The Night NXT Took Over.
By: Jason “Boom” Harris
By now we’ve all had a few days to digest and process the latest NXT special, appropriately called “Unstoppable”. And while I freely admit that even before Payback and Unstoppable aired, I expected the NXT show to be much more entertaining. After all, aside from the occasional RAW that knocks your socks off, Wednesday nights have been much more entertaining for a while now as far as wrestling goes.
But we could debate main roster vs. NXT all night and that’s just not what this story is about. This is about the phenomenal show that was Unstoppable. Now, this is not a recap. I’m assuming you watched the show and already know who won/loss and all the turns that were taken. If not, stop reading and go do so. Immediately. If you have, then read on and dive into a few of my thoughts on the twists and turns of NXT Unstoppable.
Match #1: Tyler Breeze vs. Finn Balor (#1 contender match)
Right off the bat you can tell production value has increase. From Tyler Breeze’s supermodel entrance to Finn Balor’s demon, there is definitely more money going into the production which is a direct result of success NXT has been having. I will say I was not impressed with the additions to Balor’s costume. Spikes and wings? A little cheesy and a bit much if you ask me. The body paint was on point though, loved the Eye of Balor on his back. His entrance was already one of the best in WWE and if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
The match itself was fantastic, what you would have expected out of two of the most talent wrestlers on the roster. Even though someone got pinned (Breeze) there really was no loser of this match. Balor cemented himself as the #1 contender and a future NXT champion while Breeze kept himself in the title mix and furthered his case for being one of the best heel wrestlers in WWE. I particularly liked Breeze’s interaction with the ref, reminded me of what guys like Ric Flair and Shawn Michaels used to do as bad guys. Not enough heels use the ref to their advantage nowadays and it’s a great way to get the audience against you. The spots were great, the story was great and again, both guys just furthered the notion that they are two of the premier talents in NXT. Hell of a way to open the show and get the crowd going.
Match #2: Dana Brooke & Emma vs. Charlotte Flair & Bayley
Ok, just let me get this out of the way. I absolutely love Bayley. Love, love, love. She’s awesome.
Another very solid match with solid stories. We saw the genetically superior Flair versus the amazon that is Brooke and the showdown between Bayley and “Evil” Emma, whose new look I really like by the way. The ditzy, airhead gimmick has been played out for a while now. The dynamic between Flair and Bayley is fantastic and they did a good job of hiding the inexperience of Brooke while letting the veterans work the match. And while I think there’s plenty left in the tank for a rivalry between Emma and Bayley, I don’t see much of a future for a matchup between Flair and Brooke. Brooke just does not have the skill level right now to keep up with Flair. I also expect Flair to be called up sooner rather than later as WWE’s divas division has gotten pretty stale, even with Paige recently returning.
Match #3: Rhyno vs. Baron Corbin
And this is where things got a little, well, meh. I’ve almost lost complete interest in Baron Corbin. While he’s been in NXT for a long while now, I haven’t seen any growth in or out of the ring. He’s got the look but is still nothing but a brawler. There is little to no actual wrestling during his matches, even against a legitimate veteran like Rhyno. While you might say that a match between these two should be nothing but a brawl, it does nothing to improve his stock as is evident with the fans lately chanting “Baron’s gonna bore ya”. He’s got the size, strength and look to be a star but must show some evolution as a character to continue his climb to the top, especially with a guy like Big Cass on the roster who can actually work in the ring.
Match #4: Blake & Murphy vs. Enzo Amore & Big Cass (w/Carmella) (NXT Tag Team Championship)
Not only are Enzo and Cass more over than almost any tag team in WWE, Enzo might be the best on-mic performer outside of John Cena. He’s over the top, ridiculous, out there and it all works. And not only that, he can move in the ring. They both can. It’s shades of Shawn and Diesel and that’s very high praise. This was a very good match for in-ring action and worked to further the storyline along. I was a bit worried that Blake and Murphy’s reign as champs was going on too long but this got be back in and it was as simple as a run in from Alexa Bliss.
And while I think this will do wonders for a talented performer like Bliss, I have to wonder what it does for Blake and Murphy. In fact, I’m kind of wondering what Blake and Murphy actually are. Yes, they’re the tag champs. Yes, they are both excellent workers inside the ring. But who are they? Two dudes with ponytails, who enter to raver music and have matching tights. I have to wonder, if they weren’t facing such an over team like Enzo and Cass, would they be as disliked as they are? Don’t get me wrong, I think they are very talented but still have no idea who they are. Maybe teaming with Bliss takes them in a new direction. Only time will tell.
Match #5: Becky Lynch vs. Sasha Banks (NXT Women’s Championship)
Match.Of.The.Night. Hands down, no contest, don’t even try and convince me otherwise. Just wow.
Aside from Lynch’s horrible new steampunk meets Assassin’s Creed look, there was absolutely nothing to complain about in this match. It was the culmination of storyline that had been going on for weeks and neither woman disappointed. From the ruthless aggression of Banks to the strength of Lynch (catching a flying Sasha Banks outside the ring was AMAZING) the fans had it right once again. “This is wrestling.”
And while Banks retained the title, the pure growth of Becky Lynch cannot be overlooked. She has gone from a glorified bodyguard to legitimate title contender in a matter of weeks. Whether it’s the matches between Banks and Charlotte Flair or the new found rivalry between these two, every single one of the Divas on the main roster should be looking over their shoulder. There is so much female talent in NXT right now and it’s only a matter of time before all of these women will be performing on Monday night.
Match #6: Sami Zayn vs. Kevin Owens (NXT Championship)
The match we’ve all been waiting for. The story between these two has been spectacular, even crossing over to Raw. Personally I think it’s the best storyline since the breakup of the Shield. Both of these guys know exactly who they are and work their angle to perfection.
Right away we saw a different side of Zayn and it showed just how dangerous he can be when focused on a fixed point. In and out of the ring they both went at it with everything they had and put on one helluva show, giving the audience exactly what a championship match should be. In the end, the brute force of Owens would once again prove too much for Zayn and the destruction of Sami Zayn would once again be on.
Then, it happened. The biggest debut in NXT history.
Samoa Joe finally made his entrance into the WWE universe and would save Zayn from more punishment by literally scaring Kevin Owens out of the ring. Owens wanted no part of Joe and that’s exactly how it should be. Samoa Joe provides NXT with a force that will finally be able to go toe-to-toe with the bulldozer that is Kevin Owens. You have to believe that there’s some sort of storyline coming between Owens and Joe but where will it be? Do they start in NXT and have it carry over to Raw? Both these guys, certainly Samoa Joe, have almost immediately outgrown the NXT universe and are ready for the big time.
There is no question in my mind that the best wrestling and stories are happening in NXT and not Raw. And the crossover has already started with Owens scheduled to fight John Cena at the Elimination Chamber. It’s an exciting time to be a wrestling fan my friends. So let’s sit back and enjoy the ride.