WWE NXT Review 11/6/19 by Jim Kress

We were all lucky enough to see NXT invade both Smackdown and Raw since last week’s episode. NXT looked strong coming out of their invasions on both Friday and Monday night. Retaliation was expected on tonight’s episode. Who knew it would kick off the show?

The O.C. was seen brutalizing the Undisputed Era backstage. This led to their ring entrance, where Luke Gallows threw an NXT staff member into the steel steps. AJ Styles delivered a quick promo in the ring, only to be interrupted by Tommaso Ciampa. A “Daddy’s Home” chant erupted from an electric Full Sail Arena.

Matt Riddle and Keith Lee came to Ciampa’s aid after Styles called out NXT for not having any balls. Ciampa, Riddle and Lee will go to war with The O.C. for the main event.

Pete Dunne vs Damian Priest

Damian Priest defeated Pete Dunne in their last encounter. Priest won when he hit Dunne below the belt while the ref’s back was turned. It was a lengthy match that was executed well by both combatants, but came to an abrupt end when Priest took advantage of the situation. Dunne said that Priest had won fair, but the commentators for this match wanted to make sure you knew that was how Priest won.

The match went to a quick PiP commercial break. It’s unfortunate that this match had any breaks. There was a tremendous back and forth from both Dunne and Priest during the first PiP commercial break. When the match came back to full screen, the action continued.

Dunne’s offense is brutal by nature. He’s the bruiserweight for a reason. With that in mind, Dunne did a great job at selling for Priest, which made Priest’s offense look much more powerful. These qualities, combined with a quick pace, made for a sensational back and forth between both men. The finale of the contest had Dunne and Priest set up in a similar situation to their last match. The ref was briefly distracted and Priest went to kick Dunne down low. Dunne outsmarted Priest this time. He caught Priest’s low blow attempt, and delivered one of his own. Dunne finished Priest off by making him tap out.

Winner: Pete Dunne

After the match, Killian Dain attacked Dunne in the ring. Priest tried to stop Dain (only to attack Dunne himself), but Dain recovered easily and removed Priest from the ring. Dain delivered his Vader Bomb on Dunne and a cannonball on Priest into the steel steps. Dain has great in-ring abilities, but is not well received from the NXT crowd. He needs to do some promos that give reason for his actions. Stories matter in wrestling and most of his recent feuds have been booked without any substance.

Dakota Kai gave a fire promo on the mic during an interview. She was asked why neither Rhea Ripley or Shayna Baszler picked her for their respective WarGames teams yet. It was a great promo, but at the end, she said she was going to “kick her (Shayna’s) face off!” and proceeded to exercise her arms before her match. Her fighting style and in-ring gimmick is centered around an innovative kick-heavy offense. She’s the captain of Team Kick. Why deliver that line, then continue to warm up your arms?

Taynara vs Santana Garrett

Taynara was Tegan Nox’s opponent in Tegan Nox’s return to the ring from injury. She was impressive, despite losing to Nox. Santana Garrett was making her NXT TV debut. I don’t know much about Garrett, but her in-ring gear looks like it was inspired by the Marvel classic comic book Scarlet Witch costume.

Taynara has a strong judo background, and showed it throughout the match. She was throwing Santana around like a rag doll. Despite her size, Taynara delivers absolutely lethal strikes. She has a running high knee strike that looks identical in execution to Kenny Omega’s V-Trigger. Her finisher was brutalizing too. She holds her opponent’s arms and performs a jumping kick to the face. Santana sold it really well. Taynara executes her strikes well and she incorporated that into her offense. The match ended in her favor. She wants the last spot on Baszler’s team.

Winner: Taynara

Dakota Kai vs Shayna Baszler

Baszler came to the ring accompanied by Marina Shafir and Jessamyn Duke. Dakota Kai was alone. Baszler has been a bit more promo heavy in her recent television appearances. Her last match was against Candice LeRae on October 2nd.

Dakota Kai was fun to watch in this match. Her offense is unique and she moves around the ring really well. She looked strong early in this match, and proving why she is captain of Team Kick. Shayna appeared to be outmatched for a moment. Shayna found her stride against Kai when she got her to the ground and slowed the pace. She locked up Kai in the Kirifuda Clutch. Kai tried to roll to the rope to break the hold, but before her hand could grab it, Shayna locked it up with her leg, sealing her victory. Kai tapped. Shayna continues her dominance as Women’s NXT champion.

