With every passing week, watching WWE shows emanate from the deserted Orlando Performance Centre becomes more and more of a joyless chore. Not because of the performances of the workers themselves, who deserve monstrous appreciation for their efforts over the last month or so, but because it reminds us of the talents who came through there en route to turning NXT into the most important brand in the entire company over the last six years.
Seeing the likes of Jonny Gargano, Tomasso Ciampa, Rhea Ripley, Charlotte Flair, Shayna Baszler and Becky Lynch play out the culminations of significant marquee programmes to crickets instead of rapturous receptions has been hard to stomach, especially when you remind yourself of some of their finest hours occurring just down the road at Full Sail or further afield under the NXT banner.
So, with this in mind, we thought we’d celebrate some of NXT’s greatest hits today, to remind ourselves of how vital the black and gold brand has been over the past half decade and how it will hopefully continue to evolve once this pandemic is finally firmly in the rearview mirror.
NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn III: NXT Women’s Championship Match: Asuka (c) vs Ember Moon
Remember when Asuka was a stone cold killer who absolutely no one could touch? A force so dominant she wrecked everyone in her path and just left the title in the ring so she could go and murk everyone on the main roster. Seems like a lifetime ago. As does Ember Moon’s ascent to NXT superstardom as the one who ran Asuka the closest. Just LISTEN to that Brooklyn crowd when she drops the Eclipse here. Unglued doesn’t even come close to describing it.
NXT TV #305: NXT Tag Team Title Match: Moustache Mountain (c) vs Undisputed Era
If you don’t cry at the end of this match, I don’t know what to tell you. You’re an animal who doesn’t deserve professional wrestling.
Yeah, OK, the match at TakeOver: Brooklyn was better and packed a much more substantial emotional punch, but the rematch would be the first women’s outing to headline an NXT show or a major WWE PPV/Network special in general. Add in to the mix Bayley and Sasha were given half an hour to work their magic and you can start to see why so many fans have been clamouring for these two to be pitted against each other on the main roster for years now. It’s a WrestleMania moment that is long, long overdue.
NXT TakeOver: Dallas: Sami Zayn vs Shinsuke Nakamura
Hey, remember when the hottest property in Japanese wrestling turned up for his debut in NXT and everybody collectively lost their minds and heralded him as the saviour of the entire WWE 20 minutes after his theme music hit for the first time? That was a fun time.
NXT TakeOver: Toronto: NXT Tag Team Titles 2/3 Falls Match: The Revival (c) vs DIY
Hey, remember when The Revival were heading to the main roster after years of redefining what classic tag team wrestling under the WWE umbrella could look like in the modern era? That was a fun time.
NXT TakeOver: Rival: NXT Women’s Championship Fatal 4 Way Match: Charlotte vs Sasha Banks vs Bayley vs Becky Lynch
Hey, y’know that match everyone’s been clamouring for on the main roster for years now? It happened. Five years ago. It was ace. You should watch it right now.
NXT TakeOver: Dallas: NXT Tag Team Title Match: The Revival (c) vs American Alpha
We really, really miss Chad Gable and Kurt Angle’s estranged son teaming together. We especially miss seeing them do it against The Revival. OK, just off for a massive cry now.
NXT TakeOver: NXT Title Match: Adrian Neville (c) vs Tyson Kidd
That Tyson Kidd had to retire after suffering a life threatening injury during a dark match just over a year after this event and Neville ended up seeing out his WWE tenure by jobbing the Cruiserweight Title to Enzo Amore proves why we can’t have nice things. This match, the main event of the inaugural TakeOver, is a very nice thing, though and should be enjoyed by everyone so they never have to think of Enzo Amore ever again.
Until tomorrow, remember to stay safe, stay at home, watch wrestling.