NXT Takeover Toronto Predictions & Preview: Redemption Stories, Long Awaited Heel Turns, And Shark Cage Sponsorships

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Tye Dillinger vs Bobby Roode



Back in August, on the Wednesday after Takeover Brooklyn II: The Secret of the Ooze, they aired a match that was taped for the undercard of that event, featuring Tye Dillinger vs Wesley Blake.

This is what I wrote about it then, and a lot of it still holds true today:


There are very few moments that take you by surprise when you watch as much wrestling as I do.

One of those few moments happened when I saw Tye Dillinger's entrance for this match. His theme hit and Brooklyn went BONKERS. He came out on the ramp and everyone, like EVERYONE in the arena was chanting " Ten! Ten! Ten! Ten!" and he comes down to the ring and if you haven't seen it, it's AMAZING.

I wish you could hear it. It's deafening.

Tonight, said Brooklyn. We are with you.

Tonight, said Brooklyn. We are all Tens.

And at the end there, as he's just taking it all in, as 15000 fans are cheering for him, I thought about what it must have been like to be Tye Dillinger in that moment, and I started to cry.

That was the surprising part.

I didn't know why I was crying, until I thought more about it.

Tye Dillinger is 35 years old. He's only got a few years left. He started out in OVW back in 2006, transferred to FCW in '07, debuted on ECW on SyFy (*shudder*) in 2008 and lasted like five months before he was future endeavored. He bounced around the indies for four years, before debuting on NXT in 2013, but he couldn't get anything going until this Perfect 10 gimmick. And then, BOOM. He took off like a rocket. Not with the top brass, oh no, but with the fans. They started doing the Ten chants during his matches, during his entrances, they loved the guy. But the bookers insisted that a guy who thinks he's perfect has to be a heel, so they kept booking him to lose. To Apollo Crews, to Andrade Almas, to fooking ONEY LORCAN. He's been off TV for over a month.

Now he's back, and they're apparently letting him be a babyface. The crowd is cheering for him louder than ever, and he finally gets to win a damn match.

I think there was a little part of Dillinger who thought he'd never make it this far, and a little part of him who thinks that this might be the biggest hottest crowd he ever gets to perform in front of.

Right after the bell rings, and the crowd breaks out into another chant of "Ten! Ten! Ten!" and he looks around and smiles, is he thinking "If this is the pinnacle of my career, I'm okay with that" ... ? I mean, if you went back in time and told just-released Tye Dillinger back in 2009 that if he waited seven-and-a-half years, he'd be getting cheered by 15000 screaming fans at an arena in Brooklyn, NY, he'd have said you were crazy.

Anyway, so I thought about all of that, and put myself in Dillinger's shoes, the kid who could never get over, finally feeling the love from the fans in a match he knew he was finally going to win for a change, and I was so happy for him that I started to cry.

I'm a big ol' softie, guys. I can't help it.

In a fascinating twist of irony, Tye Dillinger's old FCW Tag Partner from eight years is Dolph Ziggler. Back when Tye was calling himself "Gavin Spears," he and Dolph used to tag together:

Yes that's Heath Slater Handsome Heath Miller and Curtis Axel Michael McGillicutty Joe Hennig that they're facing for the Florida Tag Team Titles. Spoiler Alert: Tye and Dolph lose.

But almost 8 years later, both men performed in the same arena on the same weekend, in front of probably mostly the same fans.

One of them was wrestling for the top prize in the sport, the WWE World Championship, and the other was the curtain jerker on the "developmental" show. His match was taped and broadcast four days later.

The Curtain Jerker who got tape-delayed was more over with the crowd than the championship contender.

I don't know what it means, or even whether it means anything at all, but I just found it interesting, and I thought maybe you would too.


As far as the original question goes, "Is this the pinnacle for Tye Dillinger?," realistically it probably is. He'll be a midcard hero in Full Sail, get called up eventually, and forgotten about after an early mini-push, much like his NXT predecessor, Tyler Breeze.

