Tim Fiorvanti breaks down every match on Saturday's NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn III card, taking place at the Barclays Center. Senior stats analyst Sean Coyle offers ratings for each match on a sliding scale worth up to five points. Criteria for ratings is based on storytelling, in-ring execution, match psychology, timing and innovation -- worth up to one point each.
(c) -- indicates defending champion(s)
Drew McIntyre def. Bobby Roode (c) via pinfall to win NXT championship
While the action might have seemed a bit slow early in the main event, the final match of the night turned out to be a perfect cap to a tremendous evening at the Barclays Center.
After two incredible entrances from both competitors, including a NYPD pipes band for McIntyre, the chops were plentiful and the hits were hard with the championship on the line. Neckbreakers went back and forth, and rope-related maneuvers allowed both competitors to gain an edge at different points as the pace was set. It was a tedious back and forth effort for a stretch, until a flip over the top rope by McIntyre connected just enough to temporarily take Roode out of commission. McIntyre continued his offense with a running slam and a number of high-power efforts in the corner.
Roode battled back, hitting a codebreaker-like move, but Galloway countered with a backslide that earned a two count. Roode hit a spinebuster, then a Glorious DDT, but it only earned him a two count. He picked up McIntyre again, hit a second Glorious DDT, but instead of letting go of McIntyre, Roode held on and went for a third.
The third time was not the charm.McIntyre broke free and hit the Claymore kick to knock Roode out for the count -- becoming the 11th man to hold the NXT championship.
After the match, as McIntyre celebrating in the ring and the "end of show" bug filled the corner of our screens, Bobby Fish and Kyle O'Reilly ran out for the second time on the night. The crowd hit a fever pitch as the two entered the ring, only to explode as Adam Cole ran out of the darkness of the crowd and attacked McIntyre.
A new group of NXT performers has arrived, and a new era has seemingly begun. For the third straight year, TakeOver: Brooklyn delivers on all of its expectations, and then some.
Asuka (c) def. Ember Moon via submission
As Asuka approached the ring for her 10th TakeOver match -- the most in the history of NXT -- she was looking to remain perfect, but standing in her way was a determined Ember Moon who blitzed Asuka as soon as the match began. Moon would continue to display impeccable boldness and resilience in what was her finest showing since joining the NXT roster.
After her initial onslaught on Asuka, Moon wowed the crowd with a somersault from the second turnbuckle to the outside of the ring onto Asuka. However, Asuka would turn the tide in her favor beginning with her dragging the challenger into the steel ring steps, shoulder first.
The previously injured shoulder of Moon became the primary target of Asuka, and she worked it to perfection throughout the rest of the match.
Through "Let's go Asuka" and "Let's go Ember" chants from the crowd, Asuka kept the pressure on Moon's shoulder with a variety of submission holds including a modified octopus stretch and a arm lock very similar to Becky Lynch's dis-arm-her.
After a brief flurry from Moon, Asuka executed a German suplex onto Moon causing Moon's head to nail the bottom turnbuckle. Then, it was back to the shoulder as Asuka locked Moon in a crossface chicken wing.
Moon would not give up and mounted another comeback that included a very stiff clothesline to the champion. After a vicious hip attack by Asuka, the resilience theme returned as Moon hit Asuka with an innovative tornado suplex out of the corner.
The two traded strikes and Moon hit her Eclipse finisher to the roar of the crowd in what looked to be the final move of the match ... but Asuka did something no other superstar has ever done. She kicked out.
Moon tried to go for another eclipse, but Asuka pulled the referee in the way, shades of her sneaky victory over Moon at TakeOver: Orlando. Moon jumped over the referee and hit a cross body block from the top rope, but Asuka rolled through and tried to pin Moon while holding her tights, but the referee caught her and stopped the count.
Moon then delivered a stiff superkick and the match appeared to be over, but Asuka once again kicked out. Asuka then caught Moon in the Asuka lock. Moon held on as long as she could before tapping out.
Asuka's 500-plus championship reign remains intact. Who will be her next challenger? That remains to be seen. Ruby Riot is coming off a series of wins on NXT TV, so she is a candidate. There are 32 other women participating in the Mae Young Classic in about a week. Perhaps the tournament will unveil some potential contenders as well.
