NXT Takeover: Toronto 2019 “Cowboy” Round-Up

Takeover time! I usually pride myself on not adhering to the internet hivemind, but the narrative that “Takeover is always better than the main roster PPV” is pretty valid.

NXT, whether intentionally or unintentionally, allows these guys to put on the types of epic matches that we simply don’t see with the standard WWE formula.

Just so everyone knows – I don’t watch the NXT show at all. I only watch Takeovers. Everything I know about these wrestlers is from previous Takeover events.

Let’s see if this show only fuels the internet groupthink more!

  • Slightly interesting that instead of just showing the usual hype package, they show it on the big screen in the arena, so we are watching right along with the crowd. I don’t hate it.
  • Wokeness has brought us Beth Phoenix as our token shitty announcer. Love the Glamazon, hate the GAB-azon.
  • As a reminder, I do not rate matches in “Stars”, but rather, in “Bobs”. “Bobs” are very different than stars, yet, in a way, incredibly similar. I don’t have time to go into the difference right now.

The Street Profits (c) vs Bobby Fish & Kyle O’Reilly of the Undisputed Era

  • The Street Profits come out to a massive pop. I get a lot of shit about the Street Profits from my podcast partners at The Protected Finish. The reason is this: At Takeover 25, we were in attendance. Street Profits won the tag titles and spent the next 5 minutes celebrating in the crowd. Later as we left the arena, I said “oh shit, is that the Street Profits?” Turns out, it was two random black guys with replica tag belts walking towards the exits. In my defense, they were both tall and well-built, and the tag champs had just established they are hanging out in the crowd. But whatever.
  • Street Profits have done a good job establishing themselves as fixtures of Raw without having any matches at all.
  • Ford has an awesome flippy segment with O’Reilly. I’m not sure if the big guy is quite as good. But this team could not pick a better time to get called up if it happens soon. The tag division on the main roster is DEAD.
  • Undisputed Era is either the next Degeneration X or 205 Live fodder. It can happen that easily. And it’s hard to get over a gang of midgets being a threat to invade the company. Luckily, Cole is so over that they have a chance.
  • I personally think eventually they will go all in and have 205 Live be Finn Balor, Johnny Gargano, Tomaso Ciampa and Adam Cole, but I have been wrong before. Just ask EC3.
  • The guy and his mom are of course in the front row again.
  • The guy has a full on beard now and looks creepier than usual. Also, I believe Larry David once said, “Anybody who wears sunglasses indoors is either blind or an asshole.”
  • I met this guy once. I asked him for a photo. I was nice. “Hey man, my friends and I always see you two in the front row, can I get a picture?” He looks at me painfully awkwardly and said “When people are nice to me, I’m nice to other people” in a serial killer voice. I quickly took the photo, ran away, and dialed 911 in my pocket.
  • A People’s Elbow (!) attempt by Ford is stopped by Undisputed Era for MAJOR heel heat.
  • AWESOME breakup of the kneebar. Such a cool sequence.
  • Oh man the chubbs is pretty good himself.
  • Great leap over the ropes by Ford, but that spot is so done to death that it’s not impressive anymore.
  • A fantastic frogsplash from Ford wins it though.

4.00 Bobs

  • Really good match. It wasn’t the classics the Revival would put on in their heyday, but it was very entertaining.
  • The Street Profits should make it on the main roster.

Io Shirai vs Candice LaRae

  • Is this the first ever non-title women’s match in Takeover history?
  • Candice LaRae looks like a dollar store Alexa Bliss.
  • Wow. BRUTAL suplex on the table. That was Asuka-level shit.
  • Don’t like how Mauro says “This table did not give”. I understand it sells the moment, but it undersells future table spots. Makes it seem like it’s “easier” on the wrestler if the table breaks, even if in real life it of course is.
  • Great running backwards pile-driving thingy by Shirai. Hey look people, I’m not Gorilla Monsoon here.
  • Incredible diving DDT to the outside by Candice.
  • Unreal swinging neckbreaker from the top by Candice.
  • This is a shockingly good match.
  • In LOVE with Shirai’s SCREECHING-in-anger reaction to the kickout of the Spanish Fly
  • AWESOME near-fall as Candice kicks out of the moonsault as well. Shirai’s absolute disbelief is fantastic.
  • Shirai then chokes her out to win the match.

