The emotion was real last night at NXT in Pittsburgh.


Around 2:30pm is when I heard the news about the passing of professional wrestling legend Dusty Rhodes. This news deeply saddened me as a fan of pro wrestling but also as someone who knew that he was so influential on those performers I was about to see later in the night.

Dusty was nothing but positive when it came to the “NXT kids” and he, among a ton of others behind the scenes at WWE see the unlimited potential that those wrestlers have. I knew that NXT in Pittsburgh would be an incredible event, but I could have never imagined the day turning out like it did.

I’ve been to pay-per-views, a Raw, and shows by ROH and TNA. Nothing could match the atmosphere of this NXT show. The electricity at Stage AE was unlike any other wrestling show I’ve been to. With the seating capacity of 2,500 and the popularity of NXT at an all time high, this show sold out within minutes and it did not disappoint in any way.

The show began with William Regal, longtime pro wrestler turned NXT Commissioner, asking for silence which was followed by a 10-bell salute for Dusty Rhodes. Those 10 seconds were more surreal than quite possibly anything else I have been a part of. A “Dusty! Dusty! Dusty!” chant roared throughout the standing-room only crowd as the night of remembrance and world-class pro wrestling was about to take place.

BADA BOOM, REALEST GUYS IN THE ROOM. Enzo Amore, Big Cass, and Carmella defeated the NXT Tag Champs Blake and Murphy and their valet Alexa Bliss. The trio of Amore, Cass, and Carmella were easily the most over with the crowd aside from those in the main event. Enzo’s mic skills combined with his unmatched enthusiasm and charisma create a great entrance and experience when watching him perform. I hope that these three stay on NXT for the near future with my doubts weighing heavily with them not being as popular on the main roster (Adam Rose, Fandango, etc.)

Jason Jordan picked up a win over Bull Dempsey in a short match. Baron Corbin was also victorious over ECW-Original Rhyno in a match where the crowd was split between both the upstart Corbin and the veteran Rhyno.

The first of two women’s matches on this card included Charlotte and Bayley vs. Emma and Dana Brooke. Emma as a heel works a lot better than face Emma did. Her deep accent and her smarmy antics are better set than her techno-induced dancing ways. Charlotte performed the best out of the 4 women in this match and her team picked up the victory. As a small tribute to Dusty Rhodes, most of the wrestlers hit Rhodes’ trademark Bionic Elbow which garnered applause all night.

After the intermission, Zack Ryder and Mojo Rawley defeated The Vaudevillains. Everyone in this match was cheered except for Mojo which I felt to be hilarious.

Sasha Banks and Becky Lynch put on an incredible match which up to that point had stolen the show. These two have great chemistry and I see nothing but promise for them in the future. Banks and Lynch, along with Charlotte and Bayley have been dubbed “The Four Horsewomen” of NXT and it will be interesting to see if they show up on the main roster in some fashion this summer.

Tyler Breeze. Samoa Joe. Finn Balor. Kevin Owens. These men stole the show in the main event which was a Fatal Four Way between them all. Breeze came out to cheers. Joe came out to a thunderous roar. Finn Balor’s entrance is something you HAVE to experience live. I think it will translate well on the main roster and the thought of a WrestleMania entrance by Balor gives me chills. Then there’s Kevin Owens. The place erupted with a fervor unmatched by any other entrance. Owens, who has a major role in this Sunday’s Money in the Bank PPV, has been leading the NXT brand since the onset of 2015. Although portrayed as a “heel” or bad guy, Owens has been one of the truest characters that WWE has ever had. His explanation for his actions is that he is only doing what he needs to support his wife and 2 kids. Owens’ character development has brought him to the main roster into a feud with John Cena. Cena, being the posterboy for WWE since 2005, worked a fantastic match with Owens at Elimination Chamber. The rematch this at Money in the Bank has been heavily hyped and Owens brought a ton to the table during this main event.

All four men worked well in the ring and it was a classic. Joe hit the Muscle Buster, Breeze hit the Beauty Shot, Balor hit the Coup de Grâce, and Owens finished the match with the pop-up powerbomb on Tyler Breeze. The crowd sang out with a “Fight Owens Fight!” chant in the tune of John Cena’s theme song mid-match. Owens responded with Cena’s trademark moves and connected with an Five Knuckle Shuffle and Attitude Adjustment to Tyler Breeze. The crowd ate all of Owens’ antics up and an “Everybody!!” chant even occurred. All 4 men were well received and the match rightfully stole the show.

NXT’s road trip to Philadelphia, Columbus, Pittsburgh and other cities seems to have been a tremendous success. The shows sold out within minutes and the WWE had to add another show in Philadelphia. I definitely see more road shows outside of Florida for NXT and immense success to follow. NXT in Pittsburgh was supposed to be a celebration of the success of the WWE’s “developmental” brand and to showcase the incredible talent that they have. Instead, it was a somber yet exciting show that was felt with heavy hearts and Dusty Rhodes would have loved to see the success of this NXT road trip.

As Dusty might say, “We’re under the hardest of times, daddy, and NXT shall overcome these hard times.”

Posted in Wrestling Reality