Layin' The Quackdown

Duckman on NXT Glasgow.

We had an idea a few months ago.  That idea then became a plan.  The plan was to do a meet up with the Scottish listeners of the MFX Podcast (the show loosely based around wrestling that Sir Ian Trumps and I have been doing for the last 130 shows) before the NXT Glasgow house show on Friday 11th December.

This would give me a chance to meet the guys in Scotland who have listened to and supported the MFX Podcast for the last few years, as well as get the chance to meet my buddy Marc Abrigo, who was coming to the UK for a week from the US.  I have known Marc for 8 years online but we’ve never met.

Marc’s one of my favourite people, funny, insightful, Asian and apparently unable to handle his booze.  You’ll be pleased to know we put this myth to one side as Abrigo joined the Scottish boys in hammering back the drinks and took it all in his stride.  I felt like a proud parent watching him knock back Jack Daniels and Coke like it was going out of fashion.

Marc has been a guest on the podcast a few times, got our Twitter handle on a sign clearly seen at WM30 (as well as my favourite sign at WM30 “Duckman > Sir Ian!”) and he is one of the biggest and best supporters of our show.  Plus he’s been my good buddy for nearly a decade, so the chance to finally meet up with him, and on top of that go to a NXT show as well, was a chance we couldn’t pass up.

Here’s the roll call of MFXers who met up before the show (MFX show nicknames in parenthesis) : myself (Duckman, obviously), my brother Martin (Marts Unknown), Abrigo (too many to list but Ababrigabo, Asian correspondent and small Chinese lesbian are some of my favourites), George (The Animal Peel), Michael (Bad News) Brown, Robert (DumBartGun – as he’s from Dumbarton), his twin brother James (Hetro Man Randy Savage) and their mate Rowdy Roddy Peeper (I never did get his real name, someone will have to fill me in so I don’t just call him Peeper from now on).

Plenty of drinks were consumed, plenty of laughs were had and it’s safe to say everyone got on really well.  It’s weird to think that the whole reason we know each other is because of a podcast Ian and I do, but it wasn’t awkward in the slightest.  I was expecting some awkwardness but it felt like we’d all known each other for a long time and we settled into the rhythms of conversation and mainly taking the piss out of each other and wrestling really quickly.

I wish we’d had more time to spend together before the show, as it was we only had a few hours (in Hetro’s case about half an hour) before we had to go to the NXT show.  The meet up and drinks were SO much fun and something we plan on doing again next year.  Hopefully next time with Sir Ian in attendance and anyone else who listens to the show who can make it.

I never thought doing the podcast would lead to a night like we had and it was great fun.  Even without the NXT show, getting to know people who have consistently supported the show down the years and become friends of mine through it was something really special.

Anyway, I won’t go into all the details of the meet up, I’m saving all that for the next podcast.  Instead I’ll just give some of my thoughts on the NXT show itself – which was the most fun wrestling show I’ve ever been to.

We got to the SSE Hydro Area in Glasgow around 7:15pm.  The show was supposed to start at 7:30pm and the lines outside the building were massive.  The longest I’ve seen for an event at the Hydro.  It turned out this was because of WWE’s Isis induced paranoia (who says terrorism doesn’t work?) of insisting on having Airport style security at the door.

Although as Abrigo pointed out, at the intermission you could freely walk out and back into the arena without being checked by anyone, so you could have easily gone and got your machine gun or whatever from your car and then come back in!  Abrigo apparently felt right at home as an American being patted down and having one of those metal detector wands waved over him.  At least he was used to it; in Scotland the usual security check just involves making sure you’re properly drunk, before handing you another drink just to be on the safe side.

Thankfully they opened some extra doors and we got into the arena after only waiting for ten minutes.  After a quick piss stop, followed by more booze and a pizza (I had a meat feast, scarily I could identify none of the meat, even after eating it, and which then gave me some of the most dramatic and heinous shits of my life the following day) we got into the arena.

