Johnny Gargano and Damian Priest had the honor of working the first match televised from the remodeled WWE Performance, as their North American title clash kicked off the action at TakeOver 31 in Orlando’s Capitol Wrestling Center on Sun., Oct. 4.
The champion Priest entered first, to the cheers of the small in-person crowd (several of whom were caught on camera without masks covering their noses and mouthes) seated behind plexiglass draped in chain link, and ThunderDome-style video walls of remote streaming fans.
Things went well for the Archer of Infamy at the bell, but backfired on the apron. That allowed challenger Gargano - whose wrestled in more TakeOver matches than anyone in history - to bounce Priest off the fence and steps to take control.
Will "JOHNNY TAKEOVER" regain the #WWENXT #NATitle or will @ArcherOfInfamy have all the reason to celebrate?@JohnnyGargano brings the innovative offense at #NXTTakeOver 31! pic.twitter.com/yHGgcDbunK— WWE (@WWE) October 4, 2020
This was a back-and-forth affair, however. The champ got back it in with a flatliner. Johnny countered a Razor’s Edge for a cover. A dive looked to have Priest in serious jeopardy of losing his title, but a short time later Gargano was on the receiving end of a Razor’s Edge to the apron. That nearly won things for Priest... but not quite.
On (Razor's) EDGE. #NXTTakeOver @ArcherOfInfamy @JohnnyGargano pic.twitter.com/Yu0XcBeVxT— WWE (@WWE) October 4, 2020
A chop block wounded the champ, but Johnny took too long mocking Priest’s archery affectation and couldn’t connect. That mistake led to a South of Heaven chokeslam from Damian, but when Gargano rolled out and Priest went high risk in response, Johnny pulled two extras into the path.
SECURITY!!!!!! #NXTTakeOver @JohnnyGargano @ArcherOfInfamy pic.twitter.com/ajEhYcsTYq— WWE (@WWE) October 4, 2020
While referee Drake Wuertz checked on the downed men, Gargano delivered a low blow. The superkick connected that, but Priest kicked out.
Another heated exchange followed, with Gargano attempting to send Priest crashing into the ring steps (as he did in losing to Finn Balor at In Your House). But the champ fought that off, and powered out of One Final Beat DDT. He turned that into a rope-assisted Reckoning, and successfully retained the NA championship in the CWC’s first match.
For a complete rundown of everything that happened at the Capitol Wrestling Center tonight, head to our live blog here.