Sometimes, being a wrestling fan is like waiting for a bus.
You sit on your arse for hours, hoping something will come along to pick you up out of the wrestling doldrums, but to no avail and then bam. Two shows appear at the same time to help reestablish your love of the sport.
I have made no bones about the fact that I consider NXT to currently be the greatest wrestling show in the world and this is down to the fact that I can’t remember the last time they put out a program, either when they were a WWE Network exclusive or since they moved to TV, that wasn’t five-star all the way.
It’s an amazing streak and one that The Undertaker would be proud of, but could they do it again this week?
Well, there’s only one way to find out.
It’s time to lace up our boots and head to the ring for the NXT Review for Feb 12.
Roderick Strong vs Bronson Reed
While the Undisputed Era member was in the ring, calling out the Velveteen Dream for having the gall to have his wife and child’s faces spray-painted onto his tights last week, Bronson Reed stormed out and reminded him that they had some unfinished business.
And lo, a Wrestling Match was born.
To be fair to both men here, Reed had been attacked by Strong and the rest of the Undisputed Era seven days earlier and if Dream had my family on his arse, I’d cut his Jacobs off with a chainsaw, so I get where they were both coming from and they used this rage to kick the program off in incredibly violent fashion.
I did genuinely believe that they wanted to kill each other and I was also impressed by the fact that when the Velveteen Dream’s music hit, Roderick Strong didn’t get so spun out that he ended up tasting defeat.
That’s always been a pet peeve of mine, how wrestlers are supposedly so stupid that they lose all focus by the mere sniff of their rival, but that wasn’t the case here and Strong got the win in a really, really good opener.
Winner: Roderick Strong
Candice LeRae vs. Dakota Kai
We’ll be running our second Predictions Showdown this weekend in conjunction with NXT: TakeOver Portland and if you look at the card, you can pretty much see how it’s all going to pan out.
Except for the Street Fight between Tegan Nox and Dakota Kai.
A couple of weeks ago, I was sure that feud was over after Nox defeated Kai with the help of Candice LeRae, but it seems as if that was just the taster of what’s to come this Sunday and, along with the Gargano/Balor match, it’s going to be what separates the wheat from the chaff as the wrestling contingent of 25YL try to take down their evil overlord Andrew Grevas.
I was hoping that Candice LeRae vs. Dakota Kai would help shed a little light on who to pick, but it really didn’t.
What it did do, however, was show just why the NXT Women’s Division is the best Women’s Division around today.
Neither of these two wrestlers is really in the hunt for gold, but they still went out there and tore the roof of the place. They gelled so well together, hit some amazing spots, busted open LaRae’s nose, and still had time to have a run-in from Nox to remind us what we’ve got to look forward to in the forthcoming Street Match that this performance gets my Fight of the Night.
It’s easy to see why so many female wrestlers are willing to sign up with the WWE, as NXT allows them the chance to show off their skills to a worldwide audience by putting on stellar bouts with other pro’s willing to push them to the limits.
And it’s a lesson that a few other promotions should learn from.
Winner: Dakota Kai
Johnny Gargano vs. Cameron Grimes
If you look up Strong Style in the wrestling dictionary you’ll probably find a picture of this right next to it.
For a match that started out with Johnny Wrestling showing off his mat skills, it didn’t take long before this just disintegrated into a competition to see who could inflict the biggest amount of damage on the other.
I’m a sucker for a good lariat and this match had plenty, along with brutal-looking DDTs, vicious German Suplexes, and the kind of breakneck pace you’d only find in a land speed record attempt.
It was bone-crunching, jaw-shattering, and would’ve rocked most mortal men to their souls, but after this, I’m starting to think that neither Gargano or Grimes are made of earthly matter.
Considering that this all happened only a few days out from NXT: TakeOver Portland then you’d have forgiven them for just phoning it in, but I doubt if either man has even heard of that turn of phrase, let alone understands what it means, so they gave it everything they had.
