Previously on the Best and Worst of WWE NXT: We recapped NXT TakeOver: Phoenix and then took a week off for the regular TakeOver pre-show episode. Also, we got to watch wrestling instead of Maroon 5 during the Super Bowl halftime 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 February 6, 2019.
Best: Forget Goldie, I Want Burgundy … ie
Not a lot to say about this week’s opening segment, but Velveteen Dream using his Worlds Collide tournament win to challenge Johnny Gargano for the North American Championship instead of asking for a rematch for the NXT Championship against Tommaso Ciampa accomplishes a few key things:
- it gives some momentum to the North American Championship and makes it feel desired and important (which is all anyone can ask for in this life)
- it adds some fun understated drama to the ongoing Ciampa vs. Gargano rivalry, as now Ciampa’s crazy ass is going to think Gargano’s overshadowing him or something (not basing this on any spoilers I’ve read, just my general feelings on how the character would react
- Johnny Gargano vs. Velveteen Dream, the match, which will rule
As a bonus, the actual spoilers reported are so unclear and inconclusive that even if you did read them, you’re not sure what the outcome of the match is. I hope they keep recording multiple endings for everything until they give us an NXT TakeOver: Bandersnatch.
WWE Forgot To Upload The Forgotten Sons Match
The incredibly meta story of the Forgotten Sons continues.
This week, Jaxson Ryker — the Nobody of someone named Jason — squashes Greatest Royal Rumble star Monsoor who looks like Mustafa Ali if he’d never learned how to wrestle. If you’re wondering, “Monsoor” means “mister” in Arabic. I mean, it doesn’t, but I’m not gonna not make that joke.
If I can come up with a positive here it’s that Ryker’s no longer using the slingshot powerbomb that (1) he couldn’t do right, and that (2) barely made sense to begin with. Now he’s using a sit-out chokeslam bomb, which is David Otunga’s The Verdict but with sitting. You know WWE thinks highly of your in-ring skills when they replace your signature moves with David Otunga’s.
The Sons are putting a lot of work into seeming threatening and scary — Mauro just can’t get enough of calling them “truculent” — but this ain’t it, chief.
Best: It’s Bugenhagen Time
Drew Gulak appears on this episode but never mind that shit, here comes Eric Bugenhagen.
If you missed the episode, I might not have the correct words to describe the man. Imagine if Joey Ryan and the Young Bucks were all one dude. Imagine that Enzo Amore was jacked, put on Marty Jannetty’s gear, and pretended to be Heavy Metal Van Hammer. Yeah, I don’t know. All you really need to know is that he was instantly over with the crowd, and filled a spot on the show I don’t think I realized we were missing.
NXT build this brand of competitive wrestling, but has always added a dash of the absurd to their original characters. Whether it’s Raquel Diaz as an “Ultra Diva,” a South African big game hunter reappearing as the leader of a dancing ecstasy cult, Mike Dalton reemerging as a male model with a Bluetooth selfie entrance, or Patrick Clark randomly deciding one day that he’s a sexually threatening version of Prince, NXT’s original characters add color and personality to a roster and show that, as good as it is, is full of Guys With Normal Names Doing Cool Moves. It’s what makes it feel more “indie” than most WWE shows, but also what makes it more personable. NXT’s always seemed in on the joke, to the point that the joke becomes irrelevant and you just sit back and enjoy the show. It’s a winking nod to the ridiculousness of pro wrestling’s history, and a way to give WWE fans starving for something new or weird a meal. It’s the fun part.
Bugenhagen’s dumb bullshit works because he’s all in on it, and never stops to point out how stupid it might be. On the main roster, his appearance would include more popular characters we’re supposed to be cheering rolling their eyes at him or something. Here, he’s just a goofy idiot who makes an adorable first impression before being killed by the very high and short pectorals of Mr. Drew Gulak. It made me laugh, and it made me happy. And then he got grapplefucked to death.
Best: Cue Jimmy Hart’s Version Of ‘Still D.R.E.’
The grapple-effing continues after the match when Gulak shades NXT for giving him “Ben Stiller from Dodgeball” as an opponent and ends up rolling around on the ground with Matty Freddy Riddle, whom I imagine has someone trying to double-leg him while he’s in his house cooking breakfast.
If you like watching people wrestle — I mean really, physically wrestle — this match is for you. Oh man is it good. It’s truly Catch Point in a WWE ring, down to the post-match show of respect So, perfect. I was going to riff on how much I want Hot Sauce Tracy Williams and Fred Yehi to sign with the E now so we can formally rebuild the faction (minus TJP, preferably), but I’m honestly shocked I can name two professional wrestlers WWE hasn’t already signed. I’m pretty sure my unborn cousin signed a developmental contract and he’s only been in the womb for like four months.
Drew Gulak should say nuts to 205 Live and just come over to NXT permanently. He’s such a better fit on Yellow, even with the great work he’s been doing on Purple. Red and Blue can wait for literally all of these guys, especially the ones who’ve shown up there before. Matt Riddle’s gonna be the king of WWE fans a year from now going, “I didn’t like him at first, but now he’s my favorite!” Brother’s like someone mashed up RVD and Kurt Angle and stuck them in the body of a Disney Prince. Get on board.
Best: By The Way, Bugenhagen Got An Encore
My only complaint here is that Kayla got to dance and have fun with Bugenhagen while Queen Cathy got stuck backstage getting harassed by the Undisputed Era. I’m kidding, I have zero complaints.
Best: Io, O-ay
Finally we get to the main event: a six-woman tag team match teaming Shayna Baszler, Sandy from Final Fantasy IV, and a camouflage raccoon against yonder Sky Pirates and Bianca Belair. I don’t think any NXT column in February of 2019 is complete without the person writing it pointing out that Kairi Sane and Io Shirai are absolutely killing it as a tag team, and are the best in-ring thing about the show right now. They are SO AWESOME together, because obviously they are. Sane and Shirai vs. Oney Lorcan and Danny Burch is basically my NXT dream match right now.
If you missed the TakeOver pre-show, Shirai and Sane vs. Duke and Shafir was outstanding, and nothing’s going to help those two develop quicker or with more quality than hanging out with the Black Lotus Triad. Duad? Anyway, the finish is Shirai pinning Shayna Baszler clean with a moonsault, which presumably sets her up for a future title shot. I can’t think of a better next NXT Women’s Champion than Io Shirai, unless we’re bringing Meiko Satomura back for some reason. Even then it’s debatable.
Really great stuff to cap off a fantastic hour-long episode of television. In this one hour we got:
- an opening segment featuring the three top stars in the brand that set up future matches and didn’t overstay its welcome
- a visiting guest from another show kicking ass
- the debut of the best fan-friendly jobber since Blue Pants
- a second, way better match featuring said visiting guest in a completely different style
- an attempt to improve and get over a struggling mid-card act
- the women’s division being put over hard in the main event
Yellow ropes forever. Also, I need to get back to Full Sail and catch a pick before Boog ends up in a Royal Rumble or whatever and starts doing romance angles with Alicia Fox or whatever.