The Spotlight On NXT: Takeover- Unstoppable

“The Champ Is Here”

NXT: Takeover- Unstoppable just finished up a little while ago and I have to tip my cap to the guys and gals in NXT because they delivered once again.  Highlighted by the WWE debut of Samoa Joe, NXT Takeover: Unstoppable ha everything you can think of from surprises, to great matches and everything in between. It seems that with every NXT special they find a way to top themselves.  I’m going to start right at the top and take you all the way through the  NXT: Takeover Unstoppable live special.  Lets get right into the highlights,

Highlights 

1) The Preshow-  I’ve said it before the NXT preshow taking place on campus, while the fans are filing into the arena is great.  It reminds of like an MTV Spring Break Special I used to watch as a kid where everyone seemed so young and cool that I couldn’t wait to get to Cancun, Mexico.  The excitement of the fans in the outdoor beautiful Florida weather does a great job in getting, at least me, ready and excited for the special.  As an aside I should also say that Corey Graves is quickly becoming a modern day Michael Hayes with that suit  In any event, I also like the way they explained the Hideo Itami injury and teased that perhaps Kevin Owens had something to do with it.  Imagine six months from now Itami comes back for revenge against Owens on the main roster?

2) Unstoppable-  The opening for this show may have actually been the best non Wrestlemania open to a pay per view/ live special in years.  They did a great job in showing how fast the brand was growing with footage of fans who’ve attended shows mixed in with legends putting over the brand and then NXT’s presence at Wrestlemania.  Then as they hyped the show, every match seemed important especially being showed over the great Motionless In white track properly titled “Unstoppable”.  Great stuff all around.

3) Finn Balor vs. Tyler Breeze– These two guys could be up on the main roster as big time stars for WWE right now.  Both entrances were top-notch from the special effects to the attire.  Finn Balor, in particular, continues to add so much to his costume design that I say we’re only a year or two away from a breath-taking entrance from him at Wrestlemania.  As for the match itself, it was such a fun opener and both men left it all out there.  Balor going up for the dive off the top of the set was both insane and awesome.  I was actually glad to see this match start off the show as it kicked off the event with a bang and allowed for the two not to get lost in the shuffle the rest of the night.

4) Divas Tag–  Let me start off by saying that you can tell that Bayley is really a sweetheart.  When she made her entrance she threw something to a fan and continued to walk to the ring but when she saw that it fell on the floor, walked back picked it up and made sure the fan got it.  The match itself was solid and Emma took Charlotte’s finisher right on her head, it was absolutely brutal looking.  Good for her for going back to NXT, trying to reinvent herself and showing a different side to her character.

5) Rhyno vs. Baron Corbin- Good stuff outta the big guys in this one.  I like that NXT offers something for everyone from high flyers to athletic divas to brolic brawlers, to me wrestling has a place for all types of wrestling.  I feel that Corbin continues to improve everytime out and working with a veteran like Rhyno (who hasn’t lost a step) has only helped him.  It makes sense for Corbin to get the win as Rhyno’s role is clearly to be the veteran to help elevate the young guys and make them look good.  He’s been a great addition to the NXT roster and continues to get a ton of crowd support.

6) Tag Title Match–  I can tell you from expeience that Enzo and Cass’ entrance is as fun for the live crowd as it looks.  That said I’m a pretty big fan of Blake & Murphy.  I like that they were given the titles out of nowhere and continue to improve as tag champs.  Their new entrance is way better than the raw dubstep music as well.  The double team powerbomb/backstabber combination was absolutely hideous and I’m a sucker for double team moves from tag teams. Some will say this was the time to pull the trigger and give Enzo and Cass the belts but I disagree.  Enzo and Cass are so over they don’t need the titles whereas I feel that the titles make Blake and Murphy at this stage of their careers.I also like  Colin Cassady has to be a frontrunner for most improved wrestler of the year, he was so great in their comeback.

