Welcome to KB’s Old School (and New School) Reviews. I’ve been reviewing wrestling shows for over ten years now and have reviewed over 5,000 shows. Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, I’ll be posting a new review here on Wrestlingrumors.net. It could be anything from modern WWE to old school to indies to anything in between. Note that I rate using letters instead of stars and I don’t rate matches under three minutes as really, how good or bad can something that short be?
Takeover: Brooklyn IV
Date: August 18, 2018
Location: Barclays Center, New York City, New York
Commentators: Mauro Ranallo, Percy Watson, Nigel McGuinness
It’s time for the biggest show of the year and as usual, there are multiple options for most of the card. The key to tonight though is going to be the live crowd, who are going to be over the top for a show like this. If Gargano vs. Ciampa III is anything resembling the previous matches, we’re in for a major treat. Let’s get to it.
The opening video focuses on the main event, talking about Ciampa winning the title due to Gargano’s actions. The rest of the card gets a focus as well, but not as detailed.
Tag Team Titles: Undisputed Era vs. Moustache Mountain
The Era’s Roderick Strong and Kyle O’Reilly are defending after having traded the titles with the Brits over the summer. It’s an early slugout with Mountain getting the better of it off the sucker punches. We settle down to Seven getting two on Strong as the fans are split (well duh). O’Reilly comes in for the knees to Seven’s face and a kick to the head takes him down. Seven gets over to the corner for the tag though (way too early to consider it hot) and a hurricanrana has Strong in trouble.
Bate gets the swing/airplane spin at the same time but O’Reilly jumps on his back for a choke. That’s fine with Bate, who German suplexes Strong with O’Reilly still on his back (sometimes, there are no words) to take the champs down again. The running corner clotheslines have Bate in control again until O’Reilly scores with a running clothesline of his own. The champs start in on Bate’s knee with Kyle kicking him down and slapping on a leglock.
A Flair cannonball onto the leg keeps Bate down but he kicks Strong to the floor. O’Reilly is sent outside as well and there’s the hot tag to Seven. Suplexes abound until Strong kicks him in the head, setting up a brainbuster from O’Reilly for two. There go the dueling chants again and Strong’s Olympic Slam gets two more. Strong grabs the Stronghold on Seven and O’Reilly triangle chokes Bate. That’s fine with Bate, who lifts O’Reilly up with one arm and slams him into the other two for the break.
Bate wins a slugout with Strong to knock him outside, setting up the crazy no hands dive. The Tyler Driver 97 gets two on Strong (not a move that many people get to kick out of) so Bate goes up. After shoving Strong off for a crash, O’Reilly is back up to take out Bate’s knee. That means a heel hook with Bate screaming as he crawls across the ring. Seven starts coming in, allowing Strong to pull the two of them back to the corner. That’s enough for Seven to get the towel…..which he throws into the crowd before screaming for Bate to come on.
Bate keeps crawling and actually makes the tag while still in the hold, allowing Seven to hit the Seven Stars Lariat for a very close two on O’Reilly. Bate comes back in for the Burning Hammer/top rope knee (how they won the titles) for an even nearer fall and the fans are WAY into this all over again. It’s back to Seven for a full nelson so Bate can try something, only to be kneed in the face. The High/Low to Seven retains the titles at 18:06.
Rating: A-. And somehow, that’s probably the most controlled and tamest of their matches. I liked this one a little better than the previous two but you can’t go wrong any way. Bate is SCARY good for his age (or any age for that matter) and with some more time could be one of the best in the world. This was a blast and a great choice for the opener, though you could have gone with any possibility. Really hot match, as expected.
Post match the War Raiders come in and wreck the Era, which you knew was coming at some point. That might make things more interesting for the North American Title match as Cole might not have backup.
The announcers talk about someone attacking Aleister Black with results being promised at some point. A whodunit story could be rather interesting.
We recap Velveteen Dream vs. EC3. Both of them want to be in the spotlight and they both want to claim it in their own ways. They were a team in London but Dream walked out on him, which didn’t sit well with EC3 (Dream: “The Dream has no memory of that.”). Apparently EC3 didn’t bask in the experience, so now he has to learn the hard way.
