Previously on the Best and Worst of NXT: Shotzi Blackheart asserted that she’s like a tank, because tanks don’t give a shit! Plus, Drake Maverick managed to pin KUSHIDA, and Velveteen Dream dropped a badly edited elbow on Adam Cole.
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 27, 2020.
Worst: Shotzi Blackheart Coffin Drops Herself Into An Actual Coffin
More important things happened this week, but I can’t stop thinking about Shotzi Blackheart turning Darby Allin into Darby All Out and almost killing herself on live television with a Coffin Drop to the floor. In case you missed it, uh …
Here’s the landing in slow motion. Kota Ibushi watched that and was like, “damn, girl, be careful.” It’s the equivalent of, I don’t know, an avalanche Awesome Bomb to the floor. Seriously, look at how she landed. Even on YouTube you can feel the immediate panic in everyone involved the second she hits the ground. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a referee move so fast. And yet, she appeared to be totally fine. She finished the match, even, with Raquel being pretty damn careful on the final slam. I’m glad miracles exist, I guess. Please don’t do any more Coffin Drops, Shotzi, Darby has been skateboarding his entire life and has hella depth perception and also half a death wish.
It’s a shame that’s what the match will be remembered for, too, as it should be remembered for precious treasure Dakota Kai commandeering Shotzi’s Power Wheels, driving it around on the floor, and then attempting to dismantle it.
Shotzi is upset, but she shouldn’t be. The tank doesn’t care that it’s being misused and abused. Tanks don’t give a shit!
Best: Magical Occult Flashlights
That match also featured some light involvement from Tegan Nox (who just won’t leave Dakota Kai alone) and Candice LeRae, who are passive-aggressively feuding as the B-story of LeRae’s OTHER passive-aggressive feud with Mia Yim.
After Gargano introduces the “Johnny Gargano Invitational” — think of it like the John Cena U.S. Open Challenge without a title on the line and no intention to have competitive matches — and takes down Adrian Alanis (who looks like Leakee had a baby with Tyler Black), Yim and Keith Lee bring it via satellite from presumably a few blocks away to mock those weird Gargano Dinner segments. To do so, they utilize a flashlight that when you hold it under your chin and turn away and talk, it turns your world black and white and makes you really mean. It’s pretty funny, not gonna lie, and I want the Evil Monochrome Flashlight to become as much a part of NXT lore as the backstage mirror that turns you heel when you look into it.
Nox appears in the video as well, bringing them a pizza from Gargano’s Pizza that she’s already eaten most of. Shout-out to them managing to put over Gargano’s Pizza while insulting Gargano’s Pizza! It’s like a 1985 Ric Flair promo, if he wrestled in hastily constructed Orlando area apartments and feuded with takeout food from a thousand miles away.
A Quick Aside About The “NXT Universe”
This week’s show’s technically being performed in front of a crowd, like Raw was, and while there are still issues — that hockey glass is a real bummer, and why can they still not have chairs? — but there are improvements. At least on NXT they filmed them with a crane, instead of bragging about how socially distanced they all were while having a camera man weave between them.
If I was one of these people in the NXT crowd, though, I’d be pissed. NXT’s supposed to be the “third brand” that’s equal to Raw and Smackdown and not developmental, but when Raw needs a crowd you stock it with NXT folks, and when NXT needs a crowd you stock it with NXT folks? I bet Smackdown’s getting NXT people, too. I see you out there clapping, Kacy Catanzaro. Raw really should’ve paid back the favor. I want to see Gargano in there crunching jobbers while like, Jinder Mahal and Liv Morgan stand out there clapping for them. YOU GUYS WERE HERE ONCE TOO.
Best, Then Worst: This Week In The Largely Unnecessary Interim NXT Cruiserweight Championship Tournament
We’re really dragging out this tournament as much as possible, huh?