7) Becky Lynch vs. Sasha Banks- Holy crap talk about giving Divas a chance.  When was the last time you saw a divas match get not only a hype video package but also the old backstage hype music as the contender and champion enter the arena?  By the time this match started I could not wait to see it…and boy did it deliver.  It’s truly amazing how well the women deliver when they are given the time.  The omen continue to be a highlight of every NXT show and a focal point of the NXT brand.  This, for me was the match of the night and deserved every “this is awesome” and “this is wrestling” chant they got all night.  This was unquestionably the coming out party for Becky Lynch, who was made into a bona-fide star even in a losing effort.  Sasha Banks should be the diva that WWE is planning to build around, she plays her character so well, has great theme music and is great in the ring, she’s the complete package.  The ending was so realistic with Becky having no choice but to tap out to the Bank statement despite wanting it oh so bad.  Then at the end it made sense for Becky to get emotional as it shows how much the NXT Womens title means.  The crowd then singing Becky’s theme song while giving her a standing ovation, really magnified how great of a performance she had.

8) Sami Zayn vs. Kevin Owens-   This is my early choice for feud of the year, just look how good that video package was.  What a great story they told leading up to this match with Zayn returning home to Montreal to find himself following losing his title, fantastic stuff.  Kevin Owens showing up with the US title “champ is here” John Cena shirt was so good that even Sami had a hard time not cracking up and then Owens throwing the shirt on the ground was even better,  He is a great heel!  I’m not sure if Sami Zayn was hurt but if he was he isn’t human.  These guys absolutely tore the house down!  This was a fun brawl that went all around the NXT arena and was only amplified by a great hot crowd.  The caught pop up powerbomb onto the apron was the spot of the night as I just don’t know how ya take that.  It made sense for the officials to stop the match right then and there.  It’s amazing that Kevin Owens has been right in everything that he’s said he was going to do as a heel.  Owens is quickly transitioning from the guy just trying to do all he can to support his family even if that means turning on his friends to a maniacal villain with zero compassion whatsoever.  To have things get so out of hand that Owens even put his hands on William Regal lead to the perfect time to debut Samoa Joe. Joe looked like an absolute killer that the crowd was genuinely shocked to see. This was also a great way to write Sami Zayn off of NXT, whether he’s getting called up or if he’s going to have to take time off to heal his injuries, and transition to Samoa Joe.  It also made sense not to have Joe and Owens touch as Joe did enough just by showing up.  The only person Kevin Owens has backed down to at all since debuting was Samoa Joe and that automatically made him a big deal.

Closing Thoughts

Well I’ll tell you, I was had!  Triple H did such a great job downplaying any Samoa Joe rumors during his conference call that I didn’t even mention it during my spotlight on the call.  It truly a great debut magnified by the storytelling in which Kevin Owens was built up as a complete remorseless monster and the NXT roster needed a savior, Samoa Joe was that savior.  It’ll be very interesting to see if Samoa Joe is going to keep his name because he was referred to as Samoa Joe several times during his appearance.  To me Joe is the last big name guy, other than AJ Styles, in North America who’s never been in WWE and now finally is.  Overall, I was left feeling really optimistic following this show and can’t wait to see what happens next at NXT.

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The Spotlight On Triple H’s NXT Unstoppable Media Conference Call

 

Yesterday afternoon Paul “Triple H” Levesque conducted his quarterly Conference Call in which he speaks with different members of the wrestling media either the day of or the day prior to an NXT live special  Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to listen to the call live because of my 9-5 gig but thanks to Jason Powell of prowrestling.net the entire call is available to the public.  I think this is something very cool that Triple H does and shows how much he has his finger on the pulse of the audience that contains NXT’s most passionate fanbase.  I also find the calls quite enjoyable as you can tell how badly Triple H wants to see NXT succeed, he’s obviously very proud of his braintrust and I can’t say I blame him one bit.  Here are some highlights from the conference call.

