If you aren’t a regular viewer of NXT, you wouldn’t know from watching NXT Takeover Brooklyn that WWE considers the product to be that of a developmental nature.
It’s not even arguable that NXT is the second-best wrestling company in America, and it’s a close second.
(Which is to say, watch out, main roster.)
Nearly 16,000 fans packed the Barclays Center for Takeover a night before SummerSlam, and they (and the thousands watching live on WWE Network) weren’t disappointed with what they saw.
Two titles changed hands (the tag and women’s titles), and the main event for the NXT title, between champ Finn Balor and former champ Kevin Owens, was an instant classic.
And that said, the women’s title match, which saw babyface Bayley finally win the NXT Women’s Title with a win over defending champion Sasha Banks, may have actually been the match of the night, with the two exchanging finishers, submissions and several near-falls before Bayley was able to pull out the upset.
Apollo Crews (Uhaa Nation) made his NXT TV debut with a pinfall win over Tye Dillinger. Samoa Joe, to a cascade of “Joe is going to kill you!” chants from the New York crowd, choked out Baron Corbin.
Blake and Murphy dropped the tag straps to The Vaudevillains, whose gimmick – two guys playing the part of early 20th century wrestlers thrust into the heart of the 21st century – is definitely unique.
The finisher with Owens and Balor, a ladder match, didn’t disappoint. Owens, along with Banks, has already gotten the call up to the main roster, and the athletic and charismatic Balor has to be next in line to get the call, with Joe, Bayley and Tyler Breeze – who lost a hot opener to Japanese legend Jushin “Thunder” Liger – not far behind.
No apologies to TNA, Ring of Honor or Lucha Underground in saying this: NXT is a shining light in an era with a glut of episodic TV wrestling.
The talent is superior, the production values, being WWE, are top-notch, and the writing and storylines are better even than a lot of what WWE does with its main roster.
Credit to Triple H and Stephanie McMahon for getting wrestling right.
– Column by Chris Graham