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NXT TakeOver 31 Review

One Man’s Wrestling Opinion

NXT Takeover 31 Review

As usual, this was a very good Pay Per View. What I love about TakeOvers is that there is only five matches so they have plenty of time to breathe and develop and you are not stuck watching a four-hour show.  I will keep saying it. NXT just needs to do what they always do and not play up to the ratings war.

Realistically they won’t win the ratings war week after week so why try. Just put on the type of shows you have always done. NXT needs to develop stars again and this TakeOver did just that. Also, the Capitol Wrestling Center looks amazing. I went 4-1 with my predictions which is something I hate when I look at any card.

Damian Priest(c) def. Johnny Gargano North American Title Match

Gargano really put over Priest in this match. He is really a great worker. I mentioned this before that I don’t know what Gargano has left to do at NXT. Seeing that he lost and his wife lost could they be going to the main roster? I mean it looks like WWE could be doing the power couple angles with so many of them possibly forming in the coming weeks.

I like Priest too. I want to see him have a good title run. And I like it when a PPV match ends a feud.

Thumbs up

Kushida def. The Velveteen Dream

So Kushida is a heel now and showed a more aggressive side to him. I feel that Kushida has been a disappointment since signing with NXT. I know he has had injuries but he is a good worker. As for the Dream can you say that he is getting punished for his legal troubles? But why is he getting a PPV match? Maybe because they are going to bury him and write him off of TV for a long while.

Kushida really worked that arm and attacked him twice after the match. It got to the point that the Dream was screaming in pain yelling to make him stop. Excellent selling by the Dream and a good overall match. But it’s sad that the Dream could not stay out of trouble and burying one of your best workers is never a good thing. Hopefully, Kushida gets a push out of this.

Thumbs down 1

Santos Escobar(c) def. Isaiah “Swerve” Scott Cruiserweight Title Match

Excellent match and these guys can really work. This was the one match where I predicted a title change and I got this wrong. Raul Mendoza and Joaquin Wilde tried to interfere when Ashante “Thee” Adonis came to even up the odds. I can’t really say the in-ring action was bad I just hate the outside stuff. I did want to see a title change here but it looks like Triple H has other plans.

Thumbs up

Io Shirai(c) def. Candace LaRae NXT Women’s Title Match

There is a lot to unpack here. First of all, Io is tremendous in the ring. She should hang onto the title at least through the end of the year. LaRae has gotten better and she is much better as a heel. Secondly, I really didn’t need to have Johnny Gargano interfere in a woman’s match and put on the referee’s shirt. Like I mentioned before both Gargano and LaRae could be headed to Raw or Smackdown. But a good match.

Now lastly to have both Toni Storm come back and also Ember Moon be revealed as the mystery former champion just makes no sense to have both come back on the same show. Storm and Moon should have had that moment all to themselves. You could have had Storm cut that same promo on the weekly show when Io is in the ring talking about who could be her next opponent. I would have Moon and Io in the ring cutting promos and then have Storm appear on the Tron. Clearly, both of them will be in the hunt for the title.

Man NXT’s women division is so stacked. Even if LaRae goes to RAW or SD both Storm and Moon are better then her.

Thumbs down 1

Finn Balor(c) def. Kyle O’Reilly NXT Heavyweight Title Match

Great match. Very physical. Both guys got legit injured. The right guy won the match. After the match, Balor shook Kyle’s hand. Rumor has it that Balor ended the match early due to the injuries and also might have given Kyle a receipt for possibly breaking his jaw.

But the night was not over as Ridge Holland carried a beaten down Adam Cole to ringside and dumped him on the floor. The rest of the Undisputed Era came running to Cole’s aide. SO I am curious to see where they are going with this. And the pretty much confirms that the Undisputed Era is not going to Raw or Smackdown.

Thumbs up

NXT TakeOver Preview

NXT TakeOver Preview

One Man’s Wrestling Opinion

NXT TakeOver

In what feels like a rushed NXT TakeOver we have four title matches and one grudge match. I feel that NXT put this together as well as it could with the time constraints they had. NXT needs to get back to building new wrestlers like they did in the Pre AEW days. I have said it all along that if NXT just continued the course they would be fine. But as we have seen that didn’t happen and probably because the old man wanted it to change.

