Saturday night saw the first of two blockbuster main event shows take place as NXT hosted it's quarterly special event, NXT Takeover: Brooklyn. To say it was a night for the ages is probably understating it. We saw a night of firsts, a night of shocks, jaw dropping action, and a night of emotion where dreams came true and memories were made. The hype surrounding this show was incredible, especially given that every time NXT have one of these specials they always seem to leave fans wanting more. Saturday night would be no different as NXT would not only take over Brooklyn, but would take over the world. And the growth of NXT would continue as Triple H confirmed NXT is due to tour the UK in December, which is the first time the current NXT brand has hosted a show outside of US soil. I was pretty hyped to hear this announced but the actual show itself would leave me bursting for more action.
Triple H gave a truly rousing speech at the start of the show to kick things off really fired up the crowd, and almost reminded me of like an old school ECW vibe with how rabid the fans were. There is no denying the passion and pride of Triple H for everything that he and the trainers have done with NXT as a brand and development opportunity for the younger talent of WWE to shine. If a show like NXT, that was only ever meant to be a feeder system for the main roster can sell out the Barclay's Center, then WWE is truly on to a winning formula and the foundations are set for a solid future. The opening match of the night saw a meeting between Jushin "Thunder" Liger and Tyler Breeze. To say Liger has never been in a WWE ring or match I thought he gave a good account of himself in this one and looked like he could have a lot to give going forward to help bring on the younger talent. Breeze also showed why he is one of the talents on the roster to watch going forward. The only thing I felt disappointed in was the outcome of the match as I don't see what winning really does for Liger here, but I do see it harming Tyler Breeze somewhat. Hopefully Breeze gets a chance to avenge the loss down the line.
Up next was the Tag Team Championship match between The Vaudevillains and Blake and Murphy, who were accompanied to the ring by the smoking hot Alexa Bliss. There was always a feeling that this night would be the Vaudevillains moment to capture tag team gold and it was great to see them finally get their moment, as I believe Gotch and English are two of NXT's most underutilized talents. It was also great how Alexa was countered with the inclusion of Blue Pants at ringside, so that at least made booking the end much smoother. This was then followed by the debut of Apollo Crews, who faced off against Ty Dillinger. It's early days for Crews but I was impressed with what I saw from him, especially the standing moonsault he hit as his finisher. I think maybe he held a little back in the ring from what we have seen from him on the independents as Uhaa Nation, but once he gets a few matches under his belt in NXT I think he will be a name you need to seriously watch.
I loved the announcement of the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team tournament that will be taking place over the next few months. Dusty did so much for both the industry over his storied career, and for the stars of NXT with his wisdom and expert guidance. It was really the only fitting way to pay tribute to such a legend and I have every faith that all the teams involved will do Dusty's memory proud. Baron Corbin and Samoa Joe, the battle of the two behemoths was next up and this was what I expected it to be. It was a good mix of all out power brawling and wrestling combined. Up to this point Joe had not been beaten since arriving in NXT, so the pressure was on Corbin to try and hand the Samoan Submission Machine a taste of defeat. Corbin wasn't quite able to deliver and ended up being choked out by Joe in the Kokina Clutch. This probably won't be the last time we see these two face off but both men came out of this one looking strong.
Without question the highlight of the night came in the form of the NXT Womens Championship match between defending champion Sasha Banks and her challenger Bayley. This match was off the scale with the action, the emotion, and the story telling. We saw Banks, a desperate champion looking like a woman who was willing to do anything to win, even going as far as to unstrap and attack the injured hand of Bayley, suicide dive out of the ring onto Bayley, and showed her frustration when Bayley simply would kick out of everything she gave. But despite all the odds against her, Bayley showed grit and determination and told her own story of how she would simply never give up and was more than willing to risk it all to achieve her dream. That reverse hurracurana on Sasha off the top rope proved that she was willing to do anything, and then to pick up the win off the Bayley to Belly was a magical moment. You could see how much winning the NXT Women's Championship meant to Bayley, as tears rolled down her face and the crowd were literally cheering for her and showing their appreciation for all she gave. I thought Bayley almost looked a little overwhelmed by the reaction but that's understandable given the magnitude of what she had just done. And if that match wasn't enough I loved the embrace of the Four Horsewomen at the end of the match of Sasha, Bayley, Charlotte and Becky Lynch. As I watched that moment I literally had goosebumps (and still do as I write this from just thinking about it) as these four revolutionary Divas stood tall, basking in their glory as a group. I can't wait to see what all four can do together on the main roster one day.
So the question is how do you follow a match that was described as being the first of two main events. By putting on a Ladder match for the NXT Championship between defending champion Finn Balor and his challenger Kevin Owens. This match had everything I expected to see in it with both Owens and Balor willing to take big risks to win the title. These two fought it out over who would get to the ladder first, with Owens eventually winning that battle. As the ladders got involved in the match the intensity grew, with more risks being taken. We saw Balor get power bombed onto the edge of the ring apron, action spilling into the crowd, and the ladders being used as weapons which included a spot where Balor would deliver a Coup de Grâce onto Owens from the top of the ladder. Despite the fact he had a match 24 hours later, Owens didn't hold back and gave it his all in this one which was something I wasn't sure about as the last thing WWE or Owens needed was an injury the night before Summerslam. Owens and Balor should both be commended for their great work in this one and I thought they did a fitting job of following on from that amazing Women's Championship match.
The special thing for me about these NXT Takeover specials is that every one seems to be an improvement or step up from the last one. Maybe the fact that NXT doesn't rush it's stories and builds them up is a key part of this, but the one thing that makes it stand out is the fact it is simply all about one thing; the wrestling. Every time these young men and women set themselves a bar that looks like it won't ever be topped. And then they literally take that bar and raise it again. What NXT proves is that while we can all be critical of WWE as a company and a product overall there is hope for the future with Triple H and Stephanie at the helm. Saturday night felt very much like a proverbial "top this" shot at the guys on the main roster and I seriously don't quite know how they are going to top it despite the loaded card for Summerslam. Saturday night really was the night for me that NXT truly took over.
If you have enjoyed this blog, and any of my other work, then please give me a follow on Twitter if that's your scene by following @jamie_welton, or please give my Facebook page a like for all my latest blogs and thoughts on the world of WWE and Wrestling. You can now also check out my interviews on Soundcloud.