NXT Takeover 31 Results – Gargano Comes Up Short Against Priest

Welcome to Bleeding Cool's live results and analysis for NXT Takeover 31, emanating from WWE's Capitol Wrestling Center at the newly revamped WWE Performance Center. You can scroll down to the bottom for links to our coverage of the other articles tonight.

Takeover begins with a video package focused on Jess McMahon's Capitol Wrestling Corporation, which serves as the inspiration for the newly revamped Capitol Wrestling Center, the new home of NXT inside WWE's Performance Center, which is making its debut tonight at NXT Takeover 31. We get our first look at it, filmed earlier before the show. The guardrails have chain link fences instead of (or maybe in addition to) plexiglass. There are a lot more lights, and it's a lot bigger.

Then NXT Takeover 31 opens officially, and we see what it looks like in action. The walls are lined with video screens ala the Thunderdome. There's people surrounding the ring behind the chain link, which does indeed also have plexiglass. Earlier today, Triple H said there was individual plexiglass in the stands as well, where fans from outside are allowed in. All are given COVID-19 tests, so hey, it's safer than the White House. No pyro.

Vic Joseph is here on commentary, with Wade Barrett and Beth Phoenix working remotely. Damian Priest comes to the ring, followed by Johnny Gargano. Shouldn't the champ enter last?

Damian Priest defends his North American Championship against Johnny Gargano at NXT Takeover 31
Damian Priest defends his North American Championship against Johnny Gargano at NXT Takeover 31

NXT Takeover 31 Results Part 1 – Johnny Gargano vs. Damian Priest – North American Championship Match

  • Okay, this is already a big upgrade for NXT. You've got the real crowd there to provide appropriate crowd noise that fits appropriately with the match. The Thunderdome screens make it look much bigger. And the overall look of the set is really gritty, like the Snyder Cut of NXT Takeover 31.
  • After an initially strong showing by Priest in the ring, Gargano takes things outside so we can get a tour of the ringside area during a brawl. The chain link on top of the plexiglass adds a nice effect when people are diving or being thrown into it.
  • There's an interesting dynamic to this match. Priest has a big size advantage, so Gargano should be the underdog, but Gargano has a lot more experience and his cunning, which makes Priest the underdog in a way. The result is Gargano feels like a strong threat to the larger Priest in the ring.
  • There's not much story behind this match, though, other than both wrestler's motivation to win or stay champ. Sometimes that's enough.
  • Do you know what's ironic? The NXT Takeover 31 set looks more like a "Thunderdome" than the Thunderdome.
  • At one point, Priest goes for a dive over the top rope, but Gargano moves out of the way and tosses some security guards in his place. In the ensuing hullaballoo, Priest and the ref are distracted looking at the damage, which lets Gargano give him a low blow. Though Priest kicks out of a pin, Gargano gets him in Gargano Escape. Priest manages to hold out there too.
  • But just a minute later, Priest makes a desperate comeback and hits the Reckoning to retain the title.

Well, look; they don't call him Johnny Takeover for nothing. While Gargano's character, heel or face, doesn't really do a whole lot for me personally, there's no question he's extremely good in the ring. At the same time, it's clear NXT wants to push Damian Priest to the moon. Priest is no slouch in the ring himself, but putting him in there with Gargano is an opportunity to give him a career-defining performance. Did he reach that level? Not quite. It was a very good match, but it lacked emotional stakes. If this leads to a long-term feud, there's potential there, though.

Thanks for reading Bleeding Cool's NXT Takeover 31 live results and analysis. Keep checking back as we'll be posting new articles all night.

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