So I know last time I wrote, I had been a real downer about everything around the business of professional wrestling, wrestler deaths and the state of the current WWE main roster product. While very little of that has changed, I’d like to think that my outlook has a bit and I’m going to go into that a bit here.
I attended Saturday night’s NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn 4 show at the Barclays Center with my friend Dave, and while we had arrived late due to my having to work and not being able to get out any earlier than 6:30, we did catch the end of the Velveteen Dream/EC3 match and beyond. Now I’m not going to dive deeply into giving recaps of the matches and results to the show as I’m sure either you already know what happened or can go seek those out yourself. What I am going to get into is my fandom of the NXT brand itself and a few things I took away from that event.
First off, I want to say that while I’m a big fan of a lot of the wrestlers associated with NXT, due to the nature of the brand being labeled a “developmental territory” for WWE, it’s understood that the people that inhabit that brand are in a constant flux as the ultimate goal is to prepare them to move on up to Raw and Smackdown Live. So while I do become a fan of a number of the specific acts like the Undisputed Era, Velveteen Dream, Shayna Baszler & Aleister Black, in the back of my mind…I try to understand the reality of the situation in that they’re only here for a short amount of time and are destined to be moved up as Sami Zayn, Finn Bálor, Bobby Roode, Tye Dillinger, Bayley, Asuka & The Authors of Pain have all been — each achieving varying levels of success on the main roster. So when you see me at an NXT show, there’s a reason why I wear a shirt for NXT and not any of these other acts…I like to consider myself as almost a fan boy for the NXT Brand itself more than anything else.
Going back to one of the last recordings I did on PWInsider, Scott, TJ & I spoke about some of the recent additions to the NXT roster at the time, one of them being Kairi Sane. I had stated how I just didn’t get the “Pirate Princess” gimmick and didn’t see how it fit in NXT. On Sunday, Kairi overcame her biggest obstacle and defeated Shayna Baszler for the NXT Womens’ Title in a truly amazing match that I believe stole the show. Baszler’s been such a force since arriving in NXT that a successful title defense on Saturday night was expected. However, the story being told here by the company was that of the sympathetic babyface powering her way to winning the match. While I still don’t get the whole pirate theme, that white-meat sympathetic babyface is something I can fully get behind! Congrats, Kairi on a much deserved title victory!
Speaking of title victories, Ricochet defeated the Undisputed Era’s Adam Cole to win the NXT North American Title. A really interesting story here…back in 2010, a couple friends & I had attended an independent wrestling show put on by Evolve at the Rahway Rec Center. Our main reason for being there was to see Bryan Danielson a.k.a. Daniel Bryan wrestle a Japanese talent named Munenori Sawa. This was after Danielson was released by WWE following the segment on Raw where Danielson choked ring announcer Justin Roberts with his own tie when the Nexus was formed. Danielson would return to the company shortly after, but for us, it was cool to experience Danielson doing what he does best and seeing him enter to and celebrate post-match to Europe’s “The Final Countdown”. Well…also wrestling on that show were a number of talents that I’ve gotten used to seeing wrestle on a semi-weekly basis: Johnny Gargano, Rich Swann, Jon Moxley (Dean Ambrose), Sami Callihan (who wrestles for Impact Wrestling), Mercedes Martinez (who wrestled in the 1st Mae Young Classic), Adam Cole & Ricochet, who defeated Kyle O’Reilly on that night in front of a crowd of maybe about 150 people. Now, they’re selling out the 15,000-seat Barclays Center, with millions watching worldwide! It’s really pretty amazing to think of how far these guys have come! So congrats to Ricochet on hitting another milestone while continuing on this awesome journey!
Johnny Gargano & Tommaso Ciampa are another feud that is still FAR from over. Their Last Man Standing match at TakeOver was once again simply amazing and while I can understand fans who were hoping for a title victory for Gargano, what we got was a continuation of the story here. Ciampa turned on Gargano over a year ago and since then, has not allowed Gargano to achieve his ultimate goal of winning the NXT Title. Gargano now has gone to a dark place in his obsession in stopping Ciampa to the point where it’s cost him matches and has even cost Aleister Black his NXT Title. So in trying to prevent Ciampa from winning the title, he’s now the central reason in why this most heinous piece of garbage is NXT Champion…his ultimate nightmare! Excellent storytelling here…Gargano once again had the match won, but due to his own rage against his former tag team partner and friend, has once again lost to him and the story continues! I can’t wait to see where they go next!
A few random thoughts on the rest of the weekend:
Brock Lesnar lost the Universal Title: good…I’ve said it before & I’ll say it again, I won’t miss ya Brock.
The Demon made his return this weekend when Finn Bálor faced Baron Corbin at Summer Slam. I had a sneaking suspicion this might happen since Corbin seemed to be presented as a foe that Finn couldn’t defeat without going to that dark place in his character.
The Shield has returned to protect Roman Reigns’ newly won Universal Title. Meh. At least it’s on TV again.
Ronda Rousey won the Raw Womens’ Title…I get it from a mainstream publicity standpoint, I’d just have liked it had she gotten a bit more seasoning before winning it.
Becky Lynch has seemingly turned heel on Charlotte…good, those two can put on a heck of a program and leave Carmella & her title reign in the dust.
I can’t wait to see Alexa Bliss take on Trish Stratus at Evolution…hopefully Mickie James will be in her corner and we can rehash some of their history as well!
So Kevin Owens couldn’t find ANY friends to attack him in his match with Braun Strowman to get Braun disqualified and lose the Money In The Bank briefcase?
Also, TWO Championship matches end in disqualifications, WWE? That’s just plain lazy booking there.
Anyway, that’s all from me for now. Thanks for reading!