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Welcome back to the EXCELLENCE IN PRO WRESTLING COLUMN WRITING exclusively here at LordsofPain.net. Happy Father’s Day to those reading this very column where that applies… Just some fatherly advice from me to you… Appreciate this day for the generation(s) who are still here above you (your Dad, Grandfather, etc.). Because once they are gone, they are gone… For the past 2 years, I’ve had an empty feeling for this Hallmark Holiday but at the same time, a sense of pride as my Dad and Grandpa were both able to see me become a father. It’s tough to mourn what is gone but at the same time, it’s important to keep moving on with everything that they taught you.
So WWE’s developmental brand, NXT, had another “Takeover” event tonight, this time in Chicago before the WWE Money in the Bank event. Since I obtained the WWE Network, they’ve only had a few weaker shows such as mid to late 2017 and early 2018. But when I say “weaker”, the shows weren’t insulting to your intelligence to watch. Depleted talent rosters thanks to the RAW/Smackdown brand extension has raided the once loaded roster through 2017. To Triple H‘s credit, he has quickly reloaded the NXT guy and seems to have recently acquired talent that fits the NXT brand more than it does WWE. Tonight’s show and the last show before Wrestlemania 34 were fantastic.
And why are most NXT Takeover events great? Simple concept of “LESS IS MORE”.
For NXT, you have one hour of television per week but on that show, you often go weeks without seeing particular talents on that show. Whereas RAW/Smackdown tries to shove everyone on each and every show, NXT is very selective. Then, NXT holds Pay Per Views on a Quarterly basis (4 times per year). Come to think of it, NXT is using the same exact model as the late 1980s/early 1990s WWE where they’d have 1 hour syndicated shows and 3-4 Pay Per Views to slowly hype.
I’m hearing the same thing about New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW). Their big events, from the feedback that I’m seeing on each show, have high quality in-ring bouts. Much easier to accomplish when you don’t have to fill 7 full hours per week of television (RAW, Smackdown, 205 Live, Main Event) that completely over-exposes your product. When you have to fill that many hours of television content, the WWE often burns right through unique match-ups that could feel special on a Pay Per View. But just seeing so much wrestling during the week and month burns you out before seeing a WWE Pay Per View.
NXT wrestlers have the advantage of saving their BEST stuff for the Pay Per Views while fine-tuning it on the road for houseshows. There is pressure on RAW and Smackdown wrestlers to not just bring it at Pay Per Views, but the television shows as well.
And then think about the Creative Teams. NXT’s creative team just has to script towards 4 Pay Per Views. RAW/Smackdown have a Pay Per View per month to book along with all of those television hours to fill. It’s NO SECRET that WWE’s Creative Team began to diminish during late 1999 when WWE created Smackdown on the UPN channel. That is why Vince Russo got the hell out, as he was burned out just doing 2 hours of RAW each week and monthly Pay Per Views. The follow-up to Russo, Chris Kreski, only lasted a year writing for both RAW and Smackdown before stepping away. Stephanie McMahon was obviously overwhelmed writing for 4 hours of shows weekly plus Pay Per Views when she took over during late 2000 and thus she had the WWE hire a larger writing team to assist her.
I’m willing to bet that Roman Reigns would be more tolerable if we saw him on television ONCE per month and only on 4 Pay Per Views per year. Maybe.
So of course, NXT Takeover will always be a strong watch because the product isn’t over-exposed and the wrestlers can save their best for the Pay Per Views (only 4 of them).
Sadly, Comcast and FOX tossing $2 billion at the WWE for live sporting event-like content will only serve to keep burning fans out on the WWE product (like yours truly). Comcast is actually willing to pay $65 Billion for the 20th Century Fox television/film content and intellectual properties! Money is getting thrown around to salvage what is a failing Cable/Satellite market.
“Less is more”. That is why the NFL is the #1 sports league and why things like Thursday Night Football giving bad games to ESPN’s Monday Night Football has hurt that league. We used to watch most games on Sunday while Monday was the important game. Now, Thursday and Monday games are not relevant… On top of that, the NFL has made too many headlines by their rules, fines, concussions, etc. that are all flooding ESPN and other sports channels to over-expose that sport.
I just wish that the WWE would keep a more permanent NXT roster and/or would let this brand breathe a little bit before raiding it to fill RAW/Smackdown rosters. This current crop of talent is quite good and I would hate to see them get prematurely moved to RAW/Smackdown to disappoint. I’m still bitter about a few moves during 2016-2018 that has not materialized on RAW or Smackdown.
Some thoughts on NXT Takeover: Chicago…
I enjoyed the opening Tag Team match between Roderick Strong/Kyle O’Reilly vs. Oney Lorcan/Danny Burch… I thought that the Undisputed Era were heels? I must have missed something… I thought that O’Reilly and Strong work quite well together but Lorcan/Burch were good opponents. Match was tight and well executed which pumped up the crowd for the entire night. [ *** ]
The second match was Ricochet vs. Velveteen Dream and it was damn good. If you’re going to do a match with all spots (absent of psychology), just hit your spots. Amazing athletic ability on display from both. You could see Ricochet, more of the veteran, controlling things while the Dream had a few moments where he was showing his 22 year of age and less than 4 years experience… For the most part, Velveteen Dream held his own and damn he has amazing upside. Size, athletic ability, charisma, and personality. He is everything that you want in a pro wrestler. I just wish that “Velveteen Dream” was just a nickname… Just hard to market, in my opinion. [ **** ] I always think of Velvetta Cheese when I think of his name…
Nikki Cross vs. Shayna Baszler was good, but what I liked about it was how Shayna continues to be pushed like a serious threat to any opponent she sees. NXT gets their female champions just right and Shayna is no different. To me, there is a feel like she’s legitimately dangerous and could maybe pose a real threat to Ronda Rousey. [ **1/2 ]. Nikki is the last of the remaining crop of NXT following 2017’s talent movement to the WWE. Time to move in the new recruits.
Lars Sullivan vs. Aleister Black was up next… I’m just not buying into Black as the NXT Champion but this match was solid. Lars is a unique talent and has some good moves and agility considering his size (or thickness). I do like how Sullivan was pushed as a real threat as if he came out of no where to rise up to challenge the champion. Kinda sucks that the NXT Title match has NOT main evented for 2 straight Takeover events. [ ***1/2 ]
And the last match was FANTASTIC… [ **** 1/2 ], but I could go 5 stars. I actually liked their last match better because it had more psychology and less reliance on hardcore weapon stuff. The beauty of Tommaso Ciampa vs. Johnny Gargano is how you can FEEL the heat between the two wrestlers who were once tag partners. That is how a wrestling feud SHOULD feel like… Pure, utter hatred for each other and the fans legitimately hate the heel, Ciampa. Better yet, we are going to likely have a 3rd match between these two… I know that it is a Takeover event, but haul in that Hell in a Cell to end this feud.
Seriously, this show was awesome. [ A ]
That is how wrestling SHOULD look. The event was headlined by a non-title match because 2 wrestlers have sold it to fans that they legitimately hate each other. Every other match was hard fought and there was a “sense of urgency” regarding trying to win their titles.
“Less is more” – NXT looks great because they only have to impress us 4 times a year with minimal need to boost television shows with Pay Per View match-ups.
Roman Reigns vs. Jinder Mahal… Can you top any match on this NXT Takeover show? Good luck…
SO JUST CHILL… ‘TIL THE NEXT EPISODE!
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