EC3 vs. Velveteen Dream
Dream rises out of a hole in the stage and is wearing a crown, plus “Notorious D.R.E.A.M.” tights. On the back: “Call Me Up Vince.” EC3 shoves him around to start, including a second shove to the floor. Back in and Dream gets caught on the top for some kicks to the ribs, which bounce him up so high that he gets crotched on the top. Dream’s sunset flip is countered with a hip swivel so Dream tries to pull him down, meaning the trunks go a little low.
EC3 hits a People’s Elbow style…well elbow, complete with saying his name. They head outside again with Dream’s windup DDT sending EC3 head first into the ramp with a sick thud. Something off camera gets a YES chant (please, tell me it’s not a beach ball) and Dream hits a middle rope shot to the back. A neckbreaker sets up a neck crank, followed by a hangman’s neckbreaker to keep EC3 down. Back up and the forward DDT plants Dream (I still don’t care for that one) to give EC3 a breather.
Some shots to the jaw (EC3: “TOP ONE PERCENT”) look to set up the 1%er but instead it’s the headlock driver (the old 1%er) for two. Dream slaps him in the face and that means the beating is on until Dream hits him in the throat. EC3 muscles him up for a sitout powerbomb and a top rope superplex drops Dream again. The delayed cover only gets two and Dream is back up with a superkick. A Dream Valley Driver gets two so Dream hits a second onto the apron. The Purple Rainmaker, again on the apron, is good for the pin on EC3 at 15:05.
Rating: B. Another typically very good Dream match. The neck played throughout the entire match and of course Mauro was RIGHT THERE to make that clear. Dream needed this more than EC3 did as he’s turned into one of the guaranteed need to see performances. I’m scared about him getting the call up as Vince not getting his character could kill his career dead. EC3 will be fine based off of his look and mic skills alone so the loss doesn’t hurt him all that much.
Matt Riddle is here. That’s going to be a big deal.
We recap Adam Cole vs. Ricochet. Cole debuted a year ago and has taken NXT by storm. He knows Ricochet is very good if not great, but Ricochet isn’t special like Cole. Ricochet just wants to be the best, and happens to be a crazy good high flier. Cole won the North American Title in New Orleans with Ricochet getting close to it. Tonight he wants to take it home.
North American Title: Ricochet vs. Adam Cole
Cole is defending and comes to the ring on his own. The fans are behind Cole here but the Ricochet chants are there too. Feeling out process to start with Cole shouting about how Ricochet isn’t special. A headlock keeps Ricochet in trouble until he dropkicks Cole to the floor. That means a backflip into the superhero pose but Cole takes him down inside again.
More slaps to the head and more YOU’RE NOT SPECIAL’s tick Ricochet off but the fireman’s carry backbreaker takes him down again. Ricochet fights up from another chinlock and sends Cole to the floor for a no hands spinning dive. Back in and a springboard European uppercut gets two, followed by a standing shooting star and a middle rope corkscrew moonsault for two more. Mauro: “This guy’s a cheat code!”
Ricochet tries his handspring but gets caught in a Backstabber to cut him off. That’s fine with Ricochet who loads up another springboard but Cole is ready for him with a superkick…which Ricochet is ready for by adjusting in midair to block it. The standing Lionsault is cut off with a superkick to the upside down Ricochet (big gasp on that one) and the brainbuster onto the knee gives Cole a very close two.
An exchange of hard (and loud) strikes to the head gives us a double knockdown with Cole landing on top for two more. Ricochet is back up with his reverse hurricanrana but doesn’t cover, instead going up top, allowing Cole to roll outside before Ricochet can dive. A running hurricanrana brings Cole off the apron and to the floor (Mauro: “MAMA MIA!”), setting up the 630 for the pin and the title at 15:24.
