NXT TAKEOVER 31 REPORT 10/4: Live results and match analysis for O’Reilly vs. Balor, Shirai vs. LeRae, Escobar vs. Swerve, more

By Kelly Wells, PWTorch contributor


OCTOBER 4, 2020

Announcers: Vic Joseph, Wade Barrett, Beth Phoenix

Tonight after NXT TakeOver, join Tom Stoup and Nate Lindberg as they take over “Wrestling Night in America” live to break down the show with live callers and mailbag.
•CALL: (515) 605-9345
•EMAIL COMMENTS/QUESTIONS: pwtorchnxt@gmail.com

Tonight after the show, I’ll be on Triple H’s media conference call. I’ll pass along any important notes to Tom and Nate.


-The show opened with some vintage video from the days of the senior Vince McMahon, with a letter from McMahon promoting his company. This was to bring us into the new Capitol Wrestling Center. Corey Taylor’s song “Culture Head” played over shots of the space. Vic Joseph teed up the show.

(1) DAMIAN PRIEST (c) vs. JOHNNY GARGANO – NXT North American Championship match

The champ entered first. Barrett referred to Priest as “the rock star of NXT,” echoing Wednesday, so that might be replacing “the archer of infamy.” The crowd booed Gargano as he entered.

Referee Drake Wuertz handled the match after two weeks of likely quarantine. Gargano bailed then slid back in to get a quick advantage. Irish whip, reversal, and Priest missed some shots before hitting a spinning heel kick. Priest took Gargano to the corner for some body shots, then hit an Irish whip. Gargano rolled through a sidewalk slam attempt and the two quickly reversed one another’s finishers. Priest booted Gargano and hit him with a flying back elbow for a one count. Priest leaned on Gargano and worked an arm, then walked old school on the ropes. Gargano put him on the apron and tried to powerbomb Priest outside. Priest blocked, and Gargano slammed him to the floor instead.

Gargano put Priest into the Plexiglass, which also included a chained link fence, and then put him elbow-first into the steps. Priest blocked a forearm and hit one of his own. Back into the ring, Johnny draped Priest and hit a senton from the turnbuckle for two. Gargano worked a half-crab while trapping one of Priest’s arms. Priest rolled over and kicked his way out, then threw some body shots. He tossed Gargano to the buckle, then shoved off a takedown attempt. Forearms by Priest. Repeated kicks and a bell clap. A flatliner got the crowd really going. Priest hit a flying back elbow in the corner, then shot the arrow and hit another. Broken Arrow got two. Priest called for the Razor’s Edge with Razor Ramon’s taunt, but Gargano ducked through Priest’s legs. More forearms and a slam by Priest. Gargano rolled through a Razor’s Edge for a near-fall.

Gargano splashed down on Priest’s left leg, and both guys sold on the mat for a moment. Gargano hit an enzuigiri. Elbow by Priest. Big forearm by Priest, who slapped his leg to wake it up. Discus kick missed and Gargano shoved him into the buckle, then clotheslined him out of the ring. Gargano went for a tope, but Priest caught him. Gargano went for a PK from the apron but Priest took him to the floor with a roundhouse kick. Priest finally hit Razor’s Edge right on the apron, then went in for a near-fall.

Both guys fought to their feet in opposite corners. Priest charged but Gargano chopped his lower leg. Gargano ran the ropes into a Priest lariat. Gargano kicked from the floor and went for the GargaNo Escape. Both guys reversed finishers. Gargano hit Sliced Bread (without the ropes), then an elbow to the back of Priest’s head. He covered for two. Gargano shot an arrow, then went for a superkick. Priest ducked and Gargano rolled him up for two. Gargano wanted One Final Beat, but Priest swatted him away. South of Heaven chokeslam by Priest got two. There’s the “fight forever” chant we haven’t heard much since regular fans disappeared.

