They had a ton of matches on the show, but the pacing was as good as they possibly could do it; very few backstage segments, none of the matches felt like they lasted too long, and it ended right around 11 p.m. Some of the undercard matches had rushed finishes, but that is a fair price to pay because the show was pretty easy to watch.
The main event also was certainly not disappointing; it lived up to its potential and then some. The WWE Championship certainly did not, but some of the undercard matches were good to make sure the show never completely got off the rails. I'd also like to point out that Corey Graves was fantastic for the entire show; one of the best commentary jobs I can remember anyone doing. Graves comes across as intelligent, aggressive in the right way, has a knack for finding the little points in matches that help sell the action and also has some great one-liners; he's terrific.
Braun Strowman vs Brock Lesnar vs Roman Reigns vs Samoa Joe: ****1/4
The opening to this match was fantastic, just a bunch of crazy spots and guys hitting big moves. It was a lot like a Pro Wrestling Guerilla match where the guys are just doing dives and huge highspots; except it was a bunch of 300lb dudes slamming each other through stuff. I think they hit a home run because they completed the checklist of objectives you would have for this match. They gave the fans something to remember in the main event and the best match was indeed the final match on the card. They gave Brock Lesnar another big title defense, Strowman got over big time and nobody really looked bad in the match; even Reigns who took the pinfall.
While Lesnar got the glory spot of coming back from the dead and retaining the championship; the real star of the match was Strowman. Strowman has just been a revelation this year; I never expected him to be in this position and he deserves a ton of credit. It is a combination of him improving in the ring and WWE really committing themselves to getting him over as a monster. Strowman never looks weak and the only times he loses is when he is completely worn down by a bunch of men. I don't know if he can be a long-term babyface champion, but he has earned a shot to carry the company. The fans in New York loved him and I know Vince has said in the past that the New York crowd has a lot of influence on who is pushed in WWE.
Jinder Mahal vs Shinsuke Nakamura: *1/2
Ugh, another PPV and another listless Mahal title defense. I don't really hate Mahal; his presentation is good and he scowls a lot, but while he has been WWE Champion; the world title matches just don't feel exciting. It doesn't help that all of his defenses have the same finish every time. The Singh Brothers distract the babyface, Mahal hits his finisher and gets the pinfall. It is repetitive, creative and it SUCKS. The crowd doesn't even hate it at this point--his victory got almost no reaction; like the fans are just numb to the ineptitude of his matches.
Outside of the finish the match was nothing special. Nakamura's entrance was great and made him look special; only of course to lose in the same way everyone else loses to Mahal; which made him look like just another guy at this point. The promo they aired before the match was bizarre since it made Mahal look like a total babyface and a legit national hero to his people. I thought at the very least this match would have a good crowd since they legitimately like Nakamura and dislike Mahal, but they were pretty quiet for most of the match after popping huge for Nakamura's entrance.
Sheamus and Cesaro vs Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins: ***1/2
A good match that helped pick up the show, both teams are professionals that now how to get the job done in the ring, and Rollins and Cesaro are two of the best workers in the world. The crowd liked The Shield getting together again and I wonder how long they will keep them together this time. Ambrose turning on Rollins would be the most intriguing option. Unlike a lot of the earlier matches, this match had a really exciting finish with Rollins and Cesaro combining for an awesome high spot and the crowd popping for the title change. I loved Cesaro going into the crowd and destroying the beach ball (which Graves sold really well on commentary). I know it was probably a plant, but still a great heel moment.
AJ Styles vs Kevin Owens: ***3/4
Much better match than their BattleGround encounter. They couldn't do a standard back-and-forth match because they had to work in the special guest referee angle, but they still had a good match with plenty of near-falls. One thing I liked was that they teased a lot of the expected ref-bump falls; such as McMahon pushing AJ and Owens rolling him up. Those are the predictable spots that WWE does so much that when they tease it as a near-fall it works really well. Only in wrestling can you have an angle where a professional referee screws up, so the solution to the issue is to get a referee who isn't a professional referee, to do a "better" job. This was followed up by Shane being comically bad at his job, which is going to lead to a match with Owens. I wonder who is going to be the new United States #1 contender? Perhaps Sami Zayn? Luke Harper? Corbin?
Baron Corbin vs John Cena:**
Corbin losing to Cena pretty much confirms that he has angered someone in management as he has had an absolutely rotten week; losing the Money in the Bank contract and now doing the big J-O-B to Cena in a pretty boring match. I thought that losing the MiTB contract would be a boost to Corbin because it would give his character more motivation to avenge his embarrassment, and in time that may indeed end up being the case, but right now it looks like he is slipping down the totem pole in WWE. Cena really didn't need to beat Corbin here, and Cena won in a pretty basic way; Corbin was on top early, Cena fired up and made his comeback, hit his finisher and pinned Corbin. There was nothing unusual about the match at all, it felt like a basic SmackDown match, and it was really just a stamp on Corbin's current descent down the ladder. It will be interesting to see who Corbin feuds with next and how that feud will work out for him.
