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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!



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.


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?





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Greg DeMarco’s Top 5: The Final Opponent For John Cena In WWE

It’s obvious that John Cena is nearing the end of his legendary career, and he’s suggested ending it at WrestleMania 41. Who should be his final opponent?



John Cena Last Match Randy Orton WWE WrestleMania 41

It’s obvious that John Cena is nearing the end of his legendary career, and he’s suggested ending it at WrestleMania 41. Who should be his final opponent?

John Cena recently appeared on the Pat McAfee Show, the Monday after his surprise (but mostly expected) WrestleMania 40 appearance during Cody Rhodes’ win over Roman Reigns for the Undisputed WWE Championship. During that appearance, he confirmed what many expect, that he is nearly done with his in-ring career. But Cena even tossed out the idea of a time-frame, detailing that his acting schedule will likely take him through Christmas, and maybe Hollywood could “pump the brakes” to allow for one final run.

That run could easily begin at the Royal Rumble with a surprise entrance (or entering himself via TV appearances as part of the build), with a tease for his 17th world title win before finally settling in on his final match.

Fantasy booking and storytelling aside, the goal here is the final match–more specifically the final opponent. With a John Cena, you’ve got a ton of options. As such, it’s hard to narrow it down to 5, and one of your favorites is likely missing–be warned!

Greg DeMarco’s Top 5: The Final Opponent For John Cena In WWE

Honorable Mentions:

  • The Miz – A feud with John Cena gave The Mix a WrestleMania 27 main event–and a WrestleMania  main event victory on top of it. Miz has been receiving more love than ever lately, and a match with John Cena would not be misplaced. Maybe he can use their WrestleMania 33 contest (and Cena’s personal aftermath) as fodder for it, too.
  • AJ Styles – The man who once made it popular to “BEAT UP JOHN CENA” is also nearing the end of his run, and could be the one candidate on this list that could realistically give us a double-retirement match. He would also be the guy who retired both The Undertaker and John Cena (and would probably end up being the guy who lost in both).
  • The Rock or Cody Rhodes – Both great options, but you have to figure their dance card for WrestleMania 41 is already full, potentially standing across the ring from one another. Either is an amazing option (including “Thrice In A Lifetime”), but I just don’t think it’s in the cards.
  • Trick Williams – Potentially a surprising addition to the Honorable Mentions, but the comparisons are there in terms of in-ring style/ability, promo skills, and the interplay they had in NXT (remember, it was Cena who is credited with encouraging Trick to not be afraid to go for it himself despite his relationship with Carmelo Hayes).

5. CM Punk

The fifth spot on this list was nearly interchangeable between several of the honorable mention names, but it really came down to Punk and Seth Rollins for me (with a hint of AJ Styles). The 2011 feud between CM Punk and John Cena was legendary, and is a moment that will forever be seen by me as the one that truly cemented CM Punk as a member of the growing list of all-time greats in WWE.

Punk is uniquely qualified for this match as he would make it mean more than a showboat for John Cena’s career and final match. It’s entirely believable that CM Punk would want to put John Cena’s career into the ground, and WWE has the video archive to support it.

Despite being #5, this could actually be a dark-horse for the match we get, and I can’t see anyone reasonably being upset about that.

4. Roman Reigns

John Cena and Roman Reigns have had two separate legendary programs. the first saw Cena, at times, embarrass Roman in promo exchanges in a feud that took place in the “pre-Tribal Chief” era. The second is more fresh and likely more memorable, as John Cena put Roman Reigns over in a football stadium in Las Vegas at SummerSlam (although it might be more remembered for the return of Brock Lesnar).

Reigns, a legend himself at his point (he’s featured alongside Steve Austin at the top of the “Forever” portion of the Then/Now/Forever/Together video that recently debuted) would provide a pairing akin to The Undertaker serving as Shawn Michaels’ retirement opponent at WrestleMania 26 9notice I didn’t say “final opponent). The end of Roman’s 1316 day world title reign has brought about a new appreciation for Reigns, which would further enhance this pairing at WrestleMania 41.

3. Bron Breakker

Bron Breakker is the picture-perfect definition of a juggernaut in WWE, a fast rising star who almost seems like a lock to main event WrestleMania one day (you never know–Seth Rollins JUST got his first WrestleMania main event last weekend). Breakker recently said farewell NXT as the natural in-ring competitor makes a transition to full-time main roster competition.

