THE SPECIALISTS DONOFRIO'S FALLS COUNT ANYWHERE: Live, In-person Report on NXT Live from Pittsburgh - set-up, venue, crowd reactions, Overall Grade, more (w/Pics)
Jun 12, 2015 - 2:02:50 PM
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Falls Count Anywhere - 6/11 NXT Live Edition
By Tony Donofrio, PWTorch specialist
Thursday evening's live NXT show in Pittsburgh was one of the better pro wrestling shows that I’ve witnessed live. Another report from one of our readers stated that there were probably 1,000 people there. Respectfully, I will adjust that number. The venue chosen for NXT Pittsburgh was the five-year old Stage AE, which lies between Heinz Field and PNC Park. It has an indoor seating capacity of about 2,500 and was sold out the first day that tickets were available. It makes me wonder if WWE won’t try to sell out a bigger building in the future like the A.J. Palumbo Center (home of the Duquesne Dukes, which seats about 4,400 before floor seating would be added).
The venue set-up was amazing and there wasn’t a bad seat in the house. Even if you sat in the last row, you felt like you were right on the top of the action. As Pittsburgh Tribune-Review pro wrestling columnist Justin LaBar stated when I bumped into him during intermission: “This is what an indy show on a million dollar budget looks like." The only downfall to the set up was that there was no ramp from the stage to the ring.
Stage AE houses mostly concerts, so there was a gap from the entrance to the stage to what would be the "mosh pit," where the ring was. The wrestlers entered from the stage and had to use wheelchair accessible-type ramps off to the side of the stage to get to the ring. A very small gripe but I thought a make-shift ramp would’ve been constructed for this event.
My match results report is HERE, so I won't re-visit that in this column. Here are my notes throughout the night:
-William Regal opened the show (his only appearance) by leading a 10-bell salute for the late, great Dusty Rhodes. I was a bit surprised that the whole roster wasn’t out on stage for this. Not a gripe, just an observation.
-Only two promos were cut the whole night. The first by Enzo Amore, Colin Cassidy, and Carmella was to set up their match against Blake, Murphy, and Alexa Bliss while also getting the crowd excited for the rest of the show. They definitely received one of the biggest pops of the night (for not being a main event/semi-main event act). The second promo was from Dana Brooke and Emma. It was nothing really special as they just teased that Charlotte’s partner, Bayley, might not show up. Which, of course, she did right after that.
-Speaking of Bayley, I’ve gone on record before saying that I believe her act would translate to the main roster seamlessly. I believe that even more so after last night's show. While she is probably a step below Becky Lynch, Charlotte, and Sasha Banks in the ring (and it’s a short step, not a big one), Bayley could step onto Raw and become the American, female version of Rey Mysterio. Her in-ring work is good enough to be respected by the 18-49 audience and her act with children would go over big time! She was very popular last night and the few kids that were in attendance fell in love with her as she took time to give hugs to any kid that she spotted. WWE is sitting on a potential merchandise gold mine with Bayley, in my opinion, when she hits the main roster.
-The Vaudevillians were surprisingly more over than I expected them to be. However, their match against Zack Ryder & Mojo Rawley was the match that also screamed “indy crowd." Mojo Rawley got a mostly positive reaction UNTIL the match started and the Vaudevillians were introduced. At that point, Rawley was treated by the crowd as a heel (70/30 boos) while his partner, Zack Ryder, and the Vaudevillains were cheered the rest of the night. A very interesting dynamic.
-The NXT Women’s Title Match looked like it was going to steal the show (it was that good!) until the NXT Title Fatal Four-way lived up to the title of “main event." The match went just under 20 minutes with only a few slow spots in which Owens placed all three of his opponents into a headlock to slow down the pace of the match and gain some heel heat. The big moment early in the match that seems to foreshadow some NXT booking for later this summer/fall was an in-ring face-off between Samoa Joe and Finn Balor. They then locked up momentarily before being broken up by Tyler Breeze. Joe and Balor did not touch again the rest of the match. They did another post-match face-off that ended with a respectful “Kliq-fistbump." It definitely looks like this feud will be a big deal later on this year.
VERDICT: As I stated early, this was on of the best pro wrestling shows I’ve been to and the crowd at Stage AE last night was a big part of it. Was it an “indy-type” crowd? Yes. But, they were hot from start to finish and definitely appreciated what was put in front of them and helped to elevate the show. I look forward to seeing NXT Live again while I also wonder if they will try to book a bigger venue. WWE may not want to, though. The intimacy of the set-up and high demand for so few tickets might be what they want NXT to continue be. If they don’t, I hope the situation with there being no true ramp to the ring is addressed, as it was the only part of the show that felt clunky at times.
GRADE: Solid “A”
Tony Donofrio is a Specialist for PWTorch covering a variety of topics and promotions. You can reach Tony at TonyDonofrio@icloud.com or follow him on Twitter @TonyDonofrio.
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