Time for a wrestling show! Time for NXT TakeOver! We kick things off with a band called Code Orange rocking out live while some sort of video package for TakeOver plays. Code Orange is pretty good and I’ll probably check them out at some point in the future.
It’s a fine way to open the show since it’s different and doesn’t really fuck with the flow of the show the way musical performances in the middle of wrestling shows generally do.
Anyway with that out of the way we go to our commentary team for the evening: Nigel, Mauro, and Percy who throw it down to the ring for wrestling action!
Match 1: Johnny Gargano vs. Andrade “Cien” Almas (w/ Zelina Vega)
The crowd is thoroughly behind Gargano, chanting “Johnny Wrestling” at him as the match gets underway. They go back and forth in the opening moments of the bout with Gargano eventually using his speed to gain the advantage, pulling off a step-up Frankensteiner.
They roll around on the mat for a bit with counters until Gargano ends up with Almas in a front facelock. Gargano follows up with an armdrag, looking to outwrestle Almas. He lights Almas up with some chops, but Almas cuts him off with a neckbreaker and then lays in some chops of his own.
Johnny Gargano unwisely throws Almas into the ropes and gets caught with a hanging triangle lock in the ropes. Gargano escapes and hits a drop toehold that sends Almas face first into the second turnbuckle.
Almas is back to his feet though and both men come off the ropes for clotheslines. They both connect and send each other to the mat. They recover and trade blows in the center of the ring which fires up Gargano. He hits the kneeling Almas with his sliding enziguri and follows it up with a slingshot spear that earns him a near fall.
Gargano goes for a suplex but Almas counters out of it and does his tranquilo pose in the ropes. Gargano superkicks him out to the floor and then hits a Tope Con Hilo that gets a huge pop.
Back in the ring Gargano nails Almas with a slingshot DDT and covers, but Almas kicks out. Gargano goes for the lawn dart but Almas escapes and then counters the slingshot spear into a DDT. Almas levels Gargano with a tornado inverted DDT for another near fall.
Almas sets up Gargano on the top rope and heads up with him, perhaps for a superplex. Gargano battles back and nails Almas with strikes that stun him long enough so Gargano can hit a sunset powerbomb, only Almas managers to backflip out of it.
Almas goes for the double knees, but Gargano counters with an Enziguri. He gets hip tossed into the corner but again avoids the double knees. Gargano get him in the Gargano Escape.
Almas rolls to try to get out of it, but Gargano keeps the hold locked on. Almas rolls again and escapes the hold and nails Gargano with a single arm buckle bomb. Almas covers. ONE! TWO! THR…NO! Gargano kicks out and the crowd goes absolutely apeshit.
Almas tries to get Gargano up for the Hammerlock DDT. He hits him with some knee strikes, but Gargano slips free and hits a superkick. He lawn darts Almas into the ringpost again.
Gargano is fired up but Vega chucks a DIY shirt at him from the outside, stopping him dead in his tracks. Almas capitalizes and hits the stunned Gargano with the hammerlock DDT for the win.
Winner: Andrade “Cien” Almas
This was a fantastic opening bout. I’ve been pretty meh on Almas since he came to NXT, but the dude put on one hell of a match here tonight. Gargano was great too, but I’ve been pretty fond of him since the Cruiserweight Classic, so I’m not too surprised that he turned in a quality match tonight. The fact that Gargano got beaten by a t-shirt could have been a stupid, stupid ending but it actually worked here and demonstrated that Ciampa’s still in Gargano’s head. All in all an excellent match, and one that’s going to be hard to beat tonight. [****½]
Meanwhile in a Skybox…
Kurt Angle and Daniel Bryan are watching the proceedings. There are some NXT midcarders there chilling with the two GMs. Billie Kay and Peyton Royce appear to be putting the moves on Daniel Bryan. Leave him be, he’s a married man!
Meanwhile at the Announce Table…
Corey Graves comes out to turn the three man booth into a four man booth. I forgot how badass Graves’ entrance music was. Anyway I’m not keen on a four man booth, but Graves is good and will probably end up drowning out Percy so it shouldn’t be awful.
