NXT, WWE's Developmental flagship-turned-competing brand, will be putting on their latest live special tomorrow (Saturday, Aug. 19, 2017). And we’re back to the show that innovated the concept of the pre-”Big 4” event with TakeOver: Brooklyn III on the eve of SummerSlam.
The card comes our way from Barclays Center at 8PM Eastern, exclusively on WWE Network. NXT champion Bobby Roode fighting for his NXT against Drew McIntyre, who’s trying to make the most of his second chance by winning the title for the fans. Ember Moon tries to end undefeated Women’s titleholder Asuka’s historic run with that belt, while tag champs Authors of Pain may have met their heel-ish match in Eric Young’s SAnitY.
In non-title action, Johnny Gargano is looking to make his mark as a singles wrestler, but he’ll have to beat Andrade “Cien” Almas in Brookyn, and Cien’s been re-motivated since his associate Zelina Vega arrived in NXT. And Hideo Itami hasn’t much cared who he’s pissed off of late, but he may have bitten off more than he can chew with the undefeated Aleister Black.
If you're new or someone who only checks out NXT for the live specials, we've got a full preview of the matches coming up for you between now and belltime. Right now, we've assembled a motley crew of Cagesiders who watch & love NXT to give us their thoughts & predictions on each.
Let's get to it.
WWE NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn III PREDICTIONS
Drew McIntyre vs. Bobby Roode
Sean Rueter: There’s still mileage in The Glorious One’s run, especially since he’s got the best angles of his championship set up with Drew and Roderick Strong, and more (currently babyface) challenges lined up in Aleister Black and possibly even Johnny Gargano. Whether or not this goes on last will tell us a lot... because if the women are main eventing, we might get the first NXT title non-finish in TakeOver history due to Roddy-ference. Pick: Bobby Roode
Kyle Decker: Not really sure about this one. Roddy is going to be involved in the future. If both Roddy and Drew are going to be party of the title picture, and win or lose, so will Bobby, things are better with the belt on the heel. Pick: Bobby Roode
ReverendKain: After the way Strong/McIntyre went and ended, I want nothing more than for Drew to knock Bobby off his pedestal, let absolute power corrupt absolutely, and have the TakeOver: New Orleans feud be a rerun of their Evolve feud with the alignments flipped. I might not GET that, but I can’t not vote with my mark hat on, with this one. Pick: Drew McIntyre
Stella Cheeks (of the always awesome NYD podcast): Well, I can't exactly go against my heart here. McIntyre (affectionately known as Drewboo) is my guy. Additionally, Drew is so good at the fighting champ/open challenge gimmick that it makes sense to have him hold the belt considering how many indie singles men they are bringing in (hint: BAYBAY). Roode has been a fun champ but would also fit well in the main roster or in a grudge feud with The Room star, Roderick Strong. Pick: Drew McIntyre
OurLadyJustice (aka Dea): This is actually kind of a tough one for me. On one hand, Bobby Roo's held the title for quite a long time now, and while I AM the type to dig on his brand of character, I get that a change is due. The story they've been telling, however, says that Roode needs to hang onto to the title in order to keep things going with Roderick Strong. I'm just so torn. All right, I'mma go with the happy ending, and say we'll get a new champ that can open things up. Pick: Drew McIntyre
Erin Cline (the more enigmatic half of Not Your Demographic): WHY DON'T I CARE ABOUT EITHER OF THESE GUYS?????? Individually, and out of the ring, I like both of them just fine. But Bobby has been so bland in ring that I'm not at all hype for anything past his entrance (which will definitely be dope), and I just am not here for Drew winning the title already. What is he doing that is any more interesting than Ohno or Itami or Black or Cien or Fish or Kale O'Reilly? He also just got there and other than having beautiful thighs and a dreamy accent I just don't understand the push to immediately put the belt on him. But, it feels inevitable - there is nothing left for Bobby to do on NXT and with the rumors of another shuffle after SummerSlam it feels like we're going to be closing with a new champ. Pick: Drew McIntyre
Asuka vs. Ember Moon
Sean Rueter: It’s time, I suppose. While I wish it felt more epic, I’m not sure anything short of a challenge from Goldberg himself could. Going out with a great, 20 minute classic would help. I’m pulling for you, ladies. Pick: Ember Moon
Kyle Decker: It's time. Asuka has been undefeated for all this time, but it's time for someone to beat that streak and for the Empress to move on to Raw or SmackDown. They were smart not doing the change at Orlando and decided to build this story up more. But it's at a point where the title change feels right. Pick: Ember Moon
ReverendKain: All good things, and so on. 506 days ain’t bad, all things considered. Pick: Ember Moon
Stella Cheeks: Ember Moon is rising. <werewolf noise> But seriously if Ember can't beat Asuka who can? Asuka is literally the longest reigning champ in the new era, we need her on the main roster and NXT needs the roster space for all the Mae Young Classic signees. This match will be a show stealer, I love these women, I love wrestling (dissolves into tears). Pick: Ember Moon
OurLadyJustice: Same kind of thing applies here in that I know it should be time for a new champ, but am I the only one who feels like Ember hasn't really earned it? I think I'll actually be disappointed if she does win this right now because Asuka seem like a truly unbeatable force at this point. I've talked myself into her retaining. Pick: Asuka
Erin Cline: It feels inevitable that Asuka is dropping the title at TakeOver. She'll have just passed the record to become the longest running champ of any kind in the modern era, which is what they have really wanted for some time and Asuka happens to be the person they could keep a belt on long enough to actually do it. However, after such a long build that included an injury for Ember, there is no better time to do it. Ember is not the unstoppable monster that Asuka is and this will give the feeling of competition back to the women's division on NXT, which it has not felt like they've had for some time. Even with Nikki and Ruby, once it became clear that Asuka was going to break all the records, it never felt like they were really willing to take the belt off of her. Ember is the person to do it and reset the division while Asuka moves up and we can maybe see her wrestle more than once a month. Pick: Ember Moon
