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Rey & Brian’s Top 10 NXT Moments at Full Sail University

Rey Ca$h and Brian Kinsella bring us Masterpiece Theater, NXT style!

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Ricochet vs Velveteen Dream

Rey: Welcome ladies and gentlemen (and everyone not represented by those two genders; we’re respectfully diverse!!) Its been a long time since you guys heard from me in this manner, but with much prodding from the boss, I’m back! I know it’s the holiday season, so I have something of a gift for you guys. First, however, I need to introduce my partner for the evening.

AND NOW….WEIGHING IN AT 14 STONE’S WORTH OF IRN BRU…FIGHTING OUT OF JOE COFFEY’S FAN CLUB HEADQUARTERS…REPRESENTING SOCIAL SUPLEX…THE LEADER OF THE 205 LIVE LOT…BRIAN “CLIVERT” KINSELLA!!!!!

Brian: I’m surprised I haven’t been called a 205 Lot Lizard before now, but I’ll happily don my purple trunks and orange boots for this new-to-me format of written wrestling analysis. And outside of my normal Cruiserweight wheelhouse, too. Looking forward to it! (I’m 12 stone by the way. Cough cough)

Rey: Nobody knows what that stone shit means. It’s something yall made up anyway. FUCK THE METRIC SYSTEM!!!

Brian: How….sigh…..imperial of you. So. Will we continue bickering over how much I weigh, like Buddy Murphy in Drake Maverick’s office? Or shall we let the readers know that this fun little piece we’re working on is, frankly and bizarrely, not on many of the “Top 10” columns out there associated with the mighty Black & Gold?

Rey: Well, actually, let’s bicker some more. I like messing with you Brits, and let’s face it – the Scottish may not be much longer.

Ok, ok. We can be serious (for a minute). So tonight, we’ll be counting down the top 10 biggest NXT Full Sail moments. Now read that sentence carefully. This is only the Full Sail moments of NXT, so no moments outside of Winter Park. Also, we planned on including Cruiserweight Classic and Mae Young Classic moments/matches, but we just ended up picking all NXT ones. So, you’ve been warned. If you don’t like this, blame Brian. He don’t work here.

Brian: First of all. I feel like there’s more chance of Aliyah winning the Raw Women’s Championship than there is of Scotland escaping Big Boris’ clutches right now. But that’s another conversation for another day. Anyway. Yes. CWC and MYC moments were posited, but we felt simply that our chosen ten eclipsed anything from the other offshoots. Also, with all the love that the arena Takeovers (rightfully) receive, we thought a focus on the TV highlights of NXT would be a fun trip down memory lane. 

Rey: Indeed it was and will be.  And speaking of fun, there were so many moments that we thought of and had to take off of our list to make 10, that we decided to do an honorable mention list in itself of 5 moments.  So, we’ll run through that list pretty fast. Sound cool?

Brian: As cool as Carlito. 

 

Honorable Mention – Asuka VS Nikki Cross – Last Woman Standing

 

Rey: So, first off, we have what may be the most frenetic match Full Sail has ever seen.  And that’s saying something. Asuka was in her record championship reign, Nikki was at peak insanity, and they beat the living hell out of each other.  You were big on including this match. Tell the people why, young Clive.

 

Brian: Up till then, no other women had shown genuine fearlessness against a wholly intimidating Asuka. Nikki Cross’ complete disregard for her own body and mind, as well as the furniture and foundations of Full Sail itself, took Asuka to her limit. It was a fascinating display of violence. Cross was on the cusp of breaking out from Sanity to make a name for herself. Well, this match was the coming out party itself. And, my my, did Cross become a favourite to the Full Sail loyal. 

 

Rey: Nikki definitely became a Full Sail favorite, and let’s be real…she wasn’t on the cusp of breaking out from Sanity.  She WAS Sanity. In fact, she’s the Shawn Michaels while the other three were the Jannetty’s. Anyway, great pick, great moment, and this may still be Asuka’s best ever Full Sail match.

 

Honorable Mention – Eric Bugenhagen’s Encore

 

Brian: The word “organic” is used far too often in wrestling. The word has become bastardised by some to justify their favourite wrestler’s push, despite their being many strings being pulled backstage to orchestrate said push. But when it comes to fifteen minutes of fame (or, in this instance, seconds), nobody did it better than Eric Bugenhagan’s air-one-man-band performance long after his jacked up music stopped. A truly wonderful moment which is accentuated by the look of disgust on the face of Gulak who, if you are familiar with Gulak’s ideals, was no doubt sickened by this desecration. Definitely a “meme” of the year contender. 

 

Rey: Yo, they loved this so much, that they brought dude back out after the match to do an encore.  Has wrestling ever had an encore before??? Seriously, Bugenhagen, or Rik Bugez as he’s known now, looked like a star..even if it was a few seconds.  But he’s everything that wrestling needs – fun, doesn’t take himself seriously, and completely different from anyone else. So saying that, we should expect him to be drafted to Raw and be a member of a jobber tag team with No Way Jose after Mania, right?

 

Brian: You say that as if it’s a bad thing. We both know that José and Bugez will end up winning the tag titles on a Wrestlemania pre-show near you. Not to mention their double act on house shows across the land. 

