Halftime has concluded for the 2019 Super Bowl, where the New England Patriots faced the Los Angeles Rams. And while CBS offered a halftime show featuring Maroon 5 and Atlanta’s own Big Boi, WWE delivered something completely different–shirtless people punching each other.
The resident wrestling nerds of GameSpot could not have been happier about this, as WWE’s Halftime Heat aired on the WWE Network, along with YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter. And if you’re someone who frequents GameSpot, then you know Mat Elfring and Chris E. Hayner are going to talk about wrestling. Just like any PPV, we’re going to review the match.
You can watch the match for yourself below. Halftime Heat starts at 3:34:29.
Aleister Black, Ricochet & Velveteen Dream vs. Tommaso Ciampa, Johnny Gargano & Adam Cole
Wow… Triple H kicks off the whole thing by saying, “If you are all in as a fan, then NXT is for you.” Shots have been fired, and they didn’t need to be. Or maybe I’m looking way too much into the “all in” aspect of his line, which was the largest independent wrestling shows of 2018: one I got to attend. The atmosphere is bizarre, considering this is taking place inside the Performance Center and the crowd isn’t as big nor as rukus as a normal NXT crowd. Sure, it got better as it went on, but it didn’t start off too hot. Velveteen Dream feels so out of place in this match, in the best way possible. His NFL-inspired ring gear is awesome, and he’s the only wrestler on his team who is 100% personality. He rounds out the group really well. Then, there’s Ricochet, who I could watch flip around the ring all night. The dude is a complete innovator.
Around the 10 minute mark, I noticed I’ve turned into a morose mouth-breather as my jaw has been completely dropped after a series of insane high spots. As this match progressed, we got some amazing spots, and Adam Cole became the whipping post for Team Dream. I wasn’t surprised by the outcome of this, by any means. It delivered exactly like I thought it would and was the perfect counter-programming for CBS’ halftime show.
The only real problem–for me–with Halftime Heat was that the in-ring storytelling aspect of wrestling wasn’t really as solid as it could have been. It was primarily tons of high spots to get new folks engaged with the product, which is perfectly fine. This match played as more of a Greatest Hits than a full-fledged wrestling match. I guess the only real question I have for WWE is, “Who is watching Halftime Heat that already isn’t super familiar with the WWE and NXT products?” Regardless of my nitpicking, this was a blast, and I hope WWE does this again next year.
Side note: Hey, WWE Network. Work on your app on Smart TVs. During a 16 minute match, it crashed on me three different times, including during the finish.
— Mat Elfring (9/10)
When WWE announced that NXT was going to have its own Halftime Heat event, it was great news because I don’t really care for Maroon 5. That said, it also meant the brand would have to deliver the absolute best it has to make for a compelling Super Bowl alternative. Thankfully, NXT delivered in a massive way and had to make a few new fans tonight, between airing live on the WWE Network and across the company’s streaming platforms. Right from the start, it was clear that the small crowd at the performance center was made up of die-hard fans that were ready to be loud, as each NXT Superstar–six of the brand’s top names–made their way to the ring.
What followed was an exciting six-man tag match loaded with high spots, everyone getting in their signature moves, and an actual story. It was all set up at the end of TakeOver: Phoenix, when the three heroes and three villains had a pull-apart brawl, something that overflowed onto Halftime Heat. I honestly can’t say enough about how great this was, even with some shaky production work at the beginning of the broadcast. It’s hit some highlights, though.
Velveteen Dream’s football-inspired attire was amazing, as were the tackles he doled out early in the match.
Having a female referee preside over Halftime Heat was so smart. Those who watch NXT already know women are referees for some matches. However, for non-fans, having a female in charge helps to show how much the role of women in WWE has changed over the last few years.
Shawn Michaels joining the commentary team for the show was the right move. He’s clearly super passionate about NXT as one of the brand’s trainers and it showed in how he spoke about the action. Honestly, they should utilize him in that role more.
If this didn’t make you a believer in Ricochet and his ability to do literally anything, I don’t know what will. That said, he defies gravity regularly and I love it.
Something this match did was allow each talent to show off their style of fighting. For Aleister Black, this means kicking as hard as he possibly can and itlooks so painful for his victim each time.
I know wrestling fans are split on the overuse of the superkick. I love it and loved how it was on display here.
I love Tommaso Ciampa and think he’s a great NXT Champion, but find me a better heel than Adam Cole, I dare you.
— Chris E. Hayner (10/10)