Abrigo was sitting front row, me and Mart were about 8 rows behind him.  The other guys were scattered around the arena and it turned out we all had good seats.  The top section of the area was curtained off (Hydro holds about 11,000 for wrestling) so I’d say there were probably 6,000-7,000 people in the building, but could have been more – I’m shit at guessing crowd sizes.  Either way it was a really good sized crowd for a show with no TV in the UK.

The show was already underway when we got in.  So we only caught the end of the opener with Enzo and Cass vs. Blake and Murphy.  What we saw was fun, Enzo and Cass won with their rocket launcher finisher and they were really over with the crowd.  Now, a word about the crowd.

HOLY SMARKS BATMAN!!  The crowd was made up of 90% of the male, 18-35 year old lapsed WWE fans who the company have designed NXT to get back (keep getting money from).  It was mostly guys in their mid-20s and older, wearing CM Punk, Daniel Bryan, Sami Zayn, Finn Balor or Samoa Joe t-shirts.  I only saw a handful of women.

This was a completely different crowd from the WWE house show I went to a few years ago at the Hydro.  At that show it was probably 80% kids under the age of 12.  At this show I think I saw 3 kids…total.  One of whom was sitting next to me and had no idea who anyone was, but his Dad REALLY enjoyed himself.  Guess who actually wanted to go to that show?

Funnily enough, just as the main event started the kid started moaning about want to leave so they didn’t get stuck in traffic and his Dad had to take him out.  The kid seemed fine, his Dad looked so disappointed.  The lesson here?  Kids are a fucking pain in the ass.

There were SO MANY smarky dicks at this show.  Ok, that’s probably a bit harsh – most of the people there were having a good time, but a lot of guys there who thought they were really funny by SHOUTING STUFF and then turning to their mates looking for a round of applause or some supportive laughter.  Every person who yelled something smarky thought they were hilarious.  They weren’t.  At all.

Ok, there were some exceptions.  The dude who yelled “arm bar” every time someone even touched an arm was funny the first time.  By the 185th time he did it, the joke had worn thinner than a starving stray dog in the Russian tundra.  The one dude who shouted “oh my God The Undertaker is here” when the lights went out the first time was pretty funny too.  But MY GOD most of them were righteously unfunny, sneering pricks.

This was especially true of the two twats sitting behind me, who spent the entire show making fun of anyone who shouted anything or appeared to be having a good time.  Plus they jumped all over it when someone in the ring stumbled slightly.  They had to show how “smart” they were by going on about ‘botchamania.’  Forgetting of course that they’re at a show where a large portion of the roster are only a few years into their wrestling training and botches (which these really weren’t) are going to happen.  The dicks.

There were also a ton of ICW (Insane Championship Wrestling, local Glasgow promotion) fans in the building.  These guys were fun and had some good original chants and songs.  They were at the show to see Finn Balor as he worked ICW for a while before he went to WWE.  They weren’t as smarky and shitty as some of the other guys there, in fact they actually helped make the atmosphere really great.

It was just the high number of smarks – especially the two behind me – who got really fucking annoying after a while.  If they had been funny I wouldn’t have minded, but they were just wankers with nothing interesting to say, making fun of people who were having a good time.  I mean, who the fuck goes to a wrestling show and acts like a failed X-Factor judge on the quality of other people’s chants or comments?  Just let them get on with it, have a good time, and then bury them when you get home to the safety of your own blog or podcast, like I do.

Anyway, those two cocks aside, this was a brilliant show.  Every match on the card was different, everyone worked hard and you could tell they were having a great time.  It’s a bit of a cliché but Scottish crowds really are fantastic.  They’re loud, enthusiastic and a few smarky ass wipes aside, they just mark out and enjoy the show as much as they can.

I heard a rumour that WWE are thinking of doing their RAW and Smackdown TV tapings on the November UK tour in Glasgow because of this and other enthusiastic Scottish crowds.  That and the fact ICW are running their biggest show ever at the Hydro two weeks after WWE.  Time to try and stomp on the upstart locals I guess.  Cheers Vince.

