WWE took over the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, NY for three nights straight with three different live shows. Saturday featured NXT Takeover: Brooklyn, Sunday was the SummerSlam pay per view, and Monday hosted Monday Night Raw.
I enjoyed all three shows to varying degrees. I wouldn’t say I had one overall favorite show since each show had their pros and cons. These events all had their own twists and turns and featured some excellent pro-wrestling matches. Reviewing every match, angle and storyline from the weekend would result in a 20 page article, so I’ll stick to pros and cons from each day.
NXT Takeover: Brooklyn: 8/22/15
I’ve gushed about NXT before and this show did not fail to deliver. 15,000 fans turned out to see WWE’s developmental show and the attendance helped to give the show a great atmosphere. NXT’s weekly show is usually taped at Full Sail Arena in front of ~500 people, for comparison. I don’t get the chance to watch NXT every week, but they make it easy to keep up on the storylines going into the show.
Sasha Banks vs. Bailey - NXT Women’s Championship match
This match was flat out incredible. Banks had just been called up to the main roster so it was fairly obvious that she was going to lose her NXT title, but these two women managed to build plenty of drama while bringing some brutal, physical intensity. They completely outshined the main event for me and this ends up in my top 3 favorite matches of the whole weekend.
Sasha Banks arrived in an Escalade before her bodyguards delivered her into the ring.
Sasha takes flight over top of the ref.
Thousands of grown men collectively weep in joy as Bailey wins the title.
You know what? This was the best WWE women’s match I’ve ever seen. This is something I want to show people who are on the fence about taking women’s wrestling seriously. The dichotomy between this match and what they’re doing with the divas on Raw is just amazing.
Jushin “Thunder” Liger vs. Tyler Breeze
Jushin Liger is a legend from Japan who made a guest appearance here in NXT. They opened the show with a nice mix of action and comedy. Liger’s a live action anime character up against a narcissistic, selfie-taking fashionista. I’ve liked Liger since I was a kid so it was very cool to see he could still pop the crowd and still work a fun match.
Liger steals Tyler Breeze’s selfie stick mid-match. Imagine if your parents walked in the room right here.
Kevin Owens vs. Finn Balor – Ladder Match for the NXT Championship
While I liked Bailey vs. Sasha better, this match was still pretty good. It would have been hard for almost anybody to follow that women’s match. It wasn’t the best ladder match I’ve ever seen, but both of these guys brought their A-Games for the main event. Plenty of enjoyable spots and moments here, but this is probably not a match I’ll go back to rewatch. This felt like a send-off for Owens since he’s cemented on the main roster now.
Finn Balor’s entrance is theatrical, campy and ridiculous. Everything wrestling should be.
Kevin Owens charges in for a…punch in the face.
-Vaudevillains vs. Blake and Murphy – NXT Tag Title Match
While the work in the match was perfectly serviceable, I’m just not invested in either team. 15,000 people chanting for a character named “Blue Pants” is amazing though.
Overall NXT Takeover: Brooklyn was a great way to kick off the weekend’s grappling festivities. NXT is growing into something special and while it falls under the WWE umbrella, it still feels like a solid alternative.
WWE tried very hard to build this up as a huge show, like a second Wrestlemania. Jon Stewart hosted the show fresh off of his Daily Show tenure, a TV star worked a match and Brock Lesnar and The Undertaker made for a huge main event. I enjoyed most of this show but there were definitely a few low points. Watching the pay-per-view at a bar with your friends will make almost any match enjoyable, I suppose.
The New Day and everything about them
The New Day and the tag team division are one facet of the WWE I really like right now (more on this later). Every segment and match they’re involved with is quality entertainment. The New Day wrestled a 4 corners tag team match and won the titles back from the Prime Time Players. Their ring entrance featured them claiming that Southern hip hop is better than New York hip hop, and did their own version of Jay-Z’s “Empire State of Mind.” This match was a glorious trainwreck with bodies flying everywhere around the ring.
Titus O’Neil throws fools around without any regard for their well-being.
Xavier Woods puts an end to El Torito.
Kofi scores the pin and starts hopping around on his shoulders. Big E starts running laps. I’m choking on my laughter as tears roll down my face.
Seth Rollins vs. John Cena – WWE Champion vs. US Champion, winner takes all
I really didn’t want to care about this match. I’ve seen Seth vs. John at least 10 different times and figured Cena would walk away with two titles tonight. Just wasn’t feeling it. But of course, this match ended up being amazing. Seth Rollins worked his ass off here and Cena met him every step of the way. While I’m not the biggest fan of Seth’s promo work, he can seriously deliver in big matches. I felt the same way about him after the triple threat match with Cena and Brock Lesnar from the Royal Rumble this year. Seth came out of this looking like a huge superstar to me, almost to the point where I’m getting Shawn Michaels vibes from him. I suppose it helps that the New York crowd was very much pro-Rollins. As much as I loved the NXT women’s match, I think this barely edges it out for me. Seth worked as a babyface through the match, fighting through most of everything Cena could give him, but ultimately won the match and both belts after Jon Stewart interfered and hit Cena with a chair. Peak pro-wrestling right here.
