NXT Tag Team Champions Undisputed Era def. Oney Lorcan and Danny Burch
I had hoped this would kick off the show and was happy to have been right because it opened the evening on a high note. I was actually surprised by how heavily booed Lorcan and Burch were for a majority of the match, but I chalk that more up to Undisputed Era just being so over with the audience. Anyway, this was as hard-hitting as I figured it would be and extremely entertaining at that. Both teams took each other to the limit and it was a blast to watch. Lorcan and Burch gained something from their performance in this bout while Kyle O'Reilly and Roderick Strong remain on a roll. There are many teams who can challenge them for the twin titles at TakeOver: Brooklyn IV, but I have my money on it being War Raiders.
Ricochet def. Velveteen Dream
This was my most anticipated of the weekend, and boy, did it deliver. The basic theme of this was what one guy could do, the other could do better. I loved that a lot because it made for a ton of cool moments with both competitors constantly trying to outdo each other. Velveteen Dream is a sensational storyteller (the ode to Hulk Hogan was hilarious) and Ricochet is more than a man who can do some sweet flips. Their chemistry was spot-on and the crowd was hot from start to finish. I'd be up for an eventual rematch, but I'm not sure how we'd get to that point considering how Ricochet won in clean fashion.
NXT Women's Champion Shayna Baszler def. Nikki Cross
Needless to say, this was on the same level as the previous two matches, but it was still solid and told a logical story with Cross showing zero fear in the face of Baszler. I don't think anyone thought the title was actually in jeopardy of changing hands, but the evolution of the Cross character continued here in spectacular fashion and Baszler is just getting more and more comfortable in her role as champion with every appearance she makes. She elicits genuine heel heat and it's great to see.
NXT Champion Aleister Black def. Lars Sullivan
Sullivan decimated Black on a few different occasions during the build-up to this bout, so it was clear Black was going to be portrayed as the underdog for the first time in this match. Sure enough, that was exactly what happened. It didn't make for the most exciting encounter early on, but Sullivan certainly proved in my mind that he could hang with a star the caliber of Black with the strong showing he had here. Sure, there was one bad botch down the stretch, but they recovered nicely and Sullivan was protected in defeat. Who will be next to fade to black?
Tommaso Ciampa def. Johnny Gargano in a Chicago Street Fight
Much like everyone else, I was skeptical that these two could top what they did in New Orleans, especially considering how this had a similar stipulation (no disqualification). Sure enough, they produced another instant classic. While it wasn't as emotionally satisfying as the original, it was emotional all the same, but in a different way, and every bit as exceptional. The callbacks to their split in Chicago last year (this time with Gargano exacting revenge) were awesome and they had the crowd invested in everything they did. In a word, it was a masterpiece. The finish was also fantastic with Gargano having Ciampa beat on several occasions yet his thirst for vengeance was what ultimately cost him the victory. Ciampa bragging about this win in the weeks ahead should be glorious. I predict a blow-off of some sort in Brooklyn over SummerSlam weekend. Hell in a Cell, anyone?
While this wasn't the best TakeOver I've ever attended, NXT never ceases to come through with a terrific show and this installment was no exception. Mind you, it was by no means perfect (the women's and NXT Championship matches could have been a bit better), but the electric atmosphere combined with how we were treated to three tremendous matchups (including one potential Match of the Year candidate with the main event) made this an easy thumbs-up show. Money in the Bank will unquestionably have its work cut out for it on Sunday because the bar has been raised big time. Bonus points for Keith Lee being shown in the crowd, as he'll be an incredible asset to the already stacked roster.