The second week of the NXT event explodes as the mysterious Demon King, Finn Balor, enters the NXT Universe to be confronted by Kevin Owens, while Paige plots her course to rule the Women’s Division.
WWE: NXT Takeover – Proving Ground #1 focuses on the strained relationship between two of the greatest stars to rise up through the NXT ranks and onto the main WWE roster, Finn Balor and Samoa Joe. Kevin Owens does make an appearance, but just long enough for The Demon King to lift the NXT Heavyweight strap off him.
This issue also pays tribute to Dusty Rhodes, during the curtain call segment where the entire NXT roster stood for a ten-bell salute, and then again by featuring the Dusty Rhodes Classic tag team tournament. I cannot stress enough what Dusty Rhodes meant to this entire industry, and it’s awesome how prominently his influence is recognized in these first two installments of NXT Takeover.
Dennis Hopeless, who also scripts the WWE ongoing for BOOM! Studios, walks the same line here as in the monthly, landing somewhere between Apter mag and smark website. There are definitely kayfabe elements layered over real life events and the storylines we already saw on WWE programming. It’s a lot to keep straight, and Hopeless doesn’t miss a beat.
The likenesses by Kendall Goode in this chapter are more to my taste than the slightly caricatured style Jake Elphick delivered in the last chapter, but Elphick’s action sequences packed more punch. The book looks good, though. Cinematic angles with clever panel and gutter work keep things interesting from bell to bell.
NXT Takeover – Proving Ground builds on the foundation established last week by The Blueprint. This is a well planned, highly entertaining miniseries, and a must-read for WWE fans.
WWE: NXT Takeover – Proving Ground, Boom! Studios, released 12 September 2018. Written by Dennis Hopeless, illustrated by Kendall Goode, letters by Jim Campbell, cover by Aaron Dana, subscription variant cover by Marco D’Alfonso.