Sunday, 23 August 2015

Special Event Review: WWE NXT Takeover: Brooklyn

Over thirteen weeks removed from Takeover: Unstoppable, it was time for the highest attended event in NXT history, Takeover: Brooklyn, live on the WWE Network. The over 15,000 in attendance at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York witnessed Kevin Owens chasing Finn Balor's NXT Championship in a Ladder match, as well as Jushin Thunder Liger, Samoa Joe, Sasha Banks, Apollo Crews, The Vaudevillains and more in action, but could it live up to the hype? Let's find out.






Kick-Off


The panel this time round saw Renee Young as the host, with 4 time WWE Women's Champion Lita, former NXT Tag Team Champion, Corey Graves and Byron Saxton joining as the guests. 


A video package for Samoa Joe vs. Baron Corbin piqued my interest, being very well put together and included some nice promos from each man, after I'd ripped into this match in my preview it actually had me believing the match could be interesting. Lita chatting about where Joe had come from made me chuckle as she had clearly been told not to mention TNA, because TNA. 


The same Apollo Crews promo that's been airing for the last few weeks was next, it was a shame that the panel didn't spend too much time talking about Crews' début following it.


Perhaps the pick of all the promo videos for tonight's show was the one looking at Bayley and Sasha Banks bout over Women's Championship, not only where the production values the usual high standards, but it told a relatable story with both women coming across very well. Whilst talking about the match, Graves cutting off Saxton in the middle of a sentence to disagree with his point, was a great touch and showed the passion both men had for their chosen performers. 


A link up outside to Greg Hamilton and Dasha Fuentes with some fans was the worst thing all night long, with the pair looking completely out of their depth. 


It was time to look at the main event, with another solid promo for Kevin Owens and Finn Balor's NXT Championship Ladder match, with a sound look at the build up heading in, including their bout at Live in Tokyo: Beast in the East. The panel got a little lost talking about this one, as Saxton started to talking about Mr. T for reasons that will never be fully understood.


Special Event


Triple H kicking off the show with a distinct off-mic promo to the camera was a great way to start the show, with The Game having complete control over his audience. 


Whilst it was surreal to see Jushin Thunder Liger make his way to the ring for his first ever WWE match, at the age of 50, Tyler Breeze's entrance, with a New York catwalk theme, was a simply ridiculous spectacle and set the tone for the intentions of the rest of the show.





As an opener, Tyler Breeze taking on the débuting Jushin Thunder Liger worked nicely, with the pair working well together to create a smooth encounter. Whilst the in-ring action was decent, the narrative took the match up a level, with Breeze quick to escape two Liger Bomb attempts, whilst Liger himself was busy mocking Prince Pretty's signature poses, which the crowd lapped up. Liger picking up the win was a big surprise here, just because I expected NXT to put over their regular Breeze, and I'm still not quite sure how I feel about Breeze coming out on the losing side. Having Breeze's arguing with the referee eventually lead to his downfall (and allowing Liger to finally hit a Running Liger Bomb) at least protected The King of Cuteville some what and losing to someone of Liger's calibre is hardly an insult, but it felt like this match was a missed opportunity to make Breeze.


Winner - Liger via pinfall in 8 minutes, 42 seconds.


As the replays ran, I couldn't help thinking if WWE plans to use Liger again soon, I certainly wouldn't mind seeing a rematch between he and Breeze.





Before the Tag Team Championship bout began, it was time to find out who The Vaudevillains had found to counteract Blake and Murphy's valet, Alexa Bliss. It was only Blue Pants! The crowd went nuts for the SHIMMER regular, with the other talents building well to the reveal with some nice back and forth on the microphone and a call back to previous episodes of NXT with Alexa attempting to slap Aiden English. The segment got an even bigger thumbs up from me because English and Simon Gotch were both sporting blue wrestling gear.



In the preview for this show I talked about how it was time for the tag team division in NXT to really step up to the plate, and that they certainly did here. The two teams just seemed to click from the outset, with all four men looking very comfortable working with each other and knowing seemingly knowing each others characters inside out (Something to be expecting considering they've worked 25 matches on TV and Live Event since September 2014) The match built well on a solid foundation, with two very good false finishes, that had the crowd right where they needed to be, with English coming close off a Senton and Blake almost stealing a win with a school boy roll up. English picked up the win for his team, following the Whirling Dervish, and it definitely felt like the right time for the Vaudevillains to pick up the titles and bring this chapter of their feud with Blake and Murphy to a close. 


Winners - The Vaudevillains via pinfall in 10 minutes, 14 seconds.


The Vaudevillains reaction to winning the titles, framed by an appreciative crowd, really helped to put over the titles meaning further, and with William Regal announcing a Tag Team tournament in memory of Dusty Rhodes, it certainly set the ground work to build a stronger division on. 


A SummerSlam promo, centred around the rematch between The Undertaker and Brock Lesnar, reminded us that there was some other show on this weekend. 


It was a real treat to see Apollo Crews walk out, in-front of all those people, his ad-libs to the camera were a nicely touch that sold his moment well. His match with Tye Dillinger was an extended squash, but a very entertaining one that showed off what TAFKA Uhaa Nation can do. Believe me, there is a lot more to come from Crews, the crowd already seemed into him by the time of his victory celebration, so here's to more from the former Dragon Gate star.


A video package for Samoa Joe vs. Baron Corbin piqued my interest, being very well put together and included some nice promos from each man, after I'd ripped into this match in my preview it actually had me believing the match could be interesting. Seeing Samoa Joe walk out in front of 15,000 people in New York was a far cry from the last set of TNA tapings in the city in January. 





