In a truly anticipated first live show, NXT brought it.
As with any other WWE show, you never know what can happen with live TV, but Hunter had everyone prepared. From the opening of the show to the chaotic ending, NXT’s first episode was everything it needed to be. The entire roster had a lot to prove and to those who had doubts? Well, last night should have relieved most of those.
Going live for the first time, even if only one hour was on USA Network, was still huge. We got to see plenty of superstars on USA and those of the WWE Universe who had a working Network, got to see the thrilling end. With a successful episode, there were plenty of positive things to take with us. In this article, we’ll look at five things we learned from this first episode in the new era of NXT.
1. The NXT Women’s Division Is Stronger Than Ever
Starting off the show by showcasing the women’s division was the correct choice. Those who have been paying attention to NXT the past couple of years know how good the women are. Giving them the spotlight, with a hot crowd, and a number one contendership on the line was perfect. To put it bluntly, this match was badass.
Io Shirai being the first face you saw on this new NXT, was fitting. Io deserves to be seen and she knows it, she oozes confidence every time she walks to the ring. Bianca being able to show the world why she is the EST and Mia Yim reminding everyone just how special she is? It’s a great story. The biggest take away from this stellar opening match though, was Candice LeRae. As fans there are very few who don’t know how tremendous Candice is as a wrestler, but it has taken NXT a while to catch up.
For the first time since she walked into the performance center, Candice LeRae wasn’t just Johnny Gargano’s wife, but she was Candice F’N LeRae. Whether she defeats Shayna Baszler to become the new NXT Women’s Champion or not, it is just nice to know that NXT finally sees Candice as more than Johnny’s wife.
2. NXT UK & NXT Are In The Same (WWE) Universe
This is something that had a big possibility of happening, but plans tend to change in the WWE often. Triple H had said that NXT UK superstars would be featured on this jump to the USA Network, but the capacity of how was speculated. Of course Pete Dunne being on NXT wasn’t too surprising, even seeing Marcel Barthel and Fabian Aichner wasn’t that shocking. All of Imperium on the other hand? I think that surprised a lot of people.
With the NXT UK Champion showing up on Wednesday night and Kushida seeming to throw the challenge down to him, the crossover possibilities should add a lot of extra power to the live show. Not only the added star power, but high profile matchups like WALTER versus Kushida brings eyes to the NXT UK brand which should get more people watching. So the crossover hypothetically should help NXT UK get over stateside more so than it has been. A win win situation for all.
3. Lio Rush Is Back Where He Belongs
It has been a long time since Lio Rush has came to collect, but did he come back in a big way. His match with Oney Lorcan on the second hour of the show was absolutely brilliant.
With Lio being gone for as long as he has, coming back to NXT for the first live show was a way to ensure he would make an impression. He made the NXT Universe remember how good he is in the ring. Oney and Lio looked like the absolute stars they are and it was nice to see Lio get a win in his first match back. Now his future holds a Cruiserweight Championship match against Drew Gulak. Lio already withstood the brutality that Oney brings so there is no telling what he’ll be able to pull off against Gulak.
4. More Time Equals More Opportunity
Of course we already knew this was a guarantee, but actually seeing it play out was a different thing. There were many wrestlers who got their face on live tv, whether it was in a small capacity or big match up. It was refreshing to see people get their opportunity to shine.
We now know we can put trust into the creative minds of NXT, to give people like Cameron Grimes, Jordan Myles, Xia Li, etc a chance. Of course they may just get a quick match like Cameron Grimes did, but we are getting new faces out to the WWE Universe. NXT has always had a special thing going, but with this added hour, we really will get to see people showcased and truly grow in their career. With only the one hour show, we saw a lot of the same faces and missed out on some amazing people. Now we’re going to get more of an opportunity to see people hone their craft and grow into stars.
5. The Undisputed Era Speak The Truth
They did it. The Undisputed Era set out to do what they said they would accomplish, all four members are dripped in gold. Roderick Strong defeated Velveteen Dream to become the new North American Champion. While most will say they never doubt the Undisputed Era’s words, this proves to the rest of the NXT Universe that when Undisputed Era says something, you better believe it.
Although the prophecy was fulfilled, its unfortunate Roddy couldn’t gain this title on his own. Yes, Undisputed Era are heels and of course their interference was going to happen, but Roddy is one of the very best in the world. Yes, all four have the gold now, but would Roddy have been able to pull of the win without the help? The prophecy was completed in an underhanded way, so we could see a rematch quickly and who knows how that will go. We learned to take Undisputed Era’s word seriously, but only time will tell how long their prophecy stays true.
NXT once again proved that they shine brightest when all eyes are on them. This new chapter is going to be good. We’ve seen what they can accomplish with a small amount on the USA Network and that is just going to continue to grow. This first live episode was a great starting point, it will serve them well going head to head with AEW come October. We learned that NXT doesn’t need Gargano, Ciampa, or even Adam Cole to wrestle every week to have a good show. The roster is stacked and ready to go and if I was a betting person, I would put money on NXT any day of the week.
You can find the author of this article on Twitter @paigeyb88. Thanks for reading!