• We Are NXT? TakeOver: Brooklyn Recap

    NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn came to Barclays Center and these humans attended.

    @TJHawke411 and @JoeySplashwater somehow tempted the gods of wrestling karma into getting sick seats to NXT. Both considered it the greatest wrestling experience of their lives and will share their memories along with any new thoughts after watching it on replay. TJ is using the star rating system and Joey is using the Brad Ward rating system.

    Support TJ Hawke by checking out Free Wrestling for great legally free wrestling and 411Mania for wrestling reviews.

    Support Joey by continuously clicking refresh on this page and by watching Girl Meets World on Netflix so he feels less guilty about pirating Season 1.

    Welcome to NXT

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    TJ:

    TakeOver: Brooklyn was actually my first live WWE show as an adult, and it was an eye-opening experience. I know it sounds condescending as hell, but the people-watching that you cannot help but engage in while you are surrounded by the wonderful characters of the WWE Universe is truly next level. That was quickly remedied once we got into the building because we got to sit in the section with the family and guests of the wrestlers! Most of them seemed quite lovely and contained endearingly-high levels of excitement to see their friends and family in the ring. This change in surroundings removed the possibilities of an unpleasant fan experience harming the show. Success!

    Joey:

    I went back and forth on whether to attend TakeOver: Brooklyn or ROH Field of Honor 2. Around the time the double main event was announced for NXT, I made the decision to attend this especially since it was in my “home arena” about 10 minutes away and there was a very special feel around it. I made a great decision. After being in this arena nearly 20 times for various events, I’ve never been located anywhere but the highest level. Somehow our seats were the best view in the entire arena, second row ringside around a bunch of lovely people. The experience of getting in the venue and finding our seats was already amazing.

    TV Taping

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    TJ:

    There were two big takeaways from the television taping: Enzo & Big Cass were arguably the two most over people on the show, and Dana Brooke is rarely in position for important spots. The reaction to Enzo & Big Cass was like nothing else that I have ever seen at a wrestling show. Their eight-man tag was quite the spectacle as a result and genuinely the third best match of the evening. Make sure you check it out.

    Dana Brooke was out of the ring for a pinfall-breakup spot early in the match, and the referee (Drake Younger!) had to go outside to practically grab her and put her into position for it. The finish was then fucked up because Dana was nowhere to be found when she was supposed to break up a pin on Becky Lynch. It was immediately clear that something went wrong, and the post-match beatdown of Emma and Dana seemed like an audible as a means to make up for it with the fans.

    Joey:

    It’s interesting. None of the matches on this show can really be called great or even good for that matter but I loved them all. I’ve always been against Enzo & Big Cass but even I loved them this night as the crowd was infectiously in love with them. I actually wish they won the tag titles for how memorable that moment would have been. During Eva Marie‘s match, the crowd response was incredible and it was funny watching Eva Marie’s husband (wearing a vest with an airbrushed image of Eva) seated a few seats away from me reacting to the match.

    I genuinely enjoyed the lovable smile on Bull Dempsey‘s face while the hometown crowd cheered him on. His family was so happy. This facet of the show was really mind blowing to see relatives of wrestlers get to experience the joy of their loved ones perform in a sold out arena. The main event of the TV taping was the hot mess of a divas match. Despite it falling apart, I loved it and can’t wait to watch it again.

    Jushin Liger vs. Tyler Breeze

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    Live perspective:

    TJ:

    I had never seen a Liger singles match live before, and it was truly special to get to seem him work from the second row. While I genuinely thought the match was good, I was initially a little disappointed to discover that the great majority of the crowd was not as enthusiastic as me to see him. In some ways though, it made the match all the more impressive as the fifty-year-old legend managed to rally the crowd behind him in eight minutes. They also did a smart thing in teasing the Liger Bomb twice before Liger finally won with it on the third attempt. The match was very novel and excellent way to kick off the live special. I would love for them to bring Liger back at some point for another NXT special.

    Joey:

    Seeing Liger open such an important show on such a big stage in America was a very feel good moment and brilliant booking to start the night. I thought the match was done perfectly with it being somewhat short but long enough to tell the right story. Liger’s comedic spots with the selfie stick was great. Breeze didn’t really get to showcase much but you have to sacrifice sometimes. Seeing Liger here really makes me desire the idea of Triple H contacting Rey Mysterio to work one of these specials as a free agent so he gets a nice WWE sendoff and the proper appreciation.

    Replay perspective:

    TJ:

    I did not focus on Breeze’s performance live as much, because I was so enamored with the idea of seeing Liger live. The match was obviously successful so I knew Breeze did a good job. It became even clearer on replay though how much he stepped up his game in this match. He bumped around to help get Liger’s offense over and was not overly-reliant on chinlocks during the brief heat segment. Kudos to Tyler (whom I’ve criticized a great deal over the last couple of years) for stepping up in a big spot. (THREE-AND-A-QUARTER STARS)

    Joey:

    As amazing as our seats were, I didn’t have a good view of the stage so I missed how great Tyler Breeze’s entrance was. Just a wonderful touch to start the show. Otherwise, everything was as fun as it was live and I enjoyed the match quite a bit. (VERY GOOD)

    The Vaudevillains vs. Blake and Murphy

    Live perspective:

    TJ:

    The NXT Tag Team Championship scene has always been poor since I’ve watched/paid attention to the product. None of the champions or challengers have stood out to me as being all that good, and this match did nothing to make me more optimistic going forward. The Vaudevillains had a lot of charm though and seem to be a really over act.

