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WrestleMania X-Seven: Hell Freezes Over

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Steve Austin The Rock

WrestleMania X-Seven is the first one post-Monday Night Wars. WCW had just been bought out the previous Monday, simulcast live on RAW and Nitro. WWF had survived a war for ratings, and survival, that had seemed all but lost a few times. This WrestleMania is often touted as one of the greatest WrestleManias of all time with a great main event, that is also hated because of the swerve at the end, which we’ll get to later.

Looking at the card on Wikipedia, I have to say that there are some intriguing matches, not mention the second official TLC match that I’ve seen several times (not that that ever stops me), the first of three WrestleMania matches Triple H would have against the Undertaker, a hardcore match I remember liking quite a bit, and the second round of Rock vs Austin.

So, will WrestleMania X-Seven live up to the hype and my vague memories? Let’s find out!

Opener:

We get a great video about how WrestleMania brings people from all over the world together.

I forgot how much I loved the theme music for this WrestleMania. This year, it’s not JR and Lawler calling the action, it’s JR and Paul Heyman, the former owner of ECW (yes, he actually had an existence before Brock Lesnar). Heyman is excited because he’s never been to a WrestleMania before.

Intercontinental Championship Match: Chris Jericho vs William Regal

Jericho comes out to a great pop. Regal comes out to a loud round of boos, and while he’s coming out, we get a recap of this feud, which is an IC title version of Austin vs McMahon, only I don’t think Austin ever peed in McMahon’s coffee (Commenter: Ew. Even though I know that didn’t actually happen).

This was a really good match. The styles really worked well and the story was a lot of fun. Regal’s rough and tough style is an interesting contrast to the posh façade he has.

Winner: Jericho by pinfall

Highlights: Regal calling Jericho a ‘toe rag’ in a posh accent.

Comments: I really liked this match, though I do like NXT!Regal a little bit better than this version of him as an authority figure.

We see a limo with a ‘WCW 1’ license plate pull up and Shane McMahon climbing out (Shane ‘bought’ WCW out from under his dad the week before).

In an undisclosed area, the APA and Jacqueline are playing cards, but Bradshaw is too excited. Farooq and Jacqueline tell him to relax, but Bradshaw can’t, he’s in his home state at the Astrodome and tells them all about the things he used to come to the Astrodome to watch. Fired up by his excitement, Farooq and Jacqueline follow him out to the ring.

Six-Man Tag Team Match: Tazz and the APA (with Jacqueline) vs Right to Censor (with Steven Richards)

Unsurprisingly, Right to Censor is out first to a LOUD round of boos. Heyman doesn’t like JR calling RtC ‘extremists’, he prefers the term ‘hypocrites’. (Commenter: I’m with Heyman on that one). Richards starts to say something, but we’re saved by Tazz, who gets a great pop. APA gets a great pop and this match starts in chaos.

While this is a good match, there were some rough spots and it seemed that the RTC guys didn’t know how to work with Tazz because he was much shorter than the APA. I saw several spots where they seemed to be trying make contact with a taller person than Tazz.

Winner: Bradshaw gets the win for his team.

Highlights: Bradshaw’s legit excitement about performing in the Astrodome.

Comments: Seeing Right To Censor get beat up is always fun.

We get a promo for Snickers Cruncher.

Backstage, Trish is pushing Linda in her wheelchair when they run into Stephanie, who chides Trish for being late. She talks to her mother and says that at least Linda knows that one of her kids (presumably Stephanie) turned out okay. She then tells Trish, pausing to ask what Trish thinks of her jumpsuit with ‘Daddy’s Girl’ on the back, that they’re going to need champagne for Vince’s victory party, and generally treats Trish like a maid.

Triple Threat Match for the WWF Hardcore Championship: Raven vs Kane vs The Big Show

Raven is out first to an okay pop, and he’s brought some toys. JR says he doesn’t like Raven’s chances in this match, Heyman agrees that the only thing Raven can do is run like hell, which JR says he won’t do. Kane is out next to a great pop.

The match gets started before the Big Show comes out, so poor Show doesn’t get much of a reaction. The match officially starts when Kane throws Raven to Big Show, then hits the Big Red Missile on Big Show. While this was no Hardcore Battle Royal, this was a really good, fun match.

Winner: Kane gets the pin after a leg drop off the stage.

Highlights:

  1. Raven getting thrown through the glass.
  2. Heyman’s reaction to Raven going through the glass
  3. Big Show’s pitiful ‘ow’ after getting hit in the shoulder
  4. Use of the golf carts to get around in the back.
  5. Raven getting partially run over.
  6. JR and Heyman’s commentary.
  7. Jimmy Korderas just going with it.

Comments: I don’t think WWE’s going to get their deposit back after this match. Holy crap.

We find Angle backstage going over tapes for his match with Benoit. E&C come in. E&C try to distract Kurt from the video by planning what they’ll do after he beats Benoit and they win TLC, but Kurt isn’t listening. He’s obsessed with making Benoit tap, apparently. Sensing that Kurt is in a MOOD, E&C leave.

We go to WWF New York, where Jimmy Snuka is holding court. Back in Houston, Coach is telling us that, for the first time, there are representatives from all fifty states and twenty countries at WrestleMania, and he’s talking to a representative from Australia. Our Aussie rep flew 36 hours from Brisbane, Australia to Houston, TX. She’s having a ton of fun, as are her fellow Aussies.

Rock enters the locker room and begins getting ready for his match.

WWF European Championship: Test vs Eddie Guerrero (with Perry Saturn)

Guerrero comes out first, Saturn is wearing a weird fuzzy hat, to little reaction and/or boos. Test gets a great reaction. This match is such a contrast in size and styles, but it seems to really work.

Winner: Eddie Guerrero by pin after Eddie hits Test with the belt, after a distraction by Dean Malenko .

Highlights: Saturn’s hat. Eddie Guerrero.

Comments: I always love an Eddie Guerrero match, even though Eddie wasn’t as crisp as he would be later, this was a good match.

Mick Foley is backstage with Michael Cole (Commenter: Oh, Lord, I forgot about the frosted tips) and asks if Mick can be impartial considering his numerous problems with Vince (not to mention the whole McMahon family). Mick says that he’s offended that Cole would suggest that he’d bear a grudge against Vince, then proceeds to list all the reasons why he’d have a grudge against Vince. Foley vows call things right down the line, and then does a cheap pop.

Austin arrives in his dressing room (that looks a lot like a bathroom).

Kurt Angle ws Chris Benoit

Angle is out to a quieter ‘You Suck’ chant, but that could be because the Astrodome is HUGE. Kurt cuts a promo about being an American hero and then trashes Texas and Texans. Benoit comes out to a great pop.

This was a fantastic match, which isn’t a surprise. Angle/Benoit is one of those that can just go forever.

