CAUTION: SPOILERS AHEAD
So last night, I was able to go to the NXT taping in Atlanta at Center Stage and I wanted to talk about a few things that really stuck out to me:
LAST CHANCE TO AVOID SPOILERS
Here we go...
- First of all, I understand why the hard cameras were where they were, however this made the end of each match when the winners posed and played to the camera slightly awkward since they were facing away from the audience. This is my first NXT TV taping so this may be normal, plus the layout at Center Stage would make it difficult to put anywhere else. So I get it.
- The crowd was a little late getting all settled. Though it was definitely sold out (last two seats sold on StubHub around 6:15, 15 minutes before scheduled bell time), a producer was actually moving people from the back row to fill up seats in camera view during the opening dark match, but most of those people had to move when the ticketed people showed up. It caused a small problem for a couple of families who ended up having to move back and one family left after yelling at the producer.
- Street Profits were OVER LIKE ROVER for their dark match, especially throughout their entrance which seemed to be a little longer than usual, maybe to facilitate the reason I mentioned above. Heavy Machinery was also over to a slightly lesser extent than SP, as were Bianca Belair and TM61.
- Undisputed Era got a big pop and people were about 60/40 against Sanity when they came out, though after their match later in the night they were getting some more love.
- Crowd went nuts when Candice Wrestling came out and attacked Zelina Vega
- Sanity vs. UndisputedEra was wonderful chaos (big surprise), with Killia Dain getting some nice spotlights, including when he threw Bobby Fish from the stage over a five foot gap, the barricade, a table laid against the barricade to the other four on the floor (about a total of 10-12 feet out and 6-7 feet down); good false finishes
- Audience was red hot for Dunne vs. Strong; Dueling chants of "Let’s Go Roddy/BRUI-SER-WEIGHT" several times throughout the match; Great match with a couple really good false finishes. Pete Dunne is a STAR!!! His work on Roddy’s hand/fingers throughout the match were a master class in limb targeting.
- Velveteen Dream was SOOO OVER! Every time the screen went blank prior to a new match, people were yelling his name. He did great with his character work, of course. He mimicked and danced with No Way Jose right before laying into him with some stiff shots. Shorter match, only about 4-5 minutes not counting entrances – it would be interesting to see if No Way Jose could handle a match longer than a few minutes (15+ minutes). Slightly awkward in-ring promo from Dream after the match. It was decent, just paced weird and it will probably come across better on the taped and edited version in a few weeks, since he was facing toward the cameras and away from the audience while giving it.
- This probably not anything new I just haven’t seen it but…Vanessa Borne was dressed as dominatrix and super seductive and borderline inappropriate for a PG show. I mean, it was great, it just surprised me and she got a couple of "That’s not PG" chants with the little bit of offense she got in.
- Nikki Cross was Nikki Cross – AMAZINGLY CRAZY AND AWESOME!
- Forgotten Sons were decent; much like SP, where Montez Ford is the catalysts for that group, Steve Cutler is that guy for FS. He looked good and his offense came across as stiff and intense. Oh yeah…and Wesley Blake was there too. They had a good bit of heat throughout the match and after, during their promo. Cutler, in particular, did well getting heat during the match, yelling at the crowd that we forgot them and it won’t happen again. He basically said the same thing in their post-match promo. I withhold judgment once we have a larger sample size. It didn’t help that everybody wanted War Machine and got Cutler and Blake.
- Almas vs. Gargano was another fantastic match (I know…big surprise). Mrs. Wrestling took out Vega with a dive earlier and pummeled up the stairs, onto the stage, and to the back with no cameras following. Highlights include some great slaps from the champ, a couple great exchanges of forearms late in the match, and a (FREAKIN’) awesome dive through the ropes into a tornado DDT by Gargano on Almas. Good near-falls and a collective groan when the ref was knocked down. Ciampa is great at getting heat without saying anything. His wave from the exit was sadistic and evil…and fantastic. Gargano is the best babyface in the company and he showed it with his facial reactions and emotion, before, during, and after the match.
- I loved being able to go last night and I wish I could have gotten tickets for tonight. Center Stage is a great venue because there is not a bad seat in the house. I have gone to three wrestling shows there in the last year or so (ROH, NXT House show, and last night’s NXT taping) and every other time the ushers have been great, the show awesome, and the crowd good. Last night, however, the ushers were good and the show was awesome, but the crowd was not that wonderful. I mean they were loud and vocal, however there were some people there that thought it was great to try and ruin promos like Aleister Black’s by yelling stupid stuff like "Velveteen is better" and it got to be annoying. I was sitting next to some guys who hated Gargano and were just pelting him with insults during both of his promos, and they also decided to voice their opinion as loud as possible about how this wouldn’t have passed for "awesome" when they were growing up, and they complained that wrestlers nowadays are nearly as skilled nor do they take the kind of risks wrestlers of old took. Finally, there was a contingent of incredibly loud people about 10 rows behind me that felt the need to try and start chants like "get the ref out" and "we want good guys" the WHOLE NIGHT! They were obnoxious and were only doing it for the sake of trying to start a chant, which was the same thing the shrill twelve year old girls in front of them were trying to do. The girls were yelling things at weird times, like "we want Ember" in the middle of TM61 match.
- Other than a select few, though, it was a great night of wrestling and I can’t wait until NXT comes back to Center Stage. I’m also looking forward to April 7, when Raw comes to Atlanta for the go-home show a week before WrestleMania!