NXT is special.
It is very easy for me to compare the main roster to the supposedly developmental show of NXT. It was an honor reviewing it for nearly nine months. When my fandom was at its lowest, NXT renewed it.
So I was a little sad went I saw that my previously bought Mick Foley comedy show would interfere with the NXT live event and I couldn’t go. This is no offense of Foley (who puts on an amazing show) but respect for the passion of NXT. Then literally in the last hour, the Foley show was changed to end before NXT and the WWE at the same time released more NXT tickets. My brother and I got two floor seats and joined some of the craziest wrestling fans you will ever see.
See there I am. The rest of the photos will be from WWE.com. I don’t know about you but I preferred to watch the show to taking photos.
I have attended a fair share of Raws, Smackdowns, Live Events and a PPV. This crowd for the NXT show was likely the smallest crowd of all those shows. I have even attended many loud college football games at a longtime University of Oregon football season ticket holder. The San Jose crowd was by far the loudest per person I have ever heard. My ears were still ringing hours after the show.
I don’t think I have seen that many Bullet Club shirts in my entire life. You saw some super fans like Sign Guy, Noelle Foley and Frank the Clown. The crowd exploded when Jim Ross sat in his front row seat. His hat really stands out.
The NXT show that didn’t end until 1:15 a.m. in a building that was literally smoky at times. I wanted to share my thoughts on a truly magical experience:
Hideo Itami defeated Tyler Breeze
This was the perfect opening match. The crowd was hot and loud through the match. You could tell by the smile on his face how much Itami was enjoying it. I really enjoy the selfie cam that shows up on the screen during Breeze’s introduction.
The match was back and forth. This two can go and really just need time to produce. This match seemed to be on par or better then their Takeover encounter. The crowd loudly debated the attractiveness of Tyler Breeze throughout. In the end, the ending might have colored my opinion on the match.
I saw Itami hit the GTS for the first time in the United States. That had to be the loudest reaction to a move I have ever heard at a WWE show. My ears legitimately hurt after the fact. It was a beautiful experience to hear live. Wow.
Jason Jordan defeated Bull Dempsey
Bull was booed a lot during his introduction. Poor Jason Jordan wasn’t that lucky. He received a very loud “You’re a Jobber!” chant early and often during the match. It seemed to inspire Jordan a bit because it was one of the better matches of Jordan I have seen. It certainly seemed like a letdown compared to the previous encounter and the shock was loud and clear when Jason Jordan actually won. He seemed to enjoy heckling the crowds back after his rare win.
Alexa Bliss and Bayley defeated Dana Brooke and Becky Lynch
If I thought the crowd was loud for the GTS, I forgot who the hometown hero was. Bayley’s entrance was overwhelming. This was especially true for Bayley. You could tell how emotional it was for her. She never is a performer to not show her true emotions. She certainly broke up a few times before the match and after in her post-match interview.
The match itself was your standard tag match that seemed like a good place for the more inexperienced Dana Brooke and Alexa Bliss. Bliss has a unique offensive move set that the crowd appreciated.
The match was what you would expect. Alexa Bliss was kept away from Bayley, thanks to the heels, until the end. Bayley got the loud reaction to entering the match and hit the Suplex for the win. It was a special moment for the Bayley.
Solomon Crowe defeated Kalisto
They have to bring out a trampoline for Kalisto? The illusion is ruined for me. This match was a good showcase for Solomon Crowe who hasn’t had too much time to work on the main show. He did tonight.
Kalisto is unique. He got a lot of the earliest “Holy Shit” chants of the night for some of his offense. I should point out this crowd did cuss a lot during the night. It had an ECW feel throughout the night. It was fun to have an audience of all smart fans. They knew and appreciated great work.
The match was pretty back and forth. I was surprised to see a fair amount of mat based wrestling between these two and Crowe was more then game for the fast pace. Crowe got a very good reaction for his submission victory finish.
Baron Corbin defeated Rhyno
The crowd seems to be tired of Baron Corbin. I guess we are all sick of minute matches. The mood quickly changed when Rhyno’s music played. I am sure none of you would be surprised by the loud and frequent “ECW” chants during the match.
Rhyno did what you would expect. He made Corbin look as good as he could. Corbin isn’t clueless in the ring, he simply needs to work with better opponents. Corbin naturally won but took a post-match Gore to send the crowd happy off to intermission.
