So, with some of my reviews, I’ve been adapting them to videos on my YouTube channel. This won’t be one of them, for a large part because wrestling videos tend to get Content ID strikes, and I don’t want to get any more of those.
Anyway, NXT, the WWE’s developmental promotion, has been doing a series of major events in conjunction with the WWE’s big Pay-Per-Views of the year – the Royal Rumble, Wrestlemania, Summerslam, and occasionally Survivor Series. In conjunction with this year’s Wrestlemania in Orlando, we got a NXT supercard to go with it. Spoilers below.
Rather than going hold-for-hold in my review, I’m going to give the Highs and Lows for each match.
Eight-Person Mixed Tag: SAnitY (Eric Young, Alexander Wolfe, Killian Dain, and Nikki Cross) defeated Tye Dillinger, Kassius Ohno, Ruby Riot and Roderick Strong
The Backstory: Coming into the event, the new stable of SAnitY had been running rampant over NXT, and Tye Dillinger and Ruby Riot put together a group of wrestlers to take them on. The team had originally contained wrestler No Way Jose, but after he was assaulted by SAnitY over Wrestlemania weekend, the faces brought in Kassius Ohno (aka Chris Hero, making his WWE/NXT return).
The High Points: Sanity really looked incredibly strong in this match. Part of that was certainly the booking, but they also were really impressive. Eric Young looks, both in terms of style and performance, night and day from the Eric Young we saw in TNA/Impact wrestling. Also, this match is somewhat hampered by the fact that Tye Dillinger was (as we know now) being brought up to the main roster, so it wouldn’t exactly be good for anyone for him to come out on top.
The Low Points: Ruby Riot and Nikki really don’t show off what they can do. With the exception of a missile dropkick by Ruby off the apron, most of what they do in this match is basically a few decent strikes and rolling around on the mat. Not even chain wrestling. Considering that one of NXT’s high points is their women’s division, and considering that both women are Shimmer alumni, this was particularly disappointing.
Aleister Black defeated Andrade Almas
The Backstory: None.
The High Points: I think Aleister Black is the satanic wrestler I’ve seen who is a Face, while not being overtly supernatural in gimmick. Yeah, there’s the Undertaker, but ‘Taker has the weight of history on his side.
The Low Points: I didn’t feel much in terms of stakes from this match. Black didn’t quite come across as feeling like he was there to make a statement or prove something, or vice-versa, Almas didn’t come across like he was there to put down an upstart. Instead, it felt like there was an open spot on the card, and they needed to fill and decided to take this opportunity to put over a newcomer to the roster. Now, this is fine and all, but you only do four of these events a year, so you might as well take the opportunity to build up the match leading up to this.
Triple Threat Elimination Match for the NXT Tag Team Championship: The Authors of Pain (Akam and Rezar) (c) (with Paul Ellering) defeated #DIY (Johnny Gargano and Tommaso Ciampa) and The Revival (Scott Dawson and Dash Wilder)
The Backstory: #DIY defeated the Revival, the first two-time NXT Tag Team champions, and in turn #DIY was beaten by the Authors of Pain. Both former champions want their belt back, but the Revival in particular also want to beat #DIY.
The High Points: This is a match that definitely tells a story. Between the beef between #DIY and Revival, and between #DIY and their desire to get back the belts, the match really got across the motivations and how they conflicted with each other. Making the match an Elimination match as opposed to a single-fall match helps with this, because the wrestlers have logical reasons to co-operate, but have plenty of motivation not to.
I knew going in that The Revival was getting called up to the main roster (so they certainly wouldn’t be getting the straps), but there was still the possibility that #DIY might get out with the title, but when they didn’t, the match as it played out made it clear that it made sense for them to have gotten beaten. They basically beat themselves by failing to co-operate with The Revival (and vice versa).
The match itself is great, with the three teams putting on a strong show, enough to get one of the two “Fight Forever” chants of the night. Also, “Fight Forever” is probably one of my new favorite wrestling chants – as like “This is Awesome”, it highlights the work that the wrestlers are doing in the ring, and adds the sentiment that the wrestlers work incredibly well together and have strong in-ring chemistry. It’s a chant that, in two words, sends strong positive feedback, and that’s always a good thing to send.
Also, the new NXT Tag Team Championship belt looks really nice.
Low Points: This match, however, this match doesn’t particularly showcase the Authors of Pain very well. They have a very distinctive entrance, basically as the urban-tactical version of the Pitbulls, and having Paul Ellering as their manager definitely draws connections with the Road Warriors. However, considering that they strongly present the image of powerful, barely restrained instruments of violence – having them spend so much of the match on the outside undermines that aspect of them somewhat.
It makes logical sense for Ellering to have them hold back and let #DIY and The Revival beat the crap out of each other, but it would also make sense for Akam or Rezar to break discipline, come into the ring, massacre one member of either team, forcing their opponents to co-operate to drive the AoP back to the outside, before their own issues override their combined opponent and they return to fighting each other.
NXT Women’s Championship Match: Asuka (c) defeated Ember Moon
Backstory: Asuka has not lost a match since she won the title. Not through pinfall, submission, countout, or disqualification. Ember Moon has set her sites on the NXT Women’s title, and she’s going to go through Asuka to get it.
High Points: Again, as with the tag title match, this is one which told a strong story. Asuka had become somewhat complacent with her reign, and wasn’t particularly taking Ember Moon seriously. Over the course of the match, Asuka basically ended up being forced to realize that Ember was an opponent to be reckoned with, and she’d have to cut loose against her.
Low Points: I’m not a fan of the new NXT Women’s title. The old one had a level of bling on it comparable to the main roster’s two main event titles. It really got across that the NXT Women’s title was just as important as the WWE Men’s Main Event titles. The new does have some of that with the shape of the belt (which is shares an outline to some of the old WWE and WCW main event titles), and loses some of the gendered color coding (the pink stones). However, considering the stones on the WWE Championship and the Universal Championship belts, it feels like a step down.
NXT Championship Match: Bobby Roode (c) defeated Shinsuke Nakamura
The Backstory: At the last NXT Takeover event, Roode beat Nakamura for the title, in part by Roode kayfabe injuring Nakamura’s knee, which Nakamura aggravated through his own actions. During that time, Roode has been boasting about making NXT corporate, while
Tron fights for the Users Nakamura fights for the fans.
The High Points: Again, great story in this match. Nakamura is coming off of a (kayfabe) injury, and one in his legs which could hamper his most powerful weapon – his kicks (as King of Strong Style) – and Roode could take advantage of that. Thus, Nakamura had to keep Roode off balance and away from the recovering injury. This match got the other “Fight Forever” chant of the night.
One of the problems with Puroresu is the selling, or rather lack thereof, and Nakamura is a wrestler who doesn’t have that problem. He sold the hell out of that knee in this match – from favoring the knee in his movements, to switching his strikes to the uninjured leg.
Also, the new NXT Championship belt looks great – again, borrowing some visual concepts from the Big Gold Belt, while still featuring the NXT iconography.
The Low Points: I… um… don’t have any.
Rating: 5/5 and my match of the night.