Gargano might have gotten his hand raised at the end, but there’s no reason that this shouldn’t be used to launch Cameron Grimes into the stratosphere as well.
It was that good.
Winner: Johnny Gargano
Cruiserweight Championship #1 Contenders Match: Lio Rush vs. Angel Garza
And the action kept coming thick and fast with the #1 Contenders Match for the Cruiserweight Championship.
Seriously, by the time this had finished I was out of breath.
I had Garza down to pick up the victory and was somewhat shocked when Rush emerged with the victory, but seeing as how well he must be being received by those who pull the strings at RAW, then maybe my prediction of him just spinning his wheels til Andrade returns were a little premature.
If he is off to pastures new on a permanent basis then I pray they use him right as Angel Garza is one of the best high flyers in the WWE today, as he proved once again when he faced off with Leo.
It ticked all the boxes when it came to in-ring action, including a sequence of trading superkicks that had me jumping up and down so much my family looked at me as if I’d just lost my mind, and after the bell, with Leo Rush victorious, out came Jordan Devlin to set up their title match for next week’s show.
God, sometimes I f*cking love wrestling.
Bianca Belair vs. Santana Garrett
This existed for one reason and one reason only.
To make Bianca Belair seem a legitimate threat to Rhea Ripley before they face off this Sunday.
She did this by first squishing Santana Garret and then getting the upper hand when Ripley hit the ring, but no matter how you try to sell me this cookie, WWE, Ripley’s still going to be walking out of Portland with the NXT Women’s Championship.
Her Wrestlemania match with Charlotte is where the money is.
Winner: Bianca Belair
Adam Cole vs. Kushida
Okay, I’ll admit, not even NXT can hit a perfect show every time.
For starters, the whole Bianca Belair looking strong segment kind of sucked the pace out of the program and then to follow it up with The Broserweights being wacky just annoyed the hell out of me, but my main beef with this is how the WWE doesn’t seem to know how to handle Asian wrestlers.
We’ve seen it time and again, a highly decorated wrestler from NJPW signs to the company, only for them to either never leave the launch pad or to have any momentum they’ve established stripped away at the first opportunity.
It’s f*cking stupid.
Kushida should be a legitimate threat to everyone he steps inside the squared circle with, being as he is a multi-time champion across many promotions as well as an undefeated MMA fighter, but here he is being jobbed out to Adam Cole (Bay Bay!).
That’s nothing against the man he was in there with or the quality of match that they put on, but I’m just a tad jaded when it comes to the WWE taking a perfectly crafted character and having nothing for them.
Give him a chance to show what he can do and Kushida will deliver with matches and riches beyond your wildest dreams, keep him rotting on the outskirts of NXT and you’re wasting one of the best talents you have on your hands.
Winner: Adam Cole (Bay Bay!)
Another week, another (almost) perfectly crafted show.
From start to finish, and yes that does include the actual in-ring work between Cole and Kushida, this was just how I love my wrestling. Fast-paced and hard-hitting with the ability to progress storylines without needing to result to hokey antics.
Well, bar whatever that crap with Dunne and Riddle was.
It’s done what it should’ve and has me hyped for this weekend’s NXT: TakeOver Portland where we will once again be going head to head to see which of us emerges the winner in out Predictions Showdown.
After the Royal Rumble, the table looks like this;
Andrew Grevas: Five Points
Conor O’Donnell: Four Points
Christopher Flackett: Three Points
Neil Gray: Three Points
So it’s a close call who’s going to come out ahead, but as long as one of us knocks Grevas off the top then I don’t care which one it is.
Seriously, the bragging, the boasting, the “Acknowledge me as your reigning Overlord or your fiiiiiiiired” has been quite grating since the Royal Rumble, but now is the time for someone to step up and take the mantle.
And if you think that could be you then feel free to leave your predictions in the comments or on my Twitter account @TerrorCarnival.
It does mean that you’ll start out on the same points as the last place guys, but it gives you a fighting chance and besides, imagine the self-satisfaction you’ll get from proving you know more about wrestling than we do.