Rating: B+. Egads Ricochet is fun to watch. That kind of flipping just isn’t normal and he makes it look way too easy every single time he’s out there. I’m fine with them changing the title as Cole is the kind of guy who can be a star no matter what he does. Ricochet winning the title gives him some more legitimacy and whoever gets to beat him will be an awesome heel. Awesome match, again.
Kevin Owens and Mark Henry are here.
We recap Shayna Baszler vs. Kairi Sane. Kairi beat her in the finals of the Mae Young Classic but Baszler has rocketed up the card ever since. She won the Women’s Title and has been the classic bully, with Sane being one of the only people who has figured her out. Baszler beat her in the rematch but this is the rubber match for Shayna’s title. Sane has been extra aggressive as of late, which could be an issue for the champ.
Women’s Title: Shayna Baszler vs. Kairi Sane
Baszler is defending and the rest of the MMA Four Horsewomen are in the crowd, meaning the fans all look at Ronda. Shayna is extra cocky here but Sane starts more aggressive, going after the leg and trying an early Stretch Muffler. The champ bails out to the floor and Sane is right there with a shot off the apron to take her down again.
Back in and Shayna gets in a shot at the knee and bends it back while throwing some MMA style strikes to the head. The knee gets bent backwards before Shayna stands the leg up and stomps on the ankle, bending it at a VERY scary angle. Sane gets all fired up and hammers away with Shayna not being able to keep up with her. A spinning backfist sets up a slow motion Walking the Plank and Sane goes up.
The delay is getting worse though and Baszler catches her with a gutwrench superplex for a big crash. Baszler gets in a knee to the face for two but the Interceptor cuts her down. A middle rope Insane Elbow to the back has Shayna down and she rolls to the floor before Sane can hit the big one. Instead it’s a high crossbody to drop Shayna again and the Insane Elbow gets two back inside.
Sane puts on the Anchor but Baszler spins around and snatches her into the Kirifuda Clutch. The arm begins to fade until Sane pops up and grabs the rope for the break. Baszler goes for the heel hook but gets reversed into the Anchor. Sane puts it on again in the ropes and goes up for the Insane Elbow, which hits knees. The Kirifuda Clutch goes on again, only to have Sane backflip into a rollup for the pin and the title at 13:46.
Rating: A-. My goodness they’re on a roll tonight and who cares if my predictions are through the floor. Sane winning actually surprised me and that’s a great way to end the match. They can have a fourth match down the line if you absolutely have to, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see Baszler on the main roster pretty soon now. She’s clearly gotten the hang of this in a hurry and putting her on the main roster isn’t the craziest idea in the world.
We recap Tommaso Ciampa vs. Johnny Gargano. Johnny has been driven mad by Ciampa, who is the embodiment of evil. After defeating Gargano in Chicago, Ciampa set his sights on Aleister Black and the NXT Title. Gargano cost Black the title by mistake so Black blamed Johnny for Ciampa being champion. That looked to set up a triple threat match but Black was attacked in the parking lot, meaning it’s a Last Man Standing match for the title instead.
NXT Title: Johnny Gargano vs. Tommaso Ciampa
Ciampa is defending in a Last Man Standing match and still comes out with no music. Even the New York fans are all over Ciampa and Johnny jumps him during the entrance to get things going in a hurry. They head outside with Ciampa shoving him into the steps but Johnny whips him into the barricade and pulls the floor mat up. Johnny slips out of a hanging DDT from the barricade and hits a flip dive off the apron. With Percy saying HERE WE GO, Johnny tosses Ciampa at him for another crash.
Ciampa is fine enough for a running White Noise through the Spanish announcers’ table but Johnny is up at eight. They head inside with Ciampa grabbing a chair for some choking in the corner. Ciampa tries a charge but gets a chair pelted at his knee instead. The chair is wedged in the corner but Ciampa slaps on a sleeper in a smart move. The referee says 22 as Ciampa puts his feet on the rope, which is perfectly legal here.
