Powell’s NXT Takeover XXX Hit List: Keith Lee vs. Karrion Kross for the NXT Championship, Adam Cole vs. Pat McAfee, Io Shirai vs. Dakota Kai for the NXT Women’s Championship, a ladder match for the vacant NXT North American Title, Finn Balor vs. Timothy Thatcher

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

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NXT Takeover XXX Hits

Keith Lee vs. Karrion Kross for the NXT Championship: As much as I said going into the match that I could see Kross winning the title to free up Lee for a move to the main roster, it still felt like a big surprise when the referee’s hand actually hit the mat for the third time. NXT creative has gone all in on Kross and Scarlett and I’m all for it. The actual match was well worked. There have definitely been stronger Takeover main events, yet it didn’t feel out of place in this slot, and the title chance really put it over the top. Unfortunately, no one could have predicted the shoulder injury that Kross suffered during the match. One can only hope that the MRI reveals that it’s a minor injury.

Adam Cole vs. Pat McAfee: For a first-time celebrity type, McAfee did a damn fine job. It’s a shame that this match wasn’t held in front of a live audience because I suspect the heat would have been off the charts. He’s an overbearing personality, which makes him a strong heel and I appreciate that his character has no redeeming qualities. McAfee showed off some very impressive athleticism with his backflip off the ropes followed by his leap to the top rope before superplexing Cole. The broadcast team went a little overboard in marveling over what McAfee was doing at times, particularly when he threw a rough dropkick and Vic Joseph raved as if he were watching Jim Brunzell in his prime. I was actually open to the idea of McAfee scoring a fluke win to set up the need for a rematch, but the truth is that I would gladly watch a rematch even if the revenge factor isn’t there for Cole.

Io Shirai vs. Dakota Kai for the NXT Women’s Championship: It was hard not to wonder if this match would be over before it really got started when Shirai hit her head on the mat while performing a flip. Fortunately, she seemed fine moments later and went on to deliver another strong performance. She did a really nice job of selling an arm injury, so it meant something when Kai applied a cross arm breaker. Kai and Raquel Gonzalez continue to be a really good heel duo. It felt like the Kai character gained something in defeat by being as competitive as she was with Shirai, albeit with some help from Gonzalez at times. The post match staredown between Gonzalez and Ripley set the table for an eventual match between the two. With Ripley feuding with Mercedes Martinez, I wonder if the Gonzalez staredown was long term foreshadowing or perhaps Martinez will cost Ripley the match with Gonzalez.

Finn Balor vs. Timothy Thatcher: Excellent work from both men. It feels pro wrestling journalists feel the need to write that Thatcher’s matches aren’t for everyone. I’m not picking on anyone, as I have been guilty it at one time or another. But, honestly, who are these fans who don’t enjoy a good mat based style? I’m sure they are out there, but they are small enough in numbers that I never hear from them. This felt like a good win for Balor, who feels like he’s slipped since he returned to NXT with a lot of fanfare. Thatcher was given a ton of offense and was made to look strong before taking the clean pin. Ultimately, though, it was another loss for Thatcher, which feels strange considering that he seemed to be on the verge of being pushed as a potential top wrestler in NXT after he beat Matt Riddle in his final match before he left for Smackdown. One can only hope that there’s a plan in place to get the most out of Thatcher.

Bronson Reed vs. Damian Priest vs. Cameron Grimes vs. Johnny Gargano vs. Velveteen Dream in a ladder match for the vacant NXT North American Championship: The usual ladder match insanity with wild spots and crazy bumps. I could have done without the early comedy spots involving Grimes as well as Dream looking like a dope for not realizing that he could have pulled down the title belt at one point. And the final moments with the belt shots were a bit too cute. But the athleticism of the wrestlers combined with some suspenseful moments made for a good ladder match. Priest winning felt a little predictable once he was defeated by Reed in a recent television match. I assumed that meant Priest would win the title and they were setting up Reed as a strong challenger. On an important side note, WWE or Patrick Clark still have some explaining to do. And until they do, it’s going to continue to feel awkward watching him perform.