Winner: Shayna Baszler

After the match, Jessamyn Duke and Marina Shafir attacked Kai. Shortly after, all the women involved in WarGames were fighting in the arena. Mia Yim came out with a kendo stick to make the save for Ripley’s team. LeRae and Nox went to Kai’s aid as Ripley admired Yim’s help.

Later in the episode, Ripley was asked who her last pick was for her team. She chose Mia Yim. Kai was disappointed, but it was hard to hear what she said. Reporter of the year kept the mic about six feet away from Kai after Ripley said she didn’t make the cut. It was very odd positioning for the set up of this promo.

#1 Contender for the NXT Cruiserweight Championship: Tony Nese vs Angel Garza

Angel Garza has been all over NXT as a midcarder ever since his arrival in the NXT Showcase Tournament. Every match he’s been in, he’s incorporated a moment during the match where he tears his pants off. There was a moment in this match, before the first commercial break, that was set up by the months of consistency to that bit.

Tony Nese intervened Garza’s tearaway moment, action continued with Garza’s pants still intact, until Nese went to give a powerbomb to Garza from the corner of the rin, only to remove Garza’s pants in the process. Garza remained unscathed and executed a missile dropkick. I fully appreciated the time it took to build for that moment to work. Great job.

After the break, Garza and Nese put on a slapfest. These two were countering each other’s chest slaps and the sounds coming off of their chests echoed throughout the entire arena. The action continued and Nese performed a 450 splash on Garza. Garza saved himself by touching the rope with an extended toe at the very last moment on a pin attempt.

Garza seems to have a new finisher called the “wing clipper.” It looks like a front-facing sit-out slam, while the opponent’s elbows look like clipped wings. Clever. Garza performed this move on Nese after a failed springboard moonsault attempt.

Winner (and #1 Contender): Angel Garza

After the match, Cruiserweight Champion Lio Rush came out from backstage to congratulate Garza on his opportunity. Garza slapped Rush in the face and walked away. Rush looked on and laughed, but that had to hurt. These NXT stars take some bumps.

Isaiah “Swerve” Scott vs Dominik Dijakovic

Isaiah “Swerve” Scott filled in for an injured Kushida a few weeks ago, and has been very impressive ever since. He kept pace in a slugfest with Dominik Dijakovic. You never truly understand how massive Dijakovic is because he’s always featured in matches with equally large human, Keith Lee, but Dijakovic towers over Scott.

Scott didn’t let himself fully get sucked into a battle of brute power. He showed off some quick, innovative offense that took Dijakovic by surprise. Scott sprinkled some superkicks and hurricanranas into his offense, and nearly had Dijakovic beat. Unlike Dijakovic and Keith Lee’s matches, which are usually littered big spots, this match maintained a persistent offense. There was less time to set up on big spots, which kept the action moving quicker.

Dijakovic eventually regained his strength, and caught up with Scott’s quick offense. He landed a devastating Feast Your Eyes and got the 1-2-3. This match showed off strengths in both competitors. NXT continues to show that even if a wrestler loses, they can still be impressive.

Winner: Dominik Dijakovic

Main event time. All 6 men were in the ring fighting each other before the bell rang. It seemed like all hell had broken loose.  Ciampa and Styles were the last standing in the ring, so the ref rang the bell to start the match.

Six Man Tag Team Match: The O.C. (AJ Styles, Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson) vs Matt Riddle, Keith Lee & Tommaso Ciampa

Tommaso Ciampa was matched up against AJ Styles in a 6 man tag team match on USA for an NXT Live episode on November 6th, 2019. Imagine being told this would happen in March after Ciampa had major neck surgery, NXT was still on WWE Network and Styles was still on Smackdown in a feud with Randy Orton. Things change quickly in the world of wrestling.

It didn’t take long before the ref had lost control of this match and bodies were all over the place. A chunk of action took place during the PiP break, but with this much star power in the arena, it was nice to still see what was going on during the commercial break.

The NXT crowd has been fanning the Matt Riddle vs Goldberg flames every chance they get. I love that Riddle has started to incorporate Goldberg’s offense into his very own. When Riddle starts to gain momentum in a match, he fights like a kid who just discovered the turbo button. His combinations are smooth and hit hard. At one point he went off on The O.C. for a minute straight. Sprinting from one member of The O.C. to the next, just to get a new combination in.

