NXT Takeover: Brooklyn 8/22/15
The show starts with HHH in the ring under a spotlight, giving a quiet speech about how the fans made NXT, and then does his best Balor impression to reveal the sold out Barclay's Center. While it is a cool moment, it's exactly what I was talking about with the fans being made part of the show. HHH fostering that type of WE DID IT TOGETHER stuff is why the Full Sail Faithful thought it was okay to boo the shit out of NXT actually selling out a building it can make money at.
Tyler Breeze vs Jushin Liger
Breeze has an amazing entrance, with models dressed as New York icons, then revealing himself wearing wearing a Mayan/Aztec inspired outfit. Breeze has consistently topped his entrances for every Takeover. Liger makes his first ever WWE appearance, and man, the LCD ramp looks so rad. WWE had hyped Liger as a true, absolute all time great, so it's nice to see him finally get to work for WWE. Liger uses Breeze's taunts against him before tying him up on the mat. The first hold is a surfboard/Romero Special combo, and then the traditional Romero Special. Crowd is very into whatever Liger is doing. Especially when he grabbed the selfie stick. Breeze counters the Liger Bomb and hits a superkick OUTTA NOWHERE. Breeze slows the pace down, controlling the legend. YES. A FULL SAIL SUCKS chant breaks out. Wonderful. To the cadence of New Day Rocks. Koppo kick! Yes! Tiltawhirl backbreaker. Breeze has pulled out a lot of new moves here, which I would say are needed for a match against Liger. Shotei! Huge cannon ball senton off the apron. It's easy to forget that Liger is a 50 year old that has been wrestling for longer than Breeze has been alive. Another Shotei. Ligerbomb for the win. A lot of fun. This was better than a lot of his WCW matches. Hoping Liger sticks around for a few more matches. He pretty much works wherever he wants anyway, I don't see why he couldn't show up for a set of NXT tapings. Or put him on Raw for a one time thing.
Wolfpac IN THE HOUSE. Supporting their bro.
TO THE BACK. Charlotte and Becky Lynch wish Bayley luck.
The Vaudvillains vs Blake and Murphy NXT Tag Team Championships
The Vaudvillains now have top hats and jackets, which make a lot more sense than wearing fucking t-shirts. After weeks of Alexa Bliss causing trouble, the Villains have secret weapon: BLUE PANTS! Blake and Gotch begin the match. A BLUE PANTS CITY chant breaks out. Gotch is looking great. You're never going to convince me that English is good, but I like Gotch. Cory Graves going on about ironic hipsters is hilariously hypocritical. I have some issue with a team having "villains" in their name now being faces. And I don't even know what they did to turn face. They were off TV for a while and then were faces when they came back. I also think it is super weird that this show was building Enzo/Cass vs B&M, only to change directions three weeks out. Anyway, English is stuck as the FIP for quite a while after a hard apron bump. This is a pretty traditional Southern tag, which is the best kind of tag. Hot tag to Gotch. Gotch has a ton of weird moves. Like a goofy rolling sunset flip arm bar thing, flying knees, rolling kicks, then power moves. After a series of near falls, Blue Pants takes care of Bliss, and the Villains hit the Whirling Dervish for the win. New champions! Definitely helped by a hot crowd, but this was pretty good considering I think the VV are lame and BM are as bland as can be.
EARLIER TODAY. Finn Balor arrived with Neville, and was greated by Cesaro.
Rick Rubin is hanging out at ringside. If he shaved, he'd look like he's still in his 30s. Dude has a baby face under all that hair.
Tye Dillinger vs Apollo Crews
Dillinger is going to get over with that gimmick. It's going to be the new YES for NXT crowds. He also has incredible music, which sounds like the Jimmy Hart Version of Cap's theme from The Winter Soldier. Apollo Crews is the former Uhaa Nation, who is making his long awaited WWE debut. He seems thrilled to be there, in awe of pretty much everything. It's only about a minute before Crews shows off his insane athleticism. He's built exactly like Bobby Lashley, except 6 inches shorter. Who can do insane flips with THE GREATEST OF EASE. On the sly, this is actually a great showcase for Dillinger. Mixed UHAA/APOLLO chants break out. Damn, what a lariato. Apollo gets the win with a standing moonsault. Good showcase for both guys. I think Crews is going to be a needed big shot in the arm for NXT TV.
