NXT TakeOver XXX: Karrion Kross becomes NXT champion

John Pollock's coverage of NXT TakeOver: XXX featuring Keith Lee vs. Karrion Kross, Io Shirai vs. Dakota Kai, Adam Cole vs Pat McAfee & more.

Photo courtesy: WWE

Welcome to our coverage of NXT TakeOver: XXX from Full Sail University.

Braden Herrington & Davie Portman will have an NXT TakeOver: XXX POST Show later tonight and will be doing a live Watch Along at YouTube.com/upNXT.

Wai Ting and I will also have a new Rewind-A-Dynamite coming out late tonight with a review of AEW’s Saturday night special and thoughts on TakeOver.

It was announced earlier in the day that Corey Graves will be on commentary tonight. POST Wrestling has confirmed that Mauro Ranallo is back home with his family in Canada and is not calling tonight’s show.

The TakeOver kickoff show was hosted by Scott Stamford and Sam Roberts in the studio and Booker T. joining them remotely to preview the card.

TYLER BREEZE & FANDANGO VS JOAQUIN WILDE & RAUL MENDOZA VS ONEY LORCAN & DANNY BURCH IN A #1 CONTENDER’S MATCH

Vic Joseph and Beth Phoenix are calling the pre-show match and Corey Graves will join them for the main show.

Mendoza was sent to the floor onto everyone by Fandango with a Border Toss. Mendoza came back moments later with a tornillo off the top to the floor that looked incredible.

Fandango hit Lorcan with a superkick, Mendoza hit a springboard into another superkick from Fandango. Wilde hit Breeze with a 450-splash and the cover was broken up.

Lorcan charged at Mendoza with a running uppercut and led to Breeze landing the Super Model Kick on Lorcan and pinned him.

WINNERS: Tyler Breeze & Fandango at 6:54

You could see the talent involved saw this as a strong platform to shine. Raul Mendoza had a great match with several big moments. They had the handicap of working a lot into a short amount of time and could have benefited from a few more minutes.

The main show opened classic moments and calls from past TakeOver shows.

FINN BALOR VS TIMOTHY THATCHER

Thatcher used a single leg and mounted Balor, who broke out and tried to secure Thatcher’s arm as they grappled. Thatcher torqued on the left knee and ankle of Balor.

This provided Thatcher’s target as he went back to the knee. Thatcher used a sweep into a kimura attempt, trapped the arm, and extended the other one for a Fujiwara armbar before drilling the lower back with his knee.

Balor finally hit a double stomp on the sternum for Thatcher to pause the attack. Balor hit a running dropkick sending Thatcher to the corner, Balor climbed up and missed the Coup de Grace while injuring his knee in the process.

Thatcher applied a single-leg crab and hit him with a release German suplex. Thatcher broke out of an abdominal stretch and applied an ankle lock briefly.

Balor rolled out of the ankle lock, hit the Coup de Grace followed by 1916 to win the match.

WINNER: Finn Balor at 13:32

They had a strong opening match working around Thatcher’s grappling specialty and he had a great opponent to work it with. I enjoyed this a lot and felt like a valuable win for Balor as he serves in more of a placeholder role on this show and should be primed for something strong coming out of it.

Bayley and Sasha Banks were shown in the crowd wearing masks and holding their titles.

DAMIAN PRIEST VS BRONSON REED VS CAMERON GRIMES VS JOHNNY GARGANO VS VELVETEEN DREAM IN A LADDER MATCH FOR THE VACANT NXT NORTH AMERICAN TITLE

Priest and Reed immediately cleared the ring but Dream shoved Reed from behind to prevent them from squaring off.

Grimes climbed both ladders and they were pulled apart forcing him to do the splits before dropping to the mat.

Gargano is playing the role of the weasel that would play people off one another and sneak his way up the ladder.

The match turned into the ladder being used as a weapon by everyone. Everyone was trapped in the ladders against the corner as Reed delivered a splash. This was followed by a Tower of Doom out of the same corner and Dream taking the superplex portion on top.

