Like the young upstart in the family NXT has made a habit of showing up the elder RAW and Smackdown. The cracks and imperfections in the aged faces of these two shows magnified with the beaming, youthful radiance of NXT. It’s like NXT can wear all the trendy clothes Smackdown and RAW used to get away with but it looks even better than they ever did and is happy to flaunt it. Ok i may leave this analogy now… These Takeover events though are the biggest example of this, taking place just before pay per views such as Summerslam and even Wrestlemania. Often NXT doesn’t just set the bar high, it takes the bar and roundly beats WWE’s mainstream pay per view events into a quality conceding coma.
Brooklyn is NXT’s flagship venue and after the previous year’s event which was a coming of age for Triple H’s bouncing baby of a programme, it’s easy to see why. Names such as Bayley, Finn Balor and Sasha Banks squarely catapulted into the faces of anyone who’s ever cared about wrestling. This Takeover of 2016 has been well booked and carefully built up, but did it match the past majesty achieved after many talents have been promoted to lofty mainstream heights?
Austin Aries defeats No Way Jose
After a charismatic debut i hoped they would give Jose a more lengthy match and even a feud. A good way to remove those stabilisers and see if he can be more than just a gimmick with short bouts containing the same four moves and some fetching hair. Luckily NXT were ready and he was swiftly thrown into the choking embrace of veteran Austin Aries, the build up may have been swift and barely convincing but it was fun and a good match prospect. The match gets an awkward start as a shaky brawl with the crowd firmly supporting the beloved heel Aries this endangered and heat Jose may have gathered. luckily the right decision was made with Aries securing a win, he’s a great mentor for new talent and putting Nakamura over carries no shame but he needs to be kept relevant and revered as a top worker in the industry. Jose came off strongly though making it a plucky loss with momentum maintained, he sold well and broke out some impressive additional moves such as the TKO and Falcon Arrow to sugar coat him to the indie sweet-tooths in the crowd. The ending transition into the Last Chancery was also smooth and Jose’s willingness to tap quickly stops him enduring any fan wrath and keeps the submission finisher deadly. Wise booking and a more than solid match.
Additional: Itami is always a pleasure to see, as he interrupted the post match tomfoolery to save Jose. And although the initial tussle with Aries looked incredibly sloppy the two veterans quickly put it right. Itami’s first WWE televised G.T.S (his first being in a house show before Wrestlemania) to Aries answered the baying crowd and gave the match a tease for a dream feud as well as a nice face pop to start the tide of the show.
Ember Moon defeats Billie Kay
Billie Kay has seemed a safe pair of hand in her first few matches, her character may be vague but her ring comfort and charisma is slowly progressing in a much pillaged and vital women’s division. last week’s NXT seemed to show an air of panic as new female talent was thrown into the ring like frantic Pokeballs at a wild Mewtwo. Kay may find herself a future pillar for the division but Ember Moon was predicted to be ready to take to the WWE ground running as an indie belle of the wrestling ball. Her energy seems contagious and future matches with Asuka gets many a brain-mouth salivating already…but not in a weird way, ok slightly weird but still.
This match had some nice set pieces and started brightly but Kay’s time in control of Ember seemed to drag on and lose momentum, she was solid but needs more in ring personality that should come with time. The crowd’s interest seemed to come and go like a small child excited but also desperately in need of a power nap. Luckily towards the end of the match Moon showed an impressive ability to recapture the audience with impossible to ignore passion, ring presence and her fantastic finisher that many feared she may not bring into NXT with her. Her top rope corkscrew stunner known previously as the O-face puts an exclamation mark at the end of a decent match.
Bobby Roode defeats Andrade Almas
Heck, all we were bothered about watching was Roode’s entrance anyway. They did not disappoint with a beautifully ridiculous spectacle for Roode’s glorious debut. The undefeated Almas guaranteeing a high profile match. Roode has a fun character carpet rolled out for his road into the WWE and he seems to be having the time of his life. And if wrestlers are having fun we usually can’t help but have fun with them. Almas is another worker that seems to enjoy his time between the ropes, sometimes literally as he puts everything into every move he has, cannon-balling around the ring like a game of squash with Brock Lesnar. In fact Almas does the majority of the offensive work in this contest, he breaks out his signature moves but is more impressive than gimmick-bound. His relentless energy simultaneously showcasing Roode’s stamina and makes his victory more impressive.
