WWE Home Video’s latest release brings us “The Best of NXT 2017.” Matthew Roberts takes a look at the action and whether it is worth your cash.
Although its absolute zeitgeist peak has arguably passed, there is still little doubt that NXT is a wonderful thing. It’s one hourly weekly show on the Network is a reliably entertaining mix of well known “indy” stars and up and coming prospects the WWE sees mileage in and the Takeover Specials are so good that they almost come with a guarantee of a spectacular night of action. This 3-disc Best of NXT 2017 set combines both sides of that story, alongside some other exclusive matches and a number of video vignettes.
There is no “host” for the set, with only the occasional link from the likes of William Regal and the Iconic duo of Peyton Royce & Billie Kay, but this does at least mean that incidentals are kept to a minimum and we can get on with the action.
A couple of #DIY tag team matches open up proceedings; as we watch in 2018 they have the advantage of whetting the appetite for their singles feud and whilst the matches against TM61 and The Revival perhaps don’t give us the absolute best of Johnny Gargano and Tomasso Ciampa they are both rewarding matches that reward a second viewing. From there it’s Takeover San Antonio, as Shinsuke Nakamura defends his NXT Championship against the Glorious Bobby Roode. This highlights one area of NXT match-making in that it’s quite remarkable to see an “NJPW guy” main event opposite a “TNA guy”. The match itself doesn’t quite come together as a whole for this viewer, but it’s still a very entertaining bout.
After a Corey Graves video package, highlighting his switch from in-ring competitor to colour commentator, and a “Bobby Roode goes shopping” featurette which almost makes you think you are back in the days of Coliseum Home Video, Asuka defends her Women’s Championship against Peyton Royce in a decent effort and then it’s Takeover Orlando and an eight-person mixed tag team match pitting the Sanity quartet against the odd collection of Roderick Strong, Kassius Ohno, Tye Dillinger and Ruby Riot. It’s certainly a fun brawl. Stopping only for an Aleister Black package, Drew McIntyre’s return to NXT and the goodbye to Shinsuke Nakamure this leads to a Steel Cage Match between Dillinger and Sanity’s Eric Young. Again it’s a very good effort that goes down very well with the crowd.
Disc Two kicks off with Hideo Itami and Roderick Strong having a typically, erm, strong #1 Contender’s match before we get to the first genuine classic on the collection, Takeover Chicago’s United Kingdom Championship match between Tyler Bate and Pete Dunne. A genuine “Five Star” classic in my book that was a definite Match of the Year contender. British fans who have watched these two face off (or team) in front of three figure crowds will get even more of a kick out of it. It’s a superb effort all round. Also from the same show, the Authors of Pain and #DIY clash in a Ladder match which reminds you that NXT shouldn’t just be about “indy” names bringing their star power, but is also about lesser known “home grown” names making their way up the WWE ladder.
Hideo Itami against Oney Lorcan can’t live up to that next, but things soon pick up with the ultra-dramatic Last Woman Standing match between Asuka and Nikki Cross (which probably takes the honours for best women’s match under the WWE banner in 2017). Even though Asuka’s current promotional standing means that even the uninitiated know who ultimately prevails this is a stunning piece of work. Disc two rounds out with a trio of good, but not great, matches that can’t really follow that but there is more than enough entertainment in Robert Roode Vs Roderick Strong, Ruby Riot Vs Ember Moon and Drew McIntyre Vs Kililan Dain to keep you going.
Disc Three kicks off with the only Aleister Black match on the collection, a fair bout with Kyle O’Reilly. Takeover Brooklyn III gives us Johnny Gargano against Andrade Almas in a match that is very good indeed, but impossible to judge without remembering their even better battle to come in 2018. Asuka departs NXT, still unbeaten, before we get an “NXT Live” match between Gargano & Raul Mendoza. A six-man tag between The Undisputed Era and Sanity is as riotous as you’d expect before another NXT live event match, this time pitting Drew McIntyre against Adam Cole, pops up. The added bonus of this is the special guest referee Shawn Michaels.
We finish with two matches from Takeover: War Games, a show I was lucky enough to be in attendance for. Although we don’t get what I thought was match of the show (Aleister Black against Velveteen Dream) we do get an entertaining NXT Championship match between Drew McIntyre and Andrade Almas before ending things with the brutally exciting “return” (in a modified setting) of War Games as the Undisputed Era, Sanity and Roderick Strong & Authors of Pain clash.
NXT gave us plenty of great action in 2017 so a collection of this sort was always going to be a winner. The match choice isn’t perfect, but omissions / inclusions on releases like this will always be open to personal taste. It highlights the names that were the biggest part of the “brand” in 2017 and is a great summary of why NXT continues to capture the imagination of fans across the world.
Format reviewed: DVD
Pictures courtesy of WWE and Fetch.
Thank you to our partners, WWEDVD.co.uk and Fetch for providing our review copy. Best of NXT 2017 is out on DVD now. You can buy your copy from WWEDVD.co.uk now by clicking here