The NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn IV Report Card

After a troublesome couple of weeks, I’m proud to say that I’ve somehow made it to Brooklyn (figuratively speaking of course) and overall, I’m relatively excited about what’s to come. This isn’t my favorite TakeOver card ever, but it’s still quite obviously a strong one and more than that, I’m very much anticipating the Undisputed Era/Moustache Mountain rubber match too. However, there is one slight issue. It was a chaotic evening for me at Hulbert Headquarters and sadly, I have no notes which means that frankly, this will likely be a disgraceful piece of literature.

Then again, if I’m allowed to be lied to about main event triple threats that aren't happening, I suppose I can produce a sloppy report card every once in a while. Being professional all the time is tough, you should try it sometime Hunter.

The Great Khali On His WWE Debut: Vince McMahon Just Told Me, 'Kill The Undertaker'

DISCLAIMER: any wild predictions I make that you disagree with will likely be proven completely wrong in the coming weeks, months and years anyway so don’t worry too much. Basically, take everything you read from this point forward with a grain of salt as its credibility is preposterously low.

NXT Tag Team Titles

The Undisputed Era (C) vs. Moustache Mountain

Well, I entered this match with sky-high expectations but I must say, these two marvelous teams didn't disappoint. This was exceptional from start to finish, hitting the ground running with intensity as The Era quickly isolated Bate and went to work. Their aggression and venom here was just delightful, with refreshing fundamentals working in tandem with immense athleticism and creativity. Bate sold all of this rather well and unsurprisingly so considering the offense he was sustaining, I just hope it didn't hurt as bad as it looked like it did.

Seven’s hot tag eventually came and it delivered too, but The Era soon turned the tide regardless, going to work on Trent just like last time. After a little more control, Bate fought for some respite, powerbombing O’Reilly into Roddy and breaking up The Strong Hold. Bate’s full comeback came thick and fast also, eventually scoring the Tyler Driver 97 for a stunning false finish. However, Tyler was once again isolated soon after, with O’Reilly applying the heel hook as Seven considered throwing in the towel.

He’d opt against it though, launching the towel into the crowd and coming in for one final hot tag. A couple more false finishes followed but in the end, The Era retained their titles with high/low. Unsurprisingly, I absolutely loved this match and my central takeaway remains that this Roddy/O’Reilly duo is quickly proving itself to be rather special. Bobby Fish is a marvelous talent but this recent run is astonishing, especially considering his absence. Simply immense opener.

Grade: A

Velveteen Dream vs. EC3

I love both of these performers and after seeing Dream’s “Call Me Up Vince” tights, I was particularly fired up. However, I sadly found much of this match to be rather lethargic, lacking a certain energy for whatever reason. That’s not say it was bad, because it wasn't and in the end, things picked up and became pretty good. However, the action just felt a little lifeless to me and whilst I enjoyed the odd character moments, the work just lacked sharpness in my view.

I think EC3 is an underrated in-ring performer but I wouldn't say that he’s the most fluid and when combined with Dream’s wacky movement, that made for some slightly odd looking exchanges. Dream is a serious talent but I have to be honest in saying that I’ve not particularly enjoyed his in-ring approach as of late. It’s all very ‘tribute match’ to me, rather than The Dream that just wrestled like a heel but with some flamboyant shenanigans in-between. To me, that version of Dream was the best yet.

Nonetheless, this was fine even if a little disappointing to me as a fan of both men. Dream eventually got the win either way, hitting the Purple Rainmaker on the apron. Velveteen’s youth can’t be ignored of course, he’s really just getting started.

Grade: C+

It’s at this point in the broadcast that a very happy Matt Riddle emerged, his hair looked glorious and shocking I know, but he’s seemingly in NXT now.

NXT North American Title

Ricochet vs. Adam Cole (C)

This match wasn't an immediate hit with me but it gained momentum rapidly and in doing so, captured my attention in a big way down the stretch. Early on, both guys established the character contrast neatly as they laid the platform for the excitement to come. As the match developed though, they’d also increase the level of content, attempting some quite outrageous things that they inexplicably pulled off without a flaw. This included Cole catching a handspring into a backstabber or more memorably, superkicking Ricochet out of the air…mid-moonsault.

That particular spot led to a massive false finish that probably deserved the full three but regardless, Ricochet quickly fired back with a reverse rana before hitting a hurricanrana off the apron and closing the show via 630 splash. This was just an excellent match, back and forth action, high drama and an almost staggering amount of creativity. Cole was great here, dispelling once and for all any doubts about his in-ring ability, especially on the big stage. Everything he did here worked and he genuinely came across like a polished pro.