Match 2: Sanity vs. The Authors of Pain (w/ Paul Ellering)
Sanity comes out en masse. It seems like it’s going to be Dain and Wolfe challenging for the titles. The Authors come out looking like Ninja Turtles for some goddamn reason. They rush the ring and a huge brawl breaks out before the bell even rings.
Dudes are fighting all over the ringside area. Eventually the Authors get Wolfe into the ring and the bell rings, officially starting this tag team championship match. The Authors work over Wolfe for awhile, but eventually Wolfe makes a comeback and gets over to his corner.
Eric Young jumps up onto the apron and he gets the tag. Dain had never been officially in the match so apparently okay. Apparently this was his master plan about how to deal with the AoP.
They brawl out on the floor for a bit and then head back into the ring where the Authors take control and work over Eric Young. Young tries to mount a comeback, but the Authors are too big and mean. Eventually though Eric Young moves out of the way of an elbow drop and manages to make a HOT TAG.
Wolfe runs wild, knocking dudes down with shoulder blocks, strikes, and boots to the face. He hits and Xploder Suplex and then chucks the other Author with a German suplex.
The Authors cut him off and set up for a superbomb. Wolfe nails a rana off the ropes and manages to tag Young back in. Young hits a neckbreaker and then heads up top only to be crotched. The Authors go for an assisted superplex, but Nikki Cross holds on to Young’s legs and one of the Authors ends up powerbombing the other.
Young recovers and hits a massive elbow drop and covers, but the pin attempt gets broken up when the non-pinned Author pulls the pinned Author out to the floor. Eric Young hits a suicide dive that takes out one dude and a moment later Wolfe hits a dive of his own to take out the second Author of Pain.
Nikki Cross and Ellering get in the ring and argue with one another. Nikki Cross takes off like 18 vests as she screams at Ellering. The ref gets distracted with Ellering so Nikki Cross goes up top and dives out at one of the Authors only to be caught. Dain throws up his hand as if to say, “What can I possibly do to help my stablemate?” and then a second later decides that the best course of action is to run, hit a crossbody into Nikki Cross that sends her and the Author of Pain holding her through the table that Eric Young had set up earlier in the match.
Back in the ring, Wolfe and Young hit a double team neckbreaker. Wolfe covers. ONE! TWO! THREE! NEW CHAMPIONS!
Sanity’s celebration gets cut short when Red Dragon hits the ring and takes out Sanity and the Authors of Pain. They lay out Eric Young with Chasing the Dragon and then stand tall with the tag team straps before leaving the ring.
This was a very good match that was far better than I expected it to be. I’m kind of surprised that Sanity got the win, but can’t say they don’t deserve it. Eric Young’s always pretty great as is Killian Dain, but Alexander Wolfe looked great in this match.
Having Young in the match instead of Dain made sense from a booking standpoint since he’s a lot smaller and therefore easier for the Authors to do big hoss moves on, so I don’t have a problem with the random switcharoo spot at all.
I’m assuming that Authors of Pain are going to get called up now since the seem to be heading to a Sanity vs. Red Dragon feud going forward. [***⅔]
Bobby Roode is taping up his wrists. He’ll defend the NXT Championship later tonight!
Meanwhile at the Announce Table…
Good Ol’ JR heads out and joins the commentary team. Corey Graves has departed so we’re still at a four man booth, but this is getting ridiculous nonetheless.
Match 3: Hideo Itami vs. Aleister Black
Code Orange is back out to play Aleister Black’s entrance music. They have the vocalist from Incendiary out to do vocals (because he’s the one who does the vocals on the studio version). Anyway, this rules hard. Aleister Black’s entrance music is great. Code Orange is great. Incendiary is great. Aleister Black is such a superstar.
They get into it right away, nailing each other with kicks and strikes. They just slap the fuck out of one another in the opening flurry of offense. Absolutely brutal stuff from these two.