Reed had the ladder around his neck and Gargano went for the One Final Beat to Reed with the ladder and it didn’t work out well.

The ladder was balanced on the rope as Priest ran up the ladder and hit a cannonball to Reed, Gargano, and Dream on the floor ala, Shelton Benjamin.

Candice LeRae ran to check on Gargano, then stopped Grimes from climbing the ladder and takes down the ladder before slapping Grimes. LeRae scaled to the top holding onto Gargano and followed with a ‘rana sending Grimes onto the others on the floor.

Reed climbs up the ladder, LeRae comes from behind and Reed jumps off to splash Gargano with LeRae on Reed’s back.

Dream sets up Grimes on one ladder, climbs the ladder, and teases the Purple Rainmaker but hits the title with his hand realizing how close he is but Priest knocked him off the ladder.

Grimes and Gargano fight on the ladders ending with a sunset bomb by Gargano and dropping Grimes onto a horizontal one balanced on the middle rope.

Priest was on a ladder between the ring and guardrail, Dream hit Gargano with the Dream Valley Driver dropping Gargano onto Priest. Dream climbed and Reed tipped the ladder and Dream crashed through a table past the barricade.

Grimes and Gargano climbed the ladder, Grimes was knocked down, Priest climbed and stopped Gargano, they had a tug-of-war that Priest won and grabbed the title.

WINNER: Damian Priest at 21:24 to become the NXT North American champion

The talent worked very hard and you could see they mapped out a lot of intricate set-ups involving the five. Grimes had a spectacular performance in the match and became the sentimental favorite about mid-way through the match, which was tough given his character and how Gargano somewhat overshadowed his role. Gargano played his role very effectively, though, and was the glue to the match with LeRae adding a nice distraction and got her spotlight moments.

The effort was there but it felt like five guys that were trying to live up to an impossible standard that these ladder matches have been set at, and that’s a tough role when you don’t have a traditional crowd reacting.

ADAM COLE VS PAT McAFEE

McAfee began his entrance backstage cutting a promo and calling his leg the strongest leg in history. He was accompanied by his posse.

McAfee played such a great asshole. He tried to do the Fargo strut and then got scared off by a superkick tease.

The Undisputed Era ran out and there was a big confrontation between the two sides and suddenly, McAfee hit a Swanton off the top to the floor.

McAfee was in control inside the ring using a rear chin lock. McAfee was yelling, “this is easy” and slapped Cole and they exchanged slaps and strikes.

Cole hit the Ushigoroshi and a backstabber, but McAfee kept kicking out. McAfee crotched Cole on the top turnbuckle and did a backflip off the top landing on his feet, leaped to the top, and hit Cole with a superplex for the first near-fall.

McAfee missed the punt from the floor and kicked the steps. Cole attacks he injured leg and applies a figure-four and McAfee got to the rope. McAfee called him a “punk” and Cole attacked, charged back, and was kicked low that the referee missed.

McAfee hit the punt and Cole kicked out. McAfee went to the top and he came off and was hit with Cole’s superkick. He McAfee to get up, McAfee got in perfect position and took the Panama Sunrise and pinned McAfee.

WINNER: Adam Cole at 16:11

The finish was a bit off as McAfee just got up and leaned over to take the Panama Sunrise.

This was a pretty tremendous job by Cole having a captivating 16-minute match with someone who has never wrestled in his life. McAfee is a very good athlete and was clearly game for anything to make sure the match got over and they worked very hard to make sure it did.

Cole deserves a ton of credit for this one because with the wrong opponent this would not have been as smooth.

McAfee should be applauded for pulling off what he did here given his experience level.

Drew McIntyre joined Vic Joseph and Corey Graves and called Randy Orton a “talented piece of crap” and predicted Keith Lee to retain his NXT title.

IO SHIRAI VS DAKOTA KAI FOR THE NXT WOMEN’S TITLE

Shirai nearly landed on her head doing a backflip but appeared to be okay.

Raquel Gonzalez distracted Shirai and allowed Kai to send her into the post. Kai controls the match while Shirai is selling her left arm and elbow. Shirai sold for a while firing back and landing the Tiger Feint Kick (619).

