This past Saturday the WWE Universe was treated to a historic event, as WWE broadcast it's first ever live event from Tokyo, Japan which was known as the Beast in the East. The show itself was built around two significant points; the return to WWE action of Brock Lesnar, and the NXT Championship match between Finn Balor and the defending champion, Kevin Owens. I'm going to give my thoughts on some of the matches that took place, and sum up my thoughts on the overall event.
The show kicked off with a tremendous opener between the returning Chris Jericho and the new sensation Neville. The night before this Jericho had worked with Finn Balor, in a match that received rave reviews as an outstanding contest. Jericho proved that despite being a part timer he can still go and have one of the best matches on the entire card. Both Jericho and Neville had the Japanese crowd on their feet, something that is rarely ever really seen. The crowd showed great appreciation for Jericho, who is a legend in Japan for his work in his early career. Having Jericho and Neville kick off the show was the best way WWE could have started as it set the tone of the show and really got the fans and viewers geared up for a good night of action. Jericho picked up a win, which didn't surprise me as WWE just don't seem ready to pull the trigger on a Neville push yet. Make no mistake about it though, Neville will get his moment in the near future.
The third match on the card was an interesting pairing, as Kofi Kingston faced off against a returning Brock Lesnar, who was working his first match since he lost the WWE World Heavyweight Championship at Wrestlemania. I'm not quite sure why WWE chose Kofi to be Brock's first match back as there really wasn't any back story to this to give it any logic, but I guess someone had to get squashed and WWE felt Kofi wouldn't really suffer largely from it. There was only ever going to be one outcome in this match, and that was Kofi taking a one way ticket to Suplex City. What I found frustrating about the match, other than it's placing on the card was the fact it didn't really last too long. Kofi hit probably two or three moves, and did manage to land on his feet after the first German Suplex, but after that it was all downhill for the New Day's happy clapper. Considering the event was built around Brock I expected this one to at least go on a little later in the card, or the match to go on a little longer. Brock did get to demolish New Day at the end of the match but if I was in that crowd I would have felt disappointed in the match given the hype around this event given to Brock Lesnar.
Following on from the massacre of Kofi and the New Day was the big NXT Championship match between Finn Balor and Kevin Owens. This was one heck of an amazing match that both men should be proud of and deserve huge credit for. From start to finish it was a contest worthy of taking main event billing, and the fanfare before the match started with the flowers and streamers was actually quite a nice touch to really make this stand out and feel like a special moment. It was great to see Finn Balor win the NXT Championship, even if we knew the outcome was inevitable. He truly deserves that championship for all the hard work and sacrifices he has made over the years, and I look forward to seeing the reign of Finn Balor take shape in NXT. Kevin Owen's did an awesome job of playing the heel from start to finish by throwing the flowers he was given at the start into the aisle, by mocking John Cena, and by walking away from the offer of Finn Balor's hand at the end of the match. I could have watched these guys go at it all night, as there was so much drama, so many near falls, and so many jaw dropping moments that it really was a match worth the price of admission alone.
The main event of the show was the bizarre choice of a tag match between the team of Kane and King Barrett, who took on the team of John Cena and Dolph Ziggler. Don't get me wrong I can understand the draw of having John Cena in the main event, as he is WWE's face, but he isn't the most popular WWE Superstar on the roster when you hold him up against the likes of Chris Jericho, Brock Lesnar, or Finn Balor. The match itself was very slow paced, and while it wasn't the worst match in the world to watch, that saw Cena and Ziggler unsurprisingly pick up the win, I don't feel this should have been the main event match for the night. I think given the show was built around him the main event could have been between Lesnar and Kofi match. However, I would say given the special attention it received, the match between Balor and Owens really should have gone on last as that would have been a much more upbeat way to end the show. I felt once Cena and Ziggler won things felt a little flat whereas had you seen Balor win the NXT Championship I think even the crowd reaction to end would have given the show a stronger feeling finish.
Did the show live up to expectations overall? Yes I feel that it did. WWE delivered a superb event that went off without a hitch and had some top quality matches on the card. Would I have maybe changed up the order of the card a little? Probably one or two adjustments, but if you can look past that aspect of the card then there really were some solid matches from start to finish. This event now opens up so many opportunities to other countries around the world because it means WWE are more likely to broadcast live events from other countries on the Network, something the company had not been prepared to do previously. For a first live event outside of the United States, the Beast in the East definitely gets a thumbs up from me.
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