Greetings, peeps. The sky has fallen and the WWE Network is here, and with it many hours of hot wrasslin’ action, including NXT’s first special event. Using NXT to kick off the WWE’s new line of live Network programming was a great idea and for the people who couldn’t see the show, I’ll talk about why it was successful in concept and execution. But…you really could watch it yourself, you know. Even if you live outside the US, there are ways to get what you want…dot dot dot.
Gif made by WrasslorMonkey at wrestlingwithtext.com
A Fresh Coat of Paint:
NXT Arrival seemed to be created partially to introduce the greater WWE Universe to NXT and with that mission in mind the people in charge decided to spruce things up a bit. That extra touch of flair did a lot to make everything look more important. For example, the additional video screens and lighting effects made the Full Sail space look even more professional than it did before and little things like changes to theme music and how entrances were shot benefitted the individual characters on the show. This was most noticeable, in my opinion, with The Ascension. I’ve repeatedly stated how I’m not a fan and think they’re dragging down the entire program, but their new entrance routine and music made them look way more metal and that whole package clicked much better than what they were doing.
Sami Zayn/Cesaro IV was a great match, as expected, and so totally bizarre to watch. Beyond the great story, beyond the fluidity of the high-level spots, it was two well-known Indy wrestlers wrestling in a WWE ring, doing things not unlike how they might have done them on the independent scene, in front of an audience of fans that probably appreciated peak ROH and current WWE equally and commentators that were not only fully supporting and encouraging the match, but even calling the damn moves by their actual names. Seriously, Tom Phillips said the words “Blue Thunder Bomb” and William Regal uttered “Stretch Muffler”. None of this would have been imaginable even five years ago, certainly not for major event programming, certainly not for something “Mr. WWE” Triple H had a huge hand in producing.
Still, strange as the image of the former El Generico and the former Very Mysterious Ice Cream (look it up) kicking ass in the WWE was, it was a pretty cool thing to witness. It’s just another sign of the times, another great moment in a period of the WWE I’ll think we’ll come to look back on fondly.
I suspect another purpose of tonight’s show was to re-introduce the idea of a serious women’s division to the WWE Universe and, as a spin-off of that, to really showcase all Emma is capable of. I have to think a casual viewer that only saw Emma as a likeable comedy dancing lady before has got to be impressed after watching her wrestle a very good match against Paige, as well a video package that captured almost all of Emma’s best character moments, and hear a ringing endorsement from William Regal. I’m guessing all that effort was a pretty specific directive from above, which considering the state of the main roster women’s division at the moment was probably a good call to make. After all, AJ’s gotta feud with somebody past Naomi.
Before I move on though, how sick was that submission finisher? Scorpion cross-lock, was it? Just an awesome, painful-looking move.
Effective Cool-down Matches:
Let’s be real honest here: this NXT special was built and sold around three big matches, everything else was just placed in between in order to cleanse the palate and introduce the other characters they want you to know (Mojo, Ascension, Breeze, Rusev,…Parker I guess.). This meant those filler matches got less time and were inherently less important, but that was the entire point of them. The only complaint I have about any of these segments is that Enzo Amore and Colin Cassady didn’t find themselves in one of them.
Ding Dong, the Witch is Dead:
I am still a bit shocked that Bo Dallas is no longer champion. After all that time being forced upon an audience that couldn’t stand him as a face, or sometimes even as a heel, I sort of expected the guy to reign as champion in perpetuity. And yet here he is, former champion, complicated character and probably still not ready for the main roster. That’s the tricky developmental spot to be in, I think. You’re not quite ready to swim in the deep pool but you’re also not getting anything more out of bouncing up and down in the three-foot section. Hopefully Bo makes a better of it than I made out of that analogy.
Anyway, good for freakin’ Adrian Neville! I really thought he was just gonna be Bo’s feud to make it through NXT Arrival, but now he’s NXT champion! I don’t know if he’s a better choice than Sami Zayn (which might be an interesting future storyline) but he’s gotten loads better than when he first started on NXT and in the past few months has been having more and more good singles matches. I’m happy for the guy and excited to see if he continues to improve as the fourth ever NXT champion.
What’d you think of the show? Were you surprised how excited the live audience was for Neville? Did Emma’s acting ability impress you? How fractured do you think Sami Zayn’s jaw is? Let us know, ya bums.