NXT Takeover 31 Review: Solid show capped by excellent main event

As WWE continues producing shows in their Covid-friendly arenas, Takeover 31 was just as impressive. Conn McGillion reviewed all the matches from Takeover 31 for The City.

Photo taken by Miguel Discart. Sourced from Flickr.

The first show to run from the Capital Wrestling Center (CWC)- the state of the art arena designed to house fans via live video feed from their own homes. The CWC is NXTs equivalent of Raw and Smackdowns ‘Thunderdome’. This show was not solely dominated by its main event- top to bottom, the show had plenty to offer. 

NXT Championship- Finn Balor © defeats Kyle O’Reilly at 28:29- With high expectations for this match already, it is safe to say those expectations were exceeded. O’Reilly- known for his tag team work with Bobby Fish and the Undisputed Era- was thrown into the singles deep end when he earned a title shot against new champion, ‘Prince’ Balor. From the get go, the match was extremely physical- the two men exchanged holds and strikes, battling for control. O’Reilly showed fire early with a series of brutal looking suplexes. However, Balor quickly cut off the challenger with a single spin kick to the stomach. That kick became the focal point of the match- O’Reilly was winded, and couldn’t shake it off enough to mount a considerable offence. Balor worked over O’Reilly with more vicious kicks and scored a few near falls with some tenacious moves, but O’Reilly didn’t stay down. O’Reilly finally came back by targeting Balors leg- and almost defeating the champion when he caught Balor in a kneebar out of nowhere. However, Balors experience eventually came to be O’Reilly’s undoing. A double stomp, and the Coup de Grace eventually finished O’Reilly off. 

This was a coming out party for O’Reilly. Balor is an established main eventer, but O’Reilly absolutely shone in his first singles title opportunity. And, these two men beat each other senseless. The chemistry they had was unbelievable, and this match is a must see.

NXT Womens Championship Io Shirai © def Candice LeRae at 16:45-  This match was fast paced and aggressive from the get go. Shirais control segments were fantastic, and LeRae’s underhanded antics added even more tension to the match. Eventually, the antics were LeRae’s undoing- as Gargano showed up, and distracted the ref- Shirai put LeRae away with her moonsault. 

This match was a brilliant showcase for both women. These two women are perhaps the best in the division at the moment, and they showed that in this classic. 

Kushida def Velveteen Dream at 13:00- The story of this match was Dreams constant mocking of the Japanese superstar. The flamboyant Dream enters dressed as Doc Brown- a clear mockery of Kushida’s love for Back of the Future. The first portion of the match follows Kushidas uncontrolled fury. Far more aggressive and intense than usual, Kushida relentlessly targets Dreams arm. Dream eventually regains control by dumping Kushida to the outside, and works over Kushida. 

Dream almost gets caught in Kushidas Hoverboard lock early, but he quickly scrambles to the rope. A powerbomb by Dream leads to another nearfall and another Purple Rainmaker connects- but, Dreams arm is too damaged to capitalise. Eventually, the arm becomes Dreams undoing- as Dream scales the top rope, Kushida runs up after him and locks in the Hoverboard lock again. Dream can’t break the hold- even as they drop to the mat, and Dream tries his signature Death Valley Driver. Eventually, Dream taps out- giving Kushida his first marquee win. After the match, Kushida continues to target Dream’s arm, until several refs drag him away.

This was a solid match. The story of it was clear- Kushida wanted to break Dream’s arm. Dreams played his part very well, and Kushida’s aggression is exactly what he needed. Ever since he came to NXT, he had been floating in the midcard- but, finally showing his aggressive streak was what he needed. A huge win over Velveteen Dream could prime Kushida for a title shot soon- perhaps for the Cruiserweight, or North American title. 

NXT North American Championship- Damien Priest © def Johnny Gargano at 18:43- I wasn’t a huge fan of this. Priests power and explosiveness is great, but it felt too fast paced considering Priests size. The psychology of Gargano as the villain was a little off-  matching Priest in both power and speed. The right man won however, Priest’s North American title reign continues with a huge notch under his belt in Gargano.  

NXT Cruiserweight Title- Santos Escobar © def Isiah Scott at 15:19- This match again, was an athletic and flippy spectacle. While not my cup of tea, the two mens talent cannot be denied- Scott is full of charisma and a pleasure to watch, and the back and forth here was smooth and quick paced. Escobar retaining comes as no surprise- he is the biggest villain in the cruiserweight division, and there is no reason for him to lose the title yet. 

Overall, this is a show worth seeking out if you enjoy physical wrestling and storytelling. The main event is a must see, and the post match angles certainly add intrigue for what is to come for Kyle O’Reilly and the Undisputed Era. 

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