The Best And Worst Of WWE NXT 7/11/18: Boom Drop

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Previously on the Best and Worst of WWE NXT: Johnny Gargano’s still slowly turning into a psycho, The Dream took on a big white Okada, and TM-61 are back-to-back, Wednesdays on MBN.

If you missed this episode, 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 is terrible.

And now, the Best and Worst of WWE NXT for July 11, 2018.

Best: Not Disputed, Not Even A Little

If you pretend we were watching Kairi Sane debut, this week’s NXT was like the first hour of a TakeOver special. Undisputed Era is all over it, giving us two matches totaling almost 30 minutes of good-to-great wrestling, so we’re just gonna call it In WWF Your House: Undisputed Era.

Up first is Adam Cole [Baby] vs. Danny Burch, continuing the rivalry between Undisputed Era and the loose confederation of British Strong Style with Danny Burch and Oney Lorcan. Oney’s injured, so it’s great to see Burch get a chance to shine in a singles match … and it’s even better to see Cole not only win, not only win clean, but win clean after a big series of signature moves. That almost feels rare these days, especially in matches between actual stars.

Socially (professionally, however you want to phrase it) Cole is at a higher level than Burch, but it’s in that sweet spot where yeah, Burch isn’t going to win, but he could, and that’s enough to create workable suspense and drama. Burch kicks out of an Ushigoroshi late in the match, causing Cole to back up into the corner and vocalize a bunch of vague threatening stuff about how he’s “the man.” Instead of that setting up some kind of transitional comeback for Burch, Cole simply refocuses, hits a big series of moves — a superkick, the old Last Shot, and the new Last Shot — and wins. Because when he focuses, he’s incredibly hard to beat. Heels that are colossal jerks without having to hold the tights and get DQ run-in losses and intentional count-outs all the time are heels you can actually think and care about, because they do things, and make you wonder how and when and if they will. Shit doesn’t feel like a booking inevitability.

Similarly, the main event NXT Tag Team Championship rematch between Mustache Mountain and the Undisputed Era flying monkeys is great because yeah, these guys are assholes, but part of what makes them SUCH assholes is that they’re very good at what they do, and have somewhere between the right amount and way too much confidence. The finish here isn’t Undisputed Era bumping the ref and hitting somebody with a foreign object, it’s Kyle O’Reilly skillfully ripping apart Trent Seven’s entire leg and making it matter by being so insufferable about it. It just keeps coming at you, whether it’s straight-up or needs a cheap shot to sneak its way in. He just keeps grabbing you and pulling you to the ground and trying to break your parts.

I have a couple of small complaints, but I wanted to just type outright how good of a match this is, and how you should find and watch it as soon as you can. NXT’s been a real oasis for good WWE wrestling as of late, more than usual, even, and this week’s episode felt like a special gift during a week with Asuka vs. James Ellsworth, Seth Rollins calling people sheep-fuckers, and Bayley and Sasha Banks arguing in therapy.

The small complaints:

  • at some point you’ve gotta stop doing the dueling chant, even if it’s fun. It’s a 15 minute match and they don’t stop the dueling chant until like 10 minutes into it. It got to Super Dragon levels
  • if you take a shot every time Mauro Ranallo screams HE’S A FATHER FIGURE about Trent Seven, you’ll be dead from alcohol poisoning before the fall
  • I don’t love “throw in the towel” finishes, because there’s never a towel tease. If you never see someone in a tag match consider throwing in the towel but then refusing, your brain instantly knows that the appearance of a towel means it’s the finish. The drama dies the second it shows up

Best: Progress!

In Non-disputed Era action we get Kairi Sane vs. Vanessa Borne, which has two important stories happening concurrently: Sane is proving herself as a top-level competitor so she can challenge Shayna Baszler to an NXT Women’s Championship match, and Vanessa Borne is slowly improving every time she’s in the ring. The announce team did a good job of pointing out the latter, especially, going on about how Borne’s win-loss record sucks, but she’s taken losses to most of the biggest and toughest stars in the promotion, so she’s learning and adapting. As soon as she “puts all the pieces together,” she’ll be in competition for a top spot. She’s in that “hey, have you noticed Sasha Banks is pretty good in the ring, too bad she has the personality of a trout” conversations we used to have where as soon as she finds the equivalent to her stunna shades, she’ll be great.

As for Kairi Sane, I like Kairi as a challenger for Baszler, because she’s the only one who’s been able to beat her on WWE soil. She won the Mae Young Classic in a thriller, so having her step up and lose a big-time title match will not only follow up on some important in-universe history, it’ll allow you to even them up and build to an even BIGGER match down the road.

That’s it for this week. Another very good show built around building character through physicality instead of having people stand in the middle of the ring and say how they feel for 20 minutes. There’s even some minor stuff I didn’t mention like Johnny Gargano being a weirdo to Aleister Black (who’s supposed to be the king of the weirdos), Ciampa jumping Black and DDT’ing him on the hallway floor, and Candice LeRae getting in Shayna Baszler’s face because the Gargano Family is going through some serious shit that sets up matches for next week and the weeks beyond. Gargano’s gonna screw up that Black/Ciampa match like you’re expecting, and then William Regal’s going to send him and Candice to marriage counseling where they’ll have to learn to play nice and get along or lose their jobs.

Sorry, wrong show. Something way better than that.