I’ve been to many wrestling events in my life. From WWF/WWE shows, to WCW, to ECW, to XPW, and so much more. Tonight was my first time experiencing an NXT event, and while it is a World Wrestling Entertainment produced event, NXT Live in Los Angeles was a completely different experience than what I was use to, and one I really enjoyed.
Before the show started, waiting in line on Sunset Blvd had me thinking about how far some of the talent on tonight’s show has come. 10 years ago, some of the guys wrestling in that building were wrestling at the Hollywood/Los Feliz JCC on the corner of Sunset and Bates when PWG would run events there. The vibe among the people was very positive. Lots of fans came dressed as various wrestlers such as Shinsuke Nakamura, Ric Flair, and a kid who was dressed like Enzo Amore who cut a promo that was filmed by former SoCal wrestling personality Ryan Katz (a.k.a. G.Q. Money, who was recognized by a few fans from his XPW days) while many more were rocking Bullet Club shirts. This was definitely not your typical WWE crowd, but a crowd that seemed made up of smart wrestling fans who knew about promotions like PWG and Ring Of Honor.
NXT ring announcer Mike Rome started off the show getting the crowd hyped, and after the NXT intro played on the big screen, HHH cut a video promo welcoming everyone to the show. With that, we were underway.
Roderick Strong vs. No Way Jose
This was a really fun match. No Way Jose was really over with the crowd, while Roderick Strong also got a huge ovation, as well as several “PWG” chants. There was even a “Super Dragon” chant during this, which was really amusing. There were some shenanigans involving No Way Jose dancing around and getting Strong frustrated. Roderick Strong hit his signature spots and picked up the win in a pretty good opener.
Dusty Rhodes Tag-Team Classic Tournament – Semi-Finals Match: TM61 (Shane Thorne & Nick Miller) vs. Sanity (Alexander Wolfe & Sawyer Fulton) w/ Eric Young & Nikki Cross)
Sanity’s gimmick is really cool. and the fans are really into their shtick. They just come off as different when you see them. The match itself was solid. It started out with Sanity working over Shane Throne after taking out Nick Miller at the very start of the match. Eventually there was a hot tag spot with Miller cleaning house. There was a moment in the middle of the match where Shane Throne (or Nick Miller, I forgot which one) botched a suplex on one of the members of Sanity, which got a some “Botchamania” chants. TM61 got the win via roll up. Good stuff. Nothing great, but nothing bad overall.
Daria Berenato vs. Mandy Rose
For those who don’t know, Daria Berenato is actually from SoCal and has a 2-1 amateur MMA record, having trained at Systems Training Center in Hawthorne, CA. She’s got a gimmick where she’s got an entire MMA shtick, with gloves on and a style that utilizes real fight techniques. She also bounced around on her toes a lot, which was a real cool touch to her character. The match wasn’t that good though, as there were miscommunication issues and sloppy spots here and there. Daria still looked sorta impressive, and I’d actually be interested in seeing her face Asuka.
Tye Dillenger vs. Buddy Murphy
Perhaps the most over person on the show was Tye Dillenger, as the fans ate up his “10” gimmick and were very into his spots in this. Buddy Murphy deserves so much credit for this match, as he busted his ass to put on an entertaining bought, including taking a sick diving bump over the top rope to the outside. Tye got the win after hitting his finishing move. While this was a good match, there were moments where Murphy’s control segment sorta dragged a bit.
Ember Moon & Asuka over Peyton Royce & Billie Kay
This was a fun, basic match. The crowd gave Asuka a great ovation. She might’ve been the most entertaining worker on the show with her goofy antics and her constant fucking with her opponents. Ember Moon was really impressive in this too, as her moveset made her stood out from the other women in the match. Payton Royce and Billie Kay are also really good heels, and they did a good job at playing off the crowd chants and heckles. This was good stuff, just like most of the matches on this show. Asuka’s team got the win after Ember Moon hit a top rope stunner on Royce and Asuka made Kay tap to an Asuka lock. I probably got that shit mixed up, but whatever. This was still a good match.
We then got an intermission at this point of the show. Following intermission, William Regal came out to the stage and cut a promo thanking everyone for being at the show.
Dusty Rhodes Tag-Team Classic Tournament – Semi-Finals Match: Authors of Pain (Rezar & Akam w/Paul Ellering) vs. DIY (Tommaso Ciampa & Johnny Gargano)
The fans had a great reaction to D.I.Y. before their match. This was one of my favorite matches of the night that featured some cool spots, including the Authors of Pain catching one of the members of D.I.Y. during a dive, and then throwing him into his partner as he was going for a follow up dive. One of the members of the Authors of Pain also hit a Fall Away Slam/Samoa Drop on both members of D.I.Y. at the same time. The finish of the match saw Paul Ellering distract the referee, while the Revival attacked D.I.Y. The Authors of Pain advance in the tournament.
Bobby Roode vs. Kota Ibushi
Let me just say this right now: I know people over at NXT will see this review. Trust me. I fucking know it. To you guys at NXT reading this, air this match on an upcoming episode, It has to be seen by the general public, because this was a legitimate Match Of The Year contender. The crowd gave both guys great ovations, especially Kota Ibushi. Both guys’ styles meshed really well to put together some really cool spots. Roode would spend the match trying to ground Ibushi, while Ibushi would go for his signature high flying offense. Ibushi even busted out a standing Shooting Star Press and attempted a Phoenix Splash during the match. Lots of cool and crazy ass spots here. Roode got the win after hitting an Implant DDT on Ibushi. Again, great stuff that needs to air and be seen by as many people possible.
NXT Championship – Triple Threat Match: Shinsuke Namakura (c) vs. Eric Young vs. Samoa Joe
On the poster for the show, the advertised main event was supposed to feature Austin Aries, but because of an injury that happened earlier in NXT’s California tour, that wasn’t going to happen. Instead, Eric Young took his place. This was a really good match to close the show. While it was your usual Triple Threat match where two guys would go at it while one guy was on the ground, it was fun. Joe and Nakamura hit their trademark spots. Nakamura picked up the win after hitting Eric Young with a Kinshasa. After the match, Joe and Nakamura had a stare down before Joe left the ring. After Joe left, Nakamura got on the mic and thanked the fans for coming out.
This, in all honesty, might’ve been the best wrestling show I’ve ever been to. The Bobby Roode vs. Kota Ibushi match is something that needs to be seen, and the main event triple threat match was fun. I really can’t say enough about how much fun their show was. It felt like an independent wrestling show full of smart wrestling fans with a WWE vibe to it, and strangely, it worked. I really think NXT could do great in Southern California if they ran here again. NXT really feels like something special, and it’s good to see WWE put out an alternative product than what they have on TV. Hats off to everyone at NXT for putting this show together. I had a wonderful time and recommend everyone check out a live NXT event.
Note: I was high on a medical marijuana edible during this show. I highly recommend being on one during a show if you’re a medical marijuana user or if marijuana is legal where you’re at.