WWE NXT in Liverpool – Review

 

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This review isn’t a general review on the actual matches. It’s a house show so the matches don’t really mean anything as many pro wrestling fans understand. Despite this it was hands down the best atmosphere at a pro wrestling event I’ve been at. It didn’t feel like ‘sports entertainment’. It had that ‘us against them’ atmosphere, the type of atmosphere that made ECW so popular in the 90’s and the reason ICW is growing in the UK.

On a talent standpoint the show was quality. It’s what you come to expect from WWE. Considering it was the so-called ‘development roster’, I only picked up on two botches, one being pretty obvious by Chester’s Hugo Knox in the opening match. All in all however the standard of wrestling was excellent.

The tag team of Jason Jordan and Chad Gable got the crowd going early on, not that it needed much encouragement. They faced a new tag team that I honestly can’t remember a name of. So new they aren’t actually listed on the WWE NXT’s online roster. The only criticism I have of the evening is the lower budget production of NXT was arguably showed at times, on this occasion by the ring announcer as I couldn’t understand a word the girl was saying!

Nevertheless the American Alpha match was a solid competitive match and it finished with a good promo with the current tag team champions the revival. I then decided to be a five-year old and hi five the wrestlers. The child in me definitely came out last night!

Bobby Roode made his third appearance on NXT as he faced off against No Way Jose. The match was fun, really good entertainment. The match wasn’t too serious but the crowd were entertained and that’s what they pay their money for so I was happy with it. Roode looked everything that pro wrestling fans crack him up to be. Entertaining and marvelous in the ring. Future NXT Champion and Raw/Smackdown superstar? Definitely.

The new era of WWE was on show in the evenings next contest. A tag team between two heels, one an ex ICW star against Carmella and Bayley. It shows how the Women’s division has changed as I think Bayley got the biggest pop of the night. The match was solid too, good quality. Quality that has lacked from WWE Women’s matches for years until recently. I assume Bayley will be called up during the Raw/Smackdown draft as he is so over with the fans it would be silly not too.

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Not a bad view!

Andrade Almas repeated the perfect ten Tye Dillinger in a similar match to theirs at takeover. Dillinger cut a quality heel promo involving a Man United shirt, which he eventually stood on in a fun spot. ‘Cien’ Almas showed why he was such a hit in Mexico and definitely has potential to be a top star in the WWE. Dillinger has to be one of the most over ‘jobbers’ in recent times. He hides the fact he’s a jobber well and produces good quality matches. Hopefully he has a future in WWE.

After a solid triple threat match for the Women’s title involving Asuka, Nia Jaxx and Alexa Bliss which saw Asuka retain and look strong the main event was next which saw Ireland’s Finn Balor and Shinsuke Nakamura face Austin Aries and Samoa Joe. Essentially it was Japan vs the indy’s in a match I never thought I’d see in WWE, house show or televised show.

Nakamura is the real deal, his entrance alone was like nothing I’ve ever seen. Balor is unbelievably over too. Maybe it’s down to the NXT fans having previous knowledge of him in Japan, or he has got himself over. I don’t know but whatever conclusion you draw from it, he’s doing something right. Aries and Joe were over as too which in my opinion show’s how good they are as heels. For me a heel has to be liked for being the bad guy to be a heel, not irritating. The Miz irritates me, there’s nothing unique or entertaining about his character. Joe and Aries can wrestle, they are quality on the mic; their persona and character is spot on. That’s what makes them good heels.

The match itself was entertaining with good back and forth action. Nakamura finished the match delivering his signiture ‘Kinshasa’ to Austin Aries. Joe looked strong throughout and so did Aries to be honest. I’m a little disappointed it’s took Aries this long to get to WWE. He had a good run in TNA but he reminds me so much of CM Punk in character. That type of character has been missing in WWE since Punk departed.

Balor cut a ‘shoot’ promo after the match thanking Liverpool’s Robbie Brookside for all his hard work at the WWE Performance Centre in Orlando in a tribute that was well received by the crowd. Watching Nakamura live is an experience in itself, something I’d recommend to anyone who is a fan of actual pro wrestling.

My go home thoughts were – that was a better event than seeing Raw and Smackdown in the Echo Arena four years ago. The place was mostly sold out. Many of you reading this post will know my love for boxing is well-known; however it still confuses me how WWE’s so-called development roster sells out the Echo Arena and big World title fights don’t. Maybe those at the hierarchy of boxing should invest some money into similar marketing (hype) ploys that the WWE use. That way the promoters may not have to force fighters into selling tickets, which is a job all of its own! Despite that being obvious some people will never listen so it’s probably not worth me writing anymore about it as I could go on all day. Muhammad Ali openly told people he used the wrestler Gorgeous George’s material when hyping fights. How many better self promoters have there been since Ali? Not many if any! My lasting comment on that topic is how many businessmen made money without investing? Not many I imagine but apparently boxing promoters no better. And that’s why the sport won’t grow like it should. Far too much greed in it. Rant over.

Back to the wrestling – I’ll definitely be present at the next NXT events and couldn’t recommend it more. If you love pro wrestling or ‘sports entertainment’ go to one. It was a great experience and one I’ll hope to repeat again. On that note I start a role writing wrestling for a British Independent Promotion this evening, a project I’m really looking forward too! Who know’s what it will lead too!

 

 

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13/06 Raw Recap/Money in the Bank/Creative

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WWE presented their go home edition of Monday night Raw ahead of the Money in the Bank PPV.