Breakker also fits the category of who “needs it.” Bring the man to retire John Cena would be quite the feather in the cap of Breakker’s early career, and would give him a moment that would be relived for generations to come. The only question mark is WWE “trusting” Breakker with this moment, as a sudden change of character could mean that Cena’s final match wouldn’t be seen or discussed as much. Breakker, to me, has given no reason for anyone to suspect that might happen, regardless of any controversies his father and uncle have been linked to.

2. R-Truth

Despite being 5-years older than John Cena, and making his in-ring debut in the same year (1999), R-Truth’s childhood hero hanging up the boots will undoubtedly be a hard-hitting moment for the  man who has basically become the WWE Mascot. Truth emulating Cena in his matches, and of course the RawAfterMania moment with Cena, Truth, and The Miz hitting a Fifteen Knuckle Shuffle (thank you, Michael Cole) on The Judgment Day makes this a near can’t miss final match for both John Cena and the WWE Universe.

R-Truth himself is equally deserving of this match, as it would be a reward for all of his years in the ring as part of a career that seems age defying while proving that age is not only a number, but also a number that can be ignored (see Child Hero, John Cena).

While a rematch of their 2011 WWE Capital Punishment main event is an unlikely WrestleMania 41 match-up, it’s one I believe everyone would love to see.

1. Randy Orton

I mean, is there anyone more perfect? John Cena and Randy were inseparably linked for a good portion of their careers, and have shared the ring more times than Big Show has turned babyface/heel. Both are far into legendary status at this point, and Orton specifically is obviously focused on enjoying this stage of his career.

But Orton is still delivering great performances inside the ring, too.

Randy Orton vs John Cena was an exciting proposition many years ago, became a punchline for WWE booking a few years ago, but is now coming full circle as the perfect match-up to end the amazing career of John Cena. It has my vote, and should have yours, too.

Even if R-Truth would be the most fun option.

What say you? Who is the best candidate to stand across the ring from John Cena in his final WWE match, potentially at WrestleMania 41? Who did I leave out?

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Greg DeMarco’s WrestleMania 40 Saturday Results & Review

It’s the Granddaddy Of ‘Em All, WrestleMania! Night 1 of WrestleMania XL and Greg DeMarco has your results and review!



Sami Zayn WrestleMania 40

It’s the Granddaddy Of ‘Em All, WrestleMania! Night 1 of WrestleMania XL and Greg DeMarco has your results and review!

It all comes down to this–at least for the first night! A loaded card in front of a packed house, and I’d expect everyone to deliver one hell of a performance.

Women’s World Championship – Becky Lynch vs. Rhea Ripley (champion)

Greg’s pre-show prediction: Rhea Ripley retains

In my opinion, this match should be the main event of Night 1, but The Rock is back and that was going to take precedence (even if I disagree). Becky won this title shot at the Elimination Chamber, even though they were already building the feud before that event in Perth. Ripley herself main evented that event in a stadium, defeating Nia Jax.

  • It was revealed during her entrance that this is Becky Lynch’s “Flu Game,” as she has temperatures as high as 102 degrees throughout the week.
  • Rhea Ripley enters to a life performance of her entrance theme, which you can tell she dug.
  • Prime logo is center ring, just the black outline with “Prime” in the middle, and it is not at all bothersome. I can’t believe people made such a big deal out of bitching about that.
  • The stage looks dope, not at all “too small” as some had said. The whole environment looks great, honestly.
  • Rhea Ripley has been dealing with a wrist injury. She said on the Pat McAfee Show she didn’t expect to work with the wrist brace on tonight, but there it is.
  • Corey Graves points out that Becky’s training was likely impacted by her illness, and Pat McAfee scoffs at him for stating the obvious. I hope that isn’t what we get all night.
  • Commentary notes that is is 52 degrees and windy in the stadium, and I am reminded of Nick Khan’s comments about moving an outdoor WrestleMania to late April in the future, if they don’t get an indoor building (he did say “2026” when talking about that, which likely means the 2025 venue is indeed set).
  • Rhea’s Prism Trap is a fell of a submission finisher. Add in the body lock the way she did, and it’s even more impressive.
  • I just noticed the “Prime” turnbuckle pads and it’s…weird. I just didn’t expect it and can’t think of the last time we didn’t have the WWE/WWF logo on the buckles outside of Black and Gold NXT. WrestleMania 2?
  • I am also noticing that Dude Wipes seems to have sponsored the ring posts. Kudos to WWE (and the wrestling industry behind them) for being so damn desirable to sponsors!
  • That combo to get into the Riptide was fantastic–and the kickout was even better.
  • During the DisarmHer you can clearly see the commentary position, and Michael Cole is legit reclined all the way back. Love it–Cole is living his best life.
  • Rhea’s Riptide into the buckle before the proper Riptide was pretty sweet as well. Made Becky look insanely strong in defeat.

