NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn II – August 21st 2016
Barclay’s Centre: Brooklyn, NY.
You all know the deal by now, NXT TakeOver was in fact a million times better than the WWE PPV that proceeded it 24 hours later. It’s not even that much of a talking point anymore that the developmental territory is constantly out-performing WWE when it comes to putting on big showcase events. The fact that we all expect TakeOvers to blow away WWE PPVs is quite the damning indictment of the way things are run up on the main roster. But that’s old news.
The second annual TakeOver in Brooklyn felt like there was a concerted effort to make the show feel like NXT’s biggest event of the year – their WrestleMania if you will. We got the grandiose entrances which helped massively in creating the big show aesthetic and also the booking played a part in making things seem special. As with WrestleMania there were a few moments of finality, with feuds being blown-off in a decisive manner, however, like Mania again, they kept other programs open and also managed to make people excited about the future direction without actually doing all that much.
Main Event saw Shinsuke Nakamura defeat Samoa Joe for the NXT Championship in a well-worked match. It would be impossible for these men to have a bad match, but I think myself and many others were expecting an all-out classic and it didn’t quite reach that level. With Joe losing the title logic would suggest that he will soon be called up to the main roster; about time too. Since the day he walked into NXT it was pretty cleat that Nakamura would end up beating Joe for the title, however unlike on the main roster when fans figure out the direction HHH didn’t change the plan just to prove a point. On a similar note, Bobby Roode is blatantly being positioned as a major challenger and potential successor to Nakamura but I doubt Uncle Paul will throw us a swerve just because we’ve figured out his plan.
Bayley said her goodbye to developmental after an absurdly long four-year run in the territory and put over Asuka clean on her way out. Besides Brock Lesnar, Asuka maybe the most strongly booked person in the entire WWE and it is a beautiful thing to see a champion look so dominant. Just like with Roode being set up for Nakamura, they established a strong new challenger for Asuka on this show without even shooting an angle. The debut of Ember Moon (Athena) was presented like an important deal and on her first night in she basically established herself as one of the main players in the dwindling NXT womens division.
Match of the night was the NXT Tag Title match, with the Revival retaining the straps over Johnny Gargano & Tommaso Ciampa. It was nothing more than an expertly worked tradition tag match and it was so damn great. Say what you want about Dash & Dawson being completely generic with little personality, but they could undoubtedly help the laughably weak SmackDown tag team division. Gargano & Ciampa are also main roster ready, however I wouldn’t expect to see either of the called up anytime soon unless they use Gargano as one of the Cruiserweights on RAW.
Austin Aries vs. No Way Jose. – Aries over in 10:39. This way much better than I expected and Aries carried Jose to easily the best match of his short career. Aries was also over big time with the crowd, although the fans weren’t too harsh on Jose. Aries landed a Hot Shot to start the heat; Jose made his comeback and got a near-fall with a TKO. They did a couple of near-falls and Aries hit his heat-seeker tope. Finish saw Aries counter a Superplex into a Sunset Bomb and he hooked the Last Chancery to get the win. Post-match, Aries attacked Jose again and put him back in the hold. Hideo Itami showed up to make the save and he sent Aries packing with the GTS which the crowd went insane for. Itami mouthed, “My Move!” and Corey Graves made sure to point out that Itami invented the GTS. – The stuff with Itami was great and I sincerely hope Aries can work his magic during a program with Itami to get Hideo up to a level he never really reached before his injury. (***).
Ember Moon vs. Billie Kay. – Ember Moon over in 4:32. Moon had a pretty cool entrance and look, although she was in there with Billie Kay so it was a bit of a struggle. Fans got into Ember as the match went on and they popped big for her O-Face finish, which is a diving corkscrew Stunner off the second rope. – They clearly have big plans for Ember Moon and they did a good job of planting the seed for down the road when she finally gets to Asuka. (**).
