The Rope Break #1: NXT Takeover : Toronto 11/19/16 Review

Well, here we are. I have taken it upon myself, as the only lover of pro wrestling currently here at Nerd Nation Radio, to give my views and opinions on the happenings in and around the squared circle. Will you like everything I have to say or share every opinion that I put out there? Probably not, but give it some time and I’m sure that we may become good friends here and at least mild acquaintances. Maybe I make you smile, laugh, nod in agreement or seethe in anger at my opinions. If I do upset you in some way, feel free to let me know all about it by messaging Jack Graziano, my personal secretary and valet. Now enough about me, Forward to a Glorious future together!

NXT Takeover : Toronto
11/19/16
Review

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Bobby Roode vs. Tye Dillinger: Everything started out with a solid match between two very capable performers. Roode had a stellar entrance with a choir doing a rendition of his music, before the real thing was belted out of the speakers and the choir lip-synched their part. And then Dillinger came down all neoned – LED’d vested up with a silly 10 on his back.

They both did a great job playing their respective roles; Dillinger as the betrayed aggressor and Roode as the cowardly heel. Roode pulled a nice selection of classic heel tricks from out of the ol’ pro wrestling handbook. Pleading with your opponent; check, putting feet up on the ropes during a pin for leverage; check, scraping boot laces across opponents face; check, constantly rolling out of the ring; check. Dillinger was determined to get his hands on Bobby and exact vengeance. Unfortunately, Roode pulled out a victory and that was that. Plenty of near falls, quick reversals and just an all-around fun match to start things off with.

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I really hope that NXT elevates Roode to top of the card, as I’m sure they will eventually, since he is a great heel. Able to be both cowardly and a bit goofy, and yet, can easily flip it around and be quietly confident, smug and nefarious as well. Granted, NXT has Samoa Joe already in place as top heel. So, maybe we can hope to see Roode moving up the ladder soon to WWE’s main roster, as sometimes there seems to be a lack of classic bad guys there.
With that said, Dillinger also deserves some spotlight. Maybe this feud will continue on a bit longer, giving Dillinger a final victory over Roode and helping to bring him out of the shadows of being an enhancement talent in NXT. He may lack some skills on the mic, but he is a very good wrestler, shines in the ring and does his best to make opponents look good.

The Dusty Rhodes Tag-Team Classic Finals: TM61 vs. The Authors of Pain: I was really hoping that this wouldn’t be a squash match, with The Authors of Pain running roughshod over TM61. So, I was pleasantly surprised when it turned out to not be just a total blow-out by the big men. The goofy stipulation to this match, was that The Authors’ manager, Paul Ellering, had to be locked in a cage, which was then hoisted up and hung over the ring. The whole reasoning for this was to prevent Mr. Ellering from interfering in the match, which, of course he did.
I often wonder, if in the fantasy world of wrestling, we are supposed to except that wrestlers don’t ever watch older wrestling matches. Sort of how in a lot of zombie movies, it seems like no one in the film has ever seen a zombie movie. Jimmy Hart, JJ Dillion, Paul Bearer, Paul E. Dangerously (Heyman…if you’re nasty) and even a certain Mr Ellering himself have all been locked in cages in order to keep them from interfering in a match. Now, not all of them did interfere but more often than not, they did.

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Anyways, The Mighty 61 put up a good fight. Using their speed and making with some flippity-floppity, launching their bodies at the 2 Man-Monsters of Pain. Shane Thorne, of TM61, dove from the side of the crane thingie with a beautiful senton that brought the crowd to its feet. Nick Miller, through a series of forearm shots and counters, set up one of the Authors for a crisp moonsault.

Moments later, both members of TM61 individually launched themselves over the ropes onto Akam, only to focus all the attention to the ringside area, allowing the aforementioned Mr. Ellering to drop a chain down for Rezar to use. Which he then failed to use, as it was sent flying into the crowd when Shane Thorne blocked the chain-wrapped punch. Though, seconds later it was over as The Authors of Pain used their Russian Leg Sweep/Big Boot finisher to put Shane Thorne of TM61 down.
I’m not sure why the chain came into play, it seems to almost diminish the abilities and power of The Authors, as the chain provided no leverage whatsoever for them. It wasn’t a distraction for Shane Thorne, he just blocked the shot and then still got overwhelmed by the bigger guy. Did Paul Ellering have such little faith in his team that he thought they could not win without cheating a little? Only one of the Authors were down at that point. Wouldn’t that make Rezar and Akam feel a little insulted that the man leading them has a lack of faith in their chances of outperforming another team? Or is this just a case of wrestling bad guys doing bad things and I shouldn’t spend this much time dwelling on it? Hmmm…Yep. That’s probably it.

