I know I haven’t reviewed WWE NXT for a while…but that’s because I’ve been lazy! But I just had to review NXT Takeover: Brooklyn II…so here is my belated review!
Austin Aries vs No Way Jose
I have seen little potential in No Way Jose since he debuted. He’s trapped with a lame gimmick that restricts his in-ring work. Of course, he may just be restricted in general. Against Austin Aries, however, he showed plenty of potential. NWJ managed to hang with Aries in a nice little opener. It was easily NWJ’s best bout to date, and one of Aries best NXT outings. My own grievance with the bout was the lack of aggression or brawling. Sure, there were snippets of NWJ’s anger at Aries, but in general it was a wrestling bout. Why not have them beat each other up? That aside, the bout put NWJ over as a serious competitor. His Falcon Arrow was a move I never thought I’d see him do! Where do the two wrestlers go from here? Does Aries get pushed into the main event? Does NWJ continue to have squash bouts? Regardless, this match shined more than I ever thought it would.
WINNER: Austin Aries
VERDICT: 7/10. A perfect opener for NXT Takeover. It was never going to steal the show, but a surprisingly good performance from NWJ and Aries’ typical smoothness in the ring provided a compelling bout.
Billie Kay vs Ember Moon
The debut of Ember Moon was less than stellar. Not enough time was given to the bout. And for much of it, Kay was on the attack, so we only saw the basics of Moon’s offence. Not only that, but the bout proved that Kay’s victories over the past few months have only been leading to her loss here against Moon. What a shame. The women’s division in NXT will need more contenders than ever after Bayley leaves for the main roster. I think they should have put this just before the main event, to let everyone cool down before the fireworks began. However, what everyone will remember is Ember Moon’s finisher. It’s a spinning Stunner from the top rope! It has to be seen to be believed…
WINNER: Ember Moon
VERDICT: 5/10. Would have been a 4/10, but Moon’s finisher was worthy of an extra number. The kind of debut bout you’d expect on the NXT weekly show, rather than on a Special. Vaguely entertaining, but a bathroom break for all intents and purposes.
Bobby Roode vs Andrade ‘Cien’ Almas
Poor Andrade. The crowd haven’t warmed to him at all, no matter how flashy or skilful he is in the ring. Even in his debut bout against Tye Dillinger (where is he now?), Almas received fewer cheers than Dillinger. If he didn’t measure up to Dillinger in the crowd’s eyes, what chance did he have against Bobby Roode? A different opponent could have been found for Roode. But Almas, who only debuted a few months ago, was assigned to put Roode over.
And after Roode’s entrance, few wrestlers would have been able to wrestle the crowd’s attention back. One could say that Roode’s entrance was…GLORIOUS! It was perhaps the highlight of the match. That’s not a criticism of the match, but praise of his entrance. Simply brilliant!
The match itself was high quality. Almas probably realised that the crowd were ever in Roode’s favour, so leapt and bounded around to gain at least a scattering of cheers. He busted out a springboard hurricanrana in the opening moments, and later hit a springboard spinning plancha to the outside on Roode. Roode did not have to do as much to gather cheers from the crowd, but he looked great in his debut. In fact, it was the reverse of the previous bout. The bout was very good until Roode hit his finisher…which deflated the crowd. A pump handle slam? Really? Even Test modified the pump handle into a side slam! Roode deserves a better finisher!
WINNER: Bobby Roode
VERDICT: 7/10. Almas looked as good as ever, and Roode was willing to put on a glorious show in his debut. That he almost did, until his finisher sucked all the energy out of the bout.
