By John Moore, ProWrestling.net Staffer (@liljohnm)
NXT Takeover: Brooklyn IV Hits
Tommaso Ciampa vs. Johnny Gargano in a Last Man Standing match for the NXT Title: Gargano and Ciampa have main evented the last three Takeover shows, and Gargano has main evented every Takeover in 2018 (Small funny note: Gargano lost a loser leaves NXT match during that time and didn’t even miss a Takeover). So, NXT viewers have had their overload of Gargano and Ciampa in 2018. In a nice expected turnabout, you can tell Ciampa and Gargano put their heads together to put on a compelling and different story each time and they’ve treated this series of matches like an anthology that builds upon the last encounter. Lots of throwbacks in this match, but the throwbacks weren’t fan service and more practical progression. I thought the finish was done well enough to protect both guys with Gargano beating himself while Ciampa looks strong and evil at the same time. The one sign of fatigue setting in was the crowd wasn’t as hot as that first time. Aleister Black playing the babyface may have added to this match, but that’s not to discount Gargano, who got a monster babyface reaction from the crowd. NXT did a good job of scrambling to reposition him on short notice due to the Black injury. A part of me doesn’t want to see Gargano and Ciampa again so soon, but I can’t help but wonder if they make Gargano’s big crowning moment happen in front of the PWG-ridden SoCal crowd at Takeover: Los Angeles.
Shayna Baszler vs. Kairi Sane for the NXT Women’s Title: I liked the Baszler vs. Candice LeRae non-title match a few weeks ago a little bit more. Part of what brought me down a bit was the immense kicking out of finishers happening throughout the whole show. That said, this was an amazing match that showed the growth of Baszler as an in ring storyteller. I liked how “The Anchor”, Kairi’s trump card (kirafuda?), wasn’t the finish of the match despite NXT building it up as the finish. NXT does a good job doing false telegraphing. This finish protected the hell out of Baszler to the extent that she loses nothing and she could move on to the main roster from here. I wouldn’t mind at least one more match from Baszler so that either Dakota Kai or Candice LeRae can conclude their long-term story arc with her.
Adam Cole vs. Ricochet for the NXT North American Title: Initially this match was a battle between methodical WWE Style vs. breakneck Indie style with both styles jostling for the pace of the match. This match ended up very splendid with some nice spots by both men. Cole is extremely efficient with all his work. He doesn’t overdo things and makes his high impact spots count. His best feature is the great facial reactions. Ricochet was his usual astonishing self and I still feel we’ve haven’t seen the best he can do yet in NXT, especially as a storyteller. That’s a great thing because they can build up to that. Ricochet going over gave me what I wanted to see in him earlier in the year by becoming the weekly King of the Hill type of champion. Ricochet played this role to perfection in Lucha Underground season one, which is why I’m hoping we see a similar run in NXT. The benefit he has now is he is a much better talker since then.
Velveteen Dream vs. EC3: This match wasn’t as good as the other matches on the show, but that’s not the wrestlers fault. Part of what took it down was the odd path to get to this story. This story was built around Velveteen Dream walking out on EC3 in the UK and each guy trying to troll the other on television every week in pretty tame ways. I was more excited for EC3 vs. Kona Reeves at one point because of the butt of the joke that Reeves has become (which invoked some of EC3’s great Impact mannerisms). When all was said and done, this was a really good and hard worked encounter. Dream has a ways to develop in the ring as far as storytelling is concerned but he has a very high wrestling IQ. EC3 has been a bumping machine in NXT and has been putting in hard in-ring work. While not blowing the minds of people, I feel EC3 has had consistently strong matches during his NXT run.
Kyle O’Reilly and Roderick Strong vs. Tyler Bate and Trent Seven for the NXT Tag Titles: This match had the highest amount of hype behind it. The viewers expected to get a show stealing match based off the series of matches that led up to this match. It was similar to the build towards Ciampa and Gargano just in a compressed two-month timespan. I make that comparison due to each match they have leading into the other and adding to the exposition of their story. This match didn’t disappoint and met those immense expectations. The nice twist was flipping the script on Bate and Seven with Bate being the the babyface in peril. One more accolade, O’Reilly is a star. He does a lot of the things Adam Cole does, minus the look, and plus oodles and oodles of fighting technique.
NXT Takeover: Brooklyn IV Misses
None: This has become the norm. Some people would have given a Miss to EC3 vs. Velveteen Dream because it wasn’t as relatively good as the other matches, but it was still really good, and the hard work shined through that match. Takeovers are the most reliable treat in pro wrestling these days. The best part of this formula is their five match and under three-hour standard.
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