Preview by Joseph Currier
WWE's first major event of SummerSlam weekend takes place tonight as the Scotiabank Arena in Toronto, Ontario, Canada hosts NXT TakeOver: Toronto.
A two-out-of-three falls match for the NXT Championship will headline the show. It will be Adam Cole vs. Johnny Gargano -- and each fall will have a stipulation. Gargano has chosen a street fight, Cole has chosen a normal wrestling match, and William Regal will pick the stipulation if they go to a third fall.
Three other titles will be on the line tonight. Shayna Baszler faces off with Mia Yim for the NXT Women's Championship, Velveteen Dream defends his North American Championship against Roderick Strong and Pete Dunne in a triple threat match, and The Street Profits (Angelo Dawkins & Montez Ford) will defend their Tag Team titles against The Undisputed Era (Kyle O'Reilly & Bobby Fish).
After Io Shirai turned heel against her, Candice LeRae will take on Shirai tonight.
Our live coverage begins at 7 p.m. Eastern time.
The pre-show was mostly all hype and hard sell. Charly Caruso hosted the kickoff show alongside panel members Sam Roberts and Pat McAfee. She was much better than the other two.
One newsworthy aspect was the third fall of the match was revealed to be a weapons-filled cage match. So it is basically "Three Stages of Hell", although they didn't use that name.
The main card opened with the tag team title match.
NXT Tag Team Champions The Street Profits (Montez Ford & Angelo Dawkins) defeated Undisputed Era (Kyle O'Reilly & Bobby Fish) to retain the titles
Ford pinned O'Reilly after a five-star frog splash. This was a really good opener. The crowd started the match with dueling chants while Dawkins and O'Reilly started in the ring. They each tried to punk out the other. Ford tagged in to hit Fish with a high Okada dropkick. Some quicks tags by the Profits as they worked over Fish's arm. A distraction turned the tide in the Era's favor.
O'Reilly and Ford had some great sequences. The Profits were using double team moves when Ford was tripped up and knocked off the apron by Fish. Dawkins was cleaning house, but he was soon outnumbered. Undisputed Era worked over Dawkins as they grounded him. He eventually tagged out and Ford ran wild with a lariat and a standing moonsault. A spinbuster set up Ford teasing a People's Elbow. O'Reilly grabbed Ford's leg to break up the attempted elbow. Ford a moment later delivered a Rock Bottom.
A chop block to a knee cut off Ford. The Era did cool combo that as a DDT into a German suplex. Ford and Fish fought while perched on the top turnbuckle. Fish gave him a super exploder, and O'Reilly leapt off the top with flying knee drop. O'Reilly then applied an achilles lock. Dawkins made the save in dramatic fashion.
Dawkins ran wild off a hot tag. Profits executed a Doomsday Blockbuster on O'Reilly for a nearfall, and Fish made a save. A melee developed with all four taking part in a slugfest. Ford flew over the ropes with a tope con giro.
Dawkins speared both O'Reilly and Fish. Ford jumped off the top into a frogsplash on O'Reilly for a pinfall.
Ricochet was shown in the crowd.
Io Shirai defeated Candice LeRae
Shirai won via referee stoppage after applying a Koji Clutch in a grudge match. This was an exciting match, and very unlike most WWE women's matches. It was unlike many men's macthes in WWE too. The style could have worked on a G1 card. Overall I thought it was the best bout on the card.
LeRae attacked Shirai before the bell to start a brawl. The fight spilled out of the ring where Shirai suplexed LeRae onto an announce table. LeRae sold it big as Shirai shined her up for an eventual comeback. Shirai worked her over and used an Air Raid Crash to get a near fall.
Shirai missed a missile dropkick and LeRae began to rally. She applied an octopus stretch on Shirai. LeRae blocked a 619, and she hit a neckbreaker. Nevertheless, Shirai delivered a 619 moments later.
LeRae flew out of the ring with tope suicida that she turned into a tornado DDT on the floor. Back in the ring, LeRae hit Shirai with a double foot stomp for two. They traded Germans and were going back-and-worth. A reverse rana by LeRae netted her a two-and-a-half count. Mr. Toad's Wild Ride got LeRae another close two count.
They went to the top where Shirai executed a Spanish Fly, but LeRae kicked out on a lateral press. Shirai countered a backslide into a backbreaker to set up her moonsault off the top. LeRae kicked out again to a huge pop. They had the crowd feeding out of their hands at this point. Shirai then applied the Koji Clutch, and LeRae passed out so the referee called for the bell to end it.