 

Honorable Mention – Anything You Can Do, Ricochet Can Do Better

 

Rey: I wrote a column about the literary brilliance of the Ricochet VS Velveteen Dream feud.  It is truly one of the most brilliant feuds of the past year in my opinion. Dream needing the spotlight, Ricochet wanting more than the spotlight, and both men trying to one up each other.  Well, it’s kind of hard to one up a grown man doing a full ass front flip out of the ring, landing clean on his feet like he’s Simone Biles, and walking off like he just hit a game-winning 3 (that’s basketball Brian).  Classic shit.

 

Brian: This was one of those instances where the “flippy shit” was incorporated into the story, something I think Ricochet has done very well in his time in WWE. Dream, in the thick of his insecure yet braggadocious tour of the roster, was left gobsmacked by something which comes second nature to Ricochet. I remember being so hyped for their pending match. The whole story could be told in this single ten second moment. OTT NXT at its finest. 

 

Rey: Yeah man, that face.  If there was a meme of the year award, that’s gotta be it, right?  I think Dream’s facial expression was equally as impressive as the flip.  By the way, did we mention that a GROWN ASS MAN front flipped out of a 6 foot high ring?  I don’t think we’ve mentioned that enough. Maybe that dude is a superhero.

 

Honorable Mention – Bo Dallas “Leaves” NXT

 

Brian: Having only begun my love affair with NXT around the time of Takeover R:Evolution, I was not aware of the infamy of Bo Dallas. Even if he had fallen out of favour with the normally accepting Full Sail crowd, Dallas stayed committed to the cause, ensuring NXT fans had something wild to remember him by. 

 

Rey: Well since you were an NXT novice at the time, let me break this down for you.  First off, God bless Bo Dallas. He’s often thought of as the laughing stock of NXT Champions, but I’d argue that he’s one of the most important.  He was the champion at the time NXT started to get nationally popular, headlined the first ever NXT PPV, and put over so many people on his way out of the company.  But that heat tho. People hated Bo so much that the front few rows would literally stand up and turn their back to dude during his promos. That’s legendary heat, and Full Sail only holds like 500 people.  So when he lost the match to have to leave NXT, his minutes long escape plan to get away from security and stay is one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen in wrestling. It’s NXT’s Benny Hill moment. Seriously, watch the entire segment to the Benny Hill theme and tell me it doesn’t fit.

 

Brian: I watched an old NXT recently that was a Battle Royal (think it had a triple finish, so a triple threat was the next week), and Dallas got some brutal boos thrown at him. That’s a rare thing to get in Full Sail, as we know. Hats off to him for that. 

 

Honorable Mention – War Games is Announced

 

Rey: War Games is one of those matches that we old school fans never thought we’d see again.  I mean, you have to have two rings, the brutality of the match was a bit much for this generation, and Vince traditionally doesn’t like WCW ideas.  But thanks to Uncle Paul and his affinity for wrestling lore, NXT brought back quite possibly the most classic match style in pro wrasslin’ history.  And they had the perfect guys for it – The Undisputed ERA, Sanity, and The Authors of Pain with little author and pre-ERA Roderick Strong.

 

Brian: I had the announcement of this match spoiled by me on Twitter (probably something Rey retweeted, knowing his thirst for spoilers). That, however, took nothing away from the epicness of this segment and the stipulation announcement. Regal’s rage filled incredulity at the school playground becoming unglued enables him to deliver those two syllables with such epicness, the resultant roar from the crowd was similar to a football (soccer for you philistines) player scoring the winning goal in a penalty shoot out. War Games has become my favourite time of the WWE year, so I will always look back on the birth of its new incarnation fondly. 

 

Rey: *R-Truth voice* My bad dawg.  That one’s on me.

 

You just made me think of something.  Regal is a bit like an exhausted principal of sorts, isn’t he?  But instead of screaming at students to stop running in the hallway, he screams out “WAR GAMES!!!” in that beautiful Blackpool accent of his.

 

Anyway, I think it’s time for us to get down to the getting down.  Let’s start the ACTUAL list.  Apologies in advance.  This one may be long. It’s the holidays.  You ain’t got shit to do.

 

10 – The Future Begins

 

Rey: So full disclosure.  I fought to have this moment in the list.  Brian acquiesced pretty happily, but I thought that it was important to acknowledge the VERY beginning.  For those unaware, NXT used to be a wrestling game show of sorts. WWE chose 8 “rookies” and 8 pros to guide them through some of the most awful television you’ve ever seen.  Seriously, TNA levels of bad. Once they came to their senses and ended that (after 5 seasons!!!), Triple H had the genius idea to re-invest in the future of the company. He rebranded their developmental territory at the time, Florida Championship Wrestling, cultivated a relationship with Full Sail University, and created the NXT Brand.  June 20th, 2012 was the beginning of what would go on to be a legendary journey; one that would redefine the way we looked at rookies, Independent wrestlers, and how stars are made.

 

Brian: It was an easy decision to make, having this one included in the list. I will watch it in its entirety one day, but I don’t need to do that now to understand the importance and retrospective significance of this debut. Every journey has a beginning, and this will go down as a very memorable, probably laughable-at-times moment. I imagine this will get a lot of airtime on Twitter etc once the tenth anniversary hits. 