Winner: Kurt Angle by pinfall using Benoit’s tights for leverage.

Highlights: The whole match.

Comments: I always like watching these two wrestle.

Michael Cole runs into Regal and asks him if he’s okay, Regal isn’t happy with the question, but we’re distracted by Kamala tearing apart Regal’s ‘office’ and rubbing a portrait of Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II on his belly. Regal tells him to bugger off (still in the posh accent). We go back to JR and Heyman who don’t know what to think.

We see footage of the WWF Pep Rally at Ft. Hood.

Kevin Kelly is with Kurt Angle and says that Kurt has to respect Benoit after the war they just had. Angle says he doesn’t have to respect anyone because the better man won and he proved that he’s the best in the WWF. Benoit, still mad about Angle stealing the victory from him, attacks from behind and gets Angle in the Crippler Crossface.

We get a recap of the Ivory/Chyna feud, including Chyna’s ‘broken’ neck and the issue at Royal Rumble.

WWF Women’s Championship Match: Ivory vs Chyna

Ivory is out first to loud boos. She’s alone because Right to Censor is banned from ringside in exchange for Chyna signing a hold harmless clause in case she should get hurt.  Chyna comes out to a loud pop and her fireworks gun.

This was a quick one. Without RTC to help her fight Chyna, Ivory didn’t have a snowball’s chance in hell of beating Chyna, not that she didn’t try to get a quick and dirty win. Chyna had the match won pretty quickly but kept breaking the pin for the hell of it.

Winner: Chyna by pinfall.

Highlight: Chyna playing up the neck injury to lure Ivory in.

Comments: This would be Chyna’s last WrestleMania. She would leave the company, still Women’s Champion after refusing to drop the belt, in the autumn of 2001 and never return. She passed away in 2016. RIP, Chyna.

Backstage, Vince, Stephanie, Trish, and Linda are in Vince’s office. Vince asks Trish if she doubled Linda’s medication so she wouldn’t get over excited. Trish assures him that she did (Comment: A. Why don’t I believe her? B. Ew about how they talk about Linda, even though this is an angle.) They go over when Trish is to bring Linda to ringside. Vince and Stephanie are all ready to go, when Cole comes in to get Vince’s thoughts on Shane’s purchase of WCW.

Vince says shocking is what’s going to happen in the street fight.

We get a recap of why Vince and Shane are having a match: Vince demanding a divorce, Linda’s nervous breakdown, Vince’s affair with Trish, Shane’s rage over Vince’s actions, and Shane buying WCW out from under Vince.

Street Fight: Shane McMahon vs Vince McMahon (with Stephanie McMahon-Helmsley and Trish Stratus). Special Guest Referee: Mick Foley

Shane is out first to a nice pop. It’s weird to hear Shane come out to his ‘Here Comes the Money’.  Shane gives a shoutout to the former WCW stars in a section in the Astrodome, it’s a pitifully small number compared to the amount of talent WCW had at one time. Shane then introduces Mick Foley, who is the special ref for this. Foley gets a great pop. Vince and Stephanie get a minimal pop.

This was a pretty good match considering that the two people involved are not the most experienced wrestlers. This wasn’t pretty, but it was fun and seeing Vince and Stephanie get theirs is always a good time.

Winner: Shane by pinfall after hitting the Coast to Coast.

Highlights:

  1. Shane, Linda, Trish, and Mick getting their respective revenges on Vince and/or Stephanie.
  2. Shane hitting the Coast to Coast.
  3. Shane and Vince trying to not hurt each other too badly
  4. The pop when Linda got out of her seat and nailed Vince below the belt.

Comments: I enjoyed this, even though Shane and Vince where either whiffing or stiffing each other, it was a lot of fun to watch.

We get a video recap of Axxess with the Hardys. Kevin Kelly comes up and talks to Matt about TLC. Matt says while he and Jeff want to  win the Tag Titles, the match is more about getting back at Edge, Christian, and Rhyno for harming Lita, among other things.

We find Hunter backstage, getting his game face on. In the bowels of the building, Undertaker is warming up.

We get a video recap about the feud between E&C, the Dudleys, and the Hardys.

TLC II for the WWF Tag Team Championship: Edge and Christian (with Rhyno) vs The Dudley Boyz (with Spike Dudley) vs the Hardy Boyz (with Lita)

Hardys are out first to a nice pop, Lita isn’t with them due to being gored by Rhyno. E&C are next, to an okay pop, Rhyno isn’t with them due to being injured, but we’re not told why. Dudleys are out last to a great pop, Spike isn’t with them due to also being gored by Rhyno.

This match is so crazy, there’s no keeping up with it. This is a really great match and a great sequel to TLC and the Triangle Ladder Match. The inclusion of the managers could’ve been a disaster, but the story allowed it to not seem intrusive.

Winner: Edge and Christian with an assist from Rhyno

Highlights:

  1. Bubba Ray saving Jeff Hardy’s career by getting the ladder out from under Jeff before Edge hit the Spear.
  2. Lita hitting the Litacanrana.
  3. Spike saving Lita from Rhyno
  4. Edge’s spear to Jeff off the ladder.

Comments: I love this match. So many great moments.

We get a full video at Axxess and the fun everyone seems to be having.

Finkel announces that WrestleMania X-7 has broken the all-time attendance record for any event at the Astrodome: 67,925.

Gimmick Battle Royal

Mean Gene Okerlund comes out to a nice pop. Bobby Heenan also gets a great pop.

All the gimmicks came out to various level of pops Doink, Michael P.S. Hayes, Sgt. Slaughter, and Hillbilly Jim get the best pops.

Winner: Iron Sheik. Sgt. Slaughter doesn’t like that, sneaks back in the ring, and hits the Cobra Clutch, to the joy of the crowd.

Highlights:

  1. Okerlund and Heenan back in WWF
  2. All the gimmicks
  3. Bobby Heenan on color.

Comments: This was just a lot of fun to watch and remembering all these guys.

We get a recap of the feud between Triple H and the Undertaker, including Trips and Taker wrecking each other’s rides, Stephanie taking out a restraining order on Taker, and Taker and Kane’s…ingenious way of getting Taker his match at WrestleMania: Having Kane (who didn’t have a restraining order against him) kidnap Stephanie and threatening to have him throw her off the top of a parking garage.

The Streak: Undertaker vs Triple H

Motorhead are there and sing Triple H to the ring and Trips gets to summon his courage as the bell begins to toll. The Deadman Cometh. Even though he’s in the middle of his American Badass gimmick, Taker still includes the gong in his entrance, but comes out on a motorcycle to a great hometown pop.

If you’ve ever seen the two WrestleMania matches these two would have almost a decade later, you probably already know how this went: Very physical, very brutal. JR mentions Taker win/loss record up to 2001: 8-0, and while he calls it unprecedented, it’s not treated as a huge deal by him and Paul Heyman doesn’t elaborate further.

