All good things must come to an end.
For #shinsukenakamura fans, that day has come.
The King of Strong Style fell to Samoa Joe at #NXT Takeover: Toronto, in an outcome that was probably equally as shocking as Goldberg's stunning victory over Brock Lesnar at the Survivor Series.
Samoa Joe is champ, but the true undisputed winners are NXT fans, who were treated to a showcase of stellar professional wrestling action at NXT Takeover: Toronto.
Great wrestling is alive and well and happening under the NXT banner. NXT may be the WWE's developmental territory, but the WWE main brands could stand to learn a few things from NXT. Actually, they could learn a lot. Professional wrestling, when kept simple and free of overproduction, can feel like somewhat of a divine experience.
At NXT Takeover: Toronto, we all died and went to pro wrestling heaven.
Senior Editor Andreas Hale and staff writer Justin Molina run down each match and deliver their final grades.
Samoa Joe def. Shinsuke Nakamura
Nakamura entered the ring accompanied by live violinists who performed Nakamura's theme music. This was one of the greatest professional wrestling entrances ever. Nakamura has Hulk Hogan-level charisma and his walkout to the ring is worth the price of admission. Let's be clear: Nakamura is the best all-around performer in the business today. They topped their NXT Takeover: Brooklyn II match. The match started quicker and the action was fierce throughout. Lots of trading of stiff leg kicks and chops. Both wrestlers work stiff styles so this is the kind of match fans watch in awe. Joe won the match after a low blow, a slam onto the ringside steps and his patented Muscle Buster finisher.
JM: I didn't like the outcome. Nakamura should have stayed undefeated all the way through NXT, but nonetheless this was a great match and if Nakamura is going to put anyone over, Samoa Joe is the right guy. The fans respect his toughness. Seeing Nakamura lose felt a bit like seeing The Undertaker lose at Wrestlemania. I got a bit queasy. The good news is that maybe Nakamura will soon be headed to the WWE now that he is no longer the champion. Even if the Japanese wrestler stays in NXT, he will likely get the title back and that day will feel GLORIOUS (yes, we will get to him later).
AH: I liked the outcome because extending this feud is absolutely the right thing to do. But, for some reason, these two seem stuck just outside of the high level gear that we've seen them have in the past. This was much better than their Brooklyn match as Joe and Nakamura worked a convincing first quarter of the match with strikes. But it lost steam down the stretch. Knowing what these two have accomplished outside of the WWE, the bar is set remarkably high for them. There will definitely be a stipulation when these two meet again and hopefully we can get the classic match that we've come to expect. Oh, and Nakamura's entrance was absolutely amazing.
NXT Women's Champion Asuka def. Mickie James
Mickie's still got it. Even though she is well-past her WWE run, James returned and delivered against Asuka, who is one of the best female wrestlers in the world. James has appeared in Wrestlemania matches and was on the roster during much more popular WWE days. Here she did her job. James sold well for Asuka's stiff offense, including taking a German Suplex onto the floor outside the ring. Asuka retained the title after putting James in the Asuka lock for the tapout victory.
JM: Asuka hasn't had a bad match yet in NXT. She worked well with the veteran James, who brought her experience and maturity into the match. I felt like James was a real women's wrestler, not a model trying to do wrestling moves, like you see a bit with some other female talent in the WWE. Asuka needs to move to one of the main rosters because she's out of competition in NXT.
AH: This match didn't quite come together for me. It felt a little disjointed in spots and had a somewhat abrupt finish. Asuka is entering Demetrious Johnson territory here with absolutely nobody to feud with outside of an eventual collision with Ember Moon. Mickie James looked great and got in some offense. Asuka is still a bit of a jerk. All is well in the world. This just was perfectly fine, just not great.
DIY def. The Revival in a two-out-three-falls match for the NXT tag team titles
One of the greatest tag team matches in NXT history. Gargano & Ciampa and Dash & Dawson turned back the clock and made this match feel like we were watching the Midnight Express vs. The Rock 'n Roll Express in the 1980s. DIY won the championship two falls to one, in an electric match blew away anything with The New Day or Heath Slater and Rhyno, the Raw and Smackdown Live champions. The end came with a double submission, an armbar and a crossface on Dash and Dawson for the victory.
