Corey Graves is back on NXT commentary. That’s a nice touch to tie in to the first TakeOver. The other two members of the commentary team are Beth Phoenix and Vic Joseph, so no Mauro. Disappointing.
FINN BALOR vs. TIMOTHY THATCHER - 8.25/10
This is the kind of stuff I just plain love. When Thatcher countered a single-leg takedown by rolling into a Kimura, I lost my f*cking mind. Balor worked the midsection while Thatcher worked the leg, and they just kept ramping up the tension teasing their big moves and building things up and building them up even more until the big finish. BEAUTIFUL!
LADDER MATCH FOR THE VACANT NXT NORTH AMERICAN TITLE:
Johnny Gargano vs. Bronson Reed vs. Damian Priest vs. The Velveteen Dream vs. Cameron Grimes - 8.75/10
There wasn’t much of a story here past “get the belt,” but these guys did an excellent job of making this not feel like a generic “series of stunt bumps” ladder match. They seem to have gone out of their way to come up with new things to do, and they put a lot of care into making sure that their big multi-person spots felt completely organic. I could have done without Candice running in, and her getting taken out by being on top of Bronson Reed when he did a big splash off the top of a ladder onto Johnny didn’t make too much sense, but other than that, this was pretty fantastic, especially those last few minutes. They took me from thinking the chances of victory were about 85% Priest, 10% Reed, 4% Gargano, %1 Grimes, 0% Dream to thinking that everyone had a real chance at winning other than Dream (and that’s for the outside of the ring reasons).
ADAM COLE vs. PAT MCAFEE (w/AJ Hawk, Darius Butler, & Nick Maraldo) - 6/10
Undisputed Era came out onto the stage with Cole but then went to the back. They late came out to back Cole up when he faced off against McAfee and friends on the outside. Security quickly got between them, but it really felt like the purpose of this whole confrontation was so there were about ten people there to catch McAfee on his dive.
McAfee is very athletic and is an excellent dick. Their psychology was sound, they both had some good character-work, but this match had way too much padding in it. This was a ten-minute match that went sixteen, and doing so on a TakeOver only made it even more frustrating because that time could have really helped one of the other matches.
NXT WOMEN’S TITLE MATCH:
Io Shirai(c) vs. Dakota Kai (w/Raquel Gonzalez) - 7.5/10
The plug for WWE Supercard was annoying enough, but integrating it into Io’s entrance via graphics and having the announcers telling us how many downloads Io’s card got or whatever as if this was something we were supposed to find impressive was even worse. A commercial is one thing, but doing it during the shows “on-time” makes NXT feel like the main roster where they are constantly shilling their stupid social media and mobile phone bullsh*t.
Dakota got the heat after a distraction by Raquel and worked the arm. This match suffered from the fact that the story going in had made clear that we weren’t going to get a finish until Raquel got a chance to interfere, so it was kind of a waiting game while the wrestlers were working. Raquel did interfere after a ref bump (after Io got a visual pinfall, because if you’re doing one shenanigan on your ref bump, why not do a second one, I guess?), but Io kicked out of the pin and overcame the odds, aking both heels out with a moonsault press to the floor before rolling Dakota in and hitting the Over The Moonsault for the win.
POST-MATCH SEGMENT - Meh. Raquel Gonzalez attacked Io from behind. Rhea Ripley’s music hit, so Rawle decided to have a stare-down with her instead of continuing to beat on Io. Dakoa eventually pulled Raquel away. This was a fine stare-down, but unless you’re going to book Io vs. Gonzalez, it’s better to just have Raquel squash a jobber on NXT and do this stare-down after that instead of having someone attack the champion and it not result in a match between them.
NXT UK RETURNS ON SEPTEMBER 17th - I’m happy they’re coming back, but this video was WAY too over the top. Shots of caged dogs and big cats, and then a shot of horses running over a hill in the countryside? Really?
TOMMASO CIAMPA RETURNS ON WEDNESDAY - Good news. Also, I could be reading too much into this, but I couldn’t help but notice that almost every single clip they had of him (if not every single one) was him attacking Johnny Gargano.
MCKENZIE MITCHELL TRIES TO INTERVIEW DAMIAN PRIEST - Odd. Priest told her that if she wanted an interview, she’d have to stick around and party with him. He then put his bag in his car, then walked around the car to a hot tub with two bikini-clan women already in it, drinking alcohol.
I’m sorry, but certain things just jump out at me. He had his bag with him and put it in his car, so he must have just been leaving the building, but the hot tub and ladies were already there? Is the hot tub in the parking lot? That seems to be the only way this makes any sense, and that doesn’t seem very likely. I’ve been in many parking lots in my life, and none of them have contained hot tubs.
NXT TITLE MATCH:
Keith Lee(c) vs. Karrion Kross (w/Scarlett) - 4.25/10
Apparently, Lee and Dijakovic weren’t just friends now but rather “best friends,” which means that in the span of a few weeks they have gone from “friendly rivals” to “friends” to “best friends,” all off-screen. Bad storytelling. If you want to tell me that two people are friends, you have to actually show them being friends on the show, or else it feels like you’re just pulling things out of your ass.
We started off with a good brawl. Kross eventually cut Lee off after Lee bumped into the ring post and stumbled around and wound up with his arm between the guardrail and the plexiglass and Kross booted the guardrail, sandwiching Lee’s arm. I really enjoy it when wrestlers make use of unusual circumstances in the environment for a spot in a match, and I’ve seen far too few people coming up with ways to use he plexiglass like this.
Unfortunately, the work on the arm didn’t really go anywhere. Sure, Kross did some submission holds during the heat, but once Lee’s comeback started, it never mattered again. It felt like something they did because “you’re supposed to work a body part” rather a part of a coherent story.
Actually, that spot with the plexiglass really turned out to be the point where this match started to go downhill. I don’t know if someone was hurt or something, but from then on, the strikes just didn’t seem as hard, and a lot of Kross’ offense felt like it lacked the devastating impact it usually has. We know Lee’s size wasn’t the problem because he hit Bronson Reed with all of his stuff and Reed is larger than Lee. The match also never really regained the pace they had early on, and between that, the offense looking soft, and the Kross Jacket in particular looking really lame, this wound up being the worst TakeOver main event I can remember. Possibly even the worse TakeOver match. Very disappointing.
Karrion Kross is your new champion, and after this, I’m really not optimistic. Hopefully this was just a fluke, because if it wasn’t the future is not bright for NXT.
This was probably the worst TakeOver I can remember, despite a great start. Once the first hour ended things just didn’t click. Doing Cole vs. McAfee on TakeOver in general was a mistake (especially when you could have done Mercedes Martinez vs. Rhea Ripley, Isaiah Scott vs. Santos Escobar, or built up some actual challengers for the tag titles), Dakota Kai just doesn’t seem to have top-star ability, and the main event… I don’t even know what to say about that other than that it just fell off a cliff.<