For me, this is the first big WWE DVD release of 2016 (I’m really not a fan of those annual ‘Best of’ sets – in the moment they’re fine, but for me they don’t have a great re-watch value).
Let’s take an in-depth look at “NXT Greatest Matches Vol. 1” before it hits stores!
The set is formatted like many of the other WWE match compilations we have had over the years; namely matches packaged with introductory segments in the style of little documentaries with clips and ‘talking heads’ discussing the various topics.
A number of NXT and WWE Superstars are interviewed including: Triple H, Daniel Bryan, Seth Rollins, Finn Bálor, Kevin Owens, Sami Zayn, Paige, Sasha Banks, Enzo Amore, and many others.
The segments and match choices really allow the full story of NXT to be told. At this point it would be a little odd to give NXT its own documentary spanning the brand’s evolution. However, here WWE did a fantastic job of telling the story of the ‘development’ (pardon the pun) of NXT from a small Florida developmental territory into WWE’s second international touring brand in its own right.
All of the major milestones are covered, right through from the opening of the Performance Center, the impact the WWE Network, the evolution of women’s wrestling, the success of the show during WrestleMania 31 weekend (and NXT’s impact on WrestleMania 31 itself), all the way to the Japan special, Dusty Rhodes’ legacy, and so very much more in between.
So, let’s start to get into all the matches included…
NXT Title Tournament Final: Seth Rollins vs. Jinder Mahal (NXT; 8/29/12)
This one saw the coronation of the very first NXT Champion and it was a good little match. It was most definitely helped given a “big time” feel with the addition of the greatest announcer of all time – Jim Ross providing the soundtrack, as well as Howard Finkel providing the ring introduction and of course the announcement of a “NEEEWWW NXT Champion!” This match came just a couple of months after the first NXT event at Full Sail, so it is cool to see some early footage of NXT included as it provides us with a true overview of the brand.
No DQ Match for the NXT Title: Seth Rollins vs. Big E Langston (NXT; 1/9/13)
This one wasn’t your typical plunder filled no disqualification match, in fact the No DQ stipulation looks to have been only present to get The Shield involved. Again, we have another fun match, maybe it was a little fast forwarded and another five minutes would have allowed for a greater story to be told, but nonetheless a fun match.
Chris Jericho vs. Bray Wyatt (NXT; 5/1/13)
Just weeks prior to their arrival on the main roster, here the Wyatt Family front man took on the “Ayatollah of Rock and Rolla”, Chris Jericho. I enjoyed this match, but I’m really struggling with the final decision and how it all went down – was that really “best for business”? Looking past the decision though this was a really entertaining match and shows what was cool about NXT, where main roster stars would come in for big and almost “dream” matches. I hope that we can go back to seeing more matches like these.
NXT Women’s Title Tournament Final: Paige vs. Emma (NXT; 7/24/13)
The Full Sail massif was really into this match, as the opening bell sounded we had dueling chants. Women’s wrestling is cool again now-a-days, but let’s never forget that it all started in Florida with Paige and Emma. This was of course the crowning of NXT’s first Women’s Champion, so similar to the Rollins/Mahal match, it is only right that this match is included on the DVD. The match was a really good back and forth affair; maybe not as good as their “ArRival” match, but the crowd was super into it and followed along with every move by Paige and Emma. This one was very entertaining and a great demonstration to the world that the NXT ladies could really “go”.
Best 2 Out of 3 Falls Match: Sami Zayn vs. Antonio Cesaro (NXT; 8/21/13)
As far as I can remember, THIS was the match that put NXT on the map as more than just the little developmental TV show from Florida.
This match was taped on the day that the Performance Center was opened, a day that many writers from wrestling news sites were in attendance for these tapings, so it was in hindsight a very smart decision to have Cesaro and Zayn go out and completely tear the house down with this incredible match up. For these reasons, it’s very clear to see why this match was included.
