Short one today, as this episode of NXT is the go-home show for Takeover: Brooklyn 2 Live Crew, a special event which hasn't really felt very special up to this point. I mentioned last week that the Draft and Brand Extension clusterfuckery really messed up NXT for the last few months, resulting in some weirdly paced feuds, and forcing them to spotlight feuds involving guys who are so green they're barely ready for TV, let alone Takeovers (No Way Jose) and guys who are great but who literally can't speak any English (Andrade Almas), because those were just about the only guys they could be certain weren't going to be drafted. Even Bayley's future seemed pretty up in the air until recently, so the Women's title feud has seem very little forward momentum. Can one single show correct for all of this?
Our "main event" tonight is a special sit-down interview with the participants in Takeover's NXT title match, but we start with our first of only two matches tonight, Hideo Itami vs. CWC participant Mustafa Ali. Man, I bet they wish they'd known Itami was going to be healthy by TO. Itami is showing a newfound aggression since his return. Graves implies it might be frustration at the fact that he's been gone so long that there are guys watching the show now who don't even know who Itami is. Itami takes early control with a shoot kick and that cool sort of "scuff" kick he does to a prone opponent's face. It's a great move, but it's definitely one for a heel. With all the Japanese talent they've got access to right now (Itami, Nakamura, Asuka, Ibushi, and Tozawa - please, again, do not tell me if any of the CWC guys have long-term contracts yet), I keep thinking that they should do a reverse Bullet Club with an invading Japanese stable. Put Itami in charge and have Nakamura be the one guy who doesn't want to join up. Don't tell me that wouldn't be cool. Anyhoo, Ali gets back into this match with a swinging neckbreaker, followed by a jumping neckbreaker, but that's not enough to forestall Itami for long. He nails his strike combo, then the hesitation dropkick, then the running knee, and it's another win for Itami. Match Rating: Although, On The Other Hand, NXT IS Getting A Little Heel-Heavy.
Next is a package spotlighting Bobby Roode, but I suspect it's just an excuse to play his theme song some more.
Our second match of the night isn't for a little bit yet, but it's going to be a six-man tag between Carmella, Liv Morgan, and and newcomer Nikki Glencross facing Alexa Bliss and newbies Daria Bareneto and TE's Mandy Rose. We see the faces warming up now, and it's striking just how much Liv Morgan has stolen from Carmella's gimmick.
We cut to a package spotlighting the Women's title feud. You remember up top how I said that they hadn't done much to build the feud? Turns out I'm wrong, it's just been really spread out since Dallas, and has felt light as a result. This package condenses it all together, resulting in me getting SUPER HYPED for this match. No joke, this is one of the best hype packages they've ever done, and they do great hype packages with alarming regularity. Catch this one.
This is followed by a package spotlighting "several of the matches" taking place in Brooklyn. Specifically, Roode/Almas, NWJ/Aries, and the tag title match. It suffers for having to do a lot in a little time, but it's another good package that gets you caught up on what's going on. And as someone who grew up in Cleveland, I would definitely buy that Johnny Gargano T-shirt if I ever saw it.
Meanwhile, the heels for the tag match are warming up, while Bliss yells at Mandy to "stretch harder!" Alexa Bliss is the best.
GM Regal is in his office, and is interrupted by Billie Kay, who is outraged to be left off of Takeover. We all know where this is going: BK is the sacrificial lamb for Ember Moon. Congrats BK, you are officially Tye Dillinger now.
Tye Dillinger, of course, was previously CJ Parker.
Tag Match time! I'm calling it right now, Glencross is THE woman to watch. She starts off with Bliss, and just has tremendous snap to all her stuff. There's a takedown and a crossbody block, followed by a dropkick. Bliss brings in Daria, who takes her gloves off in a cool spot, but when we come back from break, Daria's in a Liv Morgan headlock. Should've kept the gloves on, I guess. Daria clotheslines her way back into the match, and after a Bliss stomp, Mandy comes in to show us that she is terrible. Terrible. Graves is fawning all over her like Eva Marie, and this is when I begin to suspect that Graves telling us how beautiful a woman is, is actually Graves telling us how bad of a wrestler she is. He doesn't do that to women with actual skills. I bet if there was a guy equivalent, Graves would be talking non-stop about his suits and his watches and his cars, anything to take focus off of the fact that they suck and put some heat on them. Anyhoo, Daria's back in, and she can throw some strikes. They work over Liv for a while, until Bliss misses an elbow drop and Morgan hits an enzuigiri and makes the Hot Tag to Carmella. It kind of breaks down here, as Bliss breaks up a pinfall attempt, only to be waylaid by Morgan, Daria spears the shit out of Nikki and they brawl to the floor, and Carmella reverses a shitty jackknife attempt into the Code of Silence for the win. Match Rating: New Talent: Nikki Glencross > Daria Bareneto > > Liv Morgan > > > > > > > > Mandy Rose.
Thanks, Tough Enough.
Regal is preparing the interview zone, to prevent a brawl from breaking out, because he's watched wrestling before. Just before the interview starts, we get a quick look a new, slightly more revealing Ember Moon package, and when we come back, Byron Saxton is ready to get down to business. He asks Joe and Nakamura how excited they are, and they both say "very" but they both look and sound about as far from that as possible. Joe's real beef is with Regal, who's shown way more consideration to champions like Asuka than he has to Joe, and Joe suspects that Regal doesn't want him to be champ. Joe claims that Nakamura trained at his dojo when he was starting out, but Nakamura says he "doesn't remember that." This whole exchange comes of as some real Inside Baseball stuff that I don't know jack about, but they bring it back around when Saxton asks each guy if they respect their opponent. Joe gives a fairly straightforward answer, but Nakamura kind of shrugs and very disingenuously says "Of course." Joe ain't a hard guy to piss off, and he absolutely loses his shit here. Security rushes him, and has to hold him back while Nakamura just looks kind of bemused. It's really kind of cool reversal of a normal dynamic, where the face is in the head of the heel.
That's it. The table is laid, and while it was not the best road to get here, Takeover: Brooklyn 2 does look like it's going to be a pretty great show. As always, the title matches look like they'll deliver, and we've got a pretty solid undercard as well. The women's division finally is getting some of its talent replenished, and with Itami back, the NXT roster is the strongest it's been in months. Looking forward to the big show, and I'll see everybody on Saturday.
O O OMG, you're right, they left Graham until the end, and Superstar was the part I was supposed to tape, and now I have, and I'm off the hook. God and Vince and Mean Gene (father, son, and holy ghost)