Winner via pinfall AND STILL your Women’s World Champion: Rhea Ripley

Hell of an opener, and if you didn’t know Becky was sick, you wouldn’t have known. Props to them both. That would have satisfied as a main event, but can now go down as one of the best openers in WrestleMania history.

Ladder Match for the Raw Tag Team Championships and Smackdown Tag Team Championships – DIY (Tommaso Ciampa & Johnny Gargano) vs. Awesome Truth (The Miz & R-Truth) vs. New Catch Republic (Pete Dunne & Tyler Bate) vs. A Town Down Under (Austin Theory & Grayson Waller) vs. The New Day (Xavier Woods & Kofi Kingston) vs. The Judgment Day (Finn Balor & Damian Priest, Undisputed WWE Tag Team Champions)

Greg’s pre-show prediction: Awesome Truth (Raw titles) and A-Town Down Under (SmackDown)

As many expected, the belts are hanging separately, meaning we are most likely splitting the tag titles here. Triple H and company have put some serious work into building up the tag team divisions of both brands, and even though I expect the two winners to not be actual “teams,” but either way I actually like the way they didn’t make a big deal out of splitting the titles up, they’re just doing it. They have been defended separately since being unified, albeit rarely.

  • R-Truth makes a joke about DIY being DX and that’s now taken off. I love it.
  • The Miz is very under appreciated. Can literally do anything.
  • Someone is struggling with the “Titan Tron” videos tonight.
  • Not gonna lie, I am the biggest Pat McAfee fan, but he’s actually quite annoying right now.
  • Sign of the night: SANTA DESERVED IT.
  • Lots of green in this match, half of the teams wearing their “WrestleMania Green” gear.
  • Also, loving the Consequences Creed gear for Woods.
  • God Bless Finn Balor for taking that Airplane Spin into the ladder.
  • 205 combined years of experience in this match. That’s an average of 17 years (Waller has the least with 7, Balor and Miz are tied for the most with 23).
  • “Dunne Mountain?!?!” Thank you Michael Cole for fixing that.
  • Poor Finn Balor, not he takes the AA to the ladder after John Cena’s Five Moves Of Doom
  • Hilarious.
  • A-Town Down Under gets the SmackDown tag titles!
  • And Grayson gets tossed through a ladder, still holding a title!
  • The match does continue until the Raw tag titles are also retrieved.
  • If Theory also got the Raw tag titles down, I will laugh my ass off.
  • Birminghammer is a fantastic name for a tandem (somewhat) Burning Hammer.
  • Tornado DDT through a table!
  • Air Raid Crash from the ladder!
  • And we still have more tables set-up.
  • JD McDonagh trying to get Finn–who has taken a beating–to get the Raw tag titles.
  • McDonagh through the tables!
  • PERFECTLY placed Razor’s Edge onto that chair.
  • Dude, that ladder is trashed. (And very unsafe.)
  • AA sends Damian outside!
  • I think everyone wants R-Truth to get this. EVERYONE.
  • YES!

Winners via belt retrieval, AND NEW:

  • SmackDown Tag Team Champions – Grayson Waller & Austin Theory
  • Raw Tag Team Champions – R-Truth & The Miz

Really good Ladder Match, but it’s hard to have a bad one. The tag team titles are split and it was really well done. It made perfect sense to do it that way, not make a big deal out of it and just let it happen. I am excited to see both teams win–not because I picked both, but because I think one team (Waller/Theory) have amazing futures and the other (Miz/Truth) will be a lot of fun, even if their run will probably be short lived.