William Regal vs. Antonio Cesaro (NXT; 12/25/13)
Another really freakin’ awesome matchup (are you beginning to notice there might be a theme here with the matches which have been selected, ha). These two veterans told a really fantastic story and as William Regal’s final in-ring match (to date, at least), what better way to go out than with this classic? All I’ll say is – watch this match!!!
Ladder Match for the NXT Title: Bo Dallas vs. Adrian Neville (NXT ArRival; 2/27/14)
On Thursday, February 27, 2014 just 71 hours after the WWE Network launched (amid a slew of technical and sign up issues – remember those?) – NXT arrived to take over the WWE Network’s airwaves. Plus, what better way to kick off this new era of NXT than with a new champion who would be crowned in the brands very first true “gimmick” match. Yes, we had had your typical variation matches previously: no DQ, 2 out of 3 falls etc. but this was the first next level gimmick affair – a ladder match.
While this wasn’t your typical spot-filled ladder match there was some ladder usage; without Dallas and Neville killing themselves – after all NXT is developmental and it probably isn’t a good idea that they injure each other before they even get to the main roster – for that reason I’m okay with a little less madness.
NXT Women’s Title Tournament Final: Charlotte vs. Natalya (NXT TakeOver; 5/29/14)
A fantastic wrestling match wrapped in a whole bunch of emotion. This one had a great vibe, and the addition of Ric Flair and Bret Hart to Charlotte and Nattie’s respective corners was great (especially knowing Bret and Ric’s history together!) This was a really enjoyable match, Natalya really propelled Charlotte to the next level, as both ladies stole this TakeOver event.
Sami Zayn vs. Tyson Kidd (NXT; 10/16/14)
This was an awesome little match here, lots of very solid ring work between these two. The match came as part of Sami Zayn’s journey back to a shot at the NXT Championship at the next TakeOver – REvolution (we’ll get there in just a minute or two). It’s very easy to see how this match was included as a ‘greatest match’, plus it is nice to see non-TakeOver matches included as well, particularly as NXT’s weekly shows are packed with really solid matchups which are all too often forgotten.
NXT Title Match: Adrian Neville vs. Sami Zayn (NXT TakeOver: REvolution; 12/11/14)
I love this match. Zayn and Neville told a really great story both going into the match (sadly, we didn’t get too much of this here on the DVD though) as well as during the match itself. This one had an awesome big match feel and was as dramatic as you can get. I loved everything about it including the post match celebration and kick off into the new direction of the brand. It’s these little things which are done so very, very well on NXT and are ignored on the main roster.
Fatal Four-Way Match for the NXT Women’s Title: Charlotte vs. Sasha Banks vs. Becky Lynch vs. Bayley (NXT TakeOver: Rival; 2/11/15)
This one featured the coronation of “the Boss”, Sasha Banks. Again (and I’m beginning to feel very repetitive) another great matchup, in fact this was possibly one of the better four-way matches of all time – clearly the best female four-way. I love the fact that the NXT ladies are afforded the opportunity to go all out and thy their best to steal the show.
NXT Title Match: Sami Zayn vs. Kevin Owens (NXT TakeOver: Rival; 2/11/15)
Prepare yourselves… this one was, yet again another awesome match! Coming off their tête-à-tête at REvolution, this was Sami Zayn’s opportunity for revenge and Kevin Owens’ opportunity to take the NXT Championship. Both Superstars told a really great story, and the finish was something completely unexpected. I don’t recall using referee stoppage to switch a major championship before this (certainly in WWE) and it was really cool and further helped the cause of both Zayn and Owens; Sami as the sympathetic/never give up protagonist and Owens as the heinous antagonist. THIS. WAS. AWESOME. (clap-clap—clap-clap-clap)
Adrian Neville vs. Cesaro (Columbus, OH; 3/5/15)
This match is historic for a couple of reasons; firstly it is the main event of NXT’s very first live event outside of the Florida state lines, secondly it was a match which was taped specifically for release on this very DVD! Originally the match was slated to have been Adrian Neville taking on Sami Zayn, but with Sami off selling his injuries from our previous match, Cesaro was drafted in to take on the high flying Geordie.
