8/22 NXT TAKEOVER XXX RESULTS: Hustwaite’s alt-perspective report including Lee vs. Kross, Cole vs. McAfee, North American Title ladder match, Balor vs. Thatcher

By Matt Hustwaite, PWTorch contributor


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NXT TAKEOVER XXX REPORT
AUGUST 22, 2020
ORLANDO, FLA., AT FULL SAIL UNIVERSITY
AIRED ON WWE NETWORK
REPORT BY MATT HUSTWAITE, PWTORCH CONTRIBUTOR

Announcers: Vic Joseph, Beth Phoenix, Corey Graves

[HOUR ONE]

– The show opened with a hype video set to Metallica’s “Moth to the Flame”, highlighting the previous Takeover events and the feuds leading up to Takeover XXX.

– Vic Joseph and Corey Graves welcomed viewers to the show from Full Sail. Beth Phoenix rounded out the commentary team from her home.

(Hustwaites Analysis: WWE has done a great job dressing up Full Sail for this event, with a large XXX set and pyrotechnics. The set feels like a modern take on the iconic WCW Slamboree set from the mid-’90s.  It actually feels somewhat comforting to be back at Full Sail with a more straight-forward setup after the visual onslaught that was WWE Thunderdome. No Mauro Ranallo on commentary tonight, which is a shame.)

(1) FINN BALOR vs. TIMOTHY THATCHER

Balor unloaded on Thatcher from the moment the bell rang. Thatcher took Balor down and both men traded control with various strikes and grappling holds. Balor focused on Thatcher’s arm with an armbar and continued to work the arm as both men got to their feet. Thatcher turned the tables after hitting a blow to Balor’s chest and locked in a front face lock in the middle of the ring. Balor countered and sent Thatcher over the top rope. Thatcher quickly returned to the ring but was met with stomps from Balor. Thatcher grabbed a leg and took Balor down into a heel hook. Balor fought to the ropes for the break. Thatcher kept on top of Balor with a knee drop to the ribs into a Bow and Arrow submission. Balor attempted a reversal and tried to rally but Thatcher took Balor down into a Kimura.

Thatcher continued to methodically target Balor’s arm, interspersed with knee strikes. Balor escaped a double Chicken Wing and eventually landed a basement dropkick to the face of Thatcher. Both men exchanged heavy hitting strikes and Thatcher floored Balor with a chop to the chest. Balor came back with a Pele Kick out of nowhere. Balor went for a sling blade, but Thatcher blocked it with a knee. Both men again traded control as they countered each other’s moves until Balor hit a suplex. Balor attempted to hit the Coup de Grace but Thatcher moved out of the way, which caused Balor to land awkwardly. Thatcher targeted the injured left leg of Balor and applied a single-leg crab. Balor reached the bottom rope for the break.

Thatcher pulled Balor back to the middle of the ring and kicked him in the back. Balor tried to rally with a shot to Thatcher’s ribs, but Thatcher returned fire with a kick to the head followed by a German suplex. Balor managed to roll-up Thatcher for a pin attempt, but Thatcher kicked out at two. Balor kept a crossface locked on, but Thatcher countered the submission into an ankle lock. Balor executed a reversal of his own and rolled through, followed by a stomp to the chest of Thatcher. Balor took Thatcher down and landed a Coup de Grace from the top rope. Balor struggled to make it across the ring to capitalize, as Joseph and Phoenix noted the injured knee of Balor. Balor got Thatcher up and hit the 1916 for the victory.

WINNER: Finn Balor in 13:32

(Hustwaite’s Analysis: This was a real hard-hitting, technical clinic, which stands out because this style is not normally seen on WWE TV, even by NXT standards. It doesn’t take much to suspend your disbelief when you see hard “strong style” hits and genuine bruising. The psychology was on point with the injury stories woven throughout the match. No surprises that Balor won, but Thatcher is going to need to get some significant wins in the near future. As the losses start to mount up, his character will be diminished.)

– Keith Lee and Mia Yim are shown entering the arena before the camera cuts to Sasha Banks and Bayley in the crowd.

– A hype video for the NXT North American Championship ladder match aired.

