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WWE NXT TakeOver XXX live results: Title matches, Cole-McAfee

WWE presents its 30th TakeOver special as NXT TakeOver XXX takes place tonight.

The show will feature three title matches, the in-ring debut of former All-Pro punter Pat McAfee, and more.

NXT Champion Keith Lee will put his title on the line against Karrion Kross. It will be the first time Lee has appeared since the angle where he was hit in the face with a fireball two weeks ago. For Kross, this will be his second TakeOver match. He defeated Tommaso Ciampa at TakeOver: In Your House this June.

Io Shirai won the NXT Women's Championship at TakeOver: In Your House and will defend against Dakota Kai tonight. Due to interference by the Robert Stone Brand's Mercedes Martinez, Kai defeated Rhea Ripley two weeks ago to become the number one contender to Shirai's title. Raquel Gonzalez then made her return last week and laid out Shirai.

A new North American Champion will be crowned as Bronson Reed, Damian Priest, Cameron Grimes, Johnny Gargano, and Velveteen Dream face off in a ladder match. The North American Championship was vacated by Lee after he defeated Adam Cole in their winner-take-all title vs. title match at Great American Bash night two last month.

McAfee will debut against Cole and Finn Balor will take on Timothy Thatcher. There will also be a pre-show number one contender's triple threat tag match with Legado del Fantasma's Raul Mendoza & Joaquin Wilde facing Breezango and Oney Lorcan & Danny Burch.

The pre-show begins at 6:30 p.m. Eastern time. The main card will then start at 7 p.m. Eastern.

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NXT TakeOver XXX pre-show

Triple threat number one contender's tag match: Breezango defeated Oney Lorcan & Danny Burch and Legado del Fantasma (Raul Mendoza & Joaquin Wilde)

This was all action once the bell sounded. Fandango power bombed Wilde to the floor onto all the wrestlers early on. He and Oney Lorcan got into it back in the ring. Mendoza did a wild-looking springboard tornillo to the floor moments later. 

WIlde landed a 450 splash for a close two-count on Tyler Breeze but both teams broke up the count. He took out Lorcan with a superkick next for the sudden win. They’ve now earned a shot at Imperium for the NXT tag titles.

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Finn Balor defeated Timothy Thatcher

Balor stormed at Thatcher just as the bell rang. The two traded strikes and traded holds in the center of the mat. Thatcher laid in some stiff forearms, then took Balor down with a single-leg and started working over Balor's left foot and ankle. Thatcher would sometimes cover Balor's nose or face while he held him in submission holds; this is a real catch technique used to cause discomfort and cause the opponent to give up his position. This technique is widely considered "dirty" in modern grappling.

Thatcher transitioned to a double-wrist lock submisson before again moving to a front chancery. Balor was able to slip away from Thatcher and put him down with a basement dropkick. Once Balor landed a Pelé kick, both sold their exhaustion for a minute.

Balor planted Thatcher with a reverse U-crusher for two. He then missed Coup de Grace off the top rope and sold his injured knee, the same one Thatcher worked over for much of this match. Thatcher noticed and locked on a single-leg crab before Balor grabbed the bottom rope. Thatcher followed up with an Inoki-style gamengiri kick and a German suplex. Balor rallied back and cinched in a stepover facelock, but Thatcher reversed it into an ankle lock. Balor rolled out of the hold and landed a standing double-stomp, then finally landed Coup de Grace followed by 1916 for the clean win. This was Balor's twelfth win in NXT. Great match.

Damian Priest beat Bronson Reed, Damian Priest, Cameron Grimes, Johnny Gargano and Velveteen Dream Ladder to win the vacant NXT North American Championship 

This was a car crash match with all action and crazy spots. Priest attacked Dream at bell. Bronson Reed wore Bam Bam Bigelow-inspired ring gear with flames.

Cameron Grimes did the Jean Claude Van Damme split across two ladders at one point before falling to the mat. 

Priest later did a springboard kick that tripped Dream off ladder, which was pretty creative. Grimes did Spanish fly to Gargano on the floor.  Big Bronson Reed did tope suicida.

Candace LeRae interfered late in the match on behalf of her husband, Gargano. She grabbed Grimes off a ladder, then beat on him a bit before Gargano took him out with a ladder. LeRae then grabbed Gargao’s hand and then climbed to the top rop and frankensteiner’d Grimes onto the floor. 

When LeRae interfered again, Bronson splashed Gargano with LeRae on his back. Very GIF-able moment.

Grimes later got his hand on the belt but Dream knocked him off the ladder. Dream did his pose on the ladder, grazed the belt, realized the belt was right above him, then tried to grab it. Priest knocked Dream off, then chokeslammed Reed off the ladder. Gargano and Grimes did a modified version of the 1999 Jerry Lynn vs RVD sunset flip power bomb spot, but here they did it onto a ladder from atop another ladder. Looked brutal. 

