NXT North American Champion Damian Priest def. Johnny Gargano
For a match that didn't have a ton of storyline build coming into the event, this was an excellent opener. Then again, I suppose I shouldn't have expected anything else given who was involved. Despite his lousy TakeOver track record in the last year, Gargano never ceases to deliver on the TakeOver stage, while Priest continues to find his footing in the face role and work well with everyone he steps in the ring with. Priest just won the title at TakeOver 30, so I'm glad he retained. As for Gargano, he should probably be done with the NXT North American Championship picture after failing to become champion on three consecutive TakeOver specials.
Kushida def. Velveteen Dream
It's no secret that Dream's stock has dropped dramatically since he returned from his injury, both inside and outside of the ring. He just doesn't have that same aura about it that he did while he was NXT North American Champion or even in 2018. Of course, the concerning stuff that came out about him earlier this year played a big role in that. With all of that being said, this was a really good match. Kushida's aggressive edge has been a breath of fresh air for his character and I'm stoked he's finally getting a meaningful push. Kushida's post-match attack on Dream felt like a write-off of the Dream character, but time will tell.
NXT Cruiserweight Champion Santos Escobar def. Isiah "Swerve" Scott
There were plenty of awesome matches on this show, but this very well may have been my favorite, simply because this arguably marked the best bout either guy has had in WWE up to this point. The NXT Cruiserweight Championship had never been defended on a TakeOver prior to this point and I surely hope this won't be the last time. Escobar and Scott went out there and killed it and the unpredictable outcome definitely helped enhanced my enjoyment of it. Scott winning would have made for a cool moment, but I have no problem with Escobar holding onto the gold for a little longer.
NXT Women's Champion Io Shirai def. Candice LeRae
Shirai and LeRae had a pair of phenomenal matches at TakeOver: Toronto II and on NXT TV last year, so I had high hopes for this and they did not disappoint. They constantly kept things exciting, the action was entertaining, and there was a real chance LeRae could have captured the title. I didn't love the shenanigans with Gargano running in with a referee (it gave me Extreme Rules flashbacks with Sasha Banks and Bayley and I don't say that as being a positive), but it worked with the story they were trying to tell and thus it didn't ruin the match for me. On top of all that, both Toni Storm and Ember Moon (which is who the mystery vignettes have been for in recent weeks) returned afterward and staked their claim at the title. NXT's women's division is firing on all cylinders right now.
NXT Champion Finn Balor def. Kyle O'Reilly
This was O'Reilly's time to shine and he undoubtedly rose to the occasion. These two beat the holy hell out of each other and had an outstanding main event. Although Balor just recently won the NXT Championship, O'Reilly could have conceivably taken the title and he came close on a few occasions. Despite that, Balor found a way to win, but only after an incredible effort from O'Reilly. Sure, the finish felt a bit abrupt, but that's just because we as viewers are accustomed to wrestlers are kicking out of finishers so often. That's not a bad thing, though, as that should be the case. Kudos to both men for putting together a tremendous affair here. The post-match stuff with Ridge Holland dumping a beaten Adam Cole at ringside was interesting and makes me wonder if Cole staged the whole thing to take away from O'Reilly's moment. As I've said several times before, I truly don't think breaking up Undisputed Era is a wise move.
First and foremost, I have to say that the Capitol Wrestling Center (a.k.a. the revamped Performance Center) looks quite cool. I love Full Sail University, but without the fans, it's not the same, so this is a step in the right direction, at least until they can welcome more fans safely back in the buildings. The show itself was super strong, especially given the circumstances and the quick turnaround time. All five matches ranged from superb to stellar and there weren't any booking decisions that left me scratching my head. This was easily my favorite TakeOver special since Portland in February. Plus, Halloween Havoc is coming back as an NXT TV special on October 28th! Hell yeah!