Priest went to the top and Gargano rolled the other way to boos, then exited the ring. Priest went went for a senton atomico, and Gargano tossed two PC guys in front of him. Low blow by Gargano, and a superkick got two. Gargano put on the GargaNo Escape and Priest rolled toward the rope. Gargano pulled Priest into the ring and put it on again. Priest fought to the rope and broke the hold. Gargano sold it like he as about to cry. Gargano hit Priest’s arm with repeated knees, then put Priest on the apron, just feet from the steps, which had been moved. Priest fought off a shove, then tried to suplex Gargano onto it. Gargano charged with a forearm but Priest didn’t fall. Gargano ran into a kick and Priest entered just to get superkicked. Gargano wanted One Final Beat, and Priest held the rope to put a stop to it. He hit a rope-assisted Reckoning to finish, and yelled “My ring!” He showed off his belt in the ring.

WINNER: Damian Priest at 18:45.

(Wells’s Analysis: Nothing wrong with that. As (almost) always, Gargano loses on TakeOver in a very strong match. I assume LeRae goes over tonight to create a new Gargano dynamic)

-Outside, earlier today, Kyle O’Reilly arrived with his Undisputed Era brethren, and Finn Balor walked in alone.

-There was a rundown of Kushida’s introduction to NXT, and his eventual change to his more aggressive side of late, leading to this feud.


Dream entered first and awkwardly looked around at the audience, mocking Kushida’s entrance. He was done up like Doc Brown, including silver hair.. He slapped at the Plexiglass to razz the audience and hit the ring. Kushida didn’t wait for an introduction, and jumped Dream. He kicked Dream from the ring. Dream threw a steel chair into the ring, then ran off when Kushida nearly hit him with it. The ref called for the bell. Kushida did some mat work and hit an armbar, which Dream broke at the ropes. The action moved outside and Dream chased Kushida, who hit him with a back kick. Kushida knocked Dream from the ring, then slammed onto his arm in the ring. Inverted atomic drop by Kushida. Kushida wrapped up Dream’s arms and fell backwards to wrench both of them. Dream hit a desperation boot. Kushida left the ring and Dream hit an axhandle from the top. Dream put Kushida face-first into the Plexiglass, then rolled him ito the ring.

Axhandle by Dream. Uppercut and a one count. Dream threw some shots and put Kushida into the corner in a seated position and hit a bronco buster. The two traded shots. Kushida tried a springboard back elbow but landed into a sleeper by Dream. Kushida elbowed out and the two traded shots again. Ground and pound by Kushida. Hip toss by Kushida. Dream countered a stomp but Kushida hit a forearm. Kushida stomped Dream into the mat face-first, then turned him over and stomped him some more. The ref made a warning to Kushida, who got in his face. Kushida charged the corner and ended up on the apron. He yanked Dream’s shoulder into the post. Again. A draping Dream’s hand was between the steps and ring, and Kushida dropkicked the steps.

Back inside, Dream hit a superkick. Kushida trapped Dream in the Hoverboard Lock and Dream rolled outside. He put a thumb in Kushida’s eye, then entered and hit a powerbomb for two. Kushida reversed the pin attempt into an armbar and Dream punched his way out. Dream tried to wake up his arm. Dream Valley Driver. Dream hit the Purple Rainmaker, but his arm was in agony and it took him a while to get over to Kushida, who kicked out at two. Dream hit a big lariat. Dream tok Kushida to the corner, and Kushida hit a Hoverboard Lock from the top. Dream hit a rope, but Kushida rolled Dream back into the center of the ring. Dream put up Kushida in a fireman’s carry, but upon Dream Valley Driver landing, Kushida hit the Hoverboard Lock again for a quick tap.

After the finish, Kushida put on the Hoverboard Lock again and had to be dragged off of Dream. He charged in again and put it on again, and Dream continued to tap and scream. There was a bit of a “one more time” chant. Kushida left up the ramp.

WINNER: Kushida at 13:01.

(Wells’s Analysis: This could be a way to write Dream off of TV yet again as the questions about him aren’t going away. An okay match with the proper brawling necessitated by the feud)

-NXT: Halloween Havoc on October 28th! It’s hosted by Shotzi Blackheart.

(Wells’s Analysis: People have been begging for a return for Halloween Havoc. This could be make-or-break for Shotzi, who definitely isn’t at home on the mic, but if they keep it short, sweet and creepy and pre-tape all of it, it could give her a huge boost)

-Rundown of the Escobar-Swerve feud.