Winner: Undertaker by pin. The Streak stands at 9-0

Comments: I liked this match a lot.

Backstage, we find Rock on his way to the ring. Austin is in the bathroom, staring at his reflection. What is he thinking?

We get a recap of the road to WrestleMania for these two, including having Debra, Austin’s legit wife, manage the Rock.

No Disqualification Match for the WWF Championship: The Rock vs Stone Cold Steve Austin

Finkel announces the No DQ stipulation, to JR’s surprise. Austin is out first to a thunderous pop. Rock is out to an equally thunderous pop.

Rock and Austin pretty much pick up from where they left off back in 1999. This was a really great match and told a great story.

Winner: Austin by pinfall after Vince McMahon helps him take out the Rock. Afterwards, Austin and Vince face off and then, to everyone’s shock, shake hands. Austin sold out to Vince in exchange for becoming champion.

Highlights: JR and the crowd’s reaction to Austin and McMahon becoming partners.

Comments: While I get that Vince and Austin probably thought that the Austin/McMahon thing had really run its course, especially with Austin losing a year of his career, I’m still not sure what Austin selling out to McMahon was supposed to accomplish. We would get the Two Man Power trip in the months between WrestleMania and the start of the Invasion angle, but for the present time, I’m not sure what the point was: Austin was still hot, the crowds still popped for him, why try to make him a heel?

Overall Comments:

So, does WrestleMania X-Seven live up to the hype? Yeah, it does. This was a really good show, wonky ending aside.

Match of the Night: I really can’t decide because there were a lot of really great matches.

Final Thoughts: I really enjoyed this show and it seemed to move very quickly.


Let us know what you think on social media @theCHAIRSHOTcom and always remember to use the hashtag #UseYourHead!
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Chairshot Classics

Chairshot Classics: PROGRESS Chapter 5 – ‘For Those About to Fight’

Chapter 5 of the Progress time machine checks in! Harry breaks down the action, the stories and much more!

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Chapter 5 of the Progress time machine checks in! Harry breaks down the action, the stories and much more!

Greetings and salutations, everyone. Welcome back to the return of ’What I Watched’ now under the Chairshot Classics banner. The first four chapters of PROGRESS as well as Slammiversary and Bound for Glory 2018 from Impact Wrestling are available in my archive, which you can reach by clicking my name at the top of this article. To update everyone on future plans for What I Watched, obviously we’ll be continuing to cover PROGRESS. Eventually, I’ll get to a somewhat modern show. For other companies, once I hit 2005 on my watching of CHIKARA, I hope to start cover those here as well (the pre 2005 shows don’t have commentary and are (for me anyway) much harder to get through). 

That brings us to why we’re here today. PROGRESS has just crowned a new champion at Chapter 4 in El Ligero, who tapped Nathan Cruz in the main event. Rather then do the immediate rematch, PROGRESS’ brass decided that instead they would do a bit of a ‘pick your poison’ situation as Ligero picks Cruz’s opponent and Cruz picks Ligero’s. There was another match revealed before the show as well, but I’ll save the mention of that for a bit later. In addition, the ‘Natural PROGRESS’ tournament continues, but we don’t know the participants for this Chapter. Beyond that, I don’t have a clue what to expect for this show, so it’s looks like we’ll find out together. With that said, it’s into the way back machine once again, as we head to January 27th, 2013 as “What I Watched” presents ‘For Those About to Fight’ or PROGRESS Chapter 5.

WRITER’S NOTE #1: My reviews will not be a play by play recap. I’ve done that style in the past and honestly, I don’t especially care for it. Instead, it’ll be more of a stream of consciousness review as I talk about the wrestlers, the matches, the storylines and whatever else happens to pop into my head while I watch.

WRITER’S NOTE #2: As much as I’d like to let everyone make their own decisions on the matches, giving away match results in the review will be a necessary evil. The reason being is that I will discuss what I think everything means going forward and maybe even doing a little fantasy booking of where I would go from where they presently are. I will still post the results as one big listing at the end of the articles as well as my ratings for the contests. The final show review will be after that as well as the ‘Final Reaction’ for the show. Going forward, I’ll have an archive to all of my previous reviews here on the Chairshot if you click on my user name.

MY RATING SCALE: Excellent, Very Good, Good, Above Average, Average, Below Average, Bad, Very Bad, Terrible and SKIP. Some matches will occasionally get a ‘N/A’ rating as well. That will be reserved for matches that I feel don’t warrant a rating.

PROGRESS Wrestling Chapter 5
For Those About to Fight…We Salute You’
From: ‘The Garage’ in Islington, London, England
Date: January 27th, 2013
Run Time: 1:55:53 (Demand PROGRESS)
WITH SPECIAL THANKS: Ian Hamilton for some of the research that I did while working on this review. (http://www.backbodydrop.com)

*OPENING VIDEO: The first match that the opening video reveals is the London Riots (James Davis and Rob Lynch) taking on the Leaders of the New School (Zach Sabre Jr. and Marty Scurll). That should be a lot of fun…RJ Singh has an open challenge as well…finally, we get highlights of the title match from Chapter 4 to show how El Ligero won the title and then it’s revealed that Nathan Cruz has picked Dave Mastiff to face El Ligero, while El Ligero has selected the debuting Rampage Brown as the opponent for Nathan Cruz.

*GENERAL NOTES: We return to the scene of the first three shows but with what appears to be a different setup. You can’t see any monitors in the frame, but the lighting is absolutely awful. Will not make a fun review if I can’t see stuff that happens…EDIT AT MATCH 3: the lighting gets a bit better as the show goes on, but still not what I’d call great.

*Once again, either Smallman doesn’t have an opening welcome promo or we skip it on the show. Shame, really. As I said time and time again, I really enjoy those in the future Chapters.