But there's one thing they could do with him that would make him into a goddamn star:

After at least three weeks of vignettes, have him debut on the main roster at the Royal Rumble ...

.... at number TEN.

Imagine, the countdown for the next entrant reaches zero,
and this starts to play.

Please WWE. Just do this. For me.


Yeah. So I like Tye Dillinger, so sue me. Watching him do the Ten thing makes me smile. I can't help it. He's gotten himself over entirely with the NXT regulars, with virtually no help from anyone. Most guys can't get a catchphrase over. His catchphrase is the numeral 10, as it is over as f*ck.

His match in Toronto with Bobby Roode has the potential to steal the show. Number one, they're both Canadian. Number two, Bobby Roode is the most over heel in the company, mostly due to his theme music, sure, but he's also really great at being a dick.

They ran a promo video package on NXT this past Wednesday and I find it unforgivable that it's not on YouTube. That's how great it was.

EDIT: They finally uploaded it, so here it is.

They had Bobby Roode straight up lying about how they got to this match. "Tye Dillinger begged me to be his partner for the Dusty Classic," he says. Then they show film of him asking Tye Dillinger to be his partner. Stuff like that. It's perfect. They show Roode deserting Tye during their Tag Match with SAnitY. They show Tye calling Roode out and Roode viciously attacking Tye from behind as a means of accepting his challenge. And most importantly, they give you that Tye Dillinger backstory that I wrote about back in August, and they explain that Tye's Perfect 10 gimmick isn't arrogance, it's a confidence in himself that he realized was necessary after five long, hard years away from WWE. After a whole career of people underrating him, Tye realized the only rating he needed to worry about was his own. Brilliant. And what does Bobby Roode have to say about that? "It's pathetic."

The build for this match has been near perfection, and I think it's going to steal the show.

Prediction: Roode hasn't been pinned since debuting on NXT, and I think that streak ends here. Roode's bullet-proof. Win or lose, he comes out of Toronto basically the same. Plus, they really seem to be pushing Dillinger hard (that video package is evidence of that) and there's no better way for them to cement that then for Dillinger to be the one to hand Bobby Roode his first loss. Look for Dillinger to kick out of Roode's Impaler DDT and get a flash-roll-up victory. You can even have Roode attack Dillinger during his celebration to get his heat back. But personally, I'd love to see Dillinger move on and be Eric Young's first feud in NXT. He's still got unfinished business with SAnitY, and Takeover San Antonio is just two months away. Pick: TYE DILLINGER

I mean, I can't be the only one who sees Tye Dillinger's redemption story as this phenomenal opportunity for WWE to create a brand-new mid card star, can I?

Think of the feud he could have with The Miz, for God's Sake.

I'd pay good money to see that.

But maybe that's just me.



TM61 vs The Authors of Pain

Last year Finn Balor and Samoa Joe won The Dusty Classic.

This year, it's going to be either the super-athletic Australian Surfer Dudes that you don't give two shits about, or Paul Ellering's Ethnic Pseudo SHIELD.

Yes, The PEEPS have found themselves on the doorstep of winning this whole thing, and I, for one, am fine with that. I understand that they're basically The Barbarian and The Warlord with less charisma, but that's okay.

The PEEPS also have less facepaint.
And better haircuts.
So bonus points for them.

Also these guys used to be called "The Powers of Pain."
Coincidence much?

Call me crazy, but I enjoy a good monster heel tag team every once in a while. I was even a fan of KroniK back in the day. Okay, that one I'm a little ashamed about, but tell me you don't get a little turned-on by that High Five Powerbomb thing they do.

Come on, who else has tingly nipples?


Just me?


Moving on.

TM-61, meanwhile, is great at just about everything, but I don't care about them, and neither do you. I really think they'd be over by now if the WWE had just let them keep their bad-ass name from before they came to NXT.


That is approximately one gajillion times more interesting, more memorable and more awesome than TM-61, which sounds like the in-canon actual name for one of the droids in the background of Return of the Jedi. They had a very good match against The PEEPS back on the undercard for Takeover Brooklyn II: Brooklyn Harder, and it was actually quite good. Compelling, even.

