We'll dive into the "double main event" matches at the biggest show in NXT history in more detail a little later, but there are interesting angles and potentially great bouts on the undercard of Saturday night's big show from Barclays Center in the borough of Brooklyn in the great city of New York, New York.
(And that's not even counting the stuff that will be taped for television before TakeOver: Brooklyn hits WWE Network at 9PM Eastern time)
The Debut of Apollo Crews
Reading Triple H's Tweet that confused the entire internet for a while on Tuesday, we can assume that Crews will be
defeating wrestling Tye Dillinger in Brooklyn.
Apollo Crews is the nomme de WWE of Sesugh Uhaa, who worked the independent circuit as Uhaa Nation. A high school athlete, body builder and lifelong pro wrestling fan, he broke in with Gabe Sapolsky's Dragon Gate USA, Full Impact Pro and Evolve promotions. With a muscular look and a dynamic moveset, he was a star pretty much from day one, and it was no surprise when he signed with WWE earlier this year after only a little more than three years in the game.
Triple H and team are reportedly sky high on Crews as a major player for both NXT and the main roster. As a 27 year old without ten years of indy hardcore matches on his body, it's pretty easy to understand why, even before you see him hit a standing shooting star press. On Saturday, the WWE Universe will almost certainly get to see him do that as part of his finisher, a Gorilla Press followed by a standing moonsault and THEN the SSP.
Will we learn more about his gimmick, or what his first feud will be? Past TakeOver debuts like Hideo Itami and Kevin Owens established angles in addition to just introducing the next big thing, so look for Apollo's to lead to something more as well.
Samoa Joe vs. Baron Corbin
Speaking of guys the powers-that-be are high on, or were high on, anyway, former football lineman Corbin gets another chance to prove that he's more than just presence and a finisher against Joe, a legend in every company he worked for before WWE, who's yet to really impress on NXT.
The Lone Wolf's whole deal has been that he defeats jobbers quickly with his End of Days finisher. He's been doing it for a long time now, first as a babyface and now as a heel. In between, he's won feuds with Rhyno and Bull Dempsey and lost a marquee match-up against former NXT champion Neville.
His current reign of terror was producing "X-Pac heat" with the Full Sail Live audience when Samoa Joe interupted him last week and proceeded to choke him out.
Earlier this week, Corbin struck back.
Will this be the match where Baron convinces fans and bookers that its time to take the next step with him? Or will he be a tune-up for The Samoan Submission Machine on his way back to the top of the card?
Tyler Breeze vs. Jushin "Thunder" Liger
Talk to most NXT fans, and watching an enhancement talent known as Mike Dalton turn a comedy character based on Zoolander into a legitimate threat has been one of the coolest parts about following the "don't call it Developmental" brand.
A perennial contender for most of the TakeOver era (he still hasn't received the one-on-one title match he earned by defeating Sami Zayn at the first live special, since Tyson Kidd interfered in his match with then-champ Neville). Finding something for him to do outside of the title picture became a meta-angle in the build to Brooklyn, with Prince Pretty stalking General Manager William Regal demanding a marquee name for him to fight on August 22.
Earlier this month, Regal announced that he had found one for him:
Building to the match has mostly focused on educating fans who don't follow New Japan or who weren't around for Liger's WCW run on how big a deal it is for him to be finally appearing in a WWE ring, and Breeze setting himself up as the scourge of Japan, having won an earlier feud against Hideo Itami (and being a suspect in the parking lot assault of the former KENTA that kayfabe that put him on the disabled list).
Will this be the match that, as the GM said, puts Tyler on the map as a main eventer for NXT, or cements him as change-of-pace attraction?
Blake & Murphy (c) vs. The Vaudevillains for the NXT Tag Team Championship
The first of three title matches on the TakeOver: Brooklyn card features a duo that picked up the belts shortly after their first televised win and haven't looked back since. Dropping their first names Wesley & Buddy and adding a manager in Alexa Bliss has made all the difference as the now-heel champs look to head into an eighth month as kings of the tag division.
Moving to the dark side came during their program with Enzo Amore & Colin Cassidy via an attempt to woo the New York/New Jersey team's associate Carmella, the duo many of us here at Cageside call Dubstep Cowboys due to the incongruity of their look and entrance theme started to find their footing. Bliss joined them when Carm disrespected her, and has since helped them to multiple wins while becoming the best part of the act.
Aiden English & Simon Gotch have hovered around the tag title scene going back to the previous champs, the main roster's Lucha Dragons. In those days, the pair were more closely aligned with the "Villain" part of their name, despite being over with the crowd and quite chivalrous. Since defeatin 'Zo & Cass themselves for #1 contender status, the old-timey team has become 100% babyface both by being victim to BAMF (Blake, Alexa, Murphy Factor...among other things)'s cheat-to-win approach and Bliss' willingness to exploit their manners by smacking the taste out of their mouths every chance she gets.
Angle-wise, the focus has been on who English & Gotch will recruit to deal with Alexa as much as it's been on if they can finally claim the tag titles. After initial speculation that this might be a chance for NXT Creative to introduce a new female player, recent thinking has been that they'll pop the crowd with fan favorite Leva Bates, who has merchandise in the shop even though she doesn't have a contract with WWE.
It's also worth asking if it matters a whole heck of a lot who comes out of Brooklyn with the belts. NXT has a bumper crop of tag teams ready to try to turn the division into the brand's next calling card. Whoever wins here may just be earning the right to put over Hype Bros, The Mechanics, Chad Gable & Jason Jordan or (finally) Enzo & Big Cass (if they aren't headed to the main roster while WWE is in their New York/New Jersey neck of the woods).
Stay tuned for an in-depth look at each of the singles title matches.
How's the undercard look to you, Cagesiders? What match or story are you looking forward to the most at TakeOver: Brooklyn?