— WWE NXT (@WWENXT) August 18, 2018
Tag Team Wrestling is The Best, you guys
So, as previously mentioned, TakeOver: Brooklyn 4 opened with definitely the best tag-team match in WWE all-year and arguably since that match between #DIY and The Revival in 2016, as The Undisputed Era’s Rodrick Strong and Kyle O’Reilly clashed once more with Moustache Mountain’s Trent Seven and Tyler Bate for the NXT Tag Team Championship. If ever you needed evidence that main roster tag-team wrestling is being done dirty, here’s the match for you. Strong and O’Reilly have become such a well-oiled machine that I keep forgetting this set-up has only come about on account of Bobby Fish being out on injury rather than it just being the default for Undisputed Era, the smoothness with which they execute those double-team moves is insane. The pacing is impeccable, somehow starting hot and only getting hotter without ever risking burnout – the first hot-tag Bate makes to Seven about a third of the way in, and all the fake-outs in the run up to it, is a prime example of why tag team matches are so much better when both teams are competitive throughout rather than the usual WWE trope of the faces starting hot then being beaten down for half a century before the hot-tag gets made.
Also, Tyler Bate is only 21 years old and I hate him for that. Like, how dare he be this good! He is 2 and a half years younger than me and he’s exploder-suplex-ing guys into each other on the ring ropes, suicide-diving onto them, then countering being thrown into the ring by leaping head-first into the ropes and using that momentum to turn around in midair and clobber Strong with a jumping lariat! The nerve of this man! And he’s not even anywhere near his full potential yet, but he’s still so good! Look at him fling Kyle O’Reilly into Rodrick Strong whilst trapped in a triangle choke! CHEER THIS MAN!
But what pushes this match over the top besides the sheer quality of the grappling and the nuclear-heat of the crowd are those last few minutes. NXT, in contrast to how the rest of the WWE seems to operate, loves rewarding those who actually keep up with and pay attention to the weekly shows on every level, not just the big highlight reel moments. Back in July, Moustache Mountain lost the titles back to Undisputed Era when Bate, who is the protégé of Seven, threw in the towel rather than see his mentor have his knee broken by O’Reilly. It seemed like we were headed for some resentment and a break-up, but in a backstage interview afterwards Bate explained his side to Seven who appreciated the gesture but didn’t think it should have been done because, as it is strongly inferred, Seven wants to instil a never-say-die attitude in his mentee and demonstrate that, with such a desire, you can do damn-near anything.
So we reach the closing stages of their rubber match here, and it’s now Bate’s turn to get trapped in O’Reilly’s kneebar with Seven on the apron getting the “if you go break that up, I will disqualify you treatment” from the ref. The seconds stretch on, Bate is in evermore excruciating pain, so Seven, in a fit of desperation, reaches for the towel and looks prepared to throw it in… but he just can’t do it. He can’t give up on Bate like that because, as his mentor, he knows that Bate can get to safety, so Seven flings the towel into the crowd and screams that encouragement to Bate who wills himself over to the corner for the tag. Moustache Mountain don’t win following that, because Undisputed Era are the kind of slimy opportunistic heels who are also annoyingly good at what they do, but that doesn’t negate the moment and it doesn’t negate the lesson. Sometimes, you’ll give it your all and come up short anyway, but at least you gave it your all and didn’t give up. Just fantastic stuff from everybody. “Fight forever” indeed.
I also liked it when the actual Vikings turned up after the match to squish the barely-standing Undisputed guys because wrestling is great.