Previously on the Best and Worst of WWE NXT: We said goodbye to Asuka (and also to Hideo Itami’s genitals).
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And now, the Best and Worst of WWE NXT for September 13, 2017.
Best: Don’t Hate Me
Kicking off this wrestling-heavy edition of NXT (episode No. 411, so be glad I didn’t theme this week with all Mary J. Blige songs) is a lopsided tag match between the Iconic Duo and Ruby Riot, who was given the opportunity to have a tag partner by William Regal and apparently thought she didn’t need one, which is up there in boneheaded things babyfaces do. I L-O-V-E-D the reveal of Nikki Cross, however — all of her mannerisms were borderline comedic, like Bugs Bunny creeping up over the shoulder of Elmer Fudd or something, and she had the crowd hot for her mere presence. Between the male members of SAnitY being targeted by Adam Cole & Co. and Cross trying to win over Riot, is it possible SAnitY is officially a babyface faction now? (As babyface as a group of post-apocalyptic fighters covered in ratty clothes and clearly unwashed hair can be, I guess.)
Ruby Riot’s top-rope senton bomb earns her the win, and my continued attention. More Riot and Cross, please! It’s like when a mall punk is introduced to GG Allin and they realize, “Oh wow, this sh*t can get a lot crazier, can’t it?”
Best: Man Of Conviction
Credit where credit is due: This entire feud between No Way Jose and Lars Sullivan is being fueled by the fact that Sullivan hates conga lines, whereas Jose really, really loves them. It might not be Shakespeare, but at least the guy’s got character motivation. Way to stick to your convictions, Jose. I look forward to seeing Lars destroy you next week.
Worst: Stay Gone
You know what I literally never need to see again? A 10-minute singles match featuring Riddick Moss. I understand his role here was to dominate Johnny Gargano, but most of his offense is day-one-of-wrestling-school stuff, dude literally didn’t touch the ground until eight minutes in (when Gargano hit him with a cannonball off the apron — and even then, he didn’t fall, he just took a knee), and his one and only back bump came on the finish, when Gargano hit him with a slingshot spear through the ropes. Like, what the f*ck, dude. John Gargs is working his ass off, throwing himself around like a ragdoll, and you’re afraid to fall down? Tuck your chin, you’ll be fine.
As for Gargano’s storyline: It’ll be interesting to see where it goes from here. I like how he came to the realization that maybe he can’t win matches on his own as easily as he thought (his acting after the failed submission attempt, while corny, added a lot to explain this), and maybe he does need someone watching his back. If this results in Candice LeRae being brought in as his manager, well, worse things could happen.
Best: Better Half
Every time I see the Ealy Brothers onscreen, my brain immediately goes through one of those Kill Bill siren flashes and all I think is, “KILL THEM, JOE.” Sadly, the Ealys continue to exist, though major points for them ripping Angelo Dawkins’ dumbass headbands off.
As pretty much everyone has noticed by now, Montez Ford is clearly the better half of Street Profits. His movements are crisp, his charisma is contagious, and most importantly, he’s standing next to a man who’s more Marty Jannetty than Marty Jannetty himself ever was in Dawkins. I legitimately LOLed after Ford scored the pin and began sweeping the Ealys out of the ring with his feet. Show me more of this guy, stat.
Best: Long Goodnight
Man, I take two weeks off to go on vacation and when I come back, we no longer have a women’s champion? Sorry, y’all, I’ll stay chained to my desk from now on. The Asuka tribute video package was very well done and was a perfect reminder of just how dominant her character has been since she debuted, and it’s enough to earn this segment a Best. However, I didn’t love the throw over to William Regal, where his response to “So, what now?” was white noise. Maybe this is on me for being too much of a mark, but I watch wrestling under the presumption that this is, in fact, a competitive fighting league, and that if a title is vacated or stripped, there is a plan to immediately crown a new champ. Look at UFC stripping Jon Jones of his belt just the other day and reinstating Daniel Cormier as the champion. Is it too much to expect NXT to explain something, instead of just shrugging its collective shoulders? Y’all have had a week in kayfabe time to come up with a solution, and all you came up with was ¯_(ツ)_/¯.
Best: Red Letter Day
Goddamn, Pete Dune is over as f*ck. I’m at a loss to think of many NXT Superstars who garner a bigger reaction than him, and it is well deserved. His main event match, a UK Championship defense against Wolfgang, is perfectly serviceable, although the UK division is starting to feel thinner than Smackdown’s women’s division. However, maybe that explains what happens after the match: For the first time ever, we see the UK division actually interact with the rest of NXT, and it comes when the new faction of Adam Cole, Kyle O’Reilly and Bobby Fish — collectively called the Undisputed Era (which is, uh, not a good name for a faction, but whatevs, no one asked me) — shows up and attacks both Dunne and Wolfgang, leading to a verrrry late save from Tyler Bate and Trent Seven. (Must’ve been too busy styling their facial hair.)
This interaction felt like two separate universes being folded into one, and given how there’s still been no real forward motion on a UK-specific show, maybe this is for the best. Dunne’s already beaten all three UK challengers, so might as well turn him loose on NXT as a whole. Supplemental Best for Dunne reminding Full Sail he’s a heel by diving back in solely to grab his title, not to save Wolfgang. It’s hard to boo a guy who looks that awesome, but we have to try, people.
Next Week: Aleister Black speaks! (It’s about f*cking time.) Plus, Lars Sullivan goes toe-to-toe with No Way Jose.