I was front row in attendance for today’s WWE NXT Live show in Chicago, IL. This was the first of two shows today for WWE NXT in Chicago at The Portage Theater. The 7:30 pm show sold out so quickly that this 1 pm matinee show was added.
Myself and my camera operator Taylor Armstrong showed up to the arena around 10:45 am to start filming for WZ TV with fans waiting in line to get in. There was already a pretty good line when we got there and the fans were very excited to chat with me for WZ TV. Footage from what we shot with fans should be available starting this Monday. Thank you to everyone who participated! There’s some seriously amazing stuff coming your way from the Chicago pro wrestling faithful.
Once we finished filming we got a cup of coffee and came back to get in to the venue. Since the show was at 1 pm we had expected doors to open around noon. We came back shortly after noon and the line at this point was extremely long and started stretching down entire streets. For whatever reason the doors did not open until around 12:30 pm. It’s Chicago in the Winter (20 degrees) so that wasn’t helping anyone who was waiting in line to get in to the arena either. When we got to the end of the line we heard from people that WWE NXT Champion Finn Balor had actually come outside and was talking to fans. It sounded like he really lifted the spirits of all the NXT fans waiting in line. I wish I had seen him! What could have been a terrible, cold thing actually turned in to a lot of excited Chicago fans doing NXT chants all through the streets.
As soon as the doors opened the line started to move pretty quickly. There was a bit of a rush for folks to find their seats but everyone was excited to get going. The show started maybe twenty minute late. The ring announcer for the show was Dasha Fuentes and she did a great job the whole night.
As soon as Enzo and Cass made their way in to the arena the entire Portage Theater lit up. Everyone there was doing Enzo’s promo word for word at the top and it was just a great start to the show. The match itself was very fun. The end of it saw Cass throw Enzo onto Dawson off the top rope and go for the pin. From the outside Dash pulled the referee out of the ring causing the DQ finish. Enzo & Cass were really upset over the screw job finish.
The Chicago fans seemed to have a warm spot for Bull. Tommaso was way, way over with the fans in attendance but there were a surprisingly large amount of Bull chants during the match as well. There was a funny spot in the beginning where Bull went for a test of strength with Tommaso only to get them both doing jumping jacks with their intertwined fingers at the same time. The finish saw Ciampa make Dempsey tap to an armbar submission. Some people in the crowd also knew that it was Bull Dempsey’s birthday so a lot of “Happy Birthday” chants and songs rang out throughout and after this match.
Chicago could not get enough of screaming the word “TEN!” From the moment Tye walked out with his number ten shirt on. Everyone in attendance seemed to rally behind him. Elias “The Drifter” Samson came to the ring with a guitar looking very somber. Tye had a couple fun spots in this match with the referee. At one point the ref took his big “10” sign from him. He then took a tinier version of it from his trunks that the referee also took from him. Later in the match Tye had the referee do his cartwheel taunt which got a big reaction from the crowd. In the end it was Elias who won. Everyone was really eating up Tye and all of his shennigans.
Bayley got an insane reaction from the crowd. Everyone was going nuts and then all of a sudden there were those wacky, wavy, inflatable tube men on the stage and it got that much better. The match itself was very good. After watching Tye lose to Elias it was nice to see Bayley pick up the win over Alexa with the Bayley to Bayley Suplex. Everyone was sent to intermission on a high note.
During intermission fans were encouraged to purchase a limited edition NXT Chicago Matinee poster that had been signed by the NXT Superstars. Only a few were available for $50 at the merchandise stand.
Apollo Crews came back with a lot of fire to keep the show rolling after intermission. Corbin is just such a great heel. He verbally ragged on fans all throughout the match even telling one fan standing against the wall, “You couldn’t even afford a seat!” Crews won the match after doing two standing moonsaults on to Corbin. Great match to start the second half of the show.
Eva Marie had the most heat of anyone on the show. It wasn’t even close. The delight that fans in attendance took in booing Eva Marie was palpable. Nia Jax and Eva work very well together as well. Their dynamic reminds me a bit of Diesel and Shawn Michaels. Lots of, “You can’t wrestle” and, “You can wrestle” dueling chants for Eva during this match as well. Carmella was very well liked by the Chicago crowd. The match ended with Nia Jax hitting Peyton with a leg drop for the pin.
Both of these guys got huge reactions from the crowd. Sami Zayn was a total gentleman before the match shaking both the referee and ring announcer Dasha Fuentes hand before the bout. Finn Balor was non-stop with the hand gun-Bullet Club hand gestures before, during and after the match. He multiple times pointed to Zayn before a move doing the hand gesture. Not that anyone cared. The Chicago crowd popped big every time he would do it. The finish came with Finn nailing the Coup De Grace for the pin fall victory. After the match Finn cut a promo that, to the best of my knowledge, featured him publicly talking about the rumors swirling around about The Bullet Club and NXT. It wasn’t groundbreaking by any stretch but it does appear to be the first time “The Bullet Club” has been invoked in a WWE promo.
The following is a full transcription of Finn’s comments from his promo:
FB: I guess I better address the elephant in the room. You know four years ago myself and a band of my brothers in Japan created a little club .That was all well and good and that was a fun time. But now what I am creating. What we are creating. And that’s with these little fellas here (points to kids in front row). Chris Jericho and the clown man up front (points to Frank the Clown and his friend in a Jericho light up jacket). All The Bullet Club shirts. This fella in the mask. The people that control the lights and the sound. The people like this man, referee Shawn Bennett. Sami Zayn. Dash & Dawson. Enzo & Cass. Bayley. We all, we created this and this is not something that one person has built. This is something that we have all built.
Also of note. After Finn cut his promo he handed the microphone to Sami Zayn to cut a promo of his own. Below is a transcription of Sami’s comments which include him name dropping Chicago’s Colt Cabana:
SZ: First and foremost. While everything Finn Balor said is accurate and absolutely true about this being a revolution and about every single one of you being a part of that revolution. Can we please just address for a moment at the head of that revolution our Champion Finn freaking Balor. (Crowd goes nuts). First and foremost it was an honor to share the ring with you and leave it all behind with you for these people tonight. And now, just as a member of NXT. I can’t tell you, just as a competitor right now but as a guy in the locker room to watch our Champion go out before the show and talk to every single one of you in the freezing cold in line. Apologize that the show had to start a little late and thank you for freezing your asses off in the freezing Chicago winter. For him to do that is unbelievable. That is a man that I am proud to call my NXT Champion and your NXT Champion. What a fella. What a fella. Now Chicago. Now, I would also like to thank you. Because I genuinely love Chicago. As Colt Cabana can tell you I’ve been talking about moving to Chicago for over twelve years. I still haven’t meant it and I probably won’t but God do I love coming here. I want to thank you for standing out there and waiting in that cold. I am not even a little bit surprised because Chicago people ain’t scared of the cold. They ain’t scared of nothing. Nothing was going to stop you guys from coming out here tonight and showing your love and being a part of this revolution and that is why you are the best.
Absolutely great show. It started a little rough, and cold, but in the end everyone had an amazing time. Can’t wait to see what they have in store for tonight!