MSK def. Legado del Fantasma in a Men's Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic Semifinal Match
These teams wrestle similar styles, so you had to know this was going to be a banger of a bout. Sure enough, this was an exciting opener and the perfect choice to kick off the show. It also reaffirmed my belief that MSK feel like bigger stars than they ever did in IMPACT. Legado del Fantasma have been relatively protected so far, so it meant something for MSK to beat them. It's cool that MSK are already making their TakeOver debut.
Xia Li def. Cora Jade
For those who may have forgotten, Jade is the former Elenya Black. I've been impressed by what I've seen from her in the past, but she didn't last long here at all as Li made very short work of her. She then beat the hell out of Kacy Catanzaro and Kayden Carter, who were questioning her for her recent change in attitude. Clearly, they're next in line to be squashed by her, which is a step up from the competition she's been facing up to this point.
Kushida Attacked NXT North American Champion Johnny Gargano
Following Kushida's attack on Gargano last week, Gargano claimed he suffered an arm injury, which William Regal quickly debunked. It made for a very entertaining segment with Gargano being his typical over-the-top self. Kushida showing up standing behind The Way in the ring was funny as well. This served as solid setup for Kushdia vs. Gargano at TakeOver and for Kushida vs. Austin Theory for later in the night.
Shotzi Blackheart and Ember Moon def. The Way (Candice LeRae and Indi Hartwell) in a Women's Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic Semifinal Match
LeRae and Hartwell have gelled into a very nice team over the last few months, but this match was Blackheart and Moon's to win. The Way have gotten the better of Blackheart on multiple occasions since late last year, so she was able to gain a measure of revenge here in what was a solid match. Blackheart and Moon have turned into a terrific team and I genuinely don't know who's winning in the finals at TakeOver. I'm glad it was finally acknowledged that the winners will be getting a shot at the WWE Women's Tag Team Championship.
Kushida def. Austin Theory by Disqualification
There was no way Kushida was losing before contending for the NXT North American Championship on Saturday, but I was surprised this lasted as long as it did. I'm all for making Theory more credible, but this probably should have been a bit more straightforward in Kushida's favor. Gargano interfered for the disqualification and Dexter Lumis made the save for Kushida afterward. Lumis was eyeing the North America title, so I assume he'll be next in line to challenge for it after Gargano beats Kushida.
Cameron Grimes Returned with a New Fortune
We haven't seen Grimes in close to two months after he was "injured" at the hands of Timothy Thatcher. He was building momentum before his hiatus, and while I thought his program with Dexter Lumis exceeded expectations, I was hoping he would come back more serious. Unfortunately, we got the exact opposite. This literally felt like NXT's answer to AEW's Big Money Matt. He's a talented talker, but he was more over-the-top here than usual and it just didn't click for me.
Grizzled Young Veterans def. Tommaso Ciampa and Timothy Thatcher in a Men's Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic Semifinal Match
Needless to say, Ciampa and Thatcher are already excellent partners despite only teaming for a few weeks. Their chemistry is just that strong and that was evident here. Much like last week, they had a pair of phenomenal opponents here in Grizzled Young Veterans, This was a top-notch main event with above-average ring work and a surprising result. I was sure that Thatcher and Ciampa would go all the way and win the trophy followed by the tag titles, but I'm actually happy that won't be the case. We've already had three makeshift teams win the Dusty Classic before, so Grizzled Young Veterans and MSK being in the finals makes more sense to me. It should be a hell of a match to boot.
TakeOver: Vengeance Day has five killer matches on tap for Sunday and all of them were given proper hype throughout the night. The NXT Championship and NXT Women's Championship matches were given the video package treatment, the finals for both the men's and women's Dusty Classic tournaments were set in well-wrestled matches, and Kushida got some last-minute momentum over Gargano. The face-offs at the end was really cool and I'd love to see them do that sort of thing more often in the future. These two hours weren't must-see by any means, but it was a successful go-home show for TakeOver by all accounts that left me looking forward to Saturday night.