Santos Escobar (with Legado Del Fantasma members Angel, Humberto, & Elektra Lopez) & Dominik Mysterio vs. Rey Mysterio & Andrade (with The LWO members Carlito, Joaquin Wilde, Cruz Del Toro, & Zelina Vega

Greg’s pre-show prediction: Dominik and Santos win, giving Dominik “revenge” for his loss at WrestleMania 39.

Look, this match doesn’t make a lick of sense–Dominik shows up two weeks ago and finds his way into another WrestleMania match with Rey? Definitely shoehorned. But Dominik is outstanding, so if this gets him on the card, I’ll take it.

  • More green in this match, and I am here for it.
  • Innovative Double Cross Body by Rey & Andrade.
  • Dominik showing experience beyond his years, making sure the ref sees his tag with Santos.
  • At this moment, I am wondering who turns–Carlito or Andrade. Gotta assume it’s one of them.
  • Three matches in and I don’t even notice the Primo logo in the center of the ring or on the turnbuckle pads.
  • Santos Escobar trying to unmask Rey Mysterio, as if we don’t all have Google.
  • Corey Graves making a great point about Rey taking some responsibility for the issues in his life, and Michael Cole immediately dismissing it.
  • It’s so hard to do a really good Dragon Screw Leg Whip, and Andrade (along with Dominik and Santos) just pulled off two to perfection.
  • Camera shot of Rey’s cross body shows the heaters above the ring. Good–keep ’em warm!
  • This could have easily been an 8-man tag team match. Maybe we get that Monday on Raw (which can also be where the turn happens, making my prediction here likely wrong).
  • Joaquin Wilde gets to do his NXT spot at WrestleMania, and that’s probably more important than officially being in the match.
  • Two masked men–definitely the Kelce Brothers–are here.
  • My bad, it was Jason Kelce and Lane Johnson. Good call, honestly. Great pop for them, too.
  • Looking at the reply, Dominik sold that ringpost spot like a champ.

Winners via pinfall (Rey on Santos): Rey Mysterio & Andrade

Fun tag team match that served its purpose. Needed? Maybe not, as I really wanted to get Liv Morgan vs. Nia Jax onto this card. But when you can get Rey & Dominik on the card, everyone will be happy. and of course the Jason Kelce & Lane Johnson appearances.

Brother vs Brother: Jey Uso vs. Jimmy Uso

Greg’s pre-show prediction: Jimmy Uso follows in the footsteps of Owen Hart and Matt Hardy and beats the “more talented brother.”

They’ve wanted this match all their lives–and the preview video was insane. Very well done.

  • Jey in the WrestleMania whites tonight.
  • And we get a hot start to the match!
  • “Big Brother Jimmy” is always a fun thing to hear.
  • More Dude Wipes sponsorship on this one–you have to wonder if having Dude Wipes on the posts for the opener was in error.
  • Superkicks. Lots of Superkicks.
  • Very enjoyable YEET/NO chants from the crowd.
  • Jey just kicking the hell out of Jimmy, including a Jumping Super Kick.
  • This has “Fight Without Honor” feels from old school ROH, where the winners have respect after. We will definitely see these guys together again.
  • Jimmy apologizing to Jey. Crowd is not buying it.
  • Of course it was BS, and Jimmy gains the advantage.

Winner, via pinfall: Jey Uso

Jey breaks the babyface curse by beating his heel brother. Thought we might get an embrace between them, instead we faded out. A good match that was more about the story than the in-ring action. I can see some feeling like this hasn’t “lived up to expectations” because of the high expectations you’d have for an Usos match. Their best work will always be as a team, but I know this is a lifelong dream come true for both.

As for all the Superkicks, I mean….it’s an Usos match.

Six-Woman Tag Team Match – Damage CTRL (Dakota Kai, Asuka, & Kairi Sane) vs. Naomi, Bianca Belair, & Jade Cargill

Greg’s pre-show prediction: Bianca, Naomi, & Jade win when Jade scores the pin (probably on Kairi, who always seems to eat the fall)

This match is all about getting Bianca Belair on the card (she had to be), and Jade Cargill’s debut. It also got Damage CTRL on the card, which they truly deserve–even if it is to lose.