The finale of this match had Lee plowing Styles into the referee, resulting in a “Holy Shit” chant from the crowd. It was a no contest finish. Ciampa tried to finish Styles off, but Finn Balor’s music hit.

Match Result: No Contest

Finn Balor started the Bullet Club in New Japan when he wrestled under the alias ‘Prince Devitt’ and Styles took over the Bullet Club when Balor left for NXT 5 years ago, so there’s a history there and the fans knew it.

Balor performed a brainbuster on Matt Riddle on the ramp, and Styles went for the Styles Clash on Ciampa. Adam Cole intervened with a superkick to Styles’s face while Styles was holding Ciampa. It was a perfect execution by both Styles and Cole. Cole hit his Last Shot on Ciampa as well. He and Balor alone stood tall after the chaos settled.

 

Closing Thoughts

Some of the NXT storylines we had been following previous to last week were put on a bit of a hold for the Survivor Series buildup. I’m a bit disappointed to see the entire NXT roster invade both Smackdown and Raw, only to see the lone O.C. retaliate between the two brands. Survivor Series is still a few weeks away, but that wasn’t much of a “receipt” from Raw or Smackdown. I’m happy to watch NXT stars three days a week, but this PPV is currently being carried on the shoulders of NXT. (Editor’s Note: Jim makes a good point about not enough main roster people on NXT. However, a lot of the Raw and Smackdown talent were already in Europe or flying to Europe for the tour over the next year, so that made it difficult.)

Opposite of Killian Dain’s problem, I want to see Balor in the ring. We still haven’t seen him in a match since he was last taken down by Bray Wyatt at Summerslam. He’s looked tough since his return, but he needs to show some more action. I sound like a spoiled fan wanting Balor in the ring after just watching Ciampa, Riddle, Lee and The O.C. compete, but I’m more worried fans will start to lose interest in Balor if he doesn’t do anything soon.

Taynara was impressive in her victory tonight, but I think the last spot on Baszler’s team is going to go to a heel turned Dakota Kai. Taynara looked great, but ignoring the talent that Kai has would be a mistake for such a big event.

Is Dijakovic the last person on Team Ciampa? Or will Ciampa surprise us with his pick for WarGames? There are only a few weeks left until Takeover in Chicago.

Who would you like to see go to war? Comment below or continue the conversation on Twitter.

The post WWE NXT Review 11/6/19 by Jim Kress appeared first on TJR Wrestling.

the Black and Gold Standard: Episode 6 (10/23/19)

Balor Club is…fine?
all photos courtesy of WWE.com
The purpose of instituting the Standard when NXT made the jump to USA was to compare and contrast the parts of the show that worked against the parts that didn’t. Brilliant as I sporadically am, this isn’t exactly reinventing the wheel; however, I figured with twice as much weekly content to write about there would be…how do you say…twice as many things to write about.

A month and a half in, my expectations have been subverted. To put it in the terms of the wisest possible meme, you can’t write about the good and the bad of a show when the show is just good. Mid-level dream matches set up epic dream matches, both the main championships regardless of gender have a ridiculously deep pool of possible opponents to pull from with multiple long-term storytelling implications for multiple characters, the mid-level singles title is being defended multiple times in the show’s main event without it being due to an employee refusing to show up to do their jobs, and even the tag division is seeing longtime Full Sail staples get rewarded for their longterm loyalty by slowly getting maneuvered closer and closer by the week to a title opportunity in the cases of two teams (both Breezango and the Allied Strikers)! Instead of having a bunch of decent shows to set up a great Takeover, they appear to be putting on mini-Takeovers to form a Voltron Takeover.

It’s like a dream come true.

Like slipping on an old, comfortable skin.

GOLD: Prince De…uh, Finn Bálor
And lest we forget to give them their proper due, God’s Production Team and whoever set up the show ender, because man!

The Era had jumped Keith Lee following Roderick Strong’s successful title defense in the main, and as they put a beating on him Ciampa came out, crutch in hand and didn’t hesitate to get in the ring and in their faces. On the heels of that, out came Johnny Gargano – was I the only one who saw Sting tag Ric Flair when he slid into the ring next to a weapon-possessing Tommy Sports Entertainment? Hm? – to stand by his longtime friend and epic rival. When Catch Your Breath hit, immediately all the fuzziness surrounding the upcoming WarGames IV seemed to be set: you got three former NXT champions together lined up side by side, and with all these entrances providing enough recovery time, Keith Lee was going to rise up and put some meesters on their keesters, giving us the Era v. Limitless DemonIY.

