The SmarK Rant for NXT Takeover Brooklyn IV
Live from Brooklyn, NY
Your hosts are Mauro Ranallo, Nigel McGuinness and Percy Watson
NXT tag titles: Kyle O’Reilly & Roderick Strong v. Tyler Bate & Trent Seven
Strong nails Bate off the apron immediately and the Era double-teams Seven in the corner, but everyone slugs it out in the middle and brawls onto the floor. Back in, Bate gets a diving senton onto O’Reilly for two and he slams Seven onto Strong for two. Strong fires back with a backbreaker on Seven and the Era goes to work on him. KOR with the kick combo and a kneedrop gets two. Seven fights O’Reilly off with chops and brings Bate back in, and he snaps off a rana on Strong and hits a flying uppercut off the middle rope on Kyle. Bate puts O’Reilly in a fireman’s carry, but Strong comes in, so Bate takes him down and gives him a giant swing while still holding O’Reilly on his shoulders! Unfortunately, Bate misses a blind charge and gets blasted by Strong out of the corner, and O’Reilly goes to work on the arm. O’Reilly with a kneedrop while Strong holds a backbreaker, and that gets two. Strong puts him in the Gory Special and bends him at an amazingly unnatural angle, but Bate powers out, so O’Reilly comes in and takes out the knee. The Era switches off and works the knee, but Bate kicks Strong out of the ring and tosses O’Reilly. Hot tag Seven and he hits Kyle with a dive and throws corner clotheslines on both Era guys, then a dragon suplex on Strong for two. Back to O’Reilly, who hits Seven with a brainbuster for two. The Era double-teams him with knees in the corner and Strong gets an Angle slam for two. Bate saves with a rolling kick, but Strong takes him out and puts Seven in the Stronghold while Kyle triangles Bate to delay him. Bate powers out and uses O’Reilly as a battering ram to take out Strong, however. Bate comes in again and throws both Era guys into each other, then dumps them and follows with a dive. Strong tries to throw him into the apron, but Bate rebounds with a lariat and tosses him back in for the Tyler Driver for two. Amazingly timed sequence there! Bate goes up and Strong cuts him off, allowing O’Reilly to run Bate’s shin into the post. O’Reilly gets rid of Seven and rolls into a heel hook on Bate and sinks it in deep. Seven tries to save, but the ref informs him that he’s already used his save, and that allows Strong to drag them back into the heel corner. Seven grabs the towel, but throws it into the crowd and tells Bate to fight instead! So Bate does just that, and it’s HOT TAG Seven. He slugs it out with O’Reilly and gets the lariat for two. Bate comes back in with the double-team Burning Hammer, and that gets two. Seven tries a dragon suplex on Kyle, but he escapes, and the high-low finishes Seven at 18:15 to retain. Amazing opener, although it didn’t quite have the high-level drama of the title change. ****3/4 And then the War Raiders storm in and destroy the champions afterwards, so there’s our next program.
EC3 v. Velveteen Dream
Dream’s tights ask “Call Me Up, Vince”. Probably not a good idea for another year, Dream. EC3 will probably get the callup any day now, though. EC3 overpowers Dream to start and tosses him onto the floor. Mauro: “EC3 claims to have more money than Bruce Wayne, but we can confirm that he hits harder than Giancarlo Stanton with a bat, man!” He really worked hard for that one. Back in the ring, EC3 crotches Dream and abuses his crotch for a while, then clotheslines him off the apron and back to the floor. Dream tries a sunset flip back in and EC3 blocks it and does some hip swivels, but Dream escapes the 1 Percenter. EC3 with an elbowdrop and a Cactus clothesline to put Dream on the floor again, but Dream comes back with his overly complicated DDT on the ramp. Ouch. Dream runs him into the post and back in for two. Dream goes up with a forearm from the middle rope and slugs away in the corner. Neckbreaker gets two and he goes to a neck vice as the crowd seems really distracted by something else at the moment. EC3 powers out of a neckbreaker, but a second try gets two for the Dream. They fight to the floor and Dream throws water at him, but that makes EC3 mad and he comes back in the ring with a lariat out of the corner and a rolling necksnap. Dream rolls him up for two, but EC3 takes him down with a bulldog headlock for two. EC3 pounds him in the corner, but Dream goes up, so EC3 slams him off the top and goes up himself. Dream rolls through a crossbody for two, but EC3 powerbombs him and another powerbomb gets two. They fight to the top and EC3 gets the superplex for two. They head to the apron and EC3 tries the 1 Percenter, but Dream reverses to the death valley driver for two. EC3 with a german suplex for two. Back to the apron and Dream gets the driver on the apron (THE HARDEST PART OF THE RING!) and he follows with the Purple Rainmaker on the apron to finish at 15:05. Not Dream’s usual show-stealing classic, but still good. Seemed like they never really got onto the same page. ***1/4
Matt Riddle finally gets unveiled at ringside, so everyone can stop pretending now.