The appeal of an NXT TakeOver has always been that the card is not big with five matches that are full of action. TakeOvers have always been the best PPV’s of the year. Does Triple H drop a surprise tonight?

Finn Balor (c) vs Kyle O’Reilly NXT Championship Match

This is Balor’s first title defense so there is no way he is losing this match. With that, I like the decision to place O’Reilly in this match. Kyle has always been in my opinion the fourth wheel of the Undisputed Era so it will be great to see him get this moment.

This will probably be the best match of the night if it is given time and if UE does not interfere. I liked the way Triple H came about getting the number one contender for this match. Balor is not losing so why waste a marquee match on a night when we already know hi is winning.

Prediction: Finn Balor Retains

Io Shirai (c) vs Candace LaRae NXT Women’s Championship Match

If past matches between these two are any indication this match also will be very good. Io has had the title since June 7th and I expect her to retain the title. This is another match where I hope we don’t see outside interference. But this match will be really good. LaRae has been great with her new character with Johnny Gargano. LaRae will be champion one day. Just not now,

Prediction: Io Shirai retains

Damian Priest (c) vs Johnny Gargano NXT North American Championship Match

There has been a pretty good build for this match. Priest won the title on August 22nd so I expect him to retain tonight. Gargano will definitely raise Priest’s game and stature with a great match. I want to see Preist keep this title for a little while.

Prediction: Daiman Priest retains

Santos Escobar (c) vs Isaiah “Swerve” Scott NXT Cruiserweight Championship Match

This could be the one title match where we see a title change. Escobar won the title on May 27th and has had a decent run. I think his run would be better with fans in the stands. I think Scott wins the title tonight in a good match.

Prediction: Isaiah Swerve Scott wins and becomes the new champion.

Kushida vs Velveteen Dream

This has been a fast-tracked match between two very good wrestlers. I am in the fence with this because of the cloud surrounding the Dream. I am not sure Triple H will push the Dream right now and Kushida does need a push. He could have a high profile match vs Finn Balor down the road. This will be another great match.

Prediction Kushida wins.

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NXT Review

NXT Review 9-16

One Man’s Wrestling Opinion

NXT Review 9-16

NXT is back on Wednesday night after spending the last two weeks on Tuesday night. With a Takeover on October 4th, we need new challenges for all the belts. Finn Balor, Damien Priest, & Breezango just won the belts so could they lose it this quick? Maybe Breezango but there aren’t any legit tag team contenders to face them. Maybe the Cruiserweight champion Santos Escobar loses the belt or maybe Io Shirai.

Io Shirai vs Shotzi Blackheart Non-Title Match

I really like how Io’s title reign has been. She has been booked strong. She is the champ so she should be. Shotzi looks like she is getting a push so neither can afford a loss here. So I am curious as to why this match is happening. These two had a damn good match with Io winning. So I am wondering what Shotzi gets out of this match. Is it so everyone knows how good she is in the ring and that she should be considered a legit contender? If so then you just wasted a big match that could be on a Takeover. More on that later.

Very good match. Shotzi showed she belongs in the title picture. But what other business did this do? My themes for all the weekly shows are about character building, storylines, and promos before wrestling matches. And I will always be consistent. I give AEW matches the thumbs down when they do this so NXT deserves the same treatment.

Thumbs down 1

Tomaso Ciampa vs Jobber

I love the ultra-aggressive Ciampa. I am still not sure what else he has to accomplish at NXT. Jake Atlas shows up and challenges Ciampa to a match next week. Not sure what the angle is here. I love squash matches when done correctly. It was done correctly here.

Thumbs up

Drake Maverick Arriving

Drake is such a good and entertaining character. Who knows if his release was a work or a shoot. You can do a lot with his character. He is teaming up with Killiam Dain in a match against Undisputed Era. I liked this segment. But I do wish his wife would start appearing again. Those were funny skits.

Thumbs up

Finn Balor Promo

Clearly, Balor is better suited in NXT because of his body size and type. It was the absolute right decision putting the belt on Balor. Very solid promo by Balor.

Thumbs up

Austin Theory vs Kushida

Theory comes out and says he is a future first-ballot Hall of Famer. I get the reference but WWE does not have ballots or voting. The old man decides who he wants to put into the WWE Hall of Fame. Theory issues an open challenge. Kushida answers and gets the win.

