ST. CATHARINES, ON – The number 10 was shouted over and over again by the vocal crowd at St. Catharines Meridian Centre on Friday night as NXT came to town. It was the perfect evening for the “Perfect 10” and hometown hero Ty Dillinger.

All night long the NXT action had been thrilling and had the crowd cheering as loud as they could. That is, until Ronnie Arneill — better known as Tye Dillinger — walked to the ring. With Dillinger in the squared circle it stopped being about the matches and wrestlers; instead it became an outpouring of love for the local guy who had done everyone proud.

Having watched Dillinger from his early days wrestling for Neo Spirit Wrestling (where he was Sean Spears) to today I can say he always had that little something extra that you don’t see in too many performers. That something special was evident in the way the crowd poured their affection on to the 36-year-old WWE superstar. From chants of “10” to even chanting the name of his old high school Laura Secord, Dillinger appeared moved by the community support.

Ontario wrestler and trainer Tiberous King (Jesse Scott) has known Dillinger since 2002. King was visibly emotional about watching his long-time friend performing on a big stage.

“This was so awesome,” said King. “I gave him his first match and I pinned him. It is so awesome to see him back in his hometown.”

King was reflective about Dillinger’s journey back to the WWE. “When he (Dillinger) was cut from the WWE I invited him to train and teach at my wrestling dojo,” said King with a smile. “He helped the students a lot. He was just so polished and had so much to give. Some of the students really took to him and soaked up his experience, especially Jaxon Jarvis. It is great to see him back in the big leagues.”

Former Ontario wrestler The Hacker (Josh Lessard) was sitting front row to watch his old friend. “This is surreal,” said the Hacker, grinning. “Geez, I have known him since he broke in. I even gave him one of his early matches. The guy was just a natural from the beginning and I couldn’t be prouder of him.”

Dillinger sent the St. Catharines crowd home happy as he disposed of Velveteen Dream with the sharpshooter after an entertaining match. Dillinger addressed the crowd and became emotional. “I will never forget this night for the rest of my life,” said Dillinger. “I have this to thank you for.”

Highlights from the NXT show at the Meridian Centre were many. The arena was three quarters full and very loud all night. Bobby Roode’s entrance turned the arena into a giant singalong. Eric Young, who spent many years wrestling in the Niagara Region, was warmly welcomed by the crowd. Also, Ontario wrestling mainstay Hornet was refereeing many of the matches. Well done Hornet!

Here are the results:

Johnny Gargano defeated Killian Dane with a victory roll.
Mandy Rose and Vanessa Bourne lost to Aliyah and the amazing Lacey Evans.
Hideo Itami was pinned by Aleister Black.
Dillinger beat Velveteen Dream.
Sanity defeated the team of Tino Sabbatelli and Riddick Moss.
Ember Moon pinned Nikki Cross.
Drew McIntyre retained the NXT title by defeating Bobby Roode and Andrade Almas.