*Match #1: Stixx (1-2 as a singles competitor) vs. Danny Garnell (1-0 as a singles competitor)
The Who: Stixx is coming off a loss in the triple threat at Chapter 4, where he was pinned by Dave Mastiff. He had split a pair of matches against Lion Kid before that. Danny Garnell was not at Chapter 4. His most recent match was a loss in a tag match at Chapter 3 where he and Darrell Allen were defeated by the London Riots. In his only previous singles match, Garnell defeated Jimmy Havoc at Chapter 2.
The Why: I haven’t a damn clue here. Makes zero sense to me. If Jimmy *cough cough* Barnett mentions something on commentary, I’ll be sure to pass it along.
The Match: Before the match gets underway, Stixx lets everyone know that he, like Garnell, is originally from London but he moved away because London ‘is full of a bunch of pillocks’. Somewhere, William Regal smiles…opening bell goes here and gets a rousing ovation…Stixx impressed me in his last match against Lion Kid, but the first one was less then appealing. Garnell had a surprisingly good match with Havoc at Chapter 2…first topical reference from 2013 gets explained by Barnett and given the PROGRESS fan base, it’s no surprise that it makes light of a death. Highs and lows of these crowds…the ‘crowd counts the next number’ has run it’s course now but was still pretty fresh when this show happened…not the opening match you’d come to expect but technically proficient thus far…heavier shots finally start getting fired around the five minute mark. This is more what you’d expect from these two…first crowd expletive based chant at six and half minutes into match one. I would have had the under there…cravat with knee strikes and that’s more what I expect from this match then the opening five minutes where they basically stayed on the mat. Not saying they can’t do it, but not what you expect or want to see with two guys this size. You expect more ‘Hoss Fight’ here…Garnell busts out a nice looking Northern Lights for two…slingshot neck snap by Stixx. That was new and very nice looking. Also not what you’d expected from a guy who’s probably closer to two fifty then two hundred…I’ve never seen a crowd response so favorably towards exploder suplexes. It doesn’t happen but the crowd was ready to, pardon the pun, explode for it…Stixx gets two with a Black Hole Slam. Which I think was the move that did pin Lion Kid at Chapter 3…I don’t mean this is a terribly negative way, but this match has been pretty long for an opener…Garnell goes for a tornado DDT off the second buckle, but Stixx is able to counter. A series of reversals leads to Garnell attempting that same tornado DDT a second time and this time hitting it, which gives him the pinfall at 14:52…technically proficient, sure. But not especially enthralling. The match had it’s moments where I went ‘ooh’ and ‘aah’, but to me, it seems like it may have been a mistake having these two go this long in the opener. Closer to the first Lion Kid match then the second for Stixx and Garnell looks like just another guy here. Call it AVERAGE and mildly disappointing at that. (AVERAGE)

Post-match:

*Match #2: ‘Natural Progression’ Quarterfinal: Lord Jonathan Windsor (debut) vs. ‘Wild Boar’ Mike Hitchman (0-1 as a singles)
The Who: Lord Jonathan Windsor debuts here, looking like a very British Chuck Taylor. Not sure if that’s a compliment or not. Anyway, he appears to have a Blue Bloods gimmick a la 1995 WCW Bobby Eaton or William Regal. Mike Hitchman we saw before when he challenged Mark Andrews for the BWC Starlo Scholarship. He was unsuccessful in that match but he and Andrews had a barnburner. Happy to see Hitchman back for another opportunity.
The Why: Speaking of Mark Andrews, he advanced to the semifinals at Chapter 4. This is the second of the four quarterfinal matches. The winner of which will join Andrews in the semifinals and maybe face him. No release on the brackets to my knowledge.
The Match: Hitchman is now on WWE TV as part of NXT UK, but if you didn’t know it was the same guy, you’d never be able to tell. He looks so different here…opening bell goes and Windsor takes time to fold his robe…Barnett points out there’s nothing wrong with a Blue Blood gimmick as in twenty years time, you could be married to Jim Smallman’s daughter and own part of PROGRESS. Okay, that drew a legit chuckle from me…not sure if Windsor is big or Hitchman is just really small even by Indy standards…Hitchman gets tired of Windsor’s stalling and it leads to a DDT on the apron. Not sure that’s a spot I’d use in match two, but okay then…we go to the crowd brawling in the second match as well. It’s like an ECW show broke out…Windsor seems more concerned about posing then wrestling. I get that you are new, but this is a company that prides itself on ring work…fans seems to remember the Package Piledriver that Hitchman used against Andrews because they respond every time he goes for. So far, Windsor has had the counter, but one feels that won’t be the case forever…Hitchman once again goes the for the Package PD, but Windsor counters with a backdrop over. Hitchman hooks the legs on the landing and goes for the sunset flip, but Windsor sits out with a deep cradle and that’ll be a three count at 11:24…can definitely say I don’t agree with the who won here. Hitchman had a cracker against Andrews in his first appearance and if the winner of this match was to get Andrews in the semis, I’ve had loved to see them run it back. Windsor did absolutely nothing for me as the gimmick is just basically cheap heat and there’s not a lot of steak to go with the sizzle. Call this BELOW AVERAGE and it’s two matches, two misses thus far for PROGRESS Chapter 5. (BELOW AVERAGE)

*Match #3: Nathan Cruz (3-1 as a singles) vs. Rampage Brown (debut)
The Who: Nathan Cruz is the former champion, looking for a bit of redemption against the handpicked opponent of the new champion. One could argue that Cruz has been the guy who has meant the most to the company thus far, so seeing him in match three on the night is kind of odd. Rampage Brown makes his debut here. I don’t know much about him other then he had a brief run with NXT in the US before going back over to the UK and a run with WCPW in the UK as well.
The Why: Discussed it earlier but to reiterate, it’s part of the ‘pick your poison’ series with Cruz and Ligero picking each other’s opponents for the evening.
The Match: Before the match, Cruz announces that he has hired a bodyguard to deal with his Marty Scurll problem named Fug. We don’t see him yet, but Cruz claims he’s seven feet tall and two hundred and eighty pounds. That would be a very skinny bodyguard…the chyron for Cruz has him listed at 3-2. I’m guessing there are including the tag loss from Chapter 3, which I do not in singles competition. If you guys would like, I can keep a running archive of records at the bottom of the reviews going forward. Let me know what you think and I’ll add it in the future if so requested…second expletive based chant of the night encourages Rampage to ‘fuck him up’…opening bell goes here…Rampage is well put together. It’s easy to see why he got a developmental deal with the WWE…for a bigger guy, Rampage is pretty adept on the mat. Cruz tries a sunset flip off the second turnbuckle, but Rampage is able to roll through and escape into a Crossface. Thankfully, no Chris Benoit chants follow this time…think the sound may be a little off on this Chapter from a technical aspect. Spinal Tap kick sound happens shortly after the kick occurs…Rampage dumps Cruz to the floor with a back suplex and the around ringside brawling commences where Cruz surprisingly gets the advantage…for as much crap as the PROGRESS fans give him, Cruz is one of the smoother guys on the roster. He wrestles like a wrestler, not just a guy trying to string things together in the attempt to tell a story…Cruz has gotten a good portion of this match. A bit of a surprise given that it is Rampage’s debut but with Cruz being the former champion, it’s also understandable…sliding dropkick gets a series of two counts. Standard basement dropkick, not the sliding kick he pinned both Ligero and Colossus Kennedy with back at Chapter 1…ugh, headbutts. So not a fan of those…huge back body drop by Rampage. Looked really good despite the slight delay going to it…Rampage looked for a powerbomb but Cruz got out into a chestblower. Cruz looks to follow up and gets countered into a good looking series of powerbombs, first standard and then sit out for a very close two…Cruz hits Show-Stolen and much like Ligero did at Chapter 4, Rampage kicks out. It also gives our first ‘This is PROGRESS’ chant of the night…Rampage catches a Falcon Arrow and looks to have the cover but doesn’t want it. That drives me nuts! 2 Cold Scorpio used to do that shit all the time and it’s stupid to me. The point is to win the match…Rampage then catches the Crossface a third time but Cruz finds his way to the ropes and then to the apron. Rampage tries to suplex Cruz back in, but Cruz lands on his feet and a O’Connor Roll with a hook of both the ropes and the tights gives Cruz the win at 15:27…that was more like it, PROGRESS. Very well contested match from the standard bearer of the company and a new guy who got a definite opportunity to shine. Cruz may pick up the win here, but the way he picks up the win is the story as it keeps Rampage looking good going forward for when he comes back. Rampage definitely impressed in what was I believe my first time seeing him and I look forward to seeing more, assuming he can curb the 2 Cold Scorpio aspect of not wanting the pinfall. Cruz bounces back nicely from the Staff loss and one assumes sets himself back up into title contention. GOOD match between these two here and finally something worth the time on the show. (GOOD)

