Happy Labor Day, folks! Hopefully you’re enjoying a Monday off; I know that I am. It’s been a weekend of festivities, which is why this blog post is a bit late. The weekend, however, started off with a big bang when myself, my sister, and my best friend attended the NXT Live event in Jacksonville at the Maxwell Snyder Armory. Above are two photos taken from the event, before it even starte – and please feel free to ignore my unflattering face in the second, and just focus on the thing of beauty that is the wonderful Apollo Crewes.
First, let me say that NXT Live is something that, if you’re a wrestling fan, you need to experience at least once in your life. Or as many times as you can. Because it’s an entirely different beast when compared to a WWE Live event. The events with the main roster are amazing, don’t get me wrong. There is just something about seeing those big stars live, but at the same time, you feel a little disjointed from the action when you’re pretty far away (unless you’re lucky enough to get a ringside seat, which I really never am). At a venue as small as the armory in Jacksonville, there really is no bad seat. You can see the action at any angle – except, of course, if you have some giant sitting in front of you that keeps standing up, but that’s something you can deal with. And with you being so close, you really get to interact with the wrestlers, and it’s just cool to be able to have those moments with them, especially before the majority of them get the call up to the main roster and it becomes harder to meet them – unless you have $500+ to spend.
This was my second live event; I had attended one back in June at the same place, and we had gotten there late, so I had the brilliant idea to get there at 5 for a 7:30 show so that we could be one of the 100 people to get into the meet and greet. Honestly, it wasn’t worth it, only because if you get there at least by doors opening at 6:30 (not at 6, like I had originally thought, and they had originally said, which had us standing out there in the rain…fun), and you stand around the ring (if they’re doing ringside meet and greet), you still get to meet the three they’ve chosen to meet people. But still, I’m definitely glad that we got there in time and waited to meet people, because it was a genuinely awesome experience.
Apollo Crewes, Bull Dempsey, and Bayley were the three superstars we got to meet. I was so excited for all three. I’m really enjoying both Apollo and Bull, and even if I hadn’t already been a fan, I absolutely would have become one after meeting them. Apollo is SUCH a nice guy. Both guys are, but Apollo was just so sweet, very genuine, and super appreciative of our praise. We got to talk to him, got hugs, selfies, and autographs, and he just kept saying that he wasn’t used to all the attention because he’s just a regular guy. Bull was another one that was very appreciative of what we said about him. And for bonus points, he complimented me on one of my tattoos, which was really cool. He seemed a little shy, but a cool dude. Also a very big dude, mostly in height. And then there is Bayley. Seriously, how can one person be so nice? She talked with every single person, not just the 100 they gave signing sheets too, and took photos with them all and hugged them. My friend Jen said that her immune system must be insane. So many bodies to touch. Yikes. Unfortunately, she went the opposite way around the ring from us (while Bull and Apollo went our way, we were the first ones they met), so we ended up being her last. Because people dragged on meeting her, we didn’t get a lot of time, so no selfie with Bayley for me. I did get a hug (of course), and I talked to her briefly about how amazing her matches have been and the Four Horsewomen, which she got really excited at the mention of. It’s just cool to get to actually talk to the wrestlers about how much you’re enjoying their stuff, and getting to see how appreciative they are about it.
The show itself was a great time. Tyler Breeze vs who I believe was Sawyer Fulton (I can’t actually remember) was first. I’m not too familiar with Fulton, but he was pretty funny with the interactions in the crowd, and with Tyler. And Tyler is just…amazing. The man is so talented. Hearing his in-ring commentary is great. And that gimmick is wonderful. Watching him jump onto the turnbuckle in the end and proclaim “I WON!” with his hands in the air is fantastic. Then, the Divas. Emma and Dana Brooke vs. Carmella and Billie Kay. Billie is cute, definitely has potential but will need to work on her presence. Dana is…Dana, her heel work is definitely good but she needs to stop touching herself so damn much. Carmella is adorable, I really am enjoying her a lot more now, and there is absolutely no denying that Emma was the most over in the crowd, even with her being “evil Emma”. She was really good. Also, worth noting, we saw her and Zack Ryder arriving together, kind of late for the show. I think there might be something there..
There was a brief moment with our announcer, Dasha Fuentes, and this guy that I actually cannot remember his name…I thought they said Rick Moss, but it turns out his name is Riddick Moss, which makes sense since he had “Riddick” written on the front of his tiny briefs and…I can’t help but think that the placement choice isn’t exactly practical, but, what are you gonna do. All I know is that he looks like AC Slater and basically everyone told him that. The most notable thing about that was when Sylvester Lefort came out looking like a 40 year old strip club owner and tried to recruit him, so I’m guessing he’s a manager now. It was a pretty funny little exchange, we’ll have to see where they go with these two, if they do at all.
Next was Bull Dempsey vs Angelo Dawkins, who is someone else I’m not familiar with but, I like it. He’s got a new gimmick apparently, The Curse of Greatness, and he was another one that worked the crowd really well. Kept yelling “I DON’T NEED BULLFIT!” to the opposite, “YOU NEED BULLFIT!” chants from the crowd. Bull is great, his gimmick is really working well, and the match was good. Dempsey ended up winning with his new finisher. After this, Ty Dillinger, The Perfect Ten came out as a face, and he’s just…so good. So, so good. That gimmick is really enjoyable, and he’s really good at it, too. His match was against Solomon Crowe, who I actually really enjoy. His heel work was impressive, spent a lot of time pouting in the corner, and the two worked well together. Crowe actually worked well with Drake Wuertz, the ref (who everyone loves, and I can’t blame them), fighting with him and stuff. It was a fun match, which Dillinger won.