Alexa Bliss vs Sasha Banks: **1/2
The match was fine, nothing outstanding and no real errors outside of the blown apron spot. Bliss isn't really a great worker but her offense looks okay because she performs everything with such confidence in the ring. Banks was good in her role and they both did some unorthodox stuff which kept the match from feeling bland and exactly like the Naomi/Natalya match. The finish came very suddenly; I thought it was funny when Corey Graves shouted "Banks hurt her shoulder, she can't get the Bank Statement locked in!" and then literally one second after that Bliss tapped out.
I'm not crazy about the title change. WWE has spent way more time on the women than any other point in their history, but they move the titles around so much that I don't really care that much about them. WWE spent some time building Bliss up, but then she lost the title to an opponent where there was little to no build. In addition, the way Banks has been booked as champion in the past, there isn't any reason to believe that Banks is going to enjoy a long reign. Bliss could easily win the title back tomorrow night on RAW.
Finn Balor vs Bray Wyatt: **1/2
Not a bad match but not one that was particularly good either. Balor's entrance was fantastic and if WWE is craving these colorful, larger than life stars, it is hard to ignore the aura of Balor during his entrances. He is so different than anyone else on the roster, and his skills in the ring and on the mic are good enough to compliment his charisma. The crowd was pretty quiet during the show up until Balor's entrance, which perked them up a bit. Getting the clean win over Wyatt was the right decision; and although the series is now tied at one match apiece, I'd kind of like to see them go their separate ways. I don't really see a long-term feud helping Balor advance that much.
Naomi vs Natalya:**
With Natalya winning the SmackDown Women's Championship, I think that sets the stage for Charlotte to return and win the title as a babyface. Recent events obviously make that a pretty easy, feel-good moment that would get Charlotte over as a babyface. Naomi was a fine champion, and WWE committed to her from a presentation stand-point, but I just don't think she is the person to carry the division as the top babyface. The match was simple, but the goal was to get Natalya over and she dominated the match, fought off Naomi's comeback, and won with her submission.
Big Show vs Big Cass:*1/4
A nothing match; nothing is really clear except that WWE is high on Cass and is going to give him a lot of wins. I think Cass has done a pretty good job since his heel turn, and the crowd genuinely does give him some good heat. The only noteworthy event was Enzo stripping down, oiling himself up, and sliding through the cage, only to get murdered by Cass which made Enzo look like the biggest chump in WWE history. Big Show has the cast, which according to traditional wrestling logic, means that his punches hurt MORE than normal, not less.
Randy Orton vs Rusev: DUD (zero stars)
During the first hour or so the show was just littered with matches that had flat finishes; which was because there were 12 matches on the main card and they had to rush through some of them. Orton beating Rusev in nine seconds is the pinnacle of that; and I feel bad for Rusev who deserves better than that. Orton's 2017 has consisted of him winning the WWE Championship and retaining over Bray Wyatt in some bizarre matches, then losing to Mahal in bad matches that he never lost clean in, and then this squash of Rusev. What a crappy year.
TakeOver Brooklyn III
I was traveling this weekend and unfortunately only saw the final two matches, so I will review them here.
Drew McIntyre vs Bobby Roode: ****1/2
I thought this match was fantastic and one of the best WWE matches of the year. I've seen a lot of reviews of the match and it looks like I liked it a bit more than most; but to me it was a great PPV main event. The pacing was great, there was a good mix of offensive moves from both guys that demonstrated speed, power and athleticism. The selling was good and the crowd was hot. The finish was strong and McIntyre winning clean helped a lot, especially because it looks like he is going to be a babyface now taking on Adam Cole and reDRagon. I thought the commentary team did a good job selling the story of McIntyre having to leave WWE and coming back as a changed man, which made him feel like a bigger star.
Asuka vs Ember Moon: ***1/4
This was a lot of fun because the crowd was really hot for it. Asuka is so dominant in the ring and her attitude during the match; playing the heel but the fans cheering all the way anyway, was great. Really it doesn't make any sense for her to lose the title; they should really just do a storyline where Angle or Daniel Bryan offers her a huge contract to come up to RAW or SmackDown and starts cleaning out that division. Moon I thought made a bit of a star turn in this match even though she lost; the crowd did like her even though they were cheering hard for Asuka as well, and Moon will likely be the champion within a year.
Follow Jesse Collings on Twitter at @JesseCollings