WINTER PARK– Good friends. Better rivals.
A new chapter in the history of Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn was scribed on Wednesday, Feb. 11 at Full Sail Live at Full Sail University in Winter Park, near Orlando.
The journey for these NXT superstars from north of the border is similar, reigning supreme north of the border, within the border and overseas.
Fans at Full Sail were loud, having a great time throughout the show, aptly titled WWE NXT TakeOver: Rival, broadcast live on WWE Network.
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In the main event for the WWE NXT title, fans took turns yelling “Kevin Owens” and “Sami Zayn” in dueling banjo form.
Fans liked each.
Many “Ole. Ole. Ole. Ole.” chants as well.
Owens appeared very comfortable working the camera and the crowd.
Now for some “NXT” chants.
Owens gave Zayn two powebombs but then gingerly covered him. Zayn just slid out, relying on instinct. Sensing victory, Owens powerbombed Zayn more, destroying him, until Dr. Chris Amann checked Zayn and eventually ordered Referee Shawn Bennett to stop the match.
Awarding the WWE NXT title to Owens, whose proud parents and son attended the show, he celebrated over a knocked out Zayn.
Rivalry night continued as Finn Balor battled former NXT champ Adrian Neville for the No.1 contender’s spot for the NXT title.
Balor and Neville took NXT TakeOver: Rival to another level.
Internationally renowned, Balor and Neville also took ‘like’ paths to land in NXT.
Balor really knows how to make an entrance. Boogeyman, Jeff Hardy, Papa Shango, Spiderman on a higher plane. His face- and body-painted style mirrored his T-shirt, which is outstanding.
Fans also cheer both, especially Balor.
For their combined efforts, showmanship and workmanship, both elicited the first “This is awesome” chants of the show. They also received applause during the match, comparable to a Japanese crowd showing respect to the amazing work in the ring.
Many near falls and close calls. Fans loved it.
“I thought it was placed well on the card. It’s not close to the main event,” said Bill Pritchard of WrestleZone.com. “It gave everyone enough time to breathe and kept the fans into it. It was pretty exciting. I would say it’s one of the best matches I’ve seen live. The theatrics, too, and both being high fliers.”
After the match, the audience chanted “Hug it out” and “Thank you Neville.”
It’s difficult to follow-up that caliber match, but Charlotte, Bayley, Sasha Banks and Beckly Lynch did a tremendous job in that spot. They orchestrated one heck of a four-way battle with the crowd rocking.
Bayley delivered some stellar moves, and each woman took time to shine in the match. Banks pulled off the upset, pinning the athletic Charlotte to become the new NXT women’s champ. Charlotte hugged an ecstatic Banks after the match.
“I’ve been a fan since [NXT’s] existence, going to a lot of [NXT] events here at Full Sail,” Orlando’s Keishan Moore said. “That was an A-1 match with the women. They are proving women are working just as hard and doing just as well as the guys. I’m proud of them.”
After JoJo sang a beautiful rendition of the National Anthem, Enzo Amore and Big Cass Colin Cassady elicited smiles from the rowdy crowd with their Jersey Shore, New York smart mouthed, tough guy talk and humorous banter.
Fans answered Amore and Big Cass in unison, unscripted, unrehearsed. The Central Florida fans know Amore and Big Cass and know how to respond, and they do, loudly.
Amore and Big Cass faced the old-old-school looking Vaudevillians (Aiden English and Simon Gotch), a solid tag team.
Fans popped as Big Cass torpedoed Amore off the top rope and onto a prone English for the pin.
To start the live special on WWE Network, spectators gladly welcomed Hideo Itami who defeated Tyler Breeze.
The crowd hot from the beginning. The arrogant and flamboyant Breeze offers one of the best ring entrances with his selfies/social media skills. A cute, young lady even jumped the guardrail to hug him.
Baron Corbin took everything from Bull Dempsey en route to the victory in the No DQ matchup of the big men.
In a fast-paced, action-packed battle, Wesley Blake and Buddy Murphy successfully defended their NXT tag team titles against the former champs the Lucha Dragons (Kalisto and Sin Cara).
Murphy hit a brainbuster, and Blake quickly followed with a high-flying, frog splash, pinning Kalisto.
Another stellar job of match making by NXT General Manager William Regal. Jason Albert (A-Train/Tensai), Rich Brennan and Corey Graves called the action.
The lovely and talented Renee Young hosted a pre-show on WWE Network with panelists Jason Albert (A-Train/Tensai), Corey Graves and WWE SmackDown commentator Byron Saxton.
WWE NXT on WWE Network moved to Wednesdays to avoid conflict with WWE SmackDown on Thursdays on Syfy.
WWE NXT in Cleveland
For the first time ever, WWE NXT comes to Cleveland at the Agora Theatre on Friday, March 6.
See WWE’s Superstars and Divas of tomorrow including NXT champ Kevin Owens, Sami Zayn, NXT women’s champ Sasha Banks, Charlotte, Finn Balor, Hideo Itami, Tyler Breeze and more.
Tickets for this historic, live event go on-sale 10 a.m. EST Friday, Feb. 13 for as low as $15.
WWE NXT is one of the most popular programs on WWE Network, and it is taped at Full Sail Live at Full Sail University in Winter Park, near Orlando.
For information, visit http://www.wwe.com/shows/wwenxt
For tickets go to www.Ticketweb.com
Tickets are also available at the Agora Theatre Box office or by calling 216-881-2221.
WWE NXT in Fort Pierce
WWE NXT is 7:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 13 at the Havert L. Fenn Center in Fort Pierce.
See the rising talent of NXT, the future superstars and divas of WWE.
There will be a meet-n-greet before the show, which is included in the ticket price.
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