This is a good old fashioned clash of styles but missing the AJ of course, Almas trying to overwhelm his opponent with kinetic energy as Roode breaks out veteran heelery in his grinding style. The only disappointment in this entertaining match is Roode’s finisher which falls a bit flat (pardon the pun) and is maybe the least impacting or impressive move in a fun competition. It deflates the end slightly but Roode gets the initial win his legitimacy needs and Almas gains respect without relying on an undefeated header.
The Revival defeats Gargano and Ciampa
The tag division may have lost some weight with many teams being promoted. The Authors Of Pain lumbering around in the pre show with the immensely talented TM-61 who continue to hone their character and tone down their over the top acting. The Revival are an absolute masterclass in old school heel shenanigans and have kept everything they do fresh. Arrogant catchphrases and schoolyard insults with varying ring antics that keep you guessing, as well as their actual talent and undeniable chemistry. Gargano and Ciampa are also white hot at the moment with a victory over the champs and their heart breaking cruiserweight soap opera of a masterclass match. The start to this title bout is slow and grinding but intense and a chess match instead of being formulaic. I was hoping Ciampa would be allowed to break out more of his singles moves he showcased in the cruiserweight classic but the lack of these was a solitary stain of the shimmering, sequin-laden fabric of this well crafted encounter.
The second half is a absolute cacophony of near falls and ring genius. Dash ‘falling’ over the rope a high point and the false three count will fray your nerves like a nitro powered emotion chainsaw. The ending itself may slow things down but it is convincingly brutal and calculated in and out of the ring. It solidifies The Revival as worthy and devastating champion while romanticising further the plight and brotherhood of the popular challengers. Gargano’s apology befitting a Greek tragedy. Superb in ring storytelling with enough graceful narrative to make Lord Of The Rings seem like a children’s colouring book.
Asuka defeats Bayley
A hotly contested rivalry to succeed the previous classic of Bayley and Sasha. Asuka has been on a rampage while Bayley has been showcasing a bold new plot of becoming more brutal and edgier without compromising her amiability. The match is well paced and full of passion a volatile rivalry that simmers with equal amounts of desperation and respect. Some effective spots towards the end do a fine job of highlight a primal lust to prevail. Each woman exasperatedly forcing the swinging pendulum of loss back at their opponent.
Asuka’s finishing kick a death knell heard around the world, her sign of respect afterwards to Bayley keeps her both loved and feared for the future of her reign. Asuka’s atlas shoulders burdened with a women’s division with colossal boots to feel and the pitter-patter of various, tiny, rookie feet around her. Bayley broke a thousand hearts with her tearful exit signifying the end of a bright and tassle-bound era. Bayley hasn’t won a significant match for a long time as she pushed Nia Jax and suffered injury, and yet she has always remained convincing and relevant with no deterioration to her credibility. hopefully this serves her well in RAW.
Shinsuke Nakamura defeats Samoa Joe
A true main event chiseled straight out of marble from the temple of wrestling. The run up to this match short but sweet as Nakamura’s relaxed persona is the spark to the fiery uncompromising force of Samoa Joe. The physical style of this title match makes it impossible to ignore. It may not be a speedy, shock filled spot fest some crave from title holding matches but it is instead a patient and carnal battle of wills. Shinsuke has captured the imaginations of many as did his flamboyant entrance contrasting the brutal simplicity of his striking style. Both men carry an air of combat unpredictability and the action lurched from one sudden attack to the next. Both men kick out of finishers giving Joe credibility in loss and not causing Nakamura to be forced in his dominance. The numerous knees to Joe in quick succession bring a satisfying and hard earned end lending weight to an already titanic title.
Joe much to contrary belief and science is aging and his step up the main show highlight should be sooner rather than later with this title change maybe signifying his chance. Nakamura maintains his sturdy mythos as he remains undefeated and laying waste to the division. He has the unstable, charming, swaying and exquisite style of a drunk artist and he has truly shown some wrestling fans something new. He brings the Japanese patient style that tells a tale as it unfolds, but also mixed with the vibrant and lovable character that mainstream fans are drawn to. A fresh champion who can bring in a new perspective.
Summary: The order and styling of these matches was solid, smart and pleasing. It may have lacked some of the flash of the resoundingly sublime Dallas show but this silenced any worries for the NXT future. With intelligent booking, exiting new talent and well used veterans the future is bright and everyone is watching.