Twenty years ago, the inaugural Halftime Heat aired live on the USA Network during the Super Bowl halftime show. The event saw Mankind defeat The Rock for the WWE Title in an empty arena match and it was a rousing success.
The second Halftime Heat occurred the following year with an exclusive interview with Stone Cold Steve Austin. At the time, Austin was recovering from neck surgery in conjunction with the infamous hit and run angle involving Rikishi.
Last night, WWE held another Halftime Heat special, which aired on all social media platforms, YouTube and the WWE Network. The company’s developmental system NXT took center stage with a live 6-Man Tag Team Match from the Performance Center.
Aleister Black, Ricochet, and Velveteen Dream teamed up to take on NXT Champion Tommaso Ciampa, NXT North American Champion Johnny Gargano and Adam Cole. Vic Joseph and Shawn Michaels called the action on commentary.
Triple H said in an opening video package “If you’re all in on sports entertainment, NXT is for you.” Athleticism personified is the best way to describe this twenty-three-minute match. All six men delivered a high energy affair that you will not see on WWE’s main roster.
The match had an odd cadence to it. At times it felt rushed, which is understandable because, well, the Super Bowl. Some moments told a clear story. Other moments came off as a mere exhibition of moves with each wrestler getting their stuff in.
Extremely fast-paced action anchored by several callbacks to amazing spots on TakeOver shows such as Adam Cole meeting a moonsaulting Ricochet in midair with a superkick. The finish came when Adam Cole received in succession Black Mass, Dream Driver and a springboard 450 splash from Ricochet for the pinfall.
Astatically, the room was poorly lit, and there was a mixture of genuine and phony reactions from the crowd. As a former independent wrestler, I’ve sat in the audience for my share of poorly attended shows. It’s a tradition for workers in the crowd to boo and cheer accordingly as a way to get the fans into the show.
Reports indicate the Performance Center contained 400 people for a family and friends Super Bowl party. Not counting the WWE Network, the overall live streaming numbers are 86,190 viewers.
Despite elements of the match lacking a narrative with rerun envy, the show was a success. The goal here was to expose NXT to a broader audience, which is why going back to the well with familiar spots is perfectly fine. The social media numbers could have been better, but those who saw the match loved it. (Fast forward video above to 6:03)