If that’s the plan, they’re missing the point because none of the ICW fans would actually go to a RAW taping, and none of the kid heavy WWE crowd could even get into an ICW show.  They both draw from two totally different demographic of wrestling fans, but whatever.  This business is kill or be killed, right?  I hope all of this isn’t true by the way, but I put nothing past WWE.

The funniest part of the night was any time they showed a trailer for TLC on the screen the whole arena booed loudly (this has been happening on every NXT show on the UK Tour).  This wasn’t jokey heel heat; this was big time hatred heat.  Like Eva Marie at Full Sail.

It was the kind of white hot hatred that isn’t good heel heat.  It’s more like intense, impassioned resentment of your presence or the fact you even exist.  It’s not heat that draws money because people don’t pay to see that person get beat, and they aren’t entertained by their heel antics, they just don’t want to see them full stop.

So yeah, Roman Reigns isn’t going to get over with these NXT crowds in his current incarnation.  If they made him a bit less talky and a bit more ass kicky I think he’d do fine, but it’s going to take time and at this show, any appearance by him on screen got Eva Marie heat (I’m renaming it cause no one remembers X-Pac these days).

The crowd booed so loudly at the TLC video the first time that the ring announcer (some WWE trainee robo-interviewer) actually laughed to the ref he was in the ring with.  Then when everyone chanted ‘NXT’ he actively encouraged them with his hands.  Surprising, but I guess they know Vince gives no fucks about any of this so he wouldn’t find out.  Then again what does he care if 3000 smarks are booing his product, while paying on average of £60 a ticket to watch his other product?  He be smart folks.  He be smart.

Alright, back to the show.  Bull Dempsey and Tye Dillinger had a 10 minute match which had about 4 moves, mostly comedy involving Bull threatening to eat Tye’s number 10 placard.  The crowd ate this all up like Bull at a buffet.  My brother commented how awesome and old school it was.  I said how wrestling comedy is so simple to do and can be funny, it’s just the guys writing RAW have no idea what it is or how to do it.  The guys booking NXT do.  This was fun comedy that the crowd took part in and enjoyed.  Bull won with a sit down splash off the top.

The 10 chant would be over for the rest of the night. I hope WWE don’t get confused and think this means Tye is over, cause he’s not actually that over.  He’s pretty entertaining and his chant is fun because it reminds people of the ‘Yes’ chant.  Getting wrestling fans to chant for something is not hard.  That said, for a short run, it would probably get over on the main roster.  Tye is an ok worker, but if he’s going to be pushed because of the reaction to the 10 gimmick, his run will be shorter than the line for the Roman Reigns t-shirt stand at this show.

Alexa Bliss and Asuka had a good match.  It was Abrigo’s match of the night with his sparkly crush Alexa wrestling his sister Asuka.  Hey, don’t look at me like that; I’m not being racist, he made the joke, not me.  I just laughed.  Match was fun.  Alexa is ridiculously cute and her ass is hypnotic.  She actually got much more offense in during this than I expected.  She works well as a heel.  Asuka has true superstar charisma and she works a great style, totally different from all the other women on the roster.  She won with her cross face chicken wing with a body scissors finish.  Fun stuff all round.  The smark nerds around me couldn’t get enough of Alexa and her ass.  I’m not going to lie, neither could I.  That’s the meat feast I should’ve eaten instead of that pizza.

Neville v Baron Corbin was a really good match.  The crowd loved Neville.  I mean LOVED him.  Plenty of heat for Corbin.  He’s such a weird looking guy.   He should be total main roster fodder, but something about him is off.  He has the size and look WWE love, a bad ass entrance and he has improved in the ring ten-fold this year.  But he always looks so bored.  When he’s beating a guy up, when he’s selling, when he’s having a go at the crowd, all the same expression – a man quietly studying a discount coupon as he waits in line at the shops.  He also has the weirdest tights, low slung, with a kind of codpiece on the outside of them and they always look like they’re about to fall down.  Plus his belly button is so sad looking.  Frowny and droopy.  Not sure what he can do about that but it’s quite distracting to look at.