(3) ISAIAH “SWERVE” SCOTT vs. SANTOS ESCOBAR (c) – Cruiserweight Championship match

Escobar hit the ramp with his mask on, as well as a sombrero. Joaquin Wilde and Raul Mendoza, both in suits, walked the ramp with him and took his entrance gear before heading back.

Swerve escaped an armbar. Headscissor takedown by Escobar, but Swerve rolled through. Headscissors by Swerve. Swerve deadlifted Escobar, who rolled forward for a two count. After a couple of reversals, the two reset. Kick to the midsection by Scott. Forearm by Escobar, who charged and got monkey flipped from the ring. Moonsault by Swerve to the outside. Escobar rolled to a corner and “incidentally” pulled off a pad from the corner, which is your smoking gun.

Escobar left the ring and Swerve hit a plancha to the outside. Swerve put Escobar’s arm over the cable holding the turnbuckle and wrenched it down. Back in the ring, Swerve wrenched the same arm and splashed it. Escobar grabbed a rope to try to create separation. Swerve worked a submission but Escobar broke the plane of the ropes. Swerve went to the apron and dropped Escobar’s arm over the rope. Escobar shoved Swerve to the Plexiglass, then hit him with a tope. He rolled back into the ring for a one count. Escobar hit high double knees in the corner and set Swerve on the top rope for a Frankensteiner. Escobar dropped an elbow and got a two count. He leaned on Swerve against the bottom rope, then taunted him for a moment and slapped him down. Escobar put boots to a kneeling Swerve, who got to his feet. The two exchanged rights, and Swerve put Escobar in the corner and went at him hard with fists. Big Swerve lariat in the center of the ring. Back elbow in the corner. Flying European uppercut. Escobar went outside and and got flattened by a Swerve kick. Back in, Swerve hit a rolling thunder flatliner for two.

Swerve went up top, and Escboar went up with him. Swerve dropkicked Escobar and hit a DDT from the second rope for two. The two went to theropes, and Escobar’s cronies showed up. The distraction allowed a shoulderbreaker by Escobar for two. Both guys went to the apron, and Swerve crotched Escobar on the top. He took Escobar off the top with a rana right into the cronies, who caught him. Ashante Adonis showed up to even the odds and the cronies ran off. Escobar hit the Phantom Driver, and shockingly, Swerve kicked out. Escobar sold shock and stomped down on Swerve. Escobar hit Three Amigos and got booed. Escobar went up and missed a frog splash. Swerve stomped Escobar’s left arm and hit the House Call. 450 Splash got a very long two. The action spilled outside and Escobar blocked a half-and-half and Escobar shoved Swerve back to the corner where his head hit the exposed spot where Escobar had pulled off a pad. Double-underhook facebuster in the ring was good to finish.

WINNER: Santos Escobar at 15:18.

-Recap of the Io Shirai-Candice LeRae “feud” that was fast-tracked on TV.

(4) IO SHIRAI (c) vs. CANDICE LERAE – NXT Women’s Championship match

Alicia Taylor handled formal introductions. The two exchanged shoves. Hip toss by Shirai and LeRae bailed early. LeRae blocked a curcifix and hit a monkey flip in the corner but Shirai landed on her feet. LeRae bailed again and demanded a second from the ref. Shirai rolled over for a powerbomb to the floor, but LeRae blocked and hit a springboard cross-body to the outside. She rolled Shirai in, but Shirai rotated and kicked her, then hit an Asai moonsault. Back inside, Shirai covered for one.

Shirai kicked LeRae to a corner, then did her springing double knees to a seated LeRae. She covered for two. Irish whip, reverse, and LeRae hit a backstabber to a draping Shirai. Cover for two. Chinlock by LeRae. LeRae ran the ropes and Shirai rolled through a headscissor takedown, but LeRae hit a quick lariat. LeRae dragged Shirai’s face across the middle rope, then hit a floatover neckbreaker and covered for two. LeRae worked an arm lock and slammed Shirai back to the mat when she tried to escape, and covered for two. LeRae walked with Shirai to the center and hit a backbreaker for two. She shoved Shirai chest-first to the corner and hit a running back elbow. LeRae jawed at Shirai, who hit her with a palm strike, but LeRae shot back with forearms. She stomped Shirai in the corner and threw her with a hair mare. Another. Suplex by LeRae got two. LeRae tried a different cover and got two again.

