Previously on the Best and Worst of NXT: A lot of things that had nothing to do with TakeOver happened. Also, Wife Character™ is doing everything she can to keep Johnny Gargano from complete insanity at the right hand of his best friend turned blood rival turned cult authority. Spoiler alert: it doesn’t end well for them.
If you missed this show (you crazy person), you can watch it here. If you’d like to read previous installments of the Best and Worst of NXT, click right 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 NXT TakeOver: Phoenix, originally aired on January 26, 2019.
Best: War Aiders
Before we talk about anything that actually happened on the show, let’s give it up for Ray Rowe’s never-ending supply of big dick white people energy. The guy has a Viking-themed wedding, then he gets a Viking-themed entrance before his title match on an NXT TakeOver, and even got his wife to be one of his entrance Vikings. That’s adorable, and committed.
The War Raiders entrance was cool, even if they looked more like Whiterun guards than Norse seafarers. The look is a definite improvement over what they were doing before, which loosely amounted to putting some sticks on their clothes in the dark. I think it’s a step in the right direction, but I’ve got to quote Elle Collins, who summed up my thoughts nicely on Twitter last night: “So many pirates and vikings in wrestling, and not nearly enough of them have done video segments where they arrive at their rivals’ houses by boat and steal their stuff. All I’m asking for is authenticity.”
This was an interesting Tag Team Championship match for me, because on the first watch, I was shaken up a little by the weird pacing. It’s hard to put my finger on, but the early going of the match and even some of the later spots feel a little awkward, like Kyle O’Reilly and Roderick Strong are so used to these quickly-paced tag sprints that they spent too much of the in-ring time visibly waiting for War Raiders to finish spots. The big handspring elbow from Hanson at the end is a big example of this, as the idea is that Hanson’s supposed to break through a double clothesline and go straight into the handspring. Instead, it ends up in two parts. Hanson breaks the double clothesline, stops almost completely, then starts running again after a readjustment to do the handspring. See also that bodyslam off the apron spot, where O’Reilly and Strong are basically Waiting For Godot while Rowe tries to make sure he’s not throwing his friend at the ground.