The WWE Network presented its first live special last night (Feb. 27, 2014) from Full Sail University in Orlando, Florida, with its NXT Arrival event, featuring a "Match of the Year" candidate, a strong women's championship showcase, and a few surprise appearances.
Click here if you want to go back and get full results and the live blog. Let's get right to reactions:
- This is the one time I won't complain about Triple H kicking off a WWE broadcast like he ALWAYS seems to do. NXT is the developmental system he has made his baby and he has put the most time into it. He is the proud father of what is actually become an incredibly strong product. I mean strong enough that it rivals the main shows in consistent entertainment. Triple H has a lot to do with that. Plus, for all those checking this show out for the first time, it's good to see a familiar face right from the top. Hey, at least they followed it up with Cesaro vs. Sami Zayn.
- THAT UPPERCUT THROUGH THE ROPES NEAR THE TURNBUCKLES. "Holy shit" chants are usually overplayed. Not here. This was awesome. So was Zayn with an Arabian moonsault to the outside with Cesaro catching him and hitting a tilt-a-whirl slam on the ramp. So was Zayn flailing during the Giant Swing. There were too many great spots in this match to count. Cesaro's shock and dismay at Zayn kicking out at one late in the match after their grueling back-and-forth battle may have been best.
- Sometimes you get two wrestlers in the same company at the same time under just the right circumstances to work a series of incredible matches with each other in the middle of a hot rivalry. Thankfully, this is what we've been given with Cesaro and Zayn. They just have unreal chemistry together. You could argue against some of the promos, and they've been admittedly underwhelming at times, but the work in the ring is outstanding every time.
- CJ Parker is annoying on a level not quite Curtis Axel or Ken Anderson but maybe around Road Dogg when he wrestles. Mojo Rawley is an interesting case because I could see someone feeling that same way about him. But I can also understand loving his schtick. I fall into the latter category. "HE AIN'T HYPE ENOUGH!" It gets me every time.
- Parker vs. Rawley wasn't any good but it never had a chance after Cesaro vs. Zayn and it doesn't really matter. They got to put their characters out there to a much larger audience and they din't stink the joint up. You can't ask for much more than that based on the time they were given in a cool down slot.
- The Ascension against a mystery team? Yeah, okay. That mystery team being Too Cool? No, not okay.
- Man, Connor's got a great leg drop.
- William Regal's commentary cannot be put over enough. Scotty 2 Hotty went in there looking like a cancer patient and it was pointed out but Regal had a great response. "Scotty has a lot less hair than he used to." Regal: "Yeah, but he's got a great right hand." Something nice about the color commentary doing his best to get guys over, even if they don't necessarily deserve it because, hey, they're challenging for the tag team titles.
- Loved the video packages for EMMA and Paige. Not only did a great job introducing fans who may not know them, but did a great job hyping the match between the two. With the space between Cesaro vs. Zayn, they had plenty of space to make it work.
- This crowd chanted "You still got it" at Stephanie McMahon, and she stopped to say, "Ladies and gentlemen, I never lost it" like the true boss lady she is and yes, I'm buying in completely. This was glorious. That line about "being a Diva in WWE is all about being empowered" was complete bullshit, but whatever.
- It's also interesting that Stephanie made the remark that they were here to show that women can do everything just as good as men but even better. I say that because I feel like if Cesaro vs. Zayn hadn't happened earlier in the night, we would have looked at EMMA vs. Paige in a far more flattering light. They had a good match, but the crowd wasn't as hot and they worked at a much slower pace. That's not necessarily a bad thing, just helped make it not Cesaro vs. Zayn.
- That was a sweet submission, though.
- Well, I suppose it couldn't last the full two hours. My stream was damn near perfect, with beautiful picture, for the first hour and 20 minutes. Then, right when Tyler Breeze was taking a selfie, my stream froze. A quick refresh brought me Alexander Rusev choking out Xavier Woods while Lana introduced him. Then I got into an endless loop of refreshing that would give me two seconds of action before another freeze. If this happens during WrestleMania 30, I can't imagine what the response will be. I guess if there was a match/segment to miss, it was this one. Super pissed at missing out on Lana, though.
- The NXT championship title looks like something straight from TNA which is to say, it's hideous and I'm not sure why two men would want to fight over it.
- Did they rip Shawn Michaels from advertising just so he could be a surprise appearance to introduce the NXT championship title ladder match? Oh no, of course not, he's here to shill.
- Bo Dallas has a face you just can't help but hate. Like The Miz, but less like a duck.
- The commentary team trying to act like Adrian Neville vs. Bo Dallas is the best match in the history of NXT was rich, considering it was probably, at the time that statement was made, the third best match on this show. It certainly wasn't anywhere close to Cesaro vs. Zayn.
- The thing about ladder matches is they're spotfests by nature. Anyone who watched WWE from 2000 on has a hard time watching ladder matches that don't feature men going to utter and completely insane lengths to top the last big spot. A great ladder match doesn't necessarily need to be as dangerous as those TLC matches used to be but it does need big spots at strategic points. To my eyes, they had trouble keeping the fans invested until Neville hit Red Arrow and that turned out to be the finish. It was a good match, sure, but not great and nowhere near as good as the match that opened this show.
This was a good show, with the big three advertised matches delivering. The stream didn't hold up the whole way and that's not good considering all the problems with the Network launch and upcoming WrestleMania 30 event, but that's to worry about later.
That's it from me, Cagesiders. Now it's your turn to sound off in the comments section below with all your thoughts on last night's show. How did you like it, if you liked it at all?