Thursday night Lessons: What I learned from NXT (7-4-2013)

WWE NXT

WWE NXT (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

After the mediocre from Raw this week, I figured it was time for me to see some alternatives to Raw. And that happy alternative is NXT. In this review, I hope to give you an honest impression of NXT from someone who hasn’t seen the show. Will one viewing of this show make me a fan? Or will this show frustrate me more than Raw? Let’s find out together.

Note: I’m considering this a bonus article for this holiday weekend, and I’m not sure if it’ll make the regular review rotation, so enjoy it now. It may pop up again, or it may not!

1. The not so subtle differences between Raw and NXT

Only a few minutes into my first viewing of NXT and I was pleased to notice immediate differences between the two shows. The most obvious being the more intimate crowd setting. Raw generally caters to big arenas, so you don’t get to hear honest reactions play out unless it’s a place like New Jersey where they make themselves heard. With NXT, you have no choice but to notice everything.

Not to mention the announcing, an absolute burden to sit through on Raw, is subdued on NXT. You will not be annoyed by the voices of William Regal and Scott Sanford. There’s no part of announcers trying to get themselves over, or Jerry Lawler talking about puppies or making embarrassing comments during the women’s matches. This is a straight up wrestling show with serious commentary. What a nice change.

2. Women’s wrestling with no boundaries

In another welcome change from Raw, the female competitors are talked about as if they contribute something to the show! No slut or whore talk can be found on NXT, which is a HUGE breath of fresh air.

In a bit of a bonus, I also got to see Paige wrestle for the first time. After hearing so much about her, I can understand why she’s so hyped. She’s good. Like, better than the Bella twins good. Like, she should probably be on the main roster good. Not to rush things, because they’re doing fuck all with the women on the big shows these days.

Moving on.

Alicia Fox, who we haven’t seen on the big shows in weeks, was actually made to look like a threat to Paige in her match. And make no mistake, Alicia can GO. It surprised me how good she’s gotten. And did I mention that Alicia and Paige were wrestling in an NXT women’s title tournament? Not a  battle royal, but a tournament with actual brackets? Yeah, that just happened.

Overall, solid work by both ladies that told a little story and didn’t make me want to throw my laptop out the window. A strong start to the show that doesn’t leave a bad taste in the mouth.

3. 45 minutes is better than 3 hours.

Perhaps it’s because I had no expectations going into the show, but what little I was expecting was surpassed by the quality of wrestling, the characters and the overall feel NXT. NXT is not the Monday night burden that Raw seems to become. It feels more like a weekend pick me up. And that’s a good thing. I’m so used to being let down, frustrated or bored with Raw that I forget that wrestling can still be fun if it’s done correctly.

Sure, I have the superstars that I love to watch on the big shows, but if someone gave me Daniel Bryan in 45 minutes, I wouldn’t turn it down.

4. My preference for heels takes a nose dive with Xavier Woods.

My natural inclination when watching wrestling is to go for the bad guy. Not because I’m being contrary or smarkish, but because bad guys are so much fun to watch. But I saw Xavier Woods for the first time and now all that’s changed.

I’m not normally one for the smiling dancing super face, but with Woods, it works. By the end of his match with Scott Dawson, I was bobbing my head to the beat of his music and humming right along with him. It was FUN. I didn’t have to think about how silly this was or who was making who look better in the match. I just had fun, watched and came back to write this paragraph. Good stuff from both wrestlers.

5. Follow the buzzards

All I can say about the NXT version of the Wyatt Family is I am praying to whatever wrestling god’s exist that they stay the way that they are on this show. If THIS Wyatt Family goes to Raw, they could be huge.

A good buddy of mine who writes at The Wrestling Journal stated that he had a particular love for the Wyatt’s because of their demented tendencies. And I understand why. The one promo from the Wyatt’s made me feel excited to see them on Monday and absolutely terrified at their collective potential for damage. This one promo made me want to go back to other NXT episodes just to see what they’ve been up to. It was that good.

6. Antonio Cesaro is too good for wrestling

After not seeing Antonio wrestle for longer than 6 or so minutes, it was great to see him go toe to toe with Bo Dallas this week.

What I like about Cesaro is that he looks like he isn’t even trying to wrestle as great as he does, he just goes out there and makes it all count. He didn’t stumble to the next move, he MOVED to the next move. And everything he did made sense. He was allowed to be the bad guy without cheesy count outs or an overall lack of offense on his part. And as we all know, Antonio doesn’t disappoint when he’s allowed to go the distance.

7. The worst part of this show is Mason Ryan

I had a slew of characters tossed my way on NXT and most everything I saw was great. Except for one guy. Mason Ryan is the WORST. He was the only person I didn’t feel any kind of connection with. In a match with Enzo Amore and Colin Cassidy, who I wanted to be stomped, he didn’t bring any intensity or give me any reason to cheer for him at all. They did two squash matches with Mason and I can barely remember what happened during both.

Mason Ryan, screaming and flexing to show how tough you are is boring. We are now in an age where a short bearded guy is the most popular wrestler on the card. And he’s putting on PPV quality matches and hardly breaking a sweat while doing it. Can you do that, Mason? Probably not. Give me something more than what you’ve got going on now. Please.

I’ve heard that he’s been given a run on WWE television before, and if that’s true, wow. He hasn’t improved not one bit. As a matter of fact, someone may have to remind me of what he did on Raw, because I don’t remember anything about him. Seriously.

8. Why aren’t you watching NXT?

From beginning to end, I was thoroughly satisfied with the 45 minutes I spent watching NXT this morning. Solid, exciting wrestling packed into 45 minutes. Who can be mad at that?

Not to mention this show is your chance to get “close” to certain superstars before they hit the big time. If what I saw on this show was an indicator of every episode of NXT, I might just have to make NXT part of my weekly wrestling line up.

But why take my word for it? See the episode I just reviewed and make the choice for yourself.

Until next time.

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