Jon Stewart, after feuding with Rollins earlier in the year, changes sides and helps him get the win over Cena.
Kevin Owens vs. Cesaro
This was a match I was looking forward to but I was worried about a drop in Owens’ performance after the grueling match he went through the night before. That ultimately didn’t matter and both guys delivered everything I expected. Giant moves from Owens and feats of ridiculous strength from Cesaro. The only unfortunate thing was that the crowd response was a little tepid. They were put in the “death spot” right before the main event, plus the crowd had just seen 2 hours of wrestling matches.
Brock Lesnar vs. The Undertaker
The crowd woke up for this, though. “Electricity” is a WWE buzzword they like to throw around for huge main events, and this match fit the bill. It started out slow and methodical and turned into something intense and brutal. The Undertaker looked good for a man his age, taking suplexes and bumps all over the place. Brock looked like a beast as always. I’m pro-Brock and thought he had The Undertaker beat multiple times.
‘Taker takes an F5 through the announce table. He’s 50 years old.
Brock sits up and laughs at the Undertaker after a huge move. Taker does the same.
However, the finish turned into a convoluted mess, which leads me to…
The finishing sequence of Brock vs. ‘Taker
The story is that Brock initially got the Undertaker to tap out in the kimura lock. The timekeeper apparently saw it but the referee did not. The bell rings and everybody is confused. Very weird and anticlimactic. After some more shenanigans the match keeps going, Undertaker hits Brock with a low blow and locks in a gogoplata submission. Brock Lesnar passes out in the hold and Undertaker gets the official win.
Moments before passing out, Brock delivers his last message to The Undertaker.
A very flat finish to what was shaping up to be a great match. WWE wants to take these two to Wrestlemania for the rubber match, which is fine, but I think they could have found a more creative and less confusing way to get there. Ending Brock’s undefeated streak over some miscommunication between the referee and the timekeeper is very silly and well, very pro-wrestling.
Sheamus vs. Randy Orton
Similarly to how I felt about the tag match from NXT Takeover, this match opened the show not with a bang, but with a whisper. If anything, I’m glad they were the opener so they could get this over with. The match and the work was fine, I just found this match boring and without a reason to care.
SummerSlam gets a 7/10 from me. I’ll go back and rewatch The New Day stuff, Cena/Rollins and Brock/Taker most certainly. That main event finish will be something that will go down in the record books for all time terrible.
Monday Night Raw: 8/24/15
After 6 hours of wrestling over two days, I didn’t end up watching all of Raw live. I caught bits and pieces on my phone and caught up on Hulu the next day. The parts I saw were good.
The New Day, once again (featuring The Dudley Boyz)
The New Day came out with Xavier Woods playing a trombone. Hilarious antics as usual. After their match The Dudley Boyz make a major surprise return and lay out Xavier through a table. I’m excited to see them back and they’ll make the tag division even better.
Sting made a surprise return as well on tonight’s show and is now slated to face Seth Rollins for the WWE title at September’s Night of Champions pay per view. Another huge surprise for the evening, the crowd exploded at his reveal to cap off the three day wrestling extravaganza.
Seth, Triple H and Stephanie McMahon helped sell the moment, too.
I understand the complaint about older veterans coming in and taking spots from younger talent, but I’m fine with these guys. The Rock beating CM Punk was silly, but Sting and The Dudleys seem like they’re back to help put over the young guys and help to establish them more so. They’re a breath of fresh air in what was becoming a stale WWE. Sting as WWE Champion in 2015 would be a site to see though…
Jon Stewart deserves some appreciation for his work over the weekend. He blended into the cartoon world of WWE seamlessly, and I wish he would stick around as a regular character. He revealed tonight that he helped out Seth Rollins so that John Cena would not tie Ric Flair’s championship record. So of course, John Cena gave him an Attitude Adjustment and Stewart took it like a professional.
The cognitive dissonance between what they’re doing with the women in NXT and what is happening on Raw is astounding. Horribly awkward, scripted promos combined with a crowd that didn’t care made for a bad segment altogether.
8-Man, Upper-Midcard Tag Match
Sheamus, Orton, Cesaro, Owens, Ziggler, Rusev, Ryback and Big Show are all continuing their SummerSlam feuds with a pointless match that didn’t do much to progress anyone’s story. There was a lot to fit on the show and they had to get all of these guys on the card somehow, I guess.
The WWE wraps up their summer season and heads into fall with a bit of a shakeup. SummerSlam was the season finale, while the next season started the next night. They’ll soon be up against Monday Night Football so they’ll need names like Sting and The Dudleys to try and compete with that. I was ready to take a WWE break prior to this weekend but they’ve hooked me in once again; I’m interested to see where this all goes. I don’t think I’ll tune in for 3 hours of Raw every week but I’ll definitely be watching the pay per view in September.
by Nate Dimit (@ndimit)