New on Sports Illustrated: Karrion Kross Seeks Start of First NXT Title Run at 'TakeOver XXX'

August 23, 2020 at 05:18AM

Karrion Kross meets reigning champion Keith Lee in the main event of Saturday's 'NXT TakeOver XXX.'

Karrion Kross is ready to climb a massive step in his WWE ascent.

In order to do that, Kross needs a run as NXT Champion. He meets reigning champ Keith Lee in the

main event of Saturday’s NXT TakeOver XXX, though at first glance, the timing does not appear to be working in his favor.

Kross has only been part of the NXT roster since February, and he is still building an aura and mystique around his character. Lee only won the title a month ago, defeating Adam Cole during the Great American Bash special in July. Given the time, Lee would make a tremendous long-term champion. But there are factors playing in Kross’ favor. A fan favorite chasing a heel champ leads to compelling television, which would help the weekly NXT product, and Lee has been heavily rumored to be on his way to the main roster. So could tonight be the start of the Karrion Kross era in NXT?

“I’ve heard that I haven’t put in enough time yet to be champion, and I understand why people are saying it, but respectfully, that is not the case,” said Kross. “The reality is I’ve been in wrestling for quite some time. I have been around the world attempting to find the best version of myself and bring that to WWE, which is what people will see at TakeOver.”

Kross is 35-year-old Kevin Kesar. He worked for a number of promotions before his arrival in WWE, including AAA and Impact Wrestling, but was never too closely associated with one particular company. Instead, he and business/life partner Scarlett Bordeaux have combined to create one of the more entertaining brands in all of professional wrestling.

Kross and Bordeaux are two very talented performers, and even more compelling when working together.

“She has such a natural presence,” said Kross. “The very first time I ever met her, she took over the room the moment she walked in. Attention gravitates toward her, and as a professional, she’s perfected the art of projecting that through the TV. After you see her, you’ll never forget here. She’s solidified her role and identity in NXT, and we make the perfect team together.”

Kross said his career in wrestling will never be defined by titles, but a win against Lee at TakeOver is a necessity if he plans to elevate his status in the company.

“A title run provides credibility,” said Kross. “Do I personally feel I need a belt to have a successful career? The answer to that is no. My job is to make people feel something. We’re telling a story of light vs. dark. That’s a very old story, and the magic of what we do is eliciting a new response.

“Do I want to become NXT Champion? Yes, 100 percent, and when I get it, I never want to let it go. But in terms of what I really want to accomplish, I have a greater scope and image of how I will contribute to this business.”

The right opponent is critical in wrestling. Fortunately for Kross, he is sharing the ring at TakeOver with a consummate professional in Lee.

“Keith is one of the most impressive people in the business,” said Kross. “His skillset and repertoire for someone his size is something we won’t see again for a very long time. His style is a little bit of power and a little bit of lucha, which I know very well. We are the perfect opponents for each other, and people are going to witness a match they’re not expecting at TakeOver.”

Kross has never been placed in a position where a card of this magnitude was built around him. There is certainly a heavy load on his shoulders to deliver at the seminal TakeOver XXX, especially in a title match. Yet this is exactly why he chose to work in NXT, spurning offers from other promotions. Starting with a memorable entrance, followed a hard-hitting title match, Kross looks forward to seizing full control of the long-awaited opportunity to show why he belongs atop NXT.

“This TakeOver match is going to be violent,” said Kross. “It’s going to be visceral, it’s going to be carnal, it’s going to be intense–and it’s going to make history.”

Justin Barrasso can be reached at JBarrasso@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @JustinBarrasso.

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