Highlights 

1) Bloom and Amato Get The Call- One of the most newsworthy items to come out of Triple H’s conference call was the announcement of a new head coach and assistant head coach of WWE’s developmental system, NXT.  As for the head coach of NXT that was a position given to WWE veteran Matt Bloom.  Bloom is probably best known as, the former Prince Albert, A-Train, Tensai, and (most recently) Jason Albert, to most WWE and NXT fans.  I personally saw Bloom watching Wrestlemania live, right below where I was seated, with the NXT talents and I could tell how much respect the talents had for him.  As for the Assistant Head Coach of NXT, that honor went to Sara Amato who is probably best remembered by wrestling fans as the former Sara Del Ray who wrestled Ring Of Honor and Shimmer, among many others.  I couldn’t be happier to hear of Amato’s promotion as she is very talented and if the current crop of NXT women are any indication, she’s doing a great job!

2) NXT Unstoppable Updates-  Triple H addressed the elephant in the room  head on during the call announcing that Sami Zayn has been cleared for tomorrow night so the main event will remain as advertised.  Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for Hideo Itami who is injured, though Triple H did mention he’d be represented “in a storyline sense” at the show, he is scheduled to take on both Tyler Breeze and Finn Balor in a triple threat number one contender’s match.  The rest of the card will be filled out by Charlotte and Bayley taking on Emma and Dana Brooke, Rhyno vs. Baron Corbin in a grudge match, a tag title match that will see the champions Blake and Murphy vs. Enzo Amore and Colin Cassady and a women’s title match in which Sasha Banks will defend her title against Beck Lynch (no relation, sadly).

3) A Second Touring NXT Brand?- One of the other major things to come out of Triple H’s conference call are long term potential plans to have NXT split off into two different touring brands.  The idea would be to have the main NXT roster make up the brand that would be touring larger venues, perhaps nationally, and then have a second NXT brand consisting of the up and coming NXT superstars and divas, run smaller venues likely in and around the Florida area.  This is a great idea and creates that double A, triple A baseball like system throughout WWE.  It really makes a lot of sense when you consider that no more than 20-25 NXT talents are usually on a live two hour show.  On the ESPN E:60 special you heard Triple H say that there are currently 75-80 men and women down in the performance center.  This would be a great way to get those other 50 members of NXT that live event experience if they aren’t quite ready to be featured on the NXT progam.

Closing Thoughts 

As always a very informative conference call as I feel they offer a unique behind the scenes perspective leading up to the NXT live special.  I always thought it would be a cool idea for either Triple H or Vince McMahon to do one of these calls for the WWE pay per views as well.  If I were on the call I would ask if their were any plans to sign talents specifically to NXT.  As NXT continues to expand and get bigger as it’s own entity, I feel that it will eventually become hard to continue to build around superstars who are on their way out of NXT at some point, although that sure hasn’t been the case as of yet.  I also wonder if there’s nothing for some of the current WWE superstars if maybe they can go down to NXT for some work or a fresh coat of paint, similar to what Tyson Kidd did.  The name that comes to mind for me would be Jimmy Uso, who hasn’t been on WWE TV since the injury to his brother (Jey is out for the next six to eight months) and would, in my opinion, be a welcome addition in NXT, at least in the interim.  Regardless, i’m excited for NXT Unstoppable and hope that these calls with Triple H continue moving forward.  I’ll be back with a Spotlight immeidately following NXT Takeover: Unstoppable.  If you’d like to listen to the entire Conference Call you can do so by clicking here http://www.prowrestling.net/article.php?font-color-996600-05-19-Prowrestling.net-Podcast-Triple-H-takes-pro-wrestling-media-questions-and-promotes-Wednesday-s-NXT-Takeover-Unstoppable-live-special-font-42304 or by visiting prowrestling.net directly.

The Spotlight On WWE Payback 

  
WWE Payback was presented live tonight on the WWE Network and on pay per view from Baltimore, Maryland. The show kicked off a four week stretch for WWE in which they have four different live event pay per view style events on the WWE Network with WWE Payback, NXT Unstoppable (Wednesday night at 8PM  EST), the Elimination Chamber two weeks from tonight and then Money In The Bank on June 14th. It’s an exciting time to be a fan of WWE to say the least. With that said lets get into the highlights of tonight’s show in chronological order. 

