priest for two and keeps up the pressure with some wear down holds. He puts the focus on Priest’s leg, looking to chop him down to size. Priest uses a modified uranage to get going and fires off several leaping corner elbows. Broken Arrow connects for two. Priest has the rolling kick scouted, stops it, and then slams Johnny on his face. Johnny counters the Razor’s Edge into a sunset flip bomb for two. They start trading blows and Johnny hits an enziguri but takes a pump kick. Priest hesitates on a springboard to take out Johnny and hits a right hand. Johnny sends him shoulder first into the post and clotheslines him outside, followed up with the tope suicida. However, Priest catches him for a chokeslam, only for Johnny to escape and superkick him before Priest kicks him off the apron. He adds a Razor’s Edge on the apron for a near fall. Chop block by Johnny and then he kicks at the arm before winning a series of counters with a standing Sliced Bread and running forearm for two. Another series of counters sees Priest kick out of a rollup. One Final Beat is avoided and Priest hits a sitout chokeslam for two. Johnny takes a powder and Priest takes him and some cameramen out with a dive. As the referee gets help for the workers, Johnny low blows Priest. A superkick inside leads to a great near fall. Gargano Escape applied. Priest fights hard and gets to the ropes. Johnny wants a move that will knock Priest onto steel steps outside. Priest fights it off and catches him with a kick but leaps into a pair of superkicks. One FInal Beat is blocked and Priest hooks him for The Reckoning to retain.

Winner: Damian Priest in 18:43 [That was very good. It had a few weird moments where it felt like they were trying to deliver a Johnny/Cole match or something like that instead of playing into Priest’s size. Still, he moves impressively and made it work. A bit much on some of the close calls but some great back and forth. ***3/4]

KUSHIDA vs. Velveteen Dream

I do it for Will Ospreay and I’ll do it here too. Dream is scummy. KUSHIDA jumps Dream during his entrance. Both men are in jeans as if this was a Street Fight. Also, Dream seems to have painted his hair to look like Doc Brown. He goes after a chair and trips, causing Beth Phoenix to laugh on commentary. The bell rings and they go at it, with KUSHIDA remaining aggressive. He hits a leaping single arm DDT but Dream turns the tide and dumps him outside, following with an axe handle. That puts Dream in control with things like the Bronco Buster. KUSHIDA rallies with forearms and he stomps on Dream’s face to the delight of everyone. Dream’s shoulder is targeted and KUSHIDA viciously pulls it into the ring post multiple times. Dream wants the Purple Rainmaker but gets trapped in the Hoverboard Lock, only to slither to the ropes. KUSHIDA doesn’t want to let go and Dream uses a thumb to the eye to break it. Dream escapes the hold again and nails the Dream Valley Driver. Purple Rainmaker hits but Dream’s arm hurts too much to capitalize. Dream goes up again but he wastes time taunting. KUSHIDA runs up and jumps off the top with the Hoverboard Lock. He gets to the ropes but KUSHIDA rolls over to the middle of the ring. Dream gets to his feet and goes for another DVD. He hits it but KUSHIDA doesn’t let go and rolls through back into the hold, making Dream tap.

Winner: KUSHIDA in 13:00 [I would’ve preferred if this was just KUSHIDA squashing him. That said what we got was very good and I dig this aggressive KUSHIDA. ***1/4]

A furious KUSHIDA jumps Dream after the bell and puts the submission back on. Officials break it up but KUSHIDA does it again. Once again, it’s broken up and KUSHIDA storms to the back.

An ad runs for NXT HALLOWEEN HAVOC! October 28th!

NXT Cruiserweight Championship: Santos Escobar [c] vs. Isaiah Scott

Escobar rocks a sombrero! Quick paced start to this with neither man gaining a real upper hand and coming to a stalemate. Scott hits the first bit spots with a corkscrew moonsault and the Fosbury Flop. Inside, Scott looks for a submission but Escobar makes it to the ropes. Outside, Escobar sends Scott into the gate. Inside, he hits a super rana and rolls into some sweet offense for a near fall. Escobar gets vicious by choking Scott with his boot. Scott gets going and hits a pair of uppercuts, including a leaping one to the back. Santos takes a powder but Scott greets him with two kicks from the apron. Inside, Scott rolls into a Flatliner for two. He comes close with a DDT as well. As Scott gets close to winning, Joaquin Wilde and Raul Mendoza show up. The distraction allows Escobar to come close to winning but Scott kicks out. On the apron, Escobar ends up crotched on the ropes. Scott goes up and hits a springboard rana that launches him into Wilde and Mendoza. Ashante The Adonis shows up to take out the guys outside. He’s been on 205 Live recently. Scott returns to the ring and has his rolling Flatliner interrutped with a superkick. Phantom Driver only gets two! Santos hits Three Amigos and goes up top but misses the frog splash. Scott disgustingly stomps on Escobar’s arm. House Call hits and he adds the 450 splash but that only gets two. The fight goes to the apron where Santos knocks Scott back and he hits his head on the metal part of the turnbuckle. He’s out. Escobar hits a double underhood facebuster onto the knee to retain.

