NXT lives. I would say it thrives even. Since I’m not sure what percentage of TJRwrestling’s readership lives in the United States (which is where I happen to live) I’ll explain the situation as I know it. The new season/format of NXT premiered this week as promised and just like last season it continues to air in international markets. Unlike last season, the WWE is no longer broadcasting the show from WWE.com, which means for NXT fans living in the US the only way you’ll be able to watch it is through Florida’s Bright House Sports Network (assuming the show replaces FCW TV’s old timeslot) or via the internet. At the moment the WWE is fighting to take down uploads of the show on youtube, which is both infuriating for us and futile for them. Because it was annoying as hell to find a full video of the show I’ve embedded the clip at the bottom of this review and will continue to do so until the WWE either provides American audiences with access to the show or stops blocking the uploads. I have no idea how long it will stay up.
But enough about that. This week’s show was a fresh start for a show that already had potential. Did they succeed in creating an engaging wrestling program? In a word, yes.
First of all, NXT’s new theme is Coheed and Cambria’s “Welcome Home”. I’ll give you a moment let that sink in. Feel free to do some research. Okay, you back? Yeah, that’s an awesome song, isn’t it? BAD ASS.
NXT’s new home at Full Sail University also looks nice and hits the right spot between intimate and packed with people. It’s definitely an upgrade over FCW’s old facility. Like the main WWE shows it has a ramp and a big screen but they’re not nearly on the same scale. I dig it. JR comes out to start the show and introduces the new general manager of NXT, Dusty Rhodes. The American Dream hypes up the show as only he can and all the zaniness that could happen. JR segues to a video about Bo Dallas.
Meet Bo Dallas:
Bo Dallas is the former FCW star Bo Rotundo, son of IRS and grandson of Blackjack Mulligan. Bo’s intro video is in the traditional NXT interview style featuring sound bites from Bo and some action clips of him in the ring. He’s definitely got energy. His video goes over his wrestling lineage and cements his standing as a plucky, never say die babyface.
Bo Dallas vs Rick Victor:
Regal mentions that Rick Victor was the last guy to come through the “Dungeon System” in Canada but I really don’t know who he is. This match isn’t about Victor though, it’s a showcase for Bo. Dallas hits some fairly standard offense and finishes things up quickly with a spear. Bo Dallas wins. After the match interviewer Briley Pierce (Doph Ziggler’s real life brother) meets Bo on the ramp and gets some comments. Among the highlights are “remember this smile” and “you will know Bo.”
Seth Rollins Video:
I’m not sure what to think about Mr. Rollins. While I appreciate his in ring skills and that he’s not like too many other people in the WWE when it comes to style and personality I’m not entirely sold on his promo skills. This video is an improvement over the admittedly little I’m seen from him on the stick in FCW, almost like what Fight Club’s Tyler Durden might say if he was a babyface. In case you’re curious, Seth has dyed part of his hair blond-ish since leaving ROH.
Antonio Cesaro Commerical:
Now that I’m sitting here writing about all this videos it might seem like this episode is getting repetitive but the WWE took care to make these similar intro video concepts different in style and execution. Cesaro’s video is almost propaganda-like in its accolades for the man and features more sound bites from Aksana than from the man himself. It basically announces that Cesaro will be on the show next week. I welcome him.
The Man, the Myth, the Legend, Damian Sandow:
Damian Sandow is the gimmick I would have used if I became a wrestler. Holy crap he’s such a great snotty dick. If you’re familiar with Sandow’s routine on Smackdown what he does won’t surprise you here but he still pulls it off with such confidence and ability that I couldn’t help but enjoy it. Sandow basically came down to the ring, cut a promo on the audience using more big words than a thesaurus, and left without wrestling his opponent, Jason Jordan. For the record, Jason Jordan looks like the love child of Batista and Orlando Jordan and didn’t look too happy about Sandow snubbing him.
What the hell is Ascension? Well, at the moment they’re two dudes who may or may not be vampires that apparently like to hang out on unfinished skyscrapers in darkened CGI cities. At one point the stable also included Eddie Guerrero’s daughter and Epico of all people but I think the idea works better as a duo. Anyway, both men spout some creepy lines. One of them is English and the other is Conor O’ Brian. Yes, that Conor O’ Brian. Let’s find out how they wrestle, shall we?
Ascension (Cameron and O’ Brian) vs Jobbers (Mike Dalton and CJ Parker)
Okay, maybe wrestle was the wrong word. “Beats ‘em till they stop moving” would be a better description of how Ascension fights. The jobbers never really stood a chance and CJ Parker fell to a swinging jawbreaker/flapjack combination JR called “The Downcast” in about a minute. Ascension wins, is creepy. For the record Conor O’ Brian looks great and has found his gimmick. He looks totally comfortable yelling like a maniac and grimacing in Ascension’s spooky entrance lighting.
Bray Wyatt Video:
My God, Bray Wyatt. Okay, imagine if you will the man you knew as Husky Harris. Imagine if that man got sent into the backwoods of the deep southern United States with only an ipod full of the weirdest “Doors” songs and was told he couldn’t come back until he found Jesus. Now imagine if that man came back having found Jesus and also a Hawaiian shirt for some reason. That and a hat is Bray Wyatt; he’s definitely one to watch. He’s coming…..soon…..
Derrick Bateman and Johnny Curtis Vignette:
It wouldn’t be NXT without a quality backstage vignette starring one or both of these two men. For some reason Curtis asked Bateman to meet him in the bathroom and Derrick is understandably cautious. They end up talking outside of the public restroom, insulting each other and building up their match on next week’s NXT. These two have so much history that their chemistry is great, creating a full backstage segment (filmed in one long take) that not only entertains but gives us a reason to tune in next week.
Tyson Kidd vs Micheal McGillicutty:
These two were the perfect choice to main event the first episode of NXT’s new season both because of the quality of their matches and because their feud never really ended. Mr. Canton told me that this was their best match yet and though it’s hard for me to rank their matches I wouldn’t argue against it. Kidd and Mcgillicutty had a previously excited but probably a little timid crowd rockin’ and rollin’ as they worked their way towards the finish, pulling out all their best stuff. McGillicutty was vicious, using the ring to his advantage and just straight up throwing nasty lariats. Tyson was exciting, flying through the air at the just the right moments to leave the crowd breathless. In the end, after a sweet roll up counter to the Perfect-Plex, Tyson was able to latch on the Dungeon Lock for the win. Tyson Kidd wins via submission.
I can see clearly now, the rain is gone. Tonight’s episode of NXT was a breath of fresh air and an excellent way to start the new season. Not only did the show manage to introduce some of the best and brightest FCW has to offer, it packed in enough of the necessary elements from NXT 5 to ensure a smooth transition and anchored it all with a great wrestling match for the main event. Presiding over it all was Jim Ross and William Regal, simply doing commentary the way it is supposed to be done. I can’t tell you how great it was to hear the two men at the desk promote the wrestlers and the show and that’s it. It’s such a simple concept that has somehow gotten lost along the way. Promote your show, your wrestlers and your product on commentary. End of story.
I highly recommend watching this episode and continuing to watch NXT each and every week as we get to know this new cast of characters. I can only see good skies up ahead. This week’s episode gets an unprecedented 8/10.