    Simon Gotch in particular seems to have a lot of potential, and I would actually be interested in seeing him in some bigger singles matches. Overall, this was forgettable other than the sinking realization that I was at a wrestling show were Blue Pants was astronomically more over than Jushin Liger. Also, Drake Younger yelling at the Vaudevillains to fix their celebration with Blue Pants and then later to smile more was absolutely tremendous.

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    Joey:

    I absolutely loved the entrance for the Vaudevillains and while I’m not a big fan, the crowd response for Blue Pants was amazing to witness. The match was fine and the ending was better than I expected with the crowd making the title change feel like a big moment. I think the Vaudevillains have something to offer so I’m hopeful the introduction of an NXT Tag Team Tournament will create a better division in the future. Also, TJ’s photo of Drake Younger was as wonderful as you’d expect in person. I have a new respect for the refs seeing how hard they truly have to work.

    Replay perspective:

    TJ:

    Watching this back on tape reminded me just how dull Blake and Murphy are in the ring. They remind me of the Irish Airbone but with somehow even less personality (and without one of them being able to do crazy flips). They have a lot of work to do. At least the title switch got over very well. (TWO-AND-A-HALF STARS)

    Joey:

    Felt the same way watching this back. I enjoyed it but it was just there until the great ending. (SOLID)

    Apollo Crews vs. Tye Dillinger

    Live perspective:

    TJ:

    I knew it would happen going into the match, but it was still annoying to see that this match had the obligatory heat segment that all big NXT debuts must endure. It just seems like a complete waste of time and needlessly makes a potentially huge star look weak against an NXT jabroni.

    On a positive note, Apollo Crews looked great as usual, and I envision him becoming a big star in NXT for the next year or so. (As long as he does not talk much.)

    Joey:

    You could see in Crews’ eyes how amazing a moment it was for him as he looked to the crowd and witnessed the grand size. This was an okay match with Crews getting to showcase his skills. Can’t really ask for more.

    Replay perspective:

    TJ:

    Watching the match back on tape did not change my initial take on the match in any way. Apollo looked great. The layout of the match was very dumb. (ONE STAR)

    Joey:

    Same. It was fine. A basic NXT TV match but with the coolness of an introduction. (SOLID)

    Samoa Joe vs. Baron Corbin

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    Live perspective:

    TJ:

    Beyond the novelty of getting to see Samoa Joe work his biggest show in the US, this was not really notable. Joe has *some* good matches left in him (make sure you check out his match with Kyle O’Reilly from earlier this year), but he clearly needs very good opponents for that to be a possibility anymore. He is sluggish and no longer capable of carrying people to interesting matches.

    Joey:

    During this match, I noticed Ric Flair and Sgt. Slaughter sitting a few seats away from us and informed TJ Hawke. Hawkester replied with “Who’s the old guy (next to Slaughter)?” Heavy shot but The Nature Boy deserved it. This match was basic as can be but I liked that I didn’t know who would win as it went on. As great as the live specials are, it’s often predictable so I give them credit for having me wonder. It was still cool to see Samoa Joe in front of such a big crowd considering how long he was in TNA.

    Replay perspective:

    TJ:

    Watching this again made me fully appreciate how much of a bore Baron Corbin is and how much I wish Joe worked this show against a small, flippy guy whom Joe could toss around. I did not like this match. At least Joe won. (ONE-HALF STAR)

    Joey:

    Yeah, this was brutal to watch back on tape. Much less fun than it was live. (GOOD)

    Sasha Banks vs. Bayley

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    Live perspective:

    TJ:

    Despite some sluggish moments early on and a loss of momentum towards the end (micro issues), the larger story and the majority of the execution was some of the best work in all of professional wrestling. Sasha Banks was already one of the best wrestlers in my eyes going into this match, and it was even clearer after watching her up close. Her mannerisms, her charisma, her in-ring storytelling, her heat segments, and her timing (and her music!) are all things that she is near the top or the very best at in all of professional wrestling. She is a potential gold mine. While Bayley is not quite on Sasha’s level, she stepped up to the plate and looked right at home on the big stage. She could be the babyface that carries the women’s division for years if the bookers on the main roster get their act together. This was easily the match of the night and probably the best match that I have ever seen live.

    Joey:

    This was the best wrestling match/moment I’ve ever witnessed live and may top all sports events and concerts I’ve attended, which is a pretty impressive list for my interest. When I got home, I saw the praises of “MOTYC” or “5 stars” and honestly, I didn’t know how to react to it. I lost myself in the moment of the match and couldn’t really look at it through those lens. I was captivated to the point where I felt like a kid again and those things didn’t really resonate until second watch. It was perfect. The entrances, the atmosphere, the story, the finish, the aftermath. Both of these women are such stars and that was a very special match I’m beyond lucky to witnessed live. Seeing Bayley’s family react was also a really amazing facet that added to it. Extra fun fact: My current screensaver is a photo of Sasha Banks in the air mid-dive with myself and TJ Hawke gasping in background. NO, you can not see it!

