It’s no doubt that the foundations of the Download Festival are built on all things rock and metal. Nevertheless the festival has a tendency to offer side attractions, and this year they’ve gone above and beyond in delivering one of it’s most impressive side attractions to date – WWE NXT.
A select few of us here at Already Heard consider ourselves big wrestling fans, so we thought we’d take this opportunity to give you a rundown of all things NXT
What Is NXT?
Simply put, NXT is World Wrestling Entertainment’s developmental division, which over the past two years has grown beyond its Florida becoming its very own touring vehicle. Not only has it toured throughout America, the brands visit to Download will be their second jaunt to the UK having toured here last winter, including a sold out show at Wembley Arena.
Although considered as WWE’s minor league, NXT has produced a plethora of current main roster talent; The Wyatt Family, Seth Rollins, Big E, Sasha Banks, Becky Lynch, Paige, Enzo & Big Cass, Kevin Owens, Sami Zayn, Baron Corbin, The Vaudevillains, current WWE Womens Champion Charlotte and current WWE World Heavyweight Roman Reigns. Nevertheless they will be bringing a impressive array of talent to Download. Here’s Xjust some of the must-see wrestlers to be on the look out for.
With an in-ring career of 18 years, Samoa Joe is considered a legend of the squared circle. Having wrestled around the world, he joined NXT last year unexpectedly. Having gone through battles with a variety of people, he set his sights on Champion Finn Bálor late last year, and after a fierce rivalry which included a bloody battle in Dallas, Texas, Joe captured the title out of the blue last month.
With his tough, take-no-sh*t demeanor, the “Samoan Submission Machine” is an in-ring powerhouse. Whether its the destructive ‘Muscle Buster’ or the ‘Coquina Clutch,’ NXT fans will tell you “Joe’s going to kill you!”
This Irish native arrived in NXT having built a reputation in Japan in 2014. Within a year, he was NXT Champion. However after holding it for 292 days, Bálor lost the title unexpectedly at event in Massachusetts in late April. Nevertheless with his impactful and technical style, Finn is one of the most beloved wrestlers in NXT. He also a tendency to occasionally show his devilish side. You’ve been warned.
Imagine receiving stiff kicks repeatedly only to look across the ring and see your opponent unashamedly grinning at you in joy. That is exactly what would happen if you’re against Shinsuke Nakamura. “The King of Strong Style” debuted in NXT in April after building a stellar career in New Japan Pro Wrestling. Having left his home country of Japan, his arrival was one of the most anticipated debuts in recent years, and he didn’t disappoint. His match against Sami Zayn is a match of the year contender. Nakamura is now working his way through the NXT roster, delivering armbreakers and Kinshasa’s left, right and center.
Whilst we might have to wait for some mouth-watering match-ups when he joins the main roster, the ulta-charismatic Shinsuke is sure to bring his all to Donington. Don’t be surprised if you hear cries of “Kinshasa!” all weekend long.
Although the fields of Donington will be awashed with (mostly) black, former NXT Womens Champion Bayley will be on hand to bring plenty of colour to Download. The 26 year-old Californian is one of the most beloved competitors within NXT. Outside of the ring, she’s seen as a harmless hairband-wearing, hug-giving girl however the moment she steps inside the squared circle, Bayley is a fierce and tough competitor who refuses to lie down.
The well-rounded wrestler has contributed to the re-emergence of womens wrestling in WWE over the past 2 years. Her battles with fellow “Four Horsewomen” Sasha Banks, Charlotte and Beckly Lynch helped shaped NXT into the brand you see it today. Although her former foes have moved on to bigger and better things (go and watch their Triple Threat Match from this years WrestleMania,) Bayley continues to thrive in NXT as she strives to regain the NXT Womens title from Asuka, whilst simultaneously battling against a variety emerging female talent.
Like fellow countryman Shinsuke Nakamura, Asuka arrived on NXT from Japan with a reputation for being equally charismatic, stiff and technical. Since debuting in NXT last September, she has quickly rose to the top of NXT’s women division with her signature “Asuka Lock” defeating many competitors along the way. By April she defeated Bayley to become the NXT Womens Champion.
With her unique look, intriguing personality and relentless in-ring style, Asuka has it all and is sure to go far in WWE in the future. But for now she’s set to leave her mark at Download.
In addition to bringing womens wrestling to the forefront, NXT has helped restore tag team wrestling to its former glory, and it’s partially thanks to Chad Gable and Jason Jordan, otherwise known as American Alpha.
With their combined in-ring ability being based on their individual collegiate amateur backgrounds, Gable and Jordan came together last Spring and have grown as a duo since, being embraced by NXT crowds along the way. This past April, they became NXT Tag Team Champions following an impressive match against The Revival and now face the task of keeping hold of the titles with an array of tag teams chasing their tails.
Every great tag teams needs a worthy set of opponents. For American Alpha it is the combination of Dash Wilder and Scott Dawson otherwise known as The Revival. Their saying of “no flips, just fists” is backed up in the ring as the former Tag Team Champions take an old school, wear and tear style. Their is nothing fancy, just solid team work with impressive results.
Having lost the Tag Team titles at ‘Takeover: Dallas’ in April, Dash and Dawson are striving to win them back.
Meet Austin Aries aka “The Greatest Man That Ever Lived.” The Milwaukee native has wrestled in a plethora of companies, picking up many titles. Nevertheless having debuted in NXT earlier this year, he’s still working his way through the NXT roster whilst delivering some dream match-ups.
Before he arrives at Download, Aries is set to compete against Shinsuke Nakamura in what could be the first of many matches between the two.
In addition to the names mentioned above, you can expect to see a whole host of stars; Tye Dillinger, Elias Sampson, No Way Jose, Alexa Bliss, Nia Jax, Carmella, TM-61 (Shane Thorne and Nick Miller), Blake, Murphy, Andrade Almas, Riddick Moss, Hugo Knox and more.
Please Note: Talent appearing is subject to change.
NXT Live! 8:00pm – 9:00pm
Signing Session 6:45pm – 7:45pm
NXT Live! – 5:00pm – 6:30pm
Signing Session – 3:30pm – 4:30pm
NXT Live! – 1:30pm – 3:00pm
Signing Session – 12:00pm – 1:00pm
NXT Live! – 1:30pm – 3:00pm
NXT Live! – 1:30pm – 3:00pm
Signing Session – 1:30pm – 3:00pm
NXT will be heading to the UK & Ireland this June on the following dates:
Fri 10 – Sunday 12 – Download Festival, Donington Park, Derby
Mon 13, 7.30pm – SSE Arena, Belfast, Northern Ireland
Tue 14, 7.30pm – 3Arena, Dublin, Ireland
Wed 15, 7.30pm – Echo Arena, Liverpool
Thu 16, 7.30pm – Bournemouth International Centre, Bournemouth
Fri 17, 7.30pm – Plymouth Pavilion, Plymouth
Tickets are available via LIVENATION.CO.UK.
NXT is available every Wednesday night live on the WWE Network.
View more of Already Heard’s coverage of Download Festival 2016 here.