 

Rey: I think you know by now, given my NXT super fandom, that I’m a lifer.  I watched the shitty game show era, I subscribed to Hulu to get the new revamped era, transitioned into the Network era, and have watched the Undisputed ERA dominated the USA era.  I truly think it’s the best wrestling anywhere. And we have so many to thank – Uncle Paul, Dusty Rhodes, William Regal to name a few. But fitting it back nicely to the point of this column, I can’t see any of this happening without the partnership and support of Full Sail University.

 

Brian: Of course. It’s a pivotal moment in “cool wrestling”. It’s as important as the best Takeovers there have been, as important as the TV era on USA. Because none of that would have happened if it wasn’t for this debut.

 

9 – Becky’s Standing Ovation

 

Brian: Another one to look back at retrospectively. Nobody knew back then what a powerhouse the WWE Universe would witness in the guise of The Man, Becky Lynch. But this often and criminally forgotten about NXT Women’s Title match from 2015. It was an exceptionally strong year for the Horsewomen. This match, for all intents and purposes submission rules, was a hotbed of noise, support, and agony. I’ll remember this for a very long time. 

 

Rey: I was a bit tentative about putting this on the list because I knew we had so many Horsewomen moments coming.  But I went back and watched the match and the post-match moment. It’s not often that you see the exact moment that a star is born.  You did there. The crowd organically (there’s that word again) singing Becky’s brand new theme to her in adoration of what she gave to them that night was awe inspiring.  It must be fate how Becky has ascended to not only the top woman in the game, but The Man of the whole business.

 

Brian: I just wanted to make sure people remembered this match. Understandably, there are bigger Horsewomen milestones just mere months away. But, in isolation, this was a top notch moment. Whenever I roll my eyes at the pseudo-worship laid at Becky’s feet this last year, this match reminds me that maybe there is something in that fervour afterall. 

 

Rey: Yeah man, it’s funny to see Becky’s career from now going backwards.  If nothing else, this shows that the fans have always been with her in some way or another.  What Becky was able to do that night with very little build-up is legendary, and again, that Full Sail crowd made a legendary moment.

 

8 – 4 Horsewomen Fatal 4 Way

 

Rey: This decade has brought forth more change in our little nook of entertainment more than probably any other like it.  Among all of the major changes, the biggest undoubtedly has to be the treatment of, booking of, and respect given to women’s wrestling.  While this has been a LONG journey that has finally seemed to crest and become consistently commonplace, we can look back to the modern change of this issue in WWE by going back to NXT.  Women like Paige, Emma (Tenille Dashwood), Summer Rae, Audrey Marie, and the legend that is Alicia Fox started the push. It wasn’t until a group of four women that we’d affectionately come to know as the 4 Horsewomen showed up, however, that the real change would manifest.

 

Brian: What a match this was. My podcast co-host Ricky and I are huge fans of Organised Chaos™: all those moving parts of a multi person match delivered at breakneck speed yet executed perfectly. I’m proud that these soon to be heavily decorated women have one of these awesome tropes in their resumé. There was a specific sequence in this carefully constructed brawl, ending with a wheelbarrow flapjack of sorts, that just floored me. 

 

Rey: It was a random ass finish to this match, wasn’t it?  Match ended with a crucifix out of the Bank Statement. I think that it was fitting though.  These four women set out to change wrestling, and they did, but that night, they just wanted to shock the world.  Not only did they have a TREMENDOUS match, but they also did so much stuff we’d never seen before and in those spots.  It’s something to be said that this match that many hope with main event a WrestleMania happened at a golden era Takeover.  Crazy.

 

Brian: I may have to actually re-watch this. I was sure the finish was a cheap sneak cover while Charlotte had the Figure 8 locked in. Obviously not that memorable then! Tut tut. 

 

7 – Nikki’s Got A Secret

 

Brian: I’ll go to my grave with the stance that this famous “whodunnit” angle could have been dealt with in one scene by rewinding the CCTV footage for when Gargano attacked Black in the parking lot. But what we got was a good few weeks of some majorly entertaining light relief. But that comedy caper shit culminated in an epic moment. Nikki had BEEN telling the NXT Universe that she knew all along. She was paramount to this plot the whole time, but nobody took her seriously. Apart from Aleister Black himself. And to find out who had attacked him in the middle of a ring littered, absurdly, with glitter of all things, after a HOT mini-feud between Cross and Bianca Belair, was the icing on the cake. 

 

Rey: Is this a top 5 angle in NXT history?  Oh shit, I think we just found our next top 10 list Brian!  Anyway, I can’t remember a more perfectly done angle in recent times that was done better than this.  The initial shot, the multiple angles, the red herrings, Regal being extra Regal-y, and Nikki being her usual maniacal self…this was the thing of legends.  And that moment when Black appears in that match with Nikki and Bianca…man I still get goosebumps.

 

Brian: What adds to this for me was that it  was the catalyst for my favourite ever match under the NXT umbrella. Aleister Black vs Johnny Gargano at War Games II was a powerhouse of storytelling, symbolism of each man’s ideals, hard hitting workrate, and that signature balls to the wall NXT attitude. This whodunnit reveal also falls into that larger than life category. 

 

Rey: “I absolve you of your sins.”  Dude kicked Johnny so hard, he changed his character alignment!  The match, the story, the build up…it’s all encompassed perfectly in that one moment.  And who would’ve thought that Nikki fucking Cross would be the catalyst. Fuckin’ NXT.

