NXT TakeOver XXX
August 22, 2020
Full Sail University
Winter Park, Florida

Watch: WWE Network

Meet our reviewer:

Steve Case: Follow Steve @Coachcase44. Member of the Midcard Matinee Podcast (@midcard_matinee) and will be joined by the good Dr. MacArthur for her first NXT TakeOver! NXT has admittedly fallen from being must-watch television since going live on USA, and TakeOvers feel far from being “the surest thing in wrestling” this reviewer once referred to them as. That said, even the most recent Takeovers have been far from bad and this show has some potential bangers. Here’s hoping this show delivers on that and then some! 

Pre Show #1 Contenders Match
Breezango def. Legado Del Fantasma and Burch/Lorcan

Steve: Legado Del Fantasma’s entrance and look is so good. These three are nailing it and hopefully, they make their way to the top of the card eventually. Each team would start with one man in the ring, but things would break down pretty quickly. You had your standard chaotic multiman brawling, until Mendoza, who looked great in this match as he always does, hit a beautiful springboard corkscrew plancha to the outside. We would get back in the ring where Danny Burch would run wild for a bit with his signature hard-hitting, crisp offense. Legado Del Fantasma looked like they would get the win after a Wilde 450 splash, but would get broken up by everyone. In what has to be an upset, and is assuredly a skeptical choice, Breezango would get the win after a Tyler Breeze superkick. A decent pre-show match that would fit in the start of the second hour of NXT television, albeit with a very questionable winner. From the good Dr., “Well, it was nice they arranged the teams by hair color and body type at least.” **3/4

Finn Balor def. Timothy Thatcher

Steve: Finn charged out of the gate after Thatcher with punches and taking him to the mat with some grappling. He didn’t have the advantage long, as Thatcher would quickly take control and twist Finn in knots, specifically his left knee and shoulder. The short period of time Finn was in control, the grappling was interesting. The period where Thatcher was in control, it was not. Things would pick up after the extended grappling period with Balor trying to overcome Thatcher, as his charisma can carry nearly any match to at least being interesting. In a nice callback to Thatcher’s early knee work, Finn had Thatcher set up for the Coup-de-gras, only to miss and the knee to buckle. Thatcher would then go back after the knee for the rest of the match, but Finn would overcome to hit a Coup-des-gras and 1916 for the win. This was well worked and Finn’s flare-ups on offense really lifted this match, where Thatcher’s control periods just kind of dragged. From the good Dr., “It started out really strong, but then there was a lot of rolling around and neither guy did much of anything. There was a lot of hugging, arm twisting, and writhing in pain, and I wasn’t entirely sure who won by the end. By having nothing left to lose, did they mean his teeth?” ***1/4

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

Steve: Just a reminder that the Velveteen Dream was accused of inappropriately communicating with teenage boys, and was brought back to NXT television with about as close to no explanation as you can possibly have.

With that out of the way, to the match. There was a lot of good action to start, with each man getting some good shine. Grimes was able to show off some of his incredible athleticism (which might mean a lot more if they didn’t saddle him with a local yokel gimmick) and flexibility, doing the splits on two ladders. Bronson Reed was able to display some power with a cool looking demolition derby style corner splash on all the competitors and ladders and a cool version of a multi-man powerbomb suplex spot.

Priest looked great in this as well with some fun springboard kicks and dives, including running up a ladder like a ramp for a dive to the outside. Grimes would eventually scale the ladder, when for some reason Candice came down and got involved. This company just can’t help itself. Should would be eliminated when she climbed on Reed’s back on the top of the ladder, but Reed would use her to give a big splash to Gargano. From there we got multiple climbing attempts, all thwarted in various ways resembling a car crash. We had a couple of big spots with Gargano powerbombing Grimes off the top of the ladder on to another ladder, and Dream taking a huge bump off the top of a huge ladder through some tables outside the guardrail that really popped the good doctor due to the alleged transgressions. The finish saw multiple teases, but finally, Priest wrestled the title away from Gargano for the win. This was another installment of what this company does really well. A crazy spotfest car crash. From the good doctor., “This was a shrine to male stubbornness. Candice ran down and got up the ladder in two seconds, where it took every guy at least two minutes. It got better as it went on, I loved them throwing ladders at each other, and the acrobatics were crazy.” ****1/4