Bobby Roode vs. Andrade “Cien” Almas. – Roode over in 10:26. Roode’s entrance was epic, as he descended on a platform with the spotlight on him like he was Shawn Michaels at WrestleMania 25. Poor Almas was booed by the crowd, who loved them some Bobby Roode. Alams actually managed to prevent the crowd from completely turning on him by being so awesome, but the way they have screwed up La Sombra is damn near criminal. After the heat, Almas came back with a Springboard Dive to the outside then hit the Hector Garza dive into the ring for a near-fall. Finish saw Almas hit his running knees in the corner but Roode countered his Hammerlock DDT and hit a lame Pump-handle Slam, which they called “the Glorious Bomb,” for the win. – It’s amazing to think that after one night in NXT Roode became a bigger star than he ever was in TNA…maybe it’s not that amazing if you really think about it. Roode is surely the favourite to take the NXT title from Nakamura and if it were up to me I’d get it done as quickly as possible. Almas is great, but his gimmick is death and he may very well be doomed; HHH may want to reconsider his views on putting the guy under a hood. (** ¾).
NXT Tag Team Championship: The Revival (C) vs. Johnny Gargano & Tommaso Ciampa. – Revival retained in 19:08. Excellent professional wrestling match. It wasn’t like the Revival’s encounters with American Alpha, where Alpha would out-wrestle and throw the heels all over the place early on. The Revival established themselves as the dominant team early on, but Gargano & Ciampa rallied and started to shine after fighting from underneath. Revival got the heat on Gargano forever and constantly cut-off any attempt at the tag. Ciampa finally ran wild off the hot tag and worked the crowd into a frenzy; the faces countered the Shatter Machine and hit a double Superkick to get a three count but Wilder had his foot on the bottom rope. The actual finish came when the heels isolated Gargano and went after his knee; Dawson applied a Reverse Figure Four and Gargano, who was bleeding from the mouth, fought until he was forced to tap-out. – Everyone was great here and the Revival are the best heel team in the company by a wide margin. It seemed like they were teasing Ciampa turning on Gargano at the end, however it was very subtle. (**** ¼).
NXT Women’s Championship: Asuka (C) vs. Bayley, – Asuka retained in 14:09. Hell of a match. Story was basically that Asuka kicked Bayley’s ass and the challenger had to dig deep within herself to find the fighting spirit needed to beat the champion, which she ultimately couldn’t do. Asuka battered Bayley with strikes, including a knee to the face which they sold like a potential KO-spot. They recovered well from a botched Powerbomb and Asuka targeted the leg with some submissions. Bayley ate some more stiff kicks and she fired up one last time, which the crowd ate up, to hit the Belly-to-Bayley for a near-fall. Asuka countered a second Belly-to-Bayley into the Chicken Wing, but Bayley rolled over to get a close ear-fall. Finish saw Asuka land the roundhouse KO kick and she followed up with another kick to the head to end it. Afterwards, Bayley got the long goodbye treatment, with fans chanting “thank you Bayley” and so forth. – Really physical, psychology driven match that was different from a lot of previous TakeOver women’s matches in that it didn’t feel like a well-rehearsed choreographed exhibition. Nice goodbye for Bayley and Asuka was made to look more dominant than ever. (*** ¾).
NXT Championship: Samoa Joe () vs. Shinsuke Nakamura. – Nakamura became the new Champion in 21:12. A violinist came out and played Nakamura to the ring; it was a really cool deal. Match had a different vibe than the typical WWE main event. Joe & Nakamura had some nice grappling exchanges early then they traded some bombs before Joe landed a big tope. Joe did all of his signature spots, the Powerbomb into the Crab, into the STF, into the Crossface. I may have been the only one that noticed, but instead of hitting his chop to the back, kick to the chest and knee drop combo, Joe delivered a Muta-like elbow drop instead of the knee. Nakamura countered the Muscle Buster and landed a flying kick off the ropes for a double-down. Nakamura caught the Flying Armbar and Joe hooked the Coquina Clutch, but neither could get the hold in deep. There was an outstanding sequence where Nakamura hit a sick German then set up for the Kinshasa but Joe countered into the snap Powerslam. Joe finally hit the Muscle Buster but Nakamura kicked out and hit the Kinshasa for a near-fall of his own; Joe sold his jaw and may have legitimately been injured as the ref held up the dreaded “X” after the match. Finish saw Nakamura hit a knee to the back of the head then he landed another big Kinshasa to get the pin. – Even if this wasn’t the classic everyone was expecting it was still a great match that built towards the near-falls and peaked at the perfect time for the finish. Hopefully Joe isn’t too injured, because he needs to be on the main roster immediately. The same goes for Nakamura really, which is why I would have him drop the title to Bobby Roode as soon as possible. Unfortunately it appears that Nakamura will be staying in NXT until at least the next TakeOver show in the Autumn. (****).