NXT has had a reputation for being the fan’s brand. For many of us it brings us back to why we fell in love with professional wrestling in the first place. And for that brand there is few things more important than its champions. There have been twelve NXT Champions as of this writing, but where do they rank among themselves?
12. Sami Zayn
In the grand scheme of things there really is no such thing as a “bad” NXT Champion, and Sami played his role to perfection. It is, however, the reign itself was short lived, and it is the reason he is at the bottom of this list. Of course, the means of which he won the championship will live forever in many hearts, and his loss to Kevin Owens will be a great image to look back on when the two inevitably reignite their feud. As with a lot of underdogs, winning the championship is much more remembered than the actual reign, but in Sami’s case, his win over Neville for the NXT Championship is one of the best.
11. Big E
Arguably the least memorable NXT Champion, Big E wasn’t a terrible champion, but rather he suffered from no real competition to battle him for the belt. Most of, if not all, of the best NXT Champions had a great rival to build their reign off of. Unfortunately, Big E never had that rival. While he did have a lengthy reign, most of his defenses came by defeating superstars who are no longer with the WWE. Not that it mattered, as he is one of the most well off superstars on the main roster.
10. Drew McIntyre
McIntyre could have realistically returned to the main roster rather than NXT. However, the story that was told with his return was second to none. A story of redemption capped off with a championship win made for a great moment, and though his reign was short the impact didn’t go unnoticed. His return made NXT even more of a household name than it already was, and his run will add fuel to the fire whenever he reemerges on the main roster. In the future his reign may be a forgettable one, but it was part of an overall story a lot of us are invested in. Its even fitting that McIntyre had participated in the tournament to crown the first NXT Champion. He would lose to Seth Rollins who would go on and win the tournament.
9. Seth Rollins
As the inaugural NXT Champion, Rollins gets some bonus points for the historical significance. Going into the new version of NXT there needed to be something big to wipe the slate clean, and with the NXT Championship debuting a tournament was held to determine the first NXT Champion. Out of the names in the running, especially in hindsight, Rollins was one of if not the fan favorites. The following reign helped solidify Rollins as a future mainstay of the company, and did well to set him up for his successes down the road. While perhaps not the most remembered or well received, for the first reign it isn’t one to sneeze at.
8. Shinsuke Nakamura
It wasn’t long after Nakamura’s debut against Sami Zayn that he was looking toward championship gold, and for good reason. Nakamura was already the most over act in NXT when he arrived, and it was only a matter of time before he was top face. What may set Nakamura was his lack of defenses as Joe was able to recapture the championship in his rematch and Bobby Roode dethroned the King of Strong Style in their first outing. However, it can’t be denied that both wins were shocking, and helped add to the characters of Nakamura and his rivals.
7. Samoa Joe
Upon his debut, it didn’t seem like Joe would be holding the top title. But once it was clear his work as a monster and a heel was going above and beyond, it wasn’t too far fetched to see him holding the NXT Championship. Finn Balor was no longer needed in the role, and there called for a changing of the guard. It was, however, the fact that Joe won the title at an NXT house show. It shook not only NXT, but WWE to its core. The run after the fact was entertaining, with Joe at his best, cutting promos and holding himself in high standard as other great heels are prone to do.
6. Bobby Roode
Without a doubt the best booked champion in NXT history, second only to Asuka, Roode had a dominant run as champion. Like Samoa Joe before him, he carried himself well and his gimmick fit well with a championship run. It is because of this run that many desire Roode to return to his heel roots on the main roster. The confidence, arrogance, and in ring psychology came together is such a perfect package that it was must see whenever he was on our screens. He was indeed a glorious champion.
5. Andrade Cien Almas
The current NXT Champion has taken his opportunity and ran with it. From his shocking victory over Drew McIntyre to his defenses against Johnny Gargano, its been an entertaining ride. Almas had been floundering in NXT for some time before obtaining the managerial assistance of Selena Vega, who subsequently turned his NXT career around and brought him to the main event. Going into the reign, there was some speculation on how good Almas could be on top, but I think it’s fair to say those doubts have all but diminished.
