Pro wrestling in 2019 is sold on almost equal parts of the on-screen/in-ring storytelling and the real journey of the performers who take part in those stories.
WWE knows this, and it’s a big part of why they launched a YouTube channel dedicated to their developmental program’s Performance Center(s). Our latest peaks behind the curtain at the men & women striving to become the next big Raw or SmackDown Superstars focuses on the impressive number of NXT talents who worked the Royal Rumble matches in Phoenix’s Chase Field last Sunday (Jan. 27).
This first one, featuring coaches Matt Bloom and Serena Deeb informing female wrestlers they’d be working the 30 woman match is my favorite, mostly because of Xia Li. Her reaction is the best - likely at least in part because as the performer who’s been featured the least on NXT television, Li was probably the one who most thought she was being called to Bloom’s office to learn of her release:
Then there are these two clips, one each dedicated to the NXT men and women on the day of their Rumble appearances:
Aleister Black’s impassioned speech in the first one is pretty special, but the standout moment for me is the scene of Ricochet greeting his girlfriend Kacy Catanzaro backstage after her stellar performance in the women’s Rumble. His pride and support is touching in and of itself, but if you’re a non-romantic-type, Rhea Ripley is here for you. The former NXT UK Women’s champ crashes one of the schmoopy couple’s embraces with a videobomb for the ages:
After this look at the real people behind the kayfabe, I know who I’m rooting for.