NXT Takeover 31 is aired this Sunday on the WWE Network, so this week NXT’s go-home episode was all about setting the event.
Damien Priest and Io Shirai teamed up to defend their title against Takeover, Candice Lira and Johnny Gargano.
We saw Dakota Kai and Shotzie Blackheart in the singles competition to continue competing in the action, which debuted during last week’s No. 1 Contender Battle Royal.
Finn Balor and Kyle O’Reilly were face-to-face with Sean Michaels, who worked as a moderator or type. Were they able to keep things civil or did The Unsolved Era see an opportunity before Sunday to soften Prince?
Let’s look at everything that happened in this week’s episode of NXT.
8 of 1
What WWE advertised before the show:
- Priest and Shiri vs. Gargano and Lira
- Michaels hosted a meeting between Balor and O’Reilly.
- Kai vs Blackheart
8 of 2
Raquel Gonzalez accompanied Kai to the match against Blackheart at the top of the show. They started at a fast pace and the two women made some close attempts.
The green-haired grappler took control of one of the trademark moves of Lita and Jeff Hardy. He used a quick rollup to get a two-count, before presenting Captain Kota as a peculiar form.
Kai twisted the tables and held him for a choke with his boot until the ref broke him. He dropped Blackheart with a backbreaker as the show went on commercial.
Blackheart hit a good underhook suplex into the bridge for a two-count. Gonzalez tried to give a few words of encouragement, and it worked as Kai hit back with a double stomp and a slam for a near fall.
He battled on the apron and Blackheart hit Sleek Bread No. 2 on the apron. Both women were hard pressed to take them out and the referee ran to see if they were alright. It seemed that Blackheart shook her head slightly on the apron, but she came to her feet for the first time.
Gonzalez trapped her and Rhea Ripley drove her down the enforcer, driving her into the steel steps. Kai set for his finisher but missed and was unable to pull out of a rollup. At the same time, Blackheart quickly forced Gonzalez out of the ring to try and escape.
The spot when Kai and Blackheart crashed to the floor from the apron was legally horrific as the effect looked very brutal. Fortunately, both superstars recovered quickly and recovered.
It was a good performance for both women. Each got to show their uniqueness, but Blackheart came out of it with more momentum due to the win.
The next clash will probably be a tag bout with Ripley and Blackheart featuring Gonzalez and Kai. This can be on takeover or next week’s NXT.
8 of 3
We got a brief interview with Santos Escobar and Isaiah Scott before a video package from O’Reilly, which looked at how he got into business and was working with The Undiscussed Era.
The next segment saw Cameron Grimes away from her move red Dead Moonlight Shack to give promos about how fair last week’s gauntlet matches were. He set up an invitational series of bouts and took out someone who could barely see on the top rope.
Grimes quickly hit The Kew for a quick win. His next opponent staggered on stage and Ridge Holland followed him. Holland took off his jacket and stepped into the ring. He immediately delivered a headbutt and the referee called for a bell to get things.
The powerhouse threw him on the heels and began hitting him heavily on the head. The referee was forced to disqualify Holland when he refused to stop a mudhole in Grimes’s body.
Grade: C +
Most of the Grimms in this segment were his normally disturbing self, which is similar to his character’s point. He is built to make it so we are happy when he gets beaten up.
Holland is coming out, beating and leaving him and a good way to keep building his character is to have someone keep an eye on him. It will be interesting to see if this is a new fight or a one-time bout. Somehow, Holland looked like a monster.
8 of 4
Kushida was the subject of another great video package before facing Tony Neese. The premier athlete tried to focus on him and Kushida burned him with a kick to the head.
Nees hugs her and hangs her on the top rope. He was able to reverse an Irish whip to send Nees to the ring post. When he came back into the ring, he countered a pump handle suplex and began to focus on Ness’s left hand.
He insisted on the former Cruiserweight Champion shortly before putting the hoverboard lock on for the winning victory.
Grade: C +
It was a short and predictable match, especially since Kushida matches in a takeover and is not nice. However, it was still up to him.
Despite being only a few minutes long, everything he did made sense and nothing was realized. Kushida helped her look good ahead of the match with Velvet Dream on Sunday.
Ness is a great wrestler but it seems that the WWE only sees him as the step of the others for a big match. It is a shame because if given the chance, he can do a show-staffing match with anyone.
8 of 5
Adam Cole was in the ring after the break and said how people think that the undiscussed Era has changed. He claimed that they were the same group that won all the titles and the same group that dominated the NXT for three years.
