SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
NXT LIVE EVENT
OCTOBER 28, 2016
SAN JOSE, CALIF.
REPORT BY MARK B. FROM CALIFORNIA
Estimated attendance: 3,500.
All in all the show was super entertaining. It isn’t going to dethrone PWG or any of the Takeover specials that people might have access to, but it was fun just the same. We had some issues with morons in the crowd, but I’ll get to that… Here’s the card and results, as well as any key takeaways (and some spoilers for the Dusty Rhodes Tag Tournament):
(1) Oney Lorcan vs. Patrick Clark
I’d never seen Oney before… not srue if he has been on TV and I missed him or if he’s still an up-and-comer, but he went against the super charismatic and insanely odd Patrick Clark. Oney was pretty much a pure “boots and trunks” quasi-strong quasi-american wrestler, but the crowd was fully behind Clark from minute one. This crowd was chanting anti-Cena jeers and any and every song they could think of before the show, and this was the right (or wrong?) first match to keep that all going. There was a Purple Rain chant numerous times, Clark threw is scarf at Oney halfway through the match and Oney (and the crowd) sold it like a freakin gunshot, and battle chants of “No He Didn’t/Yes he did” rang out multiple times. All in all it was Lorcan with a massive half nelson plex out of nowhere and a half crab for the win. Crowd was into it; maybe the second most intense of the night behind the main event.
(2) Strong vs “The Orange One” of TM61
Sorry… I’m being that guy. You know, the “both tag team members look the same” guy. I legit don’t know which member of TM61 Strong ended up fighting, but doing some digging makes me think it was Shane Thorne. The angle was set up before the match with Aries coming out with shades on (in street clothes), blaming the WWE officials for not letting him fight after a “freak injury hit me right in the eyehole”, and then Regal’s quick appearance to create an impromptu 1v1 match that would determine who went on. The fact that they didn’t simply replace the team with another member in place of Aries was a bit of a give-away that they weren’t making it far enough in the bracket to worry, so TM61 had an easy pass into the next round after Strong did the honors.
The crowd was oddly dead for this one. I expected them to carry the energy from the pre-show and first match but being reminded that AA wouldn’t be wrestling took some wind out of everybody. It also felt like people didn’t know Roddy as well as I thought they would. Am I somehow the old man now? You know… the guy that remembers ROH’s first main event match, a time when PWG had the likes of Bryan and London? A time when the WWE videogames were good? It was a little weird.
(3) Blake vs. Murphy
Yikes. This one couldn’t have ended soon enough. To say this feud is going nowhere is a bit of an understatement. If the previous match took the wind out of people this one had them begging for intermission. There were two standouts. First off, Murphey was in full heel mode, and he was the only guy on the show that got a legit heel reaction instead of a “smarky” humoring at best. People hated him, and he made it work. The second highlight… Blake came out as “Wesley ‘the body’ Blake” rocking a few extra pounds, and both his ring entrance and finishing frog splash were accompanied by tossing out Spider-Man like streamers from his hands. Again, I’m not sure if I just haven’t seen this on the main show or if it was just for house shows, but it was ridiculous and kinda funny. Outside of that it was a mess. Tons of delete (ugh) chants, an ironic “fight forever” chant during the midpoint when it was apparent that this was going nowhere, and a general dead feeling in the crowd.
(4) Daria vs. Asuka
So first off, the announcement of a women’s match (before even saying it was Asuka) was the biggest pop of the night since the Clarke match. It was a rough 40 minutes or so before that. Pretty standard match to follow, but there was actual mat work, some brutal striking and about 10 moves involving Asuka’s butt… all of which were the first hint – even if there was some comedy – of a main event feeling. Daria convinced a lot of people that she belonged, going toe to toe with Asuka and countering arm bars and strikes. It was a legit good match; the first of the night. I do have to say that I wasn’t a fan of the post-match setup… after Asuka went for the arm bar, Daria countered into her own before Asuka could again counter and get the tap out with a rear naked choke. It felt hard fought, but there was real animosity built up throughout the match. Rather than run with it though, they did the “everybody’s happy” finish with Asuka raising Daria’s hands and the two walking out together and waving to the crowd. I don’t want to see that. I want to see “Nobody is ready for Asuka.” That’s what I’m buying. That’s what she’s selling. It was a great match, but the way they left would have everybody in the building confused if they went back to fighting each other any time soon. How could they? They’re best friends now!
(5) Authors of Main vs. No Way Jose & Rich Swan
Three matches left for the second half of the show, and this one saw the longest match to date by the Authors. In a nutshell… they worked a “Revival” style match. Rich was the fall guy, spending most of the time on the ground in the Author’s corner while No Way Jose stood on the apron looking absolutely massive from my position in the front row. Seriously, that guy is huge. Everybody involved did great work; even the Authors, who to this point I really didn’t have much interest in. They had some decent heat, but most of the match was people cheering for Rich Swan, doing the “Can you handle this” and “All night long” call and response, and chanting for Jose. When Jose eventually got in the ring he brought serious fire, cleared the ring (the first time anybody has gotten any real offense on the Authors) and would have won if it wasn’t for a quasi-distraction finish after Swan did a top-to-outside turnbuckle senton. Jose leaned out to make sure he was ok, quick distraction and the Authors hit their finisher shortly after for the W. Not bad, and the first real match of consequence from the Authors. The crowd loved Jose and Swan as expected.
