SIDELINE SLAM: NXT TAKEOVER XXX REVIEW

The weekend kicked off with the 30th addition of NXT Takeover. Takeover has consistently been a top notch event on the Saturday night before the WWE’s marquee shows. Takeover, a lot of the times has turned out to be the more action packed and entertaining show. This year’s card, although only five matches, had the potential to do the same.

The night opened with Finn Balor’s up tempo style taking on Timothy Thatcher’s slow, grinding methodical pace. Early on Thatcher did all he could to manipulate every joint on Balor’s body and keep him grounded. Finn eventual picked up the pace and picks up the win with his signature top rope two foot stomp the Coup de Grace. Balor has title aspirations and this victory is a big one.  Thatcher is just starting his NXT career but has proven he can hang with anyone.

NXT takeover was off to a good start and the 5 man latter match for the North American Title kept the momentum going. Each competitor had their big moments during the match. Cameron Grimes was highly entertaining early on. He would first pull a tiny ladder from under the ring and screaming “who put this here”. He then tried to get to the belt by climbing two ladders at once, only to have them pulled apart to make him do a split. Gargano and Grimes hooked up on a high impact cross body power slam which I have never seen before. Bronson Reed showed his athleticism all match. His high spot came he took an interfering Candace LaRae on an aerial flight off the ladder onto her husband Johnny Gargano. Ultimately the match came down to a tug of war on top of the ladder between Damian Priest and Johnny Gargano. Each wrestler pulling for a chance at the North American belt, when Priest hit Gargano with a high kick forcing Johnny backwards and leaving Priest with the title. This win gave Damien Priest his first championship in NXT. A win with any of these guys would have made sense. Priest will now play a bigger role in NXT and be a major story at the top of future cards.

The next two matches were pleasant surprises. The women’s championship match and Pat McAfee versus Adam Cole both exceeded expectations. MacAfee looked like a polished veteran on his first night in the ring on a big stage. Not only did he show the ability to brawl but he also showed the ability to chain wrestle. The biggest surprise can with his aerial moves even landing on his feet during a back flip off the top ropes. Cole was his normal impressive self and pulled out the win.  This match was a great example of what Bully Ray says on the Busted Open Podcast: Adam Cole went over but Pat McAfee got over. A win , win for both rivals. Dakota Kai got herself over as well despite the loss Saturday night. She has spent most of her time, since her betrayal of Tegan Nox at last year’s War Games, as a chicken shit heel. She showed a more physical style which fit her quite well. Shirai got the win but clearly was in a bigger fight than she expected. A return match is definitely in order and Kai deserves it.

The next two matches were pleasant surprises. The women’s championship match and Pat McAfee versus Adam Cole both exceeded expectations. MacAfee looked like a polished veteran on his first night in the ring on a big stage. Not only did he show the ability to brawl but he also showed the ability to chain wrestle. The biggest surprise can with his aerial moves even landing on his feet during a back flip off the top ropes. Cole was his normal impressive self and pulled out the win.  This match was a great example of what Bully Ray says on the Busted Open Podcast: Adam Cole went over but Pat McAfee got over. A win , win for both rivals. Dakota Kai got herself over as well despite the loss Saturday night. She has spent most of her time, since her betrayal of Tegan Nox at last year’s War Games, as a chicken shit heel. She showed a more physical style which fit her quite well. Shirai got the win but clearly was in a bigger fight than she expected. A return match is definitely in order and Kai deserves it.

In the main event of the night Champion Keith Lee defended his title against Karrion Kross. I had high expectations for this match and was enjoying the beginning of this story. The pre match highlights was excellently produced and geared you up for the match. The bell rang and the match fell flat. Keith was not at his best and looked slow. Kross needed more impactful moves to make me believe he was going to beat a force like Keith Lee. The Finish came with awkward back suplex from Kross off the top ropes. Kross became the new NXT Champion. No story to build on, no crazy finish, and no interferences.  We find out the next night that Keith is going to the Raw roster which explains the loss however, this match never got out of second gear for me. If this was Lee’s last match in NXT I wanted to see more. NXT is usually on point but not here. A solid show but the main event left a sour taste in my mouth.

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