NXT TakeOver XXX is just a few days away and it’s a full go-home show according to the preview. Johnny Gargano faces Ridge Holland and Finn Balor takes on Velveteen Dream to decide the final participants of the North American Championship Ladder Match. Rhea Ripley and Shotzi Blackheart team against Mercedes Martinez and Aliyah. Isaiah ‘Swerve’ Scott teams up with Breezango for a six-man tag against Legado del Fantasma. And Adam Cole goes face to face with Pat McAfee ahead of their TakeOver farce match.
Johnny Gargano def. Ridge Holland
Dakota Kai def. Jessi Kamea
Legado del Fantasma def. Breezango & Isaiah ‘Swerve’ Scott
Rhea Ripley & Shotzi Blackheart def. Aliyah & Mercedes Martinez
Velveteen Dream def. Finn Balor
Johnny Gargano, with Candice LeRae, vs Ridge Holland – Second Chance Ladder Match Qualifier
Whiny and entitled Johnny Gargano is not my favourite version, I just don’t rate him in a heel role. I enjoyed this match though. It was only Ridge Holland’s second appearance and Gargano made him look legit in this one, despite Holland quite obviously dropping him on his head at one point.
Candice LeRae caused a distraction, but Gargano got dropped on his face on the apron when he tried to capitalise. She grabbed Holland’s leg when he tried to get back in the ring, and Gargano got a low blow in without being caught. One Final Beat later and Johnny Gargano is Johnny TakeOver once more.
Dakota Kai vs Jessi Kamea
With Dakota Kai facing Io Shirai for the NXT Women’s Championship in a few days, this was never going to be a long drawn out match. Kamea gave her a match and even got a couple of two count pin attempts, one of which was at least two and a half. It finished with a GTK as expected though.
After the match, Kai gave a speech aimed at Io Shirai where she denied everything Shirai said about her being scared last week. She said she was going to take the title and was busy reeling off how many times she is going to kick Shirai in the face when Shirai turned up. Shirai had the better of the brawl and Kai was running scared, but when they got near the curtains to backstage, Raquel Gonzalez appeared and kicked Shirai in the face.
Gonzalez put Shirai over her shoulder and took her back to the ring. Shirai stood up and smacked Kai in the face then got slammed into the mat by Gonzalez.
That’s a real shame. I was looking forward to Dakota Kai versus Io Shirai being a proper one on one match and we’re not going to get that now.
Tegan Nox responded to Candice LeRae’s comments last week. She was hurt but she still wants to fix their friendship. She thinks they should sit down over a glass of wine and sort it out, like old times.
Breezango & Isaiah ‘Swerve’ Scott vs Legado del Fantasma
This one started with a lengthy brawl but eventually settled into a decent match. There was a lot of chaos and Legado del Fantasma suffered from not having their usual numbers advantage. Fandango injured his arm though and they targeted it constantly, not allowing him anywhere near his own corner.
Eventually, Swerve came in all kinds of fired up and determined to show Santos Escobar what he thought of him calling him out. A distraction from Raul Mendoza spoilt that and Swerve ended up isolated. There was a confused tag where Breeze was simultaneously tagged in and sent flying off the apron. Swerve could have got the pin then, but the ref told him he wasn’t legal. Instead, Swerve got beaten up then Breeze came in and tried to take on all three of Legado del Fantasma with no backup. He dealt with Mendoza and Joaquin Wilde but got pinned by Escobar with a Phantom Driver.
Adam Cole brought the rest of Undisputed ERA to his face to face with Pat McAfee. McAfee brought an NFL based security team. He said Cole was too much of a coward to face him alone and Cole sent the others out of the ring.
Pat McAfee had a lot to say, none of it worth repeating but much of it speaking of a massive ill-concealed inferiority complex. Adam Cole walked towards him when it was his turn to speak and NXT security got between them. By the time Cole had quite literally kicked them all out of the ring, McAfee looked scared. McAfee’s friends got up on the apron, Undisputed ERA got into the ring, and Cole invited McAfee and friends to join them. When they declined Cole told McAfee he’s going to make him his bitch, then Undisputed ERA turned their backs and walked away.
Aliyah & Mercedes Martinez, with Robert Stone, vs Rhea Ripley & Shotzi Blackheart
Rhea Ripley and Shotzi Blackheart would make such a fun tag team and a loose ongoing alliance would benefit them both in the cutthroat NXT Women’s division. Shotzi Blackheart took a lot of punishment during her long stint in the ring. When she eventually tagged in Ripley, she took over. Aliyah was immediately in trouble and Martinez had to stop her getting pinned. Blackheart kicked Martinez out of the ring and Aliyah took a Riptide to lay her out neatly for Blackheart’s senton. Robert Stone distracted the ref while Martinez took Blackheart’s legs out from underneath her on the turnbuckle.
Rhea Ripley powerbombed Mercedes Martinez over the barricade to the concrete and Blackheart pinned Aliyah with the senton from the top. Martinez still hadn’t moved by the time commentary moved onto the next segment.
The hype package for Keith Lee versus Karrion Kross was as good as you’d expect. Here, watch it.
Finn Balor vs Velveteen Dream – Second Chance Ladder Match Qualifier
I really didn’t want Velveteen Dream to win this. I feel like WWE brushed the allegations made about him under the carpet and I am uncomfortable with having to review his matches with that uncertainty.
Cameron Grimes turned up just before the ad break saying he was just there for the title which was hanging between two ladders on the outside. After the break he was sat on top of a ladder holding the title and cackling. He was a distraction and a nuisance and really got under Finn Balor’s skin, almost costing him the match. But it was much more complicated than that.
Johnny Gargano came to ringside and tipped Grimes into the ring where he took finishers from Velveteen Dream and Balor. Bronson Reed and Damian Priest arrived and they got rid of Balor then each other. Balor came over the top rope onto Priest and Reed then got attacked by Timothy Thatcher. Thatcher rolled Balor back into the ring and Velveteen Dream got the win.
That’s the ladder match ruined.
Chaos broke out after the match, with the belt changing hands repeatedly. It was Bronson Reed standing tall and holing it at the end.
Between the Cole and McAfee mess and Velveteen Dream making it into the ladder match, this is the TakeOver I’m looking forward to least and I’m kinda sad about it. The other matches will deliver, I’m sure.