  • Respectfully, Dakota Kai. (Good thing the ring and surrounding area is heated)
  • Not gonna lie, Jade looks nervous. But this is a six-woman tag, and her portion is likely highly choreographed. Gonna be all good.
  • As I watch and enjoy the match (but am not typing much lol), this seems like a match where we’re all just waiting for Jade to come in and win.
  • No one has told Jade about the tag ropes yet, apparently.
  • And now Jade is in, and Damage CTRL makes her look like a million bucks.
  • Dakota Kai nicely gets herself into position for the finish, and Jade gets her WrestleMania win.

Winners via pinfall (Jade on Dakota): Jade Cargill, Naomi, & Bianca Belair

We knew what this one was about going into it, and that’s what it should have been. Jade still ain’t ready. I know it might be an “ego hit” for her to go to NXT, but she needs it. If Giulia can go to NXT, so can Jade.

Intercontinental Championship – Sami Zayn vs. GUNTHER (champion)

Greg’s pre-show prediction: Sami Zayn pulls off the major upset and is the one to dethrone Gunther

Gunther has had a stranglehold on the Intercontinental Championship, defending it like crazy in 2023 but slowing that down here in 2024. It’s not fair to say he’s outgrown the title, but that might actually be the case. It’ll be really interesting to see what happens with Imperium leading up to the draft, and at the WWE Draft itself.

  • Sami Zayn was the perfect wrestler to have their journey form backstage to the ring followed by the cameras. From his family to Chad Gable to Kevin Owens, it was all so perfect–maybe too perfect? (Not in that someone will screw him, but in that it might be too heavily foreshadowing his win?)
  • Gunther looked oddly nervous standing on that stage.
  • You know, the Intercontinental Championship is basically a third world title at this point. And we could see the end of a legendary reign. I think this deserved the Samantha Irvin In-Ring Introductions (aka “Japan Style”) treatment.
  • Gunther is smiling confidently now, we’re good.
  • Crowd is ON FIRE for these guys (and evenly split with their chants for each guy).
  • This is the 21st time the Intercontinental championship is defended at WrestleMania, and it makes you wonder what in the hell they were thinking for the other 11.
  • Looks like Dude Wipes is back on the ringpost!
  • Hell of a nearfall, followed up by a Helluva Kick from Gunthcr, and one from Sami!
  • That finish….AMAZING.

Winner via pinfall, AND NEW Intercontinental Champion: Sami Zayn

The athletes… the moments… the storytelling… professional wrestling is such a beautiful business. Sami Zayn’s win over Gunther was everything I had hoped it would be when I picked Sami to win. Absolutely beautiful.

Cody Rhodes & World Heavyweight Champion Seth Rollins vs. The Rock & Undisputed WWE Champion Roman Reigns

Greg’s pre-show prediction: Seth & Cody get the win after tons of interference and surprise appearances, making Roman vs Cody on Sunday a match where The Bloodline is banned from ringside.

So much involved in this one. As you know, If Rock & Roman win, Sunday’s WWE Championship match will be held under Bloodline Roles. If Seth & Cody win, then that mach will see ZERO Bloodline involvement. Personally, if Cody is winning the title, I’d rather it be straight up. But I wouldn’t be at all surprised if I am wrong.

  • Honestly, after the introductions, I realized I was just watching!
  • This was very much Steve Austin vs The Rock inspired, with them fighting all over the stadium, and pushing the envelope.
  • I loved The Rock basically neutering the referee–normally I hate that, but here it works.
  • That finish and the condition of Rollins both lay perfectly into night 2, I would imagine.

Winners via Rock pinfall on Rhodes: The Rock & Roman Reigns

Per rule, Sunday’s main event will now be Bloodline Rules. And given that, my prediction of Roman retaining might be harder to pull off. This was a good return for The Rock, and perfectly played into the whole story. Job well done.

Greg DeMarco’s Overall Thoughts for WWE WrestleMania XL, Saturday (Night 1)

in a vacuum, this was  highly enjoyable show. Night 2 might end up being legendary if both Bayley and Rhodes win, and it could overshadow Night 1. But the scene was fantastic, production was top notch as always, and the fans went home having enjoyed one for the ages. The Triple H Era s well underway, and will likely kick into a higher gear with Night 2.

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