Kai grabbed hold of Shirai from the waist on the apron, Shirai stopped her stomping down on the chest.

Kai hit the Scorpion Kick and catching Shirai with her knee brace like the AJ Styles and Jeff Hardy finish from Friday.

Kai hit the Kai-ropractor and went for an armbar to the injured side of Shirai and she finally made it to the rope. Kai hit the Go to Kick off the turnbuckle and Shirai got her foot on the rope.

Kai hit the referee with a running boot into the corner. Shirai landed the moonsault off the top but the referee was still out.

Raquel Gonzalez attacked Shirai with a chokeslam and placed Kai on top of her, revived the referee and Shirai kicked out.

The next Go to Kick was countered into a crossface by Shirai and then hit a Kamigoye on Kai. Shirai took out both on the floor with a top rope moonsault and nailed Gonzalez with it. She hit another Over the Moonsault to Kai inside the ring for the win.

WINNER: Io Shirai at 17:16 to retain the NXT women’s title

Gonzalez attacked Shirai afterward. Rhea Ripley came out to confront Gonzalez and they had a staredown and Kai pulled Gonzalez away.

They had a fantastic match and really hit the next gear about mid-way through. Shirai may be the best pure talent of all the women in WWE. Kai played a tremendous heel and this match was structured effectively around the injured arm. They has to work Gonzalez into the match, which produced some groans with the referee bump but they are clearly priming Gonzalez and Ripley for a showdown of the two big female forces of the division.

I thought this match was just great.

As Shirai posed in the ring with the title, Ripley stared at her from the ramp and was a great snapshot.

They ran a promo hyping the return of NXT UK from BT Sport Studios in London, England on September 17th.

This was followed by another video promoting the return of Tommaso Ciampa this Wednesday on NXT.

Cesaro was shown in the crowd (also wearing a mask).

McKenzie Mitchell spoke with Damian Priest, and he left to party with a pair of women in a hot tub (they did not have masks on).

KEITH LEE VS KARRION KROSS FOR THE NXT TITLE

Kross’ entrance is just incredible especially when setting the tone for a big match like this.

Graves on Lee: “The man’s got grit”

Kross punched the plexiglass missing Lee, then Lee missed with a strike of his own and hit the plexiglass. Kross caught Lee with a strike to the arm and it was caught in the plexiglass to compromise it.

Kross attacked the left arm and rams the shoulder into the turnbuckle. It was a methodical attack of the arm going to different parts of the arm. Graves got the line in that Kross would divorce the shoulder and not just separate it, which was a Jim Cornette line and the explanation for The Divorce Court move.

Kross attempted to get the straight arm while Lee kept his hands clasped and Lee rolled on top. Lee lifted Kross and slammed his way free.

Lee caught Kross and hit him with a move like the Tour of the Islands.

Kross hit the Doomsday Saito suplex and Lee kicked out. The story was whether Lee had enough left after the brutal beating from Kross, who was the fresher of the two. The Kross Jacket was applied, and Lee was fading but started to come to life and fought to the rope.

Lee got to his feet and hit the Spirit Bomb, which Kross kicked out from.

They fought on the turnbuckle with Kross hitting the Doomsday Saito off the second turnbuckle and pinned Lee.

WINNER: Karrion Kross at 21:50 to win the NXT title

I thought the same was a different style than the usual main event of a TakeOver and perhaps could have been edited down by a few minutes, although by the time you felt the match was beginning to drag they went to the finish and therefore, it’s hard to criticize.

It was a lot of Lee selling and that can be tough when it’s so reliant on that aspect rather than Lee’s athleticism and impressive maneuvers.

They are going all the way with Kross and that should be applauded, although it does set Lee back a step or two after being Double Champion and now has nothing.

I liked the match but I would not say it was at the level of the top matches on this show.

About John Pollock 5653 Articles
Born on a Friday, John Pollock is a reporter, editor & podcaster at POST Wrestling. He runs and owns POST Wrestling alongside Wai Ting.