I’ll be the first to admit that I am a bit of an “Indy skeptic.”
Don’t get me wrong, I more than respect the athleticism and creativity that a lot of the stars of the local/regional promotions display. I just have too much of the old school mentality. I take everything I hear about the latest “internet darling” with a grain of salt. What you do on the independent scene will only be good enough to get you a chance at the big stage of WWE. Once there, my assumption is that it will take a few years to get acclimated with the WWE system before I can see potential.
I need to change the way I think!
When Sting made his debut at the Survivor Series, it was the last of that type of debut. Gone are the days where a guy can be a star from one global wrestling organization and make an immediate impactful debut in WWE. There is only one big show in town and that’s WWE. This is how we will see new stars make their debut from here on. No longer will we have “when is so-and-so jump over to WWE.” We will now have “when will so-and-so be called up to the main roster?”
Triple H got it right! The Performance Center in Orlando and the NXT show is his baby. He saw that the way to bring new talent to WWE has changed. He opened the door to the Independent stars to show their stuff in a semi-WWE atmosphere.
Over the next few decades, we’ll all benefit from what the Performance Center produces.
We’ve already seen it with the likes of Roman Reigns, Bray Wyatt, Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins, Luke Harper and Erik Rowan. These six stars all made their name in the birth of NXT. At the 2012 Survivor Series, we had “Oh! Those are the NXT guys attacking Ryback!” In the summer of 2013, vignettes on Raw let us know that the Wyatt Family “was coming” to Raw from NXT. Now it appears that The Ascension is ready to make the jump to the main roster. These two, Konnor and Viktor, have spent their time in NXT creating characters that make them look like the most dominating tag team since the Road Warriors.
I’ve said before that the business of wrestling is in a constant state of evolution. We are now very rapidly creeping up on new era in WWE. I can’t remember the last time there was this big of an influx of solid, young talent in WWE. We have seen some of this new talent on the main roster for the last year or two, but the real affirmation of the young foundation being built for years to come came with NXT’s recent live special R-Evolution.
The most recent version of NXT’s live event pay-per-view equivalent did nothing less than open the eyes of the WWE Universe to what the next 10-15 years will look like. The show itself was centered around a title match between two of the most popular stars in NXT for the last year and the company’s three major independent signings. What came out was what people are considering the best wrestling show of 2014.
Kevin Steen, now Kevin Owens, was the last of the three big signings to make his debut and very quickly showed that it was worth the wait. As soon as his video hit the screen, the small crowd at Full Sail University gave a pop that made it seem like they were in the AllState Arena! The match itself didn’t give the crowd too much of a chance to die down either. Owens does things in the ring that a guy his size should not be doing. The “Fight Steen Fight” chants from Ring of Honor have seamlessly transitioned over to “Fight Owens Fight,” a chant that we should all get used to hearing.
The Ascension began their NXT swan-song by helping to build up the other two Independent signings from the summer – Kenta, now Hideo Itami, and Prince DeVitt, now Finn Balor. The match itself was great…but that wasn’t the story here. The WWE Universe was introduced to the true spectacle that is Finn Balor. I don’t think an entrance as received more attention since Shawn Michaels came down from the top of The Pond at WrestleMania 12. This truly was an amazing blend of sports and entertainment.
As far as Itami goes, well, I’m not saying that he’s not good, because he is! He’s great in the ring! He’s clearly received the third highest initial push of the big three signings. My conspiracy theory mind makes me think that a big reason WWE signed Itami was to take a bit of a jab at a certain departed individual. Itami was the originator of a move that he teased during the match (which received a HUGE reaction) but didn’t complete the move. He called it the TKO, but on his Twitter account, Itami even made reference to the move’s more popular name here in the states saying, “Thank you for came to #NXTTakeoverREvolution & watching @WWENetwork @jsports. THE FUTURE IS NOW. I will make you Go 2 ……. Good night.” Small language barrier aside, what say you, CM Punk?
With all of this happening, the main event simply had to deliver – and boy did it ever. The buildup alone for Sami Zayn meeting Adrian Neville for the NXT Tile itself got you emotionally involved in the match! The match was just pure athleticism full of moves that 95% of the current main roster would not be able to pull off. The back and forth action and high flying moves had the crowd on the edge of their seats for the duration of the 30 minute match. When Zayn finally “won the big one” the crowd erupted as if they all just won the title. What a moment it was to see Zayn hoisted up by his peers in the middle of the ring, led by Kevin Owens, who teamed together in Ring of Honor. It was a much deserved ten minute celebration.
Then … BOOM!
With a quick shove to the steel and a brutal powerbomb to the side of the ring to the new champion, Owens made it clear that he was going to be the new bad ass in NXT and wanted the NXT title. The next main event program has started and this will clearly take us on a wild, and more importantly, entertaining ride!
The growth of NXT has only one place left to go – an NXT Championship match is seemingly a MUST at WrestleMania 31! If you haven’t watched it yet, subscribe to the network and watch the show – it’s worth the $9.99/month on its own! After that, I dare you to give me a reason why Hideo Itami vs Finn Balor vs Kevin Owens vs Sami Zayn for the NXT belt would not have a chance to steal the show!
In 2015, it’s easy to see that an NXT alum will win the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. The future is now – and NXT has brought us here!