The Revival (c) vs Johnny Gargano and Tommasso Ciampa (NXT Tag Team Championship Match)
This was the match of the night, and a contender for Match Of The Year. It was even better than The Revival’s first clash against American Alpha (or their second…I forget which one blew my socks off!). The old school mechanics of The Revival’s playbook mixed brilliantly with the high-speed antics of Gargano and Ciampa. The Revival kept beating down the duo, using every heelish trick in the book to stop Johnny Wrestling getting the hot tag. Suffice to say, when he hit the hot tag, the bout reached an even higher level than it was before. A pure mix of psychology, excitement and a final five minutes that had me and the crowd on the edge of their seats equalled a tag team match for the ages. Peaks were climbed again and again as sequence bettered sequence. The ending may not have been what we wanted, but that in no way took away from the match itself. Bravo to both teams!
WINNERS: The Revival
VERDICT: 9/10. Match of the Year contender. Need I say more? A classic tag team match, encapsulating old school psychology with modern high speed, high flying wrestling.
Asuka (c) vs Bayley (NXT Women’s Championship Match)
I don’t think Asuka and Bayley have good chemistry in the ring. Thanks to each one’s talent, they could never but on a bad match together. But at the same time, they can’t put on a great match. This was inferior to their first battle. It also suffered from instances of sloppy execution and an uneven story throughout the match. Bayley’s attempt to capture Asuka’s roundhouse kick and turn it into a powerbomb failed, and her following attempt to powerbomb Asuka fell flat as well. Did Asuka have a wardrobe malfunction with her bra? She kept fidgeting with something in her cleavage throughout the match, and there appeared to be two metal wires pressing against her chest. Did that interfere with her thought processes?
It wasn’t a bad match, like I said before. Asuka’s strikes and offence virtually guarantee enjoyment. Bayley’s attempts at aggression looked convincing, but I think there should have been more of them. That was the story leading up to the match, wasn’t it? That Bayley was going to unleash hell on Asuka? However, I understand that the main story of the match was that Asuka is simply too much for any competitor. Whenever Bayley had the upper hand, Asuka soon kicked or elbowed or backhanded her to halt progress. In that respect, it worked most of the time. However, maybe I just expected more from two of the best female wrestlers in the business.
VERDICT: 6/10. A decent battle that suffered from sloppy execution and an uneven flow. Maybe Asuka and Bayley just don’t have chemistry in the ring!
Samoa Joe (c) vs Shinsuke Nakamura (NXT Championship Match)
If Roode’s entrance threatened to overshadow his debut match, then the violinist who played Nakamura’s tune during Shinsuke’s entrance threatened to steal the show! It was simply magnificent!
The bout itself was a typical heavyweight collision: slow, brutal and hard-hitting. It was a war, one that slowly sucked the viewer in as the two governors of strong style battered each other in a mirror of realism. Every blow from each contender looked as stiff as hell. Even though sometimes the bout slowed down to a snail’s pace, it was still enthralling. Nakamura’s knees and strikes are as believable as Asuka’s. Joe’s strikes always look like they hurt. Put the two together, and you have two heavyweights beating the living daylights out of each other. It’s just what I wanted from this match! It never elevated into a truly great match, unfortunately, for reasons I can’t accurately describe. Maybe it was the inevitability of Nakamura’s victory that halted it from being a true classic. Maybe nothing will match the heights of Nakamura’s debut against Sami Zayn. It’s hard not to compare every Nakamura match against that blinder!
But Joe and Nakamura put on a match that deserved to main event the show. It may have not matched the brilliance of the tag team bout, but it was almost on that level.
WINNER: (AND NEW NXT CHAMPION!) Shinsuke Nakamura
VERDICT: 8/10. A brutal war between two deadly heavyweights. They beat each other to a pulp in a match that had a few too many slow moments, but overall delivered a satisfying main event. Here’s to the new champion, Shinsuke Nakamura!
OVERALL VERDICT: 7/10. The only real disappointment on this card was the bout between Bayley and Asuka. I expected more from those two. The other women’s bout was merely an introduction to Ember Moon, rather than a match to be entertained by. All of the other bouts ranged from good to the greatness of the tag team bout. That was easily a MOTY contender. The main event was a war between two governors of strong style. Once again, NXT Takeover delivered a strong Special!
Leave your thoughts/comments below!