The PEEPS are capable of having very good matches. They don't have to just squash Rob Ryzin and his partner with the kneepads over the jeans. That match they had against Dance Dance Revolution (which is what I called the tag team of No Way Jose & Rich Swann, and will continue to forever more) was pretty great, as was their semi-final against Gargano & Ciampa (OH, DON'T WORRY, WE'RE GONNA GET TO THEM), but alas, Paul Ellering couldn't keep himself under control, attacking Rich Swann in the first match, and deliberately distracting the ref in the second.

So, naturally, William Regal suggested banning Paul Ellering from ringside, to which Paul Ellering said he'd sue, so then William Regal said, "That's cool, how 'bout we just suspend you from a shark cage above the ring?" and Paul Ellering was all like, "Whatevs."


Oh, wait.

Take a look at this promotional still for the event.

Take a good look.
Down there, in the lower left corner.


This whole deal is sponsored by a shark cage above a ring.

Favorite part of that commercial?
That somehow Vince McMahon wrote it.

Honestly, I'm not even mad about it anymore.
I just feel sorry for him. It's like a sickness.

But back to this terrible Shark Cage toy.

Watch this guy from Mattel "demonstrate" this hunk of worthless plastic at some trade show back in February.

First of all, how sad and also how perfect is it that he can't get the damn thing to work the first time?

Second, this was back in February and he's telling people "they're actually going to build a life-size version of this cage and they're gonna stage matches in it, in November."


Here's what I think happened: I think they made a deal with Mattel to get a sponsorship for an event way back in 2015 sometime, just threw out "November" as a time when they'd have a Shark Cage Match, then completely forgot about it until like Halloween.

Then someone from Mattel called, "just wondering what the big plans are for this Shark Cage Match, just curious, you know," and everyone panicked and this is what we got.

Paul Ellering in a cage above a TM-61/Authors of Pain match.

That's a far cry from what Mattel was lead to believe, I'll bet.

I'll bet it was probably something more like this:

Anyway, this match.

Prediction: Paul Ellering smuggles a lead pipe into the cage, in his jacket or something, drops it down to his boys Tokka and Rayzar, but maybe TM-61 get their grubby little droid hands on it first, the ref sees them holding it, DQs them? I dunno. PICK: PEEPS? TM=61?

Honestly the whole outcome of this is entirely dependent on this next match:



The Revival vs Gargano & Ciampa
2 out of 3 Falls



Here's what I wrote about Gargano & Ciampa in that same NXT/CWC report from back in August:

(This is quite possibly the best thing I have ever written, or will ever write for Fightful)


August 24, 2016
Cruiserweight Classic
Johnny Gargano vs TJ Perkins




First of all you have to understand something.

Johnny Gargano is called Johnny Wrestling because he is a Wrestling Genius.

This match was taped on July 14. It aired 40 days later on August 24, four days after the live broadcast of NXT Takeover Brooklyn 2: Live Free or Do Brooklyn.

In this match with Perkins, Johnny Gargano was selling kayfabe leg damage from an injury in a match at a PPV that would not take place for almost 6 weeks.

Johnny Gargano knew he would be in that tag match with The Revival in Brooklyn on August 20. He knew what the finish was going to be.

The finish was this, in case you don't remember.

Johnny knew that this episode he was taping on July 14 would air four days after the Revival match, and that he could further the story from NXT into the CWC.

What's more, they're teasing a break-up between Johnny and his tag partner Tommaso Ciampa, and have been since the Cruiserweight Classic match, which aired three weeks ago on August 3rd (you can refresh your memory on that one HERE.)

But that match, the Gargano VS Ciampa match, was taped back on June 24.


So here's what had to happen, as far as I can tell:

Gargano & Ciampa had to know, before June 24, that the plan was to slow build to a Ciampa heel turn. That was almost certainly the plan when the brackets were set by the powers that be. So Gargs & Champs came up with a plan. Gargano would defeat Ciampa in their match against each other on June 24, which would not air until August 3rd. On July 14, they already knew what the finish of the NXT tag title match in Brooklyn was going to be, and that Johnny would be able to sell the leg damage in a match that would air four days after Brooklyn. Gargano and Perkins even built in spots that would further damage the leg, and Gargano would have to tap to the Kneebar.

