Well everyone, this is what happens when you have plans on a Saturday. So I didn’t get to watch NXT live, so now I get to power through 84 hours of programming at the same time.
Everything I’ve heard said the show was a good one, which is always nice to hear. Especially since I said during the picks article, that this was one of the shows with a very low amount of buzz. Time to find out what went on, before SummerSlam goes into full swing.
NXT Takeover Brooklyn 4:
NXT Tag Team Title Match: Undisputed Era (c) vs Moustache Mountain
NXT really likes the tag teams to go on early, but this match lived up to the story. The third match in about 5 weeks, with both teams getting one win, the rubber match was damn good.
Numerous callbacks to their previous matches, including the towel spot. Tyler Bate still did that stupid Fireman’s Carry/Giant Swing move, with makes no sense, but the match still flowed well. Trent Seven pulled off a move I’ve never seen him do, which looked like a Vertical Suplex lift, into a Flowsion, But the pace was so fast it felt a little too much, there were even times it looked like Kyle O’Reilly wasn’t quite ready when Strong was calling for tags.
Aside from nit picks, this was the best match I’ve seen between the two, I just wish it was paced slower. Undisputed Era came out the gates hot, and aside from one moment where O’Reilly had Tyler Bate in a Heel Hook submission, the frantic pace never seemed to change.
After Kyle kicks out of a Burning Hammer/Knee Drop tandem move, Strong slides in to cut off Bate and they land Total Elimination out of nowhere. The ending seemed a little abrupt, but with how the match was paced, it seemed very fitting.
Winner: Undisputed Era via Total Elimination
Rating: **** 3/4
Velveteen Dream vs EC3
This match was pretty awkwardly paced honestly. Dream with the HBK/Hogan over selling being kicked in the corner and then getting crotched on the rope. But I’m not really sure what they were trying to get across. EC3 controlled the pace until Velveteen Dream hit a Twisting DDT on the ramp.
I suppose if I need to say something, it’s that this was basically a main roster match on NXT. There were a lot of entertainment spots, that didn’t make a ton of sense or just looked awkward, but the crowd seemed to enjoy it. A rolling Dream Valley Driver on the apron gave Dream the idea to hit the Purple Rainmaker on the apron, roll EC3 back in and squeak out with a Takeover victory.
Winner: Velveteen Dream via Purple Rainmaker Elbow
Rating: *** 3/4
NXT North American Championship Match: Adam Cole (c) vs Ricochet
Ricochet’s talent versus Adam Cole’s ego. Not sure if the battle is which is better or which is bigger, but it should be fun to watch.
Adam Cole talked smack most of this match, but the exchanges were pretty impressive. Cole showed a lot of spots of being the clever heel, but Ricochet threw haymakers and Cole ran out of answers. Tiger Feint in the corner ropes, Fosbury Flop, Inside Out Frankensteiner off the apron, all big impressive moves. But Cole had fantastic moments from timing a Thrust Kick perfectly to dodge the Asai Moonsault and kick Ricochet in the face as well as a nice Backstabber catching Ricochet mid Back Handspring.
The climax moment had to be the strike exchange that ended in a random near fall. Going back and forth and then Adam Cole falling on top of Ricochet made you wonder if the match was gonna end in a fluke way, or if Ricochet would realize what was going on. As you can see, Ricochet realized, overcame and picked up his first WWE championship.
All in all, the selling was solid, the story it was telling was great and amplified by Adam Cole running his mouth in the ring. It’s just one of those special moments and this was the first glance the WWE Universe got to see at a really great Ricochet match.
Winner: Ricochet via 630 Senton
NXT Women’s Championship Match: Kairi Sane vs Shayna Baszler (c)
The second of three rubber matches tonight. Kairi beat Shayna to win the first Mae Young Classic, but Baszler got her win back after they were both in NXT. Which wrestler has grown the most in the past year?
Kairi immediately starts off with going for submission holds, which gets into Shayna’s head. A Heel Hook followed up with a Stretch Muffler attempt get under Shayna’s skin and we see both women pulling out different things. Shayna’s striking has evolved, even pulling out an interesting Hesitation Bicycle Knee Strike.
Since Kairi was seen as the underdog the entire build, it was definitely driven home through the match. Kairi paced out the match much like Hiroshi Tanahashi, working through the pain to hit signature top rope moves and capturing the hearts of the audience while she just wouldn’t quit. Numerous close calls with the Kirafuda Clutch made it look like Kairi was as good as dead, hell, Shayna even kicked out of an Insane Elbow.
