The Best And Worst Of WWE NXT 3/28/18: Everything Now

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Previously on the Best and Worst of WWE NXT: Johnny Wrestling finally got a piece of F*ckface Ciampa, Pete Dunne was slumming it with Roddy, and we witnessed the birth of MendozaMania (maybe).

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And now, the Best and Worst of WWE NXT for March 28, 2018. Infinite content, infinite content, we’re infinitely content.

Best: Ready To Start

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First things first: I really dug the structure of this episode. Far too often, there’s not really a narrative arc on your average NXT episode. But here, we practically had the William Regal Power Hour, from his opening discussion with F*ckface Ciampa turning into an unsanctioned match between him and Johnny Gargano to his announcement of NXT’s new championship (more on that in a second) to the continued check-ins with him throughout the show to find out just who would be competing for that title, which delivered more than one surprise.

It was engaging and moved the product forward on multiple fronts, which is something NXT lacks from time to time. Plus, William Regal is the best, so any reason to put him onscreen is A-OK with me, especially when he’s interacting with Velveteen Dream and when he throws some of Dream’s sass right back at him.

Best: Put Your Money On Me

So after the show opens with Regal in the parking lot, we get Regal in the ring, where he officially announces the creation of the NXT North American Championship, the brand’s equivalent to Raw’s Intercontinental or Smackdown’s U.S. title. (Granted, this was announced by WWE social nearly a month ago, but kudos to anyone who managed to avoid spoilers until now.)

While the creation of a new title is exciting, what’s even better is Ethan Carter The Goddamned Third showing up to a massive reaction and “NX3” chants (which is damn perfect) to try and just claim the title simply by existing. Obviously, the man playing EC3 is no stranger to NXT — he was Derrick Bateman in a former life — but it seems like we’re meant to view this character as someone completely removed from his original run, unlike when Drew McIntyre returned last year.

Carter’s debut promo was dynamite, especially when he got placed in the North American Championship ladder match and responded to the crowd’s “You deserve it!” chants with a fourth wall-breaking “Absolutely, of course I do.” (Can we call him NXT’s Deadpool, or is that too much of a stretch?)

Also, how bummed do you think Tino Sabbatelli must be that right as he was starting to get his look and style over, that a better-looking, better-wrestling version of himself just showed up and got thrust into a major TakeOver match? Sorry, Tino. Looks like you’ll be in the Platinum Lovers for a while.

Worst: Wasted Hours

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So, uh, what the f*ck are we doing with TM61? The team gets weeks of “TM61 returns” vignettes followed by a two-part mini-documentary telling their respective stories only to get jobbed out in the first round of the Dusty Classic and continually cutting empty-headed, canned promos backstage? This one was just the latest and emptiest in an increasingly long line of wasted TV time, talking about “finding a new attitude” and wedging their clunky catchphrase in at the end. I don’t get it. Are they being turned heel? If so, why?

Nothing says insignificance more than when a cameraperson runs away from their interview subject mid-interview, but if I saw Shayna Baszler and Ember Moon brawling in the background, I would’ve done the same thing. (Supplemental Best to whoever staged these two scenes to run into one another, however.)

Worst: You Already Know

Wow, the Dusty Classic kinda blows this year, huh? We could’ve had my #BeefBoys in Heavy Machinery going blow for blow with Authors Of Pain. Instead, we get a three-minute(!) comedy(!!) match(!!!) between AOP and Street Profits, which was just a colossal waste of time. (However, it should be noted that Motorola and Razr literally beat the sweatbands off Angelo Dawkins’ head, which is an instant Best.)

As backwards as the match was — seriously, in what world should Angelo Dawkins be able to dominate AOP? — the finish might have been the worst thing I’ve seen all year in NXT. Let’s review: Montez Ford tries to give his cup (which he’s playing off as alcohol, though it’s clearly water) to Paul Ellering, who takes forever to slap it away, which somehow distracts Dawkins enough to the point where forgets he’s in the ring with the f*cking Authors Of Pain, and he then gets Last Chaptered. Again, this match was three minutes long. Your Dusty Classic semifinals, everybody!

Best: Funeral

How awesome was it to see Lars Sullivan back on NXT TV? He’s been conspicuously absent for the past few months, and allegedly, it cost him a title shot at TakeOver: New Orleans. But now he’s back, murdering John Silver, who’s been a consistent presence in CZW and Beyond Wrestling the past few years (and is also presumably the heir to the Long John Silver’s fortune, though that couldn’t be confirmed at press time).

Silver made Sullivan look as monstrous as usual, making every one of Sullivan’s offensive moves look like a potential finishing move. Military press powerslam? Finisher. Diving headbutt? Finisher. Freak Accident? Well, that’s actually his finisher, but still.

After the match, Regal tells Lars he’s earned a spot in the ladder match at TakeOver: New Orleans, and Lars doesn’t even care — he says he wants Killian Dain, which Regal grants him for next week and says Dain’s in the TakeOver match, alongside EC3, Adam Cole, Velveteen Dream and the debuting Ricochet, who we get a quick glimpse of at the very end of the episode. Hot damn, this ladder match is going to tear the house down.

Best: Signs Of Life

First off, I am profoundly upset that we were teased with a Dakota Kai match this week — I was hoping that maybe this would be the first time she would actually get to show offense in the ring — but honestly, I did love the misdirect, with Kai’s entrance getting cut short due to Andrade Almas beating the tar out of Aleister Black in the parking lot, dunking him into a cooler, bobbing-for-Asuka style, then dragging him into the ring to continue the beatdown. Considering Almas’ promo last week was D.O.A., this did a ton to get heat back, in my eyes, and made me get back onboard for their feud. (Also, RIP Aleister Black’s suit.)

Fine, I Guess: Chemistry

Our final Dusty Classic semifinals might as well have been an iron man match compared to AOP/Street Profits, as it clocked in at a bulky six minutes (including commercial break). SAnitY squared off against Strong Bad in a match that, surprisingly, had zero heat at the start. The crowd wasn’t invested at all, which could partially be because this match went on directly after that first semifinals match in this set of tapings (obviously, spoilers are at that link, so scroll slowly if you look at all). I mean, wouldn’t you be flat if you just had to watch an Authors Of Pain comedy match?

Still, despite the overall ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ from the crowd, these four guys were bumping their asses off, throwing some stiff suplexes to near-silence. (Go back and watch the first hot tag sequence — neither side gets a pop. C’mon, Full Sail!)

What’s crazy is how much chemistry Strong Bad has — Roddy Strong and Pete Dunne vibe together way better than I expected, and their win over SAnitY was well earned (if you had to take Eric Young’s elbow drop and Alexander Wolfe’s German suplex, you’d probably feel the same way).

I’d love to see Strong Bad pull the upset next week against Authors Of Pain, but I feel like the whole point of this tournament was to add another accolade to AOP’s resume as well as set another standard in NXT by having a two-time Dusty Classic winner in the books, similar to having the first two-time NXT champion or whatnot. It helps establish NXT as its own brand and not just a stopgap for people going to the main roster (even though that’s what it should be, and ostensibly is), even though by making these decisions, it makes certain wrestlers feel like they’ve overstayed their welcome. (Seriously, AOP has to get called up after WrestleMania.)

Next Week: Authors Of Pain square off against Pete Dunne and Roddy Strong in the Dusty Classic finals, plus Lars Sullivan hosses it up with Killian Dain. One more episode to go until we’re in NOLA!