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And now, the Best and Worst of WWE NXT for November 28, 2018.
A Quick Recap Of Last Week
Last week’s episode was the hour of tapings before NXT TakeOver: War Games, so given that (1) nothing happened and (2) it aired on the night before American Thanksgiving, we skipped it. Here’s what you need to know.
- Keith Lee squashed Fidel Bravo, who looks like what would happen if Mario Mario got a power-up that turned him into Icarus from CHIKARA. He showed up on the following Raw in the background of a Drake Maverick pee-pants segment.
- Lars Sullivan squashed Keita Murray even harder. You may know Murray as one half of the “Bryant Brothers,” Wayne and Dane, from the following Smackdown. He got a tag team win over The Miz, and Best Wrestler In The World Shane McMahon!
- Sullivan and Lee continued their mating ritual by brawling about who squashed their guy the best, culminating in Lee pouncing Sullivan out of the ring. Period.
- Nikki Cross defeated Candice LeRae, who might as well have wrestled the entire match sitting down, because she doesn’t have a leg to stand on.
Best: 1-2 defeats 6-1
Up first this week is Oney Lorcan and Danny Burch defeated The Mighty, who have become true masters of the entertaining undercard heel tag team loss. I’ve written about it a lot, but I love how you’ve got your champions (Undisputed Era) and then this absolute pack of teams that could beat each other on any given day (Street Profits, The Mighty, Oney and Twoey, War Raiders, Mustache Mountain) and could step up for a title match, believably, at any time. You’ve even got dorks like the Forgotten Sons who could become legit title competition once they’re done filming shirtless junkyard promos.
Oney and Twoey are on some kind of fire, though. These guys are working on another level. There’s something wonderful about a pair of no-nonsense Double Dragon brothers from different countries going hard as hell the entire time and delivering everything they do with intensity, urgency, and impact. For example, Lorcan tosses out one of the best dives I’ve seen in ages here, going up and over the ropes with actual SPEED and slamming into his opponents to knock them down, instead of gently diving through the ropes and pushing them with his hands while they catch him:
So of course they’re going to beat The Mighty, who perfectly fulfill their role of underperforming heels by trying to control the match with Russian leg sweeps and neck vices and shit. OF COURSE Danny Burch is gonna tag in and run at them screaming until they’re dead. Of course.
Best: I Haven’t Seen Marcel Name-dropped Like This Since The First Season Of ‘Friends’
The best news this week is that EC3 is back, getting a strong win over Marcel Barthel. Three quick bits about Marcel:
- he’s definitely going to be a big part of the upcoming NXT Germany, unless it’s just going to be WALTER and Alexander Wolfe wrestling every week while General Manager Alex Wright dances in the background
- it still bums me out that NXT signed a German guy named Dieter and changed his name instead of making him the host of Sprockets
- I finally figured it out; Barthel looks like the perfect fusion of Sid Scala and The Miz. Watch when he’s got his hands on the top rope and is stomping EC3 down in the corner. Those are Miz stomps if I’ve ever seen them.
The Carter wins, of course, and cuts a promo on Robert The Fish for attacking him with a steel chair a few weeks ago. I continue to love EC3 as an obvious Raw and Smackdown sports-entertainment superstar who’s chilling on the yellow brand because it’s his home, and because it’s where he’d actually get to wrestle matches and do stuff instead watching someone piss on his clothes and getting rolled up.
Best: Mia Yim’s Biggest Fan
My favorite part of the episode, and possibly my favorite part of ANY episode, is the guy in the San Francisco Giants hat during Mia Yim’s entrance. He wants to clap for Mia, but he’s holding a beer. His first instinct is to clap … over? the beer with one hand. When he realizes that doesn’t make a clapping noise, he does a little golf clap against the side of his plastic cup. It’s perfect.
Mia gets a victory over El Hija del Maxine, aka Vanessa Borne, a woman so stunning she makes WCW Steve Austin look like Bastion Booger. She’s definitely Maxine II, though. She’s even got the faux garter belts.
The match is fine. None of Mia’s NXT roster stuff has been as good as her Mae Young Classic matches or her independent stuff, but she’s figuring it out.
As for Borne, she’s got Aliyah disease, I think, where her gimmick is so ill-defined it causes her to get lost in the shuffle in the women’s division. You’ve got Lacey Evans, who is the “lady” of NXT and wears old timey pin-up clothes. You’ve got Bianca Belair as the “EST” of NXT, who’s nothing but power and confidence. You’ve even still got Aliyah, whose gimmick (usually) is that she’s an arrogant lady who is into fashion. Ditto for Jinny over on NXT UK. So what’s Vanessa Borne’s thing? She’s clearly not confident enough to be Bianca, not refined enough to be Lacey, and not enough of a fashionista or a socialite or whatever to be the others. She’s the division’s Jan Brady, and I don’t want that to keep her down forever. RISE UP, NEW MAXINE.
Note: give her a piece of the rubble from the 1992 Roermond earthquake in the Netherlands, say it killed Aleister Black’s family, and have her manage him as a ghost lady who licks people to absorb their life force.
Best: You Slammed Him On His Side, Yes He Yields
Finally we have our main event, pitting the good hoss of the south vs. the wicked hoss of the mid-west, good vs. evil, a man who ten years ago was playing Pokemon and singing in his church choir vs. a man who ten years ago was trolling people and telling them to kill themselves on weightlifting message boards. It’s Keith Lee vs. Lars Sullivan, and it rules. Plus, it reminds me of this:
This is so much fun, and the crowd response to it lets me know I’m not alone. Keith Lee is almost never better than when he’s facing someone who can match him (at least roughly) in size, speed, and strength, so until WWE signs Jeff Cobb, this is probably his best pairing. They basically have a Cruiserweight Classic match in here, or at least the NXT version of those Braun Strowman vs. Big Show matches. Seeing Lars manhandle Keith instead of someone 1/3 his size really expresses how unique and powerful he is, and I’m actually pretty sad that this is (probably) his final NXT match. Enjoy three months of success squashing people on Raw before losing to No Way Jose and turning into a dancing rapper or something, Lars!
I also appreciate this match for giving Keith Lee a big loss, because he’s not going to get many of those in NXT, and it allows us to know he can be beaten, fairly, even if it’s nigh-impossible. Plus, if you weren’t on the Keith Lee train already, watch the man do a moonsault from the second rope and a fuckin’ tornillo and tell me he’s not a special creature.
These are the best kinds of NXT shows; where the matches feel like the beginnings of builds, or the tying up of loose ends, and despite only being an hour long contains a ton of hype videos for the past and future AND multiple watchable, good-to-great little matches.
Now if you’d like to have your mind blown, go read these spoilers for what’s coming next.