by: Mike Respass Follow Mike on Twitter by clicking here
The Undisputed ERA defeated Moustache Mountain at 18:07 via pinfall to retain the NXT Tag Team Championships.
photo courtesy of WWE.com
In what was a common theme throughout the night, this was the rubber match between the two teams. Moustache Mountain had won the NXT Tag Team Titles at Royal Albert Hall and then lost to The Undisputed ERA in a rematch on an episode of NXT. Having these three title matches so close to one another with the same two teams involved ran the risk of becoming a bit stale and this match had felt a bit like deja vu for me at times. But to be completely honest, the greatest hits from these two teams beat the hell out of most other tag team matches due to their obvious chemistry and have me still wanting more matches between the two.
The one constant throughout these matches for me, and this tilt in particular, was how impressed I had been with Tyler Bate. His in-ring ability and feats of strength have been the cherry on top of what has been a wonderful trio of matches between these two teams. Watching Bate carry one member of The Undisputed ERA on his shoulders as he performs the big swing to the other member was really cool the first time I saw him do it and I was not upset that I got to see him do this again. The more impressive move he performed was with Kyle O’Reilly attempting to put Bate in a sleeper-hold, Bate dead-lifted Roderick Strong and gave him a suplex while also slamming O’Reilly into the ground as he fell backward.
The tease of Trent Seven possibly throwing in the towel to stop the match due to the damage being done to Bate’s leg was a really cool call back to their latest match when Bate threw in the towel to save Seven. Also having O’Reilly kick out of the same tag team finisher that put him away in London showed how much more this stage and this match meant for The Undisputed ERA. In the end, O’Reilly and Strong were just too much for Moustache Mountain and landed Total Elimination for the victory.
Although the result was fairly obvious with NXT UK coming soon where Moustache Mountain would be an obvious choice to be their first ever tag team champions, this was a nice end to their trilogy of matches. Add in the War Raiders attacking The Undisputed ERA after the match had concluded and that gave a clear path to move on from this feud. Putting this match on first was the right decision and got the night off to a wonderful start. *** 3/4
Velveteen Dream defeated EC3 at 15:05 via pinfall.
photo courtesy of WWE.com
This may be an unpopular opinion but I feel like the set up to the match was everything that Ricochet and Velveteen Dream was not. EC3 adds a bit more in the charisma on the microphone that really brought out how much these guys wanted to one up each other and craved the spotlight that Ricochet could only really show in his athletic ability. That being said, this match lacked the star power and intrigue that the Ricochet match had surrounding it, due to the recent booking of EC3 in NXT.
At the beginning of the night, if you had to pick the match you would guess would be the worst of the card, this would have been the one and it pretty much held true to that. In what was the worst of five amazing matches, the match had a great story to tell between two guys who are looking to steal the show each time they step into the ring, head games and one-upsmanship were aplenty.
This was definitely a fun match and a great addition to the four exciting title tilts throughout the evening but when it was all said and done, Dream pulled out the highlights of the night that ended everything for EC3. I may be partial with having a podcast called Apron Work Podcast and Dream finished this match with some beautiful Apron Work but the cartwheel death valley driver he gave to EC3 on the apron was devastating. Unfortunately, I wish the flying elbow from the top rope to the apron looked a little bit better or was done inside the ring but they likely could have done without that spot at all. Regardless, Dream picks up the victory in normal Velveteen spectacular fashion.
In my opinion, this was more of a must-win match for Dream than it was for EC3 so I felt like he deserved the win here. EC3 is in danger of losing way too much but he is still fresh to the NXT scene and I expect him to be the future of the brand when some of the top guys are called up. Even though Dream made a statement with his tights that said “Call Me Up Vince,” I feel like this match should be a launching pad for a possible North American title opportunity. *** 1/2
Ricochet defeated Adam Cole (BayBay!) at 15:20 via pinfall to become the NEW NXT North American Champion.
photo courtesy of WWE.com
Listening to the crowd scream BayBay! after Adam Cole’s name is announced as he walked to the ring gave me chills from hearing it live at NXT TakeOver: Philadelphia. This match had a lot of buzz around it as a lot of people had this chalked up as their prediction for “Match of the Night.” I will claim ignorance with Ricochet’s matches pre-NXT to the point that I may not have been as hype for this match and would feel I need to see more from Ricochet to keep up with Cole than he did with that match against Dream at the last TakeOver.
I was pleasantly surprised that I saw so many things in this match that I am not sure that I had seen before. I would be crazy not to mention that superkick by Cole on Ricochet as he was performing a springboard moonsault. It was on point and hit perfectly, especially when shown in slow motion. I really thought that may have been the end of the match, which would have been quick but in a sense satisfying due to how painful that looked. The double leg dropkick by Ricochet on Cole when he tried to leapfrog him was another move that I found myself in awe of at just the height they both got alone. Sadly, I found myself thinking to myself “MAMMA MIA!”…I know, I am ashamed of myself.
The back and forth kicks from both men that led to a superkick by Cole into an enzuigiri by Ricochet that caused Cole to fall on top of him for a near fall was classic which then led to the “MAMMA MIA!” chant from the crowd. The moment of the match that had my jaw go from dropped to dislocated was when I saw Ricochet jump clear over the top rope to the apron performing a hurricanrana onto Cole to the outside. That moment deserved the more adult themed ECW chant that it got and led to the 630 splash by Ricochet for the win and the NXT North American Championship.
