Wrestling Review: NXT TakeOver: XXX (2020)

More than six years since NXT took over the WWE Network comes the thirtieth entry in the series, NXT TakeOver: XXX. Two heavyweights will meet in the main event as the NXT Champion Keith Lee defends his gold against the undefeated and dangerous Karrion Kross, while Io Shirai puts her NXT Women’s Title on the line against the Kiwi Kicker, Dakota Kai. Both champions will have to deal with their respective opponents seconds, as Kross’ partner in crime, Scarlett, will stalk the ringside area, and Kai’s bodyguard, Raquel Gonzalez, will be looking to do whatever it takes to ensure Kai’s victory. Following a heated war of words and a violent confrontation just over two weeks ago, NXT mainstay Adam Cole will face off with former NFL punter and current podcast personality Pat McAfee, while a new NXT North American Champion will also be crowned in a five man ladder match.

+ Io Shirai (c) vs Dakota Kai (w/ Raquel Gonzalez) (NXT Women’s Championship): one very quick moment at the beginning almost went disastrously for these two, but thankfully it was not as bad as it looked. Kai is really underrated in the WWE’s current women’s’ division, and even Gonzalez was able to play her role well as Kai’s second. Shirai is the clear and obvious highlight, of course, as one of (if not the) best women’s wrestlers on the planet right now. This was perhaps not amazing, but certainly another great NXT women’s championship match
+ Adam Cole vs Pat McAfee: this was really good. I was expecting some pre-planned but clunky spots, akin to Stephen Amell’s foray into the ring. But damn, McAfee really held his own against arguably the biggest star on the NXT roster. McAfee’s obvious athleticism was the real highlight, but you just never know how well something will go until it happens, and this match was a lot of things that went really well for him. Cole was good, too, especially as he wasn’t hampered by the Gargano/Cole/Ciampa main event style
+ Finn Balor vs Timothy Thatcher: I bloody love Thatcher, but even with Balor this just felt so small-time. There was nothing wrong with this match, but it wasn’t even announced on TV, instead only getting a mention on Twitter, there was nothing on the line, and neither guy could afford to lose. I liked the content of the match, but with anyone else this would have been a real negative

Keith Lee (c) vs Karrion Kross (w/ Scarlett) (NXT Championship): I was just getting into this match when it ended so suddenly I thought it had to have been a mistake. The crowd was seemingly confused, and I said outline ‘what the heck was that’, but I didn’t say heck. I don’t really know what I was expecting from these two, but this wasn’t it. I have heard a rumour since finishing the match, but before posting (obviously) that Kross was injured at an early point of this match, and if that’s the case, it may explain why I did not enjoy it. Unfortunately, knowing why I didn’t enjoy something doesn’t make me magically enjoy it more
Damien Priest vs Johnny Gargano vs Bronson Reed vs Cameron Grimes vs Velveteen Dream (Ladder match for the NXT North American Championships): they changed Reed’s low-key banger of a theme and I am not okay with that. Even as far as multi-man ladder matches go this was a spot fest, and while that’s fine, it just felt like danger for danger’s sake and there was no reason for anything. There were ladder bridges, dives from the top and someone falling out of the ring from atop a ladder, ie. everything you would expect as if they were just ticking off a checklist
Breezango (Tyler Breeze & Fandango) vs Oney Lorcan & Danny Burch vs El Legado del Fantasma (Joaquin Wilde & Raul Mendoza): I love Oney, and Breeze will forever be one of my boys, but this was completely unnecessary. Breezango have lost multiple times in recent weeks (to El Legado, no less!) and Oney/Burch have been Thatcher’s individual whipping boys for weeks as well. I understand they don’t want to do Imperium/El Legado right now, but this was a waste of time
– I watched this on my computer with headphones (instead of the usual TV with speakers) and I was able to hear, very clearly, a lot of sarcasm and snark from someone in the crowd. Any stare down or ring introduction — that is, an time with no ring sounds — was full of comments that did nothing but detract from the show

> Apparently Ciampa is back on NXT next week. I’m a very longtime fan of Ciampa, and hopefully he can be the spark that NXT desperately needs

Should you watch this event: I did not enjoy this show. NXT needs to get out of Full Sail as quickly as they can, and they need to start planning some long-term stories because this ‘book on the fly’ plan they are using is not doing anybody on their show any favours.

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