TO THE BACK. GM Regal announces the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic, a full month tag team tournament that promises star studded teams and something WWE has never tried before. Dusty gets his own Crockett Cup! Wonderful.
Samoa Joe vs Baron Corbin
This whole thing is pretty much based on, "fuck you, tiny indie shit heads". Corbin has had nothing but squash matches for what seems like a year now, fans started to turn on him, so now he's going to wreck all their indie faves. Joe's new theme is a banger. It's what his original theme should have been. It's nice to see Joe fired up again, actually getting to perform in front of a big crowd. His ROH history in New York is alluded to. Despite all the talk, Corbin is doing a lot of stalling. His punches stop Joe dive, but you can't fuck with Joe's strikes. Some VINTAGE Joe submission chaining going on here. Corbin, who has jujitsu experience, finally gets to show some of it off now that he's in a match longer than 20 seconds. Corbin nearly gets the win with a Boss Man Slam. SUPERKICK. Third one of the night. They just start teeing off on each other. Not even strike battle style, just throwing whatever. The sweat flying off of Joe after an elbow made it look like his cauliflower ear exploded or something. Joe responds by knocking the shit out of Corbin with a spinning back fist. Dope exchange. Something you rarely see in WWE rings. Corbin hits a modified A-Bomb, but Joe is able to turn the pin into the rear naked choke for the win. This was good. Corbin showed a ton of potential, and Joe FINALLY showed some flashes of his pre-TNA Ninjas self. His NXT run has been a huge disappointment, so hopefully he can take some of this swagger back to Florida with him.
In the crowd is Sgt. Slaughter, Ric Flair, and joshi star KANA. What the fuck? Please tell me she has signed and will be kicking faces off in NXT soon. Oh god damn, give me Kana vs Sasha.
Stephanie McMahon comes to the ring, ever so proud of her NWA/indie mark husband. Tonight makes history, not only because there are 15,000 people for a NXT show, but because the women are the main event.
Sasha Banks vs Bayley NXT Women's Championship
Bayley has even more wacky inflatable arm flying tube men than usual. She also has polka dotted headbands and wrist tape in tribute to Dusty. Sasha gets an entrance in an Escalade, with a host of security guards. Bayley is tired of being disrespected and not taken seriously. She lets Sasha know right from the start that she's not taking that shit anymore. Bayley's ab game on fleek tonight. Sasha's brow game on fleek, as well. Bayley is able to counter Sasha's corner knees, but takes a hard fall to the floor as a result. Sasha is SUCH a cunt. It's wonderful. Her puro markdom is excellent. One thing WWE has always lacked is the surly old cunt, which is so prominent in Japan with guys over 35. Except she does it as a 23 year old. And it's amazing. I love it. She's such a bully in the ring. Bayley again counters the corner knees, so Sasha does it on the top rope. The reaction from the crowd when Bayley was placed on the ropes was amazing. It was like Kobashi teasing the Burning Hammer. The shit talking gets too much for Bayley , and she starts firing back hard. Sasha fires right back by going after the still injured hand. Fucking vicious. Sticking her hand between the steps and LCD apron, then stomping the steps. Sasha with a tope OUTTA NOWHERE. She's also getting frustrated and looked like she might have tweaked her knee doing a divorce court to the floor. I hope not. What kind of shit would it be for the best Diva to get injured right at the start of the Diva's Revolution? Bayley gets a ton of momentum, but Sasha counters the Bayley to Belly and a German suplex, turning that into another divorce court straight into the Banks Statement. And as Bayley crawls to the ropes, Sasha starts STOMPING THE SHIT OUT BAYLEY'S BROKEN HAND. God. So vicous. Bayley reverses and applies the hold to Sasha! This is great. BAYLEY TO BELLY! Banks kicks out! Bayley tries to hit the super Bayley to Belly, which she used to finally defeat Charlotte. She then tries a rana and HOLY FUCK does she land terribly. Scarey. Sasha follows it with a seated Meteora for two. REVERSE SUPER FRANKENSTERIN! BAYLEY TO BELLY! NEW CHAMPION! God damn, what a fantastic match.Charlotte and Becky come out to celebrate with her. Sasha joins, and the four of them celebrate how they've been able to completely change women's wrestling in WWE. "Women's wrestling is back."