To some it appears that WWE are trying to push Money in the Bank into the bracket of their major PPV’s. The WWE appear to be looking to put MITB on par with the Royal Rumble and Survivor Series. Many once considered King of the Ring to be on that level, a PPV I would like to see come back. Since the demise of the PPV that brought us moments such as ‘Austin 3:16 said I just whooped your ass’ and Mick Foley being thrown off a cell, Money in the Bank is arguably the best WWE have to offer in terms of unpredictable booking outside of the Rumble, Summerslam and Wrestlemania.

It’s no secret Smackdown isn’t a draw anymore and won’t be until the brand split returns in early July so WWE fans look to Raw for their weekly wrestling fix and in this weeks case, what they should expect at this weekends Money in the Bank PPV.

The show began with an entertaining segment between the New Day and Enzo and Cass. With some parts of the segment very close to the PG line, I thought it showed how talented both groups are. Both the New Day and Enzo and Cass managed to create a good edgy segment out of rather obscure circumstances.

The Vaudevillians who I actually am a fan of, did look out-of-place to an extent before they were interrupted by Gallows and Anderson. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Gallows and Anderson come out victorious this weekend as they are appearing to be booked the right way, as bad ass heels!

The eight man tag match was a solid match and once again made ‘The Club’ look strong something I believe that needs to be done based on their talent and their appeal to the adult pro wrestling fan. So all in all not a bad way to head into MITB on a tag team note.

Another Darren Young and Bob Backlund vignette. I had high hopes for these two when I first read they were putting Young with Backlund however I can’t work out what’s worse and more pointless, this character or the Shining Stars vignettes. Unless WWE has a deal with the Puerto Rican tourist board I genuinely don’t understand or see the point in either of these pairings.

The Kane segment took some criticism online this week however I didn’t think it was too bad. Kane has been in the business a long time and his Corporate Kane character can bring a laugh from time to time. Despite this Stephanie was supposed to be a face a couple of weeks back, now she’s back to being a heel? I don’t get this sudden change in direction in the Stephanie/Shane story line. Vince Russo’s WCW booking is a perfect example of why a talent should have a long-term run as a heel or face.

Titus O’Neill got jumped by Rusev ahead of their US Championship match on Sunday. Still not entirely sure why O’Neill is getting that match storyline wise, as I haven’t seen him win a match in recent memory!

The Ambrose Asylum segment was solid. I thought Rollins was excellent on the mic and the finish with Ambrose nailing Reigns with Dirty Deeds was a good little swerve. I don’t see the point in writing about Reigns as it’s evident the Creative hierarchy aren’t listening to the fans. I only hope and pray there is a double turn at MITB similar to the Hart/Austin angle in 97. Reigns turning heel and Rollins turning face would keep everyone happy but this is WWE and I wouldn’t bank on that happening.

Paige vs Charlotte was another confusing piece of booking. Paige wins clean and there’s already problems developing between Dana Brooke and Charlotte? They’ve only been aligned a couple of weeks! It seems that  the Women’s division has taken a step backwards. Why is Charlotte not defending her Women’s title against Paige? Why is it not being defended at all! WHY IS SASHA BANKS ON SUPERSTARS!!!!!

It still hurts me seeing Zack Ryder getting squashed by Sheamus however seeing Apollo Crews showing emotion was good. Sheamus needs to redevelop his character as his heel run has been terrible. I think I’d rather see him as a face than a heel as he doesn’t entertain me in the slightest.

The Kevin Owens/Del Rio segment backstage was excellent. I’m a massive Kevin Owens fan and wouldn’t be against giving him a run with the World title never mind the Intercontinental title. As a heel he’s excellent, he’s entertaining and unbelievable in the ring. What is their not to like? The match with the Lucha Dragons was a solid match.

Cesaro and Sami Zayn stole the show for me. Two top class performers. I could watch them both all day. Some of the spots by both were excellent and the finish by Zayn was executed perfectly. Why that standard of match was given away on free TV baffles me. Top class!

Cena’s in ring segment with Styles was also quality. Despite Cena getting his usual heat of the audience I thought his slight change in persona was entertaining. Cena seemed to be going a little big edgier and it was Cena being edgy that got him his popularity in the first place. Styles was also at his best as some of the insults traded did come across as ‘shoots’ especially with Cena making references to the Indy’s. I’m hoping that the match at MITB will be a classic and I’m also hoping we won’t see Styles get squashed.

The main event was solid enough, it was something that we had all seen before and was a solid match. I think a shakeup is needed after this as the talent that is currently competing in the MITB match. They are all immensely talented in their own right and maybe could be utilised better in unique feuds on possibly Raw and Smackdown. Seeing Jericho holding the MITB briefcase was a strange way to finish the show however probably not a bad way as he is the one most would consider least likely to win the Money in the Bank match.

On a personal note I would have liked to have seen the MITB winner also being crowned the Intercontinental Champion in a similar match to Wrestlemania. I’m no fan of The Miz and I don’t think he comes close to talent such as Owens, Zayn, Cesaro, Jericho, Del Rio etc. I would have liked to seen a stipulation added to Reigns vs Rollins or Cena vs Styles just to spice it up a bit however I expect a solid MITB show and a few swerves on the night. The consistent dropping of ‘Wrestlemania worthy matches’ was irritating as ever surely and it could be argued somewhat diminishing to the rest of the product outside of the main PPV’s. Also the commentary team were conveniently forgetting a certain CM Punk’s night in Chicago in 2011 but what do you expect, typical WWE.

I’d give the go home edition of Raw a 6.5/10. It had its moments but Raw goes on a bit and I think storylines need to be brushed up after the draft is done. Maybe all the confusion in the storylines is just a way of killing time before the draft happens? Who knows! I look forward to Sunday and I am currently praying for an Austin/Hartesque double turn involving Rollins and Reigns! Here’s hoping!