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Smark Hen-XT (8/22/15): Taking Over Brooklyn

In this special edition of Smark Hen-XT, we take a look at the awesomeness that is TakeOver: Brooklyn.

Let me just get this off my chest

Straight up, I’m going to tell you that this is the best NXT special WWE has produced. Top to bottom, it was highly entertaining and well-produced. Almost everything—from the performers, to the video packages, and even to the crowd—screamed brilliance. How tomorrow’s SummerSlam is going to top it, I don’t even know. Daddy Trips must be proud.

I do have one complain, though, and it’s not minor: The Women’s title match should have gone last.

Don’t get me wrong, the NXT Championship match was great. Kevin Owens gave no fucks about his health and well-being and never held back. Champion Finn Balor was brilliant and tenacious. #ViolenceLadders were taken out and was used for, well, violence. It was arguably their best match. But it came after the Women’s Championship match.

Now that was a match that was greatness exemplified. It wasn’t just a brilliantly performed match, it was emotionally moving. It took you on a rollercoaster of feels that just wasn’t quite the same as the NXT Championship match did. From the video package before the match, to every spot and false finish, to the curtain call, it was made you feel something. It made you suspend your disbelief, really immersing yourself in the story these two women were telling. Banks, in her overconfidence, taunts the lovable underdog Bayley, mocking her for not getting called up. She delivers a beating quite unlike we’ve seen from any of the women in NXT OR the main roster, including attacking the challenger’s previously broken hand in a vicious steel steps spot. Bayley overcame adversity and fought and clawed her way to get that moment of glory. It was an instant classic.

Maybe because I wasn’t as invested in the Balor-Owens feud as I was with Bayley’s character arc and Sasha Banks’ title reign, but something wasn’t quite right with the NXT title match, and you can see it in the crowd. Barclay’s Center certainly enjoyed the Ladder match, but weren’t as passionate for it as they were for the co-main event. It felt like they were burned out by the time the main event came around.

This was what I feared when they announced the double main event billing. On paper, those were two great matches, and they were great. But honestly speaking, the Women’s Championship match, and Bayley to be exact, held my attention more than whatever was happening with the bland Balor or whatever the fuck Owens was getting himself into. The NXT title match wasn’t built up as organically, as epically, as it should have been. What a brilliant show it was could have been a lot more better with a change.

The Matches:

Tyler Breeze vs Jushin "Thunder" Liger

  • This was a great call to start the show. It was fun and entertaining. Liger, despite being 50, is still a great performer. He played the crowd well and, despite limiting his moveset for this show, was still impactful when needed. Great one-of showing for the Japanese legend.

  • I know I predicted Breeze to go over, and it would have been awesome for him to get the win, it was understandable that Liger got it. Breeze still did well, though, despite only having two recognizable moves. I suggest we establish a Tyler Breeze Move Watch.

The Vaudevillains (w/ Blue Pants) vs Blake and Murphy (w/ Alexa Bliss) for the NXT Tag Team Championship

  • Man, Blue Pants was a nice surprise. And she was perfect for this spot, even if it was just for one night.

  • Also of note, Blake, Murphy, and Bliss rocking Iron Man themed ring gear. With the challengers wearing blue, this felt like some Civil War-level shit right here.

  • This, hands down, is the best showing of the NXT tag team division. Blake and Murphy owned the role of arrogant and cocky champions, and Bliss just took it up a notch. Gotch and English was great as face you can back up, and having Blue Pants in their corner just drilled that idea. We had great spots from the both, one when Gotch displayed great chain wrestling against Blake to start of the match and second defending champs when they tossed Gotch up and Blake caught him with a neckbreaker.

  • In the end, manliness and chivalry won the day as the Vaudevillains rode the Whirling Dervish to their first championship reign.

  • Great announcement: NXT is holding the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic starting in a couple of weeks. I hope this great tournament jumpstarts a renaissance for the tag division.

Apollo Crews vs “Perfect 10” Tye Dillinger

  • Great prop for the debuting Crews.

  • Surprised by the amount of offense Dillinger got in this match. As I’ve said, I like the idea of Dillinger’s gimmick, now it’s all about getting some groove behind it.

  • Crews gets the win after the Apollo Combination: a Military Press Slam transitioned into a Standing Shooting Star Press.

Samoa Joe vs Baron Corbin

  • Big guys in a hoss fight? I’m down for that. And boy was this a fun match to watch. Hard hitting match from both these guys.

  • Joe lives up to his shirt as he showcased his submission skills in a chain of holds. Corbin didn’t gas out and carried his part in the match.

  • The Samoan Submission Specialist gets the win with a nice Coquina Clutch that choked out Corbin.

Bayley vs Sasha Banks for the NXT Women’s Championship

  • As I’ve said, this was match of the night. A video package before the match highlights Bayley’s road to title contention and, sadly, her non-inclusion in the recent call ups just sets the story so great.

  • Bayley with a nice little tribute to the late, great Dusty Rhodes with the polka-dotted head band and arm bands. Banks enters the ring in a fucking Cadillac Escalade complete with bouncers, because she’s the boss.

  • Great back and forth between the two ladies, and they told a great story all throughout the match. Great spots include: a top rope double knee drop from Banks, Banks smashing the steel steps into Bayley’s hand, and a great a top rope frankensteiner from Bayley.

  • My words won’t do this match any more justice. Just watch it. Please.

  • After a second Bayley-to-Belly HugPlex, Bayley wins her first Women’s Championship. Becky Lynch and Charlotte comes out to celebrate with the new champ and Banks hugs her opponent in a show of respect. A single manly tear was shed from yours truly.

Kevin Owens vs Finn Balor in a Ladder Match for the NXT Championship

  • Like any ladder match, this would have only worked if both competitors just threw safety out of the window and just fucking invoke the wraths of #ViolenceLadders. And they did. And it was great. It was like NXT legalized murder for thirty minutes and told Owens and Balor to kill each other.

  • Remember, Owens still has a match the next day at SummerSlam, and will probably have to show up to RAW on Monday. So seeing him just fucking trying kill himself to win the NXT Championship was a bit cringe worthy but at the same time awe-inspiring.

  • A fun thing that was pointed out to me: Balor, under the demon war paint, works differently from regular Balor. His strikes are crisper, his movements more deliberate, his presence more menacing. For the love of all things wrestling, Trips and co. should really develop that dichotomy in Balor. As much as I love the entrances, and for this special they showcased Balor’s demonic teleportation powers, I need more character development from the champ. He has to be more than a soft-spoken, well-dressed Irishman who paints himself up every now and then.

  • Balor retrieves and retains his NXT Championship after delivering an excessively violent looking Coup de Grace to the prone challenger from the top of a ladder.

Sign of the night:

Two things about this photo: (1) Pretty sure that's not PG, 'teh. (2) That's guy's face. He knows what's going on.

This was a great show from beginning to end. The action never let up. Great stories were told in the ring. It reminds us that, despite all its flaws, NXT remains the most entertaining product the WWE produces every week. I cannot wait for the next TakeOver.

Thanks to everyone who showed up for our viewing party! Hope to see you guys for SummerSlam. Hit us up with your thoughts about the show on the comments section.

Photos from and Twitter

Jocs Boncodin (@caboncodin) is a Managing Editor of Smark Henry. He answers tweets by day and watches wrestling by night. An aspiring writer, Jocs spends most of his idle time fantasy booking angles and overthinking wrestling storylines. A big fan of the WWE, his introduction to the local online wrestling community Smark Gilas-Pilipinas has opened his eyes to the wonders of puroresu and lucha libre. He currently handles Smark Hen-XT,'s weekly NXT review.

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