For those looking to avoid spoilers Id stop reading now as the show has already aired. If you’re looking for a recommendation, I’d suggest going out of your way to watch the show. The show was a lot of fun with no match being bad & everyone making the most of their time. With their only being 7 matches I felt that every match got time to develop & kudos to the superstars & divas who did the most with that time. 

 1) Ziggler vs Sheamus- Lets be honest the build for Ziggler & Shemus has been a bit silly with all of the kiss me arse stipulations. The truth is the kiss me arse stuff just isn’t necessary as these guys have good to great matches every time out. Tonight was no exception as the two gave 110% and had a great match to start off the show. The finish where Ziggler legitimately spilt his head open by head butting Sheamus & taking a Brogue Kick was brutal. Since each guy got a win I actually hope they are both kept out of the Intercontinetal title match at the chamber & we get a rubber match.   2) The New Day Vs Kidd & Cesaro- To me this was the second best match on the show as both teams looked so strong. All four men worked so hard to put on an exciting 2 out of 3 falls match. The New Day are also continuing to do a great job in their role. Having the New Day go out there and trying to encourage the Baltimore Orioles to finally win a World Series, made them even more hated in Baltimore and was a great way to utilize the players in attendance. I just hope that Kidd & Cesaro stay together as a team. They are both so strong in the ring & should be big single stars but have worked hard to perfect their tag craft that they’ve become an integral part of the tag team division. I personally can’t wait for the tag team elimination chamber match.   3) The I Quit Match- I figured that the finish here would have either been Lana quitting for Rusev or Lana in on it with Rusev all along and the two getting one over on Cena. In the end, Lana did in fact quit for Rusev but I didn’t take it that she was screwing Rusev at all. Rather, I took this to mean that she was actually in love with Rusev and couldn’t stand to see him suffering in the STF, I could be completely off by the way. Regardless this match was great! Total brutality that you would expect to see in a match blowing out off the feud, as I assume this was the end. Both men came off strong in that neither man quit and, as unpopular as this may be, John Cena continues to have great matches week in and week out while helping to make younger stars shine so kudos to him. The only thing I thought was a bit off was that I would loved for one guy to get a clean win & thought Rusev winning by knock out would have been cool as that’s how the feud started. Regardless if Cena winning means more Open Challenges than sign me up because those have been great.   4. What a Main Event!- I do these chronologically but if I had to pick one match that stood above the rest it would have to be that main event. There was so much that went on in that match, it was just so much fun. Even though I feel some of the interferences make Rollins look weak, WWE is doing a great job in making him absolutely hated in that he continues to find a way to keep the title. (Though I will say that this has to be the end of whether Kane is going to turn because he’s made it clear he’s loyal to Triple H).  Moment of match for me had to be the shield reunion and the return of the triple powerbomb through the table. (Especially since it was at Payback last year when the Shield had their defining win, as a unit, in sweeping Evolution) It was also nice to see Ambrose & Reigns going at it without one turning on the other. As we saw in the shield documentary these guys are friends & so it would make sense for them to work together and then admirably go at it. I felt this was another strong showing for Reigns, who’s gotta be winning over even his most passionate of haters at this point. In the end Orton is the right guy to take the pinfall here as he’ll always be a bonafide main eventer, so it’s good to protect Reigns & Ambrose. 

Closing Thoughts

Overall this was a really fun show with a strong main event that had everyone I was watching with jumping with every near fall. I try to limit these posts to three or four highlights but if I extended it to one more I would have added Wyatt & Ryback, those guys also worked hard especially with Ryback pulling out a version of a frog splash. In the end they also had me excited to see where they go from here and interested to see who Rollins and Cena defend their respective titles against in two weeks at the Chamber. However, before we even get that far, the guys & gals on NXT have one helluva show to follow. I can’t wait!