WWE NXT TAKEOVER: BROOKLYN II
The last TAKEOVER back in June was an incredible disappointment for me. A lot of people really turned on NXT in 2016 after the promotion hit the peak of popularity in 2015 (everyone knows in wrestling that as soon as something stops becoming the underdog, we have to boo it) but 2016 was the year I really got into NXT properly and I honestly thought that until June, they could do no wrong when it came to their TAKEOVER events. Especially when compared to so many back to back terrible main roster PPVs. Sadly THE END was marred by so many terrible booking decisions, especially when compared to main roster shows like this year’s Money In The Bank and Battleground PPVs (which were just so damn good), it was like NXT and the main roster had suddenly traded places.
I sadly cannot say that BROOKLYN II is a raucous return to form with the Bayley Asuka match effectively serving no purpose and the bizarre decision of having all three titles up for grabs and only having one change hands but a standout match between The Revival and Ciampa and Gargano and a surprise highlight in the opening match between Aries and No Way Jose just about saves the show.
Speaking firstly about the card’s biggest surprise, I went into the No Way Jose Austin Aries match really not giving a shit about it, not only did I have zero investment in the feud but this match was the closest thing the card had to a “filler match”. But then, seemingly out of nowhere, Aries and Jose go out and put on a match of such quality that it feels much bigger of a fight than the so called “big fights” that come later in the card.
I may not much care for Jose but there is no denying what a talent he is when he turns it on and he’s lucky enough to be in the ring with a legend like Austin Aries who has been squandered a bit by NXT but Aries sends a clear message here that no matter what shit booking he gets, he’s still happy to turn up and turn it on. A true professional.
This was the kind of match where it’s more of a fight, than a wrestling match, but both Jose and Aries also get as much opportunity to show what great wrestlers they are as they do in showcasing what hard hitters they are here and to great effect. A stiff, intense and physical affair which suggests more fire behind it in the in ring storytelling than any of the video packages could suggest.
It’s a match which has both guys coming out looking a million bucks. I never thought I’d say it but Jose may just have given Aries NXT career the kick up the backside it needed, what a big win this felt like and to follow up that immediately with the appearance of Hideo Itami, laying out Aries with the GTS… that is what TAKEOVER should be all about, baby! I cannot wait to see the fallout from this on the next episode of NXT.
Speaking secondly about the best Championship Match of the night. Gargano and Ciampa came into the match with newfound unity after putting on the match of the tournament so far in the CWC. That match cemented me as a fan of theirs and had me rooting for them through the match, whether fighting together or fighting each other these guys are so much fun to watch. The chemistry between them is special but individually both man has charisma to spare too.
As much as I’d happily just sing endless praises about “#DIY”, “The Revival” deserve major props, too. When I first started following NXT regularly earlier this year, I have to say I really didn’t care for The Revival. Main roster WWE was going through a grim stage where scoundrels dominated the scene with their constant cheating to win and so The Revival instantly rubbed me the wrong way by doing that same song and dance. Can no one in WWE win any matches through fair competition?!
However over the months I have been following NXT they have really grown on me, they are a “true” tag team in my mind. Some tag teams have you thinking about how each guy would do on their own, usually because it’s two failing singles guys thrown together to try and save a sinking ship, but with The Revival I could never imagine them apart. The way they isolated Gargano and Ciampa from each other, their awareness of the ring, their rich knowledge of tag team rules so they could bend them to their will, the teamwork they displayed in setting traps and springing them. They are a team so in sync, it’s just beautiful to watch.
This match had some truly breathtaking near falls, I wanted Ciampa and Gargano to win so badly, I was cheering in jubilation before The Revival got the foot on the rope. I’m disappointed but I can’t be truly too sore about it as The Revival put in their very best performance yet in retaining their titles. So much better deserved than when they won against American Alpha at the last TAKEOVER.
One has to wonder what happens now though, how much more can Ciampa take? Is that what this is all about? A sort of Kevin Owens Sami Zayn mark two? There has to be a reason why they had The Revival get the win again over a team so much more over than them. I suppose you could understand it with American Alpha since they were obviously close to promotion but Gargano and Ciampa are seemingly going nowhere, so what was the thought process here?
Of the two debuting stars for NXT here, I was really interested to see Ember Moon in action going into this event as I don’t think I’ve ever seen the debut of a female star hyped up in the same degree as what they did with Moon. Now I’ve finally watched her in action, she’s certainly very different than what I expected but still obviously very talented. That move she used to finish Kaye off with… incredible.
Roode on the other hand, after the all the hype, was almost impressively dull in the ring, paired with Andrade Almas seemingly just to give some life to his match and Almas appeared to be carrying Roode all the way through. Roode did not deserve the win here and it’s a shame Almas has been so poorly used by NXT as the guy is a real talent.
So that Women’s Championship Match… what the fuck was that? Bayley wasn’t going to win here as her call up to the main roster is surely just around the corner somewhere but since they bothered to put all three titles up for grabs on the card and The Revival just retained theirs, it really got you wondering. Would Bayley actually win? Because surely during a big show like this you can’t have back to back retentions…But of course we did, NXT is still WWE at the end of the day. What on Earth was the point of this match, then? The match did nothing for anyone involved and it kinda soured the whole feeling of the show when taken into context of what was happening around it.
I can’t work out what they are doing with Bayley in general to be honest, Asuka has been a bit of a nothing Champion but it would make sense to have her keep the belt warm if they knew Bliss, Carmella and Bayley would be getting called up, as that would give them time to polish up new faces in the Performance Centre ready to take the belt proper. Instead, Asuka has been given a proper reign despite Bayley staying where she is and honestly, despite a healthy series of defences on paper, Asuka has held onto the title for what feels like forever without really doing anything with it. You had Bayley’s kayfabe injury so she could step aside and let Nia Jax take the spotlight, however Jax lost in pretty pathetic fashion despite huge momentum going into the match and then Jax got swiftly called up just like Bliss and Carmella did, leaving Bayley behind. As such, they pushed Bayley back into the title picture… only to have her lose, again? This time right before the very eyes of Becky Lynch, Charlotte and Sasha Banks? Right after the constant going on about Banks and Bayley’s match that started it all here at the first Brooklyn TAKEOVER. Why? What are you doing?!
And finally, The Main Event. The match is somewhat of a Dream Match on paper but in execution it was certainly solid but probably not one for the highlight reels of either mans career. At least it marked the one title change of the show. One that really came with feelings of mixed emotions. I feel so sorry that seemingly wherever Samoa Joe goes he gets a title and then gets given a bum reign but at the same time Nakamura is probably the best damn thing about NXT right now and you just knew this would be coming sooner rather than later and now it’s here. Let’s hope it’s better than what came before it.