This Sunday, NXT presented NXT TakeOver: 31 from the Capitol Wrestling Center. With a card that boasted of highly anticipated bouts like the rematch between Candice Le Rae and Io Shirai and Finn Balor vs. Kyle O'Reilly, fans had high expectations from NXT TakeOver: 31.
NXT TakeOver: 31 kicked off with a highly-intense contest between Damian Priest and Johnny Gargano for the NXT North American Championship. The main event of the night saw The Undisputed Era's Kyle O'Reilly lock horns with Finn Balor for the NXT Championship.
The event went on as smoothly as one could've hoped. NXT's TakeOver series has always set the standard for their presentation and the 31st edition was no different in this regard. The event featured a great mix of high-octane action as well as some great technical wrestling.
Here are three interesting aspects from NXT TakeOver: 31-
#3 A new side of Kushida in NXT
Almost a year and a half after arriving in NXT, Kushida finally made his much-awaited TakeOver debut at NXT TakeOver: 31 against The Velveteen Dream. The Tokyo-native has been a victim of inconsistent booking during his tenure in NXT. There was a lot of hype surrounding the former IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion when he first in NXT.
But, all of that slowly died as the creative were clueless about where to slot the Japanese Superstar. For a long time, Kushida fought in random matches that did nothing to propel his character arc. It also didn't help that the company presented Kushida as a prototypical WWE babyface.
While there is nothing wrong with booking someone as likable as Kushida as a do-good babyface, the creative heads at NXT should've built a solid thread around his character and a solid push. But, since they weren't sure about where to slot Kushida, the fans slowly started losing interest in the Japanese sensation.
Over the past few weeks, we have witnessed a change in Kushida. The Tokyo-native isn't the ' lay by the books' babyface anymore. It was made evident following his win over The Velveteen Dream this Sunday at NXT TakeOver: 31. After having The Dream submit to his patented hoverboard lock, Kushida would inflict more damage on his opponent's arm post-match.
While it would be too premature to call it a full-blown heel turn, Kushida's actions over the past few weeks seem to have an edge to him. This change in character can only mean big things for Kushida as he gets set to his forge his legacy in the Black and Gold brand.
#2 A re-jig of women's division at NXT TakeOver: 31
It wouldn't be a stretch to say that NXT has the best women's division in the business today. With names like Rhea Ripley, Candice Le Rae, Dakota Kai, Tegan Nox, and Io Shirai in its rank, the Black and Gold brand boasts of arguably the best female roster ever assembled in wrestling history.
One of the best things about NXT'S women's division is the presentation of the division. Unlike the main roster, female stars in NXT have always got the same treatment as their male counterparts. NXT was the breeding ground for WWE's women's evolution.
But, over the past few months, NXT Women's division hasn't been on the same level as it once was. While names like Shotzi Blackheart and Dakota Kai have stepped up to the plate, the women's title picture has become bland.
But, all of that is set to end, following what happened on Sunday at NXT TakeOver: 31. Following her win over Candice Le Rae, Io Shirai's victory celebration was interrupted by two former champions, Toni Storm and Ember Moon. Tomi Storm, the former UK Women's Champion, was last seen in an NXT ring at the start of 2020. Moon made her return to the Black and Gold brand after two and a half years.
The return of Storm and Moon at NXT TakeOver: 31 will infuse new life on top of the women's division. Ember Moon's return, in particular, has piqued fan interest. Following an abysmal run on the main roster, The War Goddess is out to prove a point. The Texas-native seems to have her eyes on dominating the NXT women's division once again.
# 1 The rise of Kyle O'Reilly as a main-event player at NXT TakeOver: 31
One of the most decorated Superstars in NXT history, Kyle O'Reilly (along with the rest of The Undisputed Era) has been one of the most popular and featured acts on NXT. While Adam Cole And Roderick Strong have dominated the brand's singles division, O'Reilly and Booby Fish have been the backbone of the tag division.
The only three-time holder of the NXT Tag Team Championship, O'Reilly is one of the most well-rounded performers in the company. While NXT enthusiasts might only be familiar with his exploits as a tag team specialist, those who have followed O'Reilly's career outside WWE would know that the British Columbia-native is equally at ease in singles competition.
A former ROH and PWG World Champion, O'Reilly has held numerous singles titles during his run on the independent circuit. The match against Balor on Sunday was O'Reilly's first big singles title match on NXT. While he had previously challenged Pete Dunne for the NXT UK Title, performing in the main event of a TakeOver is a different ballgame altogether.
The main event of NXT TakeOver: 31 between Finn Balor and Kyle O'Reilly on Sunday was a brutal one. While Balor was able to get his hand raised at the end of the contest, O' Reilly was able to take the Prince to the absolute time. With his performance on Sunday, O'Reilly proved that he belongs in the main-event scene of NXT.Published 07 Oct 2020, 18:10 IST