– Entrances took place for the ladder match, with Shawn Michaels and Bam Bam Bigelow referenced in the ring gear of Damien Priest and Bronson Reed respectively.

– Velveteen Dream was the last man to enter and he pushed Priest out of the way so he could pose in the corner. Priest retaliated and dropped Dream to start the match as the bell rang.

(2) NORTH AMERICAN CHAMPIONSHIP LADDER MATCH – DAMIAN PRIEST vs. JOHNNY GARGANO vs. BRONSON REED vs. CAMERON GRIMES vs. VELVETEEN DREAM

Grimes was targeted early by Priest and Reed who quickly disposed of Grimes. Priest and Reed were about to brawl, but Dream interjected himself and hit Reed with a Fameasser. Dream took out all the competitors with signature moves. Dream went to get the first ladder of the match, but Grimes sent Dream into the ring steps. Grimes pulled out a small ladder and was leveled by Priest. Both men made it into the ring and Gargano entered over the top rope and took out Grimes. Priest and Dream tried to climb ladders in the ring to reach the belt, but Grimes came back in and knocked both the ladders down. Grimes attempted to climb both the ladders, but Priest and Dream pulled the ladders out from under Grimes, forcing him into the splits.

Dream sent Priest over the top rope with a clothesline. Gargano came back in and teamed up with Dream to take out Grimes with a ladder. Reed laid out Gargano and Priest and hit a senton on a ladder that was laying on top of Gargano and Priest. Grimes hit Reed with a forearm and Reed fired back with an inside-out lariat. Reed set a ladder up, but Gargano quickly climbed it instead. Reed attempted a powerbomb on Gargano from the ladder, but Gargano escaped and jumped on the ladder. Priest pulled Gargano off, but Gargano kept using others to jump on the ladder. Dream, Grimes, and Gargano formed an alliance and hit a double superkick on Reed and used ladders to restrain Priest and Reed.

Gargano ended the temporary alliance when he threw a ladder at Dream. Priest rammed a ladder into Gargano. Grimes set up a ladder on top of Priest, Gargano and Dream in the corner, but Reed took advantage of the situation and hit a huge running splash on all three men as the crowd chanted “this is awesome”.  Reed came out on top after a Tower of Doom powerbomb/ superplex spot. Gargano tried to climb the ladder while Reed was distracted but Reed cut him off. Grimes tried to capitalize and made a play for the ladder but was knocked off by Priest. Priest made it to the top of the ladder and was dragged back down by Dream. Priest returned the favor by landing a Beautiful Disaster kick as Dream tried to climb the ladder himself. Priest attempted a springboard cannonball but was caught by a Gargano superkick.

All five men brawled as Reed did the helicopter spot with a ladder around his neck. Grimes landed a Spanish Fly power slam outside the ring on Gargano before both men were taken out by a diving Dream. Reed took out all three men with a suicide dive. Grimes was the first to recover and brought a ladder into the ring. Priest ran up a ladder that was leaning against another ladder and dove onto Gargano, Reed and Dream, who were still on the outside. The crowd chanted “holy shit!”

Grimes climbed the ladder but was pulled down by an interfering Candice LeRae. Candice chopped and punched Grimes before Gargano hit Grimes with a ladder. LeRae hit a huracanrana on Grimes which sent him to ringside. Reed came into the ring and climbed the ladder at the same time as Gargano. Reed knocked Gargano off the ladder and reached for the belt, but LeRae had climbed the ladder and pushed it out of reach. LeRae ended up on Reed’s back, who then dove from the ladder and splashed Gargano for a cool visual. Reed, Priest and Grimes scaled ladders. Reed shoved Grimes’ ladder, but Grimes managed to jump on to another ladder. Dream tried to kick Grimes but missed and got caught up in the ladder.

Grimes missed Dream with a ladder and Dream hit a flurry of strikes on Grimes. Dream laid Grimes on a ladder and climbed another ladder to hit a Purple Rainmaker. However, he realized he could make a play for the belt. Before he could do so, Priest knocked Dream off the ladder. Priest took out Reed with chokeslam and was then surprised by a Cave In out of nowhere from Grimes. Grimes climbed a ladder as Gargano made his way back and climbed another ladder next to Grimes. Gargano hit a vicious looking sunset flip powerbomb on Grimes, driving him into a ladder bridge.