This SO much better than I thought it was going to be and was exactly what it needed to be. The back and forth between the two, with the pair almost mirroring each others actions, made for a satisfying start to the match. Both men managing to foil one another dive attempts, and latter spending a long time in one another's submission holds, made the pair look evenly matched in the ring and allowed Corbin to shine against the more experienced former ROH World Champion. My only real criticism would be neither man selling the submission they had been in later in the match, with Joe especially seeming to forget how long he spent in Corbin's heel hook. With the Lone Wolf unable to hit End of Days despite a few attempts, Joe turned a pin attempt from Corbin into a Kokina Cluth and picked up the win when Corbin passed out, in a strong finish that won't hurt Corbin, but also gives Joe some more momentum heading towards the next Takeover event in October. The best match either man has had in NXT.



Winner - Joe via submission in 10 minutes, 28 seconds.


With the replays running, I couldn't help but think what NXT are going to do with Samoa Joe next, they're still searching for the best way to use Joe, hopefully this is them turning the corner. 


Having Stephanie McMahon do a little intro for the Women's Championship match was a nice touch that gave the match some extra weight for those who aren't regular NXT viewers. Perhaps the pick of all the promo videos for tonight's show was the one looking at Bayley and Sasha Banks bout over Women's Championship, not only where the production values the usual high standards, but it told a relatable story with both women coming across very well. Sasha Banks came to the ring in fucking Escalade and surrounding by body guards, Bayley had wacky waving inflatable arm flailing tube men and lots of them, what more do you want.




WWE fans are used to having a Diva's match before the main event, it gives them chance to go to the toilet or perhaps exchange cash for delicious food stuffs. This wasn't a Divas match, it was a wrestling match. A bloody good wrestling match. Bayley and Sasha Banks worked their arses off from start to finish to create a compelling collision, that despite lagging from tiredness kept me completely engaged from start to finish. Part of me wishes that this had gone on last, because there was everything that you'd want as a main event, great physical action, a brilliant story, dramatic near falls and a red hot crowd.

Let's talk a little about that story, which stands out as the strongest element of the bout. Sasha's frustration at being unable to put Bayley away early, lead to her removing Bayley's protective gimmick on her hand (She broke her hand earlier in the summer) and then the fun really got started. Sasha's character really shone again in this moment, with a viciousness that a lot of WWE women's performers just don't show in matches, helped along by some tremendous spots focused on the hand, included drilling the steel steps into the hand. Sasha stamping the hand with Bayley locked in the Bank Statement was another fantastic touch, that allowed Bayley to look super tough when she made it to the ropes. The match built to it's conclusion tremendously, with Bayley hitting a SUPER REVERSE RANA, before hitting the second Bayley-to-Belly of the match for the victory. 



Winner - Bayley via pinfall in 18 minutes, 22 seconds *NEW CHAMPION!*





Following the match, Charlotte and Becky Lynch arrived to congratulate Bayley on her victory, making for a great moment, that fit in with the storyline leading in of Bayley feeling like she being left behind (as well as being able to defeat Charlotte, Becky and Sasha in consecutive matches). Even Sasha joined in the celebration (after some thought), which was an interesting development considering her issues with Charlotte and Becky in WWE at the moment. I have to admit to feeling a little bit emotional watching the four standing in the ring, having watched what they have helped to build over the last year or so, so I'll forget that it didn't make a lot of sense in kayfabe, because fuck kayfabe.


NXT is coming to the UK, hell to the yeah...if you're asking, I'm going.


It was time to look at the main event, with another solid promo for Kevin Owens and Finn Balor's NXT Championship Ladder match, with a sound look at the build up heading in, including their bout at Live in Tokyo: Beast in the East. Seeing Finn Balor's entrance on a big scale was pretty damn special, with added Demon's knocking around the entrance ramp, Balor looked like a star as he made his way to the ring.





A completely different match to Sasha vs. Bayley, Finn Balor and Kevin Owens' Ladder match over the NXT Championship was much more spot-focused, than it was a story-telling epic. Luckily the spots that were used were top quality, with Owens missing a cannonball and colliding with a ladder in the corner, Owens falling off the ladder onto another bridging from the corner, Balor taking a vicious powerbomb on the apron and a lot more. This style of match worked here, thanks to the intensity that the two performers bought to the match, with Owens especially doing some strong character work throughout. It was a real shame that the crowd just didn't want to get on Owens back, even with the former NXT Champion pulling out the old tease a cool move, then do an eye poke spot, as this could have added an extra element to the overall package.


The small amount of storytelling that was there was done well, with Owens seemingly losing his cool when unable to get the belt, delivering two big superkicks to Balor, before attempting a Fisherman's buster off the top of the ladder, of course, this didn't end well for Owens (see above). Having seen two other ladder matches this weekend already (Fight Club: Pro and Futureshock Wrestling reviews coming soon), I was probably one of the hardest to please fans watching this bout! But when Balor reached and grabbed the belt, following a silly Coup de Grâce off the top of the ladder, I'd been thoroughly entertained once more. Both men worked hard for each other and the fans and I'll always appreciate that.


Winner - Balor in 21 minutes, 26 seconds. *STILL CHAMPION!*


Balor's win completed a clean sweep for the babyfaces on the show, so it'll be rather interesting to see who steps up to challenge him next, with Kevin Owens seemingly rapping up in NXT.


Finally....


ATPW Scale Rating - 7.33/10


Another wonderful NXT show and this time in front of a ridiculously sized crowd. Without a bad match on the show, and two outstanding main events, Takeover: Brooklyn has left SummerSlam with a huge challenge. Sasha Banks and Bayley in particular deserve all the praise that is coming their way right now, for their superb encounter, maybe it's time for Vince to take notice and really allow his female performers to shine.

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