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Thoughts Ahead Of NXT TakeOver 31

Once upon a time NXT TakeOvers came with thematic names. We had TakeOver: R Eveolution, TakeOver: The End, TakeOver: Aaarrrgghhh (that one was made up). Then it became TakeOver: Location. Now we have our 2nd successive TakeOver with a numeric title, and a 3rd overall. Is this the future? Or is it just for now while they are all in the same placed. Whatever the name, TakeOvers rarely disappoint.

The NXT Championship match will see Finn Bálor take on Kyle O’Reilly. I’m delighted to see O’Reilly get a big spot as a singles star. He has been an unsung hero of the Undisputed Era’s dominance, often as a tag team wrestler. Those who watched him before his time in NXT will know he can go in the ring as a singles star. I would love to see him take the NXT Championship… just not yet.

Bálor deserves a lengthy run with the belt. He’s been booked as something of an also-ran in NXT since returning, portrayed as a star, but never being allowed to show his true star power. The Prinxe should get a reign as a dominant villainous champion. It seemed he was on course to meet Walter at NXTUK TakeOver: Dublin. Dublin has been severely hit by COVID-19, leading to that events postponement, possibly until next Summer. Bálor should hold the title until close to that event, with Walter costing him the title. That can lead to the Bray man getting a heroes welcome in Dublin as he competes for the UK Championship (which I have said before, should be renamed the European Championship, and NXT UK should become NXT Europe and tour the continent). Bálor has the opportunity to have mega feuds that build new faces, while possibly forming a stable, perhaps some kind of club.

Kyle O’Reilly can take the title next year. Reports are that the Undisputed Era will explode soon, with Cole and O’Reilly as Faces, and Fish and Strong as heels. We could see Strong steal the NXT Championship from under O’Reilly’s nose, before Kyle finally takes it off him, possibly ahead of next years SummerSlam. Kyle has the charisma to carry a huge storyline involving the UE turning on eachother in an attempt to claim the gold they once shared. Just as Bálor deserves a proper reign, O’Reilly deserves a proper build.

Io Shirai defends the NXT Women’s Championship against Candice LeRae. This is one of those occasions where it could go either way. Io has been a great champion, yet it would be incredibly fun to see LeRae and Johnny gloat over the Gargano’s holding gold. We’ve had plenty of lengthy reigns in NXT, maybe it’s time for Shirai and LeRae to trade the belt a few times before the end of the year.

The other member of the Gargan’s, Johnny, challenges Damien Priest for the NXT North American title. It might be harsh if Priest drops the belt, having only just one it. The Archer of Infamy has outstanding charisma, and should be allowed to defend against a number of competitors. However possibly the most entertaining option would be Gargano winning the title by nefarious means, before immediately dropping it back to Priest on TV.

Santos Escobar defends the NXT Cruiserweight title against Isaiah “Swerve” Scott. While Isaiah is the only obvious challenger, the feud has fallen flat, and it may not be the time for him to win. A dominant heel reign may be what the Cruiserweight title needs, which has really suffered ever since it was held by a certain Real-One no longer in the company.

The other match is Kushida v Velveteen Dream. While it’s good to see Kushida get a TakeOver match, Dreams current situation makes this an awkward affair…

We recently interviewed Mikko Maestro (@MikkoMaestro), a wrestler from Finland now based in the USA. You can listen to this episode of You Can’t Fake Gravity here.

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SummerSlam 2020 Recap

We’ve been told we’ll never see it coming.


United State Championship:
Apollo Crews (c) v MVP

Quick match back and forth. It’s a shame Apollo hasn’t gotten a defense on the main card of a PPV. Apollo retains.

Winner: Apollo Crews (Retains)

Lashley and Benjamin run out afterwards. Apollo escapes, It seems they are gearing up for an Apollo v Lashley feud.

There’s a nice moment when the preshow is going off air where they pay tribute to Renee Young on her final appearance.

Main Card

SmackDown Women’s Championship: Asuka v Bayley w/Sasha Banks (c)

With this being the first women’s title match I thought it would be more intriguing if Sasha cost Bayley the win accidentally. Then have Bayley almost cost Sasha later on. They didn’t go with that and Sasha helped Bayley win.

It was a well put together match and a lot of fun. But the finish was messy. It was a fairly predictable cheap distraction. I’m glad the Bayley Sasha angle looks to be coming to a head, but I’m not sure how we are going to get there.

Winner: Bayley (Retains)

Raw Tag Team Championships: The Street Profits (c) v Angel Garza & Andrade w/Zelina Vega

The Steet Profits came out with red cups raining from the sky. It’s a fine tag team match, not very memorable. That’s the problem with Raw tag matches, they are formulaic. Zelina Vega took a bump and the Street Profits won off the distraction. Surprisingly no Bianca Belair.

Winners: The Street Profits (Retain)

No DQ Loser Leaves WWE Match:
Sonya Deville v Mandy Rose

It’s refreshing to see a women’s feud booked well that isn’t revolving around either title. I’m not sure about the loser leaves WWE part, maybe they could have made it loser leaves SmackDown. But I am glad we’re getting a stipulation match that actually means something in a women’s undercard feud. Not like a something on a poll match, and actual no DQ match.

