Johnny Gargano def. Ridge Holland to Qualify for the NXT North American Championship Ladder Match at TakeOver XXX
No one knew for sure whether the botch that caused the match to be stopped during the taping was going to make the air or not, and apparently they thought it was better to include it since it wasn't too serious. I mean, it looked awful, but Gargano not getting too hurt from it was probably part of the reason why they decided to leave it in. The match itself didn't reach the level I was hoping it would knowing what Gargano is capable of, but it was well wrestled and Holland continues to show plenty of promise. I believe this marked Holland's first pinfall loss since his re-debut in NXT UK about a year ago.
Dakota Kai def. Jessi Kamea
Kai has been firing on all cylinders in recent months and this was another strong showing from her ahead of her NXT Women's Championship opportunity at TakeOver XXX. As for Kamea, she's made a handful of appearances lately on NXT and Main Event, so I'm hoping she can eventually be repackaged/given an actual gimmick and become an actual player in the NXT women's division. She's been in the company long enough, so it's now or never. It was a short and sweet squash followed by a great angle with Raquel Gonzalez returning and attacking Io Shirai. We haven't seen her in some time, so I'm glad she and Kai weren't prematurely broken up.
Legado del Fantasma (NXT Cruiserweight Champion Santos Escobar, Joaquin Wilde and Raul Mendoza) def. Isiah "Swerve" Scott and Breezango
I was really hoping we'd get Escobar vs. Scott for the NXT Cruiserweight Championship at TakeOver XXX and that Scott would win for his team here to set that up, but no such luck. Don't get me wrong, I'm all for continuing to build up Legado del Fantasma and making them a dominant force, but they need real competition at some point and Escobar needs challengers to his title. This was really fun for what it was with everyone getting their time to shine.
Adam Cole and Pat McAfee Went Face-to-Face
I had and still have doubts about McAfee wrestling at TakeOver, but to his credit, he cut an impressive promo here and came across like a natural on the mic. Some of his mannerisms were a little frantic, but that's merely nitpicking. I don't think Cole needed to say anything either except what he did at the end where he just kept it simple and straight to the point. I expect them to have a better bout than most of us were originally expecting from them, but I question who this storyline will ultimately benefit. And no, splitting up Undisputed Era before they even make it to the main roster would be a terrible idea.
Rhea Ripley and Shotzi Blackheart def. Aliyah and Mercedes Martinez
Ripley and Blackheart made for a terrific team, and although it'd be cool to see them chase the WWE Women's Tag Team Championship together, I think Ripley has a higher ceiling on her own right now. Seeing Ripley and Martinez going at it was cool and I assume Ripley planting her on the outside of the guardrail was designed to explain why they won't be facing each other at TakeOver this Saturday. That's a bummer, but I'm sure they'll clash eventually and that could prove to be Ripley's swan song from NXT. This was a well-worked tag team match with the babyfaces getting a measure of revenge over The Robert Stone Brand.
Velveteen Dream def. Finn Balor to Qualify for the NXT North American Championship Ladder Match at TakeOver XXX
There's a ton of heat on Dream right now from fans for all the accusations against him that NXT initially didn't respond to. Triple H said in an interview this week that they looked into the accusations and found nothing, but I don't blame fans for wanting the company to look into it further. Putting that stuff aside, Dream is a nice addition to the Ladder match at TakeOver provided that he doesn't win. This was a chaotic main event, and while I usually hate interference finishes, we don't see it too much in NXT and it served a purpose here. The melee that closed out the episode was a blast and left me looking forward to what should be an incredible Ladder matchup. Timothy Thatcher costing Balor the victory made sense after they were both involved in that Triple Threat qualifier a few weeks ago.
I can totally understand the argument from fans that TakeOver XXX, despite being the historic 30th installment, is lacking that special feeling it almost always has. NXT in general hasn't been the same these past few months, but I chalk that up to there being no fans and the atmosphere not being as electric. I, personally, still thoroughly enjoy the shows and thought this was a efficient and effective go-home show for TakeOver with everything that's advertised being hyped up in some form or fashion. That video package for Keith Lee vs. Karrion Kross was especially excellent.