*Post-match: We see Fug help Cruz to the back. He’s not nearly what Cruz claimed him to be. 6’8-6’9 maybe. The two hundred eighty pounds may be accurate though.

*Match #4: ‘PROGRESS Championship Staff’ – El Ligero © (3-1 as a singles competitor) vs. Dave Mastiff (1-0 as a singles competitor)
The Who: El Ligero has just won the Staff at Chapter 4 as we established above. In doing so, he also got revenge on the only man to have pinned him thus far, as it was Cruz who eliminated Ligero from the four way at Chapter 1. Dave Mastiff has had two matches and two victories thus far in PROGRESS. A tag match at Chapter 3, where teaming with the now departed Greg Burridge, he pinned the then champion Nathan Cruz. Mastiff won a three way at Chapter 4, pinning Stixx after Cruz got involved in taking Marty Scurll out of the match
The Why: Two parts here. One, obviously, is that it’s for the PROGRESS Championship (Nazi) Staff. Second, it’s the second bout in the ‘pick your poison’ series for Cruz and Ligero, as Mastiff is Cruz’s handpicked challenge for the title.
The Match: It occurs to me that this is the fourth match and we’ve yet to see an inset promo on this show. They just vanished into a void of non-existence…hot start as once Ligero is introduced, he shotgun dropkicks Mastiff to the floor and follows out with a tope con hilo…Ligero goes for the guillotine early but Mastiff quickly escapes…once again, the PROGRESS fans encourage a good “Fing” up, this time in support of Mastiff…Mastiff counters a frankensteiner attempt into a powerbomb try but Ligero escapes into a second attempt at the guillotine. It’s about as successful as the first attempt…Barnett says that he described Ligero to an American friend as a mix of the ‘best of El Generico and the best of LowKi’. Not sure I agree that he’s at Generico’s level, but the point is understandable…wrecking ball dropkick by Ligero and he buries Mastiff under a pile a chairs, going for the count-out. Mastiff up at six and Ligero tries another dropkick, only to get flung wheelbarrow style into the ring post…stalling delayed vertical suplex by Mastiff goes for a full minute goes Mastiff brings down Ligero. Impressive in length but to be fair, El Ligero weighs like a third of what Mastiff does…Mastiff goes for a second but Ligero escapes into a rollup for two. Looked good…sound is definitely slightly off on this stream…sleeper (I think?) variation…out to the floor again, but only long enough for Mastiff to pitch Ligero back in. Smart. Can’t win the Staff by count-out. Wish more people would do that instead of letting opponents take the count…Mastiff goes for a Buckle Bomb but once again gets caught in the guillotine. Mastiff counters by putting Ligero on the top rope. The guillotine isn’t working, but bless his heart, he keeps trying…absolutely hate that corner hanging double stomp. Almost always looks so contrived no matter who is doing it…shotgun dropkick by Ligero is no sold and Mastiff hits one of his own, followed by a dead lift German to put Ligero on the floor again…Ligero finally gets the guillotine in with both guys on the floor and rolls back into the ring to try to take a count-out win. Mastiff breaks the count just before the ten…Ligero goes for the C4L but Mastiff stops him and gets a running Liger Bomb for a close two count and the second ‘This is PROGRESS’ chant…Into The Void (corner cannonball) misses and Ligero goes up, leaping into a sixth attempt at the guillotine. This time, Mastiff flings Ligero overhead with a belly2belly variation. Mastiff tries to follow up with another Liger Bomb, but Ligero counters back into the guillotine. Mastiff tries to power out once but collapses and it’s a KO victory for the champion at 18:18…solid big match vs. little man contest but to be frank, nothing special here. A couple cool moves and a very impressive bit of dogged determination from El Ligero but if I’m being honest, I never bought that Mastiff was going to take the title from Ligero. Ligero’s deal with Cruz isn’t over and Mastiff hasn’t been around long enough to really establish much of a name for himself in PROGRESS. The fans kinda responded the same way I did as they got involved in the match here and there, but never for any significant portion of time. The match itself was GOOD due to the efforts of both men, but not must see by any stretch of the imagination. (GOOD)