After intermission, Corey Graves told us it was time for a surprise. The surprise was Triple H. Wow that was deafening. Triple H to his credit seemed to be enjoying the experience and was recording it on his phone. It is funny to think we tire of his boring Raw promos but loved his passionate NXT promo.
He got a loud “Thank You Hunter” chant but selflessly turned the chant to thanking us for our support of NXT. He seemed generally touched by the support. I enjoyed when he named dropped backstage attendees being Seth Rollins, Cesaro, Scott Hall, Shawn Michaels, Stephanie and Vince McMahon. Only Vince and Stephanie got booed. Poor McMahons. Triple H graciously acknowledged Jim Ross being ringside and this led to a loud reaction. Jim Ross deserves it and so did Hunter for his role in building NXT. I am pretty sure Vince got the message loud and clear what this show meant to WWE fans.
Blake & Murphy defeated The Vaudevillains and Enzo & Big Cass
Is there a more charismatic tag team in the WWE then Enzo and Cass? The crowd yelled every last line that Enzo said. It was likely in the top couple of reactions for the night. It was hard to tell. My ears were already ringing at this point.
The Vaudevillains got the most laughs of the night. They play their gimmick perfectly. The crowd reacted as Enzo/Big Cass eliminated them because they forgot the match was an elimination match.
The match ended how you would expect. Carmella jumped on the ring apron and was bumped to the crowd. Cass was distracted allowing for the roll-up for the win by the tag champions. The crowd did a lot of “Certified G” chants.
Sasha Banks defeated Charlotte
You want to know the difference between the main roster and NXT? The crowd erupted when it was announced that a Women’s Title Match was next. When has that ever happened on the main roster? It was well deserved, as it was the match of the night.
I think this was by far the best encounter between the two talented wrestlers. The near falls, athletic power moves and beautiful submissions. It was an incredibly fast paced match and it might rank as good as the best the NXT has offered in the women’s division. Why wasn’t this taped for television?
The crowd was wonderful in the match. We gave a lot of “This is Wrestling” and “This is Awesome” chants. It really was. As Sasha picked up the victory with the Bank Statement, the crowd erupted in a standing ovation. Sasha is the heel but she looked really touched. Charlotte got a “Thank You Charlotte” chant too. My brother and I got to tell Charlotte in person the next day at Axxess. She seemed very appreciative of her fans. We were simply appreciative of her amazing work on Friday/Saturday night.
Sami Zayn/Kevin Owens Promo
We naturally were happy to see Sami Zayn. He is at his best when he speaks with a lot of passion. It was pretty easy to do. Man, it is fun to be a part of a 5,000-person “Ole” chant.
Sami talked about how much NXT meant to him and how much it has grown in the last year. It is amazing to see the growth of the brand for sure. Kevin Owens interrupted him. Owens is a master on the mic and can do improv with the best. The crowd loved his sarcastic responses to all the crowd chants. They didn’t wrestle tonight but they had a lot of fun with the crowd.
Finn Balor defeated Adrian Neville
The crowd started chanting “paint” and for only the third time to my knowledge, Finn Balor came out in paint. The crowd began the “Holy Shit” chants again. It reminded all of us that it was a special night, as if we needed more proof.
The main event was the impressive, athletic encounter you would expect. They copied the action and pace of their match at the last Takeover special complete with all the high-flying moves. It naturally ended with a missed Red Arrow leading into the sequence that led to the foot stomp and victory by Finn Balor. It was a wonderful end to a wonderful night.
So that was my experience watching the first three-hour NXT show during WrestleMania season. I don’t think I have seen a crowd remain that into a three hour show ever. It was passionate, rabid and reminded me how special NXT crowds can be. You could tell how much it meant to the wrestlers through the night. You have to be passionate for wrestling to be doing so until 1:15 a.m. in the morning for a live event.
The interesting things to me during the night were the chants. Sure we had a lot of “Better Than Raw” chants throughout the night. During the main event, we got “Better Than Mania” chants started. We shall see on Sunday night. It has a lot of work to reach the level of that magical night.
Feel free to contact me at [email protected]. Additionally, I have my Twitter account @WWEBNRL as well. I would love to hear your thoughts about attending about NXT? Is/was WrestleMania 31 better than this show?