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    Sunday, August 19, 2018

    The Smark Henry Pay-Per-Review: NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn 4

    Ginusto mo ‘yan, Johnny.

    No, I’m not trying to get my catchphrase over. But truthfully, the reason it got over is because seeing someone get into a predicament they themselves caused is something that's all too familiar. We’ve all seen someone we know go through it; or maybe we’ve gone through it ourselves.

    You'd think Johnny Wrestling would've learned his lesson from the night Tommaso Ciampa won the NXT Championship. And watching the Last Man Standing match, there were times when he’d set himself up perfectly for victory. Hell, that last act when he’d had Ciampa cuffed to that part of the stage set was an opportunity for him to just be efficient in finishing Ciampa off.

    But, no. Johnny had to be poetic. He wanted to use the champion’s own finisher against him. He could've just hit superkick after superkick. Or bludgeoned him repeatedly with chair shots. Hell, he could've buried Ciampa under chairs or equipment or whatever the hell he could've put his hands on.

    In the end, hubris felled Johnny Gargano once again. And just as it was the first time, Johnny Gargano is the reason why Tommaso Ciampa is still NXT Champion.

    The callbacks were aplenty throughout the match, which continuity nerds like myself truly enjoyed. And just as it seemed like we didn't know how they could top their performances in New Orleans and Chicago, Gargano and Ciampa found a way to outdo themselves by ramping up the intensity and vitriol... again.

    Watching Ciampa retain was shocking in the moment, but it ultimately felt right. This version of Johnny Gargano didn't deserve to come out on top, didn't deserve to be NXT Champion. Yes, he’s had a long road to get here. But he’s also become a pathetic loser. With or without Aleister Black in the picture, this was ultimately not Gargano’s match to win.

    He needs to go through his personal redemption arc after this descent into madness. He needs to refocus and recenter himself to regain what he’s lost. He probably needs to reconnect with Candice LeRae at some point. Contrary to Eminem’s advice, maybe Johnny shouldn't have lost himself in the music, the moment.

    That's why this chapter had to end this way. Johnny Gargano will ultimately exorcise his demons. One day, he'll vanquish Tommaso Ciampa. He’ll ultimately be NXT Champion. But it was not meant to be on this day. Johnny Wrestling’s story isn't over. In fact, his road to redemption may very well have just begun.

    The Rest of the Show

    It feels so wrong having to relegate everyone else to this section, but in the interest of keeping the review compact, I had to make this judgment call. That being said, this is by no means a slight towards the other performers on the TakeOver card. All of them put on stellar performances in what I felt was a very tight show, overall. As always, it was NXT's not-so-subtle way of saying, "Follow that, main roster." TakeOver: Brooklyn 4 gets an A for being the real A-show this weekend.

    • Kairi Sane def. Shayna Baszler to become the new NXT Women's Champion: This was easily the best out of their series to date because there was an actual story that allowed both Superstars' characters to develop. Shayna Baszler was such a bully throughout her title reign—and in this match—that it wasn't hard to boo her as she picked Kairi Sane's legs apart. Ever the plucky underdog, watching Kairi struggle to come back in the match made her even more endearing; even though she looked silly doing her pirate stomp when her right leg was clearly injured. 
    I loved the finish of this match because it was the right mix of "Kairi got lucky" and "Kairi finally figured out how to counter Shayna." Either way, it's a new wrinkle to their rivalry that could give birth to another match or two down the road. Props as well to Kairi Sane for baring her emotions out there as she celebrated her title victory and to Shayna Baszler for clearly communicating how devastated she won immediately after losing the match. That's great storytelling.

    • Ricochet def. Adam Cole to become the new NXT North American Champion: I marked out for both title changes, but I busted out a loud, "PUTANGINA!!!" when Ricochet won the North American title from Adam Cole (BAYBAY!). I felt like Adam Cole could've used a longer run as the champion, seeing as this was only his first title defense at a TakeOver special. His reign felt lacking, mostly because it wasn't like he retained against a murderer's row of contenders. Hell, his last challenger was... Oney Lorcan?
    This match felt like it kicked off in second gear and never really went down after that. It was the perfect match to wake me up on an otherwise lazy Sunday morning because of how Ricochet and Cole just traded hit after hit, move after move, spot after spot. Maybe it was my fault for expecting Adam Cole to retain—and later, Gargano to win—which is why I was legitimately shocked when the opposite happened. I don't mind because both these guys took me on a solid ride, which I'd do all over again should a sequel take place. 
    • Velveteen Dream def. EC3: Hooooo boy. What a match. I was counting on Dream and EC3—as well as Ricochet and Adam Cole—to steal the show, and they didn't really disappoint. Yes, the build to this one was a bit lackluster, and maybe even a bit forced. But by the time Dream and EC3 locked horns in the ring, I was all in. I've come to terms with EC3's role as a gatekeeper for the younger guys at this point because I actually believe that EC3's too big for NXT. This isn't a knock on the Black and Yellow Brand, but more of a testament to how much star power EC3 has. He clearly belongs on the main roster, but I fear he'll get lost in the shuffle once that happens. Let's see where EC3 lands by Tuesday and/or Wednesday (Manila time).
    • The Undisputed ERA (Kyle O'Reilly and Roderick Strong) def. Moustache Mountain (Tyler Bate and Trent Seven) to retain the NXT Tag Team Championships: If The Revival had #DIY as their foil, then Moustache Mountain should damn well be the foils for The Undisputed ERA. All four guys have impeccable chemistry because this match felt fresh, even though we'd seen it twice previously. You have to appreciate how they found creative ways to put their callbacks in, while getting some new stuff in, as well. I really loved the role reversal in the "will he throw in the towel?" spot. Kyle O'Reilly trying to get Tyler Bate to submit, while Trent Seven debated internally was compelling as fuck, but we all knew Bate didn't need it since he's pound-for-pound one of the strongest motherfuckers on NXT.
    I am so pumped for War Raiders vs. The Undisputed ERA, though. I wouldn't mind watching Bate and Seven take a backseat, especially since they'll probably be shoring up NXT U.K. in its maiden episodes. We've all been waiting for Rowe and Hanson to strike, and it'll be really interesting to see the dynamic between the bruising babyface behemoths and the smaller, cunning chickenshits in O'Reilly and Strong. God, I love NXT.


    What was your favorite match? Did any other match aside from the main event deserve Match of the Night honors? Which star shone the brightest for you? Don't be shy and drop in your comments below!

    Images from WWE


    Stan Sy (@_StanSy) is the Editor at Large of Smark Henry, and is also a radio DJ on Wave 89.1, an events host, a freelance writer, and one of the hosts of The Smark Gilas-Pilipinas Podcast. He also used to be one of the hosts and writers of The Wrestling Gods on FOX. He enjoys watching WWE, NXTLucha Underground, and the occasional New Japan match. You can ask him questions about wrestling, Survivor (yes, the reality show), or whatever you like on his CuriousCat account.

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    Item Reviewed: The Smark Henry Pay-Per-Review: NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn 4 Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Stan Sy
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