Fill in the blank: Shinsuke Nakamura’s NXT debut was __________.
Chris Schubert: An instant classic. Shinsuke Nakamura’s debut was one of the more important moments of the weekend, and it delivered. Nakamura had new music, but it didn’t matter. He was the same guy that we saw in New Japan and ROH. He brought his charismatic and flamboyant self to the WWE ring and put on a show with Sami Zayn. Those guys stole the show and put on one of the best matches of the year, if not the best. Nakamura’s impact in WWE is just beginning, and it started in a big way tonight.
John Brown: …game-changing.
Nakamura debuted on the perfect night, with a perfect entrance, in front of a perfect crowd, against the perfect opponent. There was no need for any kind of developing storyline. We did not need to have him cut a series of promos to build up to the match. He showed his face once on NXT programming and let his match with Sami Zayn do all the talking that was necessary.
Shinsuke Nakamura’s match just set the standard that all WWE wrestlers need to strive for. If I am Vince McMahon, I’m likely pulling the hair out of my head knowing that there is not a single match on the WrestleMania 32 card, or any card for that matter, that is going to touch this one.
Daniel DeMarco: A truly special moment in wrestling. It was surreal to watch that man be in the ring with Sami Zayn after all the times I’ve seen him enter the ring in Japan for NJPW. Now we have Nakamura in the NXT ring; what a night. The crowd was red-hot for it too. It was the perfect setting to have him debut. It is the diehard fans who go to WrestleMania, and those are the fans who would know Nakamura best. And from the reactions from beginning to end, it was clear that an educated audience was watching the match. They popped for everything. They made the match feel special, and rightfully so. On top of that, I would say Nakamura’s debut was the match of the night for TakeOver: Dallas; and the card was a pretty damn good one overall.
Jason Hall: Perfect. It was absolutely perfect. Bryan Alvarez of WON tweeted that it took him “zero seconds to have more charisma than the entire roster” which he followed up with an early Match of the Year candidate. Even his song was perfect and I didn’t think there was any possible way they’d manage to make a better theme than “Subconscious.” Again, Sami Zayn was the perfect opponent for him based on both the legitimacy of facing a former NXT Champion and the meshing of their in-ring styles. That was the absolute perfect way to debut Nakamura to the WWE Universe.
Riley Kontek: One of the best debuts of all time. The audience was captivated the minute he stepped foot on stage. His trademark antics in the ring were on point again. Once the wrestling began, fans were treated to one of the best in the world right now. That has Match of the Year written all over it. Nakamura and Zayn beat the hell out of each other. Ultimately, Nakamura came out on top in a match that has already made him a star amongst WWE fans. Incredible.
Joseph Nardone: The cat’s meow. It went over beautifully. His ring entrance was better than I imagined, he and Sami put on an astounding match, and the crowd ate him up. It couldn’t have gone better had the WWE scripted it. Well, I mean, they did script it, but good job by everyone.
That said, I do have a small complaint. In his very first match in the WWE Universe they allowed his opponent to sometimes “match” him in strong style. That should have been saved for a bigger stage. The strong style thing is a large part of his gimmick, and while it isn’t a huge deal, it would have been nicer to see them hold off on someone sometimes getting the upper hand for down the line a bit.
Should the main roster be next for Bayley after her loss Friday?
CS: I predicted in the live recap post that if Bayley lost, that it more than likely meant she was going to the main roster. I still believe that is the best course of action going forward. The WWE is going to have to capitalize on the momentum that the triple threat Divas title match at WrestleMania 32 will give them. That, and the rumors of new championship belt, could create the perfect situation to bring the fourth horsewoman into the picture and have these four ladies go at it over the title.
JB: The current “Divas Revolution” is only missing Bayley. Since winning the NXT Women’s Championship from Sasha Banks, Bayley has been a face of NXT that has equaled that of Finn Balor or any other male member of the roster. Her matches more than deserve to be showcased on network WWE programming, trumping those of many of the female wrestlers who are being used on a regular basis. She also has a following that outnumbers any female wrestler within WWE, including Sasha Banks. It’s definitely time to call her up.
DD: I would not say so. And it is odd saying that, because a part of me knows her and her character are a great fit for the main roster. She is essentially the John Cena they would want, except everyone loves her. But I do not think the main roster is where she should be; not yet at least. The NXT environment allows her to prosper. The underground-feel of NXT suits her underdog character so well. If I had it my way, this would just be the beginning of a great feud with Asuka. Keep Bayley in NXT, and make something special between her and Asuka. There is nothing for Bayley on the main roster at the moment; nothing worthy of her talent or character.
