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WWE NXT Analysis V: Thoughts on NXT Portland Live by Brandon Lasher

Welcome to the fifth edition of the NXT Analysis. I have loved writing about NXT for over a year now for TJR Wrestling and wanted to share my occasional thoughts on the best weekly program in pro wrestling. I always planned to write this column more often, but life occasionally gets in the way. However, I wanted to share my experience of attending an NXT house show. It is a very unique experience to say the least.

NXT Live in Portland

I have attended fifteen WWE events now. I had the honor of attending the first ever NXT house show outside Florida in San Jose. Needless to say that was loud. How would an Oregon crowd seeing NXT for the first time compare?

I had good seats this time. We were nine rows from the north side of the ring. It hurt a bit if you had a really tall person in front of you or that one guy who felt the need to stand to flip off the heels. You know that guy.

The show itself was nearly three hours long. NXT does a good job of having a very fan interactive experience. They had lots of top ten lists on the screen and asked ringside fans lots of fantasy booking questions. For example, Tom Phillips asked the fans what would be their ideal NXT Tag Team. This quickly became proof that some wrestling fans are idiots. One fan wanted a tag team of Nia Jax and Bayley who he called “Big Fat Hugs”. Tom Phillips demanded we boo that man which quickly got some of the best heel heat of the night.

As I have said in previous live event articles, the fans around you are certainly part of your overall experience. However, it wasn’t the fans that nearly ruined the experience. It was a security guard that looked like Heisenberg from “Breaking Bad”. He threatened to throw my brother out because he took a few seconds of video of No Way Jose’s entrance but allowed others to record most the show. He demanded the people behind us sit down during the matches despite the fact no one was behind them. He even threw a guy who was next to me out of the arena after he stood near the railing at the end of the Finn Balor-Samoa Joe match. Good to know some security guards get power hungry.

It was finally time for the matches.

We started with No Way Jose versus Murphy. It was No Way Jose Day and needless to say he is quite over already. I highly recommend you be part of the experience of a “Jose” chant in your life. They had enough time to work and naturally No Way won on No Way Day.

Next was the Oregon match or Tucker Knight versus Tino Sabbatelli. Knight played up the fact he is from Oregon while Tino ignored the fact he played football at Oregon State. I would too. Oregon State sucks. Needless to say it was a slow paced match with a lot of rest holds. Knight won the match for his home state crowd. Good to see the two get some experience in front of a larger crowd.

Hey, we want some Bayley! It is not surprising to say Bayley had one of the best reactions of the night. I enjoy seeing the wacky inflatable guys in person. Nia Jax controlled most of the match but Bayley won with the rollup of death. I still don’t know how that works.

It was then Austin Aries time! He faced one of the biggest heels of night, Mojo Rawley. I don’t exactly why Mojo was such a heel or what he did to deserve a “You Can’t Wrestle” chant but he at least played the heel part perfectly. Both worked well together but naturally Aries did the finisher to win. Sure a lot of faces winning tonight.

This was followed by the best match of the night. It was American Alpha versus The Revival for the title. These four work great together. Dash and Dawson are a lot better playing off the crowd then they are given credit for sometimes and naturally played the tag game of keeping Gable away from Jordan. Once Jason Jordan entered the match, the pace picked up considerably with a lot of out of the ring action and great near falls. It was about twenty minutes of constant action. I think it was better then their match on the previous Takeover. Give them another chance at the next NXT special!

It was time for a well-earned intermission. Fun fact, we had no WWE main roster merchandise at the retail shop. The coolest item is the old school looking fight card poster that shows the match of tonight’s Portland show. You cannot accuse NXT of being the same as the main roster.

After the intermission it was Shinsuke Nakamura versus Elias Samson. This was not the best matchup to showcase Nakamura. He certainly was the most over wrestler of the night but he seemed to spend most of the match trapped in a Samson rest hold. I naturally wanted to see more Nakamura offense but it was not meant to be. It was more an occasion to boo Samson out of the building as he tried to play his guitar. Poor guy.

It was Women’s title time! Askua is quite popular and has a lot of in-ring charisma. Alexa Bliss certainly benefited from a veteran hand but Bliss has improved a lot in recent months. Both got in some offense but naturally Askua won.

The main event was Finn Balor versus Samoa Joe for the title. Balor entrance, with or without makeup, is impressive. Samoa Joe had quite the following as well. We had some really loud “Let’s Go Balor” and “Let’s Go Joe” chants. I was naturally on the Joe side. It was a solid 14-minute match with good offense on both sides. It seemed a little surprising to see Joe win by grabbing the tights but it worked for what was next.

We had a post-match Balor/Joe brawl complete with chair shots, officials unsuccessfully breaking up the fight, NXT wrestlers unsuccessfully breaking up the fight and Finn leaping onto Samoa Joe as he was being led away. I love seeing a show end with a chaotic brawl!

Final Thoughts

I highly recommend seeing an NXT house show. You have a rowdy crowd at an NXT show compared to WWE show that creates a unique atmosphere. Sure you might get sick of seeing Bullet Club shirts but hey that is the life of wrestling hipsters.

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Feel free to contact me at lasher@pacificu.edu. Additionally, I have my Twitter account, WWEBNRL as well. I would love to hear your thoughts on attending an NXT show.