Many of us, it turned out, misconstrued what “My future is my past meant”, as barely the thought had formed before Bálor suddenly floored Gargano with a Pele kick. The Era looked as shocked as Ciampa was, then realized what they had and swarmed him. Finn dragged Johnny outside, gave him the W00 dropkick through the barricade (and hopefully what were plants) before delivering a 1916 into the ramp that sent the last NXT champion out of the building in an ambulance with the longest reigning one pointing a pair of very familiar looking finger guns at his fallen form. Keith didn’t even get up off the deck; nor did Dijakovic, for that matter. The Era flashed their gang sign, but it was clear who’s moment it was – and just like the last time Johnny got sent out with lights flashing, they picked the exact right moment to surprise and stun everyone when they did it.

Gargano/Finn is a matter of when now, not if. But also, Finn seemed to be decidedly not with or part of the Era. Everything he’s said on follow up before the show this week whether on WWE programming or social media has been promising Prince Devitt in everything but name, and if he comes out in a light-up jacket on Bronson Reed’s shoulders before the year’s out, it’ll confirm that. Full Sail got stunned into silence, and then into buzzing. Maybe they were seeing a FinnCole v. DIY match. Maybe they were seeing a Lee/Dijakovic v. Not ReDragon one, or maybe Ciampa/Finn; despite the fact the beating kept the big Texan hoss down, the possibilities spawning from those three moves and alignment shift seem to be limitless for NXT going forward.

And it all got done without giving away any sort of clue as to where we go with WarGames. Considering one of his biggest potential rivals seemed to defect and he and his cronies got to lay a world-class beating on the other, you’d think that the champion of NXT’s world would be living large. Yet I can’t help but think…

BLACK: Adam Cole
…like the plurality of the audience, I found myself Surrender Cobraing but pleasantly surprised by the non-Isaiah Scott Isaiah Scott at the end of the show, so take this prediction with an entire time zone of Morton’s factories: at some point next year, the Undisputed Era might as well be Bálor Club, and their former leader will turn full bay bay faced by getting jumped by his former underlings

Again, nothing should I say should be taken seriously unless on the off chance I’m right, in which case you will hear about it forever and will have to address me with the formal usted should you wish to do so in Spanish.

Rod, you glorious chode

GOLD: dat main event tho
Not only did Roddy lead the Ciampa attack charge, he did so after retaining his title the way anyone who’s played a video game of WWE this century has: let one hit the finisher on the other one, then throw him out and steal it for yourself. As for Lee & Dijakovic, you knew they were main eventers who hadn’t done so yet before this title match and they went out and proved it, seamlessly folding Roddy into their year(s)-long game of Can You Top This? for three segments, multiple standing Os, and even more crazy-ass moves. (For some reason, when they do things like avalanche choke bombs or Spirit Bombs, their kickouts get far less pique than I would normally divulge in similar situations. You don’t beat Godzilla with a couple of gunshots, after all.) Most tantalizingly before they fought for the final portion of the match, there was a moment where they briefly teamed up to swat Roddy down with a Feast Your Eyes setting up an out of the ring Pounce and stared at each other in some kind of recognition before they resumed contretemps. I’ve been saying this for years, but let me say it again here: why are you guys trying to kill each other when you could team up and kill everybody else for y e a r s? Didn’t the Era just piss you both off? Don’t they have shiny tag titles? Rhetorical questions, rhetorical questions. The fact of the matter is, the Takeover card so far as we know it is empty: Roddy may have to defend his title, but Dominik and Keith should definitely kick things off with their rubber match. New Orleans can’t have the best opening Takeover match forever, you know?

It’s almost a shame the Finn turned happened immediately afterwards and took up pretty much every bit of the oxygen in a Florida room, but give the main a shot if you haven’t already. And if you’ve got 15-20 to kill, watch it again.

If only this dyad had some sort of nomenclature we could refer to them as!

GOLD: the Women’s Division, yet again
It’s easy to parse (For Some Reason On the Broadcast or the RegalTron They Were Not Referred To As) Team Kick beating the Horsewomen Underlings to earn a shot at the Kabuki Warriors – if Shafir/Duke was that close to a title shot, then let me throw my fiancee’s cat and I in the ring – but that’s going to happen and possibly headline today’s show. Kairi Sane and Asuka are going to return to Full Sail, and they’re doing so against Tegan Nox & her biffle, Dakota Kai. That’s – again – literally a Takeover-worthy match they’re rolling out on TV because Dynamite is A Thing Now. And the winners is us.