When I look at Theory I compare him to AEW’s Darby Allin. Both were featured prominently in one of those wrestling shows on Vice. Darby has had a much bigger impact of the two despite dealing with some injuries. WWE made the mistake of putting him on RAW when he was not ready. Then came the allegations of sexual misconduct which further held him back.

I do think he can be a good mid-carder but he is just not ready yet. I could be on board for a Kushida vs Velveteen Dream match.

Thumbs up

The Garganos Promo

Some fans have said they are tired of these promos. But I love Johnny Gargano obsessing over his TV. That is what a typical man would do. And he is staying in his heel character blaming Tegan for the broken TV when his wife Candace was the one who broke the TV.

The look on Candace’s face when she realizes her husband could not care less about her talking about Tegan but only cares about his new 100-inch television getting delivered is priceless and so what married couples would do. Taking shots at crooked teeth Thatcher was funny. I love this segment.

Thumbs up

NXT Tag Team Championship Match: Breezango vs Imperium

Good match with 4 really good workers. But again the winner for this match is predictable. With NXT UK now open for business is Imperium going back to NXT UK? So the winner is predictable which I hate in any match.

Breezango should be placeholder champions but where are the other tag teams in this division?  We still have Undisputed Era. Are Danny Burch and Oney Lorcan still a tag team? Where is Indus Sher? In my opinion, I need to see at least four tag teams as contenders for a legitimate division. WWE should just merge all the tag teams into one belt and have it defended on all three shows.

Thumbs down 1

Jessi Kamea and Xia Li vs Kacy Catanzaro and Kayden Carter

This was a fun match with 4 women who need some more exposure. I really like Kayden Carter’s image. Here is the thing. WWE needs more female tag teams. What do we have now? Shayna and Nia Jax are the current champions but that partnership is not going to last long. We have the Riott Squad and that’s it.

All of the established tag teams have been broken up. The IIconics while not being a great team they were at least a tag team. Sasha and Bayley are done. Asuka and Kairi Sane are done. Nattie and Lana are not a real team and Lana is going to get abused now because of her husband talking shit about the WWE. So where are we going with this division?

Beth Phoenix mentioned that you never know when a tag team title opportunity is coming. So I have no problem with this match and with Kacy and Kayden winning. I also loved that Xia would not shake hands after the match. Now in comparison. This was the second women’s match on the show and it’s with the lower level of female wrestlers and it was better than a lot of the AEW women’s matches we have ever seen.

I also feel they dropped the ball with Kacy. I am not saying she is main event material. But she was known by American Ninja Warrior. That’s where I first saw her. I would be pushing that.

Thumbs up

Tegan Nox Promo

I like this build. They are going to have a match possibly at the next Takeover. I don’t see either winning the Battle Royale and getting a title shot. More on that later. Great build for this match. But no more promos. It’s time to get it on. I could see Candace getting eliminated by Tegan and then pulling her out of the match. We have seen that spot a million times and we will see it again next week.

Thumbs up

Drake and Killian vs Undisputed Era

Drake is funny. Killian saying I am not your friend or tag team partner and I am not teaming up with you. Drake no selling it is mad funny. Killian Dane said he is no-showing the match. Drake is getting killed by the Undisputed Era. We get a shot of Killian watching the match from the back.

Finally, Steven Regal approaches Killian and says That is your tag team partner. Are you going to let that happen to him? Killian Dane has lost some weight. So Killian comes out to the ring to watch the match. He throws Drake back in the ring and says just lose and take it like a man. He walks away. Undisputed Era poked the bear and called Killian Dane a Fat Dork. He gets in the ring and destroys Undisputed Era. Bobby FIsh hits Killian with a chair causing the DQ. Drake saved Killian from a chair shot.

Drake gets excited and says we are a tag team and slaps Killian in the chest. Killian lays out Drake with one punch. I do expect them to actually become a team where Killian brutalizes Drake every chance he gets. So I like this.

Thumbs up

Jake Atlas Promo Outside The Arena

I love this stuff. I don’t know where they are going with this but I love it. When I first saw Atlas I knew Ciampa was going to attack him. Atlas was saying next week will be different. He was just excited to be in the ring with Ciampa. But after what Ciampa did to him it lit a fire under him.

Ciampa attacks him and says you want to eat at my table boy. Kyle O’Reilly breaks it up along with other security guards, O’Reilly says you are facing each other next week save it for then. Ciampa looks at Atlas and says I will see you next week. Then he looks at O’Reilly and says I will be seeing you too. Great storytelling spot.