Still, this was fun as we had a clearly defined heel and babyface.  Corbin was a good base for Neville and Neville sold really well for the big power moves.  He hit a beautiful spring-board assai moonsault from the apron to the floor that Abrigo got a fantastic slow motion video of from ringside.  They teased it a few times and then Neville won with the Red Arrow which is so bad ass to see live and close up like we did.

After intermission the most over guys we’d seen so far, Jason Jordon and Chad Gable came out.  Holy crap these guys were popular.  Who would have thought it, two WRESTLERS, who WRESTLE, and have pretty normal personalities would be so over at a WRESTLING show?  Vince would say they don’t have enough ‘entertainment’ factor, but this crowd were entertained as fuck by these guys!  Chants and songs for them all match with both guys getting great support and Jason Jordon in particular looking really happy to be there and pretty amazed at how over he and Gable were.  I know Gable gets all the love at Full Sail, but it was equal in Glasgow.  Jordon has main roster written all over him due to his size and look, even if Gable is the superior worker and talker.  I fear Gable is too short to ever get the push his talent deserves.  Both of them should be on the main roster by now.

They were taking on Dash and Dawson for the Tag Titles.  This was such an awesome match because you had super popular babyfaces and two heels who just want to be mean, loud, smash your face in bad guys.  I loved Dash and Dawson as they constantly cheated and interacted with the crowd and had a real throwback feel to them.  I think they’ve watched a lot of Arn and Ole Anderson tapes.  Crowd were so into this match they actually thought the titles might change hands, no such luck as Dash and Dawson got the pin following some shenanigans.  Crowd spent a good 5 minutes applauding and chanting for Jordon and Gable after the match ended.  Awesome stuff, this was my second favourite match of the night.

The WWE’s hashtag campaign nonsense “Divas Revolution” is utter bullshit when compared to the NXT Woman’s division.  WWE have no clue how to book women or present their division in a compelling and ultimately money drawing fashion.  NXT do.  The difference between being in NXT and being on the main roster in character work and in-ring performances from the likes of Becky Lynch, Sasha Banks and Charlotte is like night and day.  In NXT they were compelling, clearly defined characters, with personalities and excellent in-ring work that was given time.  On RAW they’re Divas.  Nothing more, nothing less.  A brand, a buzz word, and while it’s good to see them on the main roster, they’re badly wasted and not anywhere near their full potential.  With proper booking and focus they could bring so much more to the show than they’re currently allowed to do.

At NXT shows you don’t have to worry about that and so Emma v Bayley for the NXT Woman’s Title was great.  Bayley was so over (favourite chant being “hug the world, let them know it’s Bayley time” – sung to the tune of Feed The World) and we got the wacky inflatable flailing arm tube men – what a pop for them!

The match was fun with Bayley really playing up to the crowd as the super popular babyface, she is a really talented worker and you can see how her matches with Sasha and becoming Champion have elevated her to another level.  Emma held her end up as the heel working with Dana Brooke to try and take the Title.  Dana got booted out near the finish for a big pop and Bayley won with the Bayley to Belly suplex.

After the match Nia Jax came out, stood on the apron, then left.  Some dude behind me chanted “that was pointless.”  And it was.   Anyway, it didn’t matter in the end because we got to see Bayley and Glasgow loved Bayley.  Just keep her off RAW and away from that bullshit revolution and all will be fine.

Up next was the semi-main event between Apollo Crews (or as Abrigo named him, Choc Lesnar or my favourite, Medium E) and Samoa Joe.  The people liked Crews and chanted for his old name of Uha Nation but Joe was so over it blew the reaction for Crews out of the water.  I think people just respect Joe for his years in the business and the fact he is such a relentless ass kicker.

Again, you present a guy as a serious bad ass in wrestling and people will respond accordingly and react to him.  You present him like a Sesame Street presenter who happens to wrestle (hi John Cena and Roman Reigns) and people (adults) just don’t buy into them.