Matt Riddle interrupted the show as he stormed through the crowd and got in the ring wearing street clothes. He called out Killian Dain and wanted a fight. Dain entered the scene and a brawl erupted. They brawled around ringside and up the ramp. Officials poured out trying to separate them. Riddle fired up with a ripcord knee. In a stunt to end the brawl, Dain came back to put Riddle and a plant through a pair of tables off the side of the stage.
NXT North American Champion Velveteen Dream defeated Roderick Strong and Pete Dunne in a triple threat to retain the title
Dream pinned Dunne after stealing the pinfall from Strong. This was action packed and the crowd loved it.
The dance squad from the Toronto Raptors came out dressed as mounties as the theme song for The Mountie blared. They did a dance rountine before Dream made his entrance wearing a mountie hat.
Dream was sent outside at the outset to leave Strong and Dunne in the ring for an explosive start to the match. Dream took off his suspenders and got serious. Dunne and Strong teamed up on Dream. Strong was sent outside, leaving Dunne to face off with Dream. Dunne was unimpressed by Dream doing Rick Rude gyrations. They grappled, and Dream blocked a Bitter End only to get crotched by Strong.
Strong fired up with a flurry of backbreakers on the floor. Strong worked over Dunne and stretched him. Dream jumped back in to run wild. He did a tribute to Bret Hart and applied a sharpshooter on Strong. Dunne broke up the hold with a missile dropkick.
Strong flew outside with a wrecking ball dropkick. Dunne did an Asai moonsault on the floor. This led into a series of three-way spots and slugfests. Dunne delivered a DVD, but Strong hit Dream with an Olympic Slam. Dunne then hit Dream with an X-plex. They did a convoluted Tower of Doom-esque spot off the top turnbuckle.
Dunne was applying a triangle on Strong in a corner when Dream broke it up with a coast-to-coast flying elbow drop. Strong was soon on fire with series of suplexes and strikes. He put both in the Stronghold at the same time. Dream went for a double DVD, but it was blocked. Dunne then did a double finger break spot.
A Bitter End by Dunne on Strong led to Dream diving in to stop the count. Dunne tied Dream in a knot and hit him with a curb stomp. Strong did a Lance Storm roll into applying a Stronghold. Dream executed a DVD on Dunne. Strong delivered End of Heartache, and Dream stole the pin to get the win.
NXT Women's Champion Shayna Baszler defeated Mia Yim to retain the title
Baszler submitted Yim with a triangle heascissors. The story of the match was them both targeting an arm. A subplot was Yim resorting to dirty fighting. Yim got a special entrance with a bunch of people on the stage dressed in all black apparel. They wore backwards ball caps and bandanas covering their faces much like Yim does.
They started with intense grappling. Yim with a cannonball in a corner, and the fight then spilled outside. Yim targeted an arm and pinned it between the ring steps and the ring. Baszler sold the arm the rest of the match. Baszler soon cut her off and she targeted Yim's arm while also selling hers.
Both were selling arms. Baszler applied a wristlock and Nigel on commentary got in a Volk Han reference. I popped huge for that. Long live RINGS!
Yim with dirty tactics by raking the eyes to swift the momentum. Yim flew through the ropes with a tope suicida, and she followed up by springboarding into a tornado DDT. Baszler soon cut her off with strikes.
Yim did an avalanche Code Red for a close near fall, but Baszler a moment later caught Yim in a Kirifuda Clutch. Baszler's injured arm was too weak so Yim was able to pry herself free. Yim then gave Baszler a receipt by stomping her arm much like the champ did in the past.
Yim went for armbar, and Baszler again counters into applying the Kirifuda Clutch. Yim was able to escape as Baszler's arm was still weak. Baszler then transitioned into a headscissors in the middle of the ring. Yim could not escape so she tapped out.
NXT Champion Adam Cole defeated Johnny Gargano in two-out-of-three falls to retain the title
Cole was awarded the first and third falls to win the match. In my opinion, this was the weakest of their TakeOver matches. Not that it was bad, but the concept hurt the match more than helped. The weapons-filled cage in the third falls came off very hokey with all the gimmicks. It was blood and guts without the actual blood and guts.
Maybe because I've spent the last five weeks watching G1 matches, but this match seemed very contrived instead of serious. The gimmicks were hard to take serious even though they pushed it as being deadly serious. Seemed like overkill. These two guys don't need all the smoke and mirrors. They are such good wrestlers that they also don't need all the gimmicks. Just seemed like weapons for the sake of weapons.
