WWE – Best Of NXT 2017 (Cert 15)
3 Discs DVD (Distributor: Fremantle Media) Running Time: 533 minutes approx.
We’re quite a way into the first quarter of 2018 yet the WWE Home Video are still in a reflective mode as they present another look back at the year of 2017 as it pertains to the “third” brand of the WWE, Triple H’s pet project and still something of an unknown quantity among WWE fans, NXT!
Introduced by Triple H and hosted by NXT GM William Regal, along with an assist from NXT wrestlers Johnny Gargano, The Iconic Duo (Peyton Royce & Billie Kay) and The Undisputed Era – this three disc set features a number of memorable, and probably forgotten, matches from the previous 12 months to serve as a reminder as to why the yellow brand is the top choice for the best wrestling output from the WWE for hardcore wrestling fans.
To kick things off, we are treated to two great matches from DIY, Johnny Gargano and Tommaso Ciampa, whose split was one of the biggest shocks of 2017, and is included on Disc 2 of this set. However, to remind us of what a great tandem they were are a title defence against Aussies TM61 from their homeland, and a TV bout against arch rivals The Revival. If you’ve only seen The Revival on RAW where they’ve been misused, watch this match to see what they are truly capable of.
Japanese legend and King of Strong Style Shinsuke Nakamura hit NXT like a tornado in 2016 an ended the year as NXT champion having traded the title with Samoa Joe. In 2017, former TNA star Bobby Roode arrived in NXT and became a thorn in Nakamura’s side leading to their title match which you’ll also find in this collection.
Other future NXT champions getting screen time in this compilation include Drew McIntyre, having returned to WWE after six years, facing Oney Lorcan and Killian Dain, and Andrade “Cien” Almas, who enjoyed a startling career resurgence with the addition of Zelina Vega to his act. The match against Johnny Gargano featured here is probably forgotten but in the wake of the 5 star classic they had at TakeOver: Philadelphia back in January this year, will prove to be a curiosity to revisit.
Having had a slow start in NXT, it is great to see the hard hitting No 1 Contender match Hideo Itami had against Roderick Strong, with Itami finally recalling his days in Japan where he wrestled as KENTA. Also featured is the awkward TV bout against Oney Lorcan which was take two of that match up after Itami suffered a busted nose first time round earlier in the show, leading to Itami’s heel turn.
When the Four Horsewomen were called up to the main roster it was feared NXT’s Women’s Division would collapse without them, but along came another Japanese sensation, my Goddess Asuka to fill the gaps left by them, remaining undefeated for her entire NXT run. Including here is a TV match against Peyton Royce and the brutal last Woman Standing Match against SaNity’s Nikki Cross. Meanwhile the division is in good hands with current champ Ember Moon, Kairi Sane, and former MMA star Shayna Baszler tearing up the ring.
Regarded by many as the best match of 2017 in the whole WWE let alone NXT, the second of three classic UK Title Matches between Tyler Bate and Pete Dunn which took place at TakeOver: Chicago is arguably the centrepiece of disc 2 and should be seen by everyone who enjoys great back and forth, pure wrestling and those who may doubt the future of British wrestling.
Speaking of pure wrestling, another must-see bout is Undisputed Era’s Kyle O’Reilly making his NXT debut against Aleister Black in a veritable textbook clinic of grappling, striking and submission wrestling. O’Reilly’s overrated Era partner Adam Cole (Baby!) is featured in a house show NXT Title match against Drew McIntyre with one Shawn Michaels as guest ref.
Johnny Gargano features again (his fifth match in this set) in another house show bout which I believe is exclusive to this release, where he faces off against explosive rookie Raul Mendoza. There is no commentary for this match and it looks like it was shot on a camcorder and not the usual HD video cameras. This won’t stop you from enjoying this incredible match though.
For fans of steel cage matches there is the feud ending TV cage match between Tye Dillinger (remember him?) and SaNity’s leader Eric Young and the resurrection of War Games, given a modern NXT twist – two rings, no roof contested by three teams of three – Sanity, Undisputed Era and the Authors Of Pain & Roderick Strong.
It’s not all matches though, as key moments such as Nakamura’s and Asuka’s farewells from NXT and a look at wrestler-turned-announcer Corey Graves career are recalled, along with vignettes that aired to introduce new talent like Aleister Black, Velveteen Dream and Street Profits. One can argue that we didn’t need Bobby Roode’s Million Dollar Man rip-off shopping spree skit though.
Being honest, the presence of the wrestlers supporting Regal in the few links in between the matches add little to the presentation, with the mileage of the Iconic Duo’s OTT spoilt brat personas depending on how much one fancies them I guess. Gargano is a great wrestler but out of the ring has little personality while the Undisputed Era stay in character for their bits. However, with Regal being taller than all three of them by a good five inches or so, they don’t come across as a particularly threatening heel presence.
Not that this matters as the focus and appeal of this release is the matches and the superlative wrestling action that NXT delivers week in, week out. Some of the better PPV matches may be absent to make this a true “best of” compilation but this is still a fantastic representation of why NXT is the best thing going in WWE today.
Rating – **** ½
Man In Black