In case you missed it, Drake Maverick, Jake Atlas, and KUSHIDA have a triple threat match to determine the winner of A Block, because they all finished with the same record. Tony Nese was literally the only person in the block to not make the playoffs, because he’s Tony Nese. The match they have is pretty good, too, because of course it is, but the finish really bugged me.
One finish WWE really loves to do over the past several years is doing triple threats or fatal four-ways where someone’s about to win with a submission, but one of the other wrestlers sneaks in, covers one of them, and wins by pinfall. It usually involves Charlotte Flair, and Charlotte was in attendance last night, so maybe it was her idea again? Charlotte had Bayley in the Figure-Eight during a number one contender match back in 2015 only for Becky Lynch to sneak in and pin Bayley, and later got pinned herself in the same set-up on Raw by Rhea Ripley. Those finishes worked, but this one bothered me because … well, look at it:
That’s Drake Maverick pinning Jake Atlas by draping an arm over him, but how is Drake’s one arm more of a pinfall than KUSHIDA’s two legs? There’s one on Atlas’ face and another on his chest. Referees are supposed to count pinfalls when your shoulders are down in submissions — see any lengthy figure-four ever, or most armbars that get countered with a lift — so you can’t even argue that the submission overruled the leg placement, or whatever. They just did the thing they wanted to do because apparently nobody in the world but me is going to notice or care. I feel like the fucking Lorax in these columns sometimes.
It’s also weird that they followed it up by saying the finish was contested because Atlas was tapping to KUSHIDA off-screen while being pinned. THAT is what you got out of that? At least they had KUSHIDA wander up and be like, “nah man, it’s fine, go keep your job,” because he’s a good dude. I’m still not sure if Drake never got released and this was all a story from the beginning (which insults all the people who actually lost their jobs) or if they’re turning it into a story now and are milking it until he ultimately loses and leaves anyway, but the confused silver lining is that Drake Maverick’s the best, and I want to see him do well and have things.
Worst: The WWE Brands Super Show Starring Charlotte Flair
Speaking of Charlotte Flair, she makes a rare television appearance to pin Io Shirai with her feet up on the ropes, Dirtiest Player In The Game-style. I like Charlotte evoking her dad’s worst professional tendencies and I even like Charlotte a lot, moonsaults aside, but I don’t need to see any character be a focal point of three prime-time television shows a week, every week, especially for a universe of shows where there are never re-runs. I love Captain Holt on Brooklyn 99, but if I had to watch him dominate the conversation three times a week as part of seven weekly hours of content for 52 straight weeks I’m guessing I’d want to start watching something else.
Some Of The Week’s Best Content Didn’t Even Make The Show
Flair’s partner in the match was Chelsea Green, and while she wasn’t involved on either side of the finish, it was her first notable win in NXT. To celebrate this, she fires Robert Stone (Brand). Unfortunately this segment was a WWE.com Exclusive, which you can watch on YouTube, which is not WWE.com.
Similarly, put-upon quarantine jobber Leon Ruff flails around like an inflatable tube man trying to avoid Tommaso Ciampa’s offense, but gets kneed in the face and dropped on his head and pinned. This serves as the background for a Ciampa and Scarlett née Bordeaux staredown, and a post-match promo in EXTREME CLOSE-UP for Karrion Kross. But the best part is actually this backstage interview with Ruff, where he shows some personality and compares how badly Ciampa and Kross beat him, and which one was worse. I LOVE a jobber interview. That beautiful period where every Ryback jobber was getting pre-match promo time was so much fun. Fewer dramatic video packages, more character development, please and thank you! You used to be so good at it, NXT!
Also On This Episode
Speaking of sudden character development, Oney “Oney” Lorcan and Danny “Twoey” Burch throw ’em up at a local restaurant that’s I guess just reopened and talk about how they want to take down Imperium and win the Tag Team Championship. It’s the first time we’ve really gotten to know anything about either guy for what, three years? And Oney and Twoey fucking RULE, so I’m into it. More Lorcan and Burch is a huge plus, always. Although the Undisputed Era took you guys to school and Imperium beat Undisputed Era in a 4-on-3 handicap match, so who knows what’ll happen?
