Previously on the Best and Worst of NXT: Keith Lee threw a Priest, Drake Maverick got a big win that’s either inspiration or depressing depending on how you look at it, and Candice LeRae stomped Kacy Catanzaro halfway to China.
If you’d like to read previous installments of the Best and Worst of NXT, you can do that here. Follow With Spandex on Twitter and Facebook. You can also follow me on Twitter, where everything and everyone is terrible.
And now, the Best and Worst of WWE NXT for May 6, 2020.
Worst: Johnny Get Angry, Johnny Get Mad
So yeah, Johnny Gargano is a bad guy now. How can you tell? Well, he’s got a new evil entrance theme that sounds like the end credits of an anime you don’t watch. He also has Candice LeRae wander out and help him cheat, as if the guy we made fun of for being so impossible to pin you could drive a full-sized artillery tank over him and he’d kick out at two needs his wife’s help avoiding his opponent’s offense. It’s not that it’s bad, necessarily, it’s just played out. Every aspect of it is so tired Bobby Lashley might as well be flipping it, and I don’t know who made the call to turn the “Heart and Soul of NXT” into Jimmy Garvin without the personality.
The match itself is fine, but Dijakovic’s nowhere near as good against little guys as he is against Keith Lee-sized gentlemen. Or, you know, Keith Lee. Take, for example, the moment when Gargano tries to powerbomb him off the ropes. Gargano’s supposed to flip over and try the powerbomb, and Dijak’s supposed to do a backflip. Instead, Gargano flips, tries the powerbomb, lands on his butt, and there’s enough time to register that something went wrong between that and Dijak backflipping. It’s like he just decided to backflip. The announce team yells wooOOOOOW like he did something cool, when all he really did was hurt himself like a total dumbass. Dijak needs Keith to survive, and Johnny needs a story to tell more complex than being the bite-size Stunning Steve Austin.
Best: This Week In The Largely Unnecessary Interim NXT Cruiserweight Championship Tournament
Akira Tozawa could get pinned by a stiff breeze on Monday nights, but on Wednesday he will kick your ass. AH! AH! AH! He defeats Living Flash Art Jack Gallagher in our first match of the week in the If Jordan Devlin Wanted To Stay Cruiserweight Champion He Should’ve Stayed In America Where We’re Handling The Pandemic Terribly Interim NXT Cruiserweight Title Tournament. Tozawa shouldn’t be the go-to guy for embarrassing losses on Monday nights, whether he’s actively in the middle of an important title tournament on your “third brand” or not.
My favorite match of the week was KUSHIDA vs. Jake Atlas. It didn’t last long at only about three minutes, but they made use of every second they had in there. Jake Atlas is the jam. That backflip into the neckbreaker didn’t hit clean this time, but it’s a show-stopper.
One of the things I like about KUSHIDA is that his in-ring storytelling is very reactionary. It’s build on cause and effect. Maybe that’s the New Japan in him, but if he’s doing something in the ring, it’s because of something else. For example, Atlas surprises him with that spinning arm-drag out of the corner, so the next time he tries some extraneous cruiserweight nonsense like a handstand feint, KUSHIDA wises up and kicks him in the goddamn armpit. He follows that up with a dive from the top rope to the floor that’s more utilitarian than showy; well, as “utilitarian” as a somersault in a professional wrestling match can be. KUSHIDA has his own taunts and affectations, sure, but he’s mostly in there to watch you wrestle, learn your weaknesses, and then kick your ass. You are a stupid idiot if you go springboarding at him with your limbs akimbo.
Worst: The Worst Brand Since Josh Brolin In The Goonies
- Who decided the Xia Li vs. Aliyah feud should keep going, and why do they hate us so much?
- I like Chelsea Green. I think she’s good. But can we please, for the love of God, give her a finisher she can do? Previous Unprettier attempts have seen her do it upside down and yank her opponents arms in the wrong direction, and this week’s is so edited you’d think her finisher was the “Liam Neeson Climbing A Fence In Taken 3.”
The big boot. Your finisher is now the big boot.
Best: Introducing NXT’s Newest Superstar, Kefka Palazzo
The thing you’ll be talking about from this week’s episode is the debut of Killer Kross, now “Karrion” Kross, and Scarlett née Bordeaux finally realizing her Impact Wrestling character’s true destiny as a hypersexual chaos demon. Also I think Karrion Kross is a bird that transforms into a human? That’s the vibe I got from his entrance, anyway. Maybe he’s going for a Randall Flagg thing where he can turn into a crow?
Anyway, this entrance is some big time shit, from the Wizard of Oz-style black and white to sepia tone color shift, Scarlett’s ridiculously wonderful melodramatic lip syncing, and the ramp smoke mixing with the video smoke to make it look like he’s entering out of a big smoke tunnel. I also enjoyed Scarlett flipping out and crawling around in the smoke like some kind of Femme Bálor. You know an entrance is good when the first time you see it you think, “I want to see the WrestleMania version of that in a stadium in front of 80,000 people.” Not to be confused with the WrestleMania 36 version, which is in an abandoned Anytime Fitness in front of Byron Saxton.
How will Leon Ruff defeat Karrion Kross? I haven’t the foggiest!
Dissatisfied Drake at The Fiend’s red lights, satisfied Drake at a smokey ring that makes you look like you’re suplexing dudes onto a spooky moor. My only complaint is that his submission finisher is called the “Kross Jacket,” which makes even less sense when you realize “Krossface” and “Kross Armbreaker” were both right there.
