NXT Takeover Brooklyn II
No Way Jose vs Austin Aries
NWJ is over as fuck, but lol at the audience not being able to get in sync with the chant from the music. Jose gets a conga line all the way around the ring. Then Aries comes out and I want to die. Fuck that little shit. I'm irrationally bothered that they shook hands left handed because Jose apparently can't throw a slap with his left. Jose has some good ass punches, though. That's good, since that's most of his offense. Aries hangs Jose out throat first on the ropes, and focuses on the neck from that point on. Fans lose their shit for...Ric Flair, who came out to sit in the front row. Structurally, this is fine, with Austin working the neck to set up the Last Chancery, and keeping Jose on the mat. However, I hate Austin Aries, and he's too god damn small to be controlling this match the way he is. He's too small to control matches like this against anyone, let alone a pretty big dude like Jose. Jose has very good babyface fire, a good look, and some good power moves. Hopefully he'll be able to pivot to a more serious character after some more seasoning, as I think he has some potential. Aries wins clean with the Last Chancery, then continues the hold after the match. This brings out the returning Hideo Itami, who hits the GTS for the first official time in a WWE ring. It's a real shame that it had ZERO impact, but the crowd lost their shit for it, so whatever. Really pointed out how small Itami is, too.
TO THE BACK. Joe and Nakamura prepare for their matches. Funaki and Kota Ibushi are with Nakamura.
Billie Kay vs Ember Moon
Ember Moon is the former Athena, making her long awaited NXT TV debut. She looks cool as shit like a Mortal Kombat character or something. "One thing you can't do in NXT is rest on your laurels." I guess Cory missed Balor's entire NXT run. Ember is extremely athletic. Billie gets some offense, but this is a showcase for Ember, who wins fairly quickly with a top rope diving stunner. This was essentially the female version of Apollo Crews' debut at last year's event: Highly touted, highly athletic indie/international star that took forever to finally debut on TV in front of the most receptive audience of the year. Hopefully her run in NXT works out better than his did. The match with Asuka is going to be dope.
EARLIER TODAY. Bobby Roode arrived to the arena and shit on Brooklyn.
Bobby Roode vs Andre Almas
Bobby Roode's official WWE debut. His music truly is GLORIOUS, but it doesn't work for a serious heel. Think Christian's theme in 2001. Perfect for him in that role, but not as a top heel or act. And Booby Roode is too good, polished, and established to not be a top heel in NXT. Bobby's entrance includes Bad News Barrett's scissor lift being re-purposed, and Bobby coming down from the heavens. Bobby is over like a god here. To the point where La Sombra gets booed during his entrance. Which, obviously that was going to happen. Dude has been a total bust at this point in his NXT run, then he comes out dressed like a stripper after such a huge entrance and theme song that has already become a meme. Bobby is really reveling in the giant and extremely adoring crowd. After years of TNA, I'm sure it is very gratifying for him. I'm not very impressed with Sombra's lucha things. It's like his legs are too long for ranas and head scissors or something. They look weird. At least he's tightened up his elbows from the last Takeover. These guys don't have much chemistry, but Almas hasn't seemed to have much chemistry with anyone in NXT. I don't understand bringing in lucha guys who don't know how to work American style to work with Americans who don't know how to work lucha style. Rey didn't start out working with traditional US style guys in WCW. Imagine if they just brought him in with no go between to get him adjusted to the different style and audience. He would have had the same career in America as Damian 666. Almas hits his double knee finisher, which doesn't seem to be his finisher anymore, and never even gets to attempt a pin. He shortly after loses clean to Roode's new finisher...a pumphandle slam. You know, I've seen Bobby Roode for like 12 years and have no idea what his finisher has ever been. Pretty sure it wasn't that, though. Roode looked great, Almas continues to be underwhelming.
EARLIER TODAY. HHH had Orange County Choppers make the Cruiserweight Classic trophy. It's just...a black trophy with a silver globe.
TO THE BACK. Tomasso Ciampa presents Johnny Gargano with a t shirt he had made for them. I hope they don't run with "DIY" as the actual name of their team.
The Revival vs Johnny Gargano/Tomasso Ciampa NXT Tag Team Championships
Gargano and Ciampa have been in NXT for about a year now, while still working full indie schedules. This is their true coming out party in NXT, as both officially signed full WWE contracts and have joined NXT full time. A few weeks before this, they had a great match against each other in the Cruiserweight Classic, which Gargano won. It didn't seem to hurt the team, and in fact seemed to make them closer as a team. I'm still amazed at how unimpressive Ciampa was in both ROH and PWG, yet how much I've enjoyed his work under the WWE banner. Revival's whole thing is shitting on indie favs and having an anti-smark gimmick (despite being smark favorites themselves), and the indie history of Ciampa/Gargano is a big part of this match and feud. Gargano works the arm of Dash, as both members of the team use an arm submission. Revival use every heel 80s Southern tag trick you can think of, but also have some shout outs to Demolition along the way. Yes, they are derivative in pretty much all aspects, but they do it so well that it is impossible to hate. Ciampa plays the FIP, which is interesting because Gargano is definitely more suited for the role. Revival have increasingly inventive ways of cutting off the hot tag. Gargano finally gets the hot tag. He's very over in Brooklyn. In sticking with 80s tag formula, Gargano is basically dead about 2 minutes later. Ciampa nearly wins with two separate roll ups that had the crowd going INSANE. I love false finishes that aren't just cheap finisher kick outs. The indie brehs hit their finisher on Dash and get the 3 count, but the ref saw Dash's foot on the rope after the pin. Ciampa gets posted, Gargano gets hit with the move Revival broke Cass' leg with, and Gargano is forced to tap to an inverted figure four. Titles retained. Great match. Gargamel and Ciampa get a standing ovation after the match. If they weren't stars with the NXT/WWE audience already, they definitely are now.