*Match #5: RJ Singh (2-0-1) vs. ‘Dazzling’ Darrell Allen (0-1-1)
The Who: RJ Singh comes in off consecutive victories, beating Paul Robinson and Rob Cage at Chapters 3 and 4, respectively. The draw is a no decision in a three way where El Ligero pinned Greg Burridge to become number one contender at Chapter 2. Darrell Allen is looking for his first victory here in PROGRESS as not only does he have the 0-1-1 singles record (tapped by Noam Dar (Chp2), no decision in three way where Xander Cooper pinned Zack Gibson (Chp1)), he was on the losing side of a tag match at Chapter 3 as well and completely left off Chapter 4.
The Why: This one I have an answer for as well. It is an RJ Singh ‘Bollywood’ Open Challenge here. Adding to the intrigue of this open challenge is info that Jim Smallman gives us before the match during introductions that these guys are usually a tag team known as the Bhangra Knights.
The Match: Pre-match, Singh reads Allen the riot act, stating that they promised to stay out of each other’s way in PROGRESS and that while Singh has thrived, Allen has been something of a loser. Allen says in his (Allen’s) hometown of London, why don’t we find out if Singh really is King (which has been RJ’s catchphrase during this PROGRESS run)…bell goes and we’re underway…Singh has the edge early but it is pretty evenly matched…this is going to come down to a classic story of aerial vs. technical. Allen is more of a flyer whereas RJ likes to stay on the match…Director and Boudica again get on the apron, but Singh tells them to get down once again. I thought that pairing dissolved at Chapter 4…Boudica and Director do find themselves ejected and in a moment that’ll make Vince smile, the ‘Na Na Hey Hey’ song accompanies them doing so…springboard kick to the midsection. Called an enzugiri. It wasn’t, but I don’t know what the technical name is…Singh catches Allen with a version of the Tyebreaker that gets two (fireman’s carry into spinning facebuster over the knee). It looked good…this may not be the most PC thing to say but every time Allen takes a big bump, it looks like he’s trying to fellate himself…crowd very wittily chants ‘This is Bhangra’ instead of ‘This is PROGRESS’. Dug that…Singh loads up for a superkick, preceding it with a ‘I’m sorry. I love you’. The crowd and Barnett pop. The move is countered but the thought that counts…Allen up top and distracted by Boudica and Director on stage. Singh pulls Allen up the top and hits Widow’s Peak. Singh looks to apply the ‘Ethnic Submission’ (Camel Clutch, obviously) but Allen is able to pull Singh forward and trap him in a cradle for the three count at 9:56…alright, so I had some doubts. Singh has been pretty basic up to this point. Allen had a good performance in the triple threat at Chapter 1 but both he and Garnell were kind of just there for the match with the London Riots. With all that being said, it actually turned into a pretty nice little match here. There was a good amount of action thrown in with the story that they told and most importantly to me, I like that the story actually played into the finish with Allen knowing the ‘Ethnic Submission’ and having a counter planned. Call this one a GOOD showing for both guys and the best match on the card thus far, in my opinion. (GOOD)

*Post-match: Singh offers the handshake and instead, he and Allen hug it out. Shah Boudica takes not kindly to this and attacks Allen from behind. Singh pulls Boudica off of Allen twice, before Boudica slaps Singh in the face. Allen then superkicks Boudica in the back of the head. Allen and Singh then team up as a Samoan Drop-Blockbuster combination (called the Bhangra Buster, but for point of reference look for Cryme Tyme’s G-9) and looks like the Bhangra Knights will be a thing going forward in the tag division….as the Bhangra Knights are making their way to the back, the London Riots make their entrance, so me thinks that may play a factor in a future Chapter.

*Match #6: London Riots (James Davis/Rob Lynch) (3-0 as a team) vs. Leaders of the New School (Marty Scurll/Zach Sabre Jr.) (Debut as a team)
The Who: London Riots are clearly the class of the PROGRESS tag division thus far. Wins over the Bastard Squad (probably done now that Allen is back with Singh), the Hunter Brothers and the Velocity Vipers (shame about Esmail’s leg) have led them to here, a main event level match. Leaders of the New School make their debut as a team here for PROGRESS, but it will not be my first time seeing them as a team. I remember getting into the European wrestling scene by watching wXw out of Germany and Scurll and Sabre Jr. were the wXw Tag Team champions for a while there. Scurll has been one of the biggest stars of PROGRESS thus far and in my opinion, Scurll vs. Sabre Jr. from Chapter 1 remains the best match in PROGRESS history to this point.
The Why: London Riots wanted competition, Jim Smallman decided to give them competition in the form of what many at the time considered to be the best tag team in Europe. Pretty straight forward here.
The Match: As per the usual, if I screw up Davis and Lynch, I apologize. They have stuck with the singlet and bikers gear, so once again, I should be okay…aw, Chris Roberts just got his first kiss. It was from Marty Scurll, but it still counts!…Davis is the one in the singlet. Now I know. Thanks Smallman, er, Barnett…Barnett lets us know that the Chapter 1 match between the Leaders was voted best match in Britain in 2012. That’s fair…Scurll spits his gum at Lynch. Well, with no Noam Dar on this show, someone had to be unhygienic…has that sit out butt drop worked for another then Rikishi in the last decade?…a little Poetry in Motion by the Leaders and then Scurll uses Sabre Jr. as a weapon to take out both Riots…off to an insane pace. Shit ton of action and we’re not even four minutes in yet…Scurll with a running bitch slap to Davis. Davis responds with a STIFF running body block. Don’t think he appreciated the slap…everything Sabre Jr. does is so fluid. With as many huge Indy names that ended up in NXT, I am stunned that Zach never got a shot there. I know he had a set of Japanese commitments, between NOAH and NJPW, but what could have been…believe the word to describe Sabre would be lanky. But he makes the most of it…apparently, I owe Rob Lynch and James Davis an apology. My Chapter 3 review got posted as I’m typing this and I apparently called them the Riot Squad during the course of that. They were facing the Bastard Squad and I just joined the names for a common WWE name. My bad…Lynch just knocks Sabre weak kneed with a forearm. Good lord…we’ve settled into a bit of tag formula here but as I’ve said before, it’s a formula because it works. Riots are hated and Leaders are loved. What better way to do this then to keep a member of the Leaders isolated and get the crowd to rally behind him…despite a pretty good experience gap, Riots are looking good in this match. Part of it is a master class from Sabre and Scurll as babyfaces, but Riots are more then holding their weight…I really hope Sabre Jr. is around more in PROGRESS in 2013. That war he had with Scurll at Chapter 1 was his only match for 2012. It would definitely make these reviews more fun to get to see more of the wizardry that Sabre possesses…tag finally made and Scurll comes in a house of fire…Scurll gets the Cesaro apron superplex that gets broken up by a bloody nosed Rob Lynch. A kick from Sabre caught him flush before the hot tag…gamengiri by Sabre Jr. into a DVD by Scurll gets two with another save by Lynch. It looked good…pop-up spear by the Riots and it looked really good. Last second save by Scurll…Riots look for the ‘District Line’ powerbomb but Sabre is able to get out and he chuffing loves putting people in cross-armbreakers. It’s broken up by getting Scurll powerbomb’d onto him…everyone down after a series of strikes and the crowd hits our fourth ‘This is PROGRESS’ chant…saves are coming hot and heavy here. I like it to a point, but let’s not get to the line of overkill…Sabre nails Scurll with a kick by mistake and the Riots take advantage with a really good looking Doomsday Device which Sabre kicks out of at two. That would have made for a good finish…shortly thereafter, the ‘District Line’ powerbomb does land (looking a bit rough but the point was there) and James Davis pins Zach Sabre Jr. at 20:07…VERY GOOD but not to the level are the previous Scurll main event matches in PROGRESS. The biggest issue I have here in that while the Riots had a good heat segment on Sabre, it didn’t break down nearly as much as I expected it to in the finish. Speaking of the finish, it looked slightly blown as I think Lynch may have tried a neckbreaker for the ‘District Line’ or he just didn’t get far enough out of the way. The big thing here is that it definitely establishes the Riots as the team to beat in PROGRESS as they take down the Leaders relatively cleanly. (VERY GOOD)

Post-match: London Riots don’t attack after the match as has been their tradition, instead heading to the back. Probably to fix Rob Lynch’s nose. Jim Smallman gets on the mic and lets us know that the first match they’ll announce for Chapter 6 will be a rematch of Chapter 4 as the Riots will once again face the Hunter Brothers, this time in a weapons match. Seems like an odd time to announce this with Sabre Jr. still down in the ring, but the show must go on, I suppose. Scurll goes to get a bit of mic time as well, but the show fades before he speaks and that’s a wrap for Chapter 5.