LeRae missed a back elbow in the corner, then wanted the step-up senton and missed. Double stomp by Shirai got the fans back into it. Shirai shoulder tackled LeRae twice. 619. Springboard missile dropkick got two for Shirai. LeRae blocked a rollup and hit the senton to Shirai’s back. Shirai recovered and hit a double-underhook backbreaker, then went to the top for her snap moonsault. LeRae recovered and hit a powerbomb. Shirai popped up for Meteora. Palm strike and a German suplex by Shirai. LeRae hit a snap German and a backbreaker, then a springboard moonsault for two. The audience showed appreciation for the sequence.

LeRae slapped at a kneeling Shirai. Shirai caught her and put on the crossface. LeRae rolled her up to break, then put on GargaNo Escape. Shirai fought to the ropes. LeRae held on, then accidentally back elbowed the ref. Io hit Air Raid Crash but the ref got bumped again. LeRae stomped Shirai. Johnny Gargano ran to the ring with a referee’s shirt on and tried a quick count, and Shirai kicked out. Gargano and the actual ref both tried to kick out the other. Gargano distracted the ref so LeRae could nail Shirai with the championship belt. It got a near-fall that had the crowd fooled.

Io took Candice to the top for Spanish Fly. Shirai’s Over the Moonsault finished.

WINNER: Io Shirai at 16:43.

(Wells’s Analysis: Fun silliness near the end of the match that gave this one something different from their first TakeOver meeting. I thought LeRae’s recent roll might culminate in a title win, but not yet)

On the tron, Toni Storm announced that she was back in NXT, and Io Shirai better keep her head on a swivel. She said NXT always has been and always will be…Toni Time. Sometimes the catchphrase doesn’t really fit the situation.

-The green-scale video from the last two weeks of NXT played to bring in the motorcycle driver. The driver removed her helmet, and it was Ember Moon.

(Wells’s Analysis: And just like that, we have two new suitors for the championship. Tom Stoup suggested that this might be Ember Moon on the PWT Talks NXT podcast, and I put my money on that as well. This should be an interesting shakeup to an already strong division)

-McKenzie Mitchell caught up with Ashante Adonis, who said he wasn’t just helping a brother out, he was making a statement. He got fired up and gave a pretty good fiery babyface promo.

-Balor-O’Reilly rundown. They did pretty well with this considering they only gave it two weeks of TV.

(5) FINN BALOR (c) vs. KYLE O’REILLY – NXT Championship match

O’Reilly entered first. His UE brothers walked with him to Gorilla Position and cheered him on before letting him head to the ring alone. Alicia Taylor took care of formal intros.

Both guys shot in briefly before backing off. The reversed waistlocks and Finn took Kyle down. Kyle reversed and Finn scissored his way out of a cover. Headlock by Finn. Kyle tried to run the ropes but Finn put on the brakes. Kyle ran into a shoulder block and Finn hit another headlock. Kyle tried a rollup but Finn wouldn’t break. Suplex by Kyle still didn’t break the hold. O’Reilly worked his way into a cross armbreaker but Finn broke with the ropes. Kyle worked on Finn’s left arm and he took down Balor shoulder-first. Kyle drove a knee to Finn’s side and ran the ropes and did it again. Finn tried a single-leg takedown but Kyle quickly reversed and kept working the arm. Finn reached the bottom rope to break.

Kyle took down Finn, who fought Kyle with knees. Balor flipped through a slam and hit a basement dropkick on O’Reilly. Finn stomped Kyle’s arm, then wrenched Kyle’s arm backward and mimed air guitar with it. Finn worked a hammerlock and drove a knee to Kyle’s back twice. Finn took Kyle to a corner and hit an elbow, then a loud chop. Another chop. A third in another corner. He whipped Kyle to a corner and chopped again. And again. Balor charged again, but Kyle got a knee up. Step-up kick to the chest by O’Reilly, who started firing up with his combo kick to take Finn down.