 

6 – Daddy’s Home

 

Rey: Isn’t Tommaso Ciampa the greatest?  Dude was the best heel of our generation, was a member of one of the most loved tag teams in NXT history, remade himself from a cast off into a certifiable star…and all of this after THREE major surgeries.  I think his biggest reformation, however, came on the first two hour episode of NXT on USA.  After a tremendous NXT Tag Team Championship match between the recently Raw bound Street Profits and the Undisputed ERA, Tommasso Ciampa sauntered his devilish ass out from the back with the slowest, most determined walk I’ve ever seen to confront NXT Champion Adam Cole.  Daddy was indeed home.

 

Brian: I could do a multi part podcast / column series about Ciampa (take note, Rey, nudge nudge wink wink). Ciampa used to profess of being the greatest sports entertainer in history. How can one argue that stance when this evil sloth doesn’t even pander to or soak up the adulation of the fans after a real life near death/paralysis scare, but instead had eyes ONLY for Goldie. This kicked off NXT’s TV era perfectly. Ciampa is a storytelling gift that keeps on giving. You can literally hear a woman screaming in the crowd. I can now confirm that I was that woman. 

 

Rey: Don’t threaten me with a good time, Cliverton.  I’ll talk about Ciampa anytime, any place, anywhere.  You know the part that isn’t talked about enough though?  This was the first 2 hour NXT on USA, going head to head with AEW’s television debut.  Fans called the night NXT Takeover: Full Sail. And as most shows and cards do, they build to the end of the night.  And whom did they build to? Tommaso freakin’ Ciampa. That speaks volumes as to who he is to the company.

 

Brian: Ciampa’s stock may have fallen somewhat, what with the clamour of late to see Keith Lee be the one to dethrone Adam Cole. But even if that ends up being the case, Ciampa’s mission won’t have changed. He may just have to be patient. Which is a worry for us all. May all the Gods bless Tommy Champion. 

 

5 – Sasha and Bayley – Iron Woman Match

 

Brian: I wanted to include this match as a whole, but it wasn’t just the match. It was everything surrounding it. The announcement of a milestone from Regal. A deeply emotional hype vignette that played on everyone’s feels after arguably the best women’s match in WWE history at that time. Main eventing a Takeover. Sasha SNATCHING Bagley’s famous mascot Izzy’s hairband. This match and its build was a very special time in NXT’s  history. It’s actually hard to put into words how powerful this whole time was for Sasha and Bayley. 

 

Rey: Well we seem to forget, but this is the first ever women’s match to main event a WWE PPV.  So already, it’s legendary. Then, add in that it’s the first ever WWE women’s Iron Woman Match!  But you know what’s hilarious? As great as this match was, the very reason that it’s on this list is all about Sasha committing child abuse.  Sasha destroying poor little Izzy’s childhood in one moment is appointment viewing. Yes, the match was amazing, but that moment might be a top 10 moment of the decade.

 

Brian: Izzy’s headband being snatched is a true *Jack Nicholson nodding head GIF* moment. Audacious. Evil. Shocking. As Matthew J Hardy would say, it was WONDERFUL. 

 

Rey: I was really on the fence about Sasha’s repeated breaking of kayfabe in that feud, because she’d be this bad ass heel in promos and in matches, and once the matches were over, she’d cry in genuine happiness.  I appreciate the personal nature of how this affects her, but at the time, she was the biggest heel in the game. But committing and act of child abuse live on Pay-Per-View…yeah, that’s scumbag enough for me to forget her transgressions.  And Izzy is better for it! How much you wanna bet she’ll be on this list in the next 20 years?

 

4 – The Tragedy of Sami Zayn

 

Rey: Brian, I’d argue strongly that this match is the greatest match in NXT history.  Sami Zayn VS Adrian Neville (PAC as he’s known now) for the NXT Championship at NXT Takeover R-Evolution is a modern masterpiece.  First off the back story – Zayn has to redeem himself in the eyes of the fans, himself, and Neville only for the champ to sneak his way out of losing to Sami – to the match, which was an absolute classic, to the legendary aftermath.  The fact that this is number 4 on our list shows just how stacked this list has to be.

 

Brian: Classic babyface overcoming the odds storytelling has certainly had its moments in WWE this year. One we’ll touch on later; Kofi and Rollins at Summerslam come to mind. When it’s done well in WWE, it’s done expertly. Zayn’s desire to do good and not take the easy route was painstaking viewing. Even for me as a first time NXT viewer that night. Emotion aside, you’d struggle to find a better wrestling match for wrestling’s sake that year. An astounding moment in not only Full Sail history, but that of both competitors, NXT, and WWE as a whole. 

 

Rey: We need to talk about the ending.  This will forever be known as the night that Sami reached the top, but it will also forever be known as the night Kevin Owens threw him off.  His exhilarating debut notwithstanding, the fervor with which Owens rush to hug his real life best friend brought tears to anyone’s eyes. He re-opened the cut on his broken nose with that hug for God sakes!  But seeing him turn on Sami and powerbomb him into Canadian mince meat…that’s why I love this brand so damn much.

