SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
— Tony Donofrio (@TonyDonofrio) January 29, 2016
Special Edition “Falls Count Anywhere”
Live at NXT: Pittsburgh
January 29, 2016
– For full results from the live event, CLICK HERE.
NXT made its second trip inside roughly six months to Pittsburgh on Friday night. Once again, the 2,500-seat venue was sold out and didn’t look to have many no-shows, if any at all. The crowd was hot for most of the evening, but I’d say it wasn’t quite as hot as NXT’s first trip to Pittsburgh last June. Part of the reason could simply be the talent that was on the roster then compared to what it was now. Last June’s show saw the likes of Charlotte and Becky Lynch along with a ridiculous four-way main event between Finn Balor, Samoa Joe, Tyler Breeze, and Kevin Owens (then the NXT champion).
Also worth noting this time around was the addition of Sami Zayn, who could not be here last June due to injury. Zayn had a very good match w/ Johnny Gargano to cap off the first half of the show.
The other acts that were over huge in Pittsburgh were American Alpha (Jason Jordan was in town last summer, but wasn’t received nearly as well as he was this trip) and Enzo Amore & Big Cass. Johnny Gargano was also well received and his match with Zayn was more of a face vs. face match that started and ended with a handshake.
Of course, women’s champion Bayley was over huge, and along with Finn Balor and Sami Zayan received the best pops of the night. The biggest heel heat of the night easily went to Baron Corbin. I get the feeling that a lot of his heat is starting to turn into “go home” type heat as the crowd continued to grow restless with the constant rest holds. I couldn’t disagree with the crowd mostly as I feel that it’s getting to be time to fish or cut bait with Corbin as he’s been in developmental more than long enough now. Samoa Joe also worked great as a heel against NXT champion Finn Balor, but I’d say that a good third of the crowd still cheered him throughout the main event.
The most encouraging talent worth talking about was the return of hometown wrestler, Elias Samson. This is the longest match I’ve seen Samson work since leaving the International Wrestling Cartel right before signing his WWE developmental deal. Samson was welcomed with a great pop upon his entrance. In his own fun way of saying thanks, he told the crowd that he had written a song for the occasion. He then promptly sang his song that ragged all over the city of Pittsburgh; despite his best efforts, he didn’t lose most of the crowd and was still cheered by the majority throughout. However, he did play well to some in the crowd that still treated him like the heel that he’s trying to portray. If you’ve only seen Samson on the WWE Network, I urge you to stay patient because I feel like Samson’s act will start to come through stronger if given more time in the ring like he was on Friday night.
VERDICT: Despite NXT not being quite as hot of a show as it was last June in Pittsburgh, I’d still give the show a strong “A-minus.” Part of the show not being as hot was losing just a bit of the novelty and it not being quite as fresh/trendy as it was 6-7 months ago. Couple that with what I’ve already stated about some different talent being on the show and not quite as over as the roster was last summer, you have my reasoning for the very small downgrade. Having said all that, NXT Live is still more than worth the price of admission and was, by no means, a disappointment.