JH: Bayley should’ve been on the main roster months ago. This just proves that WWE might be leaning that way with a smark-heavy post-WrestleMania crowd on next Monday’s episode of Raw. Although it didn’t give her quite the sendoff that Zayn got after his match. Perhaps NXT will bring Bayley back for a rematch much like it did with Sasha Banks after her call-up. But yes, the main roster is where Bayley belongs.
RK: If the WWE pulled the belt off Bayley like it did, yes. If she is not champion of NXT, she should be roaming the main roster and continuing to build herself up on the grandest stage. The reason I don’t want her on the main roster is that I know the WWE will drop the ball with her. She is arguably the most over female in WWE since the days of Lita and Trish Stratus. fans actually care about her. She is one of the best babyfaces WWE has. I expect to see her on Monday Night Raw. But, I fear for what the main roster’s creative does with her.
JN: I don’t know. I fear what would happen to her on the main roster. Not to mention what the women’s division at NXT would be like without her. All selfish concerns, really.
For now, because I imagine there’s at least a few other people getting called up, I would let her stay in NXT for another few months. At least until she has a full fledged rematch for the title.
If that’s a direction NXT has no desire to go, then send her up. But, again, I’m merely scared of how the WWE will use her on the main roster. Especially when it’s failed not only other female talent, but a majority of NXT talent called up.
Did WWE make the right choice by having Finn Balor retain?
CS: This is an interesting one. Determining whether or not this was the right choice will require some ability to see into the future. We need to know what’s next for both Balor and Joe. If neither has direction, then this move makes little sense. If there is a clear plan in place, which will likely be the case, then these two guys will be fine and this won’t be the last we see of them. Also, having Balor retain creates some interesting questions for the rest of the weekend and Monday Night Raw. So it will be fun to watch.
JB: It depends on what it plans to do with him on main WWE programming.
The current speculation is that Finn is going to debut as the leader of the Balor Club the night after WrestleMania 32. If this is truly the plan, then I’m not sure that WWE made the right choice. NXT is living on borrowed time with Samoa Joe as well, as his skillset more than warrants being moved to the main roster relatively soon. He needs to be booked as a force to be reckoned with, but he doesn’t seem to be able to come through when the title is on the line. A win over Balor would have solidified him as legitimate as soon as Vince McMahon calls his name.
DD: Tough question to answer. If both he and Samoa Joe are staying in NXT, then I do not have much issue with the decision. It would have been nice to see Joe pick up the victory; certainly would have been my preference. They could have kept going with the rivalry had that been the case. Now with two straight losses, it lessens Joe. They must be keeping Balor in NXT for some time to come. I would imagine Karl Anderson and Doc Gallows will debut in NXT soon and the trio will be promotion’s top faction: The Balor Club. Even then though, the Samoa Joe character should be pushed really hard as a monster the way Brock Lesnar is on the main roster. Balor could have saved face with a loss better than Joe does with this second defeat. So wrong decision I would say, but it is not terrible. I’m sure reasons will be revealed to us soon.
JH: Yes. Finn Balor is the franchise of NXT and Samoa Joe shouldn’t have had to even gone through developmental. There’s nothing to teach Joe about wrestling on American television. His promo is top notch and he’s been one of the best wrestlers in the world for the past decade. Joe revealed on the Cheap Heat podcast Friday that Triple H’s plan was to use him as a quick legitimacy boost when NXT was reaching its height in popularity. Now that the brand has exceeded expectations it’s time for the 37-year-old to make his main roster debut.
RK: Yes. Finn Balor is the franchise right now on NXT. This run Samoa Joe is having with NXT is just a quick pit stop before he is brought to the main roster, as it needs serious star power in a hurry. Balor will be a main event guy for the WWE whenever he leaves NXT for the main roster, but he is the face of NXT and will be for some time. Beating Joe continued to build him up and gives Joe an opportunity to walk away from NXT and show up on the main roster ASAP.
JN: Can I simply leave a giant question mark here?
Balor Club needs to debut on Monday Night Raw. That is my opinion and not a fact, obviously. Technically, as it was with Kevin Owens, they still can with Balor as the champion, but it “feels” like some in the WWE are pot committed to having Balor be the face of NXT. Making a desire to put him on the main roster of less importance.
I am not a fan of Samoa Joe. That’s a disclaimer that probably needs to be put out there, but I was actively rooting for him to win because it would unofficially signal a Balor Club to the main roster move looming. Now I have no clue what is going to happen.
But if Balor is staying in NXT, I’d much rather him have the belt than Joe.