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Back in November of last year, I attended a William Regal Q&A session in Liverpool and he was asked a question regarding who are the ones to look out for in NXT. Regal spoke passionately about how talented the NXT roster is and how the brand will continue to grow. He went on to say that NXT can become so big that they could have their own UK tours. The crowd applauded the statement.
Regal was right about NXT growing. The Takeover shows always draw huge numbers, the product is hot, and they’ve travelled round the United States, too.
Then we finally received the news we were hoping for.
In August, at Takeover: Brooklyn, Triple H announced that NXT will embark on their first ever UK tour in December, and the first ever NXT show in the UK will take place at the Metro Radio Arena in Newcastle!
I had to go! There was no maybe about it.
I would say that the arena was just over half full. Certain sections of the arena were covered with tarp. Even so, this has still got to be one of the bigger crowds the roster has competed in front of. They managed to sell out a 5,000 seater arena in California the week leading up to WrestleMania, and Newcastle couldn’t have been that far of.
Enzo Amore & Colin Cassady def. Blake & Murphy
This was the perfect opener with the right team going over. Enzo, Cass and Carmella need to be brought up to the main roster NOW! Sure it’s going to be a loss for NXT, but you can’t deny them the opportunity, though. They set the tone for the rest of the show and they’re mega over. The chemistry is spot on, no question about it! Enzo just oozes charisma, he really knows how to fire up a crowd and his underdog mentality is perfectly complimented by the power of Big Cass. Then you have Carmella, she really is hot as hell! Blake and Murphy are pretty cool, too. They’ve seemed to drop down since their run as the tag champs, but they shouldn’t worry because they are so talented as a team.
Bull Dempsey def. Tye Dillinger
This was a comedy match and a good one at that. From the word go, the crowd exploded in duelling chants of ‘Perfect 10’ and ‘This is Bull-Fit’. There was this one funny moment when Dillinger performed a cartwheel and tried to rally the crowd into a ten chant, instead we all chanted ‘six at best’. Later on, Bull pulled off a cartwheel of his own which received a sarcastic cheer, ten chant and topped off with ‘Bull is gorgeous’. There wasn’t much action, but the way the pair interacted with the crowd and each other showed their understanding of the entertainment side of wrestling.
Asuka def. Alexa Bliss
Alexa Bliss is stunning in person, but I’m here for Asuka! Noise levels were raised when Asuka made her entrance. Her work in NXT has been must see and the best in the entire company, and the fans in Newcastle have obviously taken to her over the last few weeks. I’ve got mixed views on this match. Alexa locked in countless rest holds on Asuka which limited us to brief flashes of brilliances from the Japanese star. What strikes out most about Asuka is the speed which she works at. Everything she does is crisp and fluid. She’s an amazing talent. I do have high hopes for Alexa Bliss, too. Working with the likes of Asuka and Bayley will be beneficial for her development; I just wish we got more than what we got here.
Rating: ** ½
Samoa Joe def. Apollo Crews
Despite being the heel, Joe’s entrance music was drowned out by loud ‘Joe’ chants. Apollo got a great reception, but nothing on the scale of Joe (he did get some Uhaa chants). I’ve been a fan of Joe for a long time, dating back to his ROH days, but this is the first time I’ve ever seen him wrestle live. He’s wrestled countless times both as a face and as a heel, but he’s more suited as the aggressive bully heel. There was this one moment when Crews went for diving body block from the top rope and Joe just casually side-stepped out the way. What a dick move by Samoa Joe! Both guys got in a decent amount of offence but it was Joe who walked away with the win.
Rating: *** ½
NXT Tag Team Championship: Scott Dawson & Dash Wilder © def. Chad Gable & Jason Jordan
The chants in this match were hilarious! There was this one moment in the match where everyone was chanting “There’s only one Jason Jordan” which made Jordan break character. What made it even funnier was that his partner was in trouble, so it was a serious part of the match. Other chants included ‘Gable’ (in tune to Kurt Angle’s theme), ‘Gable, Gable’ (in tune to No Limit) and ‘Save the Gable’. Another awesome chant, which was directed towards Dash Wilder, was ‘you’re just a crap Curtis Axel’! The best chant of the match (and of the night) went like this:
“Ready, willing, Gable,
Ready, willing, Gable,
Nah, Nah, Nah, Nah, Hey,
Nah, Nah, Nah, Nah, Hey”
It stuck like glue even when the show was over. I actually find myself humming it from no reason. If WWE don’t produce a ‘Ready-Willing-Gable’ towel in the future then it’s a missed opportunity. The crowd energy was on a different level and it inspired the guys to a quality performance. The hype is certainly real for Jordan and Gable!
