Written by Michael Seidenfeld
The pre-show starts with audible CM Punk chants. The panel for the show is led by Rene Young and features Bret Hart, Kevin Nash, and Paul Heyman. Apparently, Nash skipped his wife’s birthday to be there but this is Nash so he could very well be bullshitting. He takes humble credit for inventing the “1180 moon bomb.”
As Bret speaks, the crowd erupts with massive chants for Stu Hart and The Dungeon. Video packages roll of the performance center, and highlighting wrestlers who have come from NXT. Even Paul E. Dangerously agrees that NXT can get… EXTREME and then poses for a selfie with a fan.
Note: You’re able to pause this live, The Network is like a DVR too. God damn I’m loving it
Show opens to a dark ring, Triple H welcomes everyone to NXT Arrival in his own unique, but familiar “Are you ready?” promo.
Opening match: Sami Zayn vs. Cesaro. As soon as Zayn is mentioned the crowd outside breaks into a massive “Ole” chant. I wonder if it has anything to do with his volunteer work down in Mexico?
Zayn is perhaps one of the most talented wrestlers in the WWE, right up there with Daniel Bryan and the man he faces off with, Cesaro.
This might have been the best match I’ve seen all year. Cesaro controlled the majority of the match throwing massive German supelxes, uppercuts and boots to the head. Then its Sami –throwing suplexes, and even an Exploder into the corner, followed by a release German. Besides William Regal I didn’t know who any of the announcers (Tom Phillips and Byron Saxton) are but they actually called moves, they talked about the match at hand, leaving the stupid jokes about whatever the hell is on the mind of a creepy king, and kiss-ass and a drunk. This is the best announce team in the company. Besides Joey Styles… he is a one-man announce team. Lots of “Ole” and “We the People” chants throughout this tremendous back-and-forth match. For a moment I though this could have been on RAW. The action was flowing perfectly with Cesaro and Zayn equal in their offensives. Match ended with a massive running euro uppercut by Cesaro into the Neutralizer. After the match Sami is on the mat in the corner upset at the results as Cesaro walks up the ramp. He stops midway, comes back to the ring as Sami is still on the mat. Cesaro lifts Sami up and embraces him and says something to him for a few seconds. You see what this match means to them, from where they have come from to where they have been. This, straight-up, was the best wrestling match I’ve seen in a very, very long time.
Second match of the night features CJ Parker, who wants to bring peace to a world of hate, (reminding me of Mike Awesome in WCW) going up against Mojo Rawley, who “has hype,” and is hyped all the time. His gimmick is having ADD? That’s not funny. CJ comes off as a dirty hippie – crazy dreads and willing to cheat to help save the world. Weird. This was a pretty short and simple match with Parker in control for the most of it. Match ends with Rawley hitting a series of splashes on CJ in the corner followed by the Hyperdrive — a sit down drop that looks like Earthquake’s old finisher. Give credit to these guys as much as you can, but the previous match might as well have been the whole show. How could you top it?
Up next we get a video package of Emma. She legit is the female version of Santino. It’s scary.
We have up next The Ascension (Conor O’Brian and Rick Victor) who look like they would fit very easily in the Undertaker’s Ministry back in the day. They made an open challenge which was answered by… yes folks, Too Cool (Grandmaster Sexay and Scotty Too Hotty). They are here so the announcers can remind people they can re-watch the Attitude Era on the WWE Network. The Ascension are massive, and make Too Cool look like high school kids. The Ascension beat down on Lawler’s boy until the hot tag to the balding one. Scotty beats down on Victor, as Conner get tossed like a Rumble elimination. Scotty is just about to hit The Worm, but is countered when Victor delivers a what can only be called a pancake clothesline, then tags in Conor. Together, they strike with the Fall of Man, a finisher so devastating that Joey Styles would be yelling OH MY GOD!!! 1,2,3 and still NXT tag champs The Ascension.
Hey, just because the New Age Outlaws are the WWE Tag Champs does not mean there could have been hope for Too Cool.
We have next Paige defending the NXT Women’s Championship against. Paige is the anti-diva — no blond hair, no pretty colors, just here to kick ass. I like her!
Ric Flair ringside, with his daughter Charlotte, who is a wrestler in NXT. We have the line of the night by Regal. In regards to the two time WWE Hall of Famer: “I don’t even like talking about Ric Flair, my liver starts to shake.”
