Greg DeMarco chimes in with the Top 5 things he learned by watching NXT Takeover War Games on the WWE Network! Did you have the same takeaways?
5. NXT is Just Pure Fun
Seriously, WWE NXT as a brand is a ton of fun. There’s just a lot to love. The talent is doing everything they can to turn heads, because they all have that WrestleMania dream. Some will make it, some won’t. A few will even main event the big dance, but that’s a small group.
This card had everything: fun “debut-like” atmosphere for one new star, hate-fueled grudge match, overbooked mess of a championship match, the star everyone loves coming up just a tiny bit short, too many kick outs of finishers, and another modern take on one of the greatest gimmick matches in wrestling history.
NXT takes itself seriously, but not too seriously. It’s like me watching my 12-year old son play soccer, or my 10-year old daughter dance. They work hard, they learn, they develop, but it’s okay with they stumble, fall, or make mistakes.
4. Bobby Fish is the Most Underrated Wrestler in the World
This is the part of the article where I need to disclose to you that I am probably the world’s biggest Bobby Fish mark. Since his days as part of Red Dragon with Kyle O’Reilly to his early time in WWE NXT, I have always loved his work.
In the ring he’s an amazing performer, but he does so many things right all-around. Facial expressions, mannerisms, great promo, and so much more.
He had a ROH World Championship match against Jay Briscoe in 2015, and I was visibly upset that he didn’t win. I got help, so it’s okay.
Bobby Fish is listed online as being 39 years old, and I’ve heard he’s slightly older than that. That’s not important–what is important that he’s older than most talents you’re watching today, but he wrestles with the joy and excitement of a much younger man. When he recently got injured, I was worried that we’d seen the last of him. Thankfully he’s back, because the world needs more Bobby Fish.
3. Aleister Black is Going to be a Major Star
Aleister Black has been over since the day he hit an NXT broadcast. I can’t think of a time during his NXT tenure where he hasn’t been over. And I can’t tell you why!
Maybe it’s the gimmick, which is driven by his real life father being involved in a religious cult when he was growing up. Maybe it’s his in-ring style, which features move after move that will pop a crowd. Maybe it’s because he sneezes “it factor” in a daily basis.
I don’t know what it is, but he lives over. And that’s before the bell even rings.
Well, the bell has to ring, and when it does Aleister Black delivers each and every time out. He tells a story from bell to bell that’s better than anyone else performing today. His offense is believable, which for a striker is impressive. He also makes his opponents look like a million bucks, which is equally impressive since he rarely ever loses.
NXT isn’t exactly the land of the giants, and many of the wrestlers there won’t get their opportunity to flourish on the main roster. But at 6’1″ and 215 pounds (Seth Rollins is the same height and 2 pounds heavier), Black will get his chance.
And when he does? Watch out.
2. Sometimes Less is Less
Anyone with time and knowledge in the wrestling business will tell you that “less is more.” The women’s championship match on this show proves that point. There was a little too much going on (and I am sure it had a purpose we’ll soon see on future NXT broadcasts), and it took away from this match on this night. A little less here would have been so much more in the end.
But then you have the case of Adam Cole. I am a huge fan of Adam Cole (see my comments about Bobby Fish–it’s like that). But in his last run in Ring Of Honor, he was a little too “less” for me. In a not so recent interview with Steve Austin, Marty Scurll talked about how he’s learned to do so much less in the ring, but in many matches I saw he was underwhelming. Then he steps his game up against Kazuchika Okada at ALL IN, and he’s amazing.
Now I fast forward to Adam Cole’s run in NXT, and HE’S amazing. He still takes his time, and he still lets everything breathe. But he’s not less is less, he’s less is more.
That’s the lesson here: less isn’t always more. There’s a line, and you need to stay on the correct side of it.
1. We Need Another NXT
It’s just not fair to Kona Reeves that the outside talent in NXT is this amazing. Or Bianca Belair. Or Lacey Evans.
NXT, especially on the Takeover level, is basically a main roster brand. It delivers more than 205 Live does, with the same amount of TV time each week. Think about it: could 205 Live support 5 PPV events a year? Well NXT does, with one hour of TV each week on the WWE Network.
Talent is busting their asses in the Performance Center for multiple years, and in march talents like Adam Cole, Aleister Black, Johnny Gargano, Tommaso Ciampa, Ricochet, Pete Dunne…the list goes on. When someone moves up to the main roster, who replaces them? Not Kona Reeves, but Keith Lee or Matt Riddle. And I am not upset about that–they deliver.
But if you look at this Takeover, only one performer was developed from within the Performance Center–Velveteen Dream. Every single one of them was a star somewhere else before coming in. Even Dream had prior experience, but not at the level of the others. Shayna Baszler didn’t have the wrestling experience, but she had MMA experience that took her all the way to the UFC.
I mean, it’s gotten to the point where The Street Profits and Fabian Aichner need to wrestle for EVOLVE because there isn’t room for them on the NXT roster!
The Performance Center stars need more exposure. They need a platform on which to perform. Maybe take the current cream of the NXT crop on the road more, and give them a show that emanates from the road. Let the Performance Center talent have the Full Sail crowd, while still rotating some talent through. Give them their own Network specials, where they can grow and develop, make mistakes and learn.
They can’t compete with the outside talent that is brought in, but they do have potential.