4. Bo Dallas
Despite having the least impressive career on the main roster, Bo Dallas is still remembered as having a very much impressive NXT Championship reign. To many, this was the beginning of the NXT we know and love today. Bo not only fleshed out his character before and during his run, but he put on some entertaining matches with the likes of Cesaro, Sami Zayn, and Neville. Speaking of which, Dallas’ feud with Neville elevated the title to where it is today. It’s a shame Dallas couldn’t manifest his NXT success onto the main roster, but at least we have this gem of a title run.
3. Kevin Owens
Winning the championship in record time, Owens was set up as a top star upon setting foot in NXT with his attack on then best friend, and NXT Champion, Sami Zayn. He was able to dominate the brand and flesh out his cocky character before he was able to get more eyes on NXT with his feud with John Cena. He arguably brought more fanfare than any other champion as he was able to promote the bran while on the main roster.
While Neville’s recent run as Cruiserweight Champion was a highlight for many, it was his NXT Championship reign people will remember best. A lot of athletic superstars were enhanced in NXT by its storytelling, both in and out of the ring, and Neville was certainly no exception. Turning from resident good guy into a more arrogant title holder was a great arc that even played into his King of the Cruiserweights gimmick. And needless to say, his matches were some of the best the brand has ever seen.
1. Finn Balor
Balor’s time as champion is looked upon most fondly by the fans, and for good reason. As the longest reigning NXT champion, it is clear Balor was the backbone of NXT. Even when he wasn’t champion, it was clear Balor was important to the aura of the brand. Defense after defense, Balor withstood the storm and lead NXT into its golden age. There may be no other competitor that had established himself within the company in such a way. It is for this, as well as his matches, the time on top, and the plethora of opponents he toppled, that he is considered by many to be the greatest NXT champion of all time… for now.
BWN Nerds’ Movie Review: Godzilla vs Kong (2021)
Big boy monster throw down of the year! The Nerds return with a current movie review, and this one should be interesting. Is Dave too forgiving? Is Patrick taking his role as the German judge too seriously? Find out where the overall ratings lands between these two!
Welcome to this week’s edition of the Nerd Review! Every week the Nerds give you their take on a different movie from the Nerdosphere. This week Dave and Patrick review the fourth installment of kaiju cinematic universe Godzilla vs. Kong!
The Flick: Godzilla vs. Kong (2021)
What’s it About: A researcher believes a hollow world beneath the Earth’s surface is the birthplace of the mighty Kaiju. He convinces and old friend to help him take the mighty Kong to find his birthplace even if it means incurring the wrath of the King of Kaiju Godzilla. The battle between the two alpha Kaiju could result in the end of all mankind.
Metacritic Score: 59
The Nerds’ Take on Godzilla vs Kong (2021):
Dave It is time for the Main Event of Legendary’s MosterVerse, the showdown we have been waiting for: Godzilla v. Kong. If you have been following along with our Nerd Reviews, then you knew this was coming. What you don’t know is whether we feel the climax to the series is worth your time or not. Well allow me to give you my take on that topic.
Plot wise, it has been some five years since Godzilla defeated Ghidorah and things have been relatively quiet and peaceful. Meanwhile, on Skull Island, Monarch has created a dome like structure to observe and try and control Kong. Kong has developed a relationship with a little girl, Jia, who seems to be the last surviving member of her clan. Jia has, for lack of a better term, been adopted by Dr. Ilene Andrews. Jia is deaf and she seems able to communicate with Kong through sign language.