Thumbs up

NXT North American Title Match: Damian Priest (c) vs Timothy Thatcher

This was a really good match but…. Priest was not going to lose his first title defense. So the predictability kills it for me. As for Thatcher, he seems to lose every big match he has. Finn Balor beat him at the last Takeover. He lost the three-way to get into the North American Title Ladder match. Now this one. His only big win was beating RIddle who was doing the honors before going to the main roster.

So this match did nothing for him.

Thumbs down 1


I have been saying it since AEW started. NXT just needs to do their thing and not try to outdo AEW. But that is exactly what has happened. Despite winning a handful of weeks NXT is not built to defeat AEW on a weekly basis. If Vince wanted to crush AEW he has the talent to do it. He could just send some of the RAW and Smackdown guys on NXT for appearances or permanently for guys they are not pushing. End of story. Then Trips can go back into long term storylines. But out of the four shows I find NXT having the best blend of what I like in my wrestling shows. You might like something different and that’s cool.

Women’s Battle Royal

With another Takeover in a few weeks, none of the main titles have any opponents ready. The closest is Io Shirai because NXT gives their women 2 matches a week. So NXT could have very easily just had a normal # 1 contenders match. Instead, they are going with an 11 women Battle Royal with the winner facing Io. I do expect storylines to form out of this match. It should not be a long match either. I am guessing 20 minutes max. I am not sure who is winning this match but my guess would be either Rhea Ripley or Raquel. Dakota and Candace have had title shots already and Candace has to face Tegan at some point first. I am not sure if I want to see Shotzi face Io again so soon despite the match being really good. I think Raquel could survive with a loss. Rhea Ripley can’t. Unless Rhea is headed to the main roster.

Finn Balor

I am so intrigued by this Gauntlet Eliminator Match which is basically just a Royal Rumble that has pinfalls and submissions instead of throwing your opponents to the outside. I like that it is only going to be 5 wrestlers so far and that the intervals will be 4 minutes.

It looks like NXT is going to push some of the lesser wrestlers to the main event. To me, this is brilliant because we know Balor is not losing his first title defense. So why waste a marquee matchup? We only know of three wrestlers who are officially in this match. They are Cameron Grimes, Kushida, and Kyle O’Reilly. Out of these three my pick would be Kushida. I am looking forward to finding out who the other wrestlers will be in this match which would probably be around 30-40 minutes long. There is your counter-programming with Triple H building new stars.

Wrestling Blog 2-23



Let’s see was there anything different about Raw and Smackdown Live this week?  Um I don’t know maybe.  The big story is did Triple H and his father in law Vince McMahon fight over the NXT call ups?  That’s all the buzz.  But since the McMahon family made their speech about change they have introduced 10 new NXT superstars.  The first 6 have made very small implications.  All except for Lars Anderson have actually competed in a match.  Lars has not been seen anywhere in at least a month.  EC3 is not allowed to talk yet.  Lacey Evans just does cat walks.  Tucker and Otis got their names shortened and have cut some pretty funny promos.  Nikki Cross has actually wrestled in some big matches.  Both the ladies were in the Women’s Royal Rumble match.  So why did the WWE bring up 4 of their top stars from NXT to not only compete on both Raw and Smackdown Live but win all their matches.   Tomaso Ciampo, Johnny Gargano, Ricochet and Allestier Black all shined with great matrches.

The Louisiana crowd was not as over as we all would have hoped they would be.  This is even after Triple H giving a scouting report on each and Michael Cole giving more during their video promos.  All 4 are top talents.  But all 4 returned to NXT on Wednesday so was this a one time thing or do we expect these 4 to be mainstays on the main roster?  Well now that Ciampo and Gargano will be re kindling their feud on NXT maybe they will have a NXT Takeover match and come up permanently after Wrestlemania.

But the real problem is not the lack of talent.  It’s the lack of opportunity for all of this talent.  The shows are crowded.  How do you get all this talent enough time to develop into meaningful story lines?  The 4 new guys had 3 matches on Raw and 3 matches on Smackdown Live.  Throw in the useless Braun/Corbin match, another Heyman/Rollins promo(get used to that), Ruby Riott getting another title match and Elias getting interrupted again, Lacey doing a catwalk,  a Dean Ambrose squash match and a funny promo with Seth what was left.  I expected a better promo with the new female tag team champs.  Ryder and Hawkins vs Lucha House Party.  Outside of the new guys debuting and the announcement of DX with Chyna going into the hall of fame(And I will be there) there wasn’t anything else of substance.

