WWE NXT TakeOver Toronto Results: Winners, Grades, Reaction and Highlights
On the eve of SummerSlam, the Superstars of NXT set the bar impossibly high for their main roster counterparts to surpass with TakeOver: Toronto on Saturday, the latest live-event special to overshadow a WWE spectacular.
In the night's main event, Adam Cole defended the NXT Championship against Johnny Gargano in a best 2-out-of-3 Falls match. Was the leader of Undisputed Era able to defend successfully, or would Johnny Wrestling relive his childhood dream?
Find out who walked out of Toronto with gold around their waist and what each outcome means for the future of the brand with this recap of the WWE Network broadcast.
NXT Tag Team Championship Match: The Street Profits vs. Undisputed Era
Kyle O'Reilly and Bobby Fish sought to make history with their third NXT Tag Team Championship win as they battled The Street Profits in the evening's first bout. Angelo Dawkins and Montez Ford looked to prove they were no joke.
Champions Ford and Dawkins started quickly, but the latter eventually found himself across the squared circle from his partner and on the receiving end of the targeted attack of the challengers.
Dawkins created some separation and made the hot tag to Ford, who exploded into the ring and tried for a People's Elbow, only to be tripped up by O'Reilly. He fended off the quick striker and delivered a Rock Bottom for a near-fall.
O'Reilly worked a heel lock on Ford, looking for a tapout, but Dawkins broke the hold by spinebusting Fish onto his partner.
Now officially in the match, Dawkins threw his opposition around the ring, delivering a Nigel McGuinness-esque suplex to O'Reilly. A double-team maneuver put Undisputed Era's championship aspirations in jeopardy, but Fish broke up the pin.
Late, Dawkins delivered a pair of spears and Ford delivered a frog splash to O'Reilly for the successful title defense.
Street Profits defeated O'Reilly and Fish
Once upon a time, The Street Profits had to scratch and claw for television time. Now, they are as hot as any act in NXT thanks to superb in-ring performances and the raw energy they bring to every match. What they have accomplished in NXT is the blueprint for success on the main roster, and anyone who does not see that is foolish.
Including Vince McMahon.
Ford is as charismatic a performer as WWE has this side of Velveteen Dream. Dawkins is an explosive big man who never lets his size dictate what kind of performer he is. Together, they are a total-package tag team that should stand atop the division, main or developmental, for years to come.
As usual, O'Reilly and Fish are the epitomai of greatness. Their work is flawless. Whether they were working over the champions or bumping for their offense, they were extraordinary here. They may not leave Toronto with the gold, but there is no denying the bar they continuously set for other teams both in WWE and elsewhere.
Candice LeRae vs. Io Shirai
Candice LeRae sought revenge for a shocking betrayal at the hands of Io Shirai nearly a month ago as the former friends took to the squared circle in the second match of NXT's tussle in Toronto. Said revenge would have to wait, as Shirai dropped her on the announce table with a sickening suplex right out of the proverbial gate.
The pain that racked the body of her opponent allowed The Genius of the Sky to seize control and work over LeRae with a tenacity and unrelenting aggression we have not seen from her to this point.
LeRae fought back, though, surviving a 619 to deliver a tope suicida into a tornado DDT on the arena floor. A top-rope double stomp earned her a close two-count. Shirai recovered and answered a snap German suplex by Candice Wrestling with a bridging German suplex of her own, but she could still only keep the resilient babyface down for two.
Shirai targeted the neck of her opponent, but LeRae fought out and delivered a wicked neckbreaker from the middle rope for yet another near-fall as chants of "this is awesome" filled the arena.
A Spanish Fly from the top rope by Shirai failed to put away her opponent, resulting in a momentary meltdown by the relentless villainess. Frustration mounting, Shirai was still able to apply the Koji Clutch, forcing LeRae unconscious for the victory by referee stoppage.
Shirai defeated LeRae
This was a hell of a wrestling match between two women who have had one of the better stories in NXT over the last handful of weeks.
LeRae was a tenacious performer, refusing to give up. She never quit. Her body did, though, costing her a match that she appeared to have in hand more than once. She was phenomenal in her first chance to really show the NXT fans what all the hype was about when she was hired.
Shirai is phenomenal.
Her heel work here, including facial expressions when frustration over her inability to put her opponent away set in, was outstanding. She has been a revelation in this new role, even though she has only appeared on television a few times.
It took a few minutes for fans to buy into the story the performers were telling, but once they did, this thing escalated until a fitting ending that creates an opportunity for what will be a hotly anticipated rematch.