RESULTS
Match #1: Danny Garnell pins Stixx, tornado DDT off second buckle @ 14:52 (AVERAGE)
Match #2: Lord Jonathan Windsor pins Mike Hitchman, sit-down on sunset flip @ 11:24 (BELOW AVERAGE)
Match #3: Nathan Cruz pins Rampage Brown, O’Connor Roll with hook of tights and ropes @ 15:27 (GOOD)
Match #4: PROGRESS Wrestling Staff- El Ligero © defeats Dave Mastiff by KO, guillotine choke @ 18:18 (GOOD)
Match #5: Darrell Allen pins RJ Singh, leverage pin out of ‘Ethnic Submission’ attempt @ 9:57 (GOOD)
Match #6: London Riots (James Davis/Rob Lynch) defeat Leaders of the New School (Marty Scurll/Zach Sabre Jr.), Davis pins Sabre Jr. after the ‘District Line’ powerbomb @ 20:07 (VERY GOOD)

FINAL SHOW THOUGHTS
It picks up quite a bit at the end, so I can’t call it the worst of the five shows thus far. That being said, it’s definitely not mandatory viewing either. The issue that I find myself with is that I know what PROGRESS is capable of as it goes forward. When you go back and watch these formative shows, you can see moments of potential. But that’s all they are usually at this time frame. Just moments. Top to bottom, none of these shows have delivered a knock out show. Try to find the semi main and main event if you have a chance, but the rest is watch at your convenience. Except for the Windsor and Hitchman match. Do yourself a favor and skip that.

Where does this leave us? It leaves me a little disappointed, but that’s what happens when expectations are set so high. It leaves you hopefully wanting to come back as we take the next step in this journey with Chapter 6. In addition, it leaves me still hungry. I wonder if I could work out a ‘burgers per review’ deal around here.

THE FINAL REACTION
Best Match/Moment: Despite the fact that I gave the main event a higher rating, I going to give this honor to the RJ Singh and Darrell Allen match. The match itself is a good mix of comedy and ring work. The post match is where the money is as the fans go crazy for the Bhangra Knights reunion.
Worst match/moment: Feels like I’m beating a dead horse, but Mike Hitchman and Lord Jonathan Windsor can be classified as nothing less then a disappointment. The blueblood gimmick has potential, but in a company like this, you need to be able to back it up in the ring. Windsor simply did not.
MVP: Going to give this as co-MVPs again and I’m going to give it to James Davis and Rob Lynch for a star making performance in the main event as the London Riots prove they are the class of the PROGRESS tag team division.
FINAL SCORE: 6.0/10.0

Until next time: “This Is PROGRESS” and that’s “What I Watched”. Up next is Chapter 6: “We <3 Violence” And make sure you guys check out the Raw Reaction every Monday night at 11:30 PM (EST) to hear Tony Acero, Andrew Balaz and myself break down the important news and cover Monday Night Raw over on the Chairshot Radio Network.


Let us know what you think on social media @theCHAIRSHOTcom and always remember to use the hashtag #UseYourHead!
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Doctor’s Orders: Ranking The Greatest Matches and Rivalries in NXT Takeover History

Objectively subjectifying all-time greatness on NXT’s premiere stage, Takeover. See what matches are on the list!

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WWE NXT Takeover Philadelphia Andrade Almas Johnny Gargano

The Doctor is in as Chad Matthews updates his list of greatest WWE NXT Takeover matches and rivalries with a look at two of the very best, from different NXT eras.

Attempting to contextualize greatness in pro wrestling is a fascinating exercise, a much more multi-faceted conversation than it is often given credit for.  To some in the business, for instance, Rock vs. Cena is the greatest match of all-time because it set the pay-per-view buy mark, while others would say the greatest match is Austin vs. Bret because of the exemplary storytelling.  Why should greatness be limited to a plethora “one or the other” positions (best vs. most popular or anything of the sort)?  Such has been my stance during this entire decade (see The Greatest Matches and Rivalries of the WrestleMania Era), tackling the process of adding measures of objectivity to a topic deemed completely and utterly subjective and attempting to broaden the way that we have these discussions. I can also apply that to NXT.

Greatness has become regularly associated with NXT.  I am personally enamored with what the yellow brand has accomplished over the past few years, with the Takeover franchise especially.  The reputation that Takeover has built should astound any diehard WWE fan who, at times during the WrestleMania Era, may have felt like Vince and Co. unnecessarily (and oddly) put a critical ceiling on its in-ring product.  Bold statement: Takeover has, based purely on what happens from bell-to-bell, produced nearly as many bonafide classic wrestling matches as WrestleMania in just five years of existence.  Think about that for a moment, because it was with that idea in mind that I started asking, “What’s the greatest in NXT history?”

My second book (referenced above) was published last summer and in it I crafted a detailed formula to thoroughly assess the various aspects that shape how fans and pundits use the term “greatest.”  Turning my attention to NXT, I took that formula and tweaked it to fit Takeover.  On a 1-5 star scale, appropriately, I graded the best match in each of the top rivalries in NXT history, picked from a pool of consensus classics, on the psychology, storytelling, selling, execution, and climax of their in-ring performances, their historic ramifications on NXT lore, the setting (as defined by a pre-made scale for crowd size), the strength of their pre-match build-up, and the rating given by Dave Meltzer to account for popular opinion, as well as a few additional points (not on a scale of 1-5, mind you) for any intangible qualities (i.e. a special entrance, an innovative move or sequence never before seen, a rivalry-befitting gimmick, etc.).  The sum total of the scoring yields the rivalry’s standing, which will be continuously updated as this long-term process advances.

