NXT TakeOver Brooklyn
April 5 2019
It occurs to me that I’ve not seen anything from NXT since the last Takeover and I didn’t know what the card until I looked it up. We have an excruciating pre-show with Sam Roberts and some blonde twat jabbering on endlessly about nothing. I muted them.
Hosts on the real show are Mauro Ranallo, Nigel McGuinness and Percy Watson.
NXT Tag Team Championship
War Raiders (c) vs. Aleister Black & Ricochet
Cool entrance from the War Raiders. Drums and whatnot. As for Ally Black and Ricochet, I still don’t know why they’re a tag team. I can only assume Vince is to blame as they got thrown together on the main roster.
I shall call them Blackochet. No, that’s problematic. Riceister. No, that sounds like a town in Wiltshire. Black and Rowe doing swank counters reminds me of how good War Machine were on the Indies. The action is slick and fast paced.
They work in some good character stuff too. It’s all well executed and, as per usual, NXT TakeOver is off to a flier. Until the crowd get all excited about a light being switched off and they sit in a rest hold while everyone remembers there’s a show on. The War Raiders run through some straight up great stuff they do every match and then Ricochet one-ups everyone by doing a fallaway slam on Hanson. Hanson! Black vs. Rowe remains very much my shit. It’s so fast and the execution is so good. Hanson trying to do all Ricochet’s spots and mostly succeeding is fucking incredible. They then take it up a gear and start doing insane dives out of nowhere. Hanson diving to the floor freaks me the fuck out. Black Mass! Ricochet with an insane Shooting Star. The height on that fucking thing! Fallout puts Ricochet down after an absolutely incredible opener. Fucking follow that you other bastards. You’ve got no fucking chance.
Final Rating: *****
Post Match: Big respect for Ricochet and Ally Black who are done in NXT with that defeat. What a way to go out though. Holy shit.
NXT North American Championship
Velveteen Dream (c) vs. Matt Riddle
They take ages over the entrances so the tiredness starts to set back in. The buzz I got off that opener was insane. In order to refocus the RVR group chat decide to talk about the size of Matt Riddle’s junk so I spend the first couple of minutes eyeballing the Bro’s crotch. I mean, I was never confused but you need to do research on these things in order to have conversations. They set up a nice story in the early going with Riddle as playful as Dream but suddenly he’s all over him with submission attempts and that’s the danger of the Bro. Dream is a smart man and just stomps on Riddle’s foot. I mean, why not? Working barefoot is pretty stupid in the big scheme of things. The worrying part about Riddle’s character is he’s all fun and games until he gets pissed off and then he’s really dangerous. And he’s never that pissed off but he is more aggressive here. Dream, who outsmarts just about everyone he faces, finds himself completely at odds with Riddle’s strengths and he can’t get in his head. So Dream is left relying on instincts and surviving, hoping the champion’s advantage will save him at some point. Then he pulls out the Hulking Up! That flurry of adrenaline fueled offence is the first time he’s been in charge. Dream uses desperation to escape Riddle’s various mat based assaults but even when he scurries into the ropes Riddle breaks out a German suplex off the apron a’la Ibushi. I notice that WWE has cleaned up Riddle offence. He’s taken all the bad stuff out and added new stuff in that looks great. Dream gets trapped in the Bromission but somehow shifts his body and gets on top to retain with a flash pin.
Final Rating: ****1/4
WWE United Kingdom Championship
Pete Dunne (c) vs. WALTER
WALTER is making his TakeOver debut. Dunne has worked quite a few of these and has always looked good but he’s never faced a challenge like this before. The trouble is that this crowd, or some of it anyway, haven’t seen WALTER kill people. So he needs to Vader-Sting this match and Pete gets a lot in the early going. It’s like they skipped ahead to the re-match and assumed everyone knew WALTER’s strengths but you can tell from the reactions that it’s not true. The result is a crowd that really enjoy Dunne overcoming but it’s only based on the size discrepancy and has nothing to do with the structure of the match. If you signed WALTER to just feed him to Dunne then what’s the fucking point?
It gets to the destruction part but it’s way deep into the match after Dunne has already had a load of offence. This should have been the first part of the match. The crowd decide to chant “UK” at the Austrian in the ring. Dunne seems to be the driving force of this match. He’s one step ahead of his ‘domineering’ opponent. Maybe it’s just living in Europe but I’ve seen the WALTER Match get over time and time again and to see them subvert it here is weird. From a perspective of seeing Dunne needing to overcome this unstoppable guy it kinda make but for the fans in the building they’ve skipped over six months of story.