Halfway across the globe, Apex Cybernetics is engaged in some sort of experimentation that attracts the attention of Godzilla, who shows up and annihilates their facility in Florida. Godzilla’s attack shatters humanity’s notion that he is their friend. Bernie Hayes is an employee of Apex, but he also hosts a Podcast focusing on conspiracy theories involving the Titans. He is soon joined by Madison Russell (from Godzilla: King of the Monsters) who is a fan of the Podcast, and her friend Josh as they start poking around the remains of the Apex site in Florida. We soon discover that Apex is looking for a massive power source that they believe is located in Hollow Earth. Hollow Earth is really more of an Earth within the Earth (Middle Earth, perhaps?) and the quandary is how to survive the trip to Hollow Earth. Nathan Lind is a Hollow Earth expert whose brother perished in a prior expedition to Hollow Earth due to a reverse gravitational effect. But Apex has developed vehicles that can survive the voyage. They just need Kong to lead them there.
In the process of transporting Kong to Antarctica, which has an entry point to Hollow Earth, Godzilla senses his old rival and attacks. Godzilla definitely gets the better of this battle, forcing the expeditionary force to transport Kong by air to Antarctica to avoid detection by Godzilla. Kong gets the group to Hollow Earth and it becomes clear there has been an ancient rivalry between Kong’s ancestors and Godzilla’s. Kong discovers an axe made out of portions of Godzilla’s ancestor’s skins. Back on the surface, Bernie, Madison, and Josh have been whisked away to Hong Kong and they discover what Apex is really up to….Mechagodzilla. Mechagodzilla can be telepathically controlled and it is Dr. Serizawa’s son who is pulling the strings, using the severed head of Ghidorah to do so. The problem is that to utilize Mechagodzilla to its full potential, they require more power, much more power to be exact. This is where the search for the Hollow Earth power source comes into play.
Mechagodzilla is activated and this attracts Godzilla. Godzilla also senses what Kong is doing in Hollow Earth and he sends a blast of atomic breath from Hong Kong to, in essence, the center of the Earth. Kong and the Hollow Earth expeditionary force follow the hole made by Godzilla to the surface. Everyone emerges in Hong Kong for a massive fight between Kong and Godzilla. Kong fares better this time around but is ultimately rendered near death by Godzilla. At about this time, Mechagodzilla is imbued with the power source from Hollow Earth and he also achieves sentience. This leads to the big brawl between Godzilla and Mechagodzilla and it is a mismatch in favor of Mechagodzilla…. until Kong is revived, evening the odds in an enormously predictable moment. Godzilla supercharges Kong’s ax with his atomic breath and the two Titans take down Mechagodzilla. Godzilla and Kong show each other a sign of respect and go their separate ways. Apparently, there can be two alpha Titans after all.
Let’s talk about the good stuff first: the monster fights. They are all fantastic. The battles between Kong and Godzilla feel as big as you would expect. They are titanic clashes in every sense of the word. Godzilla fans will have bragging rights after watching this movie because it is clear that Godzilla whups Kong’s ass on more than one occasion. Kong fans save face though by noting that without Kong, Mechagodzilla would surely have triumphed. As for Mechagodzilla, his appearance in the movie was not a secret and he did not disappoint. The clash between Godzilla and Mechagodzilla was done very well to show just how much more powerful Mechagodzilla was and why it took the combined might of Godzilla and Kong to turn the tide. If massive Kaiju action is your thing, then Godzilla vs Kong is definitely your movie.
Now for the bad: The people. Now, I know what Patrick is going to say. That the movie shifts the focus to the people too much and detracts attention from the monsters. I know he thinks the concept of humans using a defibrillator on Kong is absurd. I am OK with those points in a movie like this. The problem I have with the people is this: They don’t matter. Not at all! They are white noise in the purest sense of the word. 90% of the characters are wholly uninteresting and meaningless. They add little to the plot and just get in the way. So, to be real, Patrick and I are, to a certain extent, talking about different sides of the same coin. The exceptions to this involve Jia, who is quite important to the whole notion of establishing Kong as the “good guy”, and Bernie, who is a fun character and kind of represents a microcosm of conspiracy theorists that are quite common in the real world today. Bernie epitomizes the notion that just because you are paranoid, doesn’t mean they aren’t watching you. But, beyond those two, the characters are quite dull and just felt very pointless.