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NXT Tag Team Championship: #DIY vs. The Revival (2 Out of 3 Falls): I’m just going to say this right up front: The Show Stealer. I’m not just saying that because I am a big mark for all 4 of these guys (I am coincidentally; especially Ciampa). I am saying it because it’s a fact. Go watch it and tell me you couldn’t immediately watch it again and get into it all over again.

This had everything you could want in a great tag team match. Cutting the ring off, quick tags, plenty of double-teaming and more near falls then you could shake some sort of stick-like object at. The Revival got out ahead with an early pin after hitting Gargano with The Shatter Machine as he attempted to hit Dawson with his outside-inside slingshot spear. After a long sequence of The Revival pulling out all the heelish tag team moves you could think of; Ciampa finally got in on the action and started working Dash and Dawson over. Eventually, Gargano and Ciampa hit their simultaneous knee strike/super kick to a kneeling Scott Dawson to pick up the next pinfall.

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Back and forth this thing went. Gargano played the role of punching bag, as he was the one guy seemingly getting worked over the most. Scott Dawson used his own Championship belt to block Johnny’s little rolling kick thing to the temple and then pulled him into a legbar. A nice callback to their last Takeover match. Both teams even performed each other’s finishers (or at least attempted to in The Revival’s case).

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Eventually, things ended as both Dawson and Wilder were forced to tap after being locked into dual submissions, in the center of the ring, by both Gargano and Ciampa, crowning new NXT Tag Team champions.

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Now every time someone in NXT drops a title or suffers a loss at a Takeover event, speculation begins on whether they are getting a call up to the main roster soon. Hopefully not in this case. Not that I don’t think that The Revival could definitely add some life to either Raw or Smackdown’s tag team divisions. I just don’t want to see yet another team wasted on the main roster. Vaudevillains, American Alpha and even Enzo and Big Cass, to certain extent, have failed to keep up the momentum after their debuts. Enzo and Cass could be seen as the exception to the rule here, as it’s hard to deny that Enzo has got some great mic skills (even though they are starting to wear on me a little) and Big Cass is a great big man, with some talent and enough time to improve on his in-ring work.
But American Alpha, came to Smackdown to a whole lot of fanfare and faded just as quick. And, let’s not even get into The Vaudevilains right now. The tag division on the main rosters is weak, in my opinion, and needs some revamping. So, until that happens let’s keep The Revival in NXT to support the small, but strong tag division on that brand. I could be wrong though (it’s been known to happen from time to time) and maybe The Revival could be just like their namesake for whichever shows tag division should they get the nod.

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NXT Women’s Championship: Mickie James vs Asuka: The Empress of Tomorrow versus the Country Music Sensation? Doesn’t matter, this was another standout. For the first time in a while, we got to see Asuka reeling a bit in a match. Even in her matches against Nia Jax and Bayley, Asuka was never on defense as much as she was in this match. Mickie James looked great and easily kept pace with the champ. There were plenty of locks and counters and quick exchanges between both women. Mickie pulled out some of her greatest hits from her moveset, but Asuka kept coming back.

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Mickie gave as good as she got though, even meeting Asuka’s cockiness and showboating with plenty of her own. Asuka wore Mickie down though, really kicking things up with a fantastic german suplex to Mickie at ringside after capturing Mickie’s foot in an attempted Mick-kick. Asuka finally put the former women’s champion away, forcing Mickie to tap out of a cross-face chicken wing. Asuka continued her seemingly heelish ways as she refused to shake Mickie’s hand after the match and opted to instead just hold the belt up in her face and smile.