Winner: Santos Escobar in 15:19 [I knew they had something great in them from their TV matches and they saved it for here. Fantastic back and forth, just the right amount of interference, and some tremendous work by two guys looking to steal the show. The finish did come off oddly though. ****]

NXT Women’s Championship: Io Shirai [c] vs. Candice LeRae

Their previous TakeOver match was my women’s MOTY in 2019. Fast start upsets Candice who takes a powder when it doesn’t go her way. Candice wants a monkey flip but Io lands on her feet and again, Candice has to step outside. Candice finally gets a slight upper hand after blocking a sunset flip bomb outside but Io kicks her away and hits an Asai moonsault. Inside, she chokes Candice with her boots and adds double knees for two. Candice hits a Backstabber out of the corner for two and that puts her in control for a bit. She starts in with some underhanded tactics like dragging Io’s face across the turnbuckle. A neck snap gets her two. You can tell this is a more aggressive Candice as she wears down Io. Suplex gets two. She misses the step up senton and Io nails a double stomp. She follows with a flapjack and the Tiger Feint Kick. Springboard missile dropkick gets Io a near fall. Candice hits the senton but her quebrada is cut off by a kick. Stalling double underhook backbreaker by Io. She goes up but Candice takes her down with a powerbomb. Io rolls through and hits Meteora. Palm thrust and German suplex connect before Candice hits a rebound snap Germa of her own. Backstabber again. Quebrada connects for two. Candice slaps her and talks trash but gets pulled into the crossface. She counters into a pin and transitions to the Gargano Escape. Io makes it to the ropes. Candice holds until the count of four and she accidentally hits the referee. Io with Air Raid Crash and Candice gets her feet up on the moonsault, which sends Io into the referee, knocking him out more. Candice with the Super Dragon Curb Stomp (Wicked Stepsister) but there’s no referee. Johnny Gargano runs out with a referee shirt and counts fast but Io kicks out. A frustrated Johnny takes the title and says it’s Candice’s. The ref is up and they argue, ejecting each other. Candice is sneakily given the title and hits Io with it. She covers and Io still kicks out. Johnny throws a fit outside. Io takes Candice up top and hits the avalanche Spanish Fly. She goes up and nails the moonsault to retain.

Winner: Io Shirai in 16:44 [Not quite on the level of their previous classic but still a hell of a wrestling match. Io Shirai is right there among the best wrestlers in the world. Fantastic wrestling. ****]

Io celebrates in the ring when Toni Storm appears on the screen to say it’s good to see her. She congratulates her and wants everyone to know that she is back in NXT and that’s a warning for Io.

Now, we go to the video of the person who is supposed to be coming to NXT on a motorcycle. They enter the building and Io’s waiting in the ring. IT’S EMBER MOON! She stares down Io and both women smile.

Ashante gets interviewed and says that he has swagger and calls it his “richual.” That’s how he spells it. It’s showtime.

NXT Championship: Finn B├ílor [c] vs. Kyle O’Reilly

We start with a feeling out process as neither man gains a clear advantage. Finn has the upper hand until Kyle goes to submissions. Finn scrambles to the ropes but Kyle puts a target on the shoulder. Kyle keeps the pressure on the shoulder to hold serve. Finn finally gets free and destroys him with a dropkick. He returns the favor by targeting Kyle’s arm. He even mocks the air guitaring by doing so on Kyle’s arm. He fires off chops, keeping up the pressure but gets turned inside out with a kitchen sink. Kyle starts in with his bridging trio of double underhook suplexes for two. Kyle adds knee strikes and both men have red chests from chops and strikes. They trade shots in the middle of the ring and Kyle gets floored by a kick to the midsection. He also takes the Bret Hart sternum bump in the corner. Finn adds another kick there that floors Kyle. He fights back with a knee and a Regal Plex for two. Finn gets his own near fall and he adds an elbow to Kyle’s midsection. Slingblade connects. Kyle cuts off the John Woo dropkick with a dropkick to the knee. Finn blocks Kyle’s next offensive attempt and slaps on the abdominal stretch. He wants 1916 but Kyle counters with an atomic drop on the knee. Finn blocks the kneebar and turns it into a Sharpshooter. Kyle claws to the ropes and gets it. Kyle is bleeding from the mouth. No word if it’s internal or from something else. Finn stomps on him a few times. Kyle blocks one and hits a series of forearms. He kicks Finn in the leg and nails Ax and Smash. Pele kick and rebound lariat. Finn catches a kick and levels Kyle. He blocks 1916 and locks in a guillotine. Finn fades and Kyle backs off to hit a knee strike. Brainbuster added for two. Kyle takes the kickout into an armbar but Finn blocks. Finn fires off more forearms. He gets Kyle up for 1916 but that’s only good for two. Kyle hits a dragon screw over the top rope and adds another to the middle rope. He hits a diving knee drop onto a draped Finn. Kyle goes up and adds another knee drop onto Finn’s knee. He applies the heel hook and transitions to a more painful version. Finn slugs away at Kyle but he doesn’t let go. Finn finally gets free but Kyle is up and he’s not. He goes for a kick when Finn gets up but the champ crumples down. However, the slight hesitation by Kyle lets Finn trip him up and hit a double stomp. Kyle is up with a corner knee. German suplex but Finn rolls through into the double stomp. Finn goes up and nails the Coup de Grace to retain.

Winner: Finn Balor in 28:29 [I knew this would be good but it blew away my expectations. My friend tweeted that it felt like Danielson-era ROH and that’s accurate. It was a true fight with them beating the hell out of each other and having some exchanges that were incredible. I loved this match so much. ****1/2]

Post-match, Finn and his bloody lip help Kyle up and they shake hands. It all goes wrong when they look outside and see Ridge Holland carrying a battered Adam Cole. He dumps cole and UE rush out to check on him. Finn says he has no idea what happened either.

The final score: review Amazing
The 411
The COVID era TakeOvers have been good but not great. Well, this one gets back to classic TakeOver levels. The worst thing was a good KUSHIDA/Dream match. Then, you get a heck of an opener and two **** title matches before an all-time banger of a main event. To top it off, the show runs under two and a half hours, which is great.

article topics :

NXT Takeover 31, WWE, Kevin Pantoja