From the opening bell, this started to take shape as one of the greatest NXT TakeOver specials of all time. On the surface, this looked like a solid card with some memorable matches. What resulted was easily the best NXT TakeOver in over a year, and one of the greatest we’ve ever seen.
By the end of match one, I felt there was a legitimate chance we’d already seen the match of the night. In his first big outing as a singles competitor, Johnny Gargano showed us all just who Johnny Wrestling is. Meanwhile, Andrade Almas put on his best NXT performance to date. A plethora of near falls and hard-hitting moves made the match more exciting with every passing impact.
Even the ending was unforgettable as Zelina Vega threw a #DIY shirt into the ring at Johnny Gargano. As Johnny saw the ghost of Tommaso Ciampa in his hands, the brief distraction was just enough for Almas to capitalize for the win. El Idolo comes out looking stronger than ever, and Johnny Wrestling remains the lovable underdog without being made to look weak.
The night’s other non-title contest came later as Aleister Black squared off with Hideo Itami. In one of the most hard-hitting matches in recent NXT history (which is truly saying something), Itami and Black took each other to the limit. Hideo’s cockiness backfired near the end and he ate the Black Mass and the pinfall, but the match left Black and Hideo looking like absolute stars.
Remodeling the tag team division
Before the bell even rang, the Authors of Pain went right after SAnitY and tried to neutralize the numbers advantage with a pre-match assault. It seemed to be effective, but their plan was turned upside down when it was revealed Eric Young would be competing on behalf of SAnitY, and not Killian Dain. Despite giving up a power and size advantage, the strategy of Eric Young invoking the Freebird Rule proved to be the difference maker.
It may have been the worst, or second worst, match of the night, and it was still tremendous. Pure intellect toppled the Authors of Pain as a series of distractions ended with Nikki Cross and Killian Dain removing one-half of AOP from the equation. Eric Young and Alexander Wolfe capitalized, and the rest was history. Or was it? Just as it looked like SAnitY, the new NXT Tag Team Champions had claimed the top slot as the dominant faction in NXT … new challengers appeared.
Out of nowhere came Bobby Fish and Kyle O’Reilly. The two members of the tag team reDRagon have made their debuts on NXT television in the past few months, but this was the first time we’d seen them together. The former IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Tag Team Champions and former ROH Tag Team Champions laid waste to SAnitY and the Authors of Pain. Just like that, the tag division has been altered beyond recognition.
Did the streak survive?
Going into the night, I was pretty confident that Asuka was going to leave Brooklyn as NXT Women’s Champion. Throughout the match, that confidence started to erode with every passing minute. The match had a relatively slow start, compared to the rest of the card, but it was unforgettable once it picked up some momentum.
Asuka always looks strong, but here she looked vulnerable and untouchable all at once. Ember Moon took the Empress of Tomorrow further than she’s ever been taken. That much is clear. Ember pushed herself to a new level and fought through a potential shoulder injury to deliver the greatest women’s match NXT has seen since Sasha Banks and Bayley tore the house down at the first NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn.
Despite my confidence in Asuka, it was clear to me the streak was over when Ember Moon hit the Eclipse with pinpoint precision. The referee counted and I was ready to kick back and enjoy the next match. Then Asuka kicked out, and I almost fell off the couch. Ember gave Asuka her best shot, and it wasn’t enough. After some more tension, it was all over when Ember was trapped in the Asuka Lock. She had no choice but to tap, and Asuka remains the undefeated NXT Women’s Champion.
The glorious finale sets up a shocking future
By the time we’d made it to the main event, practically any decent match would’ve still left this as an unforgettable TakeOver. We didn’t get a decent match. We got a clash of heavyweights the likes of which NXT hasn’t seen in some time. Bobby Roode is no small man, but he is if he’s standing next to Drew McIntyre.
The “WrestleMania feeling” was in the house at NXT’s biggest show of the year. Aleister Black benefitted from a live band performing his theme earlier in the night. The Authors of Pain’s entrance gear made them look like diabolical turtles that would happily rip your head off. Drew McIntyre’s bagpipe escort felt like the spirit of “Rowdy” Roddy Piper was in the house. Bobby Roode’s robe was somehow an even cockier version of a magnificent Ric Flair robe. It was all there.
While WrestleMania sends to be the payoff for the majority of the year, this felt like only the beginning. Normally we have to wait for the night after an event to see what the future has in-store, but there was a shocking future on display in Brooklyn. Despite eating several Glorious DDTs, The Chosen One forcefully grabbed the brass ring that’d been ripped from his hands years ago when he left WWE. With a Claymore that could leave Roode unconscious until TakeOver: Brooklyn IV, Drew McIntyre pinned Bobby to become the new NXT Champion.
Unfortunately for Drew McIntyre, his celebration didn’t last long. Before Drew could drift off into the night, reDRagon appeared on the apron and left the new NXT Champion frozen for a moment. Drew began to approach them, and suddenly he was blindsided by ADAM COLE BAYBAY! O’Reilly and Fish dragged McIntyre off the ground with that he could be finished with a superkick from ADAM COLE BAYBAY! It’s official. The NXT Champion and NXT Tag Team Champions are on notice. Beware of Bobby Fish, Kyle O’Reilly, and ADAM COLE BAYBAY!
- Andrade Almas def. Johnny Gargano
- SAnitY def. Authors of Pain to become the new NXT Tag Team Champions
- Aleister Black def. Hideo Itami
- Asuka def. Ember Moon to retain the NXT Women’s Championship
- Drew McIntyre def. Bobby Roode to become the new NXT Champion
What did you think of NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn III? How does it compare to TakeOvers of the past? Let us know in the comments below!
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