BACK AGAIN, AND AIN’T IT GRAND
By Sam Jones
Emanating from Brooklyn, NY
Announcers: Corey Graves, Byron Saxton
NO WAY JOSE vs. AUSTIN ARIES
EMBER MOON vs. BILLIE KAY
BOBBY ROODE vs. ANDRADE “CIEN” ALMAS
NXT TAG TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP: THE REVIVAL (C) vs. JOHNNY GARGANO & TOMASO CIAMPA
NXT WOMEN’S CHAMPIONSHIP: ASUKA (C) vs. BAYLEY
NXT CHAMPIONSHIP: SAMOA JOE (C) vs. SHINSUKE NAKAMURA
MATCH SPOILERS AHEAD- PROCEED WITH CAUTION!
The times man…they are a-changing.
It was only a few months ago that NXT had become some spectacular amalgamation of everything a wrestling fan (particularly of the insufferable smark variety) could want in a wrestling show. NXT was showcasing some of the best talents from around the world: Sami Zayn, Finn Balor, Kevin Owens, Austin Aries, Samoa Joe, the list just keeps going on and on. And not only were they showcasing the adored veterans of the independent scene, but NXT also gave us some wonderful home-brewed stars, teams like Enzo and Cass and American Alpha, or guys like Baron Corbin, or women like Alexa Bliss, Nia Jax, and Carmella, who spent time in NXT honing their craft and growing into stars before our eyes.
Oh bliss…(no pun intended)
But as we all know, nothing lasts forever: almost all those names I just threw at you have moved on, called up to the “big leagues”, leaving NXT to move forward with a new crop of talent. The question is, will NXT continue to lead the charge and amaze like it has without its hallmark talents of the past?
TakeOver: Brooklyn II answers that question with a resounding “FUCK YEAH”
From top to bottom, TakeOver: Brooklyn II continued to deliver on NXT’s incredible hot streak of live specials that simply seems incapable of being curtailed. TakeOver: Brooklyn II was a spectacular, and thanks to Bobby Roode, GLORIOUS showcase of great wrestling, exciting debuts, and crowd-pleasing moments. Almost every match delivered, with nothing falling below the “good” mark: even the relatively untested No Way Jose stepped up and delivered in his match with Aries, the two working excellently together to deliver a great opener, made only more satisfying by a post-match appearance by Hideo Itami. This match was followed by the impressive debut of Ember Moon, who not only looks like a Mortal Kombat character, but apparently wrestles like one too. Of course, Bobby Roode’s debut was every bit as glorious as it had promised to be, and him and “Cien” Almas put on a great match, with Almas even being able to win over a somewhat frosty crowd by the match’s end. Also, Bobby Roode’s entrance was GLORIOUS. Find it, watch it, and bask in it.
Of course, the show’s biggest highlights came with its trio of title matches: with all three being spectacular contests. But the real stars of the show, to take nothing away from the talents of Auska, Bayley, Joe, and Shinsuke, were the Revival and Gargano and Ciampa, who ended up putting on a simply incredible match for the Tag Team Titles. Both teams were just insane from start to finish, weaving together a match full of spectacular moments, heart-stopping false finishes and exhilarating moments of catharsis. The Revival’s antics and performance in this match have, in my book, officially made them not just the finest heel performers in NXT, but in the entirety of the WWE. Nobody gets as consistently vitriolic a reaction while still being as great in the ring as The Revival are, which in this day and age of smart-arse, know-it-all fans, is an incredible achievement. This is, of course, to take nothing away from Gargano and Ciampa, whom delivered a performance full of guts and heart, and were the perfect baby face foils to the heel champs. The Tag Title match not only stole the whole TakeOver show, but also it stole the whole damn SummerSlam weekend.
Yes, TakeOver was an amazing show, but if I were to dare to suggest where it may have fell short, it would be less in what it did wrong but rather that it was merely underwhelming in places, especially in its two marque bouts. Now, don’t get me wrong, both the Women’s and NXT Championship were great, but for whatever reason, they just fell flat for me. Maybe it was the fact that they both followed the amazing Tag Title match, or maybe they just simply didn’t live up to the hype, but by the end of both matches, I was just left feeling slightly underwhelmed. Even the feel-good win for Shinsuke Nakamura in the main event had a twinge of disappointment to it (and I was pulling hard for Nakamura) when I realized that Joe’s reign had barely gotten off the ground before it ended. Much like Sasha Banks at SummerSlam, Samoa Joe had only just reached the mountaintop after months of scratching and clawing for it only to have the belt slip from his grasp rather abruptly.
It almost goes without saying that TakeOver: Brooklyn II gets a resounding recommendation from me. A great show from top to bottom, whose biggest missteps were being just great where it could have been amazing, which barely even counts as a flaw.
So yeah, go watch TakeOver. Like, right now. Its okay, I’ll wait….