It’s the morning of WWE NXT Takeover Respect and I’m here in Orlando for the second day of a four day trip. I’ve loved WWE’s NXT brand for several years now, so I always had it in my mind that one day I need to be a part of that crowd. It worked out perfectly that this was the time.
As I sit here outside of a swank (do people say swank anymore?) Hyatt hotel thinking about things, I ask myself is it really worth it to be here? My day of travel on Tuesday started at 5am, I took two flights, a long three hour layover in Chicago and a Customs agent that was a pain in the ass. Then I think back about why I came here – the love of the wrestling business – and it makes it all worth it.
I get to sit in that crowd at NXT Takeover Respect to watch history being made as Bayley defends the NXT Women’s Title against Sasha Banks in a 30 minute Ironman match. It’s going to be the longest women’s match (yes I said women’s, not divas) in WWE history and they might be able to top their amazing performance from the NXT Brooklyn Takeover event in August.
As a lifelong wrestling fan that has been fortunate enough to write about this crazy “sport” for much of my adult life, it feels really cool to know that I’ll be a part of history. I was part of history when I was in the crowd at WrestleMania 30 when Brock Lesnar beat The Undertaker’s undefeated streak at WrestleMania (has Paul Heyman ever mentioned that?), but this is a different kind of history. There may never be a 60 minute women’s Ironman match, so this could be the longest women’s match we ever see. Then again, this is NXT and they are known to make history. It’s probably not a good idea to say “never” with them.
By the way, for those suggesting it should be “Ironwoman” it was mentioned by Triple H during his conference call on Tuesday. He said he ran it by Lita, who works for WWE behind the scenes, and she thought that Ironman was better. That’s why they kept it.
I’m happy for the NXT brand. It’s been awesome to see how much it has grown under the guidance of Triple H, who clearly has a good mind for WWE’s future. Not only are the developing raw talents Tyler Breeze, Jason Jordan and Chad Gable among others that can develop into stars on their own, but they are smart to mix in quality veterans like Finn Balor, Samoa Joe and Apollo Crews as well. Then they are smart enough to bring in international stars like Hideo Itami and Asuka, who will help the brand grow in a big market like Japan as well.
Then there’s Bayley and Sasha. It’s been incredible to watch them grow as performers over the last few years. Just looking at photos of them from two years ago shows how much they’ve grown in the last couple of years.
Bayley’s character is easy to love because she’s the babyface that has worked her butt off to prove she’s as good as any women’s wrestler that there is and when she won the NXT Title at Brooklyn Takeover it was the culmination of that journey for her.
Banks is an incredible talent and to me, the best women’s wrestler in WWE right now. What’s so fascinating about it is that she’s only 23 years old. There are so few wrestlers that even make it to WWE at that age, so for her to be an excellent all around performer already really shows how hard she has worked to get there.
That video package that was aired about both women was outstanding too. It really put over the idea of how important this match is not only for both ladies, but for the fans as well. It’s not that often that you really get first time ever matches in WWE anymore. Let’s savor it and enjoy it for what it is.
By the way, I have no idea where we’re sitting, so I’m not sure if I’ll be on camera. I’m not the type to hold up a sign although I always appreciate anybody that brings a TJR sign. I’ll be the guy with the Toronto Blue Jays hat on that wears glasses, that is slightly (*cough*) overweight and has a beard, so I doubt anybody else is going to have a similar look to me.
The rest of the show is interesting to me as well. I assume that Samoa Joe and Finn Balor will fail to win the tag team tournament, which could lead to a Joe heel turn and a NXT Title program for them. I hope the team of Jason Jordan and Chad Gable win the tag team tourney because they have an awesome chemistry and are a natural team with a bright future together. I’m also excited about Asuka’s WWE in-ring debut as well as the progress of Apollo Crews, who is one of the best athletes in all of WWE.
I’m excited about NXT Takeover Respect because even with all this pressure, I know that Bayley and Sasha are going to have one of the best matches we’ve ever seen. That’s pretty damn cool when you think about it.
Often times we complain about things in wrestling without taking the time to appreciate the greatness of the people that put their bodies on the line to entertain us. Tonight when you watch NXT Takeover Respect, take the time to appreciate what happens in that ring because it will likely be a night we will never forget.
Thanks for reading. Enjoy the show…only on WWE Network. Yes, I’m a corporate shill too.
John Canton – [email protected]
Note: I’ll probably write something about the NXT Takeover event either late Wednesday or early Thursday morning. From past experiences at these types of events, sometimes it’s hard to sleep and all I want to do is write, so that’s what I’ll do. I’m also going to the NXT tapings on Thursday night as well.