Let me start by saying, NXT is the Number One reason to have the WWE Network. If you are a fan of wrestling and miss how good it used to be, then you need to figure out how to spend the $9.99/month to have the WWE Network. It is that good.
I’m ashamed to say that I don’t watch weekly. I should correct myself. I didn’t watch weekly. That all changes now. That’s how good REvolution was last night. Now sure, I’ve tuned in to various episodes to check out someone’s debut, or a really good match. However, NXT is now “must see TV”. There are just no two ways about it.
I don’t know if HHH books NXT himself, or who the writing team is, but it sure as hell isn’t the team who writes RAW and Smackdown. Sadly, the NXT team should really be writing all TV, but the selfish person in me wants them to stay right where they are.
That’s how good NXT is.
As A1-Wrestling member Torgo put it last night:
If I were a WWE rassler, I’d be begging to go to NXT, and if I were an NXT rassler, I’d never want to leave.
While that’s not the reality, it is the perception. That’s how good NXT is. Conversely… that is how bad “WWE” is currently. Now I realize NXT is WWE, but it certainly doesn’t come across as “tainted” that way on their programming.
Nonetheless… let’s get to the action from last night’s phenomenal “special event” (PPV-quality show).
SPOILERS BELOW – IF YOU HAVEN’T WATCHED REVOLUTION YET – CLOSE THIS PAGE NOW!
This was your normal pre-show affair, with the various video packages, recaps, and interviews. I really enjoy the panel format, and this is one of the areas where Renee Young shines. The noteworthy segment during this half hour prior to the kick off of the show, was that Corey Graves announced his in-ring retirement due to numerous concussions. However, he announced that from tonight and moving forward, he would be joining the NXT announcer team every week. Now going in, I hadn’t seen a lot of Graves before, and the only way I really knew about him was his inclusion in the WWE 2K15 game from the NXT portion. I wasn’t sure what to make of the announcement because it seems so nonchalant at first, but you could see Graves was emotional making the announcement. I hope he does well for the future broadcasts.
Kevin Owens vs CJ Parker
This was the debut of the guy formerly known as Kevin Steen. I had speculated on the crowd reaction for Owens upon his debut. The vignettes leading up to this night were spot-on, and I know how smart the Full Sail crowds are. After all, these are the fans who chant “Olé! Olé! Olé! Olé!” for Sami Zayn (from his El Generico gimmick). In Ring of Honor (and everywhere else), crowds chanted “Steen’s going to kill you!” Tonight, the crowd adapted to “Owens gonna kill you!” I was impressed. The match itself was short, but it highlighted Owens’ signatures and he even suffered a broken nose in the process. (I’m going to have to re-watch that; I was tweeting about the “KO” shirt at the time, and missed the spot.) Great debut, they announced a sit-down Interview with Renee Young next week, and I can’t wait. Good job, Kevin. Welcome to NXT/WWE!
Lucha Dragons vs The Vaudevillains – NXT Tag Team Championship
Let me start by saying I totally dig the Vaudevillains gimmick. I didn’t at first; thinking it was another lame gimmick thought up by the WWE Creative Think Tank. The more I watched it, however, the more I enjoyed it. Last night however, they just didn’t click like I thought they would have. And who the hell changed their entrance music? It was perfect and the screwed it up. Anyway… I don’t like the Lucha Dragons as a team; mainly because of my disdain of “Sin Cara” (fka Hunico). However, I really enjoy Kalisto, and feel he could be the next Rey Mysterio. Which in and of itself if funny because you would think the WWE would want him up on the main roster ASAP to fill that gap. Regardless… six minutes is not enough time for these two teams to tell a story, much less have a good-to-great match. This is probably my only blemish on the show, but it was still entertaining.
Baron Corbin vs Tye Dillinger
I like Corbin’s look. I like Corbin’s finisher (End of Days). What I don’t like is these on-going squash matches. Beginning with the crowd counting the length of the match, and finishing with it’s not something new. This seems to be WWE’s mantra for getting someone over in the most lame way possible. They’ve done it with Umaga, Rusev, Ryback, and even to a lesser degree it was done with Vladimir Kozlov. It’s lazy booking when it drags on too long, but in this case, it is going somewhere with an upcoming feud with Bull Dempsey. However, Dempsey’s gimmick is similar to Corbin. It’s the battle of the lame-ass squash matches. At least Corbin and Dempsey had a stare down post-match.