Now, in their head to head match taped on June 24 and aired on August 3rd, the in-ring storytelling was that Ciampa outfought Gargano and could have won, but he valued their friendship more than the win, so he held back, which left an opening for Gargano to outwrestle Ciampa, and get the win via a roll-up.

After he lost to Gargano, Ciampa did this:


Then he did this:

It was an amazing moment of friendship triumphing over adversity.

Remember, that was taped JUNE TWENTY FOURTH.

Then, in the next step in the kayfabe story, but actually taking place ALMOST TWO MONTHS LATER, Gargano tapped to lose their Tag Team Titles match.

After that match, more of the same, Ciampa with an arm around his buddy Gargano:

This time, comforting rather than congratulating.

THEN, in the next kayfabe chapter, Johnny loses the 2nd Round match that Ciampa probably should have been in. In Tommaso's mind, it's worth losing the match if his buddy goes on to win the tournament. But this? It's a damn waste.

Some further levels that they've gone to to set up this Ciampa heel turn:

Gargano has an interview in the training room before the Perkins match, as he's getting his bad knee taped up, and this is what he says:

"I've heard all the buzz, and I've read all the hype. I'm a lot of people's pick. I'm one of the favorites to win this whole thing. And honestly, I don't want to do anything to let anyone down. So tonight, I'm going to go out there and pour my heart out in the ring and do whatever it takes to leave one step closer to winning the Cruiserweight Classic."


Hmm, like you might have let your tag team partner down when you tapped out in the championship match?

Look at Ciampa's face when he says that:





And look at the shirt he's wearing:

That's his nickname for a reason, people.

Speaking of shirts, at Takeover Brooklyn, Ciampa and Gargano came down to the ring wearing these bad boys:

The back reads "NOBODY WILL DO IT FOR YOU."

The front reads #DIY.

Do it yourself.


As in, what you might be thinking when you watch your tag partner tap out to lose your Championship Match.

As in, what you might say to your former tag partner, your former friend, right before you snap the f*ck out on him:

"Something I've had to learn the hard way, Johnny.
If you want something done right, you've got to do it yourself."

*discus elbow*

*knee to face"

*Air Raid Crash on the apron*

And if all that wasn't good enough, they're presenting Johnny Wrestling as the most sympathetic babyface on the entire WWE roster:

Poor guy.



This is a long con.

It's the Longest Con.

When they finally pull the trigger on this thing, it's going to be MAGNIFICENT.


Well, it might be too late for them to do that heel turn, since they haven't teased it since like Labor Day, but the groundwork remains solid. You never know.

Here's what you do know: The Revival is the Best (period) Tag Team (period) in the World (period). And Gargano & Ciampa are almost certainly in the Top Ten. These four gentlemen put on an absolute CLASSIC back in Brooklyn, and they're going to pull out all the stops trying to top that here.

Personally, I can't wait for it, whether Ciampa ends up making the turn or not. I still kind of hope he does, because not only would that be AMAZING, and not only would it strengthen my claim that I can see through time and space, but because it would result in a feud that could carry the mid-card of NXT through to Wrestlemania.

But they might decide that they're better off keeping #DIY #Together, in which case, they should get the Belts, and immediately drop them to Dusty Classic winners The Authors of Pain, and go right back to chasing them. Gargano & Ciampa need to remain underdogs if they're going to remain babyfaces.

But if Revival wins, I hope that Gargano & Ciampa split up and become blood enemies. The Revival can go on to face TM-61, brand new Dusty Classic winners.

(See how the Dusty Classic Final result is entirely dependent on the outcome of this match?)