Dunne keeps going after the fingers and this leads to a fantastic lariat but then Dunne is back up and hitting the Bitter End. I just don’t get this match at all. Sure, it makes Pete Dunne look incredible but he would look more incredible if there was an actual hill to climb. WALTER scatters all his best stuff across the match instead of loading the front end. Superbomb and a top rope splash finish for WALTER and Pete’s long reign is over, which makes you wonder why they didn’t do it in a way that would make WALTER look good.
Final Rating: ***1/4
It was like the penultimate match in a series… but without the series. There were callbacks to bits that haven't happened
— Phil Martin (@MenCallMePhil) April 6, 2019
NXT Women’s Championship
Shayna Baszler (c) vs. Kairi Sane vs. Io Shirai vs. Bianca Belair
Could this be the night!
Shayna has three challengers but also has two helpers in the MMA Horsewomen. The Kairi/Io baseball bit is fantastic. I’m all over that. Sky Pirates for life! I’m also a big fan of Bianca dragging Shayna face first into the post with her hair. Io Shirai has been hit and miss since joining WWE but her timing here is exquisite. Everyone shows up for TakeOver. The snap moonsault to the floor is pretty terrifying. The Sky Pirates teaming up creates an interesting dynamic. Bianca finds herself double teamed a lot and Shayna really has to pick her spots. The Sky Pirates explode when Io has the match won and Kairi has to break the pin or she’s finished. Io then returns the receipt by breaking up the InSane Elbow. Io vs. Kairi is what I dream of because I’ve seen it and I know it’s great. Bianca’s hair takes a piece out of Kairi before she takes both Japanese women up. Kirifuda Clutch! Bianca taps! Shayna retains. No help. She just let the others fight each other and picked her spot. Smart champion.
Final Rating: ***3/4
Two Out of Three Falls
Johnny Gargano vs. Adam Cole
Being tired is not an ideal state of mind for approaching the Adam Cole match. Instead of trying to engage the audience they instead opt for boring them hell out of them. The match is sluggish and is clearly going long, which is not what I want to hear at 2.45am. Gargano has done a great job in recent years of making me emotionally invested in his chances of winning or losing big matches. I don’t feel that at all here. Mainly because they had him do a heel run and a brief reunion with Ciampa. Cole gets the first fall here to add to Johnny’s woes and that gets the crowd going (for the first time) but again, I’m just not feeling that emotional connection.
Gargano gets the second fall with the Gargano Escape.
They did some stuff in there. Gargano is busted open. Most of the work in this is pretty but it’s not even remotely interesting. Fall three is where they start to actually unload some big bombs and hit the false finishes, which makes you wonder why they felt the urge to go through two nothing falls beforehand. The suplex into the apron in particular is sickening. Then they start into the bizarre shit like a Canadian Destroyer and an Angels Wings on the announce table. It’s weird to me that they were creeping through the match and suddenly realised it needed to be good in the last fall. Gargano does a good line in desperation kick-outs and barely surviving a count out attempt. Cole taps but the Undisputed Era run in behind the ref’s back. Gargano still kicks out. Cole kicks him in the head a bunch. Gargano kicks out. Gargano Escape. Cole taps.
Where to start unpacking this. Let’s take the match in segments. The first two thirds of it are utterly pointless. They didn’t do anything. It was just content for the sake of it. Then the match picked up and they did a lot of very dramatic stuff and I was finally feeling it. And then it just kept going and going and going and going. And the run in’s and the stupid kick-outs. Why is Gargano kicking out of a million moves. Just have something resembling a counter rather than move, kick-out, rinse/repeat. I know some people are going to freak when they see this rating but the match got what it deserved. This wasn’t very good. Not consistently.
Final Rating: ***
And worse still, at the end of the day, after every storyline wrinkle it’s all pointless because everyone is mates.
I feel I may have a few unpopular opinions here but I didn’t like WALTER/Dunne and I really didn’t like Gargano/Cole. Most of the blame for my displeasure is almost certainly aimed at myself. What I enjoy about wrestling wasn’t in line with the majority of fans (Bullet Club, The Elite, Adam Cole) and increasingly that part of wrestling is drifting further away from me and yet is more beloved by the general public. So we’re at odds. But I didn’t enjoy the storytelling here. NXT works at its very best when someone gets beaten and moves on. Which is why the opener was so great. There’s your formula.