 

Brian: Little did I know at the time that I would be seeing the first (for me) villainous machinations of Kevin Owens in action. Somewhere down the line, Owens will, without doubt, be on my Mount Rushmore (shoutout to Badlands Podcast). This betrayal of his best friend will be on highlight reels of his career for years to come. 

 

3 – Enter The Demon

 

Brian: Again, this was my first experience of a Full Sail crowd. Till then, I’d never heard an audience cheer specifically for a wrestler’s entrance. But this? This got the “Holy Shit” treatment and deserved every syllable. Great build with the fog coinciding with the revving guitar. Not being able to properly see what we eventually did until the big chord hit. The supernatural element rarely seen, or done well, outside of The Undertaker. Ominous. Haunting. Spine-chilling. Epic. I really could go on with this one, but this is a collaborative column, after all. 

 

Rey: No, please.  Continue. 😉

 

Brian: Oh, ok then. I just can’t believe the audacity of Fate that night. For the music, ambiance, crowd fever, and commitment to the Demon all to align like stars in the sky, and create a true “fuck me” moment like that. Magic was in the air at that moment, and everyone was filled up to their nostrils with it. 

 

Rey: Well done, my good bloke.  For those of us who had the pleasure of seeing the Prince rule his kingdom in New Japan, we were aware of his use of paint and cosplay to bring out a depraved portion of his personality.  But this dude became a completely different person when he put that demon paint on. Let me remind you all that he debuted The Demon in a tag match with Hideo Itami against The Ascension. Yes, they became laughing stocks later on, but at the time, these dudes were the most dominant tag team in the entire business.  Boom! Demon! They instantly became jobbers. See Konnor and Viktor, it’s all Finn’s fault. He’s to blame.

 

2 – Rhea Ripley Beats The Unbeatable

 

Rey: This might be a sense of recency bias, but I’ll be damned if Rhea Ripley FINALLY beating Shayna Baszler might the greatest moment I’ve ever seen.  I mean, off the top of my head, all I can think bigger and better is Kofi beating Bryan, Roman coming back from cancer, and Bryan at WrestleMania 30.  I know you’re just as biased as me, but I’m not crazy, am I?

 

Brian: Let’s be honest, Rey. The whole reason this idea came to be was because of this match. Upon first viewing, I couldn’t really enjoy it. There were certain tropes done that told me I would end the episode disappointed by another Shayna win. But that just shows how good a job NXT did with this one. Looking back, I can appreciate it for the storytelling masterpiece it truly is. It ties up the story of Shayna stifling the women’s division for over thirteen months into an emotional end of game boss battle. I can’t give this match enough superlatives. The job in “putting Rhea” over these past two months has been flawless. 

 

Rey: As fans, we often have a feeling that it’s somebody’s night.  Almost like they can’t lose. Bryan had that feeling at WrestleMania 30, Kofi had it at WrestleMania 35, and Rhea had it here.  It was just time. Not only time for Shayna to FINALLY drop the title, but the right time for Rhea to ascend to that position. And as you alluded to, her 2-3 month build to that match is among some of the best 2-3 month booking WWE’s ever done.  Rhea is a made woman, Shayna can move to Raw or SmackDown to wreak havoc up there, and NXT is all the better for it.

 

Brian: You are spot on here. This was perfect timing. The tyranny of Baszler, the ensuing war that came to a head in War Games, the presentation of Ripley to the wider WWE audience. The timing was perfect. HHH has a real nack of merging the two ideals of striking while the iron is hot and pulling the trigger at just the right time. This was a prime example of that skill. 

 

1 – NXT Arrival

 

Brian: I’m going to have to hold my hands up here. I don’t doubt the deserving-ness of this entry being at the top. I simply have not seen it, is all. I’ve waxed lyrical enough for technically fourteen other entries. Rey is #NXT4Lyf, so the floor is yours, sir. 

 

Rey: OK, let me explain.  I truly believe that other than WrestleMania 1 and 3, NXT Arrival is the most important wrestling show in WWE history.  Let me lay out the facts. NXT Arrival was the first form of live content on the WWE Network. It had just debuted maybe a week or so before.  So if the feed was a failure, you can imagine how terribly that roll out may have been. Especially with WrestleMania 30 being a few weeks after.  Also, this was the first time that a massive audience saw NXT stars and the brand in general. So guys like Neville, Bo Dallas, Paige, Emma, Sami Zayn, Rusev, and The Ascension were largely being seen by the largest audience that they ever would be seen by.  So, knowing what we know now about NXT, if the show would’ve failed, Vince may have pulled the plug. Remember, NXT ran at a financial loss until this year. Vince let Triple H run NXT and the Performance Center in good faith. So, the fate of the future of the company (WWE Network) and the future of the brand (NXT) were at stake on this one night.  And they didn’t just do well. They knocked it out of the fucking park.

 

Brian: When you put it like that, it’s an easy choice for number one. The WWE Network is the best value for money for as a consumer bar none. My love affair with Raw and Smackdown may waver, but my enjoyment of NXT, its UK counterpart, 205 Live, and all the other Network exclusive brands and specials is unfaltering. We simply wouldn’t have this wealth of more intimate wrestling if it wasn’t for the success of Arrival. 

 

Rey: Simply put, you can’t drive unless you buy the car.  Then you gotta get in the car and start it. Once you’re on the road, you tend to forget how you got there, but thanks to lists like this, we can go back and pay homage.  I think it’s fitting that we started the list with the first ever NXT show at Full Sail, and we ended it with NXT Arrival. That feels very fitting to me.

