WWE NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn
Brooklyn, New York 8/22/15
The show opened with the father of NXT, Triple H, in the ring. He gave this really cool promo introducing the world to what was (at the time) the biggest NXT show to date, as they had sold out the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.
1.) Tyler Breeze vs. Jushin “Thunder” Liger: ***
I think everyone was shocked when it was announced that Jushin “Thunder” Liger would be appearing on this show. This was actually a pretty big moment, as Liger, in his long and storied career, had never wrestled in a WWE ring. That changed on this night, as he took on Tyler Breeze, who had another awesome entrance where he was flanked by supermodels (who were dressed in NYC-themed costumes). I thought this was a solid opening match. Personally, I thought it was a tad underwhelming, considering who was involved (Liger in particular has had better matches in ROH in 2015), but still, this was all about seeing Liger in a WWE ring. He hit a ton of his signature spots, and the crowd in Brooklyn was really into him. Breeze looked good here as well, but in the end, Liger would score the victory following a Liger Bomb. I think most people were really surprised that Liger won here, as you might have thought that Liger would have put over Tyler Breeze. I guess the thinking might have been that if this was Liger’s only appearance for WWE, he might as well get the win.
2.) NXT Tag Team Titles - Blake & Murphy (with Alexa Bliss) vs. The Vaudevillains (with Blue Pants): ***1/4
So Blake & Murphy, at this point had been NXT Tag Team Champions since February, and back in May, aligned themselves with the newly-heel Alexa Bliss to form B.A.M.F. (That’s the Blake-Alexa-Murphy Factor). Here, they’re defending the NXT Tag Team Titles against Aiden English & Simon Gotch. I know they appeared on the episode of NXT TV that was taped before the actual special, but I have no idea why Enzo Amore & Colin Cassady weren’t in this spot, since they’re from the area, but whatever. The story here is that The Vaudevillains were looking for someone that would “neutralize” Alexa Bliss, and when Bliss taunted them on the mic before the match for not having any backup, they responded with Blue Pants (aka Leva Bates)! As far as the match goes, it was actually a pretty solid tag team affair. People have mixed opinions on The Vaudevillains, but generally, I like them. Blake & Murphy are fine as a team, but I find them to be very bland. They can have good matches, but “good” is their ceiling. As you would expect, Alexa Bliss & Blue Pants eventually get into a brawl, and this leads to The Vaudevillains scoring the victory and capturing the NXT Tag Team Titles! They celebrate their title victory with Blue Pants afterwards.
3.) Apollo Crews vs. Tye Dillinger: **
This is the official NXT debut for Apollo Crews, the man formerly known as Uhaa Nation, who made a name for himself in Dragon Gate (both the primary promotion in Japan and its affiliate in the USA), Evolve, and an assortment of other independent promotions. Here, he’s taking on Tye Dillinger, who is now doing a “Perfect 10” gimmick. This was an ok match. Crews looked fine here in his debut, but I feel that Dillinger got in more offense than he should have. Nothing much else to say about this one. In the end, Crews would pick up the victory in his debut.
Before the next match, NXT General Manager William Regal announces the “Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic”. As the name would imply, this is a tag team tournament that is dedicated to the memory of the late Dusty Rhodes. Regal says that the tournament will culminate at the next NXT TakeOver special on October 7th.
4.) Baron Corbin vs. Samoa Joe: ***
It’s kind of weird how, after his big debut at NXT TakeOver: Unstoppable (where he closed the show with a confrontation with Kevin Owens), Samoa Joe’s first match on a NXT TakeOver special is against Baron Corbin, of all people. I had some fears that this wasn’t going to be any good, but thankfully, they managed to put on a solid match. There were time when it wasn’t that good, but there were other points where it actually was good. As a whole, like I said, this was solid. Thankfully, Samoa Joe got the victory here (as I was fearful that they would just use him as a veteran to put over Corbin).