Out comes Stephanie McMahonto some boos, enters the ring and then gets a you still got it chant, and she lets us know that she never lost it. She lets us know that we are making history as this is the first live program on the WWE Network. Not Wrestlemania, but NXT. Kissing ass, kissing ass, kissing ass. She is proud to be here as a McMahon and also a woman, and women can do everything a man can do, and better, and introduces us the next gen of Divas. And we get Emma, who pops bubbles. And Regal is dancing! Wow. He moves like an old English white boy. He really does. Steph joins in as well, and she has less moves than an old English white boy. Next comes out Paige, the champ. I think we found the one person who might be able to make Sheamus look somewhat tan. Steph shakes the hand of both competitors, raises the NXT Women’s title, and presents it to the ref. This has an old school feel to it somehow.
He crowd is torn down the middle for Emma and Paige, these two have a history against each other. Again the announce team doing an amazing job, and recognizing that Paige is from a family of wrestlers back in England, including her mother who still wrestles today. A lot of countering move for move. This is a stiff match, with some nice hits and wrenching submissions. Emma hits a huge power bomb, and countering Paige’s attempt for a superplex off the top rope. This crowd is gonna piss Vince off as we are now treating to better than Batista chants in regards to Emma’s power bomb. (This entire match is better than what Bootista can do.) Emma starts to taunt Paige as she continues to beat down on her, yelling to give up. But Paige reaches back and gives one of the biggest slaps I’ve seen a Diva give. Paige is building momentum and hits the Paige Turner! She goes for the cover, but Emma kicks about at two. Paige is beside herself, no one has kicked out of the Paige Turner before. We are treated to another round of “this is awesome” by the fans, and damn it they are right! Paige apples what Regal is calling a Scorpion Lock, putting pressure of the kidneys and Emma has to tap to the most painful submission I’ve seen since Cattle Mutilation (Daniel Bryan’s original finisher). Winner and still NXT woman’s champion, Paige. Paige offers Emma a hand shake after the match, and pulls her in close, looks like we’re in for a fight again, but Paige embraces her. Amazing match, and is a close second for match of the night so far.
Adrian Neville package is shown. He is the man that gravity forgot with his corkscrew moonsualt. He is facing Bo Dallas for the Heavyweight Championship in NXT’s first ever Ladder Match.
We get a promo about NXT being shown Thursdays at 9pm on the WWE Network.
At sing side is Pat Patterson and former NXT Commissioner Dusty Rhodes.
Up now we have WWE main roster newcomer Xavier Woods, who is still working in NXT regularly. Tonight he goes up against Tyler Breeze. The live-feed has technical issues, which might have been a good thing. It returns just as Alexander Rusev is making Borscht out of everyone.
The main event gets a special bonus with Hall of Famer Shawn Michaels giving his praise to NXT and to the two men who will clash over the NXT Championship. Crowd his huge behind Neville and his entrance is pure awesome. Bo Dallas was once the favorite, but since adapting a Justin Beiber-like persona, the fans turned on him pretty fast. They bring in the ladder early in the match but start hitting moves on the ladders, with the ladders, to the ladders, and even some against the ladders because the ladders may have actually tried to fight back. Action gets crazy towards the end as both are hitting huge risky moves, and a I believe, some heads clunked metal more than once. Concussion anyone? In the end, Dallas tries over an over with ‘plexes and ‘bombs to keep Neville down, but nothing works. Neville counters back, planting him atop a ladder and crushing Dallas with a big time 450 Splash. You’ll never see that on RAW. Dallas is down and out while the crowd goes nuts watching Adrian Neville become the new NXT Champion.
I’m sure there are complaints about the technical issues, but it did not take away from the show. This event was just fantastic. Call it a cross between Ring of Honor and the vintage ECW. Call it one or the other. Call it WRESTLING. As I said throughout the column, there are moves done here which you may never see on RAW or SmackDown! and that is a damn shame. Zayn can do the risky stuff without always going to the top turnbuckle, while for others, the big top rope move is what makes them popular. Zayn, Paige, and Neville were the night’s NXT standouts, and Cesaro is Cesaro. He’s Cesaro. He’s a machine.
If NXT is the future of WWE, then we can be sure Vince’s great-grandkids will still have a company to run.