Less than a month after Monday Night Raw made its semi-annual visit to Albany's Times Union Center, the far more popular NXT made its Albany debut at the venerable Washington Avenue Armory. The action was hot virtually the entire night, but the venue, still reeling from losing its liquor license two months ago, still had some issues to deal with.
Specifically, the house lights were kept off before the show, forcing fans to scramble for lighting of some sort so they could read the seat assignments on their tickets. The house lights were finally turned on at intermission. Just before the first match, ushers finally appeared to direct people to their seats. You'd think the Armory would've learned a painful lesson from 2 months ago.
Host Greg Hamilton got the crowd popping right off the bat. Like, these folks were happy to see something other than the stale, boring main roster product, and it didn't really matter to them who was face or heel, with a few exceptions. Ring announcer JoJo Offerman's mic wasn't working properly, so they played a standard instrumental recording of the national anthem.
Three title matches on the card. First up was the tag title match pitting champions Wesley Blake & Buddy Murphy vs. Enzo Amore & Colin Cassady. The over-amped sound system at the Armory swallowed the theme music for virtually all of the wrestlers, and made the promos nearly incomprehensible as well. Those who have the WWE Network on their computers followed along with the challengers' intros. I tell you, Amore & Cassady, with valet Carmella, could be the next New Age Outlaws. As for the champs? Well, for starters, someone needs to tell Blake that having a look that suggests a cross between Exotic Adrian Street and Cindy Brady (Susan Olsen, of course) is nothing but trouble. In short, those pigtails have to go! Preferably yesterday! Murphy pinned Amore with a schoolboy rollup after kicking out of one by Amore to retain.
The match of the night belonged to the women, as NXT women's champ Sasha Banks submitted Charlotte with the Bank Statement, which is Melina's old California Dream submission. Banks is the cousin of Snoop Dogg/Lion. Charlotte is, of course, Ric Flair's daughter, and the third of his offspring to enter the business, following sons David & Reid. As some of you know, Reid passed on a while back, and David retired early, realizing he was not destined to be a main eventer like his Hall of Fame father. The match was off the charts awesome, and champ & challenger got phat face pops coming out, even though Sasha is supposed to be the heel. Announced as hailing from Massachusetts might've had something to do with the pop, or it could be that she's just hot, or, as cousin Snoop would say, off the hizzle, fo' shizzle.
Before we get to the main event, let's take a capsule look at the other matches:
Tye Dillinger def. Jason Jordan. Like Sasha, Dillinger is supposed to be a heel, but worked face because the crowd gave him mad pops.
Solomon Crowe submitted Bull Dempsey. Dempsey's stock has dropped dramatically over the last year, from what I've read. Crowe's submission finisher, the Stretch Muffler, was previously known as the Brock (Lesnar) Lock, all the way back in 2002.
Alexa Bliss & Bayley def. Dana Brooke & Becky Lynch. The peeps loved all but Dana, the newbie in the group, who's blonde & muscular, but greener than Scott's Turf Builder. Bayley pinned Brooke with the hugplex, formerly known as the Bayley-to-Belly (belly-to-belly) suplex, a move that hasn't been a finisher since Magnum TA in the 80's. The six women on the card could all be in line for the WWE Divas title down the line. Make it 7 if you add Carmella to the mix.
Baron Corbin def. Tommy Dreamer. Yep, Tommy, who was just in town 4 months ago with Dynasty Pro, was brought in. These two worked the night before in Philadelphia, and the result was the same. Corbin, who was winning squash matches in mere seconds, is being extended, and that tells me he'll be called up to the main roster before the end of the summer.
NXT title: Kevin Owens def. Tyler Breeze and Finn Balor, pinning Breeze after a powerbomb. Owens & Balor got ginormous pops coming out. Breeze? So-so. Seeing him in person for the first time, I get a vibe about Breeze that describes him as the love child of Shawn Michaels and Derek Zoolander (Ben Stiller's goofy supermodel), with a touch of Christian thrown in. Owens, formerly known as Kevin Steen, is a guy folks here in town have been waiting to see since Ring of Honor began airing in the local market 3 years ago. And, oh, did he put on a show, or what? He out Cena'd John Cena by hitting the 5 Knuckle Shuffle, and nailed a Swanton Bomb on Balor for a near fall. He cannonballed Balor in the corner for 2. Owens & Breeze doubled on Balor for a while, but while Breeze played to the crowd, Owens, rightfully, took a bow from the appreciative throng. Owens, shall we say, was way past over.
The street team from In Your Face Wrestling handed out fliers to promote a forthcoming show in Duanesburg. One of them said there was an incident that ran them out of Ballston Spa, which had been their base. I asked about coming across the river, and he said they'll be in Albany, at the Polish Community Center, at the end of August, directly competing with Dynasty Pro, which will return to Troy the same night. As for IYF in Troy? Possible, but working with DPW? As another street team member told me, too many cooks involved. A fan that sat next to me said the two promotions don't like each other. Now, when you have an organically created feud like that, why not create some business out of it, and both sides can profit? Problem is, the promoters can't agree on profit sharing. Doesn't that sound familiar to NFL, NBA, & MLB fans? Sure. While CDTA doesn't go directly into the PCC, trying to get there from, say, Crossgates Mall, is asking for trouble. IYF is interested in the Armory, understandably, but RPI would be nice, too.
That's all for now from ringside.