Coming LIVE from Full Sail University, it’s the very first LIVE show on the WWE Network — NXT ArRIVAL!
The first few days of the WWE Network have been spotty. Video On Demand issues on Roku, AppleTV and other devices, however, a full slate of On Demand via the website. The live stream has been very good despite being limited and full of repeats.
With that said, all of that means nothing if this goes off with out a hitch. They have the stage set for a big night with a ton of big, hyped matches that should surely deliver.
The pre-show kicked off at 7:30pm EST with Renee Young, Bret Hart, Kevin Nash, and Paul Heyman. It was a bit of a trainwreck. We’ll leave it at that. Live show starts and Triple H is in the ring to hype the show.
Antonio Cesaro vs. Sami Zayn: This is the match I tuned into this show for. These two have had a series of fantastic matches with great fundamental story telling. Zayn won their first encounter – his debut with NXT – with a flash pin. Cesaro took the second match with a workman, veteran performance. Cesaro was victorious in the now-popular two-out-of-three-falls match of the year contender in 2013. The story for match number four is pretty simple. Sami Zayn can not move on until he faces Cesaro one last time. Cesaro doesn’t accept until forced into the match in the go-home show where Triple H makes the match.
The hype for this match is pay per view main event quality. Zayn comes out first. Cesaro next. The crowd is at a fever pitch.
Slow start with THE STAREDOWN. Tie-ups and reversals get this match to a quick pace early. Cesaro takes the early pace of the match, thwarting Zayn’s ever attempt to gain an advantage. They head outside and Zayn keeps going for his big moves only to get stopped by Cesaro including his super awesome running-through-the-ropes swinging DDT that was received with a European Uppercut from Cesaro. Zayn stars on some great reversals, including hitting his Blue Thunder tilt-a-whirl sit-down powerbomb.
After a submission attempt by Zayn, Cesaro counters then goes for the swing and it results in one of the coolest Cesaro Swings you’ll see as Zayn fights it the whole way until Cesaro gets his eighth rotation in where he finally gives in.
The “This Is Awesome” chants start to overcome the crowd. Big moves. Zayn starts to get the advantage but is once again put down. The knee injury is taking its toll. Cesaro brutalizes him with European Uppercuts. Cesaro deplores Zayn to “stay down” but Zayn keeps getting up. ACT OF DEFIANCE by Zayn. Near falls capped by Zayn hitting a Canadian Destroyer. Nearfall. Cesaro tosses Zayn in the air and hits the the European Uppercut. Tornado European Uppercut. Neutralizer. 1-2-3.
That.Was.Fan.Fucking.Tastic. Best match the WWE has had since Punk-Cena at Money in the Bank 2011. I can’t give much better praise than that. ****3/4.
CJ Parker vs. Mojo Rawley: There is no chance this can follow Cesaro-Zayn IV. NONE. Other than having the name of Pamela Anderson’s character in Baywatch, Parker has little else going for him. I just can’t get into him. Rawley is former University of Maryland defensive lineman Dean Muhtadi and is raw but you have to love that energy. This one is quick and to the point with Rawley going over in under five minutes hitting his Hyper Drive “Earthquake Splash” finisher. It is terrible, but whatever. Nothing to see here but a quick breather from that fantastic opener. *1/2
Emma promo WITH BUBBLES.
The Ascension vs. MYSTERY OPPONENTS: This was announced on the kick-off show. The infamous MYSTERY OPPONENT. The Ascension comes out first. And the Mystery Opponent is…TOO COOL?!?! Ah, fuck this. I never “got” Too Cool and don’t expect to now. The tag titles are on the line and I don’t expect this one to last very long. Ascension take the early offense. The beat down leads to a short hot tag sequence to Scotty 2 Hotty featuring the stupid worm spot that turns into an Ascension win quickly with their awful version of the Total Elimination “The Fall of Man”. There was no chance this match was going to interest me and it didn’t. Simply a showcase to get new viewers to see the NXT Tag Champs. *3/4
Paige promo. For those of you new to NXT and haven’t seen Paige wrestle, she is a treat. A very good in-ring performer.