And rightfully so.
Triple Threat Match for the NXT North American Championship
Undisputed Era's Roderick Strong found himself on the receiving end of an attack by both Pete Dunne and NXT North American champion Velveteen Dream early in their Triple Threat match.
With The Messiah of the Backbreaker on the outside, Dunne and Dream paired off momentarily. Strong recovered, posted Dream and delivered a backbreaker that left Dunne's fingers tingling on the floor.
Strong grounded Dunne and worked him over, but an explosive Dream halted his onslaught. The champion dropped him with a Russian leg sweep and scored a near-fall. He followed up with a Canadian crowd-pleasing Sharpshooter that Dunne interrupted with a missile dropkick.
The Bruiserweight followed up with a moonsault to the arena floor. Sensing he was gaining steam, Strong and Dream formed a very brief union that ended in blows. Dunne joined in, bringing fans to their feet.
The action continued, both challengers and champion taking control of the bout for a moment or two. A coast-to-coast elbow drop by Dream to the sternum of Dunne drew a huge ovation while simultaneously making Shane McMahon's trademark move look like child's play.
Strong applied his Strong Hold to both opponents but was unable to force a tapout. Dream proved turnabout was fair play, trying for a double Dream Valley Driver. The competitors escaped, and Dunne snapped both opponents' fingers.
Dream executed the DVD to Dunne, but Strong tossed him from the ring just in time to deliver End of Heartache. Just as it looked like he might win the title, Dream flew in from out of nowhere, delivered a diving elbow and successfully retained his title.
Dream defeated Dunne and Strong
Sometimes, too much of a good thing can prove detrimental.
Dream, Dunne and Strong are three of the best in-ring performers in NXT. Their timing is extraordinary, and their chemistry in the singles matches fought between them has been undeniable. They are also incredibly creative workers.
While that creativity was on full display in this one, the match fell apart midway through. It got messier than necessary at times because of the amount of action and the cutesy spots it tried to pack into it. Rather than reverting to the three-way formula that sees one guy powder while the others do their thing, it tried too hard to keep all three involved.
The result was a less-polished match than fans are used to from those involved.
The effort was there, and the fans still ate it up, realizing that even a step below normal for the champion and his challengers is still a notch above nearly everyone else on the roster. Less is more, though, and the jam-packed nature of the bout never really allowed for the spots to breathe or the individual Superstars to shine.
NXT Women's Championship Match: Mia Yim vs. Shayna Baszler
Mia Yim waited 10 years to perform under the bright lights of WWE and wasted no time taking the fight to NXT women's champion Shayna Baszler in TakeOver: Toronto's penultimate match.
She left her reeling from a cannonball in the corner and then sent her to the floor, where Baszler's left arm hit the ring steps. Not one to be on the defensive for too long, the champion seized control and worked her opponent's arm.
The champion's own injured limb continued to affect her adversely, keeping her from throwing clotheslines with the same intensity, execute moves as effectively and allowing Yim to continuously fight out of her grasp.
A desperate Yim repeatedly broke the rules, using the hair or poking Baszler's eye to create some separation. She delivered a beautiful tope suicida and fired up, ready to do what none of her contemporaries could: dethrone Baszler.
She scaled the ropes, but a wicked kick by the champion stalled her. The injured arm prevented Baszler from delivering a superplex, and Yim took advantage, grounding her with Code Red from the top rope.
Yim fought out of Baszler's attempt at a clutch, targeting that injured arm. She did and tried for an armbar. Baszler regained control, and this time, when Yim targeted the arm, Baszler trapped in a triangle and tapped her out to retain the gold.
Baszler defeated Yim
Baszler and Yim have strong chemistry and worked many times with, and against, each other before they ever set foot inside a Vince McMahon-owned ring. On this occasion, they set aside most high spots and nonsense and settled for a focused story that made sense and played into what they do so well.
Take Baszler's arm away from her, and she cannot apply her choke. Take Yim's away, and her strength advantage is negated. What Yim did not account for was Baszler's ability to pull a submission move out of her arsenal, such as a triangle, and still manage to tap her out.
Yim wrestled a street-fight style that allowed her to fend off Baszler's mat technique, but in the end, there was no eye rake or hair pull that could stop The Queen of Spades from doing what she does best: grounding, pounding, tapping and dispatching.
Baszler remains the standard-bearer in NXT.
