My Night Seeing the New Generation of WWE NXT in Portland 7/15 by Brandon Lasher

I love seeing WWE NXT. As a guy who reviewed it for this website for over a year, I had the honor of reviewing it during the golden era of Kevin Owens, Finn Balor and Sami Zayn main eventing shows. I even saw the first live event outside Florida in San Jose before WrestleMania 31 which remains my favorite live event ever. NXT fans seem to be louder and more vocal then the traditional WWE audiences.

When NXT announced they were coming to Portland, Oregon for the second straight year I got my fifth row tickets right away. I had the honor of sitting next to one of my favorite types of pro wrestling fans. I was next to one of those loud fans who loudly complained about how the rest of the fans suck constantly. Then he proceeds to get beer during three of the seven actual matches. I have seen these types of fans at many WWE events and it is always hilarious. It’s as if he says, “I am a real fan, but I don’t want to sit still to actually see the show.”

The biggest question is how would this new era of NXT wrestlers do. The crowd was about two-thirds of what it was for the previous year’s NXT show. Last year I saw Nia Jax, Alexa Bliss, Bayley, Austin Aries, Shinsuke Nakamura, The Revival, American Alpha, Finn Balor and Samoa Joe. The NXT roster has changed dramatically. I only saw two wrestlers (Asuka and No Way Jose) who were at last year’s show. Could the new era of NXT deliver like last year’s great crew?

With that in mind I wanted share a few moments for my third ever NXT live event. What would this new brand of NXT stars bring to the Northwest? I think seeing an NXT live event is one that all WWE fans should witness in person.

No Way Jose defeated Kona Reeves

After Triple H did a pre-recorded video, it was time for NXT. Much like last year we opened the show with No Way Jose. No Way Jose should be a constant show opener because everyone loves his catchy theme. No Way Jose has a never ending amount of energy as he ran through the entire crowd. He should be exhausted.

He fought Kona Reeves, who we have seen on television briefly. He was the heel because he had headphones and sunglasses. It is the classic heel. Needless to say, No Way Jose played the face in peril so he could get a loud “Jose” chanted in the style of those “Ole” chants. It is fun and naturally No Way Jose won with his uninspiring finisher. Kona Reeves is improving a lot.

Lars Sullivan defeated Demetrius Bronson

I have never seen Bronson before, but quickly figured out he was on the Seattle Seahawks at some point in his life. I find it strange he wore and wrestled in a Seahawks jersey. That must be uncomfortable. I found out after the show he had only been part of the roster for about seven months. If that is the case, I am pretty impressed.

Live events are places were wrestlers can get over really quickly. That was the case with Lars Sullivan. He is a massive man in person, but didn’t get over for his quick match. It was when he would hit his finisher and leave multiple times that they got behind him. The crowd would chant “One More Time” and he would return to hit his finisher on poor Bronson again. This occurred four times after the match. It lead to a loud “Lars” chant. Being a jerk pays off.

The Velveteen Dream Starts to Get Over

The best reason you should see a live event is because of seeing the new stars being created. In Portland, that was The Velveteen Dream’s case on Saturday night. He was the only guy to get a backstage video. He mentioned that there was only one thing sweeter then Voodoo Donuts (famous Portland’s place) and that was the Velveteen Dream. He then proceeded to slide out of the frame. It was weird but weird works well in Portland.

Drew McIntyre defeated Andrade “Cien” Almas

Poor Cien. He is really good and the crowd knows that as well. He does everything a high quality wrestler should do but he rarely wins. However, in a live event we just want a good show and it happened with the second best match of the night. I wish Cien would be used better.

I think Drew has improved a lot and his offense looks more aggressive and stiff. I still miss his old theme song, but we enjoyed the show. He played to the crowd well after the hard-hitting match.

Asuka Not Wrestling?

You know what is disappointing? When you have a talking segment at a live event. It seems pointless and was made worse by a couple of factors. The live microphones were bad, Asuka’s accent is thick and the “real fan” next me kept yelling about how hot Asuka was.