For Moon, this was an excellent performance and received quite the ovation from the Brooklyn crowd. Having come up short two times in her pursuit of Asuka's championship, it wouldn't be surprising to see her make the transition to either RAW or SmackDown Live.
Aleister Black def. Hideo Itami via pinfall
After the top-class opener from Gargano and Almas and a chaos-fueled tag team title match (including the aftermath with ReDRagon), the expectations for two of the most brutal strikers ever to be under a WWE contract were sky high.
Itami walked to the ring to a smattering of boos, but Black continued to raise the bar with his spooky entrance as Code Orange came back out and performed his entrance theme. As they dug into the song, Black did his rising from the smoke entrance from behind the band's drummer, adding even more to the moment. Live musical entrances are a rare entity, especially these days in WWE, so Black getting that opportunity while still NXT speaks volumes to how valuable he's perceived to be.
Itami and Black wasted little time in getting down to beating the heck out of each other. Simultaneous kicks landed for both men twice, leading to a mad scramble back and forth in the ring. Itami landed a kick to Black's face, but that one only made him mad.
They held little back as they traded strikes, forearms, and kicks, with Black hitting a high kick in the corner to seemingly take control for the first time. After an Irish whip into the opposite corner, however, Itami took over, suplexing Black so that he was draped over the top rope. He climbed to the top rope, and hit a double stomp to the back of Black's head that drew audible gasps from the crowd.
Itami controlled the bulk of the match from there on out, with multiple mid-ring headlocks that ultimately helped him get the better of almost every striking exchange.
It was Itami's match until he let his arrogance come into the equation. Instead of hitting a jumping kick full force, he purposefully missed and hit his lackadaisical backward swiping kick, as though he were kicking dirt onto Black. He then dropped to the ground, sitting cross-legged to mock Black.
Black seemed to make a brief comeback, incensed by this indiscretion, but Itami hit a DDT for another two-count. He locked yet another headlock on Black, but Black rose to his feet, hit an armbreaker, then a chest kick and a second. He blocked an Itami strike, hit all sorts of mid and high kicks, a low kick trip and then a running knee.
After a successful Irish whip into the corner, Black hit a running lionsault that caught a standing Itami flush.
They fought each other in the corner, but Itami grabbed control yet again with a tornado DDT that brought Black's neck down upon the top rope. Black fought his way through a lot, only for Itami to hit a running kick to the skull and a top-rope falcon arrow. Itami took too long to get there, however, and failed to get to Black fast enough to capitalize on the move.
Black popped back up and stalked Itami, anger in his eyes and blood dripping from his mouth. They traded kicks to the chest, then open-handed slaps to the face before it simply descended into a flurry of arms and legs. Itami hit a spinning back fist and a punch to the face, Black a running knee and a tie-up led to another Itami falcon arrow for another two-count and things took another chaotic turn.
A running corner dropkick from Itami drove Black's head into the bottom turnbuckle, and Itami dragged a thumb across the throat to signal for a Go-to-Sleep, only for Black to fight him off once more.
Action spilled into the corner as Black ducked one final strike and, as it usually happens, his Black Mass kick swung from out of nowhere, striking Itami in the jaw and earning Black the pinfall victory.
It was another impressive win for Black, who seems already to be on the edge of the main event in NXT. For Itami, who continues to impress despite long having outlasted his momentum in NXT. If he's not among the next wave of call-ups, it's hard to say what Itami could do next.
SAnitY defeats The Authors of Pain to win the NXT tag team championships
Two matches, two amazing efforts and the first title change of the night. SAnitY defeated AOP with a fantastic match that shocked fans right from the start. After a battle before the beginning of the match, Alexander Wolfe tagged in Eric Young, not Killian Dain to the shock of the fans in Brooklyn.
Young took most of the beating during the match, including a number of big spots where Akam and Rezar forcefully sent their opponent into the mat. Young mounted a bit of a comeback, was put in a lengthy hold to slow the pace down, bit by bit Young fought back and brought the crowd behind SAnitY like it never had been before.
