As usual, the latest live special from NXT, WWE's Developmental feeder promotion / in-house competition, is loaded.
TakeOver: Brooklyn II is the second iteration of a show many call the brand’s card to WrestleMania. And the card certainly backs up that assertion. There will be plenty of comparisons between the previous TakeOver events - and especially last August’s pre-SummerSlam show.
We'll hold off on doing any rankings until after the Saturday night, Aug. 20 show at Barclays Center. We are going to dig in to each of the six bouts on what looks to be a phenomenal card.
Check our prediction post for lots of Cagesiders thoughts on all the matches, and buckle up as we previewing the three non-title matches coming your way tomorrow night.
Ember Moon vs. Billie Kay
Little is (kayfabe) known about Moon, other than that she dresses like a Mortal Kombat character, has red eyes and the best voiceover guy this side of Eva Marie. Billie was straight enhancement talent for a while, disappeared from our screens and returned to NXT and SmackDown almost simultaneously. Her cup of coffee on the main roster went to her head, and she’s now an arrogant villainess who listens to Carmen and calls herself the Femme Fatale.
These ladies have history together, under different names, of course, on the rough streets of Berywn, Illinois, in a one-on-one match at Shimmer 40 and in a Triple Threat with former TNA Knockouts champ Jade at Shimmer 42, both filmed back in 2011.
But of course, what they did as Athena and Jessie McKay has very little bearing on this match-up. Considering Athena/Ember is getting the hype videos and has the crowd-pleasing finisher, it would be surprising if she lost her debut. But given 5 - 10 minutes, these ladies could both impress, and give us a look at the future of NXT’s Women’s division.
Who do you think will win?— Cageside Seats (@cagesideseats) August 19, 2016
Bobby Roode vs. Andrade “Cien” Almas
Former TNA World champion Roode’s arrival was both a long-time coming and a sudden, smashing success - even though he hasn’t wrestled on our screens yet. The It Factor was spotted in the crowd and backstage at past TakeOvers, but it was when he strutted to the ring to “Glorious Domination” a few weeks back and cut one of the best heel promos NXT’s home audience at Full Sail Live has seen since Kevin Owens moved up to the main roster that he was suddenly one of the hottest acts in wrestling.
For Almas, who comes to WWE from Mexico’s CMLL, it’s been a different story. With good looks and a flashy style, everyone assumed he’d be quickly embraced as a top star. But when his barely defined character collided with a fan favorite underdog in Tye Dillinger at The End..., the trouble was evident from the beginning. When NXT bookers went back to the pairing at a taping, things didn’t get any better, and “Cien” has been adrift since.
It will be interesting to see how Saturday night goes for both men. They’ll likely have to work hard for the reactions they’re “supposed” to get, and no one has done Almas any favors by making this match only two weeks before TakeOver and letting Roode do all the work to sell it (by coming out after the luchador’s latest victory to announce the match and insult his opponent).
Both men are experience performers, and they should be able to deliver a compelling match which serves them both well going forward. Will 15,000 hardcore fans in New York help them out? That’s a question with a less obvious answer.
Who do you think will win (3)?— Cageside Seats (@cagesideseats) August 19, 2016
Austin Aries vs. No Way Jose
Everybody loves a dance party. Like Roode, Jose has been propelled by a great theme song and a character to which many fans instantly attached to become a rising star in NXT.
Aries isn’t quite in the same boat as Almas, but his work since joining NXT hasn’t created many converts. Fortunately, one of the things he has done that got people talking was the attack on Jose which started this feud.
The Dominican offered A-Double some encouragement and advice following his loss to Shinsuke Nakamura at The End... Aries played along, even dancing around the ring and to the announce desk with Jose before snapping and assaulting the larger man. It’s been a textbook feud, too, because that action by the so-called Greatest Man That Ever Lived brought out a necessary new facet of No Way’s character. Returning fire with a post-match attack of his own and following that up with a fiery promo have revealed him to be more than just the latest dancing stereotype from WWE.
Aries & Jose will have to really deliver to stand-out on the typically packed TakeOver card in New York. But if they do, the future could be bright for them both in the ever-changing landscape of NXT.
Who do you think will win (2)?— Cageside Seats (@cagesideseats) August 19, 2016