Black gets the early advantage, leveling Itami and sending him out to the floor. Itami heads back in where he gets blasted with more kicks and strikes. Black beats him down in the corner, but Itami fights back.
He lays Black over the ropes and nails him with a knee strike to take control. Itami does some ground and pound and then lays in some kicks. Black’s nose is bleeding. Itami keeps kicking him. Itami keeps the pressure on Black, grounding him. He hits some knee drops and a kick and then mocks Black’s lotus position thing in the center of the ring.
Itami stays in control and hits a DDT for two. He keeps Black grounded, but Black fights back to this feet and goes back to the kicks. He takes Itami down with a leg sweep and nails him with another knee strike.
Black hits an asai moonsault that’s good for two. He measures for Black Mass, but Itami cuts him off and hits a flying clothesline that gets a two count. He drops Black with a backfist but runs straight into a Victory Roll that gets Black another near fall.
Black follows up with a high kick and then goes up top, but Itami cuts him off and hits him with an Avalanche Falcon Arrow and goes for the cover. Black kicks out and gets in Itami’s face.
Itami slaps the fuck out of him but then runs right into a jumping knee strike. It’s okay though and Itami nails Black with another Falcon Arrow and goes for the pin. Again Black kicks out.
Itami nails Black with the hesitation dropkick and then lowers his kneepad and hurks Black up for the GTS. Black fights out of it but gets nailed with a knee strike by Itami. Itami yells at Black that he wants respect, but he wastes too much time and when he finally goes for a lariat Black blasts him in the dome with the Black Mass kick and picks up the win.
Winner: Aleister Black
This was a pretty brutal match. I missed a couple episodes on NXT in late July/early August so it could just be my own ignorance, but there really didn’t seem to be much of a story beyond, “These are two dudes who love kicking people, in a ring, kicking each other hard.” Sometimes though that’s enough.
Having Jim Ross on commentary in 2017 is kind of weird. I mean he’s still pretty good, and I like it for nostalgic reasons, but here he was playing second fiddle to Mauro, which frankly is how it should have been since Mauro’s the main announcer here.
All in all it was a fun little match, the commentary was good, and Aleister Black came out looking like a goddamn superstar. [***½]
Meanwhile in the Audience…
Bayley, Sasha Banks, and Becky Lynch are shown in the crowd watching the matches. The NXT Women’s Championship match is coming up next!
Match 4: Ember Moon vs. Asuka
Asuka’s title and her undefeated streak are on the line here. The pre-match video package plays up the fact that Ember Moon’s come within a heartbeat of besting Asuka and the only way Asuka survived her was to cheat.
Asuka mouths along to her ring introduction and Moon attacks at the bell, dropping Asuka with a dropkick and covering for one. She hits a suplex and Asuka bails out to the floor. Ember Moon follows after her and the fight out on the floor for a bit. She gets cut off by Asuka and they trade kicks.
Moon heads up to the second rope and hits a cannonball out to the floor. Asuka slams Moon into the steps and then lays into her with some kicks. They work their way up the ramp and Asuka nails Moon with a suplex on the ramp. The announcers put over that it could have reinjured Moon’s already injured arm.
They head back into the ring and Asuka continues to work over Moon’s arm, laying in some kicks to set up for the Asuka Lock. Asuka follows up with a hammerlock STO and then proceeds to stomp the shit out of Moon. She then gets Moon in an octopus hold and takes her to the mat, continuing to work over Moon’s arm.
Moon counters with a belly to back suplex and then lands a series of kicks and covers for two. Asuka goes back to Moon’s arm and then levels her with a German suplex into the turnbuckles. She goes for the Asuka Lock but Moon fights back and nails Asuka with a back elbow before locking on her own version of the Asuka Lock.
Asuka manages to escape and goes right back to Moon’s arm. She the jumps onto Moon’s back and gets her in the Asuka Lock. Moon slams her onto the mat and rolls through for a near fall. She follows with a lariat and both women are down.
