NXT TakeOver Brooklyn 2015: Winners, Grades, Reaction and Highlights
The stars of NXT once again rose to the occasion Saturday night, taking to the squared circle in front of 15,000 fans in the Barclays Center in Brooklyn for their biggest and most important show to date.
In the night's marquee bout, Finn Balor defended his NXT Championship against Kevin Owens in a ladder match that both lived up to the stipulation but featured a level of violence and punishment befitting an intensely personal feud.
Just moments earlier, Bayley and Sasha Banks stole the show with a brilliant match introduced to fans by Stephanie McMahon as the first of two main event matches.
The women pulled out all stops, including an incredibly dangerous backward hurricanrana from the top rope, proving that ladies can captivate and entertain as well as anyone.
The Vaudevillains won the NXT Tag Team Championships, Baron Corbin's reign of dominance came to an end courtesy of Samoa Joe and Apollo Crews introduced himself to the fans with a big win over Tye Dillinger.
Just 24 hours before WWE takes to the same arena for its SummerSlam pay-per-view, NXT set the bar so incredibly high that it is almost unfathomable that the main roster stars will be able to raise it.
By now you know the results, but what about the reaction, grades and highlights of the monumental broadcast?
Take a look inside to relive Takeover: Brooklyn.
Jushin "Thunder" Liger vs. Tyler Breeze
For everything that he had accomplished in his legendary career, Jushin "Thunder" Liger had never competed inside a WWE-owned ring prior to Saturday night. That did not deter the fans in Brooklyn from greeting him with a hero's welcome as he took to the squared circle for the opening contest of the night against "Prince Pretty" Tyler Breeze.
Determined to prove himself an elite talent, Breeze clearly studied ahead of the match.
Unfortunately for him, Liger did not allow two countered Liger Bombs to deter him. Despite an inspired performance by Breeze, the third time proved to be the charm for the future Hall of Famer Liger as he delivered his trademark finisher and picked up the win.
Jushin "Thunder" Liger defeated Tyler Breeze.
Despite the fact that Liger has never competed for Vince McMahon, nor is he a star created by the chairman, the Japanese star was treated with great respect by commentators and fans.
The match was a great way to kick off the broadcast, an energetic sprint between two guys who understand the value of prepping the fans for the rest of the night's festivities with the opener.
Breeze looked fantastic, even in a losing effort, while Liger cemented his already Hall of Fame-worthy legacy with a win in a company few ever expected him to work for.
NXT Tag Team Championship Match: The Vaudevillains vs. Murphy and Blake
For months, Alexa Bliss has affected the outcome of Buddy Murphy's and Wesley Blake's NXT Tag Team Championship defenses.
Saturday night, the presence of Blue Pants negated the interference of the blonde vixen, allowing The Vaudevillains to deliver the Whirling Dervish and capture the gold for the first time in their young careers.
It was not easy.
Aiden English found himself isolated for the majority of the middle portion of the bout. Luckily, he showed tremendous resiliency, fighting back to make the hot tag to Simon Gotch to start the comeback that allowed them to successfully knock off Murphy and Blake.
The Vaudevillains defeated Buddy Murphy and Wesley Blake to win the NXT Tag Team Championships.
The Vaudevillains have long been one of the most entertaining tag teams in NXT but had yet to really deliver that performance that helped solidify them as one of the best teams.
That changed Saturday night when they worked the best match of their time as a tandem, energizing a crowd that had become somewhat sluggish midway through and delivering an energetic finish to put an end to the reign of Buddy Murphy and Wesley Blake.
Blue Pants' return to NXT to counteract the interference of Alexa Bliss was outstanding, and the fans in Brooklyn greeted her with a huge ovation. Her brawl with Bliss late in the match served as the genesis of the finish and, perhaps, was enough to earn her a spot on the roster at some point in the future.
This not only served the purpose of crowning new champions, it paid off a story that had been building for weeks.
Apollo Crews Debuts
Never before had Apollo Crews worked in front of an audience the size of the one he did Saturday night. Add to that the fact that it was his NXT debut, and there was reason to be extremely nervous.
"The Perfect 10" Tye Dillinger was determined to spoil Crews' debut and tried to overshadow the newcomer early.
It did not work.
Crews dazzled with athletic and flashy offense, keeping Dillinger off guard and finishing him off with a standing enzuigiri, followed by a standing moonsault.
The fans erupted for the finish and Crews celebrated his first victory as a member of the NXT roster.
Apollo Crews defeated Tye Dillinger.
The first thing that struck this writer about Crews is the resemblance to Bobby Lashley.
