Date: January 26, 2021
Location: Tropicana Field, St. Petersburg, Florida
Commentators: Michael Cole, Corey Graves, Shahoz Ali
This is the start of WWE’s latest attempt to make it into India, as we are getting a special (taped in Florida, like everything else) featuring WWE stars in the ring with Indian stars. Eventually we could be seeing an NXT India out of the whole thing so consider this getting the feet wet. Let’s get to it.
This is being broadcast on television in India so there will be some commercials included despite it being a Network special. It is airing on Republic Day, which is the anniversary of the day India became a republic (seems like something similar to (I’m aware it’s not the same) the 4th of July for Americans). Cool.
HHH narrates a video (I know this because we get a Narrated By Triple H graphic) about WWE’s history in India, showing various wrestlers in the country over the years, including footage of Bret Hart with the Winged Eagle belt to show you how far back things go. Various stars of Indian descent talk about what this means to them and now it is time to start a new future. HHH talks over clips of new Indian wrestlers (complete with name graphics as these people are mostly making their debuts) and we’re ready to go.
The fans on the Thunderdome screens are all from India.
We get a video on Guru Raaj, who is a high flier who came from a rough childhood, including being run over by a tractor. Well that’s extreme.
Finn Balor vs. Guru Raaj
Non-title. Balor armbars him down but Raaj snapmares his way to freedom and puts on an armbar of his own. Back up and we hit the standoff so Balor headlocks him down. Raaj is back up with a headlock takeover of his own but this time Balor rolls out and hits a basement dropkick. We take a break and come back with Raaj fighting out of an abdominal stretch. An elbow to the face sets up a backsplash, with Raaj getting up but then remembering he wanted to nip up instead.
Balor takes him into the corner and unloads with stomps before chopping Raaj into another corner. The Sling Blade connects but the shotgun dropkick is countered with an enziguri for two. A bunch of kicks, capped off by a jumping shot to the head, sets up a high crossbody for two. That’s enough for Ali to remember that he’s on commentary and actually say something, but the shotgun dropkick quiets him down all over again. The Coup de Grace into 1916 finishes Raaj at 10:39.
Rating: C. All things considered, this was not bad at all. Raaj has not been training long (a year, which is nothing in wrestling) and while he looked a little unsure and rough at times, he certainly did not embarrass himself. There is no shame in losing to a former World Champion so this went as well as could be expected and gives me hope for what we’re going to be seeing.
We get a post match handshake (side note: I’m not sure if it’s the new 8k cameras, but there have been some shots that look like they’re in either a movie or a video game and they’re messing me up every single time).
We meet Giant Zanjeer, who, like many others on this show, was trained by Great Khali. He thinks if he trains hard, he can be champion too.
We meet Dilshar Shanky, who is 7’ tall and wants to do this for his parents.
Rey Mysterio/Giant Zanjeer/Dilshar Shanky/Ricochet vs. Cesaro/King Corbin/Shinsuke Nakamura/Dolph Ziggler
So Nakamura is a heel again (or at least he’s teaming with them) and Ziggler isn’t even in there with his regular partner? Shanky goes 7’ and is the second tallest member of the team, after the 7’2 Zanjeer. Well that should get them noticed somewhere. Ziggler goes for Shanky’s leg to start and is tossed into the corner without much trouble. Nakamura tries a cheap shot and is thrown into the corner for the big running splash. Zanjeer comes in, tosses Corbin onto the pile, and adds a chop. Cesaro thinks better of fighting both giants on his own and we take a break.
Back with Cesaro throwing Mysterio back inside and handing it off to Nakamura, who sends Mysterio into the corner. Corbin gets in a few shots and brings Ziggler back in as they take turns on Ziggler. All of the villains get together to knock the giants and Ricochet to the floor but Rey manages to hurricanrana Corbin into the corner. That’s enough for the hot tag off to Ricochet, who grabs a spinning suplex. The standing shooting star gets two on Ziggler, who is right back with the Zig Zag.
Ricochet slips away and brings in Zanjeer, who cleans house with some big shoulders. Shanky comes back in and drops and elbow for two but gets swarmed by everyone else. Everything breaks down and Zanjeer throws Ricochet onto the pile on the floor. Cesaro dumps Zanjeer to the floor but gets booted in the face by Shanky. That sets up the 619 and the splash off of Shanky’s shoulders lets Rey pin Cesaro at 9:58.
Rating: C+. Again, this worked because they aren’t letting these guys out of their comfort zones. The giants are going to be limited because they’re so big, but they didn’t do anything outside of standard big man stuff. The key to that is the did the basic stuff well, which is WAY better than trying something complicated and screwing it up. They got in, did their stuff well, and got out to let the veterans do the main work. This went well and the giants looked pretty good at what they were doing.
Rey and Ricochet get on the giants’ shoulders to celebrate.
WWE is working with a charity to help girls get scholarships. Nothing wrong with that.
Paul Heyman and Roman Reigns aren’t happy but wish us a happy Republic Day.
Video on Jeet Rama, whose grandfather was a wrestler and apparently has been with WWE for a good many years without ever making it to television.
AJ Styles vs. Jeet Rama
Omos is here with AJ. Rama is a multiple time national champion in some form of grappling and has some size to him (not a giant, but fairly tall and has some muscle on him). AJ goes for the arm to start but gets taken into the corner for some shoulders to the ribs. Rama’s armbar is broken up with a shot to the head and AJ knocks him to the floor for the slingshot forearm.