 

So that brings an end to our little soiree. I had a blast, and with it being the end of the year, decade, world, etc…it seemed super timely. Is it fair to say we might have a few more of these in us??

 

Brian: We;l, if it’s the end of the world, then we probably won’t have as many left in us. However, NXT’s creativity is in a microcosm boom period right now. The amount of content per week has doubled. Competition from elsewhere is keeping NXT on its toes. I’m sure the next few years will see a considerable change in this list. 

 

Rey: So basically, you’re just hoping for more Dijakovic, right?

 

Brian:

 

FIN


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Opinion

Booking The Territory: Greg DeMarco’s WWE NXT Stand & Deliver 2023

It’s WrestleMania season, and that means it’s the 2023 Stand & Deliver season for WWE NXT! Greg DeMarco builds the card for this now annual tradition!

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Bron Breakker Carmelo Hayes WWE NXT Stand & Deliver

It’s WrestleMania season, and that means it’s the 2023 Stand & Deliver season for WWE NXT! Greg DeMarco builds the card for this now annual tradition!

With Vengeance Day in the rearview mirror, WWE NXT makes its march toward Stand & Deliver, their WrestleMania Weekend Premium Live Event! What’s going to be on the card? I have no clue (well, I have some clues–they ARE telling two major stories right under our noses), but it’s going to be damn fun to get there.

Several matches were set up at WWE NXT Vengeance Day this past Saturday night, and more match-ups will come to light.

NXT Championship: Bron Breakker (c) defends vs. Carmelo Hayes (with Trick Williams)

Let’s go with obvious match #1: Melo challenging Bron. Vengeance Day ended with Bron Breakker standing tall, atop the steel cage, after defeating Grayson Waller. And who walks out? That’s right–Carmelo Hayes. Melo has been can’t miss since his debut as a babyface against Adam Cole, but Breakker has taken the top spot in NXT and held it for over a year now.

According to Cage Match, Breakker and Carmelo have crossed paths four times in NXT, one of them being on the same War Games team, and the rest being, at minimum, 2-on-2 tag team matches.

This is a money match, and Shawn Michaels knows it. It will be tempting to do so, but there is no reason to slap an unnecessary stipulation upon this showdown. Just book it, and let them do the rest.

Hollywood Backlot Brawl (or Hollywood Street Fight): Gigi Dolin vs. Jacy Jayne

It’s time for Toxic Attraction to fully implode, and what better way to do this than a Street Fight at NXT’s version of WrestleMania. Since we’re in Hollywood, bringing back the ol’ Backlot Brawl works for me, but that’s just a Street Fight under a different name,

But that type of match also works well for Jacy Jayne and Gigi Dolin, who are very underrated brawlers (although, don’t expect Gigi to repeat any prior viral moments in this one).

Six-Man Tag Team Match: Indus Sher & Jinder Mahal vs. The Creed Brothers & Roderick Strong

Given the set-up, this HAS to be where Roddy Strong returns, right?

RIGHT?

While the man who took Roderick out–Damon Kemp–is currently just finding his way back onto NXT television, Brutus & Julius Creed find themselves outnumbered in this feud. It’s the perfect scenario for Roderick Strong to come back–and Diamond Mine would be stronger than ever.

NXT Women’s Tag Team Championship: Fallon Henley & Kiana James (c) vs. Ivy Nile & Tatum Paxley vs. Kayden Carter & Katana Chance

Nile and Paxley could find their way here by winning the Dusty Classic, which will probably start-up here soon. Carter & Chance also makes sense in this spot–and it could be their swan song before heading to the main roster (as a team).

This is also the perfect time to blow the roof off the Kiana James/Fallon Henley/Brooks Jensen/Josh Briggs story. That likely leads to the victory for Nile & Paxley, who both capture their first championships in NXT.

NXT Women’s Championship: Roxanne Perez (c) defends vs. Zoey Stark

Shawn Michaels loves him some Zoey Stark. She can go in the ring, but she’s not electric in any way. And for the love of God, keep the microphone out of her hands. but Roxanne Perez has the Midas Touch, turning everything to gold. This would be a fantastic match, one that would see both women excel.

Ladder Match for the NXT North American Championship: Wes Lee (c) vs. Axiom vs. Nathan Frazier vs. Charlie Dempsey vs. Channing “Stacks” Lorenzo vs. Apollo Crews

It seems like a Ladder Match is tradition on these shows, and this one works quite well for me. You can also mix in a little Tyler Bate, or possibly Tony D’Angelo and DIJAK. If you don’t go the Jinder/Indus Sher vs. Creeds/Roddy route, you could put Julius in here.

Why Stacks? Because I assume Tony D will be busy with DIJAK in some shape or fashion.

Why Apollo? Obviously the Dabba-Kato program is happening, but I don’t think that’s a Stand & Deliver match. That can happen on go home show, where Apollo wins his way into this Ladder Match

What’s Missing?