He called Austin Theory to run his mouth about O’Reilly and dared to say the same thing with his face. He gave Theory a chance to get in the ring or be beaten up by the whole group. Theory took him to the first option and landed him in the ring for a match.
Cole got the upper hand with a series of kicks and punches. He used a pump kick to the face and a neckbreaker, as he continued to talk trash in theory.
He chased Theory out of the ring and dropped him with another kick to the face. He kept combating everything that the theory would try to do. He tried to tap Theory on a headlock, but the small wrestler kept him mouth shut.
Theory eventually succeeds in a bit of crime with Draupik, as soon as the show breaks down. When we returned, Cole was fighting to get back under control. He was able to rebound and hit a backstabber for a two-count.
Theory encounters the Panama Sunrise and hits a blue thunder bomb to fall nearby. He traded strikes as soon as he got back on his feet. The UE leader wins and gives a promo pushing KOR towards the camera.
Grade: B +
Cole looked great in the first half of this match. It was the first time he had lost the NXT title, which made him feel confident and like a major competitor.
The second half was more competitive and allowed Theory to show up a bit with moves such as a standing Monsault and a springboard dropkick. He looked good against one of NXT’s best.
In fact, Theory used to fit right in with Yui a year ago. If it doesn’t turn into a big brawl, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Cole at some point trying to recruit Theory.
8 of 4
Casey Catanzaro was there to support Kayden Carter as he faced Xia Li in the next match. He began with a quick takedown and an exchange of counters before the standoff.
Carter made the first big hit with a dropkick from the middle rope, but Lee quickly took him down and began to control the pace with vicious attacks.
They began exchanging pinning combinations and Carter was able to win with a sunset flip. Carter offered Lee his hand, but Lee shook him to the mat and went.
The first few minutes of this match had a fierce display of offense. It was fun to watch but unfortunately, the final pinning combination was sloppy.
This could be the beginning of a heel turn for Lee, which will be the first real character development in NXT. Management has not done much to define her character so this may be the first step.
Carter and Catanzaro are a good combo. If WWE rules about women’s tag titles on those three brands, they could be challenging to belt by the end of the year.
8 out of 8
The meeting between Balor and O’Reilly began with a friendly handshake. Balor congratulated KOR on earning the opportunity and said that he had the utmost respect as a contestant. O’Reilly gave him the same honor.
Michaels asks Balor what he thinks of KOR and he says that only someone who doesn’t pay attention would underestimate O’Reilly. He knows how good he is. O’Reilly said that he is a fan of Balor, but also said that he can tell that he has a big ego.
KOR said that he would defeat Balor and the prince asked if he was going to become a man and do so himself or bring friends of undisputed age with him. KOR said that he would be a man and would do so on his own.
He traded a few more barbs but remained calm and gentle. It ended without a single punch.
Grade: A +
The way WWE introduced this segment was awesome. O’Reilly and Balor also respected each other, saying that they each won was the best way to go with this match.
This is to prove KOR’s big moment that he is capable of becoming a top man on his own. He did not panic or hesitate. He was confident and reassuring in every way.
Balor is a heavy favorite, but O’Reilly did an outstanding job giving people the reason to think he could win in a takeover.
8 of 8
The priest and Shirai went right before Gergano and Lira rang the bell. The referee was forced to wait before the match was called before starting.
Johnny Wrestling tried a stick and move technique, but the North American champion caught him in the face with a boot and landed several clubs in the corner.
Shirai asked for the tag and was happy to oblige the priest. He and Lyrae traded one or two words before they started throwing punches. Poison Pixie counted a German superplex and rolled it for a two count.
Priest and Shirai performed a quiet double team move when he stood on her shoulders and he ran to throw her at ringside at Garganos. After encountering 619 during the commercial we returned from a break to see LeRae in control.
Shirai kills Gargano with an apron before being dropped on Lira’s face. The female champion avoided moaning and struck a backbreaker. Gargano rescues his wife, but ends up taking Shiri to Molos himself. Priest tagged in but the referee gave Lira a low blow from behind while being distracted. Gargano pushed her to victory with DDT.
It was a fun main event. Shirai and Priest showed amazing amounts of chemistry for two people who have never done it before.
LeRae and Shirai have a more personal feud at the moment, but both title matches on Sunday should be entertaining if the match gets anything.
The power couple has evolved into two of the best heels in the NXT. Whether they win or lose on Sunday, they will continue to be a big part of the show going forward.