WWE NXT, the developmental division of WWE, made its Rhode Island debut at The Ryan Center last Friday night.
The Ryan center was transformed into a wrestling arena and fans of all levels of WWE were in attendance to see some of their favorite up-and-coming wrestlers. And it was easy to tell who the favorites were as the crowd went wild with chants and clapping when that wrestler took the stage.
First to the ring were Christopher Girard and Mojo Rawley. The short match was quickly won by crowd favorite Girard, though there were definitely some Rawley fans in the crowd. The most notable fan in the audience was New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski, who came to watch his friend.
After the combined hype of the first match and the Patriots star being in attendance died down, the women’s tag team match began. Dana Brooke and Alexa Bliss teamed up against crowd favorites Carmella, who happened to be a URI alumnna, and Bayley. Again, the crowd favorites took the win after the audience cheered them on to get their energy up.
Riddick Moss and Manny Andrade matched up next with Manny taking the win. Then it was the NXT Tag Team Championship Match, a match that got everybody in the audience hyped up beyond belief. It was The Revival versus the returning champions American Alpha. Â This was one of the longer matches and the crowd loved it, starting a “this is awesome” chant half way through it. While both teams had a great match, it was American Alpha that got to keep their belts. Austin Aries and Tommaso Ciampa followed the intense tag team match in the NXT Showcase Match and had a short match themselves, with Aries coming out victorious.
The NXT Women’s Championship Match followed and was another match that the crowd was glued to. It was Peyton Royce against the returning champion Asuka. The tone of the match was set even before Asuka came out. When Royce was doing her entrance, the audience began chanting “Asuka’s gonna kill you,” which was essentially what happened when Asuka won because of Peyton’s submission.
Last came the main event, the Men’s Tag Team Championship. This was the event that most of the audience was waiting for, since this match was pitting the biggest names in NXT against each other. It was Elias Samson and Samoa Joe against Finn BÃ¡lor and Shinsuke Nakamura, the two crowd favorites. It was a good match considering that not many days before, Samoa Joe took the NXT Champion title from Finn BÃ¡lor during the weekly episode of WWE NXT. While Samoa Joe may have been the champion at that point, BÃ¡lor and Nakamura took the title of Tag Team Champions.
“I thought it was amazing,” Matt Sulzinski, a URI junior, said. “The match was fun to watch and thrilling, like you didn’t know what could happen next.” He also said that the crowd’s reaction to the match added to the excitement. “It is cool to see wrestling come to URI,” he said.
Based out of Winter Park, Florida, the division of WWE runs every Wednesday at 8 p.m. only on the WWE Network.