4.50 Bobs

  • It wasn’t quite Bayley vs Sasha, but it was in the same conversation, which is the highest compliment.
  • Goodbye Asuka. It was a great run, but Io Shirai is clearly the new, younger, brutal Asian heel now.
  • Oh shit, it’s “Cowboy” Bob favorite, Matt Riddle! He’s here to start a meaningless bullshit feud to squash Killian Dain, who apparently does stuff now after The Miz humiliated Sanity and wiped them from existence.
  • Matt Riddle goes after Dain as Nigel screams he wants “retribution”. Absolutely stunned Mauro didn’t call it “retro-BRO-ion.”
  • Dain, Riddle and a fake security guard crash off the stage in a cool moment to settle up Riddle squashing him at some point.
  • I have never seen Austin Theory before. I’d describe him as looking “Dastardly”. And little.

Velveteen Dream (c) vs Pete Dunne vs Roderick Strong

  • Velveteen Dream is the WWE’s ace in the hole. He’s as much of a shoo-in as possible to be a major star instantly. Would be an enormous mistake to bring him up and do the typical “beat Dolph Ziggler clean but then pay your dues and lose 10 matches” rite of passage with him.
  • Pete Dunne has a brutal style and is a great wrestler, but he looks like an unattractive woman took hormones to grow a beard.
  • Roderick Strong has to be here to eat a pin.
  • I just popped.
  • Can we just take a jobber and make him be the new Mountie? Most underrated gimmick of the 1990’s. A combination of so fucking bizarre (why is a Canadian police officer from the wilderness a WWE wreslter?”) and so weaselly heelish. Also, the cattle prod is such a fun “foreign object”.
  • Velveteen comes out in Canadian colors in a pandering attempt that would make Mick Foley give a thumbs up.
  • Roderick Strong’s “boom!” with his hands out looks like a little boy having fun at an amusement park. He should change that.
  • I can’t get enough of how Dream incorporates old school maneuvers into his matches. The punches at the top turnbuckle. Double axe-handles. Just stuff you never see anymore. And he mixes it in with a modern style.
  • I love “allegiances” in triple threat matches, and they don’t do it very often. It’s logical. Why wouldn’t you team up to beat someone down for a bit and weaken them? When it’s heel-face teaming up, even better! Dare to have some character development moments.
  • Dream gets crotched on the pole. “In the home of the Raptors, nothing but nuts!” — Mauro Ranallo. Jesus Christ.
  • Crowd chanting “This is awesome”. Slow down, people. Don’t cheapen the actually awesome matches. This is good.
  • “Cowboy” Bob is a gigantic sissy for the “small joint manipulation”.
  • My only problem with this move is that it never, ever factors into the match or the psychology. Like not as if a wrestler tries to grab him, then his fingers lock up on him. It’s basically just a move for show.
  • Great coast to coast elbow from Velveteen.
  • Velveteen DIVES TO GRAB THE REFEREE’S HAND in one of the best pin-stoppages I’ve ever seen.
  • Great finish, as Strong hits his finisher and Dream soars to break up the pin and steal the pin for himself. “Cowboy” Bob loves a good stolen pin.
  • Crowd was a bit premature on the “This Is Awesome” chant, but it did, indeed, become awesome.

