NXT returns to Toronto for the second time, as the Scotiabank Arena plays host to NXT TakeOver: Toronto II. In the main event, NXT Champion Adam Cole once more defends against the constant thorn in his side, Johnny Gargano, in a 2 out of 3 falls match, with each fall having a different stipulation. Adam Cole has chosen a straight singles match for the first fall, whilst the challenger Gargano has selected that the second fall be contested as a Street Fight. If need be, NXT General Manager William Regal has selected a weapons-filled cage be the setting for the final round. Shayna Basler looks to continue her choke-hold on the NXT Women’s Championship as she faces Mia Yim, and two former friends will go one on one as Candice LeRae seeks revenge against the betrayal inflicted on her by Io Shirai. The current NXT Tag Team Champions, The Street Profits, Angelo Dawkins & Montez Ford will put their titles on the line against Kyle O’Reilly and Bobby FIsh of the Undisputed Era, whilst the final member of the Undisputed Era, Roderick Strong, will be one third of the puzzle as The Velveteen Dream defends the NXT North American Championship against both Strong and Pete Dunne.
+ Io Shirai vs Candice LeRae: I really enjoyed this, both as a story and as the fact it was the first women’s non-title match in years on a TakeOver show. Both LeRae and Shirai should realistically be at the top of the division, and matches like this prove it
+ The Street Profts (Angelo Dawkins & Montez Ford) (c) vs The Undisputed Era (Bobby Fish & Kyle O’Reilly) (NXT Tag Team Championships): despite a bit of a lull in the middle, overall this was a really good match. Ford and O’Reilly both looked great, with Ford in particular showing that if he is handled properly, he will be a massive star
– Adam Cole (c) vs Johnny Gargano (3 Stages of Hell For the NXT Championship): I really enjoyed the first fall of this match, but the following two were such self-indulgent wank I lost all interest. I am not a fan of matches going long just for the sake of going long, and especially as we’re in the middle of the G1 period, where matches can only go a max of 30 minutes. This was another in a growing line of HHH/HBK booked, PWG style ‘very long with lots of kickouts’ match that does nothing in my mind but diminish the offence of your top competitors
– Shayna Baszler (c) vs Mia Yim (NXT Women’s Championship): Baszler still has an aura about her as the top dog in NXT’s faltering women’s division, but that aura is fading fast. This was not a particularly good, or even heated match up, despite the story leading up to it. Something needs to be done with this Women’s division, and I don’t think it would be wrong to just put the title on Shirai — as they should have months ago
– Velveteen Dream (c) vs Pete Dunne vs Roderick Strong (NXT North American Championship): this was really sloppy, and frankly I’d almost have preferred it just be a singles match with any two of the competitors. Dream is best when he is in there with a more experienced guy; Strong is best when he can just go a million miles an hour with his opponent; and Dunne works best when he can play off being the smaller-but-tougher guy. I didn’t like this match
> NXT really dug its own grave with that breakout tournament of late, because showing Austin Theory (of Evolve and Progress fame) in the crowd garnered literally zero reaction
Should you watch this event: It would be easy to blame the dwindling importance of NXT on the impending move to Fox, the call ups of Ricochet/Black/et al or even just the time of the year. Whatever the reason, the fact that people like Matt Riddle, Oney Lorcan/Danny Burch, KUSHIDA, Dominik Dijakovic (who is injured, I admit), Keith Lee, Kassius Ohno and every other competitor from the recent breakout tournament were ignored for yet another 45 minute Cole/Gargano drag is enough to make me not want to watch the show. Maybe I’m well off the mark (consider the reaction I got from a few people form my review of the TakeOver: XXV event), but this is just not doing it for me anymore.