The finish really made you feel like Shayna was going to win this when she got her feet up to counter the Insane Elbow and went for the Kirafuda Clutch, but shades of Ember Moon, Kairi just floats backwards and manages to reverse the submission into a pin. So where Kairi has shown more heart and a bevy of submission moves, Shayna lost the same way she did when she first joined NXT.
Curious how this will all play into the story moving forward.
Winner: Kairi Sane via Submission Reversal Roll
Rating: **** 1/4
NXT Championship Last Man Standing Match: Tommaso Ciampa (c) vs Johnny Gargano
Best friends turned bitter rivals, who love gimmick matches. I’m fully aware this is only a match because Aleister Black got legitimately injured, but I also can’t stop myself from being burnt out by this story. Hopefully whatever happens in this rubber match, puts some space between these two.
Well this match starts off slowly, but that’s necessary since there’s so much to unpack in this rivalry. After the Spanish Announce Table destruction, the match starts to really pick up. No amount of me talking about moves or spots will do this justice.
Going through tables, but propping himself up on a crutch is a layered moment for Ciampa. The handcuffs, the exposed ring, ripping the padding apart on the outside and even the end. Johnny has a tendency to let his emotions get the best of himself. All the way back to when Zelina Vega distracted him with a DIY shirt, to Chicago II when he knocked down the ref so when he had Ciampa beat there was no one to count his victory and then he literally walked into a DDT. So I’ve seen some complaints about the ending, but it makes so much sense that Gargano would do something to screw himself over.
There’s probably some layered comment about Cleveland and shooting himself in the foot, but damn, this was the best of their trilogy…and now I’m not completely sure what I said earlier holds up. Even if I’m sick of the story, these matches are tremendous.
Rating: ***** 1/4
Well this definitely ranks up there with the previous Brooklyn shows. Ricochet vs Cole, Ciampa vs Gargano, those will be matches people remember for a few years. Hell Kairi and Shayna was surprisingly gritty and tough, not quite as good as Sasha vs Bayley or Ember vs Asuka, but damn good.
Takeover brought it and even if most people see NXT in an odd transitional period, it’s hard to argue with the quality of the last few shows. SummerSlam will have it’s work cut out for it.
Stone Cold Fever: Is Kevin Owens the Next Big Thing in WWE?
Is this rendition of KO Mania real?
Kevin Owens is quickly becoming the hottest Superstar in WWE. The former Universal champion is embarking on a war with Shane McMahon and while that war is only just beginning, KO is already reaping the benefits.
Owens is getting over and there’s no denying that. Many fans believe that this is just the beginning of something epic for KO and it’s hard to argue that point. But as with everything in WWE, Owens’ future depends on his booking and how much the company truly wants to invest in him. So will Kevin Owens be the next big thing in WWE?
It’s as if WWE suddenly flipped a switch and activated this new KO. The man that so many felt was on his way to superstardom in the company has always been just on the verge of greatness, but he always seemed to fall just short. It’s been through no fault of his own however as Owens has consistently always delivered, both in the ring and on the mic.
But despite how much he’s accomplished, there always seems to be an asterisk by his name. The same is true of other potential main event stars as well, like Finn Bálor and Braun Strowman. All three men have excelled on the worldwide stage but for whatever reason, none of the three have truly achieved legendary status in WWE.
While the men involved may not be too concerned with such positioning, the fans have been all too consumed with it. In their minds, the time for these talents and many more, is now. Why wait, when the business is experiencing such a resurgence in popularity? The time to strike seems to be now, so why not move ahead and make a massive impact with guys that can handle the pressure?
Perhaps that is exactly what the WWE faithful are seeing right now with Kevin Owens. Owens is capable of rising to the occasion and he’s done it many times before. Maybe there’s no better time for him to prove what he can do and maybe the company finally recognizes that.
But nearly every time fans depend on “maybe,” they wind up disappointed. WWE has not always been the most reliable company when it comes to doing right by hardworking talents, especially those who deserve a shot at the next level. Owens has been counted among those talents for far too long and now he’s getting a chance to finally step up.
The good news is that so far, it’s working. The live crowds are loving what he’s doing and no one can do it quite like he can. The comparisons to Stone Cold Steve Austin are coming like never before and KO, as well as WWE, obviously see that. The fact that Owens uses the Stunner as much as he does is proof that the entire angle is a tip of the cap to The Texas Rattlesnake.
It’s not that Owens needs to use anyone else’s finisher, just as he doesn’t need to mimic anyone else’s gimmick. KO can succeed based on his own merit and everyone knows that. But he’s saluting Austin and in doing so, reminding a legion of fans why they fell in love with WWE in the first place. There is no way to really revive The Attitude Era, but that’s not the point.
Kevin Owens is bringing back a taste of the past and making it relevant to his cause, as well as to the company’s current climate. The Stunner is as much of an anti-authority move as the middle finger, both of which keep Stone Cold on the minds of fans who love him for what he did in the business.
So is WWE truly headed for a new era of relevancy in the industry? Vince McMahon’s company has always been at the forefront of the business and for many fans, they’ve been the only game in town for a very long time. But with the rise of New Japan, Ring of Honor, as well as various promotions around the world, the wrestling world is becoming a much bigger place.
Of course much of the focus on the business right now is due to the birth and evolution of AEW. Cody Rhodes’ fledgling company is making waves and turning heads, just as everyone knew it would. But AEW has also captured WWE’s attention, despite any belief to the contrary. If Owens’ new run is a result of WWE going against the grain and trying something familiar, yet new, then that’s definitely a good thing.
But the bad news is that this is still WWE, which can change plans at a moment’s notice. Things can fluctuate at any time and when they do, an entire storyline can either twist in a different direction, or end altogether. Could this happen with KO versus Shane McMahon?
Much of what happens from here depends on just how long WWE can keep the fans invested in this angle. The live crowds are connected and the same is true of the audience at home. Everyone seems truly intent on following this story and they’re all rooting for Kevin Owens to keep rising higher on the card. If KO continues to get hot and if the company really gets behind him, then the entire landscape of WWE could change.
Kevin Owens is not the next Stone Cold Steve Austin and he surely does not want to be. KO has fought his entire career to be the best he can be and this new storyline is just the latest avenue for him to rise up. Maybe it will only go up from here and maybe Kevin Owens will finally realize his potential in the company that desperately needs the next big thing.
Andrew’s G1 Climax 29 Ratings & Analysis: Night 7 A Block
KENTA and Okada may start pulling away in A Block! Who falls first? The Rainmaker or The NOAH Outsider?
KENTA and Okada may start pulling away in A Block! Who falls first? The Rainmaker or The NOAH Outsider?
Aside from the big names being stuck in the middle of the pack, we’ve got poor little Zack Sabre at zero points. Can he twist Fale into a pretzel and figure it out?
Then we have Okada facing a banged up Ospreay, while KENTA takes on a rising EVIL.
Do we still have any undefeated participants in A Block after today?
- Yota Tsuji & Juice Robinson vs Jon Moxley & Shota Umino: Shooter wins via Boston Crab @3:55 – ** 1/4
- Taichi, Minoru Suzuki & Yoshinobu Kanemaru vs Toru Yano, Hirooki Goto & Yuya Uemura: Kanemaru wins via Deep Impact @8:50 – ***
- Yujiro Takahashi, Chase Owens & Jay White vs Jeff Cobb, Tomoaki Honma & Toa Henare: Chase wins via Package Piledriver @9:50 – ** 1/2
- Shingo Takagi, BUSHI & Tetsuya Naito vs YOSHI-HASHI, Ren Narita & Tomohiro Ishii: BUSHI wins via MX @7:35 – **
- A Block: Zack Sabre Jr vs Bad Luck Fale: Sabre wins via Countout @6:30 – ** 1/4
- A Block: Lance Archer vs Hiroshi Tanahashi: Tanahashi wins via Victory Roll @12:00 – ** 1/2
- A Block: KENTA vs EVIL: KENTA wins via Go 2 Sleep @15:05 – *** 1/2
- A Block: Kota Ibushi vs SANADA: Ibushi wins via Kamigoye @19:15 – *** 3/4
- A Block: Will Ospreay vs Kazuchika Okada: Okada wins via Rainmaker @21:55 – **** 1/2
Still a lot of heat from their NXT past and Moxley’s debut match in NJPW. Juice and Mox don’t face each other until the end of their block schedule, but if this needed more heat…well this was gasoline. Juice and Mox stay on each other, brawl to the back while the Young Lions fight, but Mox apparently gets the best of the brawl. He returns to the ring to help Shooter, hit their Hart Attack tandem move and Shooter sinks in the Boston Crab.
There’s history between Taichi and Goto centering around the NEVER Openweight Title, Yano and Suzuki have fun history and it looks like Uemura is stepping up to Suzuki. So there’s a lot of fun moments, Uemura has a death wish trying to fight Suzuki, but it’s still fun. A lot of moving pieces in this one that kept it very entertaining.
Honma got put through the paces, Jay White got tossed around a little bit by Jeff Cobb, but the Bullet Club tag partners proved to be more useful than Cobb’s. Chase has picked up a few wins in the tag matches, so he might get some kind of push coming soon.
BUSHI continues to pick up pinfalls in these tag matches, and this sort of builds for Ishii and Naito, but not a ton happens. YOSHI-HASHI is there, Shingo looks like a million bucks and BUSHI wins the match, LOL. This was very paint by numbers.
Sabre jumps all over Fale at the start and tries a plethora of submissions to no avail. A kendo stick shot from Jado pushes the action to the outside. Fale and Bullet Club look to have an advantage, but Sabre dodges some double team tactics, grounds Fale with a Triangle Arm Bar, and then races to the ring to beat the 20 count. Fale couldn’t make it back fast enough, so Sabre gets the first Countout win of this year’s tournament.
Tanahashi is really showing the age and injuries this year, so all of these flukey wins just come off as forced. The match was slow, had moments of being interesting, but Tanahashi not even being 50% of what he used to be makes these hard to watch at times. Archer is getting over well, but Tanahashi winning at this point does hurt the credibility a little. I get the story they’re telling, but unlike last year where Tanahashi could push through injuries, this year, they are much more obvious, and he’s much more hampered.
EVIL took the fight to KENTA and then they went to the outside. Through the back and then into the crowd area next to the ramp. EVIL went for Darkness Falls on a bunch of a chairs, but KENTA stopped him and suplexed him onto said chairs. When it got back in the ring, EVIL tried to weaken the legs and KENTA went after EVIL’s upper body to mitigate the power advantage. Heavily booed, KENTA played up heel nicely (I guess WWE did help for something), and eventually he gets the best of EVIL and lets him take a nap. KENTA moves to 4-0.
We get a solid match between two guys who are right on the precipice of the Main Event scene. Kota outsmarts SANADA early by not going for the stupid dueling Dropkick spot, and from then on it was an interesting struggle. Between fan support and the general “anything you can do, I can do better” pacing, this was entertaining, yet slow and felt too long in some spots. Both looked pretty good, but this could’ve been told faster and SANADA’s perpetual struggles are a little frustrating for anyone who is a fan of his.
Okada and Ospreay were expected to blow the roof off, and well I’d say this was a damn good shot. Ospreay is obviously dinged up, but he fought through the pain and pulled off numerous flipping counters and found a few different ways to hit the Os-Cutter. They both let their personalities fly and this was a lot of fun to watch. Okada always has this older brother aura since he’s the one that brought Ospreay to New Japan and Chaos, so whenever they get together, it’s very much like two siblings trying to outdo the other. Ospreay had a great flurry at the end, flipping through a Rainmaker attempt, to try his Stormbreaker, but Okada flipped through that and hit a short arm lariat. Rolling Rainmaker and a normal Rainmaker later, Okada edges out the little brother. Great match.
Overall Score: 7/10
Well this night struggled cause the first two Block matches were really weak. The next two amped-up the intensity a little, but fell short of a memorable match. The main event was fantastic, but generally speaking this felt like it was slow, plateau’d for a while and only picked up at the end. Nothing out right awful, but a lot of matches that could’ve been a little better.
Still a solid enough night if you’re following it all, but only the main event is worthy of seeking out individually. It is nice to see that everyone is on the board with some points. So if Okada and KENTA stumble a little, the rest of the block could plausibly catch up.
Block A Standings:
- Kazuchika Okada: 4-0 (8 Points)
- KENTA: 4-0 (8 Points)
- Lance Archer: 2-2 (4 Points)
- EVIL: 2-2 (4 Points)
- Kota Ibushi: 2-2 (4 Points)
- Hiroshi Tanahashi: 2-2 (4 Points)
- SANADA: 1-3 (2 Points)
- Will Ospreay: 1-3 (2 Points)
- Bad Luck Fale: 1-3 (2 Points)
- Zack Sabre Jr: 1-3 (2 Points)