Speaking of which, the show started off with Rhea Ripley’s hardest task in NXT Stateside to date, as she not only had to fight Bianca BelAir for a couple segments but fend off interference from Choke Me The Fuck Out, Io Shirai to do it. Candice LeRae came out to counter the interference by nullifying it, thus allowing Ripley to counter the Awful Waffle into the Riptide and cleanly best the EST of NXT. This would seemingly line her up immediately against Shayna, and Candice/Io II might be happening right after you read this. Then again: look at the ridiculous amount of talent on display! Bianca and Rhea got a crowd to pop over who would successfully execute a suplex (it watched better than it reads, assure you), let alone their testing of strengths against the other and reeling off signatures. A more heelish Bianca can complain about the shenanigans and ask for a rematch…we could get the Teddy Long special out of this configuration…hell, make them have a fatal four-way. Do all the things! If the ratings aren’t going to magically fly and Cody and Company aren’t going to magically stop making shows, make your shows ridiculously awesome. Part of what got NXT over to begin with was people feeling like they were something akin to a scrappy little roster that could, and continuing to put on excellence show after show while taking a ratings beatdown might be a cousin to the thing that helped it explode to prominence in the first place.

Another hard-hitting, critical darling episode of the Bro Show aired

GOLD: Matt Riddle/Cameron Grimes/Tyler Bate
Tyler being at ringside meant Something Was Going To Happen, and it did to set up another fine match for this week. Before that, however, both men teased their finishers and dodged the others’ to provide a hot start to the bout. Riddle still has the quickest Takeover match on record and Grimes has been waylaying everyone this side of the Breakout tournament with his 1-Up Stomp, so it made logical sense. Then they settled down into a wrestling match where Riddle not only succeeded at the mat work that he executed, but responded to the Full Sailors mockingly chanting his name a la a certain former World Champion’s that he almost immediately debuted the Matthammer in response, something that was immediately picked up on by the announce and woven into the remaining commentary of the rest of the match without being overly unctuous about it. Riddle’s post match response to the chant was to raise an eyebrow at the hard camera, point at it and smile.

As for Grimes, in a real stooging masterclass, he refused to take a post-match Bro Bump, then when Tyler (Team Bro all the way) gently chided Grimes for not accepting it, he shoved Bate and put on his hat only to get it BOP BANGED off his shoulders. It’s a bit of a convoluted way to get to Grimes/Bate, but it should still be a low-level barnburner. My earlier complaints on the Standard still apply to Grimes, but if he’s going to be putting on above-average matches and eating Ls to people currently higher up on the food chain than he is, dayenu.

KILLSHOT

GOLD: SWERVE
Over the past few weeks, NXT has gone from Spider-Man 2 to Into the Spider-verse, and not coincidentally, Swerve is getting TV time and starting to climb the ladder in NXT. First, a competitive loss against Roderick Strong (who technically would go on to beat Dominik Dijakovic and Keith Lee by himself later on, so no shame in that), and then teaming up with Breezango to best the Forgotten Sons. Not only that, his theme has changed, keeping the dream of Chaka Khan debuting his true theme live at a Takeover in 2020 or 2021 alive. The trios match was a Swerve showcase, as while Breezango kept things humming along, Scott got all the chants, and the flashiest moves (the fact he did a backflip double kick off of Ryker into an Asai moonsault onto the other Sons almost finally justified the Heavy Hitter’s existence) causing Mauro to augment his signature call with a Great Scott! He finished off Blake, and then it was the time on Sprockets when we dance, and his reaction to Fandango being from the streets in the post-match video is so great it deserves to be seen by more than 40k people. Swerve might turn out to be the BASF of NXT, making the things you like better.

Please don’t make me regret that by forcing me to watch him try to drag Ryker to something palatable one-on-one. Wesley Blake’s right there and he took the pinfall, for crying out flayven.

