This was the 4th NXT show we’ve seen and every time we get a little closer to the action.
The first time was also the first NXT road show so I guess it’s cool to be part of that “history” but we also had to stand the whole time. We weren’t that familiar with the venue (for wrestling) and failed to get seats. Nonetheless, it was amazing and something I’ll always remember fondly. The next time, we made sure to get seats. The third time we got a little closer and this time we made it ringside. Close enough to even be in an official WWE tweet photo…well, at least Her head was.
Even though the show as a whole can’t compare to the first NXT show that was stacked with what is now top main roster talent, this house show included 2 guys I couldn’t wait to see – Shinsuke Nakamura and Bobby Roode.
Shinsuke topped the list, for sure. Ever since seeing him on Wrestle Kingdom 10 – the first NJPW WK show I watched – I was hooked on Nakamura. A true superstar and amazing talent…and here he was in Columbus, Ohio. Same guy. Same guy that headlined WK…same guy that fought AJ Styles, Kenny Omega, Okada and so on down the line. He was here and so was I, and being ringside I had a chance to get as close as I was ever gonna get.
And boy, did I.
The main event
The main event was Nakamura and Tye Dillinger vs Bobby Roode and Cien. Okay, so it wasn’t the 1-on-1 I was hoping for I’ll take it. Cien comes out first, then Bobby takes his sweet, glorious time to get to the ring…I mean, he’s champ so I guess he earned it. Then Tye and finally Shinsuke struts the ring. Everyone is on their feet going nuts. Nakamura walks down the steps and heads down our side of the ring.
I try to get a good picture but he’s moving fast and I quickly see he’s coming to our corner to do his “I’m crazy” shake or whatever you want to call it. So yeah, he did his gimmick with me and my wife right there – we were part of the act, if for only a brief moment. Worth the price of admission right there.
But the match was good too! Cien looked far better at this show than I had ever seen him on television, which told me it’s all about who he’s paired up with. Put him in with guys that can go like pros and so can he. The story of the match was to basically beat up on Dillinger until the end when Shinsuke comes in to save the day. Of course, the champ didn’t get pinned to lose the match. That job was given to Cien but hey, whatever, I got to see Nakamura in action and up close to boot. And I don’t think Bobby Roode is capable of a poor match. His character is spot on in every way and is truly, well, glorious.
The rest of the card
The first half of the show was…so-so. No Way Jose kicked things off against a Prince Iaukea clone and it wasn’t bad at all, just nothing too special. Then Liv Morgan came out to face a new girl, Macey, and it was…well, it was a NXT women’s match – and the current state the women’s division in NXT is less than stellar so it was okay at best.
Kassius Ohno had a match.
Elias Samson came out in a luche mask to sing a song and heel it up a bit, which was pretty entertaining. He’ll be the new Sandow if he’s not careful. But then came the surprise of the night – Tommy End! Or as he’s known in NXT, Aleister Black. He wasn’t advertised for the show and I totally forgot that WWE even signed him, so it was pretty awesome to see him…however, he didn’t really have a match. He came out to talk a bit and then kicked Samson in the head and that was it. Great to see Tommy but wish they would have given him some time to do more.
After that, DIY came out to the local Ohio cheers, but my cheers were reserved for Sanity. Eric Young and company have a great stable and gimmick going, I feel. It’s nothing real original but they seem to click well and all play their part very well…especially Nikki Cross. I was excited to see her but then only the 3 guys came out to fight. What, no Nikki?
They do their match but then at the end Nikki appears out of nowhere – she was under the ring, I guess – and joins in the melee. Then she calls out Askua for a title match. And of course, Asuka obliges and we have a women’s title match! And it’s a match that we’ve wanted to see on TV for months but aren’t getting for some reason. Their match here was pretty solid but a little rough around the edges. Asuka’s lack of English makes her a tough sell after all this time but their in-ring was good and I can only imagine that at a Takeover it would be even better…hopefully eventually.
After that, we get our main event and call it a night.
Even though the current class of NXT might not be as stacked as it was 3 years ago, it’s far from poor. The show wasn’t sold out which is a bummer because tickets were super cheap – I only paid $75 for ringside – and you’ll never get a bad NXT show, even if it’s only the top card guys you want to see. Plus, it might be your only chance to get close to the superstars before they get to the main roster.