NXT Takeover: XXX Review and Match Ratings

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Finn Balor def. Timothy Thatcher 

This was quite an effort by both men to start the show. All of the technical work in this match kind of reminded me of Daniel Bryan and Drew Gulak’s match at the Elimination Chamber. I loved all of the technical spots and how Thatcher just took his time picking Balor apart body part by body part. If it wasn’t his back, it was his wrist. If it wasn’t his wrist, it was his ankle. That style combined with Balor’s quick pace made for a pretty solid opener in my opinion. Kind of interesting that NXT strayed away from the usual formula of kicking off a Takeover with the ladder match that’s on the card, but this worked just as well. Well done to start. ***3/4

Damian Priest def. Johnny Gargano, Bronson Reed, Cameron Grimes and Velveteen Dream – NXT North American Championship (Ladder Match)

First, just watching the ladder match as it unfolded, Mauro Ranallo’s energy was definitely missing here. Gargano sunset powerbombing Grimes through a ladder and Velveteen Dream getting launched into oblivion got met with lukewarm reception. One of the minuses of having no crowd is that many of the spots just seem redundant and that’s what I kind of got from this match. This isn’t to say that it was bad or anything. It was well worked and quite brutal at times. However, if there is one thing that was missing from this ladder match, it was drama.

Drama is an important attribute to have in ladder matches, and I just didn’t feel any here. Perhaps one of the reasons for that is the fact that the star power outside of Gargano and Dream was lacking here. Grimes, Reed and even Priest who won the match aren’t big enough household names. Compare the names that came before him. Adam Cole. Ricochet. Gargano. Dream. Strong. The title will be good for Priest, but he just hasn’t rubbed off on me as of yet. Overall, the ladder match is pretty solid, but definitely on the lower tier of ladder matches I’ve seen in NXT. ***1/2

Adam Cole def. Pat McAfee

This definitely exceeded my expectations. What made it most impressive is that they kept the formula simple and didn’t try to do anything too crazy. They took their time from transition to transition and they let Pat get his offense cleanly. Cole was the perfect opponent for Pat here, and I think it led them to have a match that I think proved to be better than any of us predicted. It wasn’t match of the year quality or anything, but it was certainly of high quality.


Pat hitting that perfect moonsault and going right back into a superplex was pretty impressive I might add. The dynamic here was weird since they are both technically heels, so it was kind of hard who to root for, but Pat had some pretty solid heel tendencies in this match as well. I can’t complain about this one. This was a very solid match and more entertaining than I thought. ***3/4


Io Shirai (C) def. Dakota Kai – NXT Women’s Championship

This match was pretty solid with Dakota’s arm work. I could have done without some of the excessive interference from Vanessa, but this was definitely a high quality outing. By the way, and this must be said, Io Shirai’s moonsaults are some of the most beautiful things you will ever see in wrestling. She literally looks like a dove descending from the air when she does that.

The women’s division of NXT is kind of in flux at the moment, so I’m not really engaged with that division at the moment, but this was still a pretty good outing for what it was overall. But we’re all waiting for the Io/Ripley clash that I know is coming. ***1/2

Karrion Kross (C) def. Keith Lee – NXT Championship

Personally, I thought it was too early to pull the trigger on Kross, so I thought the result was surprising. But I guess I can live with it based on how he’s been booked. However, the match really put me to sleep. It was really boring. The two just didn’t have any chemistry and never got past second base. Keith Lee always works best with people who can either match his physicality or keep the pace going. That’s why all of his matches with Dominik Dijakovic rule. This one….it didn’t.


Cross’ nearly endless supply of sleeper holds did this match absolutely no favors. In addition, it also felt like the finish came out of nowhere. I’ve seen Lee take significantly more damage and kick out afterwards. In addition to all of this, it was reported that Cross suffered a separated shoulder, so that literally adds injury to insult. Of all the main events of Takeover over the years, this one was definitely one of the weaker ones. It was also definitely a baffling decision to have Lee literally drop both titles in succession. **1/4


Conclusion:

Definitely one of the weaker Takeovers that you will come across. Definitely not a bad show and there’s quality to be found here. But there also isn’t anything on the show that I’d say you have to definitely watch over. There were 100 or so of those kind of matches last year. This year has been a bit of a struggle for NXT on PPV. From the combination of losing some talent to the main roster, the pandemic and the desire to build new superstars, NXT is clearly transitioning into a new era. It’s kind of been a rocky transition, but I’m hopeful that new stars will rise up from the ashes. As for Takeover XXX, I’d call it a solid show and nothing more. And that feels like an insult when talking about a Takeover.

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