Most periods of time in wrestling are referred to as ‘eras’. The Rock ‘N Wrestling era of the 1980’s, The New Generation era of the 1990’s, The Attitude era of the late 1990’s to the early 2000’s, and to the somewhat maligned PG era of recent times there has always been an overriding theme to the content that is presented to the audience. Now we are in the midst of the latest time period in wrestling which is being referred to simply as ‘The New Era’.
In this New Era we have seen the brand split return to WWE programming this past week with Smackdown and Raw going back to acting like competing brands, a significant amount of new wrestlers being brought up and various other changes in the presentation of the product. We are very early into this new version of WWE programming, but to say things are looking promising is an understatement. This past week’s new look Raw was one of the best shows in a very long time. Finn Balor made his long anticipated Raw debut and put on a great show. Raw was action heavy with the wrestlers putting on some perfectly choreographed matches that showed great athleticism and kept you on the edge of your seat. The best match of the night goes to the Women’s Championship match between the defending champion Charlotte going against strong fan favorite Sasha Banks. It was a match that was given time to tell an excellent story in the ring and gave the audience the much desired result of Banks finally winning the title.
Smackdown was solid as well, but suffered from airing the night after such an amazing Raw. It still featured some solid moments with fan favorite Dolph Ziggler finally becoming number one contender to the WWE title and the announcement that another favorite Shelton Benjamin was going to be making his long awaited return to the WWE.
One thing that has been very promising lately is how the WWE writers and head honchos have been booking the shows. Not every match will go the way we all want it to, but it does seem that the WWE is listening to the fans and paying attention to crowd reactions. Storylines are making more sense, the matches are being given more time to develop, and different people are being featured on television and in the main events which is making the overall product more unpredictable and significantly more entertaining.
Hopefully, this trend will continue and we will continue to get some great wrestling television and see a whole new set of great memories created for those of us who love professional wrestling.
NXT is the hottest thing in professional wrestling right now and with the way things have been going there is no reason to believe that will change anytime soon.
Every NXT special has blown me away with the incredible athleticism and terrific storytelling.
NXT Takeover: Respect was another example of how great talent paired with excellent booking can make wrestling one of the most exciting forms of entertainment around.
On to the matches:
Finn Bálor and Samoa Joe vs. The Mechanics (Scott Dawson and Dash Wilder) – This was a semi-final match in the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic tournament and it was an excellent start to the show. Both teams worked very well together and showed off some classic tag team wrestling along with some excellent spots. The match ended with Samoa Joe performing his devastating Muscle Buster maneuver and Bálor hitting the Coup de Grace for the pinfall to earn a spot in the finals.
Baron Corbin and Rhyno vs. Jason Jordan and Chad Gable – The second semi-final match in the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic tournament was even better. All four men worked amazingly well together and the match ended with Corbin getting the pin after an insane series of moves and false finishes that have to be seen to be believed.
Asuka vs. Dana Brooke – This was Asuka’s first match in NXT after a great career in Japan and she blew the roof off the arena. The match was fast paced with a lot of stiff moves between these two women. Asuka won by submission and I cannot wait to see more from Asuka.
Apollo Crews vs. Tyler Breeze – These two worked great together and even though Crews got the win, Breeze still came off great and I cannot wait until he makes it to the main roster.
Finn Bálor and Samoa Joe vs. Baron Corbin and Rhyno – This was the final match in the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic tournament and it was a perfect way to honor the late Dusty Rhodes. All four men put their all into this match and told a great story with Bálor having to fight through an injury (storyline wise) and both teams putting everything in to this match that they possibly could. Bálor and Joe got the much deserved win and it was great to see the Rhodes family come out to present them with the trophy and to hear the heartfelt words from one of Dusty’s sons Cody. Truly a great way to honor a great man and performer.
Bayley vs. Sasha Banks – This was a 30 minute iron man match (the wrestler with the most pinfalls or submissions after 30 minutes wins) for the NXT Women’s Championship and was the first time the women have been the true main event of an NXT special. To see women’s wrestling get to this point of great respect and main eventing is a true joy. This match was simply incredible and despite a show full of great matches this one was by far the best. Not only do these two have an amazing in-ring chemistry, but they are terrific athletes and masters at telling a story inside the ring. Whether you are a wrestling fan or not you need to see this match. It was brutal, exciting, filled with the right amount of high spots and the end with Bayley retaining her title with a 3-2 victory was amazing and the emotion seen was genuine. Both women realized they had made history and everyone in the crowd showed there appreciation with a long standing ovation. If the main roster in the WWE booked the women like this then women’s wrestling would be main eventing much more often and hopefully will.
If you are a long time wrestling fan or are looking to give it a shot, then watch NXT. It will not disappoint.
NXT Takeover: Rival was simply amazing. Yet again WWE’s version of a ‘d-league’ has outshone the main roster. I will not go into great detail nor give match results since I really feel you have to watch this show. If you are not a subscriber to the WWE Network you can get it for free this month only and at least watch this show to understand what I keep going on and on about.
A few highlights:
The show started with Hideo Itami vs. Tyler Breeze. Two great workers that fed off of each perfectly, put on a great match, and got the crown going.
Charlotte vs. Sasha Banks vs. Bayley vs. Becky Lynch in a four way for the NXT Women’s Championship…WOW! Amazingly good with some incredible spots.
Finn Balor vs. Adrian Neville was one of the best worked matches I have seen in a while. They paced the match perfectly and both came off great. Both men deserve to be on the main roster headlining PPV’s. This may be the match of the year in the WWE.
The main event was Sami Zayn vs. Kevin Owens for the NXT title. After Balor vs. Neville this main event had the potential to be forgotten, but both men put on an exciting and brutal match that will be remembered.
If you are a long time wrestling fan or just want to check it out, sign up for the WWE Network for the remainder of this month at no charge and give NXT a shot.
If this is the future of the WWE, then the future has never been brighter.
This Wednesday is the new NXT special Takeover: Rival. The buildup to this event over the past few weeks has been phenomenal. NXT has really shown how to properly build up to special events week in and week out and alone makes the $9.99 a month for the WWE Network worthwhile.
All the matches on the show have great potential, but there are 2 that really stand out:
1) Sami Zayn vs. Kevin Owens for the NXT Championship – The build up to this match has been excellent. It started a couple of months back when Zayn won the belt and Owens came to congratulate him and then suddenly turned on Sami and attacked him. The weeks following have featured great confrontations, excellent promos, and a fun contract signing that makes this match must see. This has been an excellent example of how to properly build up a feud that the fans will care about.
2) Finn Balor vs. Adrian Neville for an NXT Championship shot – Oh boy…beyond a doubt two of the best wrestlers and greatest athletes not only on NXT, but also all of the WWE. The potential for this match to become the best match of the year is high. This has ‘must-see’ written all over it.
Overall, this show has a good shot of being one of the best of the year and next week I will give my review of it.
In the past year NXT has not disappointed and I really hope they don’t start anytime soon.