Saturday, March 3, 2018

NXT Cleveland Report

It's that time of the year again. My seventh NXT show in Ohio. I went to Columbus twice in 2015 and this was my fifth time in Cleveland (two in 2015, one year after). At a brisk 34 degrees, this was BY FAR the best weather we've had while waiting in line to get into the show. The seating at the Agora Theatre is first come, first serve, so we try to get there early. We didn't exactly get front row this time, but we managed seats right by the entrance. I got to see behind the curtain and spotted Jason Albert, Serena Deeb, and several wrestlers warming up.

The opening contest was Heavy Machinery against Cezar Bononi and Adrian Jaoude. The latter are both from Brazil. I don't think I've ever cared less about a live NXT match. Heavy Machinery are on the bottom of the list of people I enjoy on the roster. Otis Dozovic was surprisingly over and got even more cheers when he busted out a cartwheel. Heavy Machinery won with their finisher on Bononi in like, five minutes. They kept it short.

Up next was Dakota Kai vs. Shayna Baszler. I absolutely love Dakota and it was great to see her live for the first time. I got a high five and a Twitter shoutout for calling her the BIG DOG on her way out. Shayna is incredibly intimidating live. She pretty much murdered Dakota, though Dakota still got several good hope spots in. Shayna hit a knee that I swear knocked her out at one point. Even the security guard next to me was surprised at how vicious it looked. Shayna won and Dakota got a standing ovation. Great match and Shayna won me over here.

Lars Sullivan vs. Kassius Ohno followed. This was fine, but not as good as their TakeOver match. Ohno nearly got hurt when Lars tried a popup powerslam that he barely connected on. Lars is freakishly huge. He won with the Freak Accident and, on his way out, asked, "WHO'S THE MAN, CINCINNATI?" Even though we were in Cleveland.

Adam Cole took on Chris Dijak next. Oh baby, it's ROH 2014. Adam Cole was the most over person on the show to this point. I got a video of the crowd doing the BAYBAY chant with him. This was a fun little match. Cole had the crowd in the palm of his hands. Dijak impressed and sold the hell out of a Cole superkick. Cole used that and a knee to the head to win. Good stuff.

To close the first half, Kyle O'Reilly and Bobby Fish took on the Street Profits. Fish and O'Reilly had their own version of the Undisputed Era theme and it was total garbage. It sounded awful. At the last minute, the ref got word from William Regal to make it a Tag Title match. Up to this point, it was the second best match behind Dakota/Shayna. Fish and Ford had great banter as they talked trash throughout. The early portions were literally built around a series of headlocks and they made it very entertaining. Ford busted out a cool dive in front of us down the stretch. The champs retained via a Fish rollup. Both teams are really fun live and I'd dig this as a Tag Title match.

During intermission, Lacey Evans got a promo on the screen to talk down about Cleveland. She kicked off the post-intermission stuff against Kairi Sane. Kairi is tiny and adorable. Even after bashing Cleveland, Evans got no response. She has some of the heel mannerisms down and had a funny spot on the top rope where she fell trying to mock Kairi's elbow, but she clearly needs a ton of work in the ring. She slowed this down a lot. It was the worst match of the night, though Kairi tried her best. She won with her awesome elbow.

The semi-main event was Aleister Black vs. Velveteen Dream. They both got promos on the tron earlier in the night. Dream's ended with a shot of his bare feet for about 10 seconds for reasons I don't know. Anyway, Dream surpassed Cole and everyone else as the most over guy so far. Black was a close second. The fans on the opposite side of the ring were apparently hampered by the lights in the arena, so they spent the first few minutes chanting for the arena to shut them off. Black and Dream started slow, probably to weather this storm. Once the lights got fixed, they picked up the pace and the match turned out to be great. The final stretch was a lot of fun and Black won with Black Mass.

The main event saw Andrade Almas and Zelina Vega against Johnny Gargano and Candice LeRae. Almas and Zelina came out first. Zelina is crazy small. Like, ridiculously tiny. They tried cutting a pre-match promo, but couldn't because there was a legitimate 6-7 minute "Johnny Wrestling" chant. It went uninterrupted and was one of the wildest things I've experienced live. Once he and Candice came out, the place went nuts. The match was a ton of fun. They kept cutting off the hot tag to Candice and it was very well done. Johnny and Candice got to hit stereo dives. There were so many good spots. Candice and Johnny won when they used stereo Gargano Escapes, with Zelina tapping. After the match, Johnny spent a few minutes saying goodbye to the fans and telling his hometown how much he appreciated them. His family, trainer, and friends were all in attendance and also got cheers. Johnny made a joke that the people in the back were probably annoyed that he took so much time up at the end, but he didn't work there anymore, so it was all good. Candice reminded him that she still has to work here, which got a laugh.

All in all, another very fun event. They run less than three hours and everything flies by. The best matches, in order, were the main event, Black/Drean, and Dakota/Shayna, with the Tag Titles fourth. Most over were Johnny & Candice, Dream, Black, and Cole. I got a bunch of pictures and several cool moments with a few wrestlers.

You can find the pictures and videos that aren't in this post on my Instagram: @the_kevstaaa