Mandy Rose has wet hair for some reason. Maybe she’s just out of the shower. It;s an enjoyable match, not the most extreme, and a few awkward spots with a table. Not to surprising Deville lost, she likely needs time off after her recent experiences in real life. There was a cool spot where Mandy flung a chair at her. Otis comes out at the end to celebrate, and to remind us all he is still Mr. Money in the Bank.

Winner: Mandy Rose

Street Fight:
Dominik Mysterio w/Rey Mysterio v Seth Rollins w/Buddy Murphy

Seth Rollins comes out dressed as Rey Mysterio from Halloween Havoc 97′ which is Awesome.

Rollins dominates the early goings but Dominik starts to get in flurries of offence. Dominik takes control when Rollins goes face first into a chair. Rollins turns it around with the superplex/falcons-arrow spot. Dominik keeps kicking out and getting up. Rey keeps trying to help but Dominik wants to do it on his own. Rollins tries to put Dominik through a table from the top rope, but Dominik counters and they both fall through the table. Dominik gets a chair and throws it into the ring, Rollins moves it out of the way and hits a power bomb.

Rey’s wife comes out to stop the match. Rey stops her. Dominik gets a near fall, but Murphy breaks it up and attacks Dominik. Rey runs down but Rollins and Murphy double team him and handcuff him to the ropes. Dominik fights them off and hits two 619’s. He goes for a frogsplash but Rollins gets the knees up. Rollins hits a stomp for the win.

Winner: Seth Rollins

Seth played the heel role perfectly. For a first match that was great from Dominik.

Raw Women’s Championship:
Sasha Banks w/Bayley (c) v Asuka

It’s an interesting subplot that Sasha Banks has never successfully defended the Raw Women’s title. She did have get some successful defenses in as NXT Champion, but not since coming to Raw or SmackDown.

Sasha targets the leg that was injured earlier. Asuka takes a power bomb onto the outside. Asuka sells the injury well and gets in flurries. There’s a huge spot where Asuka hits a DDT off the top rope. Sasha gets a near fall off a double-knees. The match ends with a series of counters when Asuka is trying to hook in the AsukaLock, Banks tries to get the Bank Statement on. Bayley gets taken out and Sasha taps to the AsukaLock.

Winner: Asuka (New Raw Women’s Champion)

The finish was the reverse of the earlier match, where Sasha took a blow for Bayley, Bayley avoided a blow for Sasha. I expect they will drop the tag titles at PayBack and then Banks goes after the SmackDown title, ossibly after winning the Royal Rumble.

WWE Championship:
Drew McIntyre (c) v Randy Orton

I think it makes sense for Randy to win here and Drew to take the title back at the end of the year.

Randy keeps paying mindgames and trying to hit the RKO. He’s really good at in ring psychology. Some complain about his pace being slow, but there’s a story being told.

The story here is that Drew is emotional and Randy knows that. Randy has been here before, he’s win the world title 13 times. But Drew’s a new locker-room leader, the pressure is on him. There’s a really smart spot where Drew goes to jump over Orton, but Orton catches his leg and almost hits an RKO.

Randy dominates the match for the first part. Drew locks in a figure-4 but Randy pulls the ref into the way and puts his thumb in Drew’s eye. Randy tries to hit an RKO, put Drew ups the pace and throws some belly-to-belly suplexes. There’s a spot where Drew flings Randy off the top turnbuckle by his neck. Drew hits a Future Shock DDT for a two count. Randy hits a DDT from the middle rope. He sets up for an RKO but tries to go for a punt instead, McIntyre counters with a powerbomb. McIntyre goes for a Claymore but Orton ducks it, Orton goes for an RKO but McIntyre goes for a backslide pin to get a 3-count.

Winner: Drew McIntyre (Retains)

That was a really smart ending. It made Drew look crafty without making Orton look dumb. A big win that cements McIntyre’s reign. And it also proves Orton knows how to put together a great title match.

There’s a promo for Keith Lee coming to Raw. Not sure what his first feud will be or what he’s going to do. Would have preferred see him get a good run with the NXT title.

Universal Championship Falls Count Anywhere Match:
Braun Strowman (c) v ‘The Fiend’ Bray Wyatt

Braun’s reign has been really disappointing. He got into a feud with the Fiend too quickly, it would have been one for Hell In A Cell. The Fiend should only be going after the title now as well. He won the title too fast last year, he should have kept destroying old foes and then gone after Braun. This whole thing feels both rushed and dragged out at the same time.

It’s a chaotic slug fest with weapons. Barriers break and tables get smashed. They don’t really go around the arena, just backstage for a bit. Strowman exposes the wood in the ring, but Bray hits Sister Abigail on it and wins. It’s not great.

Winner: ‘The Fiend’ Bray Wyatt (New Universal Champion)

After the match Roman Reigns returns a spears Bray Wyatt. He beats down Wyatt then goes after Strowman

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