Prediction: If The Revival wins, then I'm confident we get to see that Tommaso heel turn that I've been wanting for months. But if the Revival loses, then I think they get called up to the Main Roster and maybe they're the ones who finally knock off the New Day. Either that, or they wind up on Smackdown and we get to see them feud with American Alpha for the next half-decade (pretty please).


PICK: I'm going with The Revival, because dammit, I want that heel turn. I WANT IT SO BAD.

But that's just me.



Asuka vs Mickie James

Legit don't know why this is happening.

This reminds me of when The Ascension was running roughshod over the entire NXT Tag Division (not Gallows & Anderson roughshod, like actually running roughshod) and instead of sacrificing another team to them, the brass brought in 2 Cool.

Yes, Scotty 2 Hotty and Grandmaster Sexay were pulled out of mothballs and fed to the Ascension way back at Takeover Arrival, and this feels a lot like that.

I mean, Mickie James and Too Cool are not a 1-to-1 correlation, by any means. Mickie was a five time Women's champ, and Too Cool was a comedy act with a running buddy who was 25% Hip Hop Samoan and 75% Butt, but it's still the same idea.

This is a one-off. There's no way in hell that Mickie James wins this match, but she'll still give Asuka a better fight than any of the regular girls on the roster.

Except for maybe Ember Moon, but I kind of agree with them holding off with her until Takeover: The Alamo, or whatever they're going to call the one they do in San Antonio for Rumble weekend. Let her get seasoned for a while, get her bearings, but she's definitely the one who's taking the belt off Asuka when the time comes.

Mickie James, however, is not.

Prediction: This one is going to be over quicker than you think. PICK: Asuka wins, getting vicious at the end. She turns heel and beats down Mickie after the bell, locking in the Asuka Lock and not letting go. Then the next time we see her, she's a lot less like this:

And a lot more like THIS:

For real, I've been waiting for THAT version of Asuka since she showed up in NXT, the Clown-Faced Japanese Nightmare Factory, I've been predicting it over and over again, and I've got to be right one of these times.

I do hope it's now.

But like I said, that's just me.



Shinsuke Nakamura vs Samoa Joe

Not to end this thing on a downer, but this is the match I'm actually looking forward to the least.

I'm over this arrogant-ass, invincible, security-guard-beating-up-for-no-good-reason version of Shinsuke Nakamura. Seriously. He launches unprovoked attacks on innocent people. I guess I'm a Mark, but I don't root for guys like that.

Also, I find it hard to root for Samoa Joe, as much as I love him, because if he wins, he can't show up on Smackdown and challenge AJ Styles for the World Championship, which would make me pop so hard, I might spontaneously combust like Peter James Bond or Mick Shrimpton.

And for Shinsuke, I feel like if he doesn't lose this match, and his undefeated streak continues, and he doesn't turn heel, who's going to beat him? Bobby Roode? Andrade Almas? Roderick Strong? Not bloody likely.

This is the Battle Of Two Guys Who Should Have Been On The Main Roster Months Ago.

Prediction: This isn't as good as the first match they had, and that match didn't exactly set the world on fire. PICK: Shinsuke Nakamura wins clean again, thus cementing his invincibility and his legacy as the Japanese Roman Reigns, except the IWC loves him instead of hating him. Joe gets brought up to the Main Roster, but gets put on Raw, wins a Battle Royal to determine number one contender for Sami Zayn's new Intercontinental Title, loses that title match to Sami and gets promptly buried, because Vince hates Samoa Joe for some reason.

Okay, so that's the worst case scenario.

Here's the best case.

That AJ-Samoa Joe feud actually does happen on SmackDown. They tear the house down for months and make Vince eat his words.

Shinsuke turns heel in NXT. He finally loses the title to ... CEDRIC ALEXANDER.

Seriously tell me you wouldn't trade at least a pinky finger to see Heel Shinsuke take on Super-Face Cedric for the title at Takeover San Antonio.

I'd do both my pinky toes and at least one earlobe.

But that's just me.

Until Next Time, I've Been Alex Pawlowski
and this is me thinking about
that Tommaso Ciampa Heel Turn.

You can follow me on Twitter @pawlowskithe4th

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