Powell’s NXT Hit List: The final push for Takeover XXX, Adam Cole and Pat McAfee, Finn Balor vs. Velveteen Dream and Johnny Gargano vs. Ridge Holland for the finals spots in the NXT North American Championship ladder match

By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)

NXT TV Hits

Pat McAfee and Adam Cole: McAfee was grating, obnoxious, and downright annoying as an NXT broadcast team member. And it’s those same traits that make him such a promising heel character. McAfee’s blowhard promo was entertaining, and Cole beating up security and simply telling McAfee that he’ll make him his bitch on Saturday was exactly what it needed to be. McAfee also did a really nice job of showing a subtle look of concern as Undisputed Era stared him. It would have been easy to go with an over the top bug-eyed reaction, but he played it right.

Dakota Kai vs. Jessi Kamea: Kai continues to be a terrific heel. Typically, challengers are made to look strong heading into title matches, but it was fine for Kai to be pushed by an undercard talent due the style of her character. A dominant win over Kamea wasn’t going to convince anyone that Kai is a threat to beat Io Shirai in a straight up match. The post match angle with Raquel Gonzalez returning to attack Io Shirai told the real story, which is that the potential interference from Gonzalez makes Kai a threat to steal the championship.

Santos Escobar, Joaquin Wilde, and Raul Mendoza vs. Tyler Breeze, Fandango, and Isaiah Scott: It was good to see Breeze and Fandango abandon their usual comedy entrance for a week heading into this grudge match. The actual match was well worked. I was surprised to see Escobar score the pin for his team. I thought this was going to be the spot where Scott beat one of the Legado Del Fantasma members to set him up with an NXT Cruiserweight Title shot on at Takeover.

Rhea Ripley and Shotzi Blackheart vs. Mercedes Martinez and Aliyah: A quality tag match with Blackheart getting the win for her team over Aliyah, while Ripley got the better of Martinez by powerbombing her from the apron.

Finn Balor vs. Velveteen Dream for a spot in the NXT North American Championship ladder match: A minor Hit for the big show closing angle that spotlighted all of the ladder match entrants while also setting up Balor vs. Timothy Thatcher for Takeover. A case can certainly be made that they had too much going on, but I felt like they accomplished what they needed to in terms of delivering final hype to the ladder match.

NXT TV Misses

Johnny Gargano vs. Ridge Holland for a spot in the NXT North American Championship ladder match: You know a botched spot is bad when you know it’s coming and it still makes you gasp. I don’t know whether to be more surprised that Gargano was able to continue wrestling or that he was actually allowed to continue after taking a break to receive medical evaluation at the taping.

Keith Lee and Karrion Kross: This video package that aired on their feud was really well produced. The reason this fell into the Miss column is that it felt like a mistake not have Lee, Kross, or Scarlett appear on a go-home show that was unopposed by AEW Dynamite. I can understand keeping Lee out due to the fireball angle, but it felt like we should have seen Kross and Scarlett make that impressive entrance at some point during the night.



The Pro Wrestling Boom Podcast with Jason Powell features Kenny Herzog discussing his journalism career, his new Outside Interference podcast, doing a feature story on CM Punk, pro wrestling in the pandemic, WWE talk on Retribution, The Hurt Business, Roman Reigns as a heel, and much more...


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