The Asension vs Hideo Itami and Finn Bálor
Holy crap – what an cool and bad-ass entrance for Bálor. I had heard about it in his previous promotions, but wow was that cool. Putting aside that it was completely 180 degrees from the Finn Bálor you saw in NXT programming leading up to this night, it was still a cool visual. Really loved the use of the heartbeat effect… haven’t heard that since Taz. Really well done. Moving on to the match itself, this was the blowoff match of a mini-feud (although long by today’s WWE standards), of Itami fending off The Asension and getting help from his friend Bálor. I still felt watching this match, that each team was holding back from showing us so much more. However, this match was not completely the feature of the show in terms of doing anything else but showcasing Itami and more to the point of Bálor. Rumors have The Asension moving on to the main roster soon, but I feel they will be lost in the shuffle up there as well as the rest of the division; but that’s a blog post for another day.
Sasha Banks vs Charlotte – NXT Women’s Championship
I’d like to reiterate my thoughts on the Championship Belt itself. This design is light years ahead of the “butterfly belt” the Divas fight for on WWE TV. Aside from the Jeff Hardy “crayola” belt in TNA, the Divas title looks like a toy. However, the most important thing that is day and night when comparing to main WWE TV, is how women wrestlers are booked and showcased. NXT is what WWE should be. If you want to check out the difference yourself, all you have to do is watch (or re-watch) the Paige/Emma battle on NXT Arrival, Charlotte/Natalya from NXT Takeover (first installment), and Sasha/Charlotte from REvolution. Then you can pluck out 99.8% of all Divas matches not on a PPV, and see the difference plain as day. This match was awesome in the story they told, the drama as the match was unfolding, and even in defeat, the elevation of Sasha Banks. I really don’t want any of the women in NXT to get “promoted” because really it’s a demotion. Big props to both women in this match; and this was right up there with Charlotte/Natalya from earlier this year. Also, there are multiple feuds in progress and not just the Women’s title feud. Something WWE didn’t start doing until they were likely forced to include the Total Divas cast on TV to appease the E! Network producers.
Sami Zayn vs Adrian Neville – NXT Championship – If Zayn loses, he’s “done with NXT”
Before I get in to the match itself, I want share a bit of my thoughts going in to this main event; based on the story leading up to how we got here. This story coming in to the night, was all about Zayn’s struggle to “win the big one” and capture the NXT Championship. They had been building Zayn to be too emotional, full of morals, and lacking the killer instinct to win when it matters most. Or to simplify it, he was too much of a babyface. Then, in the last match between Zayn and Neville, where Neville hurt his knee missing his Red Arrow finisher, Zayn showed compassion (another babyface flaw) for his seemingly-injured friend, and got pulled in for a small package loss. The look on Zayn’s face indicated that not only did he shoot himself in the foot yet again, it showed the complete frustration he was feeling, and you got the notion (or at least I did), that the booking was in such a manner that you had no idea the direction they would go, because it could have been a few scenarios. Zayn comes out the following week and basically says that if Neville will grant him a rematch, and Zayn cannot get the job done, he doesn’t know what he’s doing in NXT anymore, and will be “done with NXT”. Normally, that is a pre-cursor to a call up to the main roster. However, you could also argue that you give the babyface his proper reward and win the NXT Championship. Even still, there was a third option that no one discussed. While it was not plausible, it wasn’t impossible either — and it was booked perfectly, if they chose the route of turning Zayn heel. The end of the match I just described was the starting point, and then the promo ending with Sami Zayn slapping Adrian Neville in the face… could have easily swerved in to a heel turn. That was the beauty coming in to REvolution… you didn’t know how the match was going to end, and you were taken on the journey of the story being told in the ring, and it played out beautifully. Zayn his most of his signature spots, and Neville was great in his role as defending champion who would do anything it takes to retain his title. The post match celebration was great. I sniffed out the heel turn of Kevin Owens a mile away. It was done perfectly anyway. I can’t wait for the Interview on Thursday, and the weeks coming ahead. I’m a fan. A big fan.
What was the point of the Roman Reigns segment? Are we supposed to care that he’s an NXT alum? They don’t portray any of the other alums in this manner. Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins, Bray Wyatt, etc., etc., etc. I feel this segment took a little bit away from the presentation as it felt extremely out of place. That could have easily been on Main Event or Superstars and gotten the same point across – aside from the “first NXT alum to become WWE World Heavyweight Champion”. I still don’t feel that was enough to warrant a segment on this show.