This was another good match with lots of solid work.  Joe walking away when Crews came off the top and then giving him the ‘wanker’ hand gesture was great.  They crossed that spot up toward the finish with Crews actually hitting the missile drop kick and the crowd totally got it.  That was great.  Crews has everything you need to be a success on the main roster and I don’t think he’ll be in NXT long.  That said, the longer he is in NXT the better, as with less restraints on him and better booking he’s a ton of fun to watch.  Just a freak athlete.  Joe got the popular win with the muscle buster and you could tell he appreciated the respect the crowd gave him.  Match was a bit short but still good.

I always love seeing Samoa Joe live as he’s one of my favourite wrestlers and I’ve followed him since his early days in ROH.  It’s also amazing to remember he was with TNA for about a decade and how little they got out of him besides his first run with the X-Division Title and his first match/feud with Kurt Angle.  Idiots.

Main event was my favourite match of the night.  Finn Balor defending the NXT Title against the returning Sami Zayn.  This is a smarks wet dream of a match and these two did not disappoint.   Balor’s entrance is so great to see live, with the bad ass music and the lights coming up in tandem with it and everyone doing the dramatic arm movements along with him.  He got big ‘welcome back’ and ‘ICW’ chants which he acknowledged and looked really happy with.  Plus he even dropped in some Grado (cult ICW hero) references in his match – which the people loved.

Finn was loved, but Sami Zayn was worshipped!  The pop for him coming out was incredible and the biggest of the night by far.  He too looked totally fired up and motivated to be back wrestling and in front of such an appreciative crowd.

The match was excellent.  It wouldn’t have been out of place on a TakeOver special.  They worked all their trademark spots and everything was crisp and smooth.  They built things perfectly with quick chain wrestling and nods of respect early, before Sami got frustrated at Finn getting the better of him and it broke down into a big forearm exchange and then a more intense, hard hitting match.  Some of the chops by Balor were brutal!  Sami kept getting back to his feet when Finn went for the Coup de Grâce double stomp and the crowd grow louder each time he did it.  They worked a great finish with big moves, the Helluva Kick being ducked, before Finn finally put him away with the Coup de Grâce, which looks awesome live.

This kind of athletic match has been headlining indy work rate promotions like ROH and PWG for years.  To see it in now WWE is so satisfying because it shows they’ve opened their eyes to what works in 2015 and what a section of their fan base want to see in the ring.  These guys delivered a great match, with a great story and capped off a brilliant night of wrestling.

Like I said, this was the best wrestling show I’ve attended.  It was so much fun, the matches all delivered, we had great action, dives, technical wrestling and it ticked every box that a fan like me wants ticked when I go to live wrestling.

A few smarky assholes aside, the crowd were great: respectful, energetic, and loud.  They gave the NXT roster the kind of responses their hard work deserved.  We even got an appearance by William Regal who put us over and the NXT roster, which was a really nice touch.

NXT reminds me of why I fell in love with wrestling in the first place.  It also frustrates me no end, because if WWE can do THIS with their developmental show, why is their main show so utterly stale, boring, repetitive, heatless and everyone on there just comes across as some dude or woman who is lucky to have a job thanks to HHH and Steph?

I mean I know why, it’s just so frustrating because I want to like both.  I guess it is what it is and we should just be thankful that in NXT we have a show worth watching.  I can’t wait for TakeOver on Wednesday and I can’t wait for the next NXT UK tour because I’ll be there.

Big shout out to all the MFXers who came to the meet up and the show, you guys made Friday one of the most fun days I’ve had a long time.  Your support for the podcast and what we do is unreal and I can’t thank you guys enough for it.  I hope you all had fun at the meet up and the show and that we can do it again really soon.

Be sure to listen to MFX131 at the weekend for a more on the meet up and NXT Glasgow, plus all the usual MFX fun and games as we wrap up 2015 with the final show of the year and get ready for what we hope will be our biggest year in 2016.  Thanks for reading and supporting MFX this year, we couldn’t do this without you filthy animals!

Until next time…