Sasha Banks, Dean Ambrose, Bayley, Seth Rollins. These are just a few of many current WWE main roster superstars who got their start at NXT. NXT is the equivalent of a “farm system” in Major League Baseball. Wrestlers who have the desire to make it to the WWE’s main roster, go through their NXT division. Even veterans from other organizations, who want to come to WWE, go through NXT to adapt to the company’s in ring style. Over the years, NXT has become a fixture for great in-ring action. On Nov. 19, the WWE brought NXT to the Air Canada Centre, My dad purchased four tickets, and we went, along with my uncle and cousin. There were some exciting matches and some entrances that were awesome to see live. It was great to see a live event again after ten years. The atmosphere was electrifying and the fans came prepared to have some fun.

The first match was between two Canadian wrestlers – Bobby Roode and Tye Dillinger. A choir sang Roode’s entrance song – Glorious, as he walked down the aisle, with 12,000 fans at the ACC joining in with the lyrics. It was reminiscent of the singing that goes on during a soccer match. Tye entered, and the crowd repeatedly chanted “Ten,” as his moniker is “The Perfect Ten.”

As the two wrestlers were in the ring, preparing to face off, the crowd started chanting “this is awesome.” It was a fast paced match with a few close calls. The end came when Dillinger was rammed into a ring post. As he turned, Roode finished him with a DDT. The crowd then sang Roode’s entrance again as he exited the ring, and also gave Tye a well-deserved ovation as he stood alone in the ring.

It was a tremendous and hard-fought battle. Both men displayed their in-ring talents. From where I was sitting, I could tell that the fans were invested in everything from start to finish. The ovation Dillinger received after the match showed that the fans appreciated his effort, even though he lost.

The NXT Tag Team Titles were at stake as The Revival – Scott Dawson and Dash Wilder, were challenged by Tommaso Ciampa and Johnny Gargano – DIY, in a two out of three falls match. In previous matches, DIY tried extremely hard, but could not achieve the tag titles. This time, the challengers and the fans were hoping for a different outcome.

The fans were not deprived of any action. The first fall went to The Revival after they performed their finisher – The Shatter Machine. In a regular match, the Revival would have retained their belts, but they had to win again to be victorious. After some intense action the second time around, DIY hit a double superkick on Dawson to tie the match at one fall a piece.

The intensity increased for the final fall, and the crowd went insane. Both teams performed their opponent’s finishers. Each side kicked out, and the crowd became more boisterous. The end came when DIY applied simultaneous submission holds in the ring, on their opponents. The champions held on as long as they could – even going as far as Dawson grabbing his partner’s hand, so he would not tap out. After some agonizing additional seconds, both members of the Revival tapped out. With that, the crowd erupted as DIY became the new NXT Tag Team Champions. Chants of “you deserve it” echoed inside the ACC.

As the new champs embraced each other in the ring, they became very emotional, and I am sure some members of the crowd became that way as well. After constantly losing title matches to the Revival, I did not think new champions would be crowned. I witnessed a title change live, and enjoyed the crowd’s reaction to it. Their hard work resulted in them becoming the new NXT Tag Team Champions. Well done, guys!

The main event was for the NXT title. When the challenger, Samoa Joe walked to the ring, he received some loud cheers from the crowd, but he remained focused. His mission was to regain the title. When Joe entered the ring, my cousin noticed some people standing by the entrance ramp – I thought it was just stagehands, so I did not pay any attention to it. The lights dimmed and the crowd started to chant for the opponent and champion, Shinsuke Nakamura. It turned out that the individuals were violinists who then played the champion’s entrance music, and accompanied him to the ring. The fans were singing along loudly, enjoying every minute. That was quite unique, and fun to witness live.

It was a hard-hitting and intense battle. Some action even occurred outside the ring and proceeded to the stands. For a few seconds, it was difficult to see what transpired out of the ring, but the action returned inside the squared circle in rather quick fashion. Later, the fight returned to the outside of the ring. Somehow, the referee became distracted, which allowed the challenger to land a very quick low blow on the champion. He then performed a devastating slam onto the steps. At that point, reality probably sank in that their might be a new champion. When the wrestlers returned to the ring, Joe performed his Muscle Buster finisher for the win. Samoa Joe became the new NXT champion to the surprise and disappointment of everyone in attendance. I think the crowd was hoping for the champion to retain his title, so we could have ended the night singing his entrance music. It was still a great match, despite the outcome.

I thought the 12,000 fans who attended the NXT event had a great time. The opening match had a moment of humor, which continued for the majority of the night. Normally, when wrestlers are fighting on the outside of the ring, the referee must perform a ten count. If the wrestlers do not return to the ring, he or she is counted out. The fans always count along with the referee. So, when the ref started his ten count, the fans chanted…”ten” for every number between one and ten – in honor of Tye Dillinger, “the Perfect Ten”. I am sure it confused the official, but he took it in stride. Fans continue to do so on WWE programming.

Although I had a good time, and so did my cousin, I have always believed that when you watch wrestling events at home, you see so much more. When the wrestlers are fighting on the outside, depends where you are seated, you may not see much. I know that when the fights go backstage, you won’t see – you have to look up on the big screen in the arena. So, while you do see more at home, there really and truly is nothing like being a part of the live experience. I am sure everyone in attendance enjoyed themselves. The WWE should be really proud of their NXT division.

Azeem Kayum

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