The Best And Worst Of WWE NXT 10/17/18: Back In Black

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look at these jerks

Previously on the Best and Worst of WWE NXT: Nikki Cross has a secret, and she’s so good at keeping it she ends up the star in a segment involving Tommaso Ciampa AND the Velveteen Dream. Also, Ricochet retained his North American Championship, and Kona Reeves retained the title of worst person on this show.

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 and everyone is terrible.

And now, the Best and Worst of WWE NXT for October 17, 2018.

Best: Go Fish

Up first this week is the NXT Tag Team Championship match between the Undisputed Era and War Raiders, and I want to take a second to really reiterate how much of a miracle the Undisputed Era are. On Raw, Batista talked about how special Evolution was because it was a foursome of former world champions, which had never been done before, and would never be done again. I think it’s even more special that in 2018 WWE took four indie darlings out of Ring of Honor and Evolve and were like, “we’re just going to make them the worst people in the world, and get the Full Sail crowd to boo them.” That’s a much higher difficulty setting if you ask me. They still aren’t totally there with Adam Cole, but even he’s got that Flair in the 80s thing where the people who cheer him mostly cheer him because he’s so much fun to boo.

Anyway, they’re up against the Renaissance Faire Road Warriors and it’s a very good opener, as it plays to the obvious strengths and weaknesses of both sides; Undisputed Era are like half the size of the SMALLER War Raider, so they’ve got to use the Damned Numbers Game™ to stay in control. An attempt to keep the match 2-on-1 as long as possible ends up failing spectacularly, so Cole jogs out to make it 3-on-1. They think that’s going to be enough, but the Radiers are TOO STRONG, DADDY, and eventually Bobby Fish has to appear out of his endless backstage trophy-holding void to not only make it 4-on-1, but end the match via disqualification by lighting Hanson and Rowe the fuck up with a steel chair.

Here’s why I think this finish worked so well. Usually when a heel jumps in to cause a disqualification at the end of a long match, it’s because they (1) want to start/prolong a rivalry, or (2) they just don’t want their friend to lose via pinfall or submission, but make them lose anyway. Here, both of those things are at play, but neither is the point; Fish isn’t interfering to cost his team the match because they don’t care about wins and losses or to save some kind of hypothetical pride in their win/loss record, he’s doing it because they’d already exhausted two other plans and just desperately wanted to keep the Tag Team Championship. And instead of just jumping in and kicking Rowe a few times to cause a DQ, Fish takes the opportunity to try and straight-up decimate the Raiders. Because why wouldn’t he? If you’re gonna get disqualified, why not make it count? Those heel attacks that are super weak and then the face fires up and runs them off are so pointless from a heel point of view. You’re losing the match, so exchange it for some advantageous equivalent in the future. A player to be named later, so to speak.

It’s great to see Fish back in the ring after so long, and he fits right back in with this gaggle of unbelievably terrible human beings. Love it. This is clearly building to Undisputed Era getting their comeuppance at War Games, and I can’t wait to see it. I hope they used the past year to save up some pennies and buy a roof for that cage*.

*who am I kidding, they’re gonna put Ricochet in there. No way they’re going to ask him to NOT jump off a cage like a crazy person.

Best: Britt Breaker

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Match two for the night is The Goddamn Queen of Goddamn Spades Shayna Goddamn Baszler against Dr. Britt Baker DMD. Baker lives up to her Hippocratic oath and does no harm to Baszler, so good for her.

Yeah, anybody who steps in the ring with Baszler right now is toast. She immediately “breaks” Baker’s arm, goes and stands in the corner to laugh at her through a mouthguard like the spiritual member of Suzuki-gun she is, then cheap-shots her when she’s being taken out of the ring by EMTs. This is the kind of take no prisoners attitude who need to have when a tiny pirate has bested you two times out of three. Kairi Sane’s about to get got.

In other words:

WWE Network, Drizzy

Best: Oney And Twoey Get The Three(-ey)

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Match three sees Oney Lorcan and Danny “Twoey” Burch squash the team of Bing and Rocky as they continue their return tour and march toward another Tag Team Championship opportunity. Next week they’ll take on the slightly tougher team of Yahoo and Creed before getting their rightful shot at Google and Drago. Maybe they’ll get to squash Ask Jeeves and Tommy Gunn on the TakeOver War Games pre-show. Something something, smoke and a pancake.

Seriously though, NXT’s tag team division is pretty great right now. You’ve got Undisputed Era and War Raiders on top, but just beneath that you’ve got teams like The Mighty, the Street Profits, Oney and Twoey, Heavy Machinery, and even probably the Forgotten Sons who can all be legitimate title contenders without a lot of work. The same goes for the women’s division. If there’s one thing NXT does better than the main roster that we don’t praise them for all the time, it’s creating believable divisions full of wrestlers who actually seem like they deserve to be there, fighting toward actual goals beyond hating a bunch of people they work with. Wrestling championships are supposed to be the goal, and interpersonal feuds are supposed to be obstacles wrestlers face in the eventual hopes of getting one. That’s why they’re there.

Best: This Might Build To The FIRST EVER LAST WOMAN STANDING MATCH, Am I Right Guys

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when the bath bomb has more stuff in it than you expected

This week’s main event is a rematch between the un ? duh ? fee ? ted ? Bianca Belair and Nikki Cross, and it’s another good one. Remember when Sanity got called up and we felt bad that Nikki didn’t get called up with them? Some of God’s greatest gifts are unanswered prayers, huh?

This is such a great pairing and happening at the right time for both women. Belair is so naturally gifted and talented it’s almost absurd, but the one thing she doesn’t have is experience, especially experience against people who’ve been doing this for a decade. You can only learn so much by wrestling Vanessa Borne every week, no shade on Vanessa. Cross is a perfect foil for her, too, because she’s an NXT veteran who has never gotten to be on top in the NXT women’s division, so even though she’s been around and we know her really well, it still feels like she has room to grow as a character, and still has something to prove.

The wrestling is great, too. Everything Belair does to Cross has a pop to it. She hits her with a forearm in the middle of the match that could’ve KO’d anybody. I’m a little disappointed that there wasn’t a finish again, but at least that’s finally getting us to the Murder She Wrote equivalent of the Fireworks Factory:

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The lights go out, and when they come back on, Aleister Black has pulled the old Undertaker switcheroo and replaced Belair in the ring. I wish they’d shown Belair crawling around on the floor or something so we could know she’s okay, and hasn’t been possessed by a Dutch occultist or whatever. They never really explain those things. I still think Seth Rollins is just the Undertaker’s spirit in a younger body, which is why the “Undertaker” is suddenly so old and tired. If Bianca shows up next week wearing all black, something’s up.

But yeah, jokes aside, Black tells Cross to tell him her secret, which she whispers in his ear. This pisses him off, setting up two things:

  • the big reveal of who attacked Black in the parking lot, which you can have spoiled here if you’d like, and
  • me writing a bunch of fan fiction about Aleister Black and Nikki Cross because I DEFINITELY ship them now

Next week: