NXT’s biggest event of the year looks to steal the show SummerSlam weekend.
The Biggest Event of the Summer may be happening Sunday night, but as is tradition with each of the Big Five WWE PPVs, the real action is taking place the night before at NXT TakeOver. In a lot of ways, TakeOver Brooklyn has become NXT’s WrestleMania, and the fourth installment of the event should live up to the hype. Though an injury forced a last-minute change to the main event, the NXT Championship will still be up for grabs in what should be a match for the ages.
Velveteen Dream vs. EC3
Two of the biggest personalities in NXT were bound to clash sooner or later. The One Percenter has found himself in hot water with Velveteen Dream, who said EC3 has his attention — and that’s not a good thing. After a disastrous visit to Velveteen Dream’s “facilities” ended with Dream thrown into the pool, both men look to make a statement this Saturday night.
Brian: The only real downside to this feud is that neither man is truly a heel or truly a face. I think the Brooklyn audience will be split, cheering for both men. I guess that’s fine, but I want both of them to be fighting real babyfaces. Is that NXT’s problem right now? No real babyfaces or real heels? Anyway, both have tremendous upside, especially Dream. After losing several major contests, both could use the win, but Dream needs it just a bit more. Standing O for the effort afterwards.
Winner: Prince Very Pretty
Loser: Dixie Carter’s nephew
Patrick: Not that it seems to matter all that much for his credibility, but Velveteen Dream sure doesn’t win a lot of matches — especially on pay-per-view. He has become a veritable star maker though, which is laudable considering he’ll be one day shy of age 23 by the time this match happens. EC3 also feels like he’s in the “okay, please give this guy a win” camp, so it’s hard for me to say who “needs” it more. It really doesn’t matter though, because these two have been absolute gold together. The vignette at Velveteen’s home — I’m sorry, “facilities” — perfectly encapsulated what makes both these characters unique.
Winner: It’s a toss-up, but I’ll go with EC3
Jason: This is a hard one because both guys need a win. That being said, I’m more inclined to believe that EC3 is main roster bound in the not too distant future. Now I might just be using inside baseball to excuse picking the guy I like more, but I see the Dream staying on the yellow brand for a while longer, so it makes more sense to invest in him with the win. Dream Over.
Winner: The only VD I root for
Loser: The Top 1%
Undisputed Era (c) vs. Moustache Mountain (NXT Tag Team Championships)
Undisputed Era has had a stranglehold on the gold in NXT for the past several months — that is until Moustache Mountain captured the gold in their home country of England a few weeks back. Kyle O’Reilly and Roderick Strong have since taken their titles back, but they’re being forced to defend them against Tyler Bate and Trent Seven once again in Brooklyn.
Brian: My oldest son hates The Undisputed Era and loves Moustache Mountain. Mission accomplished, boys. TUE are jerks coming after two of the most likeable superstars in NXT. No gimmicks needed here, just a straight up fight. I expect that Trent Seven’s knee will come into play at some point or that Trent will want to throw in the towel on Bate. Regardless, I really hope that Moustache Mountain/British Strong Style are part of the long term plan for NXT UK. Having the NXT Tag Titles around their waists as the show begins taping would be a great start.
Winners: The Boys from Britain
Losers: Frat Boy Gangstas
Patrick: Undisputed Era is kind of like a dorky version of nWo. They want to be cool — they certainly THINK they’re cool — but they have this smarminess about them as well. That’s not a knock at all, though. Undisputed Era is one of the best things going in NXT right now, and Kyle O’Reilly, who I once pegged as the weakest member of the team, has really grown on me. This match could easily steal the show like they did in the UK. Man, NXT is so much harder to predict than the main roster is, but I’ll say by hook or by crook, Era holds on to the gold here.
Winners: The Undisputed Era
Jason: While I enjoy Moustache Mountain’s in-ring acumen and general aesthetic, them boys are gonna head back to Britain sooner or later. The fact that they’re former NXT Tag Champs should make them a fairly big deal when NXT UK finally kicks off, but they won’t be going with the titles. The Undisputed Era are a lock on this one, but it should be a great match.
Winners: People who like seeing Kyle O’Reilly playing air guitar with the tag belt.
Losers: Trent Seven’s legitimacy with American audiences
Shayna Baszler (c) vs. Kairi Sane (NXT Women’s Championship)
The Queen of Spades has run roughshod on the NXT Women’s division since winning the championship, but she’s seemed to awaken a viciousness in the Pirate Princess we’ve not yet seen. The usually affable winner of the first-ever Mae Young Classic has kicked it into another gear, determined to take down the biggest bully the division’s ever seen.
Brian: In another potential blowoff match, the always-improving Shayna Baszler steps in the ring with my personal pick for Most Improved Wrestler Who Isn’t a Performance Center Product, Kairi Sane. From a year ago when they met in the finals of the inaugural Mae Young Classic, both women have gone through tremendous growth as characters in NXT. Kairi is intense and has toned down the in-ring part of her Pirate Princess gimmick while still maintaining the basic idea. The Anchor is vicious, showcased well on Aliyah this week. Baszler is just a jerk heel who everyone wants to see beaten. This will be a good contest that will only end when someone taps out. I just can’t see either one pinning the other.