Six matches does seem like the limit, but that leaves out a few important things:

  • Someone is going to win the Dusty Classic and the right to challenge Gallus for the NXT Tag Team Championships, and that makes sense to be at Stand & Deliver.
  • Grayson Waller is definitely going to be a focus, and since HBK ain’t wrestling anymore, he’s going to need an opponent (unless he’s moving up to the main roster before WrestleMania, which seems odd).
  • Andre Chase vs. Duke Hudson is going to happen sometime soon, and a WrestleMania Weekend crowd would be going nuts for Mr. Chase.
  • Tiffany Stratton is going to gain more and more spotlight time, and this seems like a card you want her to be on.

What are your thoughts on these proposed matches for WWE NXT Stand & Deliver 2023? Let me know in the comments or on social media @GregDeMarco44!


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Greg DeMarco’s Results, Reaction, & Analysis: WWE NXT Vengeance Day 2023

The latest WWE NXT premium live event, Vengeance Day 2023, is history, and Greg DeMarco has all of your reactions and analysis!

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WWE NXT Vengeance Day 2023 Roxanne Perez Jacy Jayne Gigi Dolin

The latest WWE NXT premium live event, Vengeance Day 2023, is history, and Greg DeMarco has all of your reactions and analysis!

For the first time since 2020’s Takeover: Portland, the Black–err, White and Gold express that is WWE NXT made their way on the road for a stand-alone Premium Live Event: Vengeance Day 2023!

(I assume NXT Stand & Deliver doesn’t count since it’s not “stand-alone,” but accompanies a larger WWE event.)

(Another aside: the above-referenced 2020 Takeover event happened to fall on my birthday in 2020–look it up and don’t forget to wish me a happy birthday!)

Ticket Sales & Attendance

As far as the ticket sales, the always amazing WrestleTix Twitter account has us covered. Remember, sales and attendance are different things. Leave it at that–don’t get caught up in the Dave Meltzer/Conrad Thompson “inflated attendance” nonsense. Attendance is everyone in the building. Ticket sales are tickets purchased. It’s that simple.

A draw consisTent with many recent Raw and Smackdown tapings, which is a big win for the WWE’s developmental brand.

Set-Up

I am a big fan of when premium live events have a unique look and feel to them, so the “stage” here was a welcome sight to see.

WWE Photo

Let’s hope WWE keeps that trend going.

But those are sidebars, now let’s see what happened!

Wes Lee pinned DIJAK to retain the WWE NXT North American Championship

The last “stand alone” NXT premium live event, Takeover: Portland, was headlined by Adam Cole defending the NXT Championship against Tommaso Ciampa in a 33-minte banger of a match. The first match of their return to stand-alone events goes 17 minutes–great for an opener–and provided amazing action reminiscent of the Black and Gold Experience.

Wes Lee is an amazing performer. Even when MSK was a thing, I saw Lee as a potential Cruiserweight Champion. That is obviously not an option now, but him winning this championship and defending it the way he has is perfect. Booker T showing his career respect on commentary, including a nod to everywhere else ol’ Dez has worked, was a great touch. Booker T and Vic Joseph are really good fits for this brand.

WWE Photo

Wes showed immense strength in this contest, taking DIJAK over multiple times in spots where his opponent was nothing but dead weight. Extremely impressive for a guy legitimately giving up nearly 100 pounds.

But DIJAK also stood out, here. This is easily his best outing since he was formerly in NXT, and really showed what he can do. Much of his return has been character driven, but also “big man” style work. This match was reminiscent of his legendary battles with Keith Lee.

Too many kickouts? I wouldn’t say that–it all fit perfectly. This match was special, and in the modern day NXT, 17 minutes is great. You don’t need to go 30+ to thrill a crowd.

 

Fallon Henley & Kiana James beat Kayden Carter & Katana Chance to win the NXT Women’s Tag Team Championships

While Carter and Chance had been champions for 186 days–a record for any iteration of Women’s Tag Team Championships in the modern era for WWE–they did not have the most memorable run. Much of it was overshadowed by controversy surrounding the WWE championship counterpart, along with a lack of competition.

Fallon Henley and Kiana James are outstanding solo performers, and the added element of Josh Briggs & Brooks Jensen really drives the story home. If you watch closely, you can see Henley and Briggs holding everything together. Kiana James has tremendous upside, and is developing at a rapid pace.

WWE Photo

This story will obviously continue–and it should. James’ conversation with “Zach” last week on NXT will undoubtedly come up, and probably to lead a split between one or both tag teams. I assume “Zach” is her brother, and Henley is being overprotective. Can’t blame Brooks for latching on, the “King Of The Friendzone” is maximizing his shot, here.

Carmelo Hayes beat Apollo Crews In A 2-Out-Of-3 Falls Match, 2-0

Many are saying this match underdelivered, and I think it might require a second watch from me to fully say either way. On the first viewing, this match was entertaining and very enjoyable.

The booking? That seemed odd.

I’m  not complaining about Carmelo going over in 2 straight falls–that’s fine. Although I was surprised at the crowd response after the first fall. Might have been better if this match opened the show, with the North American Championship going on third instead. But it’s easy to say that AFTER the show has happened.

WWE Photo

The questionable booking–to me–was the use of the former Commander Azeez, Dabba Kato. He prevented Trick Williams’ interference, fulfilling Apollo Crews’ vision, but didn’t help his former partner at all. He also didn’t hurt him. it was just kinda…there.

