by Jeremy Konrad
Thursday afternoon, in front of a very enthusiastic crowd, WWE and Mattel provided sneak peaks for upcoming figures. Interestingly enough, WWE sent four of its biggest stars of their "developmental" brand NXT to represent them, along with (should be) future Hall of Famer William Regal to host the festivities. I say developmental like that because anyone who has been watching wrestling this past year knows that NXT has become the hottest thing in wrestling (and especially WWE) in a long time. Featuring many stars who would give the main roster guys and gals a run for their money, superstars Kevin Owens, Charlotte, Sami Zayn, and newly crowned NXT Champion Finn Balor were on hand to talk about what it is like being in NXT, how the brand has gotten so huge in the last year, and if you are Kevin Owens: get under everyones skin (especially Sami's).
First and foremost, it was about the figures though, and Basic figures for Charlotte, NXT superstar Hideo Itami, Tyson Kidd, Sting, and Seth Rollins were shown. Battle Packs included the first figures for The Ascension, J&J Security, some New Day (sucks!) figures, and a new Bella Twins pack. The real treasure are the ultra-detailed Elite series figures, and there are some great ones coming. Dean Malenko, Stephanie McMahon, Macho Man, Adam Rose, an updated Miz, and APA were standouts. Work in progress were also shown, including a Sami Zayn Elite with a NXT championship belt included, and a basic Kevin Owens figure. The biggest ovation came when it was revealed that Finn Balor will be getting an Elite first in full demon entrance paint and gear. It looked ridiculously cool and really highlighted what Mattel does best, and thats create high quality, ultra-realistic representations of all of our favorite superstars.
Finally, they also revealed their last Defining Moments figure for the year, which is a reissue of an Undertaker figure that usually sells for quite a bit on the back market, so that "everyone who wants one can have one". The first two Defining Moments figures for next year were revealed as well: a Hollywood Hogan and a Sting from The Great American Bash 1990.
The rest of the panel was the wrestlers talking about their different paths to NXT, working up the indies and traveling the world. They don't seem to want to come to the main roster, and rightfully so, as they really have built something special with the NXT brand, and multiple people in the room mentioned to them that NXT was their favorite wrestling show and that it is even more watchable than even Raw itself.
It was also announced at the end of the panel that Finn Balor will defend his NXT title against Kevin Owens at the next NXT Takeover special live from the Barclays Center the night before SummerSlam in August.
Here are some photos of the figures on display after the panel at the Mattel booth.
Jeremy Konrad has loved wrestling all his life. His all-time favorites are Shawn Michaels, Sting, Mr.Perfect. Talk wrestling, Star Wars, and whatever else with him on Twitter @jeremyohio