(6) Ember Moon vs. Billie Kay (w/Peyton Royce)
I wish this match had more to it. Decent overall, but not a lot to talk on. Peyton played the foil a few times with outside interference and it really got to an adorable “Izzy stand-in” in the front row that was practically standing on the rail and berating her for cheating. Outside of that Billie had a good-not-great match, Ember had stop and go offense that eventually lead to the insanely impressive top rope flipping stunner, and the heels got what was coming to them after all the distraction shenanigans. It was fine… but it was also the start of some bad habits in the crowd. That same group that booed the John Cena fan early on and had some admittedly funny chants during the Clark curtain jerker was getting bored, and a “Section 14” chant broke out. Yes, they were literally cheering for themselves. The crowd booed and tried to get them back into the match, but the attention made it worse, and it would carry on into the main event.
(7) Ty Dillinger & Nakamura vs. Robert Roode & Samoa Joe
Man… Wade talks about the idea that an entire show could build to one good main event and that’s exactly what they were going for with this card. They just did it twice; the first half of the show ended with Asuka’s title defense… the end was all about four stars that were very, very over. The entrances alone were worth the price of admission. All 3,500 people sang along with “Glorious” while Roode kept a straight face and looked at the crowd like it was their fault he had the song in the first place, Joe had a major pop. Ty is insanely over and it was 10’s all night from here on out, and Nakamura lead his charismatic sing-along well after the music ended and match began. Seeing that guy in person is worth any price; he oozes swagger and commanded the room even when waiting for the obvious setup of Ty as the punching bag for the quick tags and brutality of Joe and Roode. Great match overall, and everybody got their major spots in. They worked the “Ty wants Roode” angle more than the Joe/Nakamura side, and even got into a little humor with the two. Roode at one point was begging off Ty on his knees, but in holding his hands up made a “10” which the crowd instantly got into. Ty did it right back at Roode. Then Roode got mad, went on the attack, and Ty stomped on both of his hands. Roode shook them out, again making a 10, and Ty followed him once more, mimicking his actions and working some comedy in.
I was worried that Nakamura and Joe wouldn’t fight much after hearing the other reports recently from live events, but that wasn’t the case. We got it all. Shinsuke took home the win with the Kinshasa, did all his signature spots, and even worked a little comedy in around the 10 angle as well. It was a great match that ended the night with Nakamura and Ty giving the “you’re such a great crowd” speech and playing out with both of them doing Nakamura’s “Yeeeaoooo” entrance routine.
FINAL THOUGHTS; Yeah… about that crowd being “so great,” though. Mid-way through the match… the main event match with incredible entrance pops and 90 percent of the merch at the stands… again had to deal with the self-fulfilling nature of the crowd. We got a “Beat L.A.” chant when Joe got in the ring – you know, because his shirt says SoCal and Northern California is obsessed with beating the Lakers, Ducks, Kings, and Dodgers – and section 14 actually had the gall to start their self-indulgent chant again while Ty and Roode were in the ring working their FREAKING PAYOFF to the back and forth the match was trying to tell. Joe was noticeably upset, though the guy’s a pro, and the “Section 14” chant was answered back with “14 sucks” (one of the loudest chants of the night… also a bit depressing) and followed quickly with a “Watch the match” response. Man… being in that massively anticipated moment, seeing the likes of Joe and the legendary Nakamura in the flesh… and then to have it be about the crowd. That hurts the business. Chanting along with the quirky opener and reacting to a scarf throw as a near-finishing maneuver… fine, but maybe also part of the problem when booking this much comedy. When it came time to get serious, the crowd was more obsessed with being clever than they were engaged in the main event. That is really unfortunate. In the words of New Day. SHAME. In the words of tonights crowd and Matt Hardy… DELETE.
All in all it was an awesome show. Front row tickets were around $90, and for that price I’d do it again tomorrow. It basically boiled down to a hilarious opener, a great women’s match with Asuka who is crazy-over, and a main event that was super fun in a “watching the graduating varsity class before they head off to bigger things” kinda way. To say NXT’s roster depth is anywhere near where it was before the departure of Zayn, KO, and the rest is insane… but they’re rebuilding and it’s going pretty well so far. I’m a SoCal transplant and I’d still take a PWG show any day of the week, but NXT scratched that itch, and I’d rather watch another live event from them than attend Hell in a Cell on Sunday. Super fun, but not the best live show I’ve seen by any means.
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