NXT TakeOver preview: Can they top themselves yet again?
By Mike Pankow
August 18, 2018
The superstars of NXT are back on center stage Saturday night at NXT TakeOver Brooklyn IV.
From the very first TakeOver in February 2014, days after the WWE Network debuted, until the most recent event in June, NXT TakeOver Chicago II, the WWE’s third brand has never failed to deliver a top-notch show.
After Tommaso Ciampa and Johnny Gargano tore the house down in their Chicago Street Fight at Allstate Arena on June 16, they engage in Chapter 3 of their epic rivalry with a Last Man Standing Match in Brooklyn – this time it’s for the NXT Championship. Ciampa won the NXT title from Aleister Black on NXT TV a few weeks ago.
Black was originally supposed to be part of this main-event match in a triple-threat, but he was taken out after he was injured by a mysterious attack in Fail Sail University’s parking lot.
Ciampa and Gargano were buddies on the Midwest independent scene with Ciampa from Milwaukee and Gargano from Cleveland. They competed in several promotions in the Midwest, including AAW in Chicago. They finally got their big break from WWE in 2015 when the duo teamed up for the inaugural Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic. Eventually, Ciampa and Gargano signed with NXT and became big stars for the brand.
Things took a dramatic turn at NXT TakeOver Chicago I in May 2017 when after losing a hard-fought ladder match against the Authors of Pain, Ciampa viciously attacked Gargano, officially breaking up their team.
Ciampa was injured while working the loop leading up to that show and then missed several months after rupturing the ACL in his right knee. He returned to attack Gargano with a crutch at NXT TakeOver Philadelphia in January on Royal Rumble weekend.
Since then, Gargano won an “unsanctioned match” at NXT TakeOver New Orleans during WrestleMania weekend and Ciampa got even after a brutal victory in Chicago, finishing that match with a DDT onto the exposed ring surface after earlier tearing the canvas off it.
Saturday night is the rubber match. Will Gargano achieve his dream and win the NXT Championship by defeating his bitter rival or will Ciampa successful defend the title and finish off his former friend once and for all?
NXT TakeOver Brooklyn IV lineup and predictions
EC3 vs. Velveteen Dream: This has the potential to be the sleeper match of the night. Velveteen Dream, who was hands down the best contestant on WWE’s most recent Tough Enough show in 2015, has been putting spectacular TakeOver performances since last year. He displayed his athleticism in the amazing six-man ladder match in New Orleans, then put on a show-stealer with Ricochet in Chicago a couple of months ago. EC3 returned to the WWE family earlier this year and this will be his first singles match at a TakeOver event. The former IMPACT Wrestling champion has won over the fans in his brief time in NXT. Prediction: EC3 wins a fun affair after Dream gets several near falls, including one after his flying elbow.
Undisputed Era vs. Mustache Mountain: The rematch for the NXT Tag Team Championships should be a good one. The champs, Kyle O’Reilly and Roderick Strong have been a formidable duo, though it’s still a little strange to see Strong instead of O’Reilly’s longtime partner, Bobby Fish, in this role. But with Fish’s injury, the veteran Strong has been way more than an adequate replacement. Meanwhile, Tyler Bate and Trent Seven are two of the hottest young wrestlers in the game. Bate, who won the inaugural WWE United Kingdom Tournament, and Seven have been splitting time with NXT and PROGRESS Wrestling from the UK. Prediction: Undisputed Era retains but not after some great action from Mustache Mountain.
Adam Cole vs. Ricochet: This matchup for the NXT North American Championship features two of the biggest independent stars in recent years. Now together in an NXT ring, they can make magic together with Cole’s heel tactics and Ricochet’s high-flying, acrobatic style. Ricochet’s match with Velveteen Dream in Chicago was an amazing spectacle. Cole has been the leader of the red-hot Undisputed Era faction. Prediction: Adam Cole (BAY-BAY!) wins in a squeaker, possibly with some help from Undisputed Era.
Shayna Baszler vs. Kairi Sane: Yet another rubber match, this one for the NXT Women’s Championship. The champion, Baszler, since losing to Sane in the final of the inaugural Mae Young Classic, has been dominating the division. The Queen of Spades put Nikki Cross to sleep in Chicago and has showed few signs of letting up. Sane is one of the most dynamic women’s performers under the WWE umbrella. Prediction: In another classic, Baszler retains and remains strong heading toward WWE Evolution, the all-women’s pay-per-view in October.
Tommaso Ciampa vs. Johnny Gargano: This is for all the marbles – the NXT Championship. Prediction: After yet another brutal affair, Gargano channels his inner demon and wins the NXT Championship, giving Gargano a chance to celebrate with his wife, Candice LeRae, and the Brooklyn crowd a happy ending.
BONUS … Pete Dunne vs. Zack Gibson: Dunne is set to defend his WWE United Kingdom Championship against Gibson, the winner of the second WWE UK Tournament. Dunne successfully defended the title in Chicago against Flash Morgan Webster during PROGRESS Wrestling’s “Coast to Coast” tour. This match will air on NXT TV on Wednesday. Prediction: The Bruiserweight retains and continues his 15-month reign.