JM: Quick tags, cutting off the ring and working together are hallmarks of great tag team wrestling and both DIY and The Revival showed that they know their history. In doing so, the proved that they are the future. Both teams showed impeccable timing and their sequences were spot on. This match was athletic art. No lame unicorns or horn blowing, over sexualized promos that haven't changed in six months. This was tag team wrestling at its highest level. As Chris Candido used to say, "No Gimmicks Needed."
AH: This was amazing. The Revival have taken old school ring psychology and brought it into the new era. Absolutely brilliant on all fronts. I was actually surprised Ciampa and Gargano went over as it felt like they were going to tease a blowup between the two. That being said, the crowd was electric and exploded with DIY got the job done. It's hard to put into words just how good this match was. But you can bet your bottom dollar that it is in MOTY territory and The Revival are a Godsend.
The Authors of Pain def. TM61 to win the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic
Paul Ellering was locked in a cage suspended over the ring. Something about Ellering doesn't belong. He doesn't add anything to The Authors of Pain. TM61, like The Revival and DIY have mastered the art of tag team wrestling. They pushed the pace in this match and even though The Authors of Pain won, TM61 carried the match with their high-flying moves and tag team execution. Ellering dropped a chain from his cell, but it ended up flying into the crowd accidentally after TM61 Nick Miller blocked it.
JM: The Authors of Pain are big guys so they are getting a push, but they will need to improve their work rate if they expect to ever get over in the WWE. Big guys who throw little guys around isn't a gimmick that gets over strong in the modern era of the WWE. Besides, Braun Strowman already has that gimmick. This was the worst match on the show, but TM61 did what they could to make it bearable. The tag team wrestling scene is strong in NXT and TM61 proved that they are in line for a future title run, even if their job was to make the Authors of Pain look good at NXT Takeover: Toronto
AH: That finish sure was wonky and made zero sense. Having Ellering suspended over the ring in a cage felt unnecessary considering that there wasn't really a feud here. Then the chain drop felt completely contrived. TM61 did their best here but it was all about putting The Authors of Pain over as monsters. They still have some work to do. Not a bad match but for The Dusty Rhodes Classic finale, this was poorly booked.
The Glorious Bobby Roode def. Tye Dillinger
We were treated to a choir entrance for Roode, who has the best music in all of professional wrestling. Roode came out, wearing his Ric Flair robe, with his Lex Luger narcissist gait, and knocked it out of the park. This wasn't pro wrestling; this was live theatre and it was perfection. Roode owned his entrance and the crowd was singing his entrance. Dillinger also has an amazing gimmick with his "Perfect 10" slogan. The crowd shouted "10" every time he hit Roode. If you can get the crowd to act interactively in your match, you'll be successful and sell a lot of T-Shirts. Great back-and-forth action, but Roode won with his version of the DDT after running Dillinger's shoulder into the steel turnbuckle. I felt like either one of these guys could have won the match at any point, which is exactly what you want in a match.
JM: Both Roode and Dillinger belong on the main WWE roster. Roode is Wrestlemania main event material and Dillinger is not far behind him. Roode is near technically perfect in the ring and even though he is wildly cheered, he plays the perfect bad guy role. Dillinger is also a veteran who has now found the best gimmick of his life. These guys should probably wrestle a few more times because they are capable of having a great match every time. This match was a Perfect 10
AH: Tye Dillinger's work is always masterful. He makes his opponent look like a million bucks every time out. Booby Roode's entrance is nothing short of stellar. He is ready for a bump to the main roster because his theatrics outshine his in-ring ability. He's not a bad worker, just better suited for the main roster. This match was solid and perhaps enhanced by the tremendously hot crowd who was still intoxicated by Roode's entrance. Roode going over was the right thing to do. But, seriously, we need to get Tye Dillinger a run.