There's something special going on in professional wrestling. It's not Roman Reigns. It's not The Authority. It's not even John Cena.
It's Shinsuke Nakamura, arguably the hottest thing going in professional wrestling. Nakamura appeared at NXT Takeover Wednesday night and delivered another fantastic performance against against Austin Aries. Nakamura has, hands down, the greatest ring entrance in professional wrestling today: Take a look:
NXT has quietly been the best thing in professional wrestling since 2012. It has berthed major WWE stars such Seth Rollins, Dean Ambrose, Charlotte and Kevin Owens and on and on and on.
NXT has somehow figured out a way to make corporate professional wrestling feel like an independent promotion. Here’s why: a small vocal crowd that cares, great talent that knows how to work, not just throw Superman punches, and incredible production values. If ECW had this kind of production value during its 1990s run, it might still be around.
For some reason, the WWE gives its fans everything it wants with its NXT shows, but then makes us endure Roman Reigns on main Monday Night Raw shows. We're just happy the WWE got it right with NXT. Let's look at some of the highlights of Wednesday's show.
Shinsuke Nakamura is like a sliver of wrestling Jesus on a platter. He has off-the-chart charisma, without even saying a word. He's 6 feet 2 inches tall, 235 pounds, from Kyoto, Japan, and probably one of the top five best wrestlers in the world. His ring entrance fuels young men to jump out of their seats, and not clap their hands, but hum his ring entrance music. Nakamura creates a real-life men's choir every time he walks into the ring. Then, the crowd chants "NAKA-MURA" throughout the match. This is unlike anything in professional sports or entertainment. In the parlance of the WWE, this guy is "OVER."
Nakamura is 36 and became Japan's biggest wrestling star before the WWE signed him. Mark my words, this guy will win the WWE championship and do it soon. He is going to lift the WWE back into the mainstream. He's that good. And, he's got some real-life sports credibility. He's a former MMA fighter, with a 3-1-1 record.
Nakamura defeated Austin Aries at Takeover. Aries, a former TNA standout, too is one of the company's hottest talents, surely headed to the main WWE roster.
American Alpha also includes some great athletes. Chad Gable (real name, Charles Betts) competed in the 2012 Olympics in wrestling. Jason Jordan (real name Nathan Overhart) was a Division I college wrestler who at one time was considered the second best college wrestler in the world. These two guys bring instant athleticism to the ring. Reminiscent of Kurt Angle, these wrestlers are pure dynamite. They lost to The Revival Wednesday night, but it doesn't matter. Their future is bright.
Finn Balor has the second best ring entrance in the business. Balor paints is face like some sort of alien or demon and takes his time to get into the ring: The crowd eats it up and pumps their hands into the air unison with him.
Balor's entrance works because he is amazing inside the ring. Professional wrestling fans today are smart and they want to cheer the workers, not the fake superheroes who throw fake Superman punches.
Samoa Joe is a veteran who just keeps getting better. A veteran of Ring of Honor and TNA, Joe is a badass Samoan who looks like a big guy, but wrestles like a little guy. Agile, yet Joe works his matches stiff, and the crowd appreciates him for that (his opponents might not).
Joe is the NXT heavyweight champion. The ultimate dream match, of course, is Brock Lesnar vs. Samoa Joe. Can Lesnar take Joe to "Suplex City?" We can't wait. Joe defeated Finn Balor at NXT Takeover, in match we all loved.
Final thoughts: NXT is filmed for television, just like the old days. Just like when the NWA and WCW were on Superstation TBS at 3:05 at Center Stage Theatre. You can hear the crowd. The wrestlers react to the crowd. The entrance to the ring is short and sweet.
The WWE is gigantically successful, but it's nice to know that wrestling can still be streamlined, scaled back, and catered to the fan without a heel promoter creating false drama and tired angles. Let the wrestlers wrestle. That's all we ask. That's what happens in NXT.