For some weird reason Asuka put up with a lot of bullying by Billie Kay and Peyton Royce on this night. Since they have gotten beat up a lot by Asuka in the past it simply proves how dumb heels are at live events. Needless to say Asuka eventually takes them out only to get attacked after that by Nikki Cross. A few stiff kicks later and that doesn’t work out well for Nikki Cross either. The fact I saw Asuka and Nikki Cross, but didn’t see a match from either was quite disappointing. The crowd didn’t give it was much of a reaction either. We want wrestling and not talking at live events.

Aleister Black defeated The Velveteen Dream

The match of the night. I was amazed how much Dream was over with the Portland crowd. The beer guy next to me almost deafened me screaming for Dream. After all, Aleister Black was “fake”. Huh? I wouldn’t go that far, but I was certainly disappointed to see Aleister Black walk out normally. What a waste.

If you do not believe that Velveteen Dream is a future star, I assure you he is. The guy is only 21 and more than held his own with the veteran Aleister Black. The in-ring work and the ring psychology was among the best I have seen at a live event. The televised show is doing Velveteen Dream’s in-ring abilities a great disservice so far. The match received the only real “This is Awesome” chant of the night. Black went for his finisher a lot before getting a great looking one when Dream jumped off the ropes into Black’s finisher.

We were all set to go off and enjoy a intermission after the best match when our host Vic Joseph decided to become the heel of the night. He told us it was great to be in Seattle tonight. Needless to say people in Portland have a less than friendly rivalry with our Northern neighbors and don’t want to be mistaken for them. I think Joseph said other things the rest of the night, but we were too busy booing and doing “Delete” chants at him going forward to hear him.

Authors of Pain defeated Heavy Machinery for the NXT Tag Team Championship

Heavy Machinery was doomed. Tucker Knight is an actual Portland native thus making sure that they would lose in a brutal fashion. The match was a traditional tag match with Otis taking the punishment so local hero Tucker Knight could save the day. Naturally the Authors of Pain found a way to win and annoy the local crowd.

Ember Moon defeated Ruby Riot

You know what is hard to pull off? Have two face wrestlers fight each other and expect a reaction. Ruby Riot and Ember Moon were both well liked by the Portland crowd when they had their entrances but it was pretty quiet during most portions of the match itself. It was hard to know who to cheer for. Other then that annoying “women’s wrestling” chant, it was just a quiet crowd watching a very solid wrestling match.

Ember and Ruby are better than most of the main event roster and it showed in the back and forth match. After Ember hit her impressive finisher, the crowd gave them the well deserved applause. Maybe don’t have two faces fight each other going forward especially at a live event?

Bobby Roode defeated Roderick Strong for the NXT Championship

You have to see Bobby Roode’s entrance in person. Even on this smaller scale, it was cool to see. You cannot deny that Bobby has his character down perfectly and his theme song is way too much fun not to sing in person with a few thousand people.

The match was everything you would want from a main event. It looked brutal with Bobby Roode being the king of spit. He really made it look like he lost at least four teeth in the course of the match. Poor guy.

The match has Roode falling into the audience twice, attempted chair shots and multiple ref bumps. It was fun as you would expect from both guys with Roode getting the relatively clean win to retain his title. And he threw in a lot of glorious hand motions as well.

Even though Roode won relatively clean his reward was being thrown back in the ring by the local heroes Heavy Machinery to take a finisher by Roderick Strong. It was the traditional send the fans home happy moment. You could then get a picture with Otis who is one weird dude.

Final Thoughts

It certainly was a lot of fun to see an NXT house show. I don’t know what it is, but the fans are more passionate and the wrestlers work a lot harder in their live events then the main roster does. The future is indeed bright for the yellow brand.


Feel free to contact me at lasher@pacificu.edu. Additionally, I have my Twitter account, WWEBNRL as well. I would love to hear your thoughts on seeing a show an NXT Live event? Is it still as fun as it was in previous years?