The second DVD devoted to WWE’s NXT developmental brand, “NXT – From Secret to Sensation” follows a similar structure to the recent “30 Years of Survivor Series” set, with a countdown serving as the main feature, and a selection of NXT matches across discs two and three.
In case you’re wondering, the original “reality show” version of NXT, from 2010 to June 2012, is completely ignored; this DVD focuses solely on the Full Sail incarnation.
Here, the countdown portion focuses on the top 25 performers in the history of NXT, as voted for by fans online. In addition, there is a mini-bio of several of the top NXT tag teams. Between those profiled and the wrestlers who make appearances to comment on the highlighted competitors, almost every NXT star of note is featured in some way, as well as a brief snapshot of those who will be carrying the NXT brand into the remainder of 2017 and well into 2018.
I won’t give away the exact rankings of those featured within the countdown (we have the full listing for that). I will say though that almost everybody who deserves to be on the countdown appears at some point, along with a couple of surprises too! A few of the rankings seem odd, but the majority make sense, and it is based on the results of a vote, after all.
I really enjoyed the main feature. This is largely because, unlike most countdowns, here we get to see the evolution of each wrestler from when they first appeared in NXT to when they left. In several cases, those transformations were pretty dramatic; take how Mike Dalton, a bland performer who we’re told was potentially on the chopping block in early 2013, would change his persona completely and adopt the Tyler Breeze character (who himself has found a new lease of life on the main roster this year via the Fashion Files segments alongside Fandango).
The only criticism I have is that, while we’re given a short introduction into the unprecedented success of the NXT brand, the title “From Secret to Sensation” suggests that this would be a documentary on the history of NXT. Obviously, that’s not the case, since this DVD instead goes down the countdown route. To circumvent this, I would have suggested that WWE save the title “From Secret to Sensation” for another time, since I’m sure that we’ll get a documentary on NXT at some point in late 2018 or 2019, and to have found an alternative name for this particular compilation. Otherwise, though, this is fine, and NXT fans should get a real kick out of the countdown, especially those who have been watching since the show adopted Full Sail as its unofficial home back in 2012.
Now, let’s move onto the matches!
NXT Pilot Episode – December 7, 2011
Big E Langston vs. Xavier Woods
After some quick comments from Big E, we’re taken to a non-televised match prior to the NXT Pilot from December 2011. The match doesn’t last too long, but it’s pretty neat to have such a rare bout included, especially given how these two would make such a huge impact alongside Kofi Kingston as The New Day in the years to come.
NXT – January 2, 2013
NXT Championship Match
Seth Rollins (C) vs. Corey Graves
Corey Graves has become such an entertaining color commentator that it’s easy to forget his in-ring exploits on NXT, despite holding the NXT Tag Team Titles alongside Adrian Neville. He also earned a shot at becoming NXT Champion as we see here, though Seth’s then-recent alignment within The Shield plays a major role in the outcome and post-match scenes.
NXT – March 13, 2013
Bo Dallas vs. Bray Wyatt
This match proves that Bray Wyatt inexplicably losing was happening long before he was being defeated at almost every main roster PPV event. Sarcasm aside, this bout is okay, and though it’s common knowledge that Bo and Bray are real-life brothers, it’s intriguing to see the two collide, given how completely different their characters are.
NXT – June 12, 2013
Antonio Cesaro vs. Sami Zayn
Coming after Sami’s NXT debut and before their celebrated 2 Out Of 3 Falls match, this is a forgotten clash between the two familiar foes. However, it’s still a fun match to watch, and while the two would obviously put on better matches in the future, this one (in the pre-Network era) is something of a hidden gem.
NXT – August 21, 2013
Dolph Ziggler vs. Alexander Rusev
At this point, stars from the main roster would make guest appearances fairly regularly on NXT, working with (and usually defeating) the NXT prospects. This was one such match, but Rusev’s performance stands out far more than the result, so this was an eye-opener for the decision-makers as it pertained to the Bulgarian Brute.
NXT – September 11, 2013
Paige vs. Sasha Banks
Paige had only recently become the first NXT Women’s Champion, and so Paige having her hand raised here is unsurprising. But the post-match heel turn by the previously bland babyface Sasha is the most significant aspect of this (very good) match, and in hindsight is the initial trigger for Sasha eventually becoming The Boss.
NXT – January 15, 2014
Adrian Neville vs. Tyler Breeze
This match takes place shortly after the announcement of the very first NXT TakeOver event on the soon-to-be-launched WWE Network. Here, Neville and Tyler demonstrate why they were key performers on NXT with a fine battle, enhanced by the crowd who were well into Breeze’s “gorgeous” persona.
NXT – May 22, 2014
If Bo Dallas Wins, He Earns An NXT Championship Match; If Bo Loses, He Must Leave NXT
Big E Langston vs. Bo Dallas
This match marks Bo Dallas’ exit from NXT before joining the main roster on a permanent basis, ironically at the hands of somebody who had already worked on RAW and SmackDown for nearly 18 months by this point. It’s cool to have this match included, since Bo was a big part of NXT before the brand truly took off amongst hardcore fans.
