clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

NXT TakeOver: XXX recap & reactions - Fall and Pray

@WWENXT

NXT TakeOver: XXX went down last night (Aug. 22) from Full Sail University in Winter Park, Florida. You can find the results at the live blog here.

Fall and Pray

Prepare for a different NXT.

After only six weeks of holding the title, Keith Lee lost the gold to Karrion Kross. This will usher in a new era of NXT with probably the most sinister villain they’ve had sitting on top of the promotion.

That’s not a bad thing at all. NXT’s style has been focused around chasing the villain for awhile now. Tommaso Ciampa was the big bad for a long time. Johnny Gargano held it briefly. Adam Cole was the champion for a long time. Keith Lee held it briefly.

It’s a style of booking focused around the chase over long standing babyfaces. And it’s a style I certainly don’t mind.

The match itself was overall enjoyable. Karrion Kross doesn’t work the NXT style so at times it felt more plodding, but as someone who thinks the NXT style is sometimes too over the top, I appreciated this.

Lee’s aggression early, maybe letting his emotions get the best of him, gave Kross a chance to trap Keith’s arm between the plexiglass and guardrail and crush it. Then the challenger spent the rest of the match trying to wear down that limb. Lee would fight back plenty of times, but Karrion continued to work the arm and retake the advantage.

The fight eventually led to a superb moment where the challenger hooked Lee into the Kross Jacket where it looked like it was a no doubter Lee was going to pass out. They hooked me into thinking it would be the finish but dammit the big man would not let his arm hit the mat and struggled to the ropes to break the hold.

This led to a final sequence where it looked like Keith Lee would be the first man to survive the dastardly Kross. But when fighting on the middle rope, Karrion delivered his second Doomsday Saito (Lee kicked out of the first) for the win.

Maybe the match could have been a bit shorter but it accomplished what it set out to do. It gave us a hoss fight where the hero continued to survive multiple onslaughts by the villain until he just couldn’t any more.

Now we wait and see what an NXT helmed by Karrion Kross looks like. Hopefully.


Exceeding Expectations

It’s been a long time since we’ve seen someone step into the world of pro wrestling from a different walk of life and excel like Pat McAfee did.

Coming into this show, we knew he had the character and talking skills down. But in ring was going to be a totally different story... right? Not really.

Pat McAfee looked great out there against Cole. Yes, they booked the match to make sure he could do all they asked. But that involved top rope sentons onto the floor, back flips off the top rope landing on his feet, and single leaps on to the top turnbuckle.

And while he was doing all that, he was playing up his character. He wasn’t stopping to think. He kept his brash personality the entire time. Just like a professional wrestler should.

Can you argue that Cole sold too much for him? Sure. But given Pat has an athletic background, a size advantage, and cheated when he could, it wasn’t anything that will hurt the Panama City Playboy. Plus, Pat was impressive enough that I would have been disappointed with a short match. Sacrificing the former champ selling a little more than maybe he should have to get to see someone come in like a natural was worth it.

There was no angle coming out of this like some, including myself, had predicted. But it was a really fun bout that well exceeded expectations.


A Strong Duo... but Not Strong Enough

Io Shirai successfully defended her title against a game Dakota Kai.

NXT made sure to put over the team of Kai and Raquel González throughout this bout. Raquel’s fingerprints were all over that match, even if most of the time, she was watching from ringside.

Early in the match, Shirai tried to chase Dakota outside the ring but was stopped by the wall that is González. This allowed Kai to sneak up behind the champ and run her shoulder first into the ring post. (My only gripe with this angle is the back to back working of the arms between the two title matches.)

From that point on, the challenge targeted that injured arm, making the most of what Raquel had given her.

The impact got more blatant later when the referee went down to an inadvertent kick from Dakota, allowing González to get in the ring and chokeslam the champ.

But all of that, and a generally strong effort from the Kiwi, was not enough to put the champion away. Shirai won with her moonsault.

That was never really in doubt. The question was always going to be how good would Dakota look in the losing effort? And she looked pretty good now that she had Raquel back on her side. Though the post match angle has to make us wonder whether or not González will be doing her own thing sooner than later.

Kai’s heavy attacked the champ from behind while she was celebrating. This act brought Rhea Ripley to the ring for a big time stare down between Rhea & Raquel. That hints that González is going to see the spotlight more, though Rhea has a future date with Mercedes Martinez as well.


A Blast of Chaos

The ladder match for the vacant North American title was an absolute blast.

It’s tough to write reactions for matches like these because there’s just so many crazy spots and fun moments that it’s not easy to remember them all. But here are just a few things I liked enough to remember amongst all the other stuff I liked but don’t specifically remember.

  • Candice LeRae getting involved on Johnny Wrestling’s behalf, even straight up costing Cameron Grimes, was really fun. It culminated in a spot where she jumped on the back of Bronson Reed on the top of the ladder so Thicc Boi jumped off the ladder onto Gargano with LeRae on his back. Serves them right.
  • Velveteen Dream had a moment where he climbed one of two ladders set up to deliver an elbow drop, but when doing his pose, he knocked the title aside and realized “Oh shit, I should just try to win this match.” Unfortunately, hitting the title sent it swinging and he couldn’t grab it. I appreciate the realization “Oh maybe I shouldn’t do this move and instead try to win a championship.”
  • Dream was done in by Big Thicc later when he was on the top of a ladder that was picked up by Reed, catapulting him over the barricade onto a table. That was it for Velveteen.
  • The final moment when Damian Priest and Johnny Gargano were on the top battling for the title was well done. Johnny unhooked the title but Priest grabbed it from the top and Gargano couldn’t hang on. It was a clever moment with Damian realizing even though Johnny unhooked the strap, he still had time to grab it.

One thing this match did well was make you think anyone could win. There were plenty of moments I thought, “It may be over here” and then a crazy, and often creative, save kept it going.

Priest was a fine choice to win this. I felt he was the obvious one, but that’s not bad. Who knows? Maybe we’ll get another Bálor vs. Priest match down the road since Finn expressed really wanting that title and has a win over the man who’s champ. But that’s for another day.

Right now, this match, and the build prior, did a great job elevating guys like Reed, Grimes, and Priest to bolster the midcard.


Still Rolling

Finn Bálor and Timothy Thatcher were tasked with opening show

They put together a strong match based around Thatcher using his mastery of submissions and Bálor trying to stay ahead of him. Tim’s style is unique within the world of WWE/NXT so his matches are always a treat. Variety is the spice of life... and wrestling.

Plus, with his different style, they can build him as a master technician. There was one moment that really put that over. Finn Bálor missed his coup de grace, coming up lame. Thatcher noticed that his opponent had a bum leg and his eyes widened like a wolf eyeing an injured deer. And Bálor realized that he was in big trouble and scrambled just to survive from a man turned predator. It was a moment that really sold how dangerous Thatcher is.

In the end, Bálor did survive, winning with 1916. This isn’t too surprising. Finn has only lost one singles match since returning. He’s very protected and they likely want to keep that going for an eventual title feud. Thatcher will not be hurt from this loss.


Top to bottom this was a good show with few gripes to be had. It had a good flow, with different styles of matches throughout so it never felt homogenous.

The announce team was different. Corey Graves worked the show. Mauro Ranallo didn’t. That was a shame. Mauro is the voice of the brand and any show he’s not on doesn’t feel as much like you’re watching NXT. If they brought back Corey because he called so many TakeOvers in some of their glory days, I’d say bring back Tom Phillips too. He’s not my cup of tea on Raw, but that was the classic booth for a long time.

That aside, this was a fun show.

Grade: A-

Sound off below.