    Replay perspective:

    TJ:

    I watched this match back in amazement because I managed to like it even more than when I was surrounded by 15k people going nuts for it. My issues about the sluggish start and loss of momentum down the stretch did not stick out to me at all (and I was looking for them) this which alleviated my only big concerns with the match. I’m pretty much at a loss for words. Matches like this make paying attention to pro wrestling all worth it. (FIVE STARS)

    Joey:

    Somehow this was even better on replay value! I couldn’t hear the sound in the video package before the match but holy shit, that may be a top 10 WWE video production which says a lot. Other little things I didn’t notice live was Sasha working on Bayley’s injured hand (forgot she was injured) and the outstanding trash talk by Banks. This was my favorite match of the year. I am so happy they did the aftermath with everyone getting a standing ovation too. (FUCKING FANTASTIC)

    Finn Balor vs. Kevin Owens

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    Live perspective:

    TJ:

    As someone who is not a fan of going right back with a rematch in back-to-back PPV main events (in this case, I’m counting their title match as the real main event of The Beast in the East) or needlessly inserted gimmicks, I was not excited for this match going into the show. Then Kevin Owens made his entrance and started storming around the ring. At that moment I remembered that I was about to watch a a Kevin Owens main event ladder match in front of 15k people, and I realized that it was was going to be great. Soon enough, I was on my feet for the rest of the match and enjoyed everything that happened in it. Despite the lack of great in-ring story or outside storyline, this match was great at timing everything to make sure a great show was put on.

    Joey:

    I loved this. I actually thought it was better than the Final Battle Ladder Match with El Generico that I witnessed live a few years ago in the city. One of the more really cool moments for me this weekend was seeing Kevin Owens main event Barclays Center and even seeing Seth Rollins set the crowd on fire at Summerslam. Considering this has become the #1 venue in New York (don’t tweet me about MSG unless you’re time traveling to 1970) and how many times I’ve seen those guys do amazing things at smaller shows, it was just a surreal thing to be a part of. I liked the match a lot and on most other nights, it would have been the best of the show.

    Replay perspective:

    TJ:

    Despite all the talk about John Cena doing a great job of “working PWG matches” lately, Kevin Owens still is the person who knows how to do it best on the WWE roster. It is not a style that is ideal for all situations, nor one that excites all fans for sure. I love it when it’s executed as well as it is here though, and it fit perfectly well within the confines of a ladder match between two guys who are not exactly in a blood feud with each other. This was great and did an admirable job of following the WWE MOTY. (FOUR STARS)

    Joey:

    I liked it as much as I did live. Hearing Kevin Owens talk during his entrance was a really nice new aspect. They had an insanely difficult task following Bayley/Sasha but they did a very good job and I loved the match. (FANTASTIC)

    Overall show thoughts

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    Live perspective:

    TJ:

    TakeOver: Brooklyn was genuinely the greatest wrestling experience of my life (and possibly the best live experience in general), and it is hard to envision a scenario where something else would ever top it. I never got to experience a “hot” wrestling company live before, and this show taught me the difference between watching a hot show and a hot promotion. NXT is tapping into an audience in a way that allows for everything comes off as important (even if it’s not). Everything seems newsworthy (even if it’s not). When you combine that with the novelty of Jushin Liger’s WWE debut, a great main event, and an all-time great WWE match, you leave the show realizing that it was truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

    Joey:

    Best live wrestling show of my life. I’m still buzzing over it days later.

    Replay perspective:

    TJ:

    It is hard sometimes for me to separate my thoughts on an individual show from the things about the promotion that trouble me on the whole. The promotion primarily benefits the main man in charge, uses “cute” characters to appeal to fans to get away with consistently sub-par programming, engages their fans with condescending PR campaigns that make emotionally-deprived fans think they are somehow involved in the promotion (because they are a FAMILY), notoriously underpays the in-ring talent who are responsible for the connection with the fans in the first place, and shows no signs of fixing any of those issues soon since the die-hards are lapping up the great majority of the product. But enough about Chikara.

    NXT is the the third brand now with a very bright future. TakeOver: Brooklyn captured the magic of professional wrestling, but do not forget that it is past time for the in-ring talent responsible for making that happen were properly rewarded for that. Don’t forget that when management says, “#YouAreNXT” they are trying to make you not care about the bullshit the company has been responsible for and will continue to be responsible for. TakeOver: Brooklyn was so great that you might be sucked in to thinking this company wants to right the ship overall. Just watch Summerslam afterwards to remind you how far the company has to go. NXT is but a small part of this massive ship.

    Joey:

    Yeah, best live experience of any event counting playoff sports games and concerts. Just a night I will never forget and when I watch it back, the memories and happiness from the night still resonate the same.