A lot of the focus on the WWE Network is about the ability to get PPVs for only $10 a month, or the huge library of old wrestling shows and PPVs. But there’s also a growing library of WWE Network Exclusive (or semi-exclusive) current programming. And possibly the best of that is WWE NXT which is available on the Network or Hulu Plus.
The thing about NXT is it’s essentially the developmental roster with the occasionally main roster star showing up to spice things up. What you get to see when you watch NXT is a mixture of rookies and veterans of the independent circuit who are learning the WWE way of doing things.
Since NXT is not on cable or broadcast television and since the shows are performed in front of a small local audience, the focus of the show is much more on wrestling and much less on Sports Entertainment. They don’t need to attract a large casual fan-base so they can emphasize the stuff that hardcore fans like. Which is why, if you are a serious fan, it can be a great show to watch.
NXT Takeover was the NXT roster’s chance to really show what they can do and they stepped up. The list of matches might seem quite short if you’re used to a 3 hour RAW, but that’s because almost everything was given the time it needed to develop fully.
They’ve been building this match up for a few weeks in NXT. Obviously Rose is now appearing on RAW and Smackdown regularly, but while he’s starting to get over he hasn’t really connected with the mainstream audience yet. On NXT though everyone knows what his gimmick is about and everyone is into it.
In terms of wrestling this was one of the weaker matches on the card, but it was still solid. And Rose’s gimmick can be highly entertaining. He does a remarkably good job of staying in character while wrestling. It’s really only weak in comparison to the great matches that followed. On a normally weak this would be good.
NXT Tag Team Championship – The Ascension vs. Kalisto and El Local
The Ascension are the reigning NXT Tag Team Champions and they’ve been squashing all comers for months. This time out at least the team of Kalisto and El Local got some hope spots. But the basic story is unchanged. The Ascension dominate everyone.
There was some good wrestling here, but I think it might have been a little more interesting if there had been even the slightest chance that The Ascension could lose and there really wasn’t.
Tyler Breeze vs. Sami Zayn
This was a number one contenders match and expected to be one of the highlights, if not match of the night. I think it lived up to expectations. Tyler Breeze has been saddled with yet another variation on the annoying model gimmick (which almost never works) but he’s actually a very good wrestler and this match with it’s multiple close calls gave him a chance to show that. Meanwhile Sami Zayn doesn’t really seem to have a gimmick at all but is hugely popular with the NXT crowd. He also can wrestle.
Put the two together and what you get inside the ring is a great bit of wrestling with a strong story and a number one contender who you believe is a real threat to the champion based on the toughness of this fight.
What a fascinating match, and another highlight. First of all, you never see the WWE Divas get the chance to put on this sort of length of match even on a PPV. This wasn’t “good for a women’s match” it was just plain good.
Secondly you’ve got Charlotte who is Ric Flair’s daughter and Natalya who is part of the Hart wrestling family. And NXT went all out with that angle. They had Flair in Charlotte’s corner and Brett Hart in Natalya’s.
And the match was essentially gimmick free. Yes they played on that wrestling heritage and we got both Figure 4 leglocks and Sharpshooters, but they went with real emotion. It was well wrestled throughout and the hugs and handshakes at the end felt sincere. How often do you see that in wrestling?
Adrian Neville was the defending champion and early in the match they really played up the fact that these two wrestlers have very similar styles. Which resulted in some really nice spots. Then they got serious.
This was just some really solid wrestling that built to a logical and believable conclusion. Nicely done by both men. The championship was made to clearly mean something to both of them
I’m not going to bother talking about Rusev vs Mojo. It was what Rusev does… Crush!
What I really liked about this show is that they really didn’t play up the heel/face aspect very much. This was mostly people wrestling because they wanted to win a belt. Which is refreshing given the entertainment focus of the mainstream product.
Don’t get me wrong, these are still characters, it’s just the focus is more on them as athletes than as gimmicks. Even Tyler Breeze was pushed as being a serious competitor despite that model gimmick.
The announce team of Tom Phillips, William Regal and Byron Saxton is probably the best team that WWE has on any of it’s shows right now. Given that they actually focus on what’s going on in the ring. Regal of course is the highlight. He is unquestionably the best color commentator that WWE has and is I think one of the best of all time. He puts over both the heel and face wrestlers, tries to explain the significance of some of the wrestling moves and generally sells the whole thing as important. I’m glad he’s in NXT, but kind of baffled that WWE aren’t using him on their top tier shows.
Basically if you’re a serious wrestling fan, you want to watch this show.
Source: WWE Network – NXT Takeover