The best match of the night, in my opinion, was up next. Eight man tag team action: Enzo, Big Cass and The Hype Bros (Mojo Rawley and Zack Ryder) vs. Jason Jordan, Chad Gable, Dawson and Wilder. It’s worth noting that Enzo and Big Cass are SO over. And well deserved, too, because they’re just as amazing live as they are on tv. Also, Enzo and Cass are both really good at making sure to give attention to all that they see wearing their shirts, myself included. I was wearing their blue “How You Doin’?” shirt, and when they came out, Enzo looked at me cheering for him and shouted, “I SEE YOU BABY! I SEE YOU!” while pointing at me. Way to make a girl feel really special! Their crowd work is amazing, mic work, as always, is fantastic, and the match was just so, so funny. The Hype Bros got a great crowd reaction, and I have to say, I was thoroughly surprised by all four members of the opposite team. I don’t know too much about Dawson and Wilder, but Dawson was pretty great at comedy work in the ring. All four of them were. I think my favorite part of the match was when the four guys (Dawson, Wilder, Jordan and Gable) had Dawson outside of the ring after getting his ass kicked by Cass, and they poured a fan’s water on him while fanning him with Gable’s towel; later, Wilder went running around the ring, forgot that water was all over the floor, completely ate it and fell on his ass, and then had to climb up the steps while trying (and failing) not to laugh. At first I thought it was on purpose, him falling, but it was not, and it was a fun addition to the match. It was very high energy, lots of action, and Rawley got the pin on Gable. It was all around a very good time, and Enzo winked at me on his way out, so it’s safe to say that we’re pretty serious and probably going to get married soon.
After intermission was a championship match with Bayley vs. Nia Jax. I was so excited for Nia Jax. I think it’s worth it to point out that I really, really love that they have a bigger girl on their roster. Nia has a body type you don’t normally see on Divas, but it doesn’t hinder her at all. She’s a monster heel. Absolutely menacing, has incredible facial expressions, and works the crowd really well. Also, she’s gorgeous. Like the type of woman that could rip you in half and you’ll really enjoy it. Her and Bayley put on a great match. The size difference was notable, but they told a good story, which I like. They’re both really good, and I can’t wait for Nia’s debut. Bayley won, obvious, and was hugely over, which isn’t a surprise, but I just really enjoyed watching them both. It’s gonna be exciting to see what Bayley has in store for us as the champ, and for what Nia does once she gets air time!
Apollo Crews vs. Baron Corbin was next. I already talked up Apollo, and there really isn’t much else to say about how good he is. What I want to note is how much I really enjoyed Corbin. I know that the unpopular opinion around here would probably be that I really like him. He’s not everyone’s favorite. Most people hate him, actually, and that was made very apparent by the fans – namely one really obnoxious regular that wouldn’t stop yelling at him as soon as he came in. And Baron embraced it. He did amazing crowd work, especially with that guy. Answered him back while performing moves, was quick witted and at one point finally yelled to the guy, “YOU PAID TO SEE ME!”, which was great. I wish that he would do that on camera; I believe we saw signs of it in the PPV match against Samoa Joe, and I think if they give him more match time, and he shows that rage, that heel work, it’ll pay off and people will get to actually enjoy him. It was a great match, though, Corbin dominated, but not too much, and Apollo got the win. It was probably one of the best matches of the night, in my opinion.
The Main Event, to our surprise, was a tag team match, but it was filmed for the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic tournament, one of the round one matches. A camera guy was going around, so I’m looking forward to seeing that soon! First out was Blake and Murphy with Alexa, the cutest little evil heel ever. It’s Blake’s birthday, and Alexa announces that – after some guy shouts that it’s his birthday, she goes, “oh, it’s your birthday? I don’t care”. Murphy follows up the heel work by announcing he’s going to sing to Blake (because he “has the voice of an angel), and then tells everyone to “shut the hell up”. The crowd booed him before he got far into the song, and then The Vaudevillians came out! Man, was I excited for this. I really, really love The Vaudevillians. The match was really great, well worked, on both sides. Both Blake and Murphy, especially Murphy, have really improved with their heel work. Murphy was yelling things, shouting to the ref that English pulled his hair, and just really working well with his tag partner and their opponents. And English and Gotch? Incredible. They were so fun to watch, and I have to say, my other love is Simon Gotch. A favorite part of that match was when it got very quiet, and I shouted, “you’re very manly!” to him, and he turned, looked at me and said, “THANK YOU!” in this very surprising but convincing Christian Bale-Batman voice, which got a great reaction out of the crowd. The Vaudevillians won (spoiler alert), and they celebrated, with Alexa, Blake and Murphy really selling how mad they were to lose – especially Alexa. Man, I love that girl. Both Gotch and English shook hands with the people in our section (including me, SQUEAL!), and then excited with quite a bit of show.
All in all, incredible night, incredible show, and just a lot of genuine fun. I can’t wait for them to come back, though I’m not sure if they’re going to be back in our area at all this year. I hope that changes, though, because I don’t want to wait that long, but I also don’t really want to travel that far, haha. But if you haven’t seen NXT live at all, DEFINITELY go! It’s so cheap (we paid $20, you can pay $10 for general admission) and just a good time all around.