WWE – NXT Greatest Matches Vol 1 (Cert 15)
2 Disc Blu-ray / 3 Disc DVD (Distributor: Fremantle Media) Running Time: 427 minutes approx.
In August 2012 the WWE closed its developmental promotion Florida Championship Wrestling (FCW) in Tampa and moved operations to Full Sail University to Orlando. Triple H took over the running of the promotion, originally under the narcissistic working title of “Project H”, taking much of the FCW roster and adopting the name NXT from the defunct WWE TV show used to introduce FCW wrestlers to WWE audiences.
In 2013 the NXT developmental system was integrated with the WWE Performance centre allowing new talent to be trained in house then debut on NXT when they were ready. While this is still the main remit something miraculous and rather organic happened in early 2014 which caught everyone by surprise.
NXT was given their own two hour special on the newly established WWE Network, the only platform NXT’s weekly TV shows could be seen, called NXT Arrival. This opened the eyes of many fans to what was hitherto the WWE’s best kept secret and the quality of the wrestling, not to mention the tribal atmosphere of the fans evoking the memories of the ECW arena some twenty years earlier.
Suddenly the NXT wrestlers weren’t just no-name rookies being primed for the future, they were being recognised a stars in their own right, having consistently better matches and better booked feuds than the tedious nonsense seen on WWE Programming.
This release presents us with a chronological potted history of NXT’s humble beginnings to a wrestling brand in its own right which has blown up to the point that the NXT name can sell out 10,000 seat arenas faster than the WWE name! And true to its title, we have a collection of some of the best matches which have taken place over the group’s four year history at both Full Sail and external venues.
It might be seen as cynical move that the majority of the matches selected include faces who are now on the main WWE roster and familiar to everyone but these people are also integral to the success of NXT and, if you’ll allow this candour, many had their best matches whilst a part of this promotion.
But, this does give fans a chance to see how far these wrestlers have come over the past few years and why they received such passionate and reverent welcomes upon their WWE debut. Among this number are the likes of Seth Rollins, Big E, Sasha banks, Charlotte, Paige, Becky Lynch, Neville, Kevin Owens, Tyler Breeze and more, while first time viewers fans will be introduced to current home-grown heroes Bayley, Finn Balor, Sami Zayn, Enzo Amore & Colin Cassidy and more.
After introducing the brand and explaining its growth via interviews with Triple H and many of the current and former NXT wrestlers, this set kicks off with Seth Rollins vs. Jinder Mahal to crown the first ever NXT Champion. Rollins was a pure babyface here and carried Mahal to a decent match. However for some reason Rollins’s “Curb Stomp” finisher has been censored (replaced by a crowd shot) which is a little sad but the only noticeable edit on the whole programme.
Elsewhere we see the first meeting between Chris Jericho and Bray Wyatt prior to the latter’s main roster call up and a stonking 2 out of 3 falls match between Sami Zayn vs Cesaro which truly put Zayn on the map in NXT. The main event of NXT Arrival a ladder match for the NXT Title between champion Bo Dallas (yes really!) vs. (Adrian) Neville is included. Neville then defends the title against Zayn in the main event of NXT Take Over: R-Evolution and Zayn in turn faces Kevin Owens in a bitter grudge match from NXT Take Over: Rival.
One area in which NXT has truly broken the mould is with women’s wrestling. In WWE the ladies used to get a few minutes to have a match if they were lucky and were treated as an afterthought both creatively and by the fans. In NXT they not only get substantial match time but also they’re often are promoted as the second biggest match on the show; At NXT Take-Over: Respect Bayley vs. Sasha Banks in a 30 minute Iron Man match actually HEADLINED the show!
Demonstrating why NXT women’s matches are so venerated is Paige vs. Emma to crown the first NXT Women’s Champion (Emma’s performance is a world away from her comedy act). The classic match that really changed everything for the ladies, Charlotte vs Natalya is featured along with a fatal four way featuring the Four Horsewomen (Banks, Lynch, Bayley and Charlotte). But it is the amazing Match Of The Year from NXT Take-Over: Brooklyn (before 15,000 fans!) between Banks vs. Bayley which is the jewel in the crown.
There are also a few curios in this set of unreleased matches, which explains why they have no commentary. First there is a cracking match between Neville vs. Cesaro from the Arnold Classic followed by a hard camera only bout pitting Hideo (KENTA) Itami against Tyler Breeze, the first match where Itami finally hit the GTS (which CM Punk nicked from him trivia fans).
Also tucked away in the extra on the Blu-ray edition are more curios including the match which saw ROH alumni reunite in NXT as the Kings Of Wrestling, Claudio Castagnoli and Chris Hero, face off against CM Punk and Tyler Black. Who? Well, Castagnoli, now known as Cesaro, was wrestling then WWE Champ CM Punk when Kassius Ohno (Hero) interfered, bringing out NXT Champ Seth Rollins (Black), leading to this tag match!
This is more than a collection of great wrestling matches, it is also the remarkable story of how a small acorn grew into a mighty oak and continues to grow. Not just an essential purchase for fans of NXT but for all wrestling fans tired of the self-indulgent weekly malaise that is RAW and Smackdown.
An absolutely cracking reminder that wrestling is very much alive and still kicking ass!
NXT 17th October 2012 – CM Punk & Seth Rollins vs. Antonio Cesaro & Kassius Ohno
NXT 13th November 2013 – 2 out of 3 Falls Match – Adrian Neville vs. Corey Graves
NXT 14th October 2014 – Bray Wyatt Thanks The NXT Universe
NXT Take Over: Fatal Four Way – 11th September 2014 – Bonus Match – Paige vs. Becky Lynch
NXT 15th July 2015 – NXT Women’s Title Match – Sasha Banks (c) vs. Charlotte
NXT Take Over: Respect – 17th October 2012 – Apollo Crews vs. Tyler Breeze
Rating – *****
Man In Black