Reed knocked Dream off a ladder and he flew into the crowd and went through two tables. It looked cool but it was so obviously a planned spot. He disappeared from the match after this.

As Gargano went to grab the North American title, Damian Priest reappeared and took Gargano out and grabbed the belt for himself, winning the match. 

Adam Cole defeated Pat McAfee

McAfee cut a good promo before the match. His football player buds accompanied him to the ring.

Cole locked on a side headlock early on. McAfee did a good job as a hee herel. He didn't look like a natural in the ring, but he definitely wasn't bad, either.

McAfee rolled to the floor and said he was a better human than Cole. Him and the football dudes taunted Cole. Undisputed Era showed up and the eight or nine guys jaw-jacked at each other while McAfee ran to the top rope and did a flip dive onto everyone.

Cole sold like Ricky Morton for McAfee as the NFL player worked Cole over mid-ring for a few minutes. It's weird when commentary mentions that Cole's been wrestling for 18 years, and then gets leveled up by a football player in his first match.

McAfee did a perfect-looking backflip off the top rope, landed on his feet, then ran up the ropes and superplex'd Cole.

McAfee went to kick a prone Cole in the head, but Cole moved and McAfee, the NFL punter, kicked the steel steps instead. Cole went after McAfee's leg next and locked on a figure-four until McAfee grabbed the ropes for a break. McAfee then used a kick low blow behind the ref's back, which allowed him to "punt" Cole in the head; Cole sold it brilliantly. Very close two-count on this one.

McAfee dove off the top rope but Cole caught him flush with a superkick, then landed the Panama Sunrise for the win.

Io Shirai deafeted Dakota Kai (w/ Reina Gonzalez) to retain the NXT Women's title

Shirai tackled Kai at the bell and started pummeling her. She tried a handspring elbow early on but looked to slip and land on her head, a slight botch, but she no-sold it and kept moving. 

Gonzalez distracted Shirai early and allowed Kai to gain some leverage. She locked in an armbar as Shirai was entangled in the ropes on the apron. 

Shirai came back with a hard jumping palm strike. After some mean-looking stomps, Kai, came back and went for her running yakuza kick in the corner, but Shirai slipped away. Kai countered with a school boy pin that planted Shirai into the bottom turnbuckle.

Kai accidentally took the referee out with her running yakuza kick in the corner, knocking him out. Shirai capitalized and threw Kai over with a German suplex, then stuck a picture-perfect moonsault, but no referee. Reina Gonzalez came into the ring and took Shirai out and draped her over Shirai, then woke the ref up, but again, another close call. 

Shirai used a beautiful triangle moonsault to the floor to take both Kai and Gonzalez, then used another moonsault inside the ring to put Kai away clean and retain the NXT women’s title.

Gonzalez flattened Shirai after the bell, but before she do much damage, Rhea Ripley ran to the ring. Her and Gonzalez had a staredown, which probably would have gotten a good reaction with a live crowd. Rpley hung around on the entrance ramp and stared daggers at Shirai while the champ celebrated inside the ring.

NXT Championship match: Keith Lee (c) vs. Karrion Kross (w/ Scarlett Bourdeaux)

This match also started without a tieup; Lee bulldozed Kross with a sudden shoulderblock out of the corner. This had a great feel to it. Kross and Lee complement each other surprisingly well, but once you see them in the ring together it makes total sense. Kross' offense looks authentic and painful, even with the massive Lee. He worked over Lee's arm and wrist with a variety of joint locks. Kross looks natural when he transitions from hold to hold, which made his work feel more realistic.

Lee tried mounting a comeback, but Kross rolled him back into a cross armlock. Lee held him off and was able to cradle Kross into a school boy pin for two. Kross didn't let go of the armlock, so Lee deadlifted Kross, then power bombed him.

Lee made a comeback and floored Kross with a forearm. Lee's punches looked really ginger in this compared with Kross.

Kross landed a high roundhouse kick and DDT for two. Lee fought back and used a vertical suplex on Kross for a two-count of his own.

Towards the end, of the match, they traded big lariats, with Lee and Kross both going down for a few moments before final throes. Kross spiked Lee with a backdrop driver suplex and Lee went up in the air like he was 190 lbs. 

Kross locked in the Kross Jacket submission next but Lee survived, and again made it to the ropes.

Lee used the Spirit Bomb for two, but Kross was finally able to put Lee away with an avalanche backdrop suplex from the second rope for the clean win.

Karrion Kross is your new NXT Champion. Scarlett Bourdeux jumped in the ring and celebrated the win with Kross. They posed with the belt before TakeOver XXX faded to black.

Final thoughts:
Balor vs. Thatcher and the main event were the show's highlights, though all of tonight's bouts were better than average. Like in June, this edition of TakeOver would have been so much better in front of a live audience.