The Best And Worst Of WWE NXT 10/10/18: Star Crossed

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Previously on the Best and Worst of WWE NXT: Johnny Gargano somehow got absolution for months of being a crazy person and ruining his job and his marriage by defeating Tony Nese. Also, Gargano’s wife lost a match by walking straight into a punch. They’re great.

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 10, 2018.

Best: Nikki Cross For NXT Champion

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Up first this week is a segment I didn’t know I needed, but I’m glad I lived long enough to see: Lawful Evil (Tommaso Ciampa) versus Neutral Evil (Velveteen Dream), with a run-in from Chaotic Evil (Nikki Cross). The short version is that Ciampa is a complete piece of shit who can’t be questioned in any regard without making it a public issue, Velveteen Dream can’t be mentioned without showing up to correct the nature in which the mention happened, and Nikki Cross knows a “secret” about both men and, presumably, how that relates to the off-screen murder of Aleister Black what feels like five years ago.

If you’ve been paying attention, you don’t need me to tell you how or why this is good. Ciampa is the most fully-formed character in NXT right now; every word that comes out of his mouth, every mannerism he affects, is in service to his character. He’s a champion who only got where he is by manipulating his former best friend into complete and utter madness, and now he’s talking the biggest game he can talk to justify it not only to us, but to himself. Meanwhile you’ve got Velveteen Dream, the walking talking example of THE BIGGEST GAME, who almost doesn’t talk enough about himself; every promo Dream has is in relation to somebody else. Even his third person makes personal statements feel like they’re being filtered through a third party. He can only observe “The Dream” through the eyes of someone else. Ciampa makes Tough Enough jokes. Dream calls Ciampa a “little bald man.”

Then you’ve got Nikki Cross, who shows up looking and acting like a goddamn Licker from Resident Evil 2, booping Dream, knocking the mic out of Ciampa’s hand (to thunderous applause), and dropping down to all fours to yell AYE NO WHAT YOU DED TOOOEH into a microphone. AYE NO! AYE NO! AYE NO! It probably reads like I’m poking fun at her, but seriously, I could listen to Nikki Cross read Ethan Frome and be enraptured.

It’s all so, so good. It’s more of a place setter for dramatic realizations than a realization itself, but that’ll come. It’s also a big flashing green light for NXT to run Nikki Cross vs. Tommaso Ciampa at some point, or even better, Ciampa vs. Dream vs. Cross for the NXT Championship at War Games. Hell, throw Aleister Black in there and make it a Fatal Fourway. Basically what I’m getting at is that if actual intergender wrestling’s ever going to happen in WWE, it should happen first in NXT, where the male and female talent are viewed the same and, let’s be honest, are mostly the same size. Velveteen Dream could press slam Ciampa and Cross at the same time, one on each hand. But for real, you couldn’t see Bianca Belair or Lacey Evans kicking Kona Reeves’ ass or whatever? I could see Queen Cathy kicking Kona Reeves’ ass.

Best: Speaking Of Kona Reeves, This Week He Faces [Squints] KEITH LEE? HAHAHAHA

Kona Reeves vs. Keith Lee is exactly what you think it is: Kona being intermittently terrible and more forced than the fucking Ginyu, and Keith being great. The good news is that this isn’t really a “feud” so much as an extended jobber squash with a promo prefacing it, and a DEEPLY bad one following it. If you haven’t seen the Dot Com following with Kona, watch it here. He hits all the promo class points:

  • repeat the interviewer’s question back to them
  • turn the other guy’s nickname against him (“Keith Lee is limitless? I took him to his limit! So he’s not so limitless!”)
  • build up to a big finish, which ultimately boils down to, “wait until you see what happens NEXT!”

Also, shout-out once again to Reeves’ “finest” taunt, which has got to be the most unintentionally funny thing in wrestling right now.

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He’s already Rocky Maivia pretending to be The Rock, doing the Million Dollar Man’s moves, with Tessa Violet’s hair, wearing Joey Janela’s jacket. That taunt makes him look like purple-ass Raw debut Neville. He’s like an all-you-can-eat buffet of other people’s shit.

Best: NXT TV Match Of The Year

If you’re wondering why there’s not more to talk about on this week’s episode, it’s because Hour Two (the second half hour) is just 10 minutes of entrances, followed by 18 1/2 minutes of Ricochet vs. Adam Cole vs. Pete Dunne for the NXT North American Championship. If you didn’t watch it, don’t click the Fan Nation video, go to the Network and watch the entire thing in full from beginning to end. Not only is it the best NXT TV match of the year, it’s in contention for the best NXT match of the year period, which instantly makes it better than all but maybe one or two main roster matches.

It’s everything you could want from this match, and could’ve easily happened in the middle of any TakeOver. It’s perfect. You’ve got Ricochet being video game-ass Ricochet while Adam Cole and Pete Dunne get increasingly madder and madder at one another about which guy’s the better Cerebral Ring Technician, so almost all of Ricochet’s comebacks are based on Dunne and Cole breaking their concentration. Even the finish is based on that. Plus you’ve got multiple callbacks to previous matches between the three, including a GREAT bit where Ricochet feints to avoid being superkicked on a moonsault, then gets confident and accidentally moonsaults into a DOUBLE superkick.

It’s three of the very best performers in the company (who are all very good at something slightly different in the ring) doing what they do best for almost 20 minutes.

Really the only downside for me is the commentary, which seriously needs to chill the hell out if they want me to be excited in minute 18, because they’re minute-18-ready in minute one. Plus, Mauro said Dunne was trying to be the first person in the history of NXT to hold two championships at the same time, which wasn’t totally true. And if he meant two NXT singles championships at the same time, they only had one title for the first like seven years of the company’s existence (that they didn’t even get until two years in), and one of the three they have now has spent the past 500 days being competed for in a division of two dudes.

So yeah, that’s how good the match is. My only criticism is one innocuous line of commentary like 15 minutes in. And Percy Watson’s only contribution being to yell “OH!!” when people hit moves. GO WATCH THIS MATCH. NXT IS VERY GOOD.

Next Week

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It’s a double main event!

  • Undisputed Era defend the NXT Tag Team Championship against the Renaissance Fair Road Warriors, and
  • future NXT Champion Nikki Cross takes on Bianca Belair, who might do a bunch of squats and gorilla press her into the sun