NXT TakeOver: Fatal 4-Way – September 11, 2014
NXT Championship Fatal 4-Way Match
Adrian Neville (C) vs. Sami Zayn vs. Tyler Breeze vs. Tyson Kidd
Coming after the initial TakeOver shows, and before the milestone R:Evolution card which featured Sami Zayn winning the NXT Title in a classic against Neville, there was a danger that this TakeOver main event would be quickly forgotten. But it wasn’t, because it’s an incredible battle featuring superb performances by all four, tons of great spots and a red-hot crowd. A must-see match.
NXT – October 16, 2014
Baron Corbin vs. Elias Samson
Early in his NXT tenure, Baron Corbin’s gimmick was that he would finish his opponents off within seconds, so much so that fans would count along second-by-second. Matches like this helped to establish Corbin’s quick-fire destruction jobs, and it’s weird seeing Elias – now one of the most entertaining characters on RAW – being squashed so easily.
NXT – March 25, 2015
NXT Championship Match
Kevin Owens (C) vs. Finn Bálor
Fought at a slower pace than their showdown at Beast In The East, this slow-burning clash is given plenty of time, and eventually draws the crowd in as the big moves come towards the finish. Though they would have more noteworthy matches in Tokyo and Brooklyn, this is still a really good battle between two of NXT’s biggest stars during its hottest period.
NXT TakeOver: Unstoppable – May 20, 2015
NXT Women’s Championship Match
Sasha Banks (C) vs. Becky Lynch
This is one of my favourite NXT matches ever, and arguably Becky’s true breakout performance. Both women give it their all, wowing the Full Sail crowd and delivering the hottest encounter of that particular TakeOver. Sasha would reach even greater heights opposite Bayley, but this remains one hell of a match.
NXT – July 15, 2015
NXT Women’s Championship Match
Sasha Banks (C) vs. Charlotte
Although we don’t get any Sasha-Bayley matches here (I was hoping that their 30-minute Iron Man clash would have been included), we do get another strong Sasha bout involving Charlotte, who would go on to become her biggest rival to date on the main roster. To me, these two matches and the subsequent Sasha-Bayley bouts represent the peak of the “Women’s Revolution”, certainly as it pertains to NXT.
NXT TakeOver: Dallas – April 1, 2016
Sami Zayn vs. Shinsuke Nakamura
On commentary, Corey Graves describes NXT TakeOver: Dallas as being NXT’s equivalent of WrestleMania (this was Mania weekend, of course), and this match feels every bit like a classic Mania-level contest, from the red-hot crowd to the outstanding performances by both men. Is this the greatest NXT match of all-time? It has to be a strong contender for that honor.
NXT Live Event (Lowell, Massachusetts) – April 21, 2016
NXT Championship Match
Finn Bálor (C) vs. Samoa Joe
The outcome of this match was a huge shocker to fans in attendance, given that this was a house show. However, the contest (captured in fan-cam style, and without commentary) is television-worthy, ensuring that it isn’t just the result (Joe winning the NXT gold) which remains in the memory.
NXT – July 6, 2016
Bayley vs. Alexa Bliss
This was one of the final NXT matches for both ladies, with Bayley moving up to the main roster permanently after losing to Asuka at NXT Takeover: Brooklyn II, and Alexa moving up via the Draft. But it’s a fine way for both to go out as they put on a great battle, and though they feuded at length on RAW this year, this is one of their better matches against one another.
NXT TakeOver: Toronto – November 19, 2016
Bobby Roode vs. Tye Dillinger
It didn’t take long for Bobby Roode to get over with the NXT audience, assisted by his “Glorious” entrance theme. It took Tye a lot longer, but his Perfect 10 gimmick had made him super-popular by the time that this enjoyable clash occurred. It was during this long WWE weekend in Toronto that fans began chanting “10!” during matches NOT involving Dillinger.
NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn III – August 19, 2017
NXT Women’s Championship Match
Asuka (C) vs. Ember Moon
The final match on this DVD took place at the most recent NXT TakeOver, the third in Brooklyn. It’s a superb showing by both, with Ember coming close several times to finally ending Asuka’s undefeated streak. Ultimately, it wasn’t to be as Asuka retained in her in-ring NXT swansong, but I have no doubt that these two will meet again on the main roster someday.
I really enjoyed this one. The main feature follows a familiar structure but is entertaining nonetheless, and almost every NXT name of note is either profiled or pops up as a talking head.
The selection of matches is also adequate, and while there are fewer stand-out matches than on the “NXT Greatest Matches Vol. 1” DVD last year, there is still a ton of fantastic action to be had, with the Fatal 4-Way, Sasha vs. Becky and Zayn vs. Nakamura being the highlights.
Overall, “NXT – From Secret to Sensation”, while slightly inferior to the previous NXT collection, is still a lot of fun to watch, and one of the better DVDs that WWE have put out in 2017.
Get a copy of WWE’s “NXT: SECRET TO SENSATION” DVD or Blu-ray…
– UK/Europe: This Monday! Grab your copy of the NXT DVD (or Blu-ray) on Amazon.co.uk.
– USA: This Tuesday! Pre-order your copy of the new NXT DVD here on Amazon.com.
– Australia: December 13th. Pre-orders for both DVD and Blu-ray are live at Madman.com.au.