Just over a week ago we saw what's becoming a regular sight, NXT put on a “special event” and while it may have started a bit on the slow side it exploded at the back end. A couple things that could be taken away from the show were that Baron Corbin has a high ceiling as does Bull Dempsey, Corbin is just a bit closer to realizing his potential of the two beasts. Hideo Itami is an incredible talent but he's got the largest learning curve over the rest of this incredible class of workers that WWE has put together. That's not so much a bad thing, it's the same thing with most people who've worked the Japanese style for their entire career, just ask Yoshi Tatsu, he was put over as a MASSIVE deal in his homeland and he never really panned out. Wesley Blake and Buddy Murphy are going to be an entertaining tag team to watch, we just need to hope that they don't get lost on the next level. Tyler Breeze has incredible star power, personally I can't wait for his main roster debut. Interesting enough those are just the things I took from the early portion of the show, the second half is where the wow factor was taken to another level.
The first of the three final matches saw Finn Balor facing off with Adrian Neville, as you would expect the match was just shy of a masterpiece. Neville is nothing new to the NXT audience, we've seen him work and we all know he's a marvel, he's a damn dream in the ring. Balor is one of that new crew that has been brought in, an international superstar who is finally getting his chance to make it big as a WWE Superstar. People who have paid attention to the business outside of WWE knew of Balor in his old Prince Devitt days, but people who only know McMahonland and their product had only heard the scuttle of what this man was capable of doing in the ring. While he's done really well from the start, this match with Neville put him over the top and solidified his place as a guaranteed top star for the future. Sitting back, watching the show after having bragged so heavily to friends I had converted to WWE Network subscribers and seeing the opening, while still being very solid and impressive, not quite live up to the standard NXT has set for themselves you had to wonder when things would change and from the opening of Finn Balor's awesome entrance you knew something big was coming. Neville and Balor didn't disappoint, putting on a match that could easily be considered for potential Match of the Year votes. It's one of those moments where two guys come out and dare someone to top what they were able to accomplish.
I'm not going to lie, seeing a Divas match following Balor and Neville had me ready to hit the bathroom and maybe grab a new drink and snack from the kitchen while waiting for the main event. Watching WWE for so long has conditioned me to Divas matches being a “bathroom break” moment that it almost cost me the chance to watch magic. First and foremost, I have to admit Charlotte is easily one of the quickest studies I've ever seen in this business. I remember a year ago talking to people about how she was nowhere near her dad's level, now a year later she's become possibly the best female worker on the WWE roster, and possibly anywhere. What she, Becky Lynch, Bayley, and Sasha Banks did was nothing short of perfection. I've been a fan of Bayley for a while, so I expected a great match out of her, Sasha has been in NXT for some time so you know she's capable of greatness, but Lynch as the newcomer had the most to prove, and she was capable of hanging with the others, making sure that the ladies somehow out shined the magic of Balor and Neville. One friend made the point that Charlotte may actually be at a similar level to Kurt Angle in how quickly she's progressed, and I would have to agree, but to be fair having that Flair bloodline doesn't hurt, you knew one of his kids had it in them.
As much as the ladies impressed, the main event was easily the show stopper of the night. Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn are no strangers to one another, they've worked together in every corner of the world, so expecting them to come out and put on the best match possible was a given. While some people may have been disappointed in how it went down, these two men told a story. The way that Owens went over was outstanding, the absolute brutality of it, seeing him completely dismantle his “former best friend” in order to become champion helped put him over as a beast who is willing to do whatever it takes to win, as a result he's now the most believable champion outside of Brock Lesnar. The comparison of Owens as the NXT version of Lesnar is an easy one with the way he brutalized Zayn, similar to Lesnar over Cena, but as I mentioned last night on Facebook there's one big difference. Kevin Owens isn't the NXT version of Lesnar because he doesn't need Paul Heyman to deliver his lines. Owens is without a doubt possibly the greatest new talent signed by WWE in quite some time, and in just two months he's shown that he is absolutely the future of the business. Once known as Mr. Wrestling, it's easy to see how accurate that name is for one Kevin Owens, he “gets it” right out of the gate.
We've seen that NXT is the proving ground for those looking to elevate to the main roster and potentially become stars, no matter how much it seems the guys moving up may be somewhat held back. It seems as if the rumored grudge between Vince and Triple H over the developmental brand has hampered the development of stars like The Ascension, but I don't know that there's anything that could prevent the NXT 4 from getting over on the main roster. Balor, Neville, Owens, and Zayn are going to be great once they move to the main roster, and I don't doubt they'll show out from day one. The only thing I'm scared to see is the Divas of NXT as they move to the top half of the company. Paige was able to get over, but that's pretty easy when you take the title off the face of the division in your first match on the main roster, meanwhile Emma has been an also-ran and largely a joke on the main roster. If you've watched any of the Emma versus Paige matches from NXT you're likely as baffled as the rest of us about how she hasn't been able to get over. It seems that having Trish and Lita style matches between the Divas are a thing of the past, and it's a damn shame with the talent Charlotte has shown, hell I wouldn't be shocked to see her reach the level Chyna never could and become the first female to take the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. It's easy to get enamored with NXT, between the awesome Divas matches, the incredible talent they're cultivating, and the returning stars that are going to work the young guns, it's an amazing show, and it's very clear that the future of the business is in great hands with Triple H.