This was a very good match – the only criticism I have is that WWE didn’t bother to record commentary for the match. Segments of the match were shown during NXT’s year in review specials (those did feature commentary from Rich Brennan and Corey Graves), however here the commentary was missing. We are going to have another match without commentary coming up, but this match was a little different. It was shot like your standard WWE multi-camera match; therefore the lack of commentary is blatant. This is a kind of minor point, it does affect what was a very, very good match, but it’s nice to have some more NXT history here on this set.
Hideo Itami vs. Tyler Breeze (San Jose, CA; 3/27/15)
A unique match here, as this one is filmed using the ‘arena cam’ (– yes the same as the WrestleMania III and VI matches we’ve had on past releases). HOWEVER, the big difference here is the preceding chapter, in that everyone discusses the unique atmosphere that the San Jose show had, which leads perfectly into us DVD viewers witnessing the match exactly like a member of the live crowd; which was really quite cool. Plus, when Hideo finally hits that GTS…. #goosebumps!
Enzo, Big Cass & Carmella vs. Blake, Murphy & Alexa (NXT; 6/17/15)
I don’t believe this one comes up to match the quality of many of the other matches on this set, but it’s nice to see WWE acknowledge one of the brand’s hottest acts – Enzo, Big Cass and Carmella. By no means is this bad, it’s just not as good as the others, maybe another Enzo/Cass match could have been used instead?
NXT Title Match: Kevin Owens vs. Finn Bálor (Beast in the East; 7/4/15)
Another cool match featured here – NXT’s first international foray. It was cool seeing the preceding chapter as well where Triple H discusses the origins of the match and how it was originally intended to be, versus what it ended up being. The match itself was also very awesome and had a great big time feel, from Finn adopting his ‘demon’ persona to the use of the streamers by the fans. The match was exciting and keeps you on the edge of your seat – even after you know the result; this is something really special. (Plus it’s about time we have a Finn Bálor match on this set!)
NXT Women’s Title Match: Sasha Banks vs. Bayley (NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn; 8/22/15)
What can I say about this match? If you’ve never heard about it before, where have you been?! If you have, then you’ll know just how good it is.
Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic Tournament Final: Finn Bálor & Samoa Joe vs. Baron Corbin & Rhyno (NXT TakeOver: Respect; 10/7/15)
Dusty Rhodes was a huge part of the development of NXT both in front of the cameras and behind the scenes, so it was really cool to see WWE honor ‘the Dream’ with a cool tag team tournament which harkened back to one of Dusty’s old creations – The Crockett Cup. I really hope WWE continues to make this an annual event – maybe even making the tournament bigger again and involving even more teams and not just those currently part of NXT/WWE! The preceding chapter to this match was also very damn cool, with a really great tribute video to Dusty (if you saw the NXT Year in Review specials it was featured on there as well).
I can understand why this match is included, but personally I enjoyed the semi-final more than the final. By no means was this a bad match, it was completely entertaining affair with some good tag team match psychology, but I preferred the semi’s more – but with the Dusty Rhodes Memorial Cup presentation at the end it’s an obvious choice to be included.
And if you’re a DVD-kind of person, that’s all folks.
If however you are a lover of the Blu-ray, lets continue…
The Blu-ray Extras:
CM Punk & Seth Rollins vs. Antonio Cesaro & Kassius Ohno (NXT; 10/17/12)
This one starts out as a one-on-one affair between CM Punk and Antonio Cesaro, but after degenerating into chaos the match soon changes into a tag team match, seeing Punk joined by NXT Champion, Seth Rollins, while Cesaro was joined by his former ROH partner Kassius (Chris Hero) Ohno as the former “Kings of Wrestling” reunite here for a ‘lost’ NXT classic. The match itself didn’t actually air on television internationally (or Hulu, domestically) and therefore this is the first time it has ever seen the light of day! Unlike some of the other unaired matches, this one does feature commentary (with Jim Ross, William Regal and Byron Saxton).
