Apr 21, 2018

The NXT Stars Of Bethlehem

NXT House Show
Sands Bethlehem Event Center - Bethlehem, PA
My interest in WWE has faded quite a bit over the past 15 years or so.  I still keep up with current events in the promotion, but it's mostly through podcasts.  Back in the late 90's, I never missed an episode of Raw or Smackdown.  These days, I watch some of the pay per view events, and I go to live shows when they come within a reasonable driving distance, but I honestly can't remember the last time I actually sat down and watched even part of an episode of Monday Night Raw or Smackdown.  It's got to be over a decade at this point.  For far too many years, the presentation of the WWE "main roster" was cringe worthy, comprised of heavily scripted, poorly written dialogue that makes everyone sound exactly the same, and an inconsistent story arc that made little sense.  Additionally, there's simply too many hours of programming to bother trying to keep up with it, even if it was an enjoyable show, which it hasn't been for many years.  Quite frankly, even most of the WWE pay per view events are tough to sit through these days.

In contrast, I never miss an episode of NXT from Full Sail University.  It's a fantastic, well written show with great matches and consistent storytelling that makes sense.  The backstage skits and diatribes on the microphone are kept to a minimum, and when they do happen, the performers sound like they each have an individual personality.  Also, the programming is just the right length - one hour per week with semi-monthly special event shows called NXT Takeover.  This promotion has been a breath of fresh air in an industry that has felt stale for too long.

This was my second time seeing NXT at this venue, and I very much hope that it won't be my last.  It was an excellent show that delivered on every level.

The show began with a ten bell salute to the late Bruno Sammartino.  The former two-time WWF World Heavyweight Champion, whose second title reign lasted over seven years, passed away on Wednesday.  He was 82 years old.  The opening match began shortly afterward.  Here are the results of the show:

Singles MatchNo Way Jose defeated Chad Lail
(Chad last wrestled as Gunner in TNA)

Singles MatchBianca Belair defeated Candice LeRae

Singles MatchEC3 defeated Kassius Ohno

Tag Team MatchThe Street Profits (Angelo Dawkins and Montez Ford) defeated The Forgotten Sons (Steve Cutler and Wesley Blake)

Tag Team Match

Kairi Sane and Nikki Cross defeated Shayna Baszler and Lacey Evans

Singles MatchTommaso Ciampa defeated Oney Lorcan
(Johnny Gargano ran out to the ring to stop Ciampa from hitting Lorcan with the bell after the match)

Tag Team MatchAleister Black and Ricochet defeated Andrade "Cien" Almas and The Velveteen Dream

Here are some photos from the show:
Kassius Ohno - I've watched him wrestle as Chris Hero in ROH, CZW and Chikara for over a decade.

A new team: The Forgotten Sons.  One of its members, Wesley Blake, is a former NXT Tag Team Champion with Buddy Murphy.

Japanese superstar Kairi Sane

Shayna Baszler immobilizing Kairi Sane as Lacey Evans looks on.

Oney Lorcan reminds me a bit of Dean Malenko.

Oney Lorcan gets ready to slam Tommaso Ciampa's head into the turnbuckle.

The Velveteen Dream - one of the most interesting new characters I've seen in a long time.

Former NXT Champion, Adrade "Cien" Almas.  He lost the title two weeks ago to Aleister Black at Takeover: New Orleans

I've been following Ricochet for his entire career, since he first uploaded a personal highlight reel to YouTube.  I don't think he was even out of high school at the time.  The dude is a phenomenal talent.

The new NXT Champion, Aleister Black.  This show was the 13th day of his reign.

The NXT Champion has a lot of incredible tattoo work, including the head of Lilith on his back.

This was taken just before the opening bell of the main event tag team match.

Aleister Black in mid-air, about to crash into the man who he defeated for the title.

The tag team of Aleister Black and Ricochet.

The 15th NXT Champion, Aleister Black, right before the end of the show.