NXT TakeOver 31: Results, Grades & Opinion
A.K.A. The One Where Kyle O’Reilly Shines
- Damian Priest (c) def. Johnny Gargano to retain the NXT North American Championship
- KUSHIDA def. Velveteen Dream
- Santos Escobar (c) def. Isaiah Swerve Scott to retain the NXT Cruiserweight Championship
- Io Shirai (c) def. Candice LeRae to retain the NXT Women’s Championship
- Finn Balor (c) def. Kyle O’Reilly to retain the NXT Championship
Match of the Night: Finn Balor (c) def. Kyle O’Reilly to retain the NXT Championship
Kyle O’Reilly has arrived. Sure, many people knew that O’Reilly was a talented wrestler, great tag competitor and exceptional air guitarist. What they know now is that he is a top-notch wrestler who belongs in the main event scene. He was on his game against Finn Balor, coming up just short in capturing his first NXT Championship. Many felt Balor wouldn’t lose the title that he is likely keeping warm for Karrion Kross. Still, O’Reilly made us believe he could do it. One heel hook was so close to ending it that I was entirely fooled. This was match of the night, and maybe my favorite match I’ve watched from WWE in months.
After the match, O’Reilly and Balor shared a show of respect. Then it panned to ringside and Ridge Holland had Adam Cole lifeless over his shoulder. Holland simply dumped Cole over the barricade and walked away as Undisputed Era made their way out to Cole’s side. What does this all mean? Is Ridge Holland the next feud for UE? We’ll have to see.
— WWE (@WWE) October 5, 2020
Stacking The Division
We were guaranteed a return to NXT with all of those strange night vision vignettes that had been happening. It turned out to be a women’s star, but it wasn’t the only return on the night. Right after Io Shirai defended the Women’s Championship against Candice LeRae, Toni Storm appeared on the video screen to congratulate Shirai. Storm told everyone to keep their head on a swivel because she is back.
Right after that excellent news, the mystery motorcycle person appeared: Ember Moon! There were fears that her recent achilles injury was a career-ender, but that is not the case. It’s great to see Ember back in NXT where she will be an immediate challenger for Shirai. The NXT Women’s Division is already one of their strengths, and tonight it got a whole lot stronger.
The Emergence of KUSHIDA
KUSHIDA was one of the hottest free agents in the wrestling world when he got signed to WWE around Wrestlemania 35. In the year and a half since, KUSHIDA has not had a TakeOver match. That streak ended this night, and he looked great in his victory over Velveteen Dream. After putting away Dream, KUSHIDA showed a vicious streak by continuing the beatdown after the match. Some are positing that this amounts to a heel turn. I’d say not yet – Dream has acted more like a heel for the entirety of their feud and for the match.
The Gargano Way does not seem to be working for NXT’s most famous couple. In the opener of TakeOver, Johnny Gargano was unable to unseat Damian Priest. He tried all the tricks in the book but was put away by the Archer of Infamy. Later on in the night, LeRae was unsuccessful in beating Shirai. Gargano even donned the referee stripes to try and do a fast count but it didn’t work. The big question is now this: what’s next for the Gargano-LeRae household? They’re now maybe more interesting than they’ve been in months.
The first TakeOver to emerge from the Capitol Wrestling Center was an excellent and speedy show. All of the matches told intriguing stories, and the in-ring action was top notch. We already waxed poetic on the O-Reilly-Balor match, but no match had bad action. Special shout out to Santos Escobar & Swerve Scott, who put on a great Cruiserweight Championship match. This is a show that will stand up as maybe the best in-ring TakeOver of the pandemic era.
One More Thing:
Get excited – Halloween Havoc is returning! NXT presents Halloween Havoc on October 28th, so get excited for spooky season on the black and gold brand.