Es muy guapo y talentoso

GOLD: the Cruiserweight Division
Let’s ignore the fact that the Champ of the Hour was surprisingly somnambulant on commentary for the division’s featured match on the show and focus on what he saw: his presumable first challenger, Angel Garza besting Jack Gallagher and wanting a shot at the purp as a result. Most noticeably, it appears Garza may in fact be too attractive to get booed in front of the Full Sailors at this point, who were happy to see Jackie Boy back in their graces but cheering loudly and repeatedly for the man who hates pants just as much as I do even though he faked adhering to the Code of Honor at the match’s outset. The match may have even played into it with Gallagher whipping off Garza’s pants (phrasing!) and Angel hitting a dropkick on the confused Gallagher to a loud wave of applause to set up a slingshot inverted suplex. Again, considering the abundance of female Full Sail fans – a couple of the luckier ones who got to kiss the luchador on the cheek – they can do a lot worse than putting he & Humberto Carillo in a team and doing the most lucha libre version of the Rock n Roll Express. Brother, you’d never hear so many screams. They’d sell that son of a bitch out with those handsome smiles on the marquee. Hopefully, Gallagher will find a different way and look better in future NXTV appearances, and Garza/Rush when and if we get there should be sneakily good as well.

NXT UP: Tyler Bate/Cameron Grimes! Candice/Io II! Did we mention Team Kick v. the Kabuki Warriors with the straps on the line. No wonder so many people like crack so much. And this is so much less expensive and better on my veins!

the Black and Gold Standard: Episode 4 (10/9/19)

The Champ of the Hour
all photos courtesy of WWE.com
If you’re reading #IV of the BGS, there are two things that are certain: you’re probably having a better week than Clayton Kershaw, and you know that so far the ratings scoreboard reads Dynamite 2, NXT 0.

The ratings may only be a metric for those of us concerned about the future Vinceification of the program to further worry over, but it should be noted that this new era of NXT is still pumping out high quality shows, just longer. L’horreur: instead of one really good wrestling show on Wednesday nights, there are two! Next thing you know, al pastor will cure cancer and catapult me into a richly deserved and delicious immortality.

But NXT didn’t choke in the postseason or taste like French kissing god with the right salsa on top: it started hot with a title match, ended with a hard-hitting affair between two undefeated superstars, and in between advanced a lot of plots on a multitude of fronts, sometimes within the same segment.

Let’s come to collect!

GOLD (literally): Lio Rush
Having successfully incorporated it under their banner, the first thing NXT did with the Cruiserweight championship was give it the prestigious show opening spot (thus making the second consecutive week they kicked off with a title match), had Rush and now former champ Gulak put on one hell of a match, and then not only gave Rush the title clean but had Gulak grumpily break up William Regal’s attempted coronation only to put the big purp on Rush himself and offer up a handshake before stomping off to the back.

Wrestling! What a concept!

While the match itself took two segments, it was all encapsulated in the opening 20 seconds or so that featured Gulak whiffing on a surprise dropkick at the bell followed by Rush hitting a Spanish Fly for a nearfall. It wasn’t like he got run out of the building – Gulak, a wrestler’s wrestler, has probably been too good for that this entire millennium – but Rush started off with the momentum and maintained it through most of the match, even figuring out a Bret Hart style reversal to the GuLock and briefly putting one of his own on.

Whatever problems he had with management earlier this year, it’s clear they’re positioning Lio now as one of the highlights of the show. Not only will it be interesting to see who they have him mix it up with on their roster in future title defenses, it’ll be interesting to see if Gulak’s time at Full Sail leads into his own incorporation of feuds and dream matches. Who knows, with Matt Riddle and TAFKA Big Stoke running around, could 2020 be the year we see a version of Catch Point on prime time network TV? It’ll be interesting to see how Gulak’s evolution in NXT continues.

Hey, speaking of Evolve-ing…

We have a whole lot of superstars on this stage here tonight…

GOLD: Swerve, finally
On the off chance any of you readers were out there wondering why I was getting all Old Man Yells Because He Can’t Figure Out the Cloud about Swerve not getting on TV, *gestures at this match*.

For some reason when I think about what this archtype of match is supposed to be, I remember a Edge/John Morrison match from SmackDown over a decade ago that fully established the latter’s babyface bonafides in a plucky but eventually losing clean effort. With all that FOX and Saudi money coming in, they somehow couldn’t afford to get the Lucha Underground alumnus his signature theme “Ain’t Nobody” by Chaka Khan and he didn’t even get the benefit of pre-match mic work before he fought Roderick Strong. But no matter – the Full Sailors loudly and proudly proclaimed it Swerve’s House before the initial collar and elbow tie up had even gone down and he lived up to that hype by landing high elevation before impactful kicks (that step up enzui single leg back kick should be a signature called the Killshot going forward for a multitude of reasons), went strike for strike with Roddy in the stiffest portion of the match, and it could be argued that the match was only lost after the rest of the Era came out for a distraction. (They didn’t actually interfere, but their presence alone muddied the waters enough to open the door for Strong’s closing four-signature flurry.)