NXT Women’s Championship: Bayley © def. Emma
Very loud ovation for Bayley! I spent some time at the merchandise stand before the show and the amount of her stuff that was flying off the shelves was mental. She had two t-shirts, some headbands, wristbands and a signed picture. The woman is money! Plain and simple. She’s someone that is living her childhood dream and it’s obvious by the huge smile on her face whenever she’s in the ring or interacting with fans. Emma appears to find a new lease of life as a heel. She’s flawless in her cocky heel role along with Dana Brooke, someone else who’s continuing to impress me. The fans chanted ‘Dana sucks’ and Dana pulled a face which only added fuel to the fire to that accusation. Bayley had to face the numbers game throughout the match, but after Dana was sent to the back, Bayley turned the match around in her favour and won it with a Bayley to Belly Suplex. I honestly can’t wait to see Bayley on the main roster, she’s going to blow the division wide open and her star is only going to shine brighter and brighter!
Neville def. Baron Corbin
It’s now time to play the ‘cheer for the hometown boy’ game with the artist formally known as Pac. I’m not a fan of Baron Corbin at all, I admit that he’s a talented in-ring performer, but there’s a reason why I call him Boring Corbin, so I took great delight in taking part with the “Corbin is a wanker” chants. There was also a “you voted for Trump” chant and Corbin’s what the fuck face was funny! Both guys have worked against each other countless of times, so the chemistry was there. Both guys had a fair share of control of the match. Neville is perfect in the underdog role and Corbin’s offence was aggressive. I’ve said it countless times before, but I’ve got to say it again, the Red Arrow is a thing of beauty when you witness it live.
NXT World Championship: Finn Balor © def. Sami Zayn
What a reaction for these guys. I had this discussion with some friends before the show about whether or not Balor would wear his face-paint. We thought he would of considering that his is the first ever NXT show in the UK, but he didn’t. The pop for Sami was deafening. I’m so happy to see him again after so long, he has been missed that’s for sure. He look genuinely choked up by the reception he got. It’s worth noting that this was the first time both Zayn and Balor have ever faced each other, and after searching on Google, this actually appears to be true. I thought they must have faced each other thousands of times! Even more history being made on this show!
Sami didn’t seem to miss a beat despite being out of action for seven months. He gave us his all including a picture perfect plancha where he landed on his feet.
I mentioned the chants from previous matches and they were in full force here this time with some ICW chants. We started off with “IC-Dub” followed up with “Grado”. Balor acknowledged this by shouting “It’s Yersel”! Classic!
Balor and Zayne embraced afterwards and Balor left so Zayn could take in the standing ovation from the Newcastle crowd. What a moment and a fitting end to the show.
Rating: *** ½
Best match: Dash & Dawson vs. Jordan & Cable – Amazing match with an amazing atmosphere created from the hot crowd.
Highlight of the night: “One Jason Jordan”
Top five performers
1. Jason Jordan
2. Chad Gable
3. Sami Zayn
Overall show rating (out of 10): 9
There was a small crowd, but that didn’t hurt the show at all. Next time NXT returns to Newcastle I can imagine the crowd will be a lot bigger. What I can take away from this show is that NXT proves that wrestling can be awesome. There were no expenses being spared on this show. Bayley’s waving inflatable tube men were present and the lighting affects for Corbin and Balor’s entrances were the same as they are on television. It felt more like a Takeover show as oppose as a live event.
The crowd were fucking amazing. It was such a refreshing change from the usually silent WWE events in recent years. The chants during the tag title match were hilarious and you just couldn’t help but to join in and make an arse out of yourself.
If you didn’t go to this show or any other shows on this tour I urge you to attend the next tour.
Best wrestling show I’ve ever attended.