Dakota Kai def. Rhea Ripley in an NXT Women's Championship No. 1 Contender's Match
This match has been a while in the making, as Kai betrayed Ripley's WarGames squad back in November and Ripley never got retribution. That in addition to a title shot being on the line made this matchup that much more meaningful. They worked wonderfully together and had an excellent opener. I was fully expecting Ripley to win and advance to TakeOver XXX to face Io Shirai for the NXT Women's Championship, so Mercedes Martinez' interference took me by surprise. Then again, I probably should have seen that coming because Ripley recently feuded with The Robert Stone Brand, which Martinez is now a part of. I actually like this direction more as we get two TakeOver matches out of it: Ripley vs. Martinez and Shirai vs. Kai for the title.
Bronson Reed def. Shane Thorne
Reed is on the ascent right now and was always going to win this match, but as a showcase, this worked. He's a hell of an athlete, especially for a guy his size, and thus I'm stoked he's finally getting more television time and chances to shine. As for Thorne, he always makes his opponents look good, but I wish NXT would do more with him at some point. Reed vs. Damian Priest next week should be a blast.
Damian Priest def. Oney Lorcan and Ridge Holland in a Triple Threat Match to Qualify for the NXT North American Championship Ladder Match at TakeOver XXX
This was easily the least interesting Triple Threat qualifier to date, but it was still a well-wrestled match with some cool spots and fun moments. I was really hoping Holland would find direction in NXT UK before it shut down indefinitely earlier this year due to pandemic, so maybe he'll get that direction as part of NXT. As for Lorcan, he always performs as a high level, but there was never any question he was winning here. Priest was my pick and was right choice to move on. Hell, he might even be my early pick to win the North American title at TakeOver.
NXT Champion Keith Lee def. Cameron Grimes (Non-Title)
Lee laid out Grimes last week and that was how this bout came about. The outcome was never in doubt with Lee being the NXT Champion, but I appreciated that Grimes scored as much offense as he did before eating the pinfall loss. He always looks great in defeat against NXT's top talents and he put in another excellent performance here. Meanwhile, Lee vs. Karrion Kross at TakeOver is shaping up to be one hell of a match.
Legado del Fantasma Attacked Breezango
Legado del Fantasma kidnapped Fandango in the parking lot earlier in the evening before attacking both Fandango and Tyler Breeze in the ring here. It was yet another effective way of establishing that Legado del Fantasma are a force to be reckoned with on this show. I love that they've been booked so strong up to this point, but it doesn't look Drake Maverick is being set up to face Santos Escobar anymore after being beaten down by them so many times. So much for that momentum stemming from his run in the NXT Cruiserweight Championship Tournament, I suppose.
Tegan Nox def. Indi Hartwell
Nox is still trying to build momentum again after recently failing to win the NXT Women's Championship from Shirai, but between her tag team win last week and this victory here, she's on the right track. It helps that they're clearly building to a bout between her and Candice LeRae, which has a ton of potential. This was a quick squash for Nox, but I was happy Hartwell was able to get some offense in before eating defeat. She can be a real player in that women's division in due time.
NXT Tag Team Champions Imperium (Marcel Barthel and Fabian Aichner) def. Undisputed Era (Kyle O'Reilly and Bobby Fish)
It was terrific to have O'Reilly back in the ring after so many months. Unfortunately, this entire match was a complete afterthought because of the stuff brewing at ringside between Adam Cole and Pat McAfee on commentary. It was obvious from the get-go that the McAfee stuff was going to factor into the finish somehow, and sure enough, it did. What we got from Imperium and Undisputed Era was solid, but it wasn't on the level of what I know they're capable of. I'm still not overly enthusiastic about getting Cole vs. McAfee at TakeOver XXX, but at least NXT is smart enough to make Cole the babyface based on how McAfee came across at the end.
The TakeOver XXX card is coming together nicely and I'm excited for the event. As it stands right now, I'm guessing it will consist of Lee vs. Kross for the NXT Championship, Shirai vs. Kai for the NXT Women's Championship, the NXT North American Championship Ladder match, Ripley vs. Martinez, and possibly Cole vs. McAfee. I don't have high hopes about that last one, and in fact, the last half hour of this show fell flat for me because of the heavy emphasis on McAfee on commentary. The rest of this show was superb, though, and the two hours were a breeze as always.