North American title: Adam Cole v. Ricochet
They trade hammerlocks to start and Ricochet flips out of it to reverse, but Cole headfakes him with a superkick attempt. Cole works a headlock while laying the badmouth on him, but Ricochet gets a crazy dropkick to block a leapfrog and Cole runs away. Back in, Cole tosses him to block a bodypress attempt and runs him into the railing as Ricochet takes a crazy bump off that. Back in, Cole slugs away and adds a neckbreaker for two. Ushigoroshi gets two and Cole goes back to the headlock, but Ricochet rolls into a dropkick to put Cole on the floor again. Ricochet follows with a dive that nearly overshoots him and back in for a 619 in the corner and a springboard uppercut for two. Ricochet misses a moonsault, but rolls into a shooting star press instead and then gets the corkscrew moonsault for two. Ricochet with the chops, but Cole counters a handspring with a backstabber for two. Ricochet blocks the superkick and tries a quebrada, but Cole blocks THAT with the superkick and a neckbreaker that gets two. That looked SICK on the slow-mo replay. Ricochet counters a low kick with a rollup for two, and they slug it out, and that turns into a war of attrition with crazier kicks until Cole falls on top for two. He loads up the knee, but Ricochet gets the reverse rana and goes up, and Cole rolls out of the way of that and escapes to the apron. Cole makes the fatal error of pointing to his head to indicate intelligence, so Ricochet takes him to the floor with a rana, and back in for the 630 to win the title at 15:20. NEVER POINT TO YOUR HEAD! Hopefully he defends it more than Cole’s zero times. ****1/2
I feel like Summerslam might have a hard time topping this show. Just a hunch.
NXT Women’s title: Shayna Baszler v. Kairi Sane
Sane quickly takes her down with a leglock, but Shayna makes the ropes to escape. Sane counters a rollup into another leglock and they slug it out, leading to Sane getting a headscissors to put Baszler on the floor. She follows with a clothesline off the apron, but Shayna dropkicks the knee back in the ring. She goes to work on the knee and pounds away on the mat while locking up the knee. Baszler just WRENCHES the ankle in ways the human body is not supposed to bend as the crowd gasps in pain, and she stomps the ankle at a nasty angle. It’s crazy how such simple stuff draws nuclear heat. Shayna mocks Sane’s pirate ways, but that gets Kairi all fired up because who doesn’t love Assassin’s Creed IV? Granted I haven’t played it yet but I bought it and I’ve heard it’s really good. Sane makes the comeback with a rolling neckbreaker and gets an elbow in the corner for two. Sane goes up and Shayna takes her down with a gut wrench superplex. Sane keeps coming as they slug it out, but Shayna puts her down with a knee to the face for two. Sane with a spear and she goes up and drops the elbow on the back, but then she calls for another one and Baszler rolls out to escape. So Kairi hits her with a dive off the top instead, and back in for the flying elbow, which gets two. She tries a submission hold on Baszler, but WHOOPS, Shayna suckers her in for the rear naked choke, and Sane makes the ropes to escape. Shayna goes to work on the leg again with a heel hook this time, but Sane somehow reverses that into the AnchorLock, but this time Baszler makes the ropes. So Kairi does it again on the apron (THE HARDEST PART OF THE RING!) and then follows with a whiplash slam and another flying elbow, which misses this time. Another Kirafuna choke follows for Baszler, but Sane immediately rolls over and gets the flash pin at 13:34 to win the title! Was not expecting that finish. ****
Coming soon: NXT UK.
NXT title, Last Man Standing: Tomasso Ciampa v. Johnny Gargano
But first, some reader mail:
Am I the only person who was bored by the recent Ciampa/Gargano matches? I thought their CWC match was aces and deserving of its praise, but the most recent Takeover matches have been woefully overrated IMO. In fact, during Takeover New Orleans, I feel asleep watching the match. When I re-watched it (a week later b/c I couldn’t drag myself to devote the time it apparently necessitated), I started getting bored *again* around the time I fell asleep the 1st time, and it turns out the match went on for another 15 minutes, at least!