Winner: The Pirate Princess
Loser: The Queen of Spades
Patrick: Baszler’s been presented as nigh-unbeatable since taking the NXT Women’s Championship from Ember Moon back at TakeOver: WarGames, but Kairi Sane might be the most credible challenge to the title yet. On paper and lined up next to one another, it’s a total mismatch, but Kairi has that it-factor and an impressive arsenal of moves that just might be able to take Baszler down. The only problem is, if Baszler loses the title, what then? She’s improved quite a bit, but I don’t think she’s quite main roster ready. This alone makes me think she’ll continue her reign of terror a bit longer.
Winner: Shayna Baszler
Jason: Man all my picks are based on industry knowledge; I’m such an obnoxious smark. I figure they’ll want that belt on Baszler for the build to Evolution so she and Ronda can stand next to each other looking like the bedazzled badasses they are. I expect shenanigans, but I think the Queen goes over the Princess here. Ironically, I feel like the Princess will go over the Queen on Sunday…but that’s a different article.
Winner: Bae-szler FTW
Loser: Yet another Japanese Superstar facing unfortunate booking
Adam Cole (c) vs. Ricochet (NXT North American Championship)
The term “hottest free agent in sports entertainment” is thrown around by WWE a lot, but with Ricochet, it might actually have been true. His signing was a long time coming, and as evidenced by his performance in his first TakeOver match in Chicago, the One and Only is a true can’t-miss talent. After goading Adam Cole into defending his title with the oldest trick in the book — calling him a coward — Ricochet looks to become the second ever NXT North American Champion.
Brian: This match definitely has the potential for stealing the show, but with only five matches on the card, I’m not sure how impressive of a feat that will be. What will be impressive is seeing two very talented performers going full out in what should be a WWE career-defining moment. Both Cole (Bay-Bay) and Ricochet still have things to prove in the greater scheme of WWE. I don’t see either staying in NXT more than another year tops, perhaps with both heading to SDL. No matter who wins, this will be a memorable bout.
Winner: The One and Only
Loser: The Undisputed Era Bay-Bay
Patrick: Man, this card starts off great and just gets better and better with every match. My biggest worry with Ricochet has always been that he’ll get pigeonholed into the “flippy s--t” role, but his work with Velveteen Dream at the last TakeOver proved he has decent mic chops and charisma too. This is my pick for match of the night, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Adam Cole (Bay-Bay) walks away from this one a few pounds lighter.
Jason: There is no bad choice on this one, as Adam Cole (Bay-Bay) has been doing great work as the top heel without a real man’s beard, and Ricochet is goddamn Ricochet. While I would love for Ric to pull it out, unless they plan to put Cole in the NXT Title picture, I feel like they’re going to wait to pull the trigger on ‘Chet’s title Rei…gn. I’m calling this for Cole.
Winner: Young, old Shawn Michaels
Loser: My man Trev
Tommaso Ciampa (c) vs. Johnny Gargano (Last Man Standing Match for the NXT Championship)
Originally scheduled to be a triple threat match involving former NXT Champion Aleister Black, a real-life injury (and in-story parking lot assault) turned this into what should be the final chapter of the Ciampa/Gargano saga. Ciampa is champion right now because of Gargano, and with any luck, he’ll be the only one who can stop him.
Brian: This is the blowoff of a multi-year long story involving two of the most “over” wrestlers in NXT today, if not ever. Tommaso Ciampa is the quintessential heel, drinking in the boos of the crowd, reacting and breaking all modern convention in his promos. I believe him, 100%. His entrance in Brooklyn will be unreal. Gargano is the darling of NXT, or the punching bag, depending on who you ask, but he gets one more shot to win the big one. I think this match will be brutal, especially considering their last meeting, and will be a fitting end the the feud, and possibly Ciampa’s NXT run, with Gargano’s hand raised high.
Winner: Johnny Wrestling
Loser: NXT when its top heel leaves for 205 Live
Patrick: Every time these guys square off I think they can’t possibly top the last one, and every time I’m proven wrong. The stipulation of a Last Man Standing match virtually guarantees an absolutely brutal affair, and it’s possible it’ll be the swan song for one of them as far as NXT is concerned. In my mind the only logical outcome here is Johnny Wrestling finally winning the big one.
Winner: Johnny Gargano
Jason: Since this match started out as a triple threat, I don’t think this was originally envisioned as the finale to the blood feud between Gargles and Chompy. As such, I feel like the big belt stays with Fuckface Ciampa. Honestly, I think both of these guys are long since ready for main, but with Black gone till November, I think these fellas are needed at the top of the card. I know Brooklyn is typically viewed as NXT’s big event for the year, but I imagine Gargano picks up the belt at the TakeOver that comes with Survivor Series before vacating the belt to chase his blood rival to SmackDown Live.
Winner: The best heel in wrestling today
Loser: John E. Wrestling
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