Another great addition to the set, a really enjoyable match and it’s cool to see a ‘lost’ CM Punk match, especially because there are very few unreleased matches from the modern day era.
Best 2 Out of 3 Falls Match: Adrian Neville vs. Corey Graves (NXT; 11/13/13)
NXT has a little bit of a reputation for these 2 out of 3 falls matches; this match was very entertaining. Often these 2 out of 3 falls matches can be somewhat formulaic but this one was a little different right from the off. I won’t go into too much detail, as I don’t want to spoil it but I really enjoyed this match and I’m sure you will too.
Paige vs. Becky Lynch (NXT TakeOver: Fatal Four Way; 9/11/14)
Another never-before-seen match up here, this “dark match” was taped prior to the Fatal Four-Way TakeOver event and featured the NXT return of the then reigning WWE Divas Champion, Paige. This match as a result of being a dark match doesn’t feature any commentary, however is shot like typical matches (not ‘arena cam’ style). This one isn’t a particularly long match (just over 3 minutes, bell-to-bell) but the fact that it’s previously unseen makes it a great addition to the Blu-ray.
NXT Women’s Title Match: Sasha Banks vs. Charlotte (NXT; 7/15/15)
Former BFFs tangle in one of their final NXT showdowns on their way up to the main roster. As you likely expect, these two absolutely steal this one. The growth of Charlotte and Sasha was one of the greatest things about NXT, from seeing their early matches all the way to them becoming (in many respects) one of the lynch pins of the brand.
The match was great and should these two (and Becky Lynch) be given the green light in Arlington, Texas next month they could very well steal that show too!!!!
Apollo Crews vs. Tyler Breeze (NXT TakeOver: Respect; 10/7/15)
Tyler Breeze was one of my absolute favorite NXT performers, and this match here makes me a little bit sad, knowing it was one of his very last NXT matches and how he has been used on the main WWE roster. Tyler had great matches with everyone from Finn Bálor, Sami Zayn, Neville and even Jushin “Thunder” Liger – here it was Tyler’s job to leave NXT in good standing and get the next crop of talent, in this instance Apollo Crews, ready. The match itself was really good and as always Tyler shines in a losing effort – that takes real ability there.
If I’m looking for ways to criticize the set, I would say that the earlier years were a little skipped over and given less attention than the more recent “Network Era” of NXT, however I can see why that is – especially as this is the era more people are aware of. Another very minor criticism would be the fact that we aren’t ever told exactly who is on commentary, especially because since 2012, NXT has had SO many announcers and color commentators come through; from Jim Ross right through to Brad Maddox. It just would have been nice to have a little on-screen graphic saying exactly who the commentary team was. In terms of criticisms, that’s really all that I have.
For the most part the matches chosen are pretty awesome and with one or two exceptions all of them are great. I really hope that given WWE added the “volume one” moniker to this one, that a volume two is planned, and on it I hope that WWE decides to add more of the great television matches and not quite as many TakeOver matches – sure, I agree some have to be included, but those matches are so famous, it’s nice to see some of the more forgotten matches get a little love.
Overall this is an awesome DVD/Blu-ray. I don’t know that I can recommend it highly enough! I’m positive you will absolutely love this one – if you haven’t pre-ordered it already DO IT NOW!!!!!
Get your copy of WWE’s “NXT Greatest Matches Vol. 1” DVD/Blu-ray…
– UK/Europe: March 14th. Pre-order your copy now here on Amazon.co.uk.
– USA: March 15th. Pre-order your copy now here on Amazon.com.
– Australia: April 6th. Pre-order your copy now over at Madman.com.au.