The latest in NXT’s long-running series of special events, NXT TakeOver: Toronto takes place one night before WWE SummerSlam. Before we get to what WWE has been promoting as “the biggest party of the summer,” we must first get to TakeOver, which many fans are already predicting to be the show of the weekend. Given the positive track record of TakeOvers prior, this should come as no surprise.
As has been the case with previous TakeOver events, not only will all four championships under the banner be on the line, but one special match will take place. Whatever you believe to be the match to steal the show, it’s difficult to understate the quality that will be on display on Saturday. Let’s run down the matches that are set to take place, how they came to be, as well as offer predictions for who will come away victorious.
Candice LeRae vs. Io Shirai
Once strong allies, the bond between LeRae and Shirai came to a head following the latter’s loss to NXT Women’s Champion Shayna Baszler. As LeRae went to comfort her friend, Shirai snapped, viciously attacking her in the ring. It didn’t take long for the Genius of the Sky to shed her colorful, cheerful demeanor in favor of a darker, more sinister persona. Clothed entirely in black, Shirai made it clear that she doesn’t need friends. At TakeOver: Toronto, she squares off against the one she turned her back on in what will certainly be a grudge match to behold.
Prediction: Shirai’s heel turn was an interesting one, to say the least. Considering that many fans pegged her to be the next babyface Japanese champion, not unlike Kairi Sane, the fact that she turned heel surprised many. Nonetheless, she is set to be one of NXT’s dominant heels in a women’s division that can benefit from some star power. Shirai will need wins to be seen as a threat, though, which is why I see her coming away from TakeOver: Toronto the victor.
Velveteen Dream (c) vs. Pete Dunne vs. Roderick Strong (NXT North American Championship)
From Matt Riddle to Tyler Breeze, Velveteen Dream has proven himself as a formidable NXT North American Championship. It stands to reason that competition would heat up, but perhaps it did so in a way that the Dream didn’t expect. On one hand, he has Roderick Strong, who believes himself to be the rightful holder of Dream’s title. On the other hand, the surprising addition of UK talent Pete Dunne heightened the challenge. Will the champion be able to continue his dominant reign, or will one of his opponents be able to put said reign to an end?
Prediction: With three unique styles, it’s easy to see why this match has the attention of the NXT faithful. From Dream’s focus on mind games to Strong’s hard-hitting, technical offense to Dunne’s brawling style, this is my most anticipated match of the night. The question is, who will come away victorious? As I survey the landscape of TakeOver: Toronto, a considerable part of me believes that we will see the nefarious Undisputed Era victorious across the board. As much, I predict that Strong will come away with his first singles title in WWE.
Shayna Baszler (c) vs. Mia Yim (NXT Women’s Championship)
With over 280 days under her belt, Shayna Baszler is one of the most dominant NXT Women’s Champions in history. Her victories over such foes as Shirai, Sane, and Bianca Belair have shown that she is not a titleholder to be taken highly. At TakeOver: Toronto, however, she faces a unique challenge in the form of Mia Yim. As a talent that came from little, building her name in wrestling to become something more, Yim enters his contest as the fan favorite. Will she be able to ride her newfound wave of momentum to the championship? We will find out this coming Saturday.
Prediction: This has been a notable storyline in the WWE career of Mia Yim. While she has always been a capable wrestler, the truth is that she was never given an angle she could truly sink her teeth into. Whether she’s standing up to the dominant Baszler, or taking out the champion’s cronies, Yim has displayed a newfound edge. Will this take her to the title? In my opinion, I don’t believe so. While Yim can be a great champion one day, I don’t believe this story has been built nearly enough to warrant a new titleholder. I predict that Baszler will retain.
Street Profits (Angelo Dawkins and Montez Ford) (c) vs. The Undisputed Era (Kyle O’Reilly and Bobby Fish) (NXT Tag Team Championship)
If there’s one fact that remains true about NXT, it’s that the brand’s tag team wrestling scene is solid. While star power might wane from time to time, the quality of the matches presented never fails. This should be no different at TakeOver: Toronto, as the newly minted main roster Street Profits defend the NXT Tag Team Championship against Kyle O’Reilly and Bobby Fish of The Undisputed Era. This will be the second title match where TUE will be involved. With their partners involved in their own title affairs, O’Reilly and Fish aim to make their mark.
Prediction: With Street Profits official main roster talents, it’s safe to say that they aren’t long for NXT. While they’ve been an enjoyable part of the show, not to mention popular champions, the truth is that they can only stay on the brand for so long. For this reason, as well as others, I predict that they will drop the straps to the team of O’Reilly and Fish. This will further the idea that TakeOver: Toronto will be the platform where every member of The Undisputed Era will come away as champions. Expect the team formerly known as reDRagon to emerge victorious.
Adam Cole (c) vs. Johnny Gargano (Two-Out-Of-Three Falls Match for the NXT Championship)
No matter how repetitive a match can be, if it’s proven that it can deliver, fans will be unlikely to complain about what they’re provided. This is no different at TakeOver: Toronto, where Cole defends the NXT Championship against Johnny Gargano. Not unlike their encounter at TakeOver: New York, back in April, this will be contested under two-out-of-three falls rules. Cole chose a wrestling match for one fall, Gargano selected a street fight for another fall, and Regal will decide on a stipulation for a third fall if needed. In other words, fans should go into this main event expecting the unexpected.
Prediction: Cole and Gargano have been able to put on some classic main event matches between one another in TakeOvers past, and it’s fair that this will be no exception. One of the main reasons that fans will be buzzing about this is the prospect of a third fall. I entirely expect Cole and Gargano to tie at one fall apiece before Regal announces the stipulation for the aforementioned third fall. Whether it involves weapons or not, it adds an interesting wrinkle to an already solid match-up. By the end of the show, though, expect Cole to successfully regain his title and stand alongside his fellow stablemates, each one holding a championship of their own.