Authors of Pain vs. SAnitY
Sean Rueter: Something tells me Team EY is showing up on SmackDown soon, possibly laughing over Breezango and The Ascension’s broken bodies. And I think Shane Thorne is due back shortly, too. Pick: Authors of Pain
Kyle Decker: This has the feel of a time killing feud until they try to establish a true babyface team to oust the Authors. It'll be fun and a bit out of control, but the ending will be something we've seen before: Ellering’s team victorious. Pick: Authors of Pain
ReverendKain: SAnitY haven’t exactly been great, but just conceptually it’s a shame they never really had a chance to run roughshod with a reign of terror over NXT, and I can’t see one starting here. Pick: Authors of Pain
Stella Cheeks: I have high hopes for this match - if only for the Nikki Cross snarling around the ring. AoP has proven that they can have great matches and the idea of their size in contrast to SAnitY's craziness is exciting. I do think AoP retains but I bet this match really takes people off guard with how good it is. Pick: Authors of Pain
OurLadyJustice: I really hope this match is balls-out crazy. AoP is big and methodical, while SAnitY is I-don't-even-know on any given day. That alone should provide for an interesting go in the ring. If I'm honest, though, I'd like to see this championship change hands, especially since I think this match is "Most Likely To Involve Shenanigans". Pick: SAnitY
Erin Cline: Guys. I just... don't care about this match at all. I'm sure it's going to be fun and the AoP have really brought me around on their wrestling... but I still don't care at all about Paul's children or whatever they are. Paul Ellering just is not enough personality for all three of them for me. And I also feel like Dain is set for a singles run so it would be strange to put the tag belts on him right now. It seems sort of silly to put Dain in a ring with people who diminish his size, but with such a stacked title card picture (also full of giants) there isn't really room for him anyway. Pick: Authors of Pain (I guess?)
Hideo Itami vs. Aleister Black
Sean Rueter: As Dr. Ishiro Serizawa once said, “Let them fight”. Then let one of the them sit stoically cross-legged in victory. Pick: Aleister Black
Kyle Decker: I'm looking forward to this bout the most. Aleister's roll out has been great and heel Itami has been on point. Black is one of the leagues of undefeateds in NXT and this is a good time to get that first loss out of the way. Hideo can be dirty (perhaps a low blow when the ref isn’t looking) to get the win and maybe give an excuse to see this match again. Pick: Hideo Itami
ReverendKain: Men may never be truly good nor truly evil, but they can well and truly be knocked out with Black Mass. It bums me out a little, but in neither kayfabe nor reality can I see the former NOAH man taking Black out here. Pick: Aleister Black
Stella Cheeks: Aleister Black is unstoppable. Super hot and unstoppable. AB wins and further progresses Itami's heel turn into full blown monster heel. Would not be surprised if after AB wins, Itami loses his sh*t and there is a post match beat down. Either way AB = V hot. Pick: Aleister Black
OurLadyJustice: I like the change in Hideo, and I like the way that most of his new story has been handled. On the other side of that, Aleister Black is pretty fantastic, and he's been one of the best handled stars new to NXT that they've done in a while. How many others can say that? I think this has really good MOTN potential and could go either way, but I think I'm going to go with my gut feeling on this, and Aleister Black will not go to sleep. Pick: Aleister Black
Erin Cline: They've been building Black as a monster who is inevitably going to be in the title picture, and is thus far undefeated - however, Hitami could also really use a good win. Since he's the bad guy here though he can take a loss in a way that doesn't really make sense for Black at the moment. Honestly I'm just looking forward to watching Itami get Black up in position for a GTS. GTS into a dope Black Magic maybe? I'm here for it. Pick: Aleister Black
Johnny Gargano vs. Andrade “Cien” Almas
Sean Rueter: He can’t lose his first spotlight match with Zelina Vega by his side. And maybe a certain sling-wearing Sicilian shows up, even just as a guest of Kevin Owens, to distract J. Wrestling? Pick: Andrade “Cien” Almas
Kyle Decker: This looks like a match of two guys who could use a win. Johnny is kicking off his single's career while Almas is a guy who is trying to break a pretty nasty losing streak. Andrade really needs the win more though. If he is still losing with the help of Ms. Vega, then what's the point of all this? Pick: Andrade "Cien" Almas
ReverendKain: Almas is just a little too set in his Ingobernable ways, and Johnny Wrestling is gonna teach him a lesson that he and Vega can study over the next few weeks. Pick: Johnny Gargano
Stella Cheeks: Maybe I'm crazy, but I really think Cien is going to win this. He lost for so long and has been on a tranquilo fast/winning streak since Zelena joined his side. It would make sense to have her be the reason he got his act together and finally strung together a couple big wins. Especially since she's the one that made the match. Gargano went through a trauma so he's still making his comeback. He can take the loss. Pick: Andrade "Cien" Almas
OurLadyJustice: This one kind of depends on what they want more: feel-good comeback for Johnny or more heat on Andrade. I think it makes more sense to go with heat on Andrade because Johnny as underdog is everyone else's favorite story. Also, fuck Johnny Wrestling, I hate that guy. Spite Pick: Andrade "Cien" Almas
Erin Cline: One of these days Cien will actually get to win AND I WILL FEEL SO VINDICATED but that day is not today. These guys will have a great match that will ultimately end with the greatest babyface of all time, Johnny, coming up with the victory. Pick: Johnny Gargano
That's who we've got. Who are you taking, Cagesiders?