As for Ricochet, wow. He remains unmatched athletically but also just did the basics superbly here too, selling and bumping well throughout whilst really projecting with his facials and body language too. Honestly, he just feels like the absolutely perfect AJ Styles replacement and that’s a compliment of the highest order…it’s also a good excuse to link my BRAND NEW AJ STYLES FEATURE.

Seriously though, this great match that elevated this title dramatically. Brilliantly done.

Grade: A

NXT Women’s Title

Kairi Sane vs. Shayna Baszler (C)

I’ll be totally honest in saying that personally, I wasn't overly interested in this match going in. I felt I’d seen the best they could offer together and was probably a little dismissive. Well in hindsight, I think it’s fair to say that I underestimated this quite a bit. Baszler was at her absolute best here early, keeping it simple and destroying Kairi’s limbs just for fun. This approach allowed Sane to do what she does best: work babyface...pure babyface.  

Now look, it’s one thing to be a babyface, but to operate at the level Kairi did here, well that’s a whole different challenge altogether. With her selling, Sane gave this match an emotional hook and when the time came, she brought a fire that made her simply impossible to root against. She’s just likable and brings an infectious energy, allowing her to play pure babyface to a level rarely seen across the wrestling world. That’s not to ignore Shayna either, a talent that’s quite visibly improved exponentially this year.

All of this match was well-worked but it was the closing moments that truly put it over the top. Baszler dramatically kicked out of the famed Insane Elbow and then countered The Anchor, snatching the choke. In beautiful pro wrestling fashion, Sane then scrambled to the ropes and eventually, countered Baszler’s choke, scoring the quick Bret Hart roll-up win. This match was far better than I expected it to be and they should be proud of their efforts. On any scale, this was excellent.

Grade: A

NXT Title

Last Man Standing

Johnny Gargano vs. Tommaso Ciampa (C)

Back in Chicago, these two silenced my doubts and just two months after their New Orleans classic, produced another standout main event bout. However, in my opinion all of that prior caution came to the fore here in Brooklyn. This was a good match, and I’m not here to pretend otherwise but I must say that for me, this format felt well and truly exhausted this time around. Both those prior clashes were lengthy affairs, worked more like blow-offs than just story beats. Considering that, it felt like on this occasion, they’d gone to the well one too many times.

Now don’t get me wrong, they did some very good stuff and the intensity was still there but it’s just not the same for me anymore, I’ve seen them fight this way for 90 minutes within 4 months. Now I can’t really be critical of NXT here of course because Black’s injury obviously hurt them but I can only judge the show that they present and whilst this was an enjoyable main event, it just felt like a try-hard repeat to me and the always tough Last Man Standing gimmick only worsened its issues.

The crowd wasn't as hot, the content wasn't as fresh and most importantly, this conflict just isn’t as interesting now. I understand what they are trying to achieve with Johnny’s character development but to me it feels like just an excuse to provide a vehicle for this feud’s continuation. Just like last time, the conclusion came with theatrics on the ramp as Gargano handcuffed Ciampa and after hesitating, kneed him so violently that he fell over himself and in doing so, cost himself the match as he failed to beat the count of 10.

Now, without going over every maneuver, Gargano sustained quite a lot in this match. Three of Ciampa’s violent backbreakers, even his face-buster finish on the steps too. In the end though, he just got angry and took himself out in rather underwhelming fashion. This is subjective so I’m sure that some liked this finish but for me, I thought it was a rather poor ending to a very good show. This main event was objectively good but nothing more in my view and sadly, Black’s injury seemingly hindered this show’s chances of entering the upper echelon of NXT TakeOver events.

Grade: B

Final Thoughts

This show had three excellent matches and a strong main event too. In a strange way, it may have had more consistency than many TakeOver shows but unfortunately, it lacked one truly astonishing bout to tip it over the top. Combine that with the main event’s finish and the forgettable Dream/EC3 affair, and you have a show that somewhat flattered to deceive. This was a very good wrestling show but I can’t but feel that it could’ve been more with a fresher main event. Not in participants exactly, but instead in its general feel and approach.

Whilst undeniably enjoyable, this was the first Brooklyn show that for me, failed to feel truly special and that’s a shame. Nonetheless, NXT continues to produce impressive TakeOver events, and long may that trend continue.

Grade: B+

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