Smackdown Live in my opinion is the better show right now.  Even with the whole Charlotte/Becky angle switching to Raw.    There was 5 matches but all were good.  Three of the matches were NXTer’s.  Mandy Rose beats Asuka which could be a set up for a Wrestlemania match.  All 6 participants of the Eimination Chamber match met up in a 6 man tag team match.  Kofi gets the pin and a title shot at Fastlane.  I also thought it was a good idea to not have Carmella on TV while this whole incident starts to die down which it will.  All the matches were good.  But Wrestlemania is fast approaching and we don’t have clear direction on most of the card.  This is something insiders say is very rare this close to Wrestlemania.

On a personal note I am glad to see that Roman Reigns is coming to Raw on Monday to update us on his recovery.  I was a never a big fan of his.  That’s because of the ridiculous push and attempts to jam him down our throats for 3 years.  This has nothing to do with that right now.  I do respect him and I cheer for his recovery and his efforts and bravery facing a disease that just seems to not go away.  Roman will be a true face for life for the kind of person he is.

I also am glad the Carmella/Corey Graves issue is behind us.  I don’t know what is going on at the house shows.  But if she is on live TV this week we will see what kind of crowd reaction she gets.  I don’t want to talk about this anymore cause it’s in my eyes a non -issue.  I just hope Carmella has distanced herself from him as this could be a career killer for her.  The last thing you want is people to see them together and keep getting reminders of what happened.

I have not been a fan of the Total Divas TV Show.  I don’t really have a good reason to not either.  In fact I only binge watched the last 2 seasons because I can’t get enough my princess Carmella.  Watching Big Cass get hurt reminds me that my brother took his MRI in Brooklyn because his boss and owner of the place is a good friend of Shane McMahon and he wanted it to be done quietly.  Carmella is amazing and watching that show I firmly believe that Corey Graves lied to her about how far along his divorce is.

Buy anyway.  I know parts of the show are scripted.  But the emotion are not.  I only saw seasons 7 and 8.  It got me hooked on wanting to watch the 9th season.  It got me to want to watch Total Bellas.  Aside from how beautiful the Bella Twins are.  I was not fans of them in the ring.  It’s not that they are bad wrestlers.  Nikki is certainly not.  It’s just that the women coming up from NXT are better.  They carried that banner for a while.  I have such a new found respect for the Bella Twins now.  They have really become the mentors or the den mothers for a lot of the women in the locker room.  Just to see how they are dealing with all the emotions of the other female wrestlers.  Brie and Daniel Bryan are so good together.  I really feel for Nikki after the breakup with John Cena.  I do applaud her and him for recognizing they wanted different things and calling off the marriage.  Cena is a weird dude.  It’s almost like he is robotic in his real life.  Kudos Nikki.  You deserve to get what you want and you will.  Separation and divorce is really hard.  It takes a while to get over and you need a lot of support.  But poor Nikki.  I feel for her.  But she is so beautiful and driven I know she will come out of this fine.  Brie.  Sweet Brie you will forever be golden for what you did for Daniel Bryan.

Additionaly major kudos to Nia Jax.  She just told the trust about her body and how hard it is for her to find someone let alone date.  For someone who plays a bully on screen she is a really sweet person.  Nia you have a pretty face.  I want you to be confident in everything you do out of the ring.  My Princess of Staten Island Carmella from Massachusetts.  I am from Brooklyn so I definitely understand that kind of woman and I love it.  Sweet and tough and driven.  Not to mention so very beautiful.  I would be your prince forever.  Lana.  There is a lot going on there.  Beautiful woman.  Very focused.  Maybe a bit too ambitious to be liked and get better in the ring.  But I think a complete open book.  Nattie is like the who is the person I am looking to describe her.  She has won titles before.  She is the steady old school woman who is very conservative but she really does not want to be.  Naomi is so down to earth.  I hope she has resolved her issues with Jon.  You really have to feel for Paige.  Great career even though it was cut short.  To have to deal with the other issues she has had as well as the injury is really not fair.  But she has pushed through.