As of writing this, I have watched this match three times already and plan on doing so multiple more times in the next day or two. I hate to see Cole lose the title as I have become a huge fan of his but the title change made sense as Ricochet may need the title with his lack of a personality so far and he may be better off as the fighting champion whereas Cole can move his sights to bigger and better things in NXT. Hopefully. Fingers crossed. **** 1/2
Kairi Sane defeated Shayna Baszler at 13:35 via pinfall to become the NEW NXT Women’s Champion.
photo courtesy of WWE.com
This match was my prediction for match of the night as I have become a huge fan of Shayna Baszler and her progress on the microphone and in the ring. The story between her and Kairi Sane has been a great one as Baszler has been dominating the NXT Women’s division ever since she won the title off of Ember Moon and Sane beat Baszler last year in the finals of the Mae Young Classic. The fact that Sane had previously defeated Baszler had given that legitimate feel that she could actually win the match even though Baszler had beaten her once since, making this the second rubber match of the night.
The powerhouse and submission offense that Baszler has shown off in her matches had been counteracted by Sane’s speed and going for submissions of her own. It was a nice change to what you may have expected this match to look like at the beginning as it looked as though Sane had done her homework in trying to get the victory. Baszler gets the second most heat on the NXT roster and it is well deserved as she plays the character well and found ways to contort and bend Sane’s leg that had the crowd gasping.
The false finishes, including Baszler kicking out of the InSane Elbow, brought a more real feel to this match than some other women’s matches because you constantly see that in the men’s matches when it is considered to be a huge spot; this was clearly a huge match for both of these ladies. I know there was some complaints about Baszler kicking out of the elbow and some of the other kick-outs of finishers, but the fact of the matter is, this happens all of the time and shouldn’t be frowned upon on occurring at such a huge event.
When Baszler got her legs up on the last InSane Elbow attempt by Sane which led to a Kirifuda Clutch attempt, I marked out a bit and thought it was over. I was about 50/50 on the ending of the match. I loved how Sane was able to reverse the submission attempt by Baszler into a pinning bridge combination but I felt like it happened at the blink of an eye that it didn’t give the crowd enough time to process it as it was happening. Either way, that pin gave Sane the three count and the NXT Women’s Championship!
As much as I wanted to see Baszler continue to dominate the NXT women’s division, the constant mention of the Four Horsewomen and photos I had seen on social media made me wonder if my prediction of the Four Horsewomen of MMA will actually take on the Four Horsewomen of Wrestling at the Evolution PPV which would make sense to get the title off of Baszler and have her brought up to start the new storyline that would develop into that four on four match. Sane, being such a fan favorite and so skilled in the ring, was the obvious choice for someone to finally defeat Baszler as she has done so in the past and will now likely begin a feud with either Bianca Belair or Lacey Evans if Baszler is main roster bound. ****
Tommaso Ciampa defeated Johnny Gargano at 33:40 via 10 count to retain the NXT Championship.
photo courtesy of WWE.com
Such an emotional rollercoaster that led into this match and now the NXT Championship is involved. The biggest issue with this match from the start is this is now the third straight TakeOver that Johnny Gargano and Tommaso Ciampa met in the main event in what is essential an anything goes type of match. The loss of Aleister Black to injury had obviously caused them to re-think this match on the fly and I don’t know if they succeeded completely but it is easy to hide lack of planning when these two are involved in a match.
The story wrote itself from the beginning and we saw big spot after big spot to prove that they both actually would have loved to kill each other. The hatred between these two ex-friends shows up in their matches and no matter how often we seen certain moves, or certain objects used, it still feels exciting due to the overall stakes on the line and the crowd’s want for Gargano to finally get over on Ciampa after he turned his back on his ex-best friend. The ability for these real life friends to work with one another and for Ciampa to get the crowd to hate him as much as they want to cheer for him adds to a match that we feel we have already seen but are hoping for a different result.
The spot where Gargano kicks the ringside worker which leads to Ciampa putting Gargano through the barricade and then he puts the laid out worker, the barricade and he threw some other objects and chairs on top of both the work and Gargano to attempt to get the 10 count was a hilarious way to try to end things even though you knew deep down that couldn’t be the end of the match. So many call backs to the first two matches happened throughout this match, such as the removal of the outside floor padding, the matting to the ring, the handcuffs and the crutch. The fact that they can re-use the same things each match and still find new ways to use them without it feeling repetitive is really awesome but I feel the fans overall want for Gargano to finally get over that hump to become champion helps fans ignore it even if it did feel repetitive.
Once the handcuffs were taken out, everyone knew they would play a role in the finish and if the initial result of the match was to have Ciampa win by having Black and Gargano kind of cancel each other out, having Gargano go one step too far and hurting himself when he could have had Ciampa beat was not a bad alternative. Hopefully this knee injury of Gargano’s will keep him out of action for a while until we finally get Gargano’s NXT Championship win over Ciampa at NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn V, the night before WrestleMania 35. Until then, Ciampa not only lucked into a win with Gargano going too far but he is still the NXT Champion! **** 1/2
Overall Take on TakeOver
NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn IV had a lot of expectations to live up to when looking at the matches on paper with the stories that surrounded them and I would say that they definitely met those expectations. The overall feel of the show built up after the first two matches, which were fun, but not on the same level as the last three matches were. The fact that three of these matches were the rubber matches of a trilogy and none of them scored under 3 and 3/4 stars is more a testament to the wrestlers involved in those matches more than anything else. A bit of a disappointment in the EC3/Dream match and the lack of Black in what was supposed to be a triple threat main event likely held this back from being a 9 or higher. The fact of the matter is, the show was great from top to bottom and should be watched by any past, current or future wrestling fan.