Luckily, the athletic and charismatic star ensured that was the only comparison to the former ECW champion as he delivered a strong performance against Dillinger in his first televised appearance in NXT.
His moveset is dynamic, and he is certainly energetic. That will play well to the NXT Universe.
The only questionable bit of booking was pairing him with the Perfect 10 character, which was beginning to get Dillinger over and even received a very strong reaction in Brooklyn. Perhaps using someone like Elias Samson in this spot would have been more effective.
Samoa Joe vs. Baron Corbin
For over one year, Baron Corbin dominated the competition, picking up victory after victory in mere seconds as he tore through the NXT roster. He proved himself the most unstoppable force in the developmental brand.
Saturday night, Samoa Joe stopped that force with the Coquina Clutch, leaving the former Arizona Cardinal unconscious.
Earlier in the bout, Joe trapped the Lone Wolf in a single leg Boston Crab. Corbin responded with a heel hook that had his opponent struggling toward the rope.
In the end, though, it was a phenomenal counter by Joe that proved Corbin's downfall.
The look on Corbin's face as the victor made his way up the ramp suggested that the issues between them were far from settled.
Samoa Joe defeated Baron Corbin by referee's decision.
This was a very solid, very entertaining heavyweight battle between two of the most dominant stars in NXT.
The story was perfect, with Corbin being forced to dip further into his moveset than ever before in an attempt to beat his much more experienced opponent. He did, but even pulling out something like a heel hook was not enough to put away a determined Joe.
The loss did nothing to hurt Corbin, who never tapped out. That is a point he can play up for weeks to come, perhaps setting up another showdown between the competitors.
Joe turned in his finest performance in NXT to date, and the result was a contest that exceeded all expectations.
NXT Women's Championship Match: Bayley vs. Sasha Banks
After watching her fellow NXT Divas get called up to the main roster, Bayley's girlhood dream came true as she defeated Sasha Banks to capture the women's championship Saturday night.
The California native overcame a targeted attack of her previously broken hand, including an attack with the ring steps and a vicious Bank Statement that included stomps to the limb, to pick up the victory.
Showing more intensity and aggression than she ever has before, the consummate underdog delivered a reverse hurricanrana from the top rope and the second Bayley-to-Belly suplex of the match to secure the victory.
In an emotional moment fitting of the four women who have done more to revolutionize the role of their gender in sports entertainment, Bayley, Banks, Charlotte and Becky Lynch embraced in the center of the squared circle.
Bayley defeated Sasha Banks to become the new NXT Women's champion.
Bayley vs. Sasha Banks is the epitome of wrestling done right, a morality play that unfolded in front of 15,000-plus fans, all of them hanging on every move, every spot and every near-fall executed by the performers.
The overconfident Banks arrived with a grand entrance and trash talked to start the bout but soon found herself frustrated by the resilient Bayley. It was a story that played out over the course of the 16 minutes allowed to the women.
After two failed opportunities to obtain the title, Bayley rose to the occasion and defeated the best women's wrestler in the sport today to capture the title.
The emotional moment afterward in which the two, along with Charlotte and Becky Lynch, celebrated inside the squared circle may have come across as a forced replication of the infamous Kliq moment from Madison Square Garden, but it was well deserved given all that they had done to change perceptions of women's wrestling in WWE and at large.
Ladder Match for the NXT Championship: Finn Balor vs. Kevin Owens
It was clear from the moment he stepped foot through the curtain that Kevin Owens was more determined than ever to defeat his opponent, especially with his wife and son seated at ringside. Intense and aggressive, he punished Balor, pummeling him and setting the tone for what would be a tremendously physical and violent match.
Each man took nasty spills onto and off of the ladder, all with the goal of scaling said weapon and securing the NXT Championship.
By the time Owens delivered the vicious apron powerbomb to The Demon, it appeared as though he may be poised to capture the title for the second time.
But Balor fought through the pain, delivered a vicious Coup de Grace from the top of a ladder and retained his title.
Finn Balor defeated Kevin Owens to retain the NXT Championship.
Whereas their Beast in the East match was more of a traditional wrestling match, this was two rivals unleashing pain and punishment on each other for the right to call themselves the best.
Owens was fantastic in his most intense performance inside a WWE ring to date. Fired up by the fact that his son was seated at ringside, watching him headline a pay-per-view for the first time in his career in Vince McMahon's company, he executed every move with precision and conviction.
Balor withstood a great deal of punishment, some inflicted during his own high-risk offense, and won what will one day go down as one of his signature performances in NXT.
It was a phenomenal way to cap off what was one of the best WWE productions all year.