Gargano was in control of the match as he took out Priest with a Gamengiri and hit Dream with a superkick. Gargano attempted the One Final Beat on Dream who countered into a Death Valley Driver which drove Gargano onto a prone Priest who was lying on a ladder at ringside. Dream made it to the top of the ladder, but Reed shoved the ladder down, sending Dream flying into tables set up on the other side of the barricade.

Reed tried to capitalize and climbed the ladder but was taken out by Grimes. Grimes climbed the ladder and was met by Gargano who rocked Grimes with right hands. Grimes fell to the mat and Gargano began to unhook the belt. Priest made it to the top of the ladder and tussled with Gargano over the unhooked belt. Gargano ended up falling to the mat and Priest fully released the belt for the victory.

WINNER: Damien Priest in 21:24 to win the NXT North American Championship

(Hustwaite’s Analysis: Things were wild to begin with, with the chaos of an indy spot-fest as everyone bounced from spot-to-spot. However, the match found its own groove after the 10-minute mark. The wrestlers actually ended up being pretty disciplined, being selective with the more contrived spots and ladder play. All five men got a chance to shine and the unique styles that they brought gave the match some flavor instead of it just being a wild spot-fest. This turned out to be a very enjoyable match.)

– Metallica received a plug for their song “Moth to the Flame” which is the theme song for NXT Takeover XXX

– An Adam Cole/ Pat McAfee hype video played.

– After Adam Cole made his entrance, Pat McAfee cut a promo backstage before demanding the truck hit his music.

(Hustwaite’s Analysis: McAfee came off a little like he was “playing wrestler” with this promo. He was overly expressive and yelling, reminiscent of a vintage WWF Superstars promo. His natural delivery that we see on the Pat McAfee Show is more than capable of being heelish, he doesn’t need to try so hard.)

(3) ADAM COLE vs. PAT MCAFEE

McAfee had his crew at ringside, while Cole had already sent Undisputed Era to the back. Cole got the upper hand immediately with a side headlock out of a lock-up. McAfee hit a backdrop on Cole. Cole teased a superkick, which elicited a great, fearful reaction from McAfee. McAfee applied a headlock, which Cole managed to escape from to hit McAfee with a shoulder tackle. Cole hit the ropes, but McAfee rolled to ringside, pointed out his smarts and trash-talked Cole. Undisputed Era returned to ringside and confronted McAfee’s crew. McAfee suddenly appeared on the top rope and hit a nice looking senton, taking everyone out at ringside.

McAfee got Cole back in the ring and hit a series of strikes in the corner. McAfee actually is in complete control of the match, dropping Cole with a punch, boot, and a bodyslam. McAfee did some squats while he held Cole up for the bodyslam. McAfee continued to control Cole and landed a dropkick as Cole tried to fight back. McAfee got into an argument with the referee after McAfee threw Cole to the mat with his hair. Cole mounted a comeback, pulling McAfee’s shirt over his head hockey fight style and landing punches.

Cole stomped on McAfee in the corner. McAfee came at Cole, but Cole hit him with a Death Valley Driver over the knee for a near fall. McAfee swung for a lariat, but Cole ducked and hit a back cracker. Cole went to the top rope but was cut off by McAfee. McAfee climbed up to meet Cole and landed a huge backflip after Cole shoved him away. Cole looked at McAfee in bewilderment before McAfee leapt to the top rope from the mat and delivered a superplex for a near fall.

(Hustwaite’s Analysis: We had seen McAfee land both the backflip and the leap to the top rope in the training videos. But that didn’t make these any less impressive in this match – wow.)

Cole ended up hanging out of the ring and McAfee went to ringside. McAfee attempted a punt kick, but Cole moved, and McAfee kicked the ring steps instead. McAfee sold the pain, as the announcers speculated that he could have broken his foot. Cole rolled McAfee back into the ring and took control. McAfee blocked his face, so Cole kicked him in the shin instead. Cole applied a figure four and McAfee unsuccessfully tried to roll through. McAfee reached the ropes for the break. Cole unloaded on McAfee in the corner, who delivered a low blow to Cole when the referee tried to back Cole up. McAfee hit a punt kick for a near fall.

