It really is remarkable how WWE has found a home for Summerslam weekend at the Barclay’s Center, and we get to kick off this weekend with the third NXT Takeover set in Brooklyn. The first year featured Bayley finally toppling Sasha Banks as champ along with Finn Balor defeating Kevin Owens in a ladder match, while the second year featured the first match between The Revival and DIY alongside Shinsuke Nakamura’s first title win.
Can the third year in a row possible live up? Only one way to find out.
Johnny Gargano v. Andrade “Cien” Almas
As with most Takeover cards, the non-title matches tend to not have nearly as much story going for them as the actual championship matches, and that isn’t inherently a bad thing. This is the first big showing for Johnny Wrestling since that no good dirty rotten traitor Tommaso Ciampa turned on him at NXT Takeover Chicago.
Almas goes for the cheeky move where he lays between the ropes early on, but he seems to miss it. Gargano is quick to adjust and the match carries on. A second attempt at the heel move results in a kick to the mouth from the babyface, followed not too far behind by a slingshot spear. Gargano gets a little too excited though, and a second spear does not work out. Almas attempts his double-knee move multiple times, but Gargano manages to escape, one of which turns into a tilt-a-whirl armbar. Just as it looks like he has the victory, Almas’ manager Zelina Vega throws the old DIY shirt into the ring. Gargano is so shocked by this image that he loses focus and falls to El Idolo’s finisher.
Authors Of Pain v. Sanity: NXT Tag Team Championship Match
The ring is set to be filled with a whole lotta hunks o’ ham, and they all start brawling immediately. Things get confusing when Sanity’s Alexander Wolfe goes to tag Killian Dain and instead tags the leader, Eric Young. We hear something from commentary about how the tag team partner doesn’t matter until they’re actually tagged in.
This match feels a bit weird considering both teams have been heels through their entire run, but Sanity starts getting the cheers fairly quickly. Maybe it’s just because of how much the crowd loves Nikki Cross? Regardless of the initial intent, the cheers are well earned as Alexander Wolfe looks the best he has ever looked. He pulls off a nice German suplex, a wicked frankensteiner, and a top rope European uppercut against Akam and Rezar. Suddenly, Nikki Cross and Paul Ellering find themselves in the ring in a staredown while the actual competitors are outside the ring. Nikki uses the distraction to try to jump Akam, but she is easily caught. Killian Dain appears out of nowhere, throwing himself into them both and through a table propped up outside. They get back in the ring in time for Young and Wolfe to set up a tag team maneuver with a top rope neckbreaker, which leads to them being named the new champions.
After the match, recent NXT signees Bobby Fish and Kyle O’Reilly arrive and beat down both teams before leaving together, which gives me fantasy booking ideas. Imagine a year from now (or maybe less) where Fish and O’Reilly are champions facing a returning TM61 whenever Shane Thorne comes back from injury. That’s a match I’m already excited for.
Also, with Eric Young as a new tag champion, I wonder if Killian Dain will be pushed as the new singles monster or if they’ll operate under Freebirds/New Day rules and rotate.
Hideo Itami v. Aleister Black
This. Match. Is. Stiff. As. Hell.
I actually take some notes during these matches so that it’s easier to expand upon for this, and most of my notes are just various ways of mentioning how stiff this match is. I watched this Takeover with a friend who doesn’t watch wrestling but has been learning from watching with me, and he was shocked at just how physical this match was.
Aleister Black does his trick where he backflips off the ropes and lands in a seated position and it still looks really damn cool and I can’t help that. His nose is also bloodied fairly quickly, as Itami’s hard shots find their mark. After knocking Black down, Itami amplifies his heel heat by sitting cross-legged and mocking his opponent. After some more incredibly hard-hitting and exciting exchanges, the Dutchman hits the Black Mass kick out of nowhere, putting Itami away.
Asuka v. Ember Moon: NXT Women’s Championship Match
It has taken a while to get here.
Asuka debuted at NXT Takeover Respect in October of 2015. She defeated Bayley for the championship at NXT Takeover Dallas in April of 2016. Ember Moon debuted one year ago at NXT Takeover Brooklyn II, and had her first title shot at NXT Takeover Orlando in April of this year, falling to Asuka’s cheap tricks.
Now at NXT Takeover Brooklyn III, Ember finally gets her rematch. The two women begin brawling outside of the ring almost immediately, with Ember cannonballing onto the champion from the apron. Asuka responds by suplexing her challenger onto the steel ramp AND her bad shoulder. The undefeated Asuka is absolutely methodical with her focused attack on Ember’s injured arm; for Asuka, pain is a science. The match continues to build up until Ember Moon sets up for the Eclipse. She successfully lands the move, but Asuka kicks out of the finisher, which has never happened before. The frightened champ goes for a quick roll-up but the ref catches her pulling the tights to gain an advantage and calls off the pin. While trying to set up for another Eclipse, Ember falls victim to the Asuka Lock and submits, ensuring that the undefeated streak remains intact.
Something about the finish felt a little rushed to me, and I wonder if something went wrong. Regardless, these two women put on a monster of a match and deserve all the credit in the world. They should’ve main evented NXT Takeover Brooklyn III.
Bobby Roode v. Drew McIntyre: NXT Championship Match
Roode did not have an easy task in following up behind Shinsuke Nakamura as NXT Champion, and while his character is solid, he hasn’t had a truly great match in NXT yet. Former Intercontinental Champion McIntyre hopes to remedy that.
Both of their entrances were great; the challenger entered to the tune of live bagpipes and drums while the champion actually went minimalist and entered without a choir. Roode does a bit of a Ric Flair strut down the ramp, and his robe appears to look Flair-inspired as well, which hits pretty hard as we all wait to hear about his poor health condition.
I was quite surprised at the chemistry between these two. I knew the match would be good, but it was much better than I expected it to be. Roode kept the pace on his side, dragging down the significantly larger challenger to fight on his level. McIntyre finds some space after dropping the champ on the apron, but control shifts when they get back to the ring. Bobby Roode hits his Glorious DDT but the former 3MB member (oops) actually kicks out. After an astonished look, the champion immediately hits a second DDT and attempts a third to ensure his victory, but Drew pushes him away long enough to hit his vicious Claymore kick and pin the champion.
While celebrating his victory, McIntyre notices that Bobby Fish and Kyle O’Reilly are standing by one of the ringposts. As he slowly approaches them, he is attacked from behind by the surprise debut of former ROH World Champion Adam Cole, who immediately aligns himself with his fellow indie stars. The three men continue to beat on the new NXT Champion before walking out together, setting the stage for the future.
What did you think of NXT Takeover Brooklyn III? How did it compare to the previous two Brooklyn cards? Will one of these matches end up being the match of the weekend? Let me know how you felt about it all!