As far as this being the series finale, I greatly enjoyed the movie. The dynamic between Kong and Godzilla is interesting and keeps you engaged, regardless of whether you are rooting for one, the other, or both. There are some interesting concepts in the movie, specifically how Hollow Earth is different than you might expect and much more interesting, no matter how far-fetched the idea might be. Interestingly, this movie really showcases just how bad ass Godzilla is. I am not sure why it took three movies to get it right, but I digress. Then there is Kong, who ends up being a multi-layered creature that is shown even more heroically than he was in Kong: Skull Island. As for me, I always favored Kong over Godzilla and I left the movie feeling fine with the outcome of everything. If there is a downside it’s that it appears the MonsterVerse has come to an end, just when it was getting really good. That’s too bad. As for Godzilla vs Kong, the awesome action sequences and special effects vastly outweigh the issues involving the people. This is a very good final installment (we think) in this franchise. It is the best of the movies involving Godzilla. I still liked Kong: Skull Island more, but this was a close second.
Dave’s Rating: 4/5
Patrick: Here we are again covering the fourth film in the Warner Brothers/Legendary produced Kaiju Monster universe. And once again this film somehow finds a way to mess up a simple concept. If you recall, in my review of Godzilla King of the Monsters I said good kaiju movies minimize the involvement of human beings in the film and let the monsters take center stage. Unfortunately, the folks at Warner Brothers still have not quite grasped the concept here in its fourth Kaiju film. The result is an uneven film that shines when the monsters are on screen and leaves me tuning out when the focus shifts to the little primates.
In this fourth installment, we learn that Monster research organization Monarch I closely monitoring Kong. Going so far as to create an enclosure around Skull Island so that he is safe from Godzilla. This of course will not last because, well, humans. One human in particular, a man named Nathan Lind comes with the backing of a mysterious tech corporation called Apex to search for “Hollow Earth.” Hollow Earth is a world beneath the surface of our Earth that is believed to be the birthplace of all Kaiju. Lind visits his friend and Monarch researcher Ilene on Skull Island. Lind believes Kong is the key to finding this hidden world. Despite knowing, Godzilla will attempt to kill Kong, Ilene agrees to embark on the expedition. Of course, Godzilla attacks and we get the first of three rounds of monster battling that we paid for.
Unfortunately, to get to round two and three, the audience has to sit through overwrought dialogue and subplots all in an attempt to help the audience connect to the experience. It’s all really boring. You know why? PEOPLE DON’T WATCH KAIJU MOVIES FOR THE HUMANS. But, I digress. Naturally the tech corporation Apex is not on the up and up with Lind. Color me stunned, but Apex turns out to be the real enemy to both Kong and Godzilla. I haven’t even covered the conspiracy theory guy and his gang of teenagers trying to expose Apex from the inside. Again, no one cares because, read it aloud…NOBODY WATCHES KAIJU MOVIES FOR THE HUMANS.
But this isn’t the end of the dumb. The audience is treated to an ancient history between Kong’s ancestor and the other Kaiju where we see Kong find the ancient axe of his ancestors. Because a monkey wielding an axe is cool looking. Did I mention Kong can charge the thing up with Godzilla’s radioactive breath? AWESOME? How about the humans using a high tech battery as defibrillator to revive a dying Kong? Just dumb on top of dumb followed by more dumb. And humans. All of the humans.
The cast for Godzilla vs. Kong is quite the list of names. Alexander Skarsgard essentially fills the role of human protagonist Nathan Lind. Honestly, he is the only human character given anything to work with. Kyle Chandler is back in his role as researcher Mark Russell, but if you blink you miss him. Millie Bobby Brown is also back as Madison Russell, but horribly wasted in a sidekick sort of role to the previously mentioned conspiracy theorist. She is limited to trying to discover why Godzilla has started attacking human cities. Someone of her talent could have and should have been used better. There are tons of other folks in this movie, and yet I struggle to understand why we needed them all. All they do is distract from what the audience wants to see which is GODZILLA and KONG FIGHT.