We take a break and come back with AJ holding a chinlock as Cole says Rama is following in the footsteps of stars like Runjin Singh. Rama gets in a pair of suplexes for two but AJ catches him on top for a drop onto the turnbuckle. It’s too early for the Styles Clash so AJ settles for the Calf Crusher. The hold stays on for a good bit until Rama manages to drive AJ’s head into the mat for the break. Rama gets in a belly to belly but Omos breaks up a belly to belly superplex. The Phenomenal Forearm finishes at 11:42.
Rating: C. You can tell that Rama has a lot more experience and a style that works for him, but the match was only ok. The lack of even a limp after spending that long in the Calf Crusher didn’t help, but Omos interfering to (possibly) save Styles worked. Perfectly watchable match as this show continues to work out well.
Post match, AJ and Omos give Rama some applause.
Video on Indus Sher, who you might remember from a very brief run as a monster team in NXT. One of them was on a popular TV show and the other was a professional baseball player and the subject of the movie Million Dollar Arm.
Big E. and Xavier Woods to introduce a Bollywood dance but here are the Street Profits to help them. The four of them introduce a musical dance troupe for a pretty cool performance. More men and women dance in the ring with the rest of the troupe joining them. This looked rather awesome.
Great Khali, surrounded by I’m assuming his students, says what sounds like something positive.
Charlotte/Sareena Sandhu vs. Bayley/Natalya
Bayley and Sandhu have the same trainer. Charlotte’s gear is in the colors of the Indian flag and she shrugs off Natalya’s wristlock to start. Bayley comes in so Charlotte sends both of them into the corner. It’s off to Sandhu for a double high crossbody and stereo baseball slides put Bayley and Natalya on the floor as we take a break (with Charlotte and Sandhu dancing a bit).
Back with Charlotte suplexing Bayley and hitting the backbreaker into the Downward Spiral into the corner. Sandhu gets two off a butterfly suplex and a small package gets the same on Natalya. Bayley offers a distraction though and Natalya kicks Sandhu to the floor. The leglock has Sandhu in trouble but she reverses into one of her own. That’s enough to bring Bayley in for the save and she knocks Charlotte off the apron for a bonus. Charlotte kicks Bayley in the face but Natalya clotheslines Sandhu down. The Sharpshooter goes on but Charlotte makes the save with Natural Selection, giving Sandhu the pin at 6:08.
Rating: C-. Probably the weakest match of the night but it’s not like it was anything bad. Natalya isn’t going to give up anything by taking a fall here and it gives Sandhu a little credibility. They kept this moving and the match worked out fine enough and it’s ok that Sandhu needed a bit of help to pin Natalya.
Video on Kavita Devi, who had to miss the show due to a family emergency in India. She has been in a few battle royals and the Mae Young Classics and wants to be a role model in India.
Here’s Ric Flair (they really will put him on anything) to say how cool it is to have this many fans from India here and wishes everyone a happy Republic Day.
Jinder Mahal/Bollywood Boyz vs. Drew McIntyre/Indus Sher
McIntyre’s entrance cuts off Mahal’s usual speech. Drew says he’s glad to have Mahal back but you NEVER interrupt Ric Flair. Mahal has a nice three man team but McIntyre has his own three man band of destruction and introduces Indus Sher, who are about McIntyre’s size. McIntyre and Mahal (now mostly bald) start things off but it’s off to Sunil Singh, who hits McIntyre in the face.
That goes very badly for him and it’s off to Rinku for a big elbow. Saurav comes in for a World’s Strongest Slam so Samir comes in to get beaten up as well. Samir is tossed over the top and onto Sunil and it’s the good guys clearing the ring as we take a break. Back with Samir slipping over Rinku’s back and hammering away before handing it off to Mahal. Rinku goes shoulder first into the post and Sunil gets two off a top rope elbow.
Samir’s armbar doesn’t exactly work so he tries to pull on Rinku’s leg instead. Mahal has some more luck with the armbar but he makes the mistake of going after Saurav, allowing Rinku to get in a shot to the face. The hot tag bring in McIntyre to clean house but a jumping knee cuts off the Claymore. Saurav comes in and wrecks the Boyz, leaving McIntyre to Claymore Mahal. A side slam/middle rope elbow combination (the replay was quite the relief as I had thought it was a horribly missed legdrop) finishes Sunil at 9:04.
Rating: C. They had the more experienced guys in the main event here and that was a good idea as it felt like a better match all around. McIntyre and Mahal having enough of a history worked out well and it means something to have Mahal in there, just due to the success that he had. Perfectly fine main event here and McIntyre being in there makes sense as one of the faces of the company.
A bunch of people and the dance troupe come out to applaud to end the show.
Overall Rating: C+. I’d call this a rather nice success as the whole point was just getting a little sample of what you could see in an NXT India. The wrestlers need a lot of experience (which is where a Performance Center can come into play) but they were far from terrible here. Granted it helps to be in there with some of the best workers in WWE, but that’s the exact right idea. Have some veterans in there who can keep things as under control as possible. It’s not a great show on its own, but it did what it was supposed to do and felt cool. There is a long way to go, but for a start, it worked out well.
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