In other segments that happened that I don’t have a lot to say about, a demon wants to murder a priest and William Regal says he’s going to book a cinematic Adam Cole vs. Velveteen Dream rematch in, “a location that will shine a spotlight on both of [them].” I hope he books them to fight in the Times Square arena from Smackdown: Here Comes The Pain. Give me an elbow drop from a helicopter, you cowards.
Side note: I deeply identify with Adam Cole having a Zoom call with his boss while sitting in a gaming chair.
Best: Matt Riddle And Timothy Thatcher Walk For Miles Inside This Pit Of Danger
Finally we have the FIGHT PIT, a re-imagining of both the standard WWE cage match and I guess the Lion’s Den match where there are no ropes, the ring’s surrounded by a cage, and there’s a scaffolding platform up top where you can safely fight and do moves. If WWE ever wanted to get rid of the ring ropes for some reason, this would be a good option, as it maintains everything you need in a wrestling match except maybe illogical bouncing without just like, having wrestlers wandering around doing skits and punching each other in an office building, or whatever.
Here’s our own Scott Heisel explaining why this was his favorite NXT match in months:
Three words: It felt real. It’s the first time since Lesnar/Cena at Extreme Rules where I felt like MMA was mixing with WWE style successfully, to the point where I totally bought in to the violence and blood. I knew very little about Timothy Thatcher going into this match, and I felt like this blow-off was unearned, but coming out of it, I think he is a certified badass who feels like a modern day Dean Malenko. Maybe he can ask Adam Cole if he knows any good dentists…
It was good. It really was. Kurt Angle didn’t add a lot, really — you couldn’t have gotten Steve Blackman in for this? Come on — but the fighting was intense, the wrestling was great, the set-up was unique, the bloody toothless interlude was attention-grabbing, and the finish was violent, realistic, and clean. Thatcher looks like TIMOTHY GODDAMN THATCHER for the first time in his WWE run, Matt Riddle can be off to the main roster to miss Stallion Pete and retire both Goldberg and Brock Lesnar simultaneously at next year’s WrestleMania (you cowards), and Angle can smile vacantly off into the distance knowing he did a perfectly good job refereeing a macho death fight. Great work here.
Best: Top 10 Comments Of The Week
Did Tegan ring the doorbell? Wouldn’t she be the one who Nox?
Did Kurt Angle get fired and then IMMEDIATELY buy a house next to the performance center, jumping on a trampoline raising tiny weights in the backyard?
”do you want to ref me and Tim tonight?”
Learning Scarlett is a music theater major answered so many questions for me.
Come on Keith, who wouldn’t give Tegan a key to their apartment?
Congrats on your upcoming demotion, Riddle
At this rate, I’m assuming Charlotte’s mystery partner is another Charlotte
Bobby Fish: “That’s why God made mouthguards.”
Shayna Baszler: “Right?”
Despite all his rage, he is still just a Matt in a cage
Drake: Hey, Kurt.
Kurt: Hey, Drake.
Drake: Weren’t you…
Kurt: Let go? Yeah…Weren’t you….
Drake: Let go? Yeah….
Kurt: Do you ever get flashbacks to how….
Drake: Dixie ran TNA??
Kurt & Drake: EXACTLY!
Drake: Weird, right?
Dakota is a gamer, so I would expect her to know you never target the Tank first
Let’s hope that next week she doesn’t start doing suicide dives into the security railings.
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 for the crowning of Not Jordan Devlin as NXT Cruiserweight Champion (which is still some bullshit), Candice LeRae vs. Mia Yim in a match that definitely should end in one hitting the other with a flashlight, and Charlotte Flair wrestling, probably. Maybe twice. See you then!