McAfee went to the top rope again and trash-talked Cole. He jumped off the turnbuckle for an ax-handle but was well scouted by Cole, who hit a superkick. Cole looked like he wanted to hit the Last Shot. However, he went to the top rope instead and hit the Panama Sunrise for the pinfall.

WINNER: Adam Cole in 16:12

(Hustwaite’s Analysis: McAfee was almost too good in this match, considering storyline wise he is a non-wrestler who has only been training for two weeks. He wasn’t without fault though – his selling, rope running, and transitions in the ring need work. That said, that the critique of his performance is nit-picky like this is testament to how well McAfee did – he truly is a natural. Also, Adam Cole is possibly the most generous person in wrestling, he made McAfee look like a million bucks.

– Drew McIntyre joined Vic Joseph and Corey Graves at the announce desk to hype his Summerslam match with Randy Orton. He predicted Keith Lee would win his match later on in the show, as the camera cut to Lee’s opponent, Karion Kross, warming up backstage.

– A hype video for Io Shirai vs. Dakota Kai played.

(4) NXT WOMEN’S CHAMPIONSHIP – IO SHIRAI vs. DAKOTA KAI

Shirai quickly took it to Kai as soon as the bell rang. Kai turned things around and beat on Shirai in the corner. Shirai backflipped away but mistimed the landing, causing Phoenix to gasp on commentary. Kai came in to attack, but Shirai took Kai down with a Dragon Screw. Kai took a powder and hid behind Gonzalez at ringside. While Gonzalez distracted Shirai, Kai tossed Shirai into the ring post. Kai brought Shirai back into the ring for a two count. Shirai sent Kai face-first into the middle rope looked to attempt a 619. However, Kai rolled out of the ring and kicked Shirai. Kai hit a pump kick for a near fall.

Kai kept trying to pin Shirai as Shirai sold an arm injury. Kai continued to work Shirai’s arm and locked in an armbar. Kai continued to try pin Shirai until Shirai landed a palm strike. Shirai successfully hit the 619, albeit with one arm, and followed it up with a Slingshot Dropkick for a near fall. Shirai and Kai ended up on the apron and Kai attempted a German to the floor. Kai then tried to powerbomb Shirai to the floor, but Shirai escaped with boots to Kai’s chest. Kai yelled at Shirai and talked trash. In response, Shirai yelled at her to “bring it”. Shirai powered up with strikes to the face but ran into a Scorpion Kick from Kai. Shirai regained control and pummelled Kai with knees and stomps in the corner, which lead to a near fall.

Shirai and Kai went back and forth in the ring and Kai tried to lock in a Juji Gatame armbar. Shirai tried to counter the move and eventually made it to the ropes for the break. Shirai went to the top rope but was pulled down by Kai into a roundhouse kick. Shirai managed to get a foot on the bottom rope when Kai tried to pin her. The referee accidentally ate a Face Wash from Kai. Shirai hit a moonsault for the pin, but the referee was still down which drew Gonzalez into the ring to hit a Uranage on Shirai. Gonzalez woke the referee up and Shirai kicked out at two.

Kai scooped Shirai for the GTK which was blocked by Shirai, who countered into a crossface. As the referee slowly recovered, Shirai hits a big knee on Kai which sent Kai to the floor. Shirai went to the top rope and dove onto Kai and Gonzalez. Shirai brought Kai back into the ring and hit another moonsault for the victory.

WINNER: Io Shirai in 17:13

– Gonzalez attacked Shirai after the match but Rhea Ripley ran in for the save. Gonzalez and Ripley stood face-to-face until Kai pulled Gonzalez away, to a chorus of boos from the crowd.

(Hustwaite’s Analysis: Despite Kai never feeling like a serious threat to Shirai, this was a very good match. The women’s division continues to shine on NXT, albeit very much still revolving around Ripley. It seems they are now pivoting Ripley away from Mercedes Martinez and towards Gonzalez.)