Had he helped him score a second fall, and then Melo wins in a third fall, I think it all makes more sense, and the turn makes more sense as well. I was also surprised that Vic Joseph didn’t make a bigger deal out of their prior association.

Vic Joseph, by the way, had one of the best lines of the night, mentioning both “Nation” and “Casanova” in true IYKYK style–proving he picked up a thing or two when cohosting After The Bell with the King Of IYKYK, Corey Graves.

For the record, I don’t think Vic would translate to Raw or Smackdown. But he fits perfect in NXT.

Overall, Carmelo Hayes is a damn star, Trick Williams is the perfect associate, and Apollo Crews seems to be struggling to find where he fits in all of WWE.

Gallus (Mark Coffey& Wolfgang) captured the NXT Tag Team Championships when Coffey pinned Xavier Woods to win a Fatal 4-Way Match that included defending champions The New Day (Woods & Kofi Kingston), Pretty Deadly (Kit Wilson & Elton Prince), and Chase U’s Andre Chase & Duke Hudson

The amount accomplished in this 16 minute affair is astounding. It was mostly a sprint, but never seemed spotty to a contrived level. The New Day are some of the best in-ring storytellers in all of WWE, and their presence here helped everyone.

A side story of this match was Andre Chase returning home to the arena he saw many a wrestling event. They even mentioned his tag team with his (Bravado) brother (who I don’t believe was shown on camera despite being there), and had the crowd solidly behind his team. Andre Chase did get his moment, the C-H-A-S-E-U Stomps, and it will likely go down as a career moment for him having nearly 6,000 people chanting that.

I do believe he’ll do that in front of 50k+ on the main roster someday, but this had to hit different being in his hometown.

The finish seemed right, Gallus is a great team, and the door is open for Joe Coffey to surprisingly return to help them retain at some point.

Xavier Woods taking the pin signifies, to me, that The New Day is done with NXT at this point. They could drop a rematch on Tuesday, but since they weren’t victims of the “champions don’t have to be pinned to lose their titles” rule, they don’t have to get a rematch. They did their job, and did it well.

Roxanne Perez pinned Jacy Jayne to retain the NXT Women’s Championship in a Triple Threat Match that also included Gigi Dolin

This match was the right mix of story and action. And for this one, you needed both.

Let’s start with Roxanne Perez. She’s a goddamned star. I can’t put my finger on why, but she’s electric. She’s the type of start that internet stans will talk about her on Twitter 5 years from now referring to her as “Carla” when someone says one bit of criticism about her–or tries to send the attention into another direction.

If I’m Matt Bloom, Shawn Michaels, William Regal, Triple H–whoever–I am sending someone to Reality Of Wrestling weekly to scout talent. Booker T is doing something (many things) right.

WWE PhotoThen we have the Toxic Attraction part of the match. Gigi Dolin and Jacy Jayne are a fantastic combination, and they still work without Mandy Rose. It gives them a chance to spread their wings and fly. But I do think a feud between them is in order.

And allow me to fantasy book for a moment–here’s how you set it up: on Tuesday’s NXT, you start the show with an “earlier today” moment where Gigi & Jacy run into Fallon Henley and Kiana James (and Brooks Jensen and Josh Briggs). They exchange pleasantries until Toxic Attraction points out Fallon & Kiana can never be as good as they are. The babyfaces (?) disagree, so a challenge is issued. Josh says they just found out they have the night off, and it’s time to party! Gigi and Jacy push harder, and of course it’s Brooks who accepts on behalf of their teammates.

The match itself sees a slight miscommunication between Jacy and Gigi, but it doesn’t factor into the finish. Kiana and Fallon win clean, and once they leave things finally boil over for Toxic Attraction. Full on brawl, all over the Performance Center, ending with both of them going off the infamous NXT perch and through some staging below. That’s how we end the show, and POOF!–we have our feud between them for Stand & Deliver.

Bron Breakker pins Grayson Waller to retain the NXT Championship in a Steel Cage Match

I get it–Bron is the centerpiece of the brand. And he should be. He’s got the charisma, he’s got the pedigree, and he just keeps getting better. Yet for the second straight big NXT event (NXT Deadline being the first), I felt like his match shouldn’t have closed the show.

WWE Photo

This was a good steel cage match. It was a great performance by Grayson Waller, and a damn good performance from Bron Breakker as well. but I think the guy is just too one-dimensional. He needs something more.

Carmelo Hayes coming out with Trick WIlliams in-tow to signify the next program for both men makes all the sense in the world. That should be the main event at NXT Stand & Deliver.

And this time around, Melo absolutely SHOULD. NOT. MISS.

I’d expect that the WrestleMania Weekend audience will be solidly behind Carmelo in this encounter. Use it. Push the envelope with it. Let Bron…wait for it…WAIT FOR IT…Embrace The Hate.

Let Bron snap. Attack the referee. Put his hands on Booker T. A plant in the crowd. On his way to the back he’s met by real life girlfriend Cora Jade. But she’s not talking in character, because this isn’t the Bron Breaker she knows.

AND SHE LIKES IT.

Lay the foundation for NXT’s new evil power couple, and turn Carmelo (and Trick) babyface in the process. Melo shoild still be Melo, now he just wants the love. He feeds off of it.

Now Bron has depth.


What did you think of NXT Vengeance Day? Sound off in the comments below, or hit me up on social media at @GregDeMarco44!


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