Ok. So what’s good about this film? Well, the Kaiju. The special effects team outdid themselves crafting these battles. Kong and Godzilla’s bouts all feel epic. I was also impressed with how much more well lit some of the night scenes were. As Kong and Godzilla battle at night in a Chinese city, everything is well lit without appearing phony. The choreography of the battles are terrific, albeit a little silly at times. Again, radioactive monkey axe. But the joy of Godzilla vs Kong is in these epic clashes. I watched the movie on HBO Max, I can only imagine how amazing it would have appeared on an IMAX movie screen with Dolby sound shaking my eardrums.
I came into Godzilla vs. Kong with pretty low expectations. I want to stress that I loved, loved, loved the action sequences involving the Kaiju. Unfortunately, you have to sit through an inordinate amount of human exposition to get to those epic moments. That’s not to say the humans and their stories need to be gone entirely. The audience does need a guide and some context. But Godzilla v. Kong would have been so much stronger with a pared down human side of things and a focus on the monsters. It seems Warner Brothers and Legendary pictures still haven’t learned the key to Kaiju: it’ all about the monsters.
Patrick’s Rating: 2.24/5.0
Overall Nerds’ Rating on Godzilla vs Kong (2021): 3.12/5.0
NXT Minus 6: Stand and Deliver…After
Brad breaks down the NXT Takeovers and his favorite matches! Do you agree?
These are the six best matches from Takeover week, plus a new bonus feature!
6. Jordan Devin versus Santos Escobar, 4.3 stars Devlin turned in a star making performance. His moonsault off the ladder was absolutely perfect and batshit crazy. Escobar is technically so sound, everything he hits looks great, and he’s top notch on the mic. But he’s not a cruiserweight, and I will never forget that fact. Still, an exciting match that surpassed my expectations.
5. Tyler Bate versus Noam Dar, 4.3 stars This match was a blast. Both guys have such a wide array of moves, you’ll never see the same match twice from either of them. The only thing holding this back was the Heritage Cup format. I like it, but it’s hard to have the sustained exchanges necessary to elevate a match to greatness. The breaks slow things down right as they are speeding up. Give these two a straight 20 minutes for the NXT UK championship #1 contender, and you’re look at a MOTY.
4. Gauntlet Match, 4.4 stars Another match that was just pure fun. Leon Ruff continues to prove he’s not a fluke champion. Cameron Grimes is 100% working the rich hillbilly gimmick. They made the right call by getting L.A. Knight and Dexter Lumis out quickly. And in another star making performance, Swerve Scott started the match against flyweight Ruff and ended it against Bronson Reed. That kind of versatility is enough to earn my #3 Star of the Night.
3. Io Shirai versus Raquel Gonzalez, 4.5 stars
This was the intense, inspired Shirai I don’t think I’ve seen since her match with Dakota Kai at Takeover 30. If this was her last match, as some are speculating, then she’s leaving on a high note worthy of her greatness. As good as Gonzalez was in ring, her performance after the match was even better. You could tell she kept flipping from “Holy crap, this is real and I couldn’t be happier” to “Yes, I’m a bad ass and I’ll power bomb every one of you chumps.”
2. MSK versus Legado Del Fantasma versus Grizzled Young Veterans, 4.5 stars
Some other federation might be on their level, but nobody does tag teams better than NXT. All three teams got considerable time to shine. In a match stuffed with terrific action & individual performances, Wes Lee shined the brightest. His hot tag was Cesaro-level awesome, and his athletic ability rivals Ricochet. He is a star in the making, and his performance earned him my #2 Star of the Night.
1. WALTER versus Tommaso Ciampa 4.7 stars
I gave Ciampa about a 1% chance of winning. Despite the lack of necessary drama, these two told a masterful story with near flawless execution. Something about WALTER brings out the best in whoever he faces. He did it with Tyler Bate and Ilja Dragunov. He did it with Ciampa. This was easily his best performance since his return from neck surgery. People say he’s a brawler, while guys like Johnny Gargano and Roderick Strong are known for their gas tank. Ciampa showed that he can run with the best. His effort against WALTER earned him the respect of Imperium and my #1 Star of the Night.
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