NXT TakeOver XXX Reactions

We expect NXT live specials to bring high quality wrestling to fans of WWE’s alternative product and NXT TakeOver XXX was no exception. The event successfully showcased NXT’s current batch of upcoming stars and once again solidified why their specials are more entertaining than the main roster pay-per-views.

Breezango vs. Oney Lorcan and Danny Burch vs. Legado del Fantasma

It was a fast paced triple-threat tag team match for a shot at the NXT Tag Team titles against Imperium. Joaquin Wilde and Raul Mendoza came out looking like side villains in “Grand Theft Auto V,” but their in-ring offense was pretty impressive. Oney Lorcan and Danny Burch continued to show their hard-hitting, technical prowess but Tyler Breeze and Fandango got the win in the end. It was a decent match fitting for the pre-show.

As entertaining as Breezango is as a duo, I always thought Tyler Breeze was better off as a singles star. Breeze was one of the best rising stars in NXT. His main roster run might’ve been subpar but he wouldn’t be the first NXT staple to get lost in the shuffle. I don’t see Imperium dropping the titles to Breezango. Perhaps that championship match ends in a Tyler Breeze heel turn against his beloved partner?

Give me the real Prince Pretty back.

Finn Bálor vs. Timothy Thatcher

Finn Bálor’s lost a bit of steam since his initial return to the black and gold brand but I was stoked when it announced his match against Timothy Thatcher. Face or heel, Bálor has always been loved by the WWE Universe. Pitting him against the devious submission specialist in Thatcher made for a fantastic match.

Thatcher’s booking has been confusing to say the least and as much as I love Bálor, Thatcher should’ve come out the winner in this one. Thatcher handed Matt Riddle his first loss in a jaw-dropping Fight Pit match but hasn’t had a notable victory since. And Bálor’s run as of late has seemed directionless. I don’t see him benefitting from a title run in NXT and I’d hate to see him as the NXT gatekeeper. But a heel run on the main roster? Fuckme up.

Damian Priest vs. Cameron Grimes vs. Johnny Gargano vs. Velveteen Dream vs. Bronson Reed

The five-man ladder match for the NXT North American title really highlighted the future of NXT and WWE. The match was exciting from start to finish and truly unpredictable (with the exception of Velveteen Dream not winning being a given). Bronson Reed shined the most in this match. His top of the ladder dive onto Johnny Gargano WITH CANDICE LERAE ON HIS BACK was absolutely stunning. 

I’ve been a huge fan of Cameron Grimes’ run in NXT from the start and I was hoping it’d be his night but ultimately, 2015 Baron Corbin came out on top. Seriously, I don’t see the appeal in Damian Priest. But I guess, if not Reed or Grimes, I’d rather see Priest with the title than the controversial Velveteen Dream or stale ass Johnny Gargano.

The Man Who’s Been Carrying NXT for the Past Year vs. A Former Punter

Adam Cole, a multi-time champion and world class wrestler, defeated former football player Pat McAfee in a wrestling match. Who gives a fuck.

Okay, in all seriousness, it just makes no sense from a wrestling fan’s perspective why this match happened to begin with. I get that celebrity matches bring mainstream attention, but this is NXT. The brand already gets its well-deserved attention from fans who actually appreciate wrestling because every TakeOver special in the past six years has been better than the RAW or Smackdown PPVs that followed it the next night. It didn’t need attention from sports fans who’s only take on this match is “wrestling is fake.”

Adam Cole has been built up to be one of the top stars in not just NXT, but WWE as a whole. He’s a top-tier wrestler representing one of the best promotions in the business. What makes wrestling great is the balance of athleticism and suspension of disbelief. Cole’s been part of some of the most entertaining matches in NXT. He had nothing to gain from beating a football player who has never wrestled a day in his life. 

What’s worse is that the match actually lasted longer than a few minutes. It made Cole look weak. Sure, McAfee had a solid superplex spot and he sold the Panama Sunrise that finished the match pretty well, but this match basically showed you don’t need technical wrestling skill to last more than two minutes against a veteran wrestler. It just didn’t make sense.

Io Shirai vs. Dakota Kai

I love Io Shirai. That’s it.

But really, a solid singles match for the NXT Women’s Championship that could’ve just main evented a regular episode of NXT. The promos for this match hinted at an equalizer for Shirai to fend off Dakota Kai and Raquel Gonzales. It turned out to be Rhea Ripley. Ripley and Gonzales stared each other down at the end of a match to potentially start a feud and present Gonzales as more than just a sidekick. I’m all for it but I feel as if Shirai and Ripley are carrying the NXT women’s division on their backs at the moment.

Karrion Kross vs. Keith Lee

The main event was a hard hitting NXT Championship match against Keith Lee and Karrion Kross to end the night. Lee was a double champion at one point which emphasized his spot as top dog in NXT. Kross has been dominant since his debut, essentially squashing Tommaso Ciampa at NXT TakeOver: In Your House and solidifying himself as a contender. These two definitely made for a high caliber main event match which ended with Kross coming out on top.

Lee’s short-lived title reign made more sense during SummerSlam the night after TakeOver, where his RAW debut was announced.

Unfortunately for Kross, his title reign might be even shorter than his opponent’s. It was announced soon after the event that Kross suffered a shoulder injury during the match and the severity of it is up in the air.

The event as a whole wasn’t the best TakeOver but pulled through harder than In Your House did. Keith Lee and Karrion Kross headlined but the main event felt overshadowed by the buzz surrounding Adam Cole and Pat McAfee. No one knows what the future holds for NXT’s main event scene with Lee being called up and Kross potentially being injured. 

But if I see McAfee anywhere near the NXT Championship, I will give up on the product faster than Vince McMahon has given up on Aleister Black, Ricochet, Mustafa Ali, Tyler Breeze, Tye Dilling– do I need to go on?

BANNER: Miguel Discart//Flickr

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