Kyle hit a running forearm in the corner, then hit a double underhook suplex, then a second, and into a DDT. The two went at it in a shot exchanged and a kick by Finn winded Kyle. The ref back Finn off and checked on Kyle. Finn charged in anyway with a couple of kicks. The ref checked on Kyle again, who rolled further to the center of the ring. Finn took Kyle to a corner for some shoulderblocks, then charged him chest-first to the opposite corner. Finn hit a big chop against the ropes, then wrapped up Kyle in the ropes and charged with another kick to the midsection, prompting the ref to check on Kyle again.

Finn stalked O’Reilly and worked a chinlock, then dropped an elbow on his back and covered for two. Finn chopped Kyle, then tied him up in an abdominal stretch, but Kyle hip-tossed Finn. Chops by Kyle. Regal plex got two. Both guys hit their feet and Balor slammed Kyle and added an elbow for two. Sling blade by Finn. Finn begged Kyle to get up and gave him the guns, then charged right into an O’Reilly dropkick to the knee. Finn put Kyle in an abdominal stretch. The camera went in tight on O’Reilly, who was bleeding from the mouth fairly significantly. Balor worked a sharpshooter and Kyle wailed. He reached the bottom rope and the camera stayed in tight on him again. Oddly, the ref hadn’t put on his gloves yet.

Finn jawed at Kyle as he stomped his shoulder in the corner. He kept up the stomps as Kyle went from one corner to another. Kyle trapped Finn’s foot on a stomp and threw shots. The two exchanged kicks in the center of the ring. Overhead kick by Finn. O’Reilly fired off of the ropes with a lariat. Both guys sold on the mat.

O’Reilly kicked Finn’s chest to keep him grounded. Finn caught the next attempt and went for 1916, but O’Reilly countered with a guillotine. Running knee by O’Reilly and a brainbuster. He covered for two. He went for an armbar as Finn fought desperately against it. He used his legs to separate Finn’s arms, and Finn quickly pivoted and stomped O’Reilly to break. While selling one arm, Balor put knees to Kyle’s back. He hit 1916 for a near-fall. Finn went to the top, but Kyle hit his feet and kicked Finn down. Kyle hit a dragon screw over the second rope, and then another. Kyle went up and stomped Finn’s chest to the mat. Kyle went up top and hit a flying knee to the back of Finn’s knee. He worked a kneebar and Finn tried to grab anything he could to break. He threw heels at Kyle’s chest, but couldn’t break. Tomahawk chops and forearms couldn’t break. Finn dragged himself to the bottom rope to break. Big “NXT” chant.

They got to their feet again. Kyle threw a kick to the back of Finn’s knee. He charged in with a knee but Finn dropped away to distract him. Finn hit a double stomp, then backed to the corner and tried to wake up his leg. German suplex by Kyle. Immediate double stomp by Finn. The crowd stomped and slapped the Plexiglass. Finn, now also bleeding from the mouth, went to the top rope and hit the Coup de Grace to finish. Significant blood in the mouth for Finn as well.

After the match, Finn hit his feet with some effort and put on his belt. The ref tried to lift his arm, but he yanked it away and stood alone.

After a moment, Finn stepped over to Kyle and pulled him up. They shared a handshake and Finn held up Kyle’s arm. Just then, Ridge Holland appeared in the crowd, carrying Adam Cole like a sack of potatoes. He tossed Cole over the barricade to the floor, and the other two members of Undisputed Era joined Kyle to check on Cole. You can probably draw some conclusions here if you’ve been watching weekly NXT.

WINNER: Finn Balor at 28:30.

(Wells’s Analysis: It was the mat-based classic you’d hope for between the two. The chain wrestling was wonderful and they both worked stiff and snug. The post-match business is likely to dominate the weekly show leading to Halloween Havoc, which could easily be headlined by a six-man tag, though I’m possibly getting ahead of myself.)

FINAL THOUGHTS: This show was criticized as feeling a little slapdash and inconsequential, as it was just announced out of nowhere and given no real build. With no title changes, they didn’t do much to combat that criticism. That said, the returns of Toni Storm and Ember Moon, as well as a probable Undisputed Era shakeup, might make this seem like a show that mattered after all. Tonight, Tom Stoup and Nate Lindberg take over Wrestling Night in America, while I’ll be unable to join them, in part because I have the Triple H media call. See you on Wednesday.

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