4.00 Bobs

Shayna Baszler (c) vs Mia Yim

  • These two are the least attractive women on the entire roster. Just saying.
  • Full disclosure: “Cowboy” Bob is a HUGE Shayna Baszler mark. A wholly unique style. Maybe it only rarely elevates a match to over 3 Bobs, but it works. I don’t really understand why they didn’t bring her up on the main roster. It may be too late now. The woman is nearly 40 already.
  • I really liked Mia at Takeover 25 in the opening warm-up match. She won me over and I had never seen her before.
  • Super awkward start, so awkward that Nigel has to say “A–uhh, awkward, exchange…there.”
  • Yim working the arm. Shayna “can’t perform a submission if she has no arm”, says the Gabazon to set up the story of the match.
  • This arm selling BETTER pay off.
  • I also enjoy the story of Yim “in desperation” resorting to heel tactics to survive.
  • She may win the match. BUT AT WHAT COST, FOLKS??
  • If the over the top dive has been spammed to death, the middle rope dive is just a yawn at this point.
  • Baszler tries for a top rope suplex, but the ARM PREVENTS IT.
  • Totally awesome “avalanche code blue” off the second rope, whatever the fuck that means. Very cool. I bet she used that in street fights in her hometown.
  • Bazler gets the clutch in, BUT THE ARM PREVENTS IT.
  • Yim with more heelish moves to grab the advantage.
  • Now a Yim armbar but Bazler “knows how to keep it from being extended”, because she is in MMA. Logic!
  • This whole “fight for the arm” shit won’t get much appreciation, but it’s very cool and different.
  • Shayna taps her out using some kind of leg lock.

3.00 Bobs

  • Very typical Shayna Bazler match. Different, entertaining, not flashy. I thoroughly enjoyed it and loved the psychology.
  • Also some great character development from Yim, who didn’t quite turn heel but showed she was from the sTrEeTz and would do whatever it takes to play in the mud with Shayna and try for the win.