Asuka’s up first an nails Moon with a flying ass attack and goes for the pin but Moon kicks out at two. She hits another flying ass attack but gets cut off by Moon who hits her with a knee and then lays her out with a tornado suplex that’s good for two.
Asuka gets fired up and starts nailing Moon with strikes, but Ember Moon battles back with knees. Asuka kicks Moon in the head, but Moon manages to hit a Side Effect and cover for another near fall. She then heads up top but gets cut off by Asuka who follows her up. Moon manages to escape and takes out Asuka’s legs which earns her another near fall. Moon heads back up top and this time nails Asuka with the Eclipse. ONE! TWO! NO! Asuka manages to kick out at two and fifteen sixteenths. Moon can’t believe it.
She heads back up to go for it again, but Asuka stands behind the ref. Moon leaps off the top rope and hits a high cross, but Asuka rolls through and grabs a handful of tights for a pin.
The ref sees the tights and waves the count off. Asuka argues for a second and gets leveled by Moon with a superkick. Again, though, Asuka manages to kick out. Moon goes back after Asuka, but Asuka gets her in an armbreaker and then transitions into the Asuka Lock.
Moon fights for a long time, managing to half escape the hold a couple times, but each time Asuka locks it back on. She has Moon center ring and after a hard fought battle, Ember Moon has no choice but to tap.
After the match Asuka sells being injured and heads to the back while Ember Moon cries in the ring and the crowd in Brooklyn applauds.
Another fantastic match from Asuka, and surprisingly from Ember Moon as well. I haven’t really thought all that much of her run in NXT to be honest. She had a good match with Asuka and then other than that she’s left me kind of “Meh.” I mean she’s talented, but never really connected with me for whatever reason, but tonight I think she did a great job, and if she can keep this up I could easily get behind her.
The pacing of the match was really good and Asuka focusing on Ember’s previously injured arm was a great bit of in ring storytelling. Moon hitting the Eclipse was a great spot since I genuinely believed that it could have been the finish to the match (I don’t think anyone had kicked out of the Eclipse prior to this). [****]
Meanwhile in the Crowd…
We see Kevin Owens and Samoa Joe watching the event (not together).
Highlights for Children!
We get a video package about tonight’s main event. The highlight Drew McIntyre’s first WWE run and how he was dubbed the “chosen one,” but wasn’t mature enough to reach the level that he should have. He left WWE and grew up and now is ready to earn his place at the top.
We also see Bobby Roode’s path to greatness in NXT. It’s less far reaching since the bulk of Roode’s career happened outside the WWE (or WWE friendly indie promotions). We get his debut and clips of him DDTing dudes. This is his NXT.
Match 5: Drew McIntyre vs. Bobby Roode
This is for the NXT Championship. McIntyre comes out first with the NYPD Emerald Society Pipe & Drum Band playing him out to the ring. These kind of big entrances are great and make these dudes feel like a big deal.
Bobby Roode comes out second in a very Ric Flair circa 1984 robe. I think he might be riding on one of those “hoverboard” deals since he’s randomly spinning in circles as he comes out.
The match gets underway with Roode trying to chop McIntyre down. All he ends up doing though is pissing off McIntyre who proceeds to chuck Roode about. Roode bails out to the floor to regroup. He heads back in and goes back to the chops, trying to hit and move.
He goes for the Glorious DDT, but McIntyre ducks out of it and cowers in the corner while Roode yells about being “this close,” to putting McIntyre away with the Glorious DDT. He goes for more chops, but gets cut off when he tries for a float over.
McIntyre then nails him with a big boot and both men head out to the floor. McIntyre is in control as he hits Roode with a high cross of the apron. Roode charges at him and McIntyre catches him him wrecks his shit with a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker into the edge of the ring apron.
They head back into the ring but Roode manages to catch McIntyre with a neckbreaker on the way in and sends him back out to the floor. Roode follows, hitting McIntyre with a Buff Blockbuster off the apron to take control.