Nothing against Jordan Myles, or Bronson Reed, or Angel Garza – hell, I even have nice things to say about Cameron Grimes later on (seriously) – but if anybody should’ve won that tournament and used it to propel himself into NXT’s firmament, ladies and gentlemen, I give to you Swerve.

When Adam Cole post-match sarcastically told the faithful for Isaiah “Swerve” Scott”, the applause and cheering that followed were anything but two-faced.

In fact, let’s chop that up…

He didn’t say much. He didn’t need to, either.

GOLD: UE v. the (NXT) World
The Champ also noted that as good as Swerve is, he wasn’t on Roddy’s level and like the rest of NXT the best of the best show up to Full Sail to see if they can hang with the Era and fall victim to an unrealistic dream that they can stop the golden prophecy. This brought the Velveteenest of Dreams out to…sadly, do the main roster babyface staple Fun With Photoshop! but also announce in two weeks’ time that he’d be getting a title rematch to actually strip Rod Strong of the North American title and show the world why he just doesn’t measure up.

Dream, the day after their wedding his wife was in a wheelchair. He’s not called Roderick Weak, is what I’m saying.

Roderick’s yelling about breaking Dream’s back was cut off by the greatest song that Marilyn Manson never wrote, followed by Tommy Sports Entertainment arming himself with a steel chair in addition to a familiar looking crutch that suddenly made the Undisputed Era realize that they had yet to get their parking validated. (And man, Dream going after Goldie feels like it happened in another lifetime instead of last year, doesn’t it?) All he had to say was “Goldie? Daddy’s home.” But it was more than enough, and poor Angel Garza getting in his face in the backstage segment after this sets up on this week’s show what is sure to be a filleting of a ridiculously handsome man with an aversion to pants. And there are so few of us left in this world as it is!

This was ECWian in the best possible ways – previous feuds were furthered, weaved seamlessly between players, and even added some new wrinkles ahead of a new match without clearing its throat between transitions.

Also, if we don’t somehow get two of the Era against a Velveteen/Swerve tag team, then this world is even more bullshit than previously suspected. Their names are the tag team name! It writes itself! (Though I’m super into this theoretical dyad being named Young, Black and Infamous since the Inner City Machine Guns are already taken and probably won’t fly on USA airwaves.)

What’s Austrian for thank u, next?

GOLD: the MAIN EVENT
You can tell a show’s good when a main event delivers in the upper echelon and somehow is still slightly relegated by other matters on the show. But no need to wonder if KUSHIDA/WALTER is WORTH YOUR TIME, because it is. It’s just that in this reality, Goliath took a few shots on the chin and then still slayed David. Hell, technically Der Ring General won with a short lariat, which just goes to further underscore the point made since he gained the WWEUK title earlier this year: this man has finishers because he wants to have finishers. Even a basic move with a man of his size can be a match ender, let alone against someone he outweighs by 100+, so the end could be coming from anywhere and could be anything, theoretically. In a similar bracket to the Swerve/Strong match, there was always a threat of Imperium getting involved on their leader’s behalf, but he didn’t even utilize them

The Full Sailors may have been chanting “WALTER’s gonna kill you!” at various points during the match, but that’s only because…well, the possibility of an accidental homicide was in play for both segments no matter how talented KUSHIDA is. And he did everything from mocking pats on the head to outright slaps, submissions via the cross-armbreaker and the Hoverboard Lock (even a flying Hoverboard Lock off the top rope in a stunning display of athleticism from both men) but the biggest moment in the match may have been a botched KUSHIDA springboard – assuming it wasn’t just planned to look exactly like a stumble – that saw him lose his balance, stagger into the ring but still managing to land safely on his feet, only to turn around and get m e r k e d by a big boot that saw the champion standing tall while Special K’s body was in the ring and his head was fallen back over the apron like a broken Pez dispenser. They could’ve ended the match right there and no one would’ve blinked, yet it happened at the outside of the second segment and the match continued on to garner the borderline mandatory NXT! and This Is Awe some! Chants