Kevin Owens vs Finn Balor NXT Championship Ladder Match
KO is HYPED as fuck to be back in essentially is his home base, main eventing in front of 15,000 instead of 2,000. Balor has multiple demons with him tonight. I have big issues with Balor, especially under the demon gimmick. Not only has he already overused it, but he doesn't change his style at all when he wears the paint. He just doesn't translate to America, in my opinion. He's built to be in Japan. Some kind of ruckus in the crowd slows the match down for a bit. I don't know why a guy like KO wouldn't get on the mic and shit on the crowd for something like that. It'd be 100% inline with his character. The OLE chants start up, leading to KO pantomiming Sami Zayn injuring his shoulder. KO, being so athletic, jogs just to punch Balor in the mouth instead of doing the expected flippy ladder shit. Things briefly head into the crowd. After the great storytelling of the last match, the lack of story in this is jarring. This is KO basically just taking all the big bumps and Balor being a guy in Sambo make up. KO takes a brutal bump off one ladder onto another ladder bridged in the corner. You go to WWE to stop taking those kinds of bumps. Balor hits the double stomp from the top of the ladder and climbs back up to retrieve the title. Title retained. I found it weird to have the heel take all the big bumps, and had issues with Balor taking the pop-up powerbomb AND apron powerbomb and still being fine minutes later. Both have been built up as instant death, and KO seemed to sell the apron bomb more than Balor did.
Over all, definitely a very fun show. Going into this, I thought it looked like one of the weaker Takeovers, but this was really fun. Match of the night was most definitely Sasha vs Bayley, which played along a similar path as Bryan's title win at WM 30 and Sami's title win at Takeover R Evolution. For two years now, Bayley has been portrayed as a step below the other big time women of NXT. Despite her best efforts, she could never beat Charlotte/Becky/Sasha. Women she thought were her friends turned on her. She was repeatedly told she wasn't good enough, that she couldn't do it, and that she was too nice for her own good. So she finally stops being so nice and develops an edge. She then gets hurt, halting her momentum while the rest of the NXT women get called up, leaving her behind. She develops new offense and counters to submissions and is finally able to vanquish Becky and Charlotte, all leading to her big showdown with Sasha. After the performance of her life, she finally wins the big one, and although the other women got called up, her moment was on the biggest and most important show NXT has ever done. It's just great storytelling that has been a slow simmering thing, that really started to pick up steam around the time Emma came back to NXT and told Bayley to grow up. And she did. And now she's the champ. It's great. It's going to be a great moment when she hugs that girl in the front row at FSU. The match itself had wonderful storytelling and selling, with both women being familiar with each other, coming up with new moves and counters, the absolute viciousness of Sasha when going after Bayley's injured hand. It was amazing. Fantastic.
The main event was the weakest match on the card. I shouldn't be that surprised, considering the build up was pretty flimsy. It's not really the fault of the performers, because it seems like Itami's injury and KO getting called up threw a monkey wrench into a lot of NXT plans. Still, it's shocking how unimpressive Balor was. He seems like just another guy, barely above the Blake and Murphy blandness scale. I don't understand it. He just shows no passion at all in NXT. He actually seems less expressive and interesting while wearing the paint, as if he thinks just having the paint on is enough to fill in the blanks on his persona and charisma. On the big stage, his entrance looked silly. It's not like he has the gravitas or history of The Undertaker. I want to like Balor, but man, he's not giving me much to work with. KO came off significantly better in pretty much every way. For one, he looked like he was actually excited to be there. He played to the crowd, he made his spots matter, he took all the big bumps. Balor was just some dude.
This show really proves that you're only as good as your last show. NXT TV has been pretty weak and bland for months, yet they knocked it out of the park for this show. Hoping to see that momentum continue.