Welcome everyone, this is just a quick article on my take from WWE NXT’s live house show at the First Direct Arena in Leeds on 7 June 2017.
Loss of Talent
A big concern for me entering this event was the recent loss of talent that NXT had suffered due to the superstar shakeup and call ups to the main rosters. Main attractions such as Nakamura, The Revival, Alexa Bliss, the four horsewomen and Finn Balor were no longer with NXT so i had not had the opportunity to see the new waive of NXT talent coming through. This show demonstrated that the future of NXT as a brand is very strong and healthy.
Triple H’s brain child is doing a fantastic job developing new talent and also adding experienced Indy talent.
The women’s division had suffered the most with the loss of arguably NXT’s biggest stars, the four horsewoman, Alexa Bliss and Carmella. However, this event showcased the next group of women’s in ring ability. My view is that women’s wrestling will only progress. Asuka is as popular as any star in NXT roster getting an incredible pop when entering the match. Furthermore, this event allowed Peyton Royce, Billie Kay and Aliyah to showcase their talent in a women’s tag team match. The iconic duo of Peyton Royce and Billie Kay are fantastic heels. Their ability to work the crowd and gain heat was extremely impressive for such young wrestlers. Furthermore, since the last time I saw them it is clear that both Billie and Peyton have continued to improve their in ring work. It is not at the level or a Sasha, Bayley or Asuka, but given time I don’t see any reason why they cannot reach that level or surpass it.
This was the first time I have seen Aliyah wrestle. As she has not received much air time on NXT it was difficult for her to gain support from the crowd. However, her in-ring work showed a lot of potential. However, currently I do not see her reaching the level of Sasha Banks or Alexa Bliss.
Asuka was fantastic as always. At the house show she was playing face which although suited facing a heel tag team, I much prefer her gradual shift to a heel character. That cocky and ruthlessness really enhances her character.
The other women in action were Ruby Riot vs Nikki Cross. This match was a bit of a disappointment. I felt the in ring chemistry of these two stars was lacking. They both have fantastic technical ability but are lacking personality. What made the four horsewoman so succesful was their characters.
The tag team match between the Authors of Pain and Sanity demonstrated the Authors of Pain are destined to be huge stars on the main roster. The Authors of Pain are booked how The Club should have been booked. They come in and beat people up. The main rosters biggest problem is that heel tag teams such as The Club are booked poorly and made to look weak, even if their characters are meant to be guys who just beat people up.
Where NXT excels is that it books characters correctly. The Authors of Pain don’t get cheap wins or cheat. They just beat down their competition. When they eventually move to the main roster, I hope the WWE keeps the booking like this.
The standout performers of the night was Andrade Cien Almas, Eric Young and Aleister Black. This triple threat match showcased the agility and experience of these stars. Eric Young continues to show what a talent he is. He is able to draw heat from the crowd but tell a story in the ring as well as anyone at the event. Aleister Black for me is a future star. His entrance, look, gimmick and in ring skills show a wrestler who is ready to be called up to the main roster. However, even though he is ready for the main roster I hope he stays on NXT for a while yet. His character can develop and flourish on NXT. He would not get that opportunity on the main roster. Furthermore, building him into a ready-made star like Finn Balor or Kevin Owens means that when he does enter the main roster he is not lost in the shuffle.
Andrade Cien Almas is one of the few wrestlers that NXT have booked poorly. It appears to me that WWE do not know what to do with his character. He seems to flip-flop between heel and face and cannot gain traction with his current gimmick. I feel he could benefit from taking time away from the ring and developing a new character. He has the technical ability but there is just something lacking at the moment.
Despite the issues with Almas the triple threat match between all three above stars was a standout match. This is the sort of match that should be showcased on a takeover event so that the stars can take it to the next level as it has the potential to steal the show.
The headliner was Bobby Roode vs the returning Drew Mcintyre. For me Bobby Roode is destined to be a big star on the main roster. His glorious gimmick is perfect fit for his in-ring work. He is one of the few wrestlers that can make that cocky, arrogant and self-centred gimmick work without becoming stale. Furthermore, many of the stars who have graduated from NXT are fast paced and pull out spectacular aerial moves. Bobby is refreshingly different. His in ring work is slow and methodical. This means that the match doesn’t have the “wow” moments of a Balor vs Owens match but it is just as compelling.
Looking to the future
Looking towards the future I hope that NXT is allowed to develop and build new stories. A loss of another crop of stars moved to the main roster would be very detrimental to the brand following the loss of so many key characters previously. WWE needs to keep some of the NXT stars in NXT until new stars are created. and based on the evidence of this event they are on the way to building new stars. The reason why Bayley, Sasha etc became such huge stars was due to the time to develop and build their characters organically rather than just turning characters from face to heel too often.