Today’s entries grow the list from fourteen to sixteen matches, which have been selected at random throughout this project’s history dating back to last fall. Here are the rankings ahead of today’s additions (the links will take you to the objectively subjective breakdown of each match):

Leaderboard

#1- Revival vs. #DIY (46.5)
#2- Bate vs. Dunne (43.5)
#3- Ricochet vs. Cole (43.0)
#4- Undisputed Era vs. Mustache Mountain (42.25)
#5- Dream vs. Ricochet (42.0)
#6- War Games 2018 (41.5)
#7- Nakamura vs. Zayn (41.0)
#8- Asuka vs. Moon (40.75)
#9- #DIY vs. AOP (39.75)
#10- Dream vs. Black (39.5)
#11- Balor vs. Joe (39.0)
#12- Owens vs. Balor (38.75)
#13- Almas vs. McIntyre (36.0)
#14- Four Horsewomen-Way (33.75)

Andrade “Cien” Almas vs. Johnny Gargano for the NXT Championship at Takeover: Philadelphia
Psychology: 5 / Historic: 4.5 / Setting: 5 / Storytelling: 5 / Selling: 5 / Climax: 5 / Execution: 5 / Popular Opinion: 5 / Build: 4.5 / Intangibles: +4
Total Score: 48.0

There have been very few matches in WWE history that have found me clapping while watching them in replay, and Cien vs. Johnny Wrestling from Philly is one of them. Hand to heart, I am unsure that there has ever been a better performance in WWE, which is partly what makes the added dynamic of including NXT lore when historically ranking matches throughout the WrestleMania Era so challenging and simultaneously so fascinating. The depth of storytelling and the instances when believably this match could have been over but somehow was not is virtually unmatched in mainstream North American wrestling over the past thirty plus years. Gargano and Almas judged everything picture-perfectly, selling their butts off, adding layers of psychology as they reached an utterly captivating climax, and drawing every ounce of intrigue out of the in-ring chemistry that they first prominently put on display against each other at Takever: Brooklyn III.

Gargano vs. Andrade is truly one of the greats as “epic” matches go, and the Philadelphia match certainly fits the profile of the genre (an “epic match”) that I have been quietly working on popularizing in the IWC, offered up to properly label a lengthy main-event style performance that builds to crescendo after crescendo and features finisher kick-outs as one of its primary hope spot wells to tap. I have been critical of the over-use of it, as many of its staples have trickled down to ten minute mid-card matches, and I do believe that epics, like Cena vs. Styles for example, are suffering from a distinct lack of rewatchability because of how ardently they cling to bout-ending signature offense, but Cien vs. Johnny is not to be lumped in with such over-done peers because it is smarter, more intricate, better executed, and expertly paced, its gaps in action replaced with the outstanding managerial act of Zelina Vega (and the eventual cameo by Candice Wrestling).

I believe it was a truly remarkable achievement. Maybe Banks vs. Bayley, Gargano vs. Ciampa, or Gargano vs. Adam Cole beats it in the scoring system, but even if one of them or another Takeover match in the pipeline down the road unseats it, I think it is going to be a long time before something removes it from the pedestal of what yours truly would call the finest match in Takeover history. Aesthetically, athletically, psychologically, I just struggle to see how anyone could really argue that another match was better. I was fortunate enough to see them wrestle one of their prequels in Brooklyn, and that was one of the four or five best mid-card type bouts in Takeover lore too, so when you combine that match with what happened in Philly – of the nine scoring categories here, their NXT Title match scored a 5 in seven of them – you have an all-time great.

You know, it is funny that Dave Meltzer awarded the Takeover: Philadelphia match the first “5-star” rating for a WWE match since Punk vs. Cena in Chicago, and if you watch any of New Japan Pro Wrestling and know of Meltzer’s fascination with it, you can appreciate why. Almas vs. Gargano was an NJPW match in an NXT ring with WWE production value. If in the coming years, a main-event of that style and caliber is featured on Summerslam or eventually works it way to the WrestleMania headlining position, I think we may have Gargano vs. Almas to thank for it.

Neville vs. Sami Zayn for the NXT Championship at Takeover: R-Evolution
Psychology: 4.5 / Historic: 4.5 / Setting: 3 / Storytelling: 5 / Selling: 5 / Climax: 5 / Execution: 4.5 / Popular Opinion: 4.75 / Build: 5 / Intangibles: +3
Total Score: 44.25

While in the beginning of this process, it seemed probable that Cien Almas vs. Johnny Wrestling had a shot at topping this match to advance ever closer to the #1 spot, what seemed assured from the out-set was that Zayn vs. Neville would rate among the premiere title matches in NXT lore because, in terms of storytelling, there may still have never been a championship bout that possesses the same sense of urgency or the same sense of occasion.

Here you had Neville, a bit shy of a year-long reigning as NXT Champion (who held the title during the promotion’s rise to WWE Network prominence) and possessing one of the most amazing offensive arsenals in pro wrestling’s entire history, coming up against Zayn, arguably the quintessential example of how legends are capable of being made in NXT. No matter what happens elsewhere within the Titan ranks, Zayn will be someone revered by any who watched what he did in NXT from 2014 to 2016.

One of the greatest things that NXT brings to the table is how wrestlers, as personalities, are characters first, their labels (or face-heel dichotomies) rather arbitrary by comparison. Neville strayed a bit more toward a black and white personic construct during the match, but he was clearly pushed toward the line that Zayn managed to straddle a bit better and showed glimpses of the viciousness and single-mindedness (toward winning) that made his run on 205 Live so engaging to purple brand followers in 2017; it was Zayn who was truly marvelous, though, displaying a depth of character so rarely seen from protagonists in WWE proper, and far more relatable for it, as evidenced by the incredibly raucous crowd support that he garnered in what was still ostensibly a babyface match. Zayn’s ability to connect on that deeper emotional level lifted this effort to pantheon status.

The end result – the total package from the storyline build-up to the hype video package to the atmosphere it generated to the bell-to-bell fight (and it felt like the fight that pro wrestling should be in the modern era main-event scene with the athletic potential of the combatants) – closed the first chapter in the history of NXT in the Network Era with a timeless classic destined for massive hindsight accolades in the near and distant future.

New Leaderboard

#1- Andrade vs. Gargano (48.0)
#2- Revival vs. #DIY (46.5)
#3- Neville vs. Zayn (44.25)
#4- Bate vs. Dunne (43.5)
#5- Ricochet vs. Cole (43.0)
#6- Undisputed Era vs. Mustache Mountain (42.25)
#7- Dream vs. Ricochet (42.0)
#8- War Games 2018 (41.5)
#9- Nakamura vs. Zayn (41.0)
#10- Asuka vs. Moon (40.75)
#11- #DIY vs. AOP (39.75)
#12- Dream vs. Black (39.5)
#13- Balor vs. Joe (39.0)
#14- Owens vs. Balor (38.75)
#15- Almas vs. McIntyre (36.0)
#16- Four Horsewomen-Way (33.75)

If you want to discuss NXT  or other wrestling matters with Doc, follow and tweet @TheDocLOP !


Check out the latest episode of The Doc Says podcast, featuring a review of NXT Takeover 25!

The Doc Says NXT Takeover

Listen here:
http://thechairshot.com/2019/06/the-doc-says-instant-reaction-analysis-to-a-memorable-milestone-nxt-takeover/


Let us know what you think on social media @theCHAIRSHOTcom and always remember to use the hashtag #UseYourHead!
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