Raul Mendoza and Joaquin Wilde vs. Danny Burch and Oney Lorcan vs. Tyler Breeze and Fandango in a Triple Threat to become No. 1 contenders to the NXT Tag Titles: An enjoyable match. You had to assume that one of the babyface teams would go over since the reigning champions are heels, but they did a nice job of protecting the Legado Del Fantasma duo by giving them a strong near fall late in the match, and then by keeping them out of the actual finish. The strategy of holding a pre-show match was likely to deliver a match to counter AEW Dynamite running opposite Takeover, as NXT typically doesn’t have pre-show matches. Regardless of the intent, I’m all for seeing pre-show matches become the norm, as long as they keep them at 30 minutes. The pre-shows typically consist of video packages and predictions. And while the video packages can be handy for fans who don’t keep up on the weekly television show, I wonder how many of those fans actually watch Takeover events.

NXT Takeover XXX Misses

The broadcast team: It’s not that I have a lot of complaints about the team of Vic Joseph, Corey Graves, and Beth Phoenix. This Miss is due to the absence of Mauro Ranallo, who has established himself as the voice of NXT. His absence is understandable due to the pandemic. As such, this isn’t a complaint, it’s merely an acknowledgement that Ranallo was missed and the show would have been even better with him calling it. Overall, though, this was another strong Takeover event. The fact that NXT has produced 30 Takeover shows and they’ve all delivered is among the most impressive streaks the business.



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...


Readers Comments (5)

  1. “But, honestly, who are these fans who don’t enjoy a good mat based style?”

    The entire Young Bucks fanbase. Basically 98% of the people that think the spotfest indy style 8-12 man tag matches are great, i.e. most of the AEW viewers.

    • Here’s the thing. I hear from folks such as you who complain about the Bucks’ style. I never hear from people who dislike mat wrestling. I’m sure they are out there in small numbers, but they don’t seem to care enough to voice their displeasure.

      • Thank you, Jason!

        We may not care for it, but we don’t leave 37 comments on every show review harping on something we dislike! If most of us dislike something we simply don’t watch. We might voice a comment or two out of frustration, but why obsess over something you hate that much? Let it go. Watch something else. Let the people who enjoy it do so. Good grief.

        For the record, mat wrestling is fine in small doses. Personally I wouldn’t want an entire show full. If a company went that direction, I’d probably gripe for a week or two and quit watching.

        I mean what is the point of this crusade? Do you think the Bucks will read these comments and be like “we should really change our style because this guy hates it?”

        • He has to fill his days somehow. There are only so many wrestling shows he doesn’t like before he has to find something else to do.

      • Sure they do, but they don’t have to be vocal very often because the fans that like it are almost all gone (and AEW may have been the last chance to get a lot of them back) which means the style is mostly gone.

        As far as those who hate the mat based style, they’re the assholes who chanted boring during the Malenko-Guerrero series in ECW and now they’re the losers who still wear Affliction shirts to UFC events and boo whenever a good grappler either smothers his opponent with wrestling or dirty boxes against the cage.

        They’re the people who couch their criticism in attacking fans of the more realistic approach to pro wrestling by saying that those fans are “stuck in the past” and that wrestling “has to evolve.” Meanwhile the business is in the worst shape it’s been in for at least 30 years since WWF first expanded nationally.

        They’re the reason why live crowds at wrestling events used to be a mixture of people who mostly pulled for the face while booing the heel, and are now a bunch of zero hygiene neckbeard losers chanting stupid shit like “fight forever” after two 5’7″ guys do forearm smashes to each other for 5 minutes with nothing looking like it could hurt a fly.

        The reason you don’t hear much complaining about the mat based style is because there are very few fans of it who haven’t given up completely on pro wrestling, mostly because the crowd is now just Meltzer marks and other losers who ironically watch it as their favorite “performance art” and want the show to be as much about them as it is about the actual pro wrestlers. AEW getting 1.4 million viewers for the first Dynamite showed that there’s a sizable group of lapsed fans that want to see a good product, and those people mostly got 1-2 glimpses of the flippy midget bullshit and never watched again.

        Since the fans of that style are mostly gone, there’s very few places for someone like Thatcher to even come up in the current landscape. Hopefully more guys like Lawlor and Riddle make the move over to pro wrestling and bring back the feeling of good mat based work and the look of guys who could actually kick the ass of everyone in the stands instead of being show to be tiny and unathletic by a freaking punter like Adam Cole was.

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