In fact, the only downside to this is that KUSHIDA has suffered a legitimate injury (not due to the match, it’s believed, but still). Hopefully, it doesn’t keep the Time Splitter away from the ring too long, because any excuse they have to put these two against each other is a fine one by me. As for the champ, if he’s looking for something to do and someone to fight, well
(yes yes for the love of Io’s leather pants YUSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS)

GOLD: Cameron Grimes? Cameron Grimes!
It looked like he was taking advantage of BOA’s greenness and the general stupidity of referees when needed in this business to cause a distraction at the bell to give him an opening for his 1-Up Stomp finisher. It turned out that Killian Dain was actually coming to the ring, and he got the Stomp and 3 count before bailing out, leaving BOA to get pancaked by the Beast of Belfast and incurring no damage to himself or his top hat while putting another sub 15 second win in the books. Nothing he’s shown so far has lived up to the Technical Savage nickname they seem desperate to get over, but he’s not a moron. You take your wins where you can get them.

HEART EYES, MOTHERFUCKER

GOLD: Rhea Ripley and Bianca BelAir
Rhea came out to put the second L in Aliyah, culminating in a Gorilla Clutch (!) into a giant swing (!!) into a facebuster (!!!), all while maintaining the hold that eventually secured the victory. She waved on Vanessa Borne, who wisely opted to live and not step to my Australian girlfriend who is super real. She got on the mic to say that while Shayna had made everyone else tap, snap or nap, she hadn’t done it to the former UK Women’s champion and she was still coming after her.

Later in the show, it took Bianca far longer against the superior competition provided by Dakota Kai, but the returning Kiwi found herself on the receiving end of the Kiss of Death. After that detente, Bianca got on the mic herself to UH uh! away any ideas that someone else, let alone Rhea, was going to get another chance to off the Queen before her.

It’s a testament to how deep NXT’s waters are that before she said that I hadn’t ever thought of a Ripley/BelAir match, and the millisecond she foreshadowed it I wanted it yesterday. Hell, worse comes to worse, l’horreur deux, we could get a Ripley/BelAir/Baszler triple threat match for Mrs. Goldie between three of the most talented competitors NXT’s women’s division has ever had. It’d also be interesting to see play out for the crowd reactions, as BelAir seems to be in full-on tweener mode and Ripley is basically a heel who’s becoming a face by facing a greater evil.

GOLD: Equal Time
We’re getting Lee/Dijakovic IV this week (say hallelujah! say amen!), and both men got stingers of their victories over the other and promising victory come Wednesday; likewise, while we all suspected the reason behind Damien Priest jumping Pete Dunne last week, both men got time ahead of their upcoming match also this week to deliver their respective points of the former looking to make his name live forever at the expense of the latter. Not everything needs to be a 10-minute monologue, and not everyone can deliver them. Well done all around.

Also, Lee/Dijakovic IV, y’all. I promise to not give a BLACK for the ensuing double countout or DQ that ensures the real rubber match takes place at the upcoming Takeover: WarGames. But into every spring, a little rain must fall, and the guiltiest parties this week are…

BLACK: Forgotten Son
They laid out the Above Average French Canadians, took their spot in a match against Breezango and won it. The Sons – well, the tag team iteration of them – aren’t subpar. Their various double team backbreakers should set up a double team backbreaker finisher but Blake and Cutler are the Mechanics before they became the Revial. Jaxson Ryker, on the other hand, should be flung at the sun in order to properly gauge its temperature. At least when Aliyah shows up, it’s to get someone else over. The Sons have been in this weird limbo for the past 18 months seemingly where they get pushed to a ceiling’s extent, failing in every big opportunity they have while also somehow completely dominating every opportunity in every non-title match. And with the Era on top, there’s not even an opportunity for them to be the dominant heel faction on the show, let alone in the tag division.

They beat Breezango after Ryker interfered. You’re shocked.

So, outside of that, NXT more or less delivered a flawless weekly TV wrestling show. That seems to be going around lately; can’t imagine why.

The important thing is that we all get to watch it and revel. One might even say – given the marquee match on tap this week – that we can bask in their glories.

One thing is for sure: NXT’s growing, and so far has managed to avoid most of the pains. It’s going to be great to see what comes together for the fourth iteration of the black and yellow’s WarGames, even if I won’t be in attendance this year.