NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn III Results: Asuka vs Moon and Top Highlights, Low Points
When NXT TakeOver comes to Brooklyn, it is effectively the developmental brand's equivalent of WrestleMania and their biggest show of the year.
The past two years were explosive in their own rights, but heading into NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn III, it was missing that extra bit of spice to make it feel particularly special.
Of course, there was still a lot of potential in the card with Ember Moon facing Asuka, the Authors of Pain having their toughest challenge yet with Sanity and Bobby Roode defending the NXT Championship against Drew McIntyre.
In WWE, any show has a chance to be awful or amazing no matter what the build and what the matches, so with this particular event finished, how did things pan out?
Were there more positives or negatives throughout the night, and what moments stood out from the pack for better or worse?
It's time to look back on what happened at WWE Battleground 2017 and single out the biggest highlights and low points of Saturday evening, presented in order of appearance.
Low Point: Another Pointless Pre-Show
Pretty much every single pre-show for a WWE pay-per-view is more of a low point than a highlight as they consist primarily of just a panel recapping the storylines of the feuds.
It's a good thing to include for people who want to be caught up, but most of the viewers watch enough of WWE's programming that it just becomes redundant.
There are only so many times you can hear "No Fear" by Phil Ade pop up with footage you've seen dozens of times without tuning it out.
Of course, there are some mildly interesting things like Big E having some fun with the panelists and Neville acknowledging his former partnership with Corey Graves, but with the good come the bad, such as Kurt Angle mispronouncing Asuka's name.
NXT TakeOver pre-shows are even worse in the sense that they never have a single match, where at least the main roster's will normally have one or two—three in the case of SummerSlam and the bigger events.
All in all, pre-shows are pretty pointless to watch. They're supplemental and it's better to have them than to not have them, but they certainly will very rarely, if ever, be highlights.
Highlight: Johnny Gargano vs. Andrade 'Cien' Almas
The opening match of the night was a prime example of the action expected out of an NXT TakeOver event.
Johnny Gargano and Andrade "Cien" Almas had little-to-no build for their match, but it didn't matter as they were able to kick off the night with a lot of heat.
Every pay-per-view should make sure the first match is good enough to excite the crowd and entice them that things are going to get better as the night goes on, and these two did more than that.
The false finishes were done in such a way that the audience bought into each potential pinfall, making it all that more interesting when someone kicked out.
It's always a good thing to see Zelina Vega ringside for various reasons, too—not the least of which being her ability to incite this newfound edge in Almas.
Her distraction with the #DIY T-shirt was a nice touch for the finish to help keep the storyline with Gargano and Tommaso Ciampa going while the latter is still out with an injury.
This is exactly what Gargano and Almas were hired to do: Put on a textbook great wrestling match.
Highlight: NXT Tag Team Championship Match
While not on the level of the tag team bouts in the previous few NXT TakeOver events, the match between the Authors of Pain and Sanity was still solid from start to finish.
Right off the bat, Akam and Rezar debuted new ring attire that looked very imposing and frightening, particularly in today's political climate, tapping into a darkness to help equate them to Sanity's gimmick and style.
Before the bell even sounded, the two teams were going at it, clashing on the outside of the ring.
In a very interesting scenario, Killian Dain had not yet been tagged in, allowing Eric Young to take his place, which is certainly something different.
Another highlight was Nikki Cross jumping on to Akam before Dain would tackle both of them through a table.
Title changes are almost always fun, and this one also marked the end of an undefeated streak.
The cherry on top was an attack on both teams from Bobby Fish and Kyle O'Reilly, seemingly reforming their reDRagon tag team and putting their names in the hat for the next in line for a title opportunity.
Highlight: Aleister Black vs. Hideo Itami
Arguably, Kassius Ohno should have been Hideo Itami's opponent for this event after all the setup between the two, but Aleister Black as a replacement certainly didn't disappoint.
To start things off, having Jim Ross back at the commentary table is always a welcome addition that never hurts a match's quality.
On a personal level, Black's theme isn't a personal favorite of mine as far as musical choices go, but having Code Orange performing the song live keeps up the tradition of giving entrances a special feel.
You can tell WWE really sees money in Black and wants the viewers to know he's a star by the way he's been treated since his debut with the company.
Whether or not that will come to fruition is something we'll see in the coming months and years, but for now, he continued down that trajectory with an impressive fight against Itami, who himself has been upgraded with his recent heel turn.
What is there to complain about in a segment like this? If you can think of something, by all means, leave a comment below.
Highlight: NXT Women's Championship Match
In the tradition of Sasha Banks vs. Bayley and Bayley vs. Asuka beforehand, Brooklyn seems to be the best place for women's wresting action in WWE, and both Asuka and Ember Moon kept up the trend with their match at this year's show.
It started with an explosive opening as Moon dropkicked Asuka and took the fight to her immediately.
The split crowd showed support for each woman and kept the energy up throughout the whole match, as if the women themselves weren't already giving them a reason to be pumped up the entire time.
A few particular times where the audience lit up was the nice reversal of the Asuka Lock into a pinning predicament as well as Asuka kicking out of Moon's Eclipse corkscrew stunner.
Asuka's attempt to utilize the referee to her advantage and the near-fall that followed that exchange prompted a chant of "NXT!"
If anybody was going to dethrone Asuka, Moon seemed to be the prime choice, and with her coming up short, there's an added element of wondering what is next to come for the NXT women's division.
Mixed Bag: NXT Championship Match
Given a "this or that" choice between a highlight or a low point is difficult, as there's no way to ignore the positives that are associated with this segment, but the negatives shouldn't be overlooked, either.
Drew McIntyre and Bobby Roode were in a tough spot having to follow Asuka and Ember Moon who simply had a better match and a more engaging storyline to help them out.
While this match wasn't bad by any means, it was the main event of the night and should theoretically be the best of the bunch, rather than arguably the least impressive.
However, a title change is something that always acts as an adrenaline shot and sometimes can even convince people that what preceded it was amazing.
Even more so, the debut of Adam Cole and his alignment with Bobby Fish and Kyle O'Reilly will get people talking and ended the night with a ton of pizzazz, so that cannot be denied.
Where NXT goes from here is definitely something that will be interesting to see unfold over the next few weeks and overall, NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn III was a massive success. Let's hope SummerSlam 2017 follows suit.
Tell us what your favorite and least favorite parts of the show were in the comments section below to keep the discussion going!
Anthony Mango is the owner of the wrestling website Smark Out Moment and the host of the podcast show Smack Talk on YouTube, iTunes and Stitcher. You can follow him on Facebook and elsewhere for more.