Vince McMahon Presents Charlotte Dot JPG
It’s hard to do images in boldface.
Bad Moonsault defends the NXT Women’s Championship against Best Moonsault this week, and … well, I can’t say it went as badly as it could’ve, but it played out like you were probably expecting. Charlotte takes a lot of Io’s offense covered up like she’s trying to not get hit with a water balloon — she’s not blocking in that picture either, as she sells it like she got kicked in the face — and then hits her with a stick for the disqualification. That brings out Rhea Ripley, and everyone watching goes oooooooh, they’re going to do a triple threat so Charlotte can lose the championship without getting pinned, aren’t they?
Maybe I’m being too pessimistic. Charlotte could’ve just tapped Io out clean or even worse, pinned her with that moonsault where her knees or the bottoms of her feet hit the mat first. Io saves some face by winning by DQ, an Io vs. Rhea Ripley feud could be something special, and maybe Charlotte’s lack of impact on the show’s ratings means they’re going to move on quickly and get back to giving wrestlers who aren’t already 40-time champions an opportunity. Best case scenario is that Charlotte pulls a Ronda Rousey by losing the belt back to Rhea Ripley in the triple threat via lucky roll-up, and spends the next year talking about how actually her opponents in that match sucked.
Finn Bálor Provides No Useful Information
Us: Hey Finn, who attacked you?
Finn: sometimes things are a work; sometimes they’re a shoot
Finn: some people get pushes and it’s a worked shoot
Us: seriously who attacked you
Finn: that push you’re expecting is a squash
Finn: when you make your entrance that’s an entrance, but when the bell rings and you’re wrestling me you’re in a wrestling match against Finn Bálor
Us: so did you just not see them or what
Maybe he was too busy reading the “Glossary of professional wrestling terms” Wikipedia page to see who punched him in the back of the head and fucking vanished him from the building. He shows up after a Cameron Grimes squash of Raw and Smackdown Superstar Denzel DeJournette to buck up to Grimes about Grimes’ trash talking, and ends up pretty much stomping him in the throat. Grimes isn’t the guy who attacked him, though.
Hey if Finn doesn’t want to provide any clues and is totally fine now, maybe we should, I don’t know, ask about the MULTIPLE KIDNAPPINGS that’ve been happening in the parking lot? Have you guys even notified Raul Mendoza’s family yet?
Worst: This Awkward Title Match
With the accusations going around about the Velveteen Dream, true or not, this was a no-win situation for NXT from pretty much every angle. If Dream loses, the Internet takes that as confirmation that the accusations were true and believe he lost because of them, whether Cole retaining was always the plan or not. If Dream wins, the Internet either takes it as confirmation of the accusations anyway and blames WWE for being a garbage company, or the opposite, and it’s still a brutal comments section of a conversation. NXT’s spent a ton of time building up Dream’s obvious title win, but now it’s too obvious, so they won’t do it, whether they should or not. Plus there’s still no fans, so there can be no fan reaction, and if there were fans, would it even still be good? You’re basically circling the drain of human discourse and everything continues to be dumb and terrible.
So, for the benefit of you and your ability to read a column on a wrestling blog without having to feel horrible and choose sides and make decisions based on whichever tweet you read last, let’s just try talk about it as a wrestling match on the TV show.
Which is to say … well, it’s not very good, honestly. Dream’s lacked a spark in the ring since his return from injury, and even Adam Cole couldn’t bring it out of him. Plus, as mentioned, Dream’s act really only works when there are fans reacting to it. Otherwise he’s just a lanky dude doing bad looking wrestling moves. A horrible double axe-handle from the top rope that pops a crowd can be awesome. A horrible double axe-handle from the top rope to dead silence except for Mauro going wwwooooOOOWWWWWW is completely out of context. Undisputed Era and Dream’s murderous friend Dexter Lumis showing up was fine, but expected. It’s all just very paint-by-numbers, which is probably all they could think to do given all the extracurricular bullshit.
Keith Lee for NXT Champion. Seriously. Let’s pivot already.
Best: Top 10 Comments Of The Week
The Real Birdman
Karrion Kross is what The Monday Night Messiah brings with him on an airplane
So Karrion Kross is the lead singer of a dive bar emo band who charges for selfies?
NXT Akira Tozawa should really talk to RAW Akira Tozawa
Candace looks like every girl I went to college with going to an 80’s party.
Big Baby Yeezus
This is too much Charlotte for one week
Undisputed Era’s theme sounds like it’s trying to sell me testosterone pills
Kross and Scarlett are just Dibiase and Virgil without the money
Scarlett Bordeaux lip-sync > Camera Guy singing Judas…..sorry….it’s science.
Grimes: If I wanted to slap Finn Balor in the face, I’d walk up to him and slap him in the face.
Balor: Here I am. Slap me in the face.
Grimes: Look, Finn, I’m doing a thing here….It’s a metaphor.
The Street Profits would love this Cross guy.
That’s it for this week’s Best and Worst of NXT. We’re not sure you ever actually read this part or do what we ask (or if you even scroll down through the top 10 comments of the week), but hey, it would really help us if you commented down below and shared the column if you liked or laughed at anything. The world’s tough, and that makes this kind of thing a lot easier.
Join us here next week, when Matt Riddle and Not Pete Dunne accept Imperium’s challenge for a Tag Team Championship match and try to right the “unforgivable” wrong of someone ruining their empty arena pro wrestling Newlywed Game skit in the year 2020. Imperium will remain under the ring during a Karrion Kross match until further notice. See you then!