WWE NXT TakeOver: 30 results, recap, grades -- New champions crowned, Pat McAfee surprises at TakeOver XXX

NXT TakeOver events have become some of the most anticipated pay-per-view equivalent shows on the wrestling calendar. NXT TakeOver: XXX lived up to the lofty expectations of the past events, delivering a night full of incredible in-ring action with two major title changes on the show and a surprise in-ring debut from former NFL Pro Bowl punter Pat McAfee.

Keith Lee put the NXT championship on the line in the main event, facing off with Karrion Kross, who had carved a path of destruction since debuting on NXT. Io Shirai defended her women's championship in a fantastic match with Dakota Kai, the vacated North American championship was contested in a ladder match, and Adam Cole put on a show with McAfee in what was perhaps the surprising match of the night -- in a positive way. McAfee shocked with incredible acts of athleticism and showed off some legitimate wrestling chops while ultimately coming up short against the former NXT champion.

Check out everything that happened at NXT TakeOver: XXX on Saturday night in Orlando, Florida, and keep on reading for a full set of highlights from the show.

NXT TakeOver: XXX results, grades

Tag Team No. 1 Contendership -- Legado del Fantasma vs. Breezango vs. Oney Lorcan & Danny Burch (Kickoff Show) A couple high-risk maneuvers to the outside highlighted the early action, including an incredible ladder-climb spinning dive to the outside by Raul Mendoza. Breezango connected with a flying leg drop on Mendoza that nearly resulted in a pinfall, but Legado del Fantasma answered with an awesome standing Spanish fly followed by a 450 splash for a near fall of their own. After Lorcan drilled Joaquin Wilde with a running uppercut, Tyler Breeze caught him with a Supermodel Kick for the 1-2-3. Though the winner was expected, the action was fast-paced and exciting. This was as solid as a kickoff show match as you can get. Breezango pin Lorcah & Burch to become No. 1 contenders -- Grade: B

Finn Balor vs. Timothy Thatcher: The match opened up with some strong mat wrestling, Balor choosing to play into Thatcher's strength. Balor tried to take over using some stomps but again tried to engage in a hold-for-hold battle, allowing Thatcher to begin torquing his knee. Every attempt by Balor to make a comeback was cut off by Thatcher countering into extended submission holds, locking in kimuras, wrist locks, chin locks and generally just locking up any available body part of Balor. Balor missed the Coup De Grace, collapsing after the early work on his leg after he landed on the canvas. Thatcher tried to capitalize on the opportunity, but Balor fought through a series of submission attempts before eventually finally hitting the Coup De Grace followed by 1916 to score the win. Thatcher's style isn't for everyone, but if you like mat wrestling, he's a joy every time out. There are some nitpicky issues with the match, mostly around how often Balor was not selling the leg, but overall just a really solid open to the pay-per-view. Balor def. Thatcher via pinfall -- Grade: B+

North American Championship -- Bronson Reed vs. Cameron Grimes vs. Damien Priest vs. Johnny Gargano vs. Velveteen Dream: As expected, there were plenty of innovative and dangerous spots throughout the match. One comedy bit saw Grimes attempting to climb two ladders simultaneously, only to have them pulled in different directions, leaving him doing the splits high above the canvas. The smaller competitors realized the need to team up to take out Reed and Priest, using ladders and teamwork to try and take out the biggest threats. Priest had a huge moment, running up a ladder draped over the ropes to hit a big flipping dive to the outside. As Grimes was about to climb the ladder with no resistance, Candice LeRae entered the ring and stopped him. Gargano then helped her run the top rope before she sent Grimes onto the other competitors with a huricanrana. LeRae again interfered as Reed was about to grab the belt. After LaRae climbed on to Reed's back on top of the ladder, Reed jumped and hit Gargano with a splash as she clung to his back. There were some slightly missed moves down the stretch, mostly focused on big moves onto suspended ladders, but the action picked up in a huge way from an oddly paced opening stretch down the rest of the match. Dream was thrown from the tallest ladder in the match through a table at ringside in a huge move. In the end, Gargano released the belt but Priest pinned the strap to the hook and knocked Gargano from the ladder, scoring the win for Priest. Again, the beginning of the match had some awkward pacing, but everyone really stepped on the gas down the stretch for a memorable bout that let everyone involved shine. Priest wins the vacant title -- Grade: A-

