Weekly Wednesday : Volume 1 Episode 1
A weekly wrapup of WWE Network’s Wednesday night programming
Welcome to the first of (with hopefully many to come), TJF’s Weekly Wednesday; where we will cover WWE’s Wednesday night brands on the WWE network, NXT and the new Cruiserweight Championship division, CWC.
Tonight’s programs were absolutely stand alone, not only because it was CWC’s official in-action brand debut, but also because of the NXT match. The most impressive Shinsuke ‘King of Strong Style’ Nakamura match to date in WWE, since his Wrestlemania 32 debut at NXT Takeover Dallas, facing off against ‘The Prodigal Prince’ a.k.a. ‘The Demon’ Finn Balor. If that was not enough, NXT ended with the fans chanting “thank you” and “please don’t go.”
Now I’m not saying Finn Balor is going to be joining his Bullet Club brethren in the upcoming WWE brand draft, because it hasn’t been announced, but I’m not not saying it either.
With that being said, may I digress.
The only development other than the Balor / Nakamura match on tonight’s NXT was Samoa Joe claiming to be the “Emperor of Strong Style” and “King of NXT.” With the Balor / Nakamura match leading up to a future championship match with Samoa Joe, a claim of this stature is insulting to Nakamura on many levels, that’s not what I am here to report though.
Balor and Nakamura have an intense history that spans back to their meeting in the ring via competition in Japan 10 years ago, and since, they have become best friends. As HHH put it cutting a promo for the NXT match tonight, “…before they stepped foot in a WWE ring, the world knew who they were…people will be left with their jaws hanging open.”
I’m not going to sit here and give you a play by play, but I will do you a favor and tell you to go watch it for yourself when you have a chance.
Both competitors had beautifully intense moments of aggression , and Balor went after one of Nakamura’s essential weapons in his arsenal, his legs. In the end, though, despite Balor being the first competetor in NXT to not immediately cave to Nakamura’s Kinshasa Kick, when all the mind games were done, the Kinshasa ultimately was the demise of ‘The Prodigal Prince’ Finn Balor at the end of the night.
If and when you watch the match on your own time, keep your eye out for the Bullet Club’s Too Sweet to Nakamura’s face, between the two competitor’s showing off and grand standing for the crowd. A dream match years in the making, indeed.
Next up was WWE’s first showcasing of their new Cruiserweight Classic division. A division advertised in it’s intro as “Men’s stature overcome by their own accomplishments.”
As you likely know by know the WWE has collected 32 competitors from 16 countries, including a much smaller replacement roster; in case of injuries, or wrestlers going over the weight class limit.
Despite the rock em’ Sock em’ robots intro feel from a design perspective, the program had some good matches; all four with a 20-minute time limit, although most didn’t come close.
The first match on the card was Gran Metalik, a luchador from Mexico who was trained by his Dad; who defeated Alejandro Saez, a self-taught competitor, that started professional wrestling in his home of Chile. A very good match, Saez cutting 30 lbs to make the weight class. Saez was very competitive and is definitely a strong offensive striker, but he couldn’t overcome the fact that Gran Metalik can take a strong offense and turn it around to explode with Lucha magic.
The second match of the new CWC brand was promising as well. Ho Ho Lun, founder of Hong Kong Professional Wrestling Association in China defeated India’s Ariya Daivari, brother of former WWE competitor, Daivari. While Daivari claimed he was willing to do whatever it takes to win, his hard striking offensive style was not enough for Ho Ho, who can take hard shots with a quick recovery time and went on for a defeat with a German suplex out of nowhere. Not surprisingly, since he claims to be inspired by Japanese Heavyweight wrestling, integrating his own style into the mix.
The third match on the card introduced Cedric Alexander (who previously honed his craft in ROH wrestling) from Charlotte, NC; who defeated Clement Petiot from France, trained by Lance Storm. Before the match, there was some really interesting information revealed about the history of Cedric Alexander and his professional ambitions, and from what he displayed of his technical skillset and personal wrestling style, he is someone I would look out for in the future. He has a very fluid and organic defensive style, with a quick defensive offense that won him the match despite the very hard hitting Petiot. Alexander finished the match with a beautifully crafted, back suplex into a backbreaker combo, that came out of nowhere and put an end to the match quickly.
The last match on the card had the legendary Kota Ibushi of NJPW fame, that won a hard-earned bout against Sean Maluta of the WWE Samoan Dynasty, with WWE legend AFA being his Uncle and the Usos, and Roman Reigns his cousins.
If you don’t know about Ibushi, he is known as one of the hardest kicking wrestlers in the world and is a three-time IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion defeating Finn Balor twice and Lo-Ki once. He is considered the elite of modern day wrestling. All things considered, Maluta, the obvious underdog despite Ibushi just coming back from surgery, put up an amazing fight. There were definitely moments when I thought Maluta was going to be pushed, due to his American Samoan heritage in the WWE, but in the end, Ibushi took it.
With that being said Maluta can take long offensive attacks and at one point he planted a super kick so reminiscent of the Heart Break Kid himself, I almost looked twice.
All in all the new CWC brand is full of promise, and I look forward to seeing where it goes in the future. Personally, I’m going to take the rest of the night off now, and beat up John Cena.
Did you catch NXT or CWC tonight? What were some of your personal highlights? Who are you looking forward to in the future CWC events? Do you think we will see Balor make a surprise appearance in the upcoming WWE brand draft?