It is the critically acclaimed “brand” and for the most part is commercially successful too (although being under the WWE umbrella as a whole, has no pressure to “make money”). WWE Home Video takes a look at the 25 greatest superstars in NXT history in their latest release NXT: From Secret to Sensation.
The main feature is a run-down of those top 25 superstars, ranked in the sort of order that only an in-house WWE ranking could provide. In the interest of allowing those who will buy the set have some form of suspense we will go “spoiler free” here in terms of the rankings. It’s fair to say though that most of the names you would expect feature at some point (if not always in the order that any reasonable human being might put them) and there are the obligatory surprises too.
Where this countdown succeeds better than the recent 30 Years of Survivor Series release is that there is at least some attempt to put the superstars ranking into context and, where applicable, the journey’s made by each wrestler whilst within the confines of NXT are shown. Whilst some names on the list were clearly already “names” just stopping by on their way to the main roster, other “home-grown” talent was able to adapt, re-align and make a name for themselves by learning from the more experienced names on the roster.
All in all the countdown is a fun look at NXT’s major names and anyone who has followed the brand over the past few years should enjoy it.
The countdown is joined by a series of matches, spreading from the non-televised Pilot episode shot in December 2011 to very recent 2017 action.
The opening match, from the aforementioned pilot, pits Big E Langston against Xavier Woods. It’s a curio more than anything, but seeing the current New Day stable-mates pitted against each other from six years ago is fun. The reminder from 2013 that Corey Graves was once more than a (very good) commentator in a match against Seth Rollins is also a welcome one.
Bo Dallas against Bray Wyatt is ok, but nothing special before we get a couple of matches from the time when main roster guys would appear on the NXT shows. Cesaro vs Sami Zayn is good, but they would have a better match later on their feud when they clashed in a 2 out of 3 falls match. Much better is Rusev’s display against Dolph Ziggler. It’s a great match, albeit one tinged with a little sadness considering both men are currently floundering on Smackdown with little creative direction.
The women’s division is highlighted with a September 2013 match between Paige and Sasha Banks, with a post-match turn that signals the first glimpse of “The Boss” character that would serve Banks so well over the coming years. Neville and Tyler Breeze have a good singles match but that is blown out of the water by the Fatal 4-Way Match from the September 2014 Takeover special where those two are joined by Sami Zayn and Tyson Kidd. It still stands out as an amazing match today. Surprisingly enough, for the uninitiated, Kevin Owens and Finn Balor can’t really match that in their March 2015 outing. It’s by no means a terrible match, and probably has a lesser impact as we know they’ve had better bouts in their feud.
A couple of Women’s Championship matches follow next. Sasha Banks against Becky Lynch from Takeover; Unstoppable is an excellent match. By now Banks was excelling in the ring and as a character and Lynch was finally being allowed to show what those of us who had followed her career prior to NXT knew; that she was one hell of a talent too. Banks follows this up with another good match against Charlotte.
Shinsuke Nakamura’s NXT debut opposite Sami Zayn arguably remains his best WWE showing to date and the “house show” match between Finn Balor and Samoa Joe from April 2016 is most certainly NOT one of the typical “phoned in” WWE house show encounters.
Bayley and Alexa Bliss have a great encounter from July 2016 which proves two things; that Bayley was well worthy of her “spot” in the Four Horsewomen and that Bliss, despite what some naysayers may tell you today, can work. The matches round out with Bobby Roode’s debut from Takeover: Toronto and Asuka’s last NXT appearance opposite Ember Moon from Takeover: Brooklyn III in another choice effort.
The Blu-Ray adds five more bonus matches, all featuring stars seen on the main features, including a great Sami Zayn / Tyler Breeze bout, and entertaining Four Horsewomen tag match and the (slightly disappointing) “dream match” between Finn Balor and Shinsuke Nakamura.
Given the inherent issues with any WWE collated countdown list, the main feature is actually very entertaining and informative. And only suffers slightly from WWE’s avowed intention to write it’s own history to suit it’s purposes best. Throw in a set of matches that are either barnstormers in the ring or have the requisite historical value to proceedings and you have a set that is a must for any NXT fan.
Photos courtesy: Fetch, Fremantle Media, WWE
Format reviewed: DVD
Thank you to our partners, WWEDVD.co.uk and Fetch for providing our review copy of NXT From Secret To Sensation which is available on DVD and BluRay in the UK from Monday 13 November. You can buy your copy from WWEDVD.co.uk now by clicking here