Stephanie McMahon comes out before the next match, where she announced the attendance (over 15,000) and introduced the NXT Women’s Title Match as the “co-main event”.
5.) NXT Women’s Title - Sasha Banks vs. Bayley: ****3/4
The anticipation for this match had really gotten amped up in the weeks leading up to this match, I feel. Not only has the NXT Women’s Title Match grown a reputation as being one of the best matches on the show, but recent events on the main roster had added a little bit to this match. A few weeks prior, Becky Lynch, Charlotte, and NXT Women’s Champion Sasha Banks were all brought up to the main roster at once, and the “Diva’s Revolution” (as coined by Stephanie McMahon) was in full swing, but that created a small sub-story of sorts, as Baylay was the only one out of the “Four Horsewomen” of NXT to not be called up. She’s had previous shots at the title, but this one is on a much bigger stage, in front of the largest crowd in NXT history.
Banks has her own special entrance, as she comes out Cadillac Escalade and is escorted to the ring by a security detail. They also do a big championship introduction before the bell. To put it simply, this might have been not only one of the best WWE matches in 2015, but the best women’s match in WWE history. This was absolutely fantastic!!! Both competitors did an amazing job here, and put on a spectacular match that is going to be remembered for a long time!!! My words can’t do this match justice. There were just too many awesome things that occurred. The action was great. They told a nice story. The crowd was going crazy! Everything just came together perfectly. In the end, after a freaking reverse Hurricanrana off the top rope, Bayley would hit the Bayley-To-Belly to capture the NXT Women’s Championship!!
After the match, Bayley & Sasha Banks embraced in the ring. Becky Lynch & Charlotte would then come out, and the “Four Horsewomen” of NXT celebrated in the ring together.
6.) NXT Title - Ladder Match - Finn Balor vs. Kevin Owens: ****1/2
At The Beast In The East WWE Network Special in Tokyo, Japan on July 4th, Finn Balor captured the NXT Title from Kevin Owens. This is the rematch, but this time, it’s a Ladder Match!! It’s only the second ladder match in the history of NXT. What’s really interesting about this match is that, while Kevin Owens has a LOOOONG history with Ladder Matches, this (I believe) was Balor’s first-ever Ladder Match, so the challenger has a distinct advantage. Of course, we get the full demon-entrance from Finn Balor, who’s all decked out in his demon body paint. I thought this was a fantastic Ladder Match!! As you would expect, Kevin Owens excelled in this environment, but Balor really did a good job here as well. We saw a ton of cool/crazy spots, and the crowd was invested. I think this may have been one of the best Ladder Matches we’ve seen in WWE in quite some times. In terms of the best matches we’ve seen from WWE in 2015, this would definitely have to be near the top of the list. Eventually, Finn Balor was able to overcome Kevin Owens, and retrieved the NXT Title to win the match. He celebrated in the ring as the show came to a close.
This might go down as the biggest and (quite possibly) the best NXT TakeOver Special to ever take place. There would be a particular NXT TakeOver Special in 2016 that would come to rival it (and potentially surpass it), but for 2015, this show was CLEARLY the best of the bunch. Interestingly enough, it does compare to a lot of the previous NXT TakeOver Specials, where the undercards are largely average, while the Main Events delivered. However, the difference here is that, while the undercard was still average as a whole, it did have a number of special moments that helped it stand out (Jushin “Thunder” Liger’s appearance, the NXT Tag Team Titles changes hands, the debut of Apollo Crews, and a big victory for Samoa Joe). Of course, the two Main Events delivered in spades. Sasha Banks vs. Bayley was a legitimate MOTYC, while the Finn Balor vs. Kevin Owens Ladder Match was fantastic. My only complaint is that those two matches should have been switched, and the NXT Women’s Title Match should have gone on last. Other that this, this was a really entertaining show that had the ultimate climax with the two Main Events in front of a packed house of over 15,000. Easily one of the best shows in NXT history.