Adam Cole vs. Pat McAfee: McAfee engaged in a few collar and elbow tie-ups and showed off a bit of flash with an up-and-over in the corner. While McAfee didn't really want to fully engage, he did hit a big shoulder tackle early to send a message. McAfee's boys and all of Undisputed Era were arguing on the outside when McAfee hit a huge senton from the top rope to the outside, taking out everyone. McAfee took the match over for a while after the dive, stomping and bodyslamming Cole. McAfee also hit a nice dropkick, showing off some surprising in-ring chops. Cole came back after brawling and pulling McAfee's shirt over his head, hockey fight style. McAfee was shoved off the top rope, did a perfect backflip, landing on his feet and then leaped to the top rope and hit a superplex in a truly stunning sequence. McAfee accidentally punted the ring steps when Cole moved his head, opening up an opportunity for Cole to lock in a FIgure Four Leg Lock for an extended period. As Cole attacked McAfee in the corner, McAfee landed a kick to the groin out of the referee's sign and used it to set up his big punt kick, only for Cole to kick out at 2.8. Cole won shortly after, deciding against using the Last Shot and instead utilizing the Panama Sunrise for the three count. There's no way around it, McAfee's performance was stunning and exceeded any reasonable expectations. As a straight-up match, this was solid enough, but considering McAfee's experience level, it was a home run. Cole def. McAfee via pinfall -- Grade: A

Women's Championship -- Io Shirai (c) vs. Dakota Kai via pinfall: Kai came out aggressive, looking to work over Shirai's arm, using the ring ropes to really torque the champion's limb. Shirai was kept on the defensive throughout much of the match, every attempt to build momentum getting cut off before Kai went right back to the arm. Shirai eventually fought back hitting some big double stomps to Kai's chest. Shirai ate several kicks and fired up through them only to be hit with a scorpion kick. From there, the match went into a long stretch of back-and-forth action, both women taking and dishing out a lot of damage. Kai delivered a big boot into the corner that missed Shirai but hit the referee. She hit a moonsault that may have ended the match, but the referee was down. That allowed Raquel Gonzalez to hit the ring and hit a big chokeslam and revive the referee, but Shirai kicked out at 2.9. Shirai then hit a huge moonsault from the top rope to the outside before bringing Kai back to the ring to hit Kai with another moonsault for the win. After the match, Gonzalez tried to attack Shirai, but Rhea Ripley ran to the ring and stared her down until Kia pulled Gonzalez from the ring. This was another really well-structured match to add some drama to a match where the winner was never actually in doubt. Shirai def. Kai via pinfall to retain the title -- Grade: B+

NXT Championship -- Keith Lee (c) vs. Karrion Kross: The two men charged at each other to start the match as Lee dropped Cross with a shoulder block, stunning Kross in the process. Lee ran into the ring post after a battle outside the ring, then Kross kicked the guardrail into Lee's arm to take over after Lee had been dominating the early part of the match. Kross kept the focus on the arm, locking it in submissions and ramming Lee shoulder first into the corner several times. As Kross continued to dominate, Lee kept showing his heart, kicking out over and over while trying to fight back. Kross eventually locked in the Kross Jacket, pulling Lee to the canvas. Lee was almost out in the hold before finally managing to get to the ropes to break the hold. Lee came back with a big two-handed chop and the Spirit Bomb for a surprising two count. Kross cut off Lee as Lee was heading to the top rope, hitting his Doomsday Saito that Lee kicked out of earlier from the second rope to score the three count and win the championship. There was no real way for this match to live up to everything that came before, but as battle of big men, it did its job quite nicely. Kross makes an interesting top guy for NXT and this frees up Lee for what should be a trip to the main roster. Kross def. Lee via pinfall to win the title -- Grade: B

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NXT Championship -- Karrion Kross def. Keith Lee (c) via pinfall to win the title: The two men charged at each other to start the match as Lee dropped Cross with a shoulder block, stunning Kross in the process. Lee ran into the ring post after a battle outside the ring, then Kross kicked the guardrail into Lee's arm to take over after Lee had been dominating the early part of the match. Kross kept the focus on the arm, locking it in submissions and ramming Lee shoulder first into the corner several times. As Kross continued to dominate, Lee kept showing his heart, kicking out over and over while trying to fight back. Kross eventually locked in the Kross Jacket, pulling Lee to the canvas. Lee was almost out in the hold before finally managing to get to the ropes to break the hold. Lee came back with a big two-handed chop and the Spirit Bomb for a surprising two count. Kross cut off Lee as Lee was heading to the top rope, hitting his Doomsday Saito that Lee kicked out of earlier from the second rope to score the three count and win the championship. There was no real way for this match to live up to everything that came before, but as battle of big men, it did its job quite nicely. Kross makes an interesting top guy for NXT and this frees up Lee for what should be a trip to the main roster. Grade: B

One match left: the NXT championship match between champ Keith Lee and challenger Karrion Kross.

@WWENXT via Twitter
August 23, 2020, 12:53 AM
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