Jay's Ways - NXT Takeover XXX Review Submitted by Justin Watry on 08/22/2020 at 09:24 PM
NXT Takeover Thirty was on the WWE Network tonight. I wish the brand did a lot more to promote their history and have more of a 'celebration,' that is a minor nitpick. They have a vast video library and tons of epic moments have happened during Takeover events. Too bad none of that was re-visited or even incorporated into the hype. Cesaro, Drew McIntye, and others were there (Corey Graves on commentary) but come on! Do more with your rich history next time. Let's get to the show.
The opening match was Timothy Thather vs. Finn Balor. While we have seen these two tease a feud the past two week on television, it still felt like a late addition to the card without much of a reason or purpose. Both are obviously talented and in all honesty, both really could have used a victory. Timothy is still fairly new to the brand, and Balor is THE MAN that comes to mind when I think of NXT. For the women's side, my answer is Bayley. Those two define "NXT" to me, so it was nice to see him come out first on this anniversary NXT Takeover XXX. The bout was fine but nothing memorable or earth shattering. I may have gone with the opposite result, but NXT tends to have a reason behind everything whether I like it or not - Finn Balor won. Clean. He battled through his injured left leg and was victorious. Solid action. Time to do more with Balor. His big return to NXT was less than a year ago and even with all the travel/scheduling conflicts in the world today, his second NXT run has been underwhelming to say the least.
Up next was the ladder match for the North American Championship. As most know, the title was vacant as Keith Lee (former champion) decided to solely focus on his newly won NXT Championship and gives others an opportunity at the gold instead. Basic premise. Cool idea. Many fought in the qualifiers to get into this ladder match, but it was down to these five that competed: The Velveteen Dream, Bronson Reed, Cameron Grimes, Johnny Gargano and our eventual winner...Damian Priest! You could have made a case for any of these five men to win the title, but this entire scenario screamed DAMIAN PRIEST from the get go. He won't be in the main event mix for awhile. He won't be going to Raw or Smackdown, and he can't just hang out in the mid-card doing nothing forever. The North American Title was made for a guy like Damian Priest. Glad he won and gets to add some gold to his resume.
As for the actual match, wow! They were really pushing the limit a few times. Gargano almost killed Grimes with a sunset flip powerbomb onto a ladder but only hit the edge of the ladder! Bronson Reed delivered a Shawn Michaels like splash off the top of a ladder onto Gargano with Candice on his back. Unreal. There was a flashback to the No Mercy 1999 ladder match finish. If you know the match, you know the set up. Seriously, this thing was wild. At one point, Dream went flying off a ladder over the top rope and into the crowd, completely disappearing from the camera shot. Through it all, Priest is your new North American Champion. Props to everybody for doing this purely on adrenaline with no fans in the arena.
Pat Mcafee vs. Adam Cole followed this, and one could argue this was the most anticipated match of the evening. With a five way ladder match and a big time main event on the card, that is saying a lot. For wrestling fans that may not know Pat Mcafee, what you have seen on NXT the past couple of weeks is Pat Mcafee. Over the top, cocky, arrogant, talkative, funny (kinda), witty, in your face, sarcastic, yet at the same time self aware enough to know that he is playing a character. That's him. Unlike Gronk, he legitimately retired and never cared about returning to the football field. He is doing just fine for awhile and has been a WWE fan for years. He even owns a ring and has made sporadic appearances throughout the years. The guy knows his stuff, whether you enjoy the act or not. This all came to a head with him and Adam Cole on a collision course.
Could he back up his talk once the bell rings?
Does he actually know how to wrestle?
Will he somehow WIN?
Lots of questions and here's the answer: Pat Mcafee is legitimate folks. He backed up all the talk and then some. It doesn't matter if this was pre recorded before the event or not. Who cares? Adam Cole was the PERFECT debut opponent for him. A true professional and somebody who can do it all, no matter the foe. Pat Mcafee had the basics down pat (sorry!). He had the drop downs and the head locks and the usual crap. That is fine. A little training can get you there. Then came the senton off the top rope to the outside. Then came the great heel tactics with his NFL buddies at ringside. Then came the athleticism. At one point, the dude did a back flip off the top rope, then ran back to the top rope and flat jumped up like he was Shelton Benjamin and delivered a freakin' superples to Adam Cole. All in one motion. Eventually, his wonderful, magical kicking leg failed him, and that was all she wrote. Adam Cole fought back and won. Boom. No idea what is next for either man but until then, enjoy the moment.
Credit to Adam Cole here. Credit to whoever put all of this together and yes, credit to Pat Mcafee. He showed up big time. For a sports/celebrity match, this ranks right up there with the best. Awesome job baby.
An NXT advertisement said Tommaso Ciampa is back this Wednesday night. Interesting. He has been off TV and was rumored to be in the WWE Retribution group.
The NXT Womens Championship match was next. Io Shirai vs. Dakota Kai was a weird bout to feature on an NXT Takeover card. Rhea Ripley is always hovering around the title picture so fair or unfair, this felt like filler without her competing. That uneasy feeling was confirmed when Rhea showed her face post-match and pretty much revealed to be next in line for a title match. Io retained in a good bout. Truth be told, I was still reeling from the previous Adam Cole/Pat McAfee match. Tough spot for the women here. Correct finish though. Correct champion at the moment.
Our main event was Keith Lee defending his NXT Championship versus newcomer and monster Karrion Kross. Of course, he had Scarlett ringside with him. Those two have such an awesome entrance. I thought Lee had cool theme music, but his has NOTHING on "Fall And Pray." Props to NXT for the last month of TV featuring these two. Both have been built up as legitimate fighters, and it was difficult to see either man lose. That is the true definition of a main event match. In sports, boxing, wrestling, etc. Two worthy opponents, two great competitors. Just a hard hitting slugfest. I had suspected Keith Lee was a short-term champ and Kross would win the belt quickly. I was right. NEW NXT CHAMPION! Karrion Kross will make everybody fall and pray, just as predicted. Stunning to those that don't know the man but exactly as expected from those who do. Welcome to a new era folks. Karrion Kross is the real deal.
Overall: NXT has done it again. Every time it feels like the brand is stumbling, they bust out a great show. I can feel the momentum building again. They may have found their groove once again. Balor, Priest, Cole, McAfee, Io, Kross, Lee and a returning Ciampa? Yeah, lots of intrigue for this Wednesday night on the USA Network. Entertaining NXT Takeover XXX event on the WWE Network in my opinion. Minor nitpicks aside, this was great.