We get the dueling chants as Johnny fights up and Lawn Darts him face first into the chair. It’s table time with Johnny stacking up two of them with one upside down on top of the other. Not wanting to die off a suplex through the tables, Ciampa reverses into some rolling German suplexes, followed by chair shots to the back. Three straight Project Ciampas have Johnny mostly dead and Ciampa sits down to watch the count. That’s such a heel move. Johnny somehow pulls himself up for a superkick and they’re both down.
A slugout goes to Gargano and he rolls over for the kick to the head. The slingshot spear is countered into the Fairy Tale Ending (Angel’s Wings) but Johnny reverses that with a hurricanrana. Now it’s Johnny’s turn for a German suplex and a double clothesline puts them both down again. They’re up at ONE and slug it out again until Johnny hits a clothesline but can’t follow up. Ciampa rolls outside and Gargano is up at nine for another superkick from the apron.
The Cannonball misses though and Gargano lands with a thud. The Fairy Tale Ending on the steps knocks Gargano silly again for nine, though he’s down again at nine and a half. Gargano can’t remember what planet he’s on so Ciampa starts cutting up the ring mat, which is how he won in Chicago. That takes too long though and Gargano sprays him with a fire extinguisher before pulling out the faithful old crutch. That’s broken over Ciampa’s back and Gargano hits his own hanging DDT onto the exposed wood.
Ciampa slides out at nine again so Gargano suicide dives him onto the announcers’ table. A superkick hits a production worker by mistake so Ciampa hits a running knee to drive a chair into Gargano’s head. Ciampa isn’t done yet though as he buries Gargano underneath everything he can find, including the barricade, a bunch of chairs and the unconscious production worker. That’s only good for nine and Ciampa falls down in disbelief.
With nothing else working, Ciampa tries to handcuff Johnny but gets punched in the face instead. Now it’s Johnny trying to handcuff him, only to get elbowed right back. Instead they fight over towards the tables set up a long time ago and a superkick puts Ciampa through the wood. Johnny can’t even look at Ciampa uses the crutch to get himself up (smart move). Ciampa tells him to follow up the ramp so Gargano does just that, eventually locking on the Gargano Escape to make him tap. With that not working, Gargano cuffs him to a piece of the stage.
Ciampa begs off but Johnny grabs him by the beard and superkicks him in the face again. Johnny yells that Ciampa did this as Ciampa keeps getting to his feet at seven, though he can’t stay up due to the cuffs. The knee pad comes down and Johnny hits the running knee but goes flying off the stage and into a bunch of equipment, injuring his knee in the process. Ciampa comes off the stage and lands on his feet to retain at 33:55.
Rating: A. It’s very good, but it’s not quite up to the level of their previous matches. To be fair though, that’s not exactly something you can ask them to do given how incredible the first two were. The other problem is having three straight incredibly brutal and violent matches in a row was pushing it a bit too far. It’s still a great match though and when this was just below the masterpieces they did the first two times, they’re in pretty awesome shape.
Mauro says Gargano may have dislocated his knee. Now that’s an interesting way to go. Johnny is slowly walked up to the ramp and sat down as the copyright notice comes up…and Ciampa comes back out. One more pose with the title ends the show.
Overall Rating: A+. What does it say when these shows have figured out how to be so good for so long in a row that the surprise and shock factors are just gone? It’s an amazing show and one of the best of the year, but that’s what you expect from these things anymore. That’s the kind of place that almost no wrestling company has ever been to and I have no idea how to react to something like this.
It’s another outstanding show with Dream vs. EC3 lagging behind in a match that was only a solid “good to very good”. Come on guys, pick up the slack already. The formula NXT has figured out should be required reading (possibly omitting the sections about the budget and having WWE hand pick all this talent) as they know how to get the most out of everyone they have. These are compelling stories with insanely great matches to blow them off. That’s great wrestling, and this was another instant classic show.
Thomas Hall has been a wrestling fan for over thirty years and has seen over 50,000 wrestling matches. He has also been a wrestling reviewer since 2009 with over 5,000 full shows covered. You can find his work at kbwrestlingreviews.com, or check out his- Amazon author page with 30 wrestling books.
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