NXT General Manager William Regal Announced a Ladder Match for the Vacant NXT North American Championship at TakeOver XXX
I was hoping Lee would continue to hold and defend both belts (a la Jay Lethal in Ring of Honor in 2015, Seth Rollins that same year, and Becky Lynch last year), but no such luck. What would have been wrong with him defending the North American title at the start of TakeOver XXX and then the NXT Championship in the main event? I just think it's an uneventful way for his lengthy reign to end, but I understand they may not want their newest top guy getting pinned for a secondary title. He'll look like a giant idiot if he loses the NXT title to Karrion Kross at TakeOver, so fingers crossed that isn't what happens (yet). I'm just glad Regal isn't stepping down as general manager as he seemed to hint at on Twitter before the show. By the way, what the hell is with WWE/NXT's obsession with Ladder matches this past year?
Dexter Lumis def. Killian Dain
Although this was an odd clash of styles on paper, it turned into a quality contest. It was well wrestled, but I think my biggest issue with it was that neither guys are in the midst of anything important right now. Lumis is at least riding a wave of momentum going into next week's NXT North American Championship Ladder match qualifier, whereas Dain has been a gatekeeper of sorts for the undercard all year long. He's a talented big man, but he needs a better, more defined role on the show.
Breezango def. Ever-Rise
Breezango paying tribute to The Mountie with their outfits this week was funny, but I'm ready for them to start showing their serious side again. We saw it when they challenged Imperium for the NXT Tag Team Championship last month, but they've been comedy characters since then. This was a nice little showcase for them, but after coming up short of becoming champions, they feel directionless at the moment.
Shotzi Blackheart def. Aliyah
Blackheart fell short against Indi Hartwell last week, so it made sense for her to avenge that loss here as she should have. Aliyah never does anything for me and this was a pretty ho-hum match, but it served its purpose in giving Blackheart a rebound win and apparently introducing Mercedes Martinez as Robert Stone's newest client. I'd rather see Hartwell join his ranks than Martinez, who I believe would be better off on her own as a badass loner.
Bronson Reed def. Roderick Strong and Johnny Gargano in a Triple Threat Match to Advance to the NXT North American Championship Ladder Match at TakeOver XXX
These Triple Threats heading into TakeOver are sure to be stellar and this was an awesome way of kicking it off. I expected nothing else from Gargano and Strong, but I'd argue this was a breakout performance from Reed. He's had glimmers of greatness so far in NXT, but this was easily his biggest opportunity to date and he shined. Not only that, he also emerged victorious by pinning Strong. That leads me to believe Gargano will weasel his way into the matchup at TakeOver somehow. This was excellent.
Timothy Thatcher def. Oney Lorcan
These guys proved the last time they faced off that their chemistry together is top-notch and this once again proved that. They put on a wrestling clinic and incorporated some hard-hitting offense. Thatcher is killing it with his current character, so I'm glad they didn't do 50/50 booking and have Lorcan win. That said, I wouldn't opposed to one more match between them, preferably inside the Fight Pit where they could go all out.
Karrion Kross def. Dominik Dijakovic
Dijakovic and Kross are capable of having an exciting affair given their respective styles, and where there was some enjoyable action here, this was more about the storytelling. Kross systematically beat down Dijakovic to the point where the referee had no choice but to call for the bell and award the win to Kross. Lee watching from ringside made for a cool visual, too. This was a wonderful main event that successfully made Kross look like a killer (no pun intended) and set up him to be the next contender to the NXT Championship at TakeOver.
The first three matches on this show were nothing special and I was worried that NXT would go back to phoning it in after an outstanding past month of television. Thankfully, they kicked it back up a notch with the second hour and three terrific matchups. We also got an announcement on the next TakeOver special, the status of the NXT North American Championship, a match for next week, and Martinez aligning with Stone. On the whole, it's an episode of NXT that's worth checking out and left me looking forward to what the rest of the buildup to TakeOver XXX will have in store.