Asuka vs Bayley NXT Women's Championship
It was one year ago, in this building, at this event, that Bayley had a classic title match with Sasha Banks and became champion. Sasha, Becky Lynch, and Charlotte are at ringside to in support. Asuka has a cool ass entrance. And music. And everything. Asuka is just so far ahead of Bayley. Asuka is extra weird and cocky tonight. Everyone brings it up a few notches when they aren't wrestling in front of 400 fans in Florida. I hope they never go back to Full Sail for Takeovers. The one sandwiched between this and the Dallas show looks so low rent and unimpressive. Asuka hits a huge knee very early on. Then laughs about it. I would say Asuka is working heel, but she's really working like a joshi trainer on ecstasy. Actually, this is kind of like Vader/Sting, where the crowd supports the heel as much as the face, and the heel is only heel because she's not the super face. It's Vader beating the shit out of plucky babyface Sting. People support Bayley, but they also like seeing Asuka beat the shit out of her, and the finish is really never in doubt. It's more how long is Bayley going to last as opposed to how will she win. She gets her hope spots, but come on. Asuka does a ROLLING CHICKENWING. Like...a rolling cross armbreaker...but into the chicken wing. Fucking dope. Fucking loooooool at Bayley doing a fighting spirit no sell, slapping Asuka, and promptly getting knocked the fuck out. Asuka wins with a second KO kick. Title retained. Very good. Probably better than the first match. This was obviously Bayley's swan song, and she had no chance of winning in kayfabe or logical booking, but she did what she could. The Bayley character showed a ton of maturity both in personality and wrestling style. Bayley hugs the other Horsewomen (and a crying Izzy) and gets her going away party from NXT. Asuka was actually more emotional than Bayley.
TO THE BACK. Samoa Joe and Shinsuke Nakamura make their final preperations. LOOOOOOOOL at Joe shoving one of the security guards who started walking ahead of him.
Samoa Joe vs Shinsuke Nakamura NXT Championship
The hype video would lead you to believe that this is a blood feud, but it really isn't. It's Joe being pissed Nak got a title shot so much sooner than he did, and Nak walking around like "lol" for a month. The actual build is more about Joe vs Regal than anything. Shinsuke gets his theme played live by a violinist. And it is hype as fuck. Breh just shredding on the violin as Nak coke dances to the ring. Then Joe comes out and walks to the ring with that big dick swag instead of theatrics. A year ago, Joe was facing Baron Corbin, and Nakamura was in the G1 finals against Okada. Now they're headlining NXT's biggest event ever. Joe gets Nak to lose his temper almost immediately by slapping him. They then go into UWF style grappling as Nak calms down. The opening minutes are a feeling out process, with both being established as equals in striking and mat work. I think this crowd was expecting them to come out and just start throwing bombs, but the strikes are measured instead of just getting into Shibata/Ishii "let's hit each other just to hit each other" shit. Nakamura misses his apron knee drop, which you would think would give us the base of the match, but said base is really Joe trying to stretch hespect into Nakamura. Shout out to Joe's shout out to Kawada. Don't worry, though, they do beat the shit out of each other. It's just they had other stuff in the match, which has the crowd seeming kind of bored. Jesus Christ, LARIATOOOOOOOO. Just fucking walloped him with the crook of his elbow right in the jaw. When they hit, they hit HARD. So hard that Joe appears to break his fucking jaw. That or he's an incredible selling, but now that I think about it, I don't think I've seen anyone really sell a broken jaw before, so who knows. The X got thrown up, but you can't trust that shit after 15 years of them using the X for angles. Nakamura hits the Kinsasha combo. New champion! Great match. Crowd seemed kind of bored unless they were hitting each other super hard, but this was the closest you'll ever get to a Hashimoto dome show match in a WWE ring.
Pretty great wrassle show. The title matches were all very good to great, Bayley's going away stuff was great, Bobby Roode was glorious, No Way Jose showed a ton of potential, Ember Moon looked dope, and hopefully Itami will get some of his swag back now that he has all of his moves back. Considering Summerslam has shit like Dean Ambrose vs Dolph Ziggler and Finn Balor vs Seth Rollins, this is going to be a hard show to top for the weekend.