Cole won the first fall via DQ when Gargano used a chair in a straight wrestling match. Gargano then evened the falls in a street fight when Cole tapped out to the Gargano Escape. Cole went on the pin Gargano in a cage match after both fell off the top of the cage through tables.
The opening fall was a straight catch-as-catch-can wrestling match, and it was arguably the best of the three falls. They grappled and ran through sequences, which was great as usual for these two. Gargano had Cole reeling and trapped in an Indian Deathlock, but Cole eventually made the ropes. Cole gave Gargano a wheelbarrow suplex into the side of the apron. Ouch. Cole then went for his Panama Sunrise -- only for Gargano to counter with an exploder suplex in a corner. More counters by both followed.
A Michinoku Driver netted Gargano a two count. He jumped off the ropes with a double foot stomp on Cole's knee to set up a figure-four leglock. Cole was able to escape, and he soon delivered a wheelbarrow suplex for two. They traded kicks, and Gargano used a sunset driver for another two count.
Cole countered with a Michinoku Driver for another near fall. They both went down on a double clothesline. Cole would roll out outside where he blocked an attempted tope using an enzuigiri. Gargano countered another attempt at a wheelbarrow suplex. He then used a slingshot DDT to get yet another two count.
Cole grabbed a chair from ringside and brought it into the ring. The ref took it from him. That was the distraction Cole needed so he could hit a low blow behind the ref's back. Gargano still managed to kick out at two-and-a-half. Cole sat in the chair while taunting Gargano.
Cole began arguing with the ref, and walked into a superkick from Johnny Wrestling. Gargano then grabbed the chair and hit Cole with it for the DQ -- so Cole won the first fall.
The second fall was a street fight so the chair was now legal. Gargano waffled Cole with the chair repeatedly in a take off of Steve Austin doing the same spot with The Rock in one of their famous matches.
Gargano then sat in the chair much like Cole had previously done. Cole took a powder, and Gargano hurled the chair at Cole on the outside. Gargano followed with a tope suicida.
They brawled into the crowd and fought around the building. As they approached the corral area, Gargano jumped into a flying crossbody, and they crashed through the barricade. Cole took control and went for a move on top of an announce table. Gargano countered with a backdrop that sent Cole through an adjacent announce desk. It crumbled into pieces.
Gargano brought tables into the ring. Those props wouldn't factor into the match until much later during the finish.
Cole cut off Gargano with a shining wizard. He then gave Gargano a ushigoroshi on a chair for a near fall. Cole wedged a chair between two turnbuckles. He would live to regret it when Gargano sent him into the chair like a lawn dart. Upon application of the Gargano Escape, Cole tapped out to even the falls at one apiece.
The cage lowered over the ring for the third falls. The crowd chanted "ECW", but nothing was seemingly ever this hokey in an ECW cage match. Props like kendo sticks, chairs, ladders, and other gimmicks were hanging around the cage. The top of the cage was surrounded by barbed wire. This was the light beer equivalent of full flavored FMW style.
The rules were pin or submission, so at least one hokey aspect of WWE cage matches was dropped. The escape the cage rule was waved. Cole tried to escape at one point, but he was fleeing instead of trying to win.
They started the third fall with a slugfest inside the cage. They then traded shots with kendo sticks. A double superkick sent both into a double down. Gargano hung from a ladder suspended above the cage. He dropped down to catch Cole with a hurricanrana. Gargano then gave him a reverse rana. Cole was seated in a chair so he could eat a superkick.
Cole still fought back to deliver a backstabber for a two count. Gargano sprayed Cole with a fire extinguisher. He then leapt into a tornado DDT on Cole for another near fall. Gargano battered Cole with kendo stick shots.
They were on the top rope fighting over a sledgehammer when Gargano delivered sunset bomb. Gargano retrieved the sledgehammer, but Cole caught him with a superkick. Cole twice delivered the Panama Sunrise, and Gargano somehow kicked out both times.
Gargano used a kendo stick to help apply a crossface. Cole bit Gargano, forcing him to release the hold. Gargano off the top with an avalanche Canadian Destroyer for a close near fall.
Gargano emptied a burlap sack to reveal wire cutters. He climbed atop the cage so he cut clip a section of barbed wire. This was when Cole tried to flee. They fought on a platform on top of the cage. Below them were two tables set up side-by-side.
Using the barbed wire, Gargano went to rake the face of Cole. They both fell off the platform and crashed through the tables. Cole was able to drape an arm across the chest of Gargano, and the referee counted three. Cole won the match, and his Undisputed Era stablemates came out to help him get out of the ring.