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The Joy of Seeing WWE NXT Live: NXT 07/26 San Diego Review by Brandon Lasher

I love seeing NXT live. As a guy who reviewed it for this site 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 truly believe NXT is now another Golden Era with the likes of Tommaso Ciampa, Johnny Gargano, Ricochet, Velveteen Dream and Undisputed Era to name a few entertaining us on a weekly basis.. How could I not take a chance to see the best brand in WWE?

As a teacher, I am a busy guy. It takes me away from writing for this great website from time to time. But one of the many great things teaching allows me to do is travel to a teaching summer seminar for the last six years all around the United States. This year I was in beautiful San Diego and what do you know, an NXT show was only a half an hour trolley ride away during the week I was in town. With that, I was off to my 4th NXT live event and 20th WWE event overall. I might be a pro wrestling fan.

The best part of a WWE live event are the fans that you are near. I was in the second row on the floor near the ramp which allowed for some good pictures as you will see. I had a guy near me doing Bobby Roode cosplay, loud middle-age fans who laugh at all their own jokes and a lot of kids. It was amazing to see how many elementary age kids love NXT. The might bode well for the WWE’s future. It was the youngest audience I have seen at a WWE show.

With that in mind, I wanted to share a few moments for my fourth NXT live event. What would this new brand of NXT stars bring to San Diego? I think seeing an NXT live event is something that all WWE fans should witness in person:

Kassius Ohno defeated Kona Reeves

Ohno is a good worker who just doesn’t get enough time on the talented NXT roster but he was over with the San Diego crowd. It helped he was the first one out. But Kona Reeves on the other hand? As the loud middle aged guys next to me said, “You are a poor man’s EC3”. They were annoying but they aren’t wrong.

The match was back and forth, but Ohno won with his knockout punch after a few minutes. It was a decent opener and the crowd was happy to see Ohno actually win. Reeves still needs a lot of work.

Kairi Sane & Jessie defeated Vanessa Borne & Taynara Conti

It is time for a debut. I found out after the show that Jessie was having her first match with the traveling NXT crew. She acted a lot like AJ Lee but had nerdy white glasses without frames. I guess that is a character.

The match was your typical tag team match. Jessie took the beating from the cheating heels but Kairi Sane made the save. Needless to say, Sane looks light years better than the three more inexperienced competitors. Seeing her elbow drop in person is impressive and that picked up the win in a fun tag match. Kairi Sane and Jessie did a Thriller dance in the ring. They are both pretty good at it.

Brennan Williams defeated Marcel Barthel

This was an interesting surprise. One of my favorite things about attending a live event is seeing new talent. I have never seen either of these guys on NXT television yet.

First out was Marcel Barthel. He was the more impressive of the two. It was clear by his ring trunks and language that he was from Germany. He was so good with his mannerisms that he quickly got booed. I was so impressed with his ability to draw heel heat that I let him know on Twitter. Barthel retweeted me. Judging by his work in San Diego, he has a bright future.

The other new talent was Brennan Williams and he looked less comfortable. The yellers next to me say he looked like Lenny Kravitz. Williams did and his music certainly sounded like a Kravitz song as well.

Barthel controlled a lot of match and yelled “Nein” every time he hit Williams. This naturally led to a “Ten” chant from my section. I am guessing we were supposed to cheer for Williams because he was the American. I didn’t fall for that and supported the better Barthel. Alas, the American beat the evil German with a Knee to the Face.

Lars Sullivan defeated Tyler Breeze

Being a few feet from Lars Sullivan reminds you he is a very tall and very hairy man. Seeing Tyler Breeze on an NXT show in 2018? That was a very loud reaction for the NXT alumni. He has his character work down for sure. I wish Breeze could do more on the main roster.

The match was a lot of fun. Breeze spent the earlier part of the match doing a good game of keep away from Sullivan. An irritated Sullivan isn’t a good idea if he catches you. It had some fun moments and Breeze actually hit his finisher for a believable near fall. Sullivan hit his finisher shortly after that for the victory.