Best 2-out-of-3 Falls for the NXT Championship: Johnny Gargano vs. Adam Cole
Johnny Gargano and Adam Cole brought their rivalry over the NXT Championship to a close in the main event of the evening, a best 2-out-of-3 Falls match. The kicker? Each fall would have a different stipulation. The first? A wrestling match. The second? A street fight. The third, if necessary? A weapon-filled steel cage match.
Driven by revenge and a crowd that greeted him with a chorus of boos during prematch intros, Gargano seized control early. Targeting the knee of the champion, Gargano sought to take his Last Shot finisher away from him. Cole, though, answered with a wheelbarrow suplex into the ring apron.
Johnny Wrestling recovered and applied an ankle lock, tweaking Cole's injured knee. The champion escaped but quickly fell prey to a belly-to-belly overhead suplex that sent him (and his injured limb) crashing into the corner.
Gargano continued to work the knee of his opponent, outwrestling the champion in the stipulation the defending titleholder handpicked for the fall. Cole built some momentum and tried for Panama Sunrise, but the challenger countered into a sunset driver for two.
Chants of "this is awesome" rang throughout the arena as Cole and Gargano downed each other with a double clothesline.
As the fall continued, a frustrated Cole tried to bring a chair to the ring. Using it as a decoy, he waited until the referee removed it and then kicked Gargano low. It still only earned him a two-count. Gargano utilized the chair, bashing Cole in the back and drawing a disqualification.
Adam Cole leads 1-0.
He unloaded on the champion, mercilessly blasting him with the weapon before taking a seat in the middle of the ring.
A tope suicida to a retreating Cole on the floor continued Gargano's assault.
The second fall took the Supersatsr through the crowd and back to ringside, where Gargano speared Cole through the barricade. He followed with a back body drop through the table, leaving Cole a battered mass. Gargano retrieved weaponry from under the ring, including a table, but the delay allowed the champion to recover and drop him for a two-count.
Gargano recovered, sent Cole into a steel chair propped between turnbuckles and tapped him out to the Gargano Escape for the second-fall victory.
Cole and Gargano tied 1-1.
A barbed-wire steel cage, complete with weaponry strewn about it, lowered from the ceiling. It was announced there was no escape from the cage, that a warrior could win only via pinfall or submission. Cole and Gargano stared each other down and unloaded with strikes. The crowd erupted, their appreciation for the artistry on display abundantly clear.
A reverse rana from Gargano left Cole propped in a chair. He followed with a wicked superkick for a near-fall. Cole somehow recovered and delivered a backstabber for two.
Gargano blinded Cole with a fire extinguisher and delivered a tornado DDT that left Cole reeling and the official checking on the champion. Both men recovered and scaled the cage, seeking to gain control of a sledgehammer. Gargano delivered a sunset flip powerbomb, climbed back up and wrested the weapon from the cage.
Before he could use it, Cole blasted him with yet another superkick. Cole finally delivered Panama Sunrise and scaled the ladder he introduced to the chaos. He executed another Panama Sunrise, this time off the ladder, for a two-count.
Gargano fought back, sent Cole knee-first into the steel chair and tried for the Gargano Escape with a kendo stick. Cole bit his challenger to avoid it, though. The fight continued, the announcers put over the pain and punishment the competitors endured and the effect the sinister structure had on them.
Gargano delivered an avalanche Canadian destroyer for two. Gargano produced a baggy filled with various weapons, including a pair of pliers. He used them to remove barbed wire from around the cage. Cole joined his opponent on the top of the structure as fans chanted "please don't die."
Grabbing onto each other, they flew through the air, crashing through the table below. Cole rolled over, draped his arm over Gargano and successfully retained his title.
Cole defeated Gargano 2-1
Somebody call Dave Meltzer and tell him to back the star truck up to the bank of Gargano and Cole because it's time to make a six-star deposit.
In a day and age in which 2-out-of-3 Falls matches can be seen every week on WWE TV, Gargano and Cole delivered a masterpiece of storytelling that elevated in violence, intensity and risk, culminating in a match that literally had fans in Toronto caring so much as to chant "please don't die" at two grown men.
More so than their ability to deliver a classic match, that is reflective of their ability to get an audience to invest emotionally in what they are doing. That is where the artistry of pro wrestling comes into play. It is that canvas NXT has allowed its performers to work on. Gargano and Cole put together an hourlong classic that brought their story to a definitive, no-questions-asked end that propels things forward without paying homage to what they accomplished to that point.
When history looks back on the three TakeOver matches Gargano and Cole delivered, it will compare them favorably to the best trilogies in industry history.
The question now is whether this leads to Gargano finally debuting on the main roster.