– The return of NXT UK was hyped for September 17 on the WWE Network and Tomasso Ciampa will be returning on the next NXT on USA episode.

– McKenzie Mitchell tried to interview Damian Priest. However, the new NXT North American Champion was too busy celebrating his win and told Mitchell that she would have to join the party if she wanted a comment. Priest then jumped into a hot tub that WWE keeps backstage for some reason.

– The excellent hype video for Keith Lee vs. Karrion Kross was played again.

(5) NXT CHAMPIONSHIP – KEITH LEE vs. KARRION KROSS

Lee hit a tackle at the outset of the match before both men brawled. Lee trapped Kross in the corner and attacked with a flurry of strikes. Kross got hold of Lee’s head and hit him with a forearm. Lee hit the ropes and took Kross down with a crossbody. Kross went to ringside and was checked on by Scarlett, with Lee in pursuit. Kross took the upper hand as Kross and Lee brawled at ringside. Lee ducked a punch from Kross who hit the plexiglass on the barrier. Lee then threw Kross into the plexiglass. Kross managed to avoid another attack from Lee and threw Lee into the ring post.

Kross sensed that he had the advantage and returned the match to the ring. Kross worked the arm for a lengthy period of time but Lee eventually broke the grip. Lee shot Kross into the ropes but couldn’t take him down with a shoulder tackle. Kross went right back to working over Lee again, returning to grappling holds on Lee’s arm. Lee tried to make a comeback but Kross continued to shut him down, returning to the arm much to the delight of Scarlett at ringside.

Kross and Lee went back and forth but Kross still maintained control. Lee fought back to his feet but Kross again went back to the arm. However, Lee stopped Kross from fully locking in the hold. Kross yelled at Lee to let go but Lee powered to his feet and slammed Kross with a Uranage.

Lee turned the tide of the match with a series of punches and forearms. Lee hit Kross with a splash in the corner. Lee went for the cover after a power slam, but Kross kicked out. Lee blocked a Doomsday Saito attempt from Kross.

Kross took Lee down with a pair of kicks and covered Lee for a two count. Kross went for the Doomsday Saito again, but Lee again managed to block the move. Lee staggered Kross with a headbutt and delivered a vertical suplex for a two count. Kross came back with a lariat and pin attempt for a two count of his own. Both men slugged it out, back and forth with tight looking punches and forearms. Lee hit a clothesline.

Kross and Lee took turns no-selling each other’s moves. Kross finally hit a Doomsday Saito but Lee kicked out at two. Kross got Lee with the Kross Jacket. The ref checked Lee’s arm and Lee was able to get his arm up. Lee managed to roll over and made it to the ropes for the break.

Lee hit Kross with a headbutt and the Spirit Bomb for a near fall. Lee took to the top rope and Kross met him in the corner. Lee pulled Kross up and both men traded punches. Lee attempted a suplex, but Kross hit a surprise Doomsday Saito from the second rope and scored the victory out of nowhere.

WINNER: Karrion Kross in 21:51 to win the NXT Championship

(Hustwaite’s Analysis: This was a good big man match, with a surprising finish. The longer a match goes, the less conducive it is to Keith Lee’s style – and this match did feel like it was dragging on towards the end. However, they managed to deliver a quality main event despite facing the perennial Takeover challenge of needing to follow a series of exceptional undercard matches. I wasn’t expecting such a short title reign from Keith Lee, but if he is on his way to Raw or Smackdown shortly then this title change would make sense.)

FINAL THOUGHTS: If death and taxes are the two guarantees in life, then NXT Takeover shows delivering on quality is a close third. Even after 30 Takeover events, they still manage to maintain a record of stellar matches that never cease to entertain in a tight, 2 ½ hour show. NXT is at its best when it provides a range of styles within a show and treats the audience to a variety of wrestling. This show delivered in spades, particularly with the strong-style of Balor vs. Thatcher and the high-risk ladder match providing the most contrast. On the whole, NXT Takeover XXX probably rates as the best COVID-era show that WWE has produced to date.


RECOMMENDED: 8/22 NXT Takeover XXX: Lindberg’s Live Report on Lee vs. Kross, The North American Title Ladder Match, Shirai vs. Kai & more

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