Takeover Chicago wasn’t any better, and the whole overextended period where they were stretchering Ciampa, and Gargano just sat there watching completely took me out of the match.
I found both matches to be plodding, lumbering, near Sabu-match levels of spot/rest/spot/rest, and they lasted at least 10 minutes, even 15, longer than they should have. FTR, I also found the NXT WarGames match to be an extremely dull, plodding, never-ending, and severely overrated Sabu-match affair.
Just b/c a match is “epic” in length and scope, it doesn’t mean it’s good. Is this praise the result of NXT fanboi blinders? What exactly am I missing?”
A soul. You’re missing A SOUL, you monster.
Speaking of monsters, the most hurtful sign in the crowd: “Ciampa is a meanie”. Words cut deep. Johnny attacks during the intros and slugs away on Ciampa, but they head to the floor and Ciampa sends him into the stairs. Gargano runs him into the railing a few times in response and then hurls him into the announce table and takes out Percy Watson as a bonus. He tries to piledrive Ciampa on the table, but Ciampa puts him through the Spanish table with the Air Raid Crash and Gargano fights his way up. Back in, Gargano tries to grab a chair, but Ciampa beats him down in the corner and hits him with a pair of running knees, but Johnny fights back with the chair and pounds the ribs with it. Gargano sets up for the lawn dart, but Ciampa reverses into a sleeper and smartly uses the ropes for leverage until Gargano appears to be out. He beats the count at 6, but Ciampa clamps the sleeper back on again and then hangs him in the corner with it. Gargano escapes with the lawn dart into the chair, however, and that gets a count of 6. Next up, Gargano finds a pair of tables and stacks them at ringside, but Ciampa cuts him off with a rolling german suplex. Johnny goes for the chair, but Ciampa hits him with a running knee and then beats him down with the chair himself. He hits Gargano with the lungblower not once, not twice, but THRICE, and that gets a count of 9, but Johnny pops up and superkicks Ciampa out of the chair like he was Shawn and Ciampa was Bret. They slug it out and Gargano tries the slingshot, but Ciampa blocks it and hits another german. Gargano hits his own german and they clothesline each other until they both go down. They slug it out with kicks and Gargano gets a lariat and both are down, but both are up at 9. Ciampa bails and Gargano dives off the apron, but that misses and Johnny splats on the floor, allowing Ciampa to follow with the butterfly facebuster onto the stairs. Johnny is up at 9, so Ciampa finds a toolbox under the ring and tears up the mat again. Gargano fights back with a fire extinguisher to the face this time, and uses a crutch to beat on Ciampa before nearly walking into the draping DDT on the boards again. Gargano fights out this time and kicks Ciampa to the apron, then springboards back in with his own DDT onto the wood, and that gets a count of 9 before Ciampa bails to the floor. Gargano dives onto him and sends him into the announce table again, but he accidentally superkicks some production geek at ringside and that allows Ciampa to run Johnny into a monitor and follow with a running chair into the face that demolishes the railing. So he piles the poor ring crew guy and a bunch of chairs on top of Gargano for good measure, but Johnny miraculously escapes the mountain of trash and survives at 9. Damn, that would have been an awesome finish. Ciampa brings the handcuffs back and tries to cuff him to the post, but Gargano runs him into the post to escape, only to have Ciampa escape the cuffs himself. Back to the apron and Ciampa tries to put Gargano through the tables, but they slug it out on the apron and Gargano puts him through with the superkick. That gets a count of 9, but Ciampa literally uses a crutch to stand up again. Well that’s rather heavy handed metaphor there. Ciampa gives Gargano the death stare and dares him to bring it on, so they head up the ramp and Gargano runs him into the LED board and puts him into Gargano Escape, then cuffs him into the staging. With Ciampa helpless, Johnny superkicks him into the light board while Ciampa pleads for mercy. I don’t feel like Ciampa is actually sorry. Perhaps he should superkick him a few more times to make sure. Johnny considers the moral implications, then runs into Ciampa with the exposed knee and goes flying off the stage in the process, hurting his knee and allowing Ciampa to beat the count at 9 and retain the title at 35:04. Much like Luke Skywalker learned before him, letting yourself stray towards the dark side is generally a bad idea. I mean, unless you’re Ciampa, obviously. *****
Well, that was clearly the best show of the year thus far for WWE. EC3 v. Dream was a bit disappointing, but holy shit the rest was like New Japan-level greatness over and over. It’ll be a miracle if Summerslam can come anywhere near this. But I hope it does!