They head back into the ring where Roode works over McIntyre’s neck and back to get him ready for the Glorious DDT. Roode hits a missile dropkick off the second rope and then locks in a sleeper hold. McIntyre powers Roode into the corner to break the hold and then hits a massive overhead belly to belly suplex as Roode charges at him.
McIntyre gets back in control, wrecking Roode’s shit in the corner and then coming off the top rope with a massive lariat. Roode goes back to McIntyre’s neck to try and stop McIntyre’s momentum, but it’s short lived. McIntyre hits a running Air Raid Crash that’s good for two.
Roode kicks out and battles back, stunning McIntyre off the ropes before heading up to the top rope. McIntyre follows him up, but Roode knocks him off into a Tree of Woe. Drew McIntyre, however, has incredible core strength (probably from working out while wearing anchor chains). He sits up, grabs Roode and chucks him over his head to the mat.
McIntyre gets down and starts warming up the band for the Claymore…or polishing the sword or whatever weird metaphor you want to use, but Roode’s down and down. McIntyre, instead of just walking over and pinning him, goes to pick Roode up only to get caught in a cradle that earns Roode a near fall.
They go back and forth with counters and Roode ends up hitting a back stabber that earns him a near fall. He stays on the attack, hitting more strikes and chops and goes for the Glorious DDT again. McIntyre manages to fight it off and a backslide earns him a near fall.
Roode kicks out but McIntyre nails him with the Future Shock DDT for another near fall. McIntyre hurks Roode up onto the top rope to do a move, but Roode manages to counter out of whatever McIntyre was going for with a Liger Bomb that gets him a two count.
They trade chops and Roode hits an enziguri but McIntyre comes back with the Claymore and covers. Roode barely manages to get his foot on the bottom rope. Roode rolls out to the floor and McIntyre tries to go out after him only to get stopped by the ref for some goddamn reason. McIntyre’s pissed so he hits the ropes and does a big dive at Roode that looks like it sucked.
McIntyre rolls Roode back into the ring, but then ends up running right into a spinebuster. Roode goes for the Glorious DDT but McIntyre counters with a sunset flip that gets him a two count. Roode kicks out and goes for the Glorious DDT again and this time hits it for a near fall. Roode stays on the attack and hits another Glorious DDT, rolls through and goes for a third, but McIntyre gets out of the hold with a headbutt. McIntyre nails the Claymore and covers. ONE! TWO! THREE! We got a new champion!
McIntyre celebrates in the ring for a bit and the copyright stuff comes up on the bottom of the screen as the crowd starts going apeshit. Fish and O’Reilly are back out again. They get in McIntyre’s face, but he’s not backing down.
Suddenly someone hits the ring from the crowd. IT’S ADAM COLE BAY BAY! He lays out McIntyre and then he and Red Dragon put the boots to McIntyre. Cole hits a superkick, picks up the belt, and stands tall as the show ends.
Winner: Drew McIntyre
This was an okay match that I thought went a little bit longer than it should have. The beginning was pretty good and the last few minutes were fantastic but the middle of the match kind of dragged. Part of that undoubtedly is because it shared a card with three outstanding matches and a tag team match that exceeded expectations. On a different card this same match could very well have been the match of the night, but here it was just okay.
I thought the post-match stuff was great and am curious where they go with this. I could kind of see them doing a quasi-invasion/nWo angle with the ROH guys running wild on the NXT dudes for awhile, but I’m not going to do the armchair booker thing. [**½]
As always TakeOver delivered quality wrestling action more or less from top to bottom. When the worst match on the show is “just okay” but only because it went a little to long, things are in good shape. I’m of the mind that if a wrestling show ends and you are excited to see what happens next the show was a success. By that metric this show was an overwhelming success.
I want to know what’s up with the ROH guys. I want to see if there’s anyone who can stop Asuka. It’s been awhile since a wrestling show has left me this excited about professional wrestling. All in all two thumbs up. Check out TakeOver: Brooklyn III if you haven’t already.