I loved Tyler Breeze got a “Thank You Tyler” chant after the match. I think of how successful Breeze was in NXT and where he is now. That makes me sad, but it was fun to see him relive some NXT glory in San Diego.

Heavy Machinery & Johnny Gargano defeated Undisputed Era (Adam Cole, Kyle O’ Reilly, Roderick Strong)

It is a lot of fun to say “Adam Cole Bay-Bay” in person. Needless to say, Undisputed Era were quite over with the San Diego crowd. And we got to celebrate Roderick Strong’s birthday as well.

I could have done without the loud guy next to me screaming “Steaks and Weights” during the entire six-man tag as it made it hard to concrete on the match. The entire match was crisp with a pretty fast pace, especially when Johnny was in the ring. It has a pretty quick finish with Johnny picking up the win in a wonderful crowd-pleasing match.

I have to add Otis Dozovic is fantastic with a live crowd. He interacted with all of the kids around me including picking them up and taking photos. I wish he had a chance to show it more on the televised show.

Shayna Baszler defeated Candice LeRae for the NXT Women’s Championship

Candice LeRae is great. She took the most high risks of any talent during the entire night. She also is really good at selling her injuries as Baszler worked on LeRae’s leg for a majority of the match. The match ended abruptly with a Shayna knee strike. It was a decent match thanks to Candice’s work rate.

Naturally, Baszler decided to attack Candice after the match. It led Kairi Sane to make the save and hit her elbow drop on Baszler. LeRae and Sane celebrated after the win. This was, naturally, a night for the good guys.

EC3 defeated Velveteen Dream

Velveteen Dream got the biggest pop of the night. He is so good with all his mannerisms and movements. I want him to stay in NXT for the longest time possible.

I have now met the world’s biggest EC3 fan. He is a ten year old boy wearing a Hulk Hogan shirt in San Diego. I swear he screamed EC3 for the entire 15 minute match and yelled, “I am the happiest man alive!” when EC3 survived a near fall. I wish I cared that much about anything.

The match was likely the best of the night. They both did great character work and had a wonderful back and forth match. They tried to brag too much and Dream did so one too many times. This allowed EC3 to hit his finisher for the win. The kid near me was excited but EC3 just ignored him on his way out. That is cold Ethan Carter III.

Tommaso Ciampa defeated Aleister Black for the NXT Championship

Ciampa is the best heel in the WWE.

Honestly, who is better then Ciampa? He is obnoxious and does all the right things to get the crowd to boo him. The chants from my section were not PG and that was just from the 10 year old kids.

The main event was great. I haven’t had a chance to see their NXT TV match yet, but the fans around me told me it had many similarities. It was nearly twenty minutes and it was just as wonderful as you would expect.

Ciampa does a great job of annoying the crowd with his wave and clapping. Ciampa gets tired of it all and begins to leave with his belt. Black stopped him and throws him in the ring and debates using the NXT belt. Naturally, our good guy doesn’t and Ciampa throws him into the ring apron that he exposed earlier in the match for the cheap win.

As Ciampa begun to celebrate, Johnny Gargano ran to the ring. It led to a fight between the two, which Johnny won. Black entered the ring for a quick stare down with Gargano. As they finished their staredown, Ciampa tried to attack Black and got a nice Black Mass to the face that knocked him out of the ring.

As everyone else left, Ciampa laid on the ground. He didn’t move for five minutes. A lot of fans started to leave and boo him, but he simply laid on the ground. I am pretty sure he would have stayed on the ground, but a ref came to help him left. Ciampa is the best.

Final Thoughts

It certainly was a lot of fun to see another NXT show. The crowd was loud for a Thursday night and the NXT stars worked hard. You should always see an NXT show if you can. It was worth the one hour total trolley ride for me.

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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 NXT Live event? Are the live events fun for you?