Adam Cole (c) vs Johnny Gargano – 2 Out of 3 Falls Match

  • Enormous hype here. Both matches with good ol’ “Cowboy” Bob in attendance were absolute fucking masterpieces. The first match with Gargano is the current frontrunner for the coveted “Cowboy” Bob Match of the Year Award with a scorching 5 Bobs. The second match, at 2 out of 3 falls, was slightly less at a phenomenal 4.75 Bobs, but a classic as well. The first two falls were shockingly unspectacular, but that third fall blew the roof off the place.
  • Johnny Gargano has to be the greatest wrestler on the entire roster. He has multiple 5 Bob matches to his credit. Despite my feelings here on his in-ring skill, I am incredibly un-sold on his prospects on the main roster. His promos come off as super-generic and he kinda looks like Hitler. I’m not even kidding. If Hitler had chosen a better path in life and became a pro wrestler, I’d imagine he looks like Gargano.
  • The best chance for success on the main roster is if Vince ever wants to re-do the Daniel Bryan little underdog story. But Daniel Bryan runs circles around Johnny on personality.
  • Gargano comes out in Wolverine-inspired undies.
  • Adam Cole also looks like a skinnier Shawn Michaels. It would probably get him a guaranteed WWE World Title someday if he put on another 15 pounds of muscle.
  • The gimmick here is that the 1st fall will be a wrestling match, the 2nd fall will be a “street fight” and the 3rd fall will be a “mystery fall” chosen by Commissioner Regal. While “Cowboy” Bob loves mystery angles, it does unfortunatley foreshadow that these two will trade falls. Minor quibble.
  • I absolutely am in love with how Adam Cole, despite being a cocky, asshole jerk who screams his own name all day, will still sincerely kiss the title before handing it over to the refere. Shades of the great Bret Hart.
  • This is super fucking crazy old school to start and “Cowboy” Bob loves it. “Cowboy” Bob is a huge mark for the whole “they have each other scouted” gimmick. These two barely landed a single move in 3 minutes and the crowd is rabid.
  • Love that wheelbarrow into the apron.
  • While Gargano has Cole in the figure four, the commentators smartly ask if Cole should tap out to “save himself” for the next falls. Logic!
  • Minor quibble. “Cowboy” Bob loathes “I got superkicked and/or kicked hard in the head, got stunned, then immediatley no-sold and tried to hit you back.”
  • However! Good ol’ “Cowboy” loves that sunset driver, which deservedly gets “NXT” chants.
  • The “double clothesline knockout spot”!!! I love this match already. They are completely selling the “these two know each other so well” story.
  • Cole brilliantly brings the chair into the ring, to purposely get the ref to take it away and turn around like a moron so Cole can kick Gargano in the balls.
  • Gargano uses the chair blatantly and gets disqualified, but this is brilliant. Now Gargano CAN use the chair, and gives him the full on advantage already on Cole. This match is great.
  • How often does a babyface outsmart a heel?
  • Also, Adam Cole is a horrible heel because he is beloved by fans.
  • You know what this match can use? BLOOD.
  • The problem here is that for the live crowd, this is death. You can’t see the performers and are forced to look at a screen no matter where you’re sitting.
  • “Mamma Mia” — Johnny Gargano. Hilarious.
  • IT’S AN EYE RAKE!!! Haven’t seen that since 1997.
  • Cole backdropped through the table as Mauro has a MAMMA MIA orgasm.
  • Lawn Dart into a chair and the Gargano Escape wins the fall for Johnny.
  • Now HERE WE GO with the 3rd fall. WHAT WILL IT BE. I demand to know.
  • It’s not quite a Hell in a Cell. It’s basically a re-hash of the Chris Jericho vs Dean Ambrose “Ambrose Asylum” match from 2016, with “Cowboy” Bob in attendance in lovely Newark, NJ. That match was absolute ass. I bet this will be better.
  • Johnny’s “sadistic” smile at the “structure” being lowered is great.
  • “Have you ever seen anything like this?!” cries Mauro. Yes. The “Ambrose Asylum” match. Where is Mitch The Plant?
  • “Cowboy” Bob loathes cage matches. Especially the “Peeping Tom” view through the cage.
  • The Gabazon has said nothing of value all night.
  • Tornado DDT on the chair looked BOTCHED AS FUCK as Cole seemed to hit the POINT of the chair. Brutal.
  • Cole throws a ladder which actually looks heavy and dangerous.
  • That Panama Sunrise may be the most impressive move in all of WWE at the moment besides Ricochet’s 630.
  • Panama Sunrise off the ladder looked great. Terrific near-fall as Lil Hitler has mastered those.
  • “Yowie Wowie” chants, proving that Bray Wyatt really is a superstar.
  • Cole tries for the running knee AGAINST THE CHAIR, but then HITS HIS INJURED KNEE on the chair.
  • Gargano then tries the STF WITH A KENDO STICK but Cole BITES HIM to escape. Amazing stuff, my dudes.
  • Hot Take: This is much, much better than the “Ambrose Asylum” match.
  • Holy shit.
  • GARGANO WITH A BAG. I hope it’s thumb tacks or a Jake “The Snake” style snake.
  • It’s PLIERS. He’s CUTTING THE BARB WIRE to use as a weapon.
  • “PLEASE DON’T DIE” chants.
  • Both crash through the tables and Cole barely drapes an arm over after Mauro screams “MAMMA EFFING MIA”. Man if they let him drop a “MAMA FUCKING MIA” it would have been epic.

5.00 Bobs

  • 3 minutes later, both still lie dead in the ring, Cole’s arm helplessly draped over Gargano.
  • This is what wrestling is all about.
  • I somehow doubt that Becky vs Nattie will top that tomorrow.

A very easy HIGHLY ENTHUSIASTIC THUMBS UP for an epic fucking show.

4 thoughts on “NXT Takeover: Toronto 2019 “Cowboy” Round-Up

  1. The whole show was amazing, I’d even make the argument that LaRea vs Shirai was 5 stars as well, sadly the main roster has about a 2% chance of hoping any of that


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