Ric Flair in the audience with his daughter “Charlotte”.
Stephanie McMahon comes out to cut a promo hyping up the show and the next generation of WWE Divas.
Paige (c) vs. Emma: Emma out first popping some bubbles and doing the oh-so-awesome Emma Dance. For those that have only been exposed to her with Santino on RAW. Forget that Emma exists for this match. Paige out next. I’d love to go on a weekend long coke binge with that broad.
Anyway…big match feel here with over displays of disrespect and a cat fight to start. Paige and Emma look like they are bringing their A-game for this match. Crowd gets hot early, too, despite it being split between the two crowd favorites. Paige takes the early advantage. Emma when she gets the advantage, goes for her EMMALock finisher but gets reversed every time keeping the early pace in favor of Paige who now has her lipstick smeared. Yum.
DilEMMA. EMMASandwich. Emma gets her shit in.
Good story being told mid-match as Emma changes her approach, working Paige over all Regal-like. Emma dominates Paige, culminating in hitting a big powerbomb into a pin attempt. Paige with the ACT OF DEFIANCE SLAP TO THE FACE. PAIGE TURNER FINISHER. Emma kicks out!
Paige with a ridiculous submission finisher. A reverse Scorpion Deathlock mixed with a Cattle Mutilation. I don’t know what the fuck it was, but it was awesome.
Really really good women’s match. The best WWE women’s match in a long time. Better than the last Paige-Emma match. Show of respect at the end. Paige gets her shine. ***3/4.
Adrian Neville promo video. Showing off what he does best…fly.
Xavier Woods vs. Tyler Breeze: Why does Xavier Woods still have Brodus Clay’s music. Breeze comes out to a nice pop. He has a nice cult following in Orlando.
OH…Alexander Rusev comes out with Lara and the beatdowns commense. Rusev destroys everyone.
Rusev has his hands in the air aaaaaaaaaand, the stream is dead.
And we’re back.
Bo Dallas (c) vs. Adrian Neville – LADDER MATCH: Both men are in the ring, the title is raised and here is the bell. Neville starts off hot, Dallas slows him and starts on the offensive. Dallas wraps Neville up in the ropes and brings in the ladder. OUT OF NO WHERE Neville with a baseball slide and he flies over the top. They don’t call him the Jumpin Jordy for any ol’ reason.
Dallas throws Neville into the steps and he is back in control with a mean streak. Neville gets the upperhand and gets into the ring and ascends a ladder. Dallas throws a ladder at Neville and they are both down. Dallas beats Neville down with a ladder. Cool spot where Dallas pins Neville under a ladder while he climbs it. Neville muscles out.
Back and forth affair with a ton of ladder play intertwined. Neville with RED ARROW onto Bo Dallas ON A LADDER.
Neville ascends the ladder. Dallas dives on the ladder in desperation just as NEVILLE GRABS THE TITLE! Match over. Regal goes bonkers on commentary. Neville delivered. Dallas didn’t. Decent match despite him. ***-.
Critically, this event was nothing short of a success. Match of the Year Contender. Great women’s match. Title change at the end of the show. Showcased nearly all of their currently pushed talent. They hit all of the notes for a successful event and once again set the table for NXT to be appointment television.
However, the pink elephant in the room…there was a nice hiccup toward the end. To be fair, I didn’t miss anything. So, no harm, no foul from me. But this is clearly going to be the buzz after this event. With WrestleMania right around the corner, these live stream hiccups need to be squared away as a similar happening a month from now will disastrous.
Critically, a great show. Technically, get your shit together, WWE Network.
Match of the Night:
Antonio Cesaro vs. Sami Zayn ****3/4
Also Check Out:
Paige (c) vs. Emma ***3/4
Special thanks to @SenorLARIATO for the awesome gifs.