Adam Cole def. Pat McAfee

Steve: Pre-match McAfee cuts a promo calling his leg the strongest leg in the history of legs. He comes out and the size difference is a little jarring. McAfee dwarfs Adam Cole. After some basic chain moves, McAfee rolled to the outside telling Cole he’s a superior human. Not long after the Undisputed Era is out and we get a shoving match with the football boys until McAfee hits a HUGE senton to the group from the top rope to the outside. This was a Pat McAfee showcase, which I’m not sure is a good or bad thing about Cole. McAfee sold really well, used his tremendous athleticism with a beautiful backflip off the top rope and a leap into a suplex off the top, and backed up the big game he was talked. I won’t remember a thing Cole did in this match, outside of taking tremendous beating from McAfee and helping to make him look great. But is that a good thing? Who cares. This was a ton of fun. From the good doctor, “I wanted to see Cole get his teeth kicked in and had no expectations for McAfee. But this was a lot of fun! McAfee really surprised me and looked great. This was my favorite match so far!” ****

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

Steve: We start out hot as Io takes Kai down and starts the beating. In a scary moment early, Io attempted a backflip and landed on her head. He appeared momentarily shaken up, to the point the ref tried to check on her. In the next moment, she gave Kai a dragon screw with a back bump, so I guess she’s okay!

After some outside brawling, Kai would take control for a long period of the match. Io would make the comeback with a big uppercut palm strike and a double stomp. The work here is good, but none of it is very interesting at this point. Io would pick things up a bit with a series of knees to the corner and the tree of woah/double stomp Del Rio spot that everyone knows and loves. Kai would gain the advantage and attempt an armbar submission, and eventually hit Io with a big GTS variation with Io on the top rope. Kai would corner kick the referee, leading to Gonzalez to take out Io for a nearfall. Io would turn another GTS attempt into an armbar, and eventually hit her moonsault for the victory. The match was well worked and picked up in the second half, but it never really got out of second gear for me. Post-match, Gonzalez would attack Io, but for some reason Rhea would come out to stop and stare her down. Maybe a Rhea/Gonzales/Mercedes feud down the line? From the good doctor, “I liked the energy and agility of both women, but they just followed two incredible matches. I just couldn’t get into it.” ***




NXT Championship
Karrion Kross def. Keith Lee (c) 

Steve: BIG Catwoman vibes for Scarlett says the good doctor. This started out exactly how I wanted, a good old fashioned hoss fight. They brawled in the ring and to the outside. Then Kross held Lee in the ring in multiple arm holds for what felt like 30 minutes. At this point, the good doctor quipped, “This match has lasted longer than quarantine.”

This arm work won’t end! FINALLY, Lee lifts cross out of the armbar and powerbombs him. Lee takes control with some basic offense but it feels like golden era Kobashi compared to the ten minutes that preceded it. “Fight Forever!” chants and I think this crowd must have amnesia. We then get some back and forth brawling at what looks like slow motion. Several more lifeless minutes pass in this lifeless match until Kross puts his choke on Lee. At least we get the classic, “dead arm that almost goes limp but doesn’t at the last second,” thing I’ve been doing since I was six. We get MORE plodding action from there, until Kross hits Lee with a Saito suplex from the top rope and he wins the NXT Championship. This was one of the most boring, plodding, dull matches I’ve ever seen on a Takeover. From the good doctor, “Well, you did tell me you would show me some bad matches eventually. You weren’t lying.” DUD

Final Thoughts

This show was definitely on par with some of the more recent Takeovers of the last year or so. Although nowhere near the quality TakeOver heyday in the 2014-2018 era, there was still a lot to like here. The ladder match, despite the controversy surrounding Velveteen Dream, delivered in the usual Takeover car crash vein and gave us a fresh winner in Priest with a ton of upside, while giving a shine to newcomers like Reed and Grimes. This Takeover will be remembered though for Pat McAfee’s tremendous performance against Adam Cole. How this helps one of NXT’s top stars I have no idea, but McAfee is a made man. He would be welcomed back any time and I really hope he does do more with the company. As for the good doctor, “I wish the two awesome matches (Ladder & McAfee/Cole) were at the end, because those last two matches kind of sucked the life out of me. Especially that last match. That was awful. Also, how was this any different from what we watch on TV? I’m glad we didn’t have to pay extra to see that.”