The three-day Weekend of Wrestling continued with NXT Takeover: Brooklyn II special, live once again from- where else?-Brooklyn, NY. The Barclays Center was packed with 15,671 fans, roughly 100 more than last year’s Takeover Brooklyn event.
As for the show itself, it was the usual super effort one has come to expect from the NXT Takeover franchise. It did feature one of the weakest NXT womens matches since Eva Marie was stinking out the joint on a weekly basis, as the after-effects of Vince McMahon’s premature roster poaching of NXT came back to bite them in the rear. However, every other match ranged from very good to off-the-charts. Under the careful guidance of HHH, even the weakest match was booked correctly with precision, skill and an eye towards a proper payoff in the future. More than I can say for what Vince McMahon and his Uncreative team did the following night.
Of the three major pro wrestling PPVs of the weekend, NXT Takeover wins the gold medal. It wasn’t the greatest Takeover event, but it was the best show of the weekend and once again, NXT showed up main roster WWE during a weekend of head-to-head shows. Only ROH provided serious competition with a strong PPV that kicked off the three-day weekend of major pro wrestling events.
Austin Aries Vs. No Way Jose: Despite being the storyline heel, Aries was given a thundering face reaction by the Brooklyn crowd. This wouldn’t be the last time such a phenomenon would occur this evening. Despite the worries that greenish up-and-comer Jose would struggle with his first televised high-profile live match, this was a solid opener. It soon became crystal clear that Aries was calling this match and it was certainly a testament to Aries’ skills in calling a match as he brought out the best in a promising rookie. To Jose’s credit, he proved to be a very good listener and more than held his own against a more experienced veteran. The live Brooklyn fans, a notoriously fickle and picky bunch, even got into it and started chanting for Jose in dueling chants with the pro-Aries contingent. Jose even broke free from Aries’ Last Chancery finisher and scored a near-fall with the Falcon Arrow, which certainly gave him some much needed cachet. However, a Jose victory wasn’t meant to be as Aries finished off his quarry with a sunset flip power bomb that transitioned into another Last Chancery for the tapout. ***3/4
As if the victory wasn’t enough, Aries started beating on Jose, turning him into the most dour sore winner since Stone Cold turned heel at Wrestlemania X-7. However, Aries let go of yet another Last Chancery when Hideo Itami made a surprise return after a year-plus on the shelf from a shoulder injury. Aries looked terrified as Itami glared at him from the stage. Itami soon found his way to the ring and Aries went for the attack. Itami was too quick for him and he soon devastated Aries with the GTS finisher that he hadn’t had the chance to use in his NXT tenure outside of a little-seen Wrestlemania 31 weekend fanfest show. So I guess we’re getting Aries/Itami at the next Takeover special, likely in October.
Ric Flair was in the audience with his soon to be fifth wife Fifi the Maid. He must be a glutton for punishment to want to add a potential fifth alimony to his financial woes.
Ember Moon Vs. Billie Kay: For those wondering, Moon is a recent arrival from the SHIMMER Women Athletes promotion, where she wrestled under the ring name Athena. This is where Vince McMahon’s main roster call-ups came to bite NXT big time as the extremely sloppy Kay got a PPV-level match despite being nowhere near ready to work a live televised match. To be honest, sloppy was putting it mildly as Kay botched one spot after another including Eat Defeat and a horrific powerbomb that could have killed Moon had she landed differently. She also failed to properly sell Moon’s offense. Despite this being her first NXT match, Moon got an incredible reaction from the live crowd. Well, fans can recognize actual talent when they can see it. Moon was simply awesome in the ring as everything she did looked great. Her work was so crisp and strong that she managed to overcome the liability of being stuck with a mediocre opponent and did enough to make the match fairly decent. Despite it being a weak match, this wound up being better than either of the two women’s matches on the main roster PPV the following night, which is certainly depressing. The finish was genuinely spectacular as Moon took Cena’s Stone Cold Stunner off the ropes to an insane new level by adding a tope and a twist before nailing the Stunner. Of course, Kay didn’t sell it. Moon is the real thing; Kay is still like a green banana in need of serious ripening. **1/4
3. Bobby Roode Vs. Andrade Cien Almas: It just wouldn’t be a Takeover special without Tom Phillips making a complete screw-up on commentary. This time around, he talked about how Roode traveled to Brooklyn from his Manhattan base via helicopter. Guess he wasn’t paying attention to the vignettes between matches that showed Roode traveling by limo, not copter. Despite being the storyline heel, Roode received a standing ovation and a total face reaction from the Brooklyn crowd, replete with 15,671 fans all singing the lyrics to Roode’s theme music and chanting “This is GLORIOUS!” It visibly shocked Roode, who clearly wasn’t expecting to receive such a superstar reaction and having never received such a reaction before, was even suppressing tears. Takeover Brooklyn II finally kicked off into high gear with this match. Roode seemed motivated to prove his worth as his performance here was miles better than the last year or two of his TNA tenure. Then again, he’s finally in an environment that isn’t dysfunctional and in which the head honcho isn’t more concerned with their own bid for stardom. Anyway, back to the match itself, which truly was glorious. Almas more than held his own in the ring against Roode and looked like a megastar by the time the match concluded. Even the Brooklyn crowd started giving him audible props midway through the match. Roode himself seemed to relish actually facing a quality opponent instead of the WWE rejects and assorted losers that were Dixie Carter’s pets in TNA. Almas scored several near-falls that had the live crowd completely unglued with suspense. Alas, a victory wasn’t meant to be for Almas as Roode finished off his opponent with the Glorious Slam (a modified pump handle slam) for the pin and a huge pop. ****1/2