Before we discuss the good and the bad, let’s go straight for the ugly…THAT LOGO. What, sorry what? This tells you all you need to know about the changes in the show. The old logo, simple, yellow and gold, often on a black background or accompanied by a skull or other gothic graphics. It screamed underground and that was what NXT was. Now..not so much.
Look at the music too, in the old days we had Poppy and Slipknot rocking the joint. Now a mix of middle of the road RNB/DJs. After Poppy appeared live on NXT I went straight to Spotify and hoovered up her entire catalogue. I can’t see anyone doing that after this show. The set? Same thing – the dark colours and yellow trim replaced with WHITE, everything is white. IN a way this works as it shows you that this is an all new experience. The audience experience? It looked to look SO EXCITING to be an an NXT show, behind glass and chains, it looked like a rock crowd more than a wrestling crowd. Now? The audience looks like they are just watching a TV show, very little reaction and if the crowd aint jumping, how are we supposed to get excited at home? The lighting does not help this either, the whole studio is lit up so you get no outside atmosphere.
Samoa Joe relinquishing the title a few days before the first episode of the new experience? Just seemed like a story line. It might have meant more if Joe had come to the first show, got in the ring and given up the belt and announced the new prize for the main event (which wasn’t the main event, don’t get me started on THAT, yet…). That way we would not have had days of spinning around the internet trying to work out whether this is a real injury.
But wait! It was not all negatives. The first thing was that NXT suggested that you never know what is going to happen next – LA Knight, one of the contenders for the title, talking down to a new guy (the son of Rick Steiner – why give him a dumb name, Vince, why not just *something* Steiner?) and challenging him to a fight. Ha ha, Knight crushes him and we go on to…oh wait the new guy wins. New wrestlers! New NXT! This was a great start and also psychologically made you think Knight might win the title having lost early, remember Bret Hart doing this years ago.
The number of new talent on the show was exceptional, this really is a new season of stars, sure there are old faces like Mandy Rose returning but even she is being used to hype up a new tag team of kick ass proportions. And having a title match? Brilliant. EXCEPT, if this is now a ‘pure wrestling’ show, don’t put this on second to last and flow it with a wrestling wedding. Jesus Christ, Vince, even if I did not already know that you and Bruce were overseeing NXT now, this had your fingerprints all over it. Before the main event? I’d have made a sandwich. AS the main event? Fvcked up. Also, I know it is fiction, but playing off a stalker as a new romantic (not that kind) is a little strange, sure everyone can change, but this guy used to creep into the house to see her and is carrying a tiny axe in his pocket…It just seems a little dark for a company that has deleted Chris Benoit from history to now play off obsession as comedy. “lighten up, Francis!”, okay, just saying. I don’t like it.
The 4 way though, this was NXT all the way through. Except for the dumb replacement which was VINCENT KENNEDY MCMAHON all the way. Von Wagoner. “That’s some good shiiiiiit” No, Vince, it is not, well, I don’t know the guy, he might be a headliner three years down the line, but don’t put him in an already announced match, especially replacing my boy Kyle O’Reilly. The first Type One Diabetic Champion will have to wait for his moment. Or will he be brought up to the main card, where all of the Undisputed Era should be already? Anyway, back to the match, a great bout with some excellent spots and never giving away who was going to be the victor. Seeing Ciampa win warmed my heart. Proof that OLD NXT could build a character perfectly.
And then they ended it with a fucking wedding. Nope. Nope. Nope.
(But there was enough before this to get me to come back next week, which, given the ridiculous amount of quality wrestling in the world right now, is a thumbs up indeed)