With the crowd cheering on Young, he finally reached Wolfe who ran over AOP. Young then went for a suicide dive and connected. Wolfe went over the top rope and also connected. Nikki Cross then went into the ring, ready to do the same, but Paul Ellering got in her way. Then, with the ref distracted, Cross went off the top and was caught by Rezar. As Rezar looked around, Dain ran full speed into him and pushed Rezar, still holding Cross, through a table that Young had set up before the bell rang at the start of the match.
Back into the ring Wolfe picked up Rezar and EY jumped off the top rope to hit him with a combination slam and elbow drop. Wolfe earned the three count and some new hardware.
As SanitY celebrated, Bobby Fish and Kyle O'Reilly jumped the new champs and set the stage for what's next in the NXT tag team division. As for AOP, a call-up to the main roster might be in store.
Andrade "Cien" Almas def. Johnny Gargano via pinfall
If last year's TakeOver: Brooklyn show wasn't enough of an indication, Brooklyn loves Gargano. They were behind him 100 percent and, just like last year, they were 100 percent against Andrade "Cien" Almas".
This time around, however, that was the intention. Almas' new manager, Zelina Vega, has been the perfect touch to bring a seriousness and focus to the once wayward competitor. Almas' convictions shine through in his in-ring style, and his match with Gargano served as both a tremendous opening contest and a showcase for the future of NXT.
Almas dominated the early action, with a mix of kicks, chops and elbows -- starting a trend of utilizing the corner for offense that would carry on as a major theme throughout the match.
The first moment of the match where it became clear that both Almas and Gargano had come to bring it full speed came when Almas hit an elbow and forearm combination 8:47 with Gargano suspended from the middle rope, which he eventually repeated in the corner in the first of several brutal-looking moments. Gargano continued to kick-out at almost every step, at two, with Almas rarely finding his way to the ground.
Almas locked on a triangle choke with Gargano's arm trapped against the top rope, and then locked on a lengthy shoulder lock until the crowd started to come up again and drive Gargano to stand up. Gargano slipped out, hit a drop toe hold into the corner, and then both men charged at each other full speed and each hit a simultaneous clothesline, grounding both men.
They popped back up fairly quickly and traded punches, with Gargano hitting several clotheslines that failed to bring down Almas, who then delivered a huge smack to Gargano. This only served to infuriate Gargano as he hit a few more clotheslines and his patented step over, roll-through kick, followed by a step-out to the apron and a middle rope spear for Gargano's first two-count.
Gargano continued to roll with a kick to Almas' face, a suicide dive to the outside and a second jump through the middle ropes. Another two-count, and the crowd started to buzz, realizing that the match was starting to reach its peak.
On a third dive attempt through the ropes, Almas caught Gargano going to the well too many times. He hit his strike to the back of the head/knee combination once again, setting up the absolute highlight of a match. With both men perched in the corner, Almas connected on a tornado inverted DDT. The count was only too, and the crowd cheered. A chop to Gargano's chest rang through Barclays. Gargano fought Almas into the corner, and as Almas tried to get control for a superplex, Gargano hit a headbutt and a slap to the chest and slipped out. Almas reverted to his previously flashy self and hit a backflip from the top rope. Gargano went down in the corner, Almas missed his running kick, and Gargano spun around Almas' shoulders twice, locking in his over-the-shoulder crossface. Almas climbed to the ropes, Gargano rolled it over to lock the submission back in, and Almas managed to keep his momentum going to pick Gargano up and hit him with a one-armed powerbomb into the corner. He hit his running kick into the corner, but only got a two-count to the shock of the crowd.
To take away Gargano's submission, Almas hit repeated knees to the left bicep, only for a pair of superkicks from Gargano and a lawndart-esque toss into the middle rope. As Gargano lined up his low superkick, half of his finisher with Tommaso Ciampa as part of #DIY, Vega threw a #DIY shirt at Gargano, which froze Gargano in his tracks.
Almas jumped up, drove Gargano into the turnbuckle and hit a sick-looking trapped-arm DDT for the three-count. An absolute classic in the opener set a high bar for the rest of the night.