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As I said before this was a great match. I’m almost hoping Mickie sticks around for a while in NXT, as the women’s division there has been gutted post-draft. Not that there isn’t some possibilities with the likes of Billie Kay, Peyton Royce, Ember Moon, Aliyah and Carmella Jr…I mean Liv Morgan. It’s just that I’m not sure any of them have displayed the confidence or…well, I’m trying to avoid saying talent, because that just seems mean, but it might be the only word I can come up with. Not that these other women lack talent, I just don’t think any of them have displayed it yet. Billy Kay is possibly the best of this batch with Ember Moon closely behind her. But Asuka just seems to be on a whole other level right now.
NXT Championship: Samoa Joe vs Shinsuke Nakamura: With an already great card how could they screw it all up? Try to outdo the fantastic entrance that Nakamura had at the last Takeover event with a lone violinist legitimately playing along with his recorded entrance music (if the guy wasn’t, it sure fooled me), by instead having a large group of violinists pretending to play along with his recorded entrance music (which I can’t believe fooled anyone).

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Especially the 4 “violinists” waiting in the ring to ham it up. Look, leave all the flailing, spasming and posing to a professional like Nakamura. I was audibly pleading with Joe to just charge the ring and take them all out, they were so annoying. Sometimes less is more WWE, sometimes less is more.
Now that I’ve taken care of that, onto another solid match. By solid, I mean good though, not great. Shinsuke was solid, but throughout the meatier middle of the match, Joe mauled Nakamura. Maybe that’s because they call him “Joey Head-Rocker”, as stated by Corey Graves. To which I submit this question:”Who is this They, that refer to Samoa Joe is such a ridiculous manner?” Because, I have never heard anyone, aside from Mr. Graves, refer to him by this ridiculous nickname. Perhaps you are making this up, Mr. Graves?
At any rate, Joey Head-Rocker had seemingly laser-focus on beating Nakamura to a pulp and reclaiming “his” title. Good hard-hitting back and forth by both men throughout the entire match. Joe went through his powerbomb into a boston crab into an STF sequence and even threw in the crossface for the fun of it. Nakamura returned that with kicks and knee strikes that even made the ref cringe in some comical ways.

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Nakmura hinted at a trip to Suplex City, hitting Joe with a powerful German Suplex. But, it was Joe giving an in-depth tour of said City, with a triumvirate of suplexes (German, Dragon and Straightjacket respectively) and busting himself open a little somewhere along the way. Nakamura knocked Joe out of the ring with a Kinshasa to the back of Joe’s head. Enabling Joe to use the ref to set up a swift shot to Nakamura’s balls. Which, I hear, is why they call him “Joey Nut-Rocker”. Joe then slammed Nakamura onto the ring steps with an STO, rolled him in the ring and hit the Musclebuster for the 1-2-3. Crowning a new NXT Champion.

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This seems to have been a shock to some people, as is evident by the cameras finding and focusing on every other OMG-faced audience member. But, Nakamura versus Samoa Joe is one of the best feuds NXT has ever had and it only makes sense to drag it out a little more. I for one am not complaining. These two wrestlers are at the top of their games respectively and have had two fantastic matches. There needs to be a bumper match to possibly end the feud in the biggest way possible. I don’t necessarily need some gimmicky match or a No DQ (though I feel that is where we may be heading), just, in the words of the great Christian, “one more match”.
Of course, as I said before, a loss leads to speculation and wishful thinking that this means Nakamura could be headed to the main roster. It shouldn’t happen, if that is even really in the cards. Losing either one of these guys right now would leave a gaping hole in the NXT landscape, one that I’m not sure anyone can fill just yet. Maybe, at most, Nakamura enters into some kind of side feud with someone else for the time being. I’m looking at you Andrade Cien Almas or…dare I utter it…Hideo Itami. Hell, Hideo and Joe would be great as well (sidenote, I’m a huge mark for Kenta/Hideo). Nakamura and Roderick Strong, then? Who knows what the future will bring, but I’m sure it’ll be bright.

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This was an excellent show. The crowd was great. The card was tight, with one great match smoothly leading into the next. And now onto Survivor Series, which will certainly not be outshined by the NXT event the preceded it. No. When has that ever happened?
By the way, I hear that they call me “Curty Head-Rocker.” BREAK! (No one calls him this – Jack)