Good Morning and Happy 4th of July to all of my fellow Americans. I just got finished watching a live WWE Network Special “Beast In The East” which aired live from Tokyo, Japan and I have to say, this show was a lot of fun. It was really fun to wake up before the sun came out here in New York at 5AM, run out to get bagels and coffee and enjoy a WWE show to start my Independence Day. I might add that before the show began, I watched the Finn Balor “The Demon Revealed” special that aired on the live feed right before The Beast In The East and it was fantastic. If you haven’t seen that documentary go out of your way to watch it as it is a perfect prelude to the Beast In The East Special. However, that’s another discussion for another time, let’s get into some of the highlights of WWE: The Beast In The East.
The Demon Rises: I’ll be honest, when I heard that NXT Takeover would be in Brooklyn, I wasn’t 100% sure that they would do the title change here but, looking back, it was absolutely the time to do it. One of the coolest things for me was to see the entrances of both Balor and Owens with the ladies presenting them with the flowers, to flooding the ring with streamers (which is the first time I’ve ever seen this at a WWE show) it just felt like such a big match feel for the NXT championship. Kevin Owens was immediately established as big time heel by throwing the flowers into the aisle way and doing all he could to win the match by countout. The crowd was solidly behind Balor from the beginning until they finally got the moment of Balor winning the title which was a feel good crowning moment for Balor. This was the best match on the card (though Jericho and Neville was close) as there was such a good build throughout the match and so many good false finishes, including Owens kicking out of the coup de gras and Balor kicking out of the top rope senton. With Balor now the NXT champion, Owens can make the full transition to the main roster and Balor can lead NXT into the future. The title change also added to the importance of the show, especially because the NXT title is changed so infrequently. It was also a nice tough to see Hideo Itami in the crowd, showing support and having Tatsumi Fujinami coming out to crown the triumphant Balor.
Brock Lesnar: Brock Lesnar came off like a really big deal on this show as he returned to Japan for the first time, as a WWE Superstar, in 12 years. The show was build around Lesnar from the name of the show to Brock entering the building being shown as if he was the biggest star in the company to the great video package showcasing Lesnar. I was actually surprised to see the fans get behind Kofi as much as they did, it really shows me how much traction the New Day is getting. The match itself was complete domination, which I expected that it would be, however, I would have preferred to see Xavier Woods face Lesnar as I feel they’ve done a good job protecting Kofi since the New Day formed. That said, John Cena and the Undertaker both got destroyed by Brock Lesnar so there is no shame in that whatsoever.
The Main Event: I was surprised to see that the tag match closed the show here as the show was built around both the NXT title match and Brock’s return but, say what you will about John Cena, he was absolutely adored by the Japanese crowd who reacted as if Cena was the huge star that he is. I felt that this was a unique tag match in which all four men worked really hard. It’s cool that WWE continues to have Cena and Ziggler loosely related as they’ve had each others’ backs for a while. It reminds me somewhat of Tugboat and Hulk Hogan from back in the day. I also thought it was nice to see Bad News Barrett get a main event spot and look good doing it. A fun match that sent everyone home happy and ended a strong show the right way.
44 Years Young: Holy cow did Chris Jericho and Neville tear down the house to kick off this show. The two went back and forth for over twenty minutes in a great match. Chris Jericho, in particular at 44 years old, did a great job in keeping up with the younger Neville and there’s still so much that he can contribute to the business, even in a limited capacity. From doing small things like demanding that the referee “Ask Him!” while performing every wristlock or chinlock to coming up with innovative reversals, Jericho was on fire tonight. I feel that Chris has taken some criticism lately and I’m not sure why because he does a great job in making the younger stars look great every time that he returns. I know some will complain that Jericho won but the loss didn’t hurt Neville at all. If anything, it felt like a star making performance for Neville that he was able to hang with a legend like Jericho in the way that he did. Making stars doesn’t mean that you have to lose every match you’re in because by doing so it gets to a point where victories don’t mean as much against that guy taking the loss. Kudos to both of these men and I would love to see the two work a program if and when Jericho makes a return to WWE.
In the end, I really enjoyed this show as top to bottom every match was good to great. There were only five matches on the broadcast, which meant that everything got to get time to develop. From the divas to the main events, it was clear that everyone worked hard for the respectful Japanese crowd. It was also nice to see the unique setup from to the different pieces of raw footage from the city of Tokyo showcasing the fans dressed as the Superstars to the different look and feel to the show, it was cool to see. I have to add that I really enjoyed the commentary on this show, which I assume was recorded live in WWE Headquarters as I didn’t see the announcers at ringside, as both Byron Saxton and Michael Cole worked hard and did a great job. Lastly, the Japanese crowd was also very respectful, they did what you’re supposed to do in a classic sense, being behind the good guys and booing the bad guys, which was actually refreshing to see. I hope that WWE continues to showcase different live events from unique settings like this in the future.
All Photos courtesy of the WWE Network