Last time in the last Best and Worst of NXT UK: Isla Dawn put down Killer Kelly, and Ilja Dragunov decided to stand with Gallus against Imperium. If you’d like to read previous installments of the Best and Worst of NXT UK, click right here. Follow With Spandex on Twitter and Facebook. You can also follow me on Twitter if you want.
And now, the Best and Worst of NXT UK from November 13, 2019.
Best: Best Not Miss
As I before, I was honestly hoping to get a little more buildup for Xia Brookside before she actually got in the ring with Kay Lee Ray, but once it happened this match was actually great. Xia’s very young and still feels like she’s at the very beginning of a career, but she’s already quite good. What made this match work was that Kay Lee had already dismissed her young challenger, but then got much more trouble from her than she was expecting, and had to adjust on the fly to having a real match with a real opponent.
This was the week that it was really driven home for me how much I like Kay Lee Ray as a wrestler, when my reaction to the Women’s WarGames Match that NXT Domestic is planning went from “Sure, that should be good,” to “Okay, now I’m excited” with the addition of Ray. Rhea Ripley is an intimidating powerhouse, but Kay Lee Ray is a perfect dastardly villain. She doesn’t need to be the biggest or the strongest, because she’s deceptively dangerous. She’s a snake, and it’s great.
Xia got to show off a lot in this match, and it’s easy to believe that (assuming this brand isn’t going anywhere) she’ll be NXT UK Women’s Champion in a couple of years, and a good one. But Kay Lee Ray is Champion right now, and she’s a great one. Xia gave her more of a run for her money than she was expecting, but once Kay Lee caught her with a superkick and then hit the Gory Bomb, Xia’s dreams were over for today.
Worst: Lower Card All-Stars
Travis Banks and Ligero had a pretty great match, actually, it’s just that I don’t have much attention left for them. They already fought to a few weeks ago, so this was their attempt to resolve things once and for all (which they did not). Travis Banks can be pretty great when he has a worthwhile opponent. But Ligero, the English boy who dreamed of being a Luchador, is not that opponent. Neither, to be frank, is Joseph Conners, who interrupted this match after almost ten minutes to attack both men, although he attacked Ligero first behind the ref’s back, enabling Banks to technically get the win.
Joseph Conners then grabbed a mic and cut a Dolph Ziggler promo about how he’s been overlooked and not gotten what he deserves. I’m no fan of Ziggler, but at least when he says this stuff you can look at Ziggler’s WWE career and say okay, that kind of makes sense. It does almost seem like Ziggler could have been a big star but never quite got the chance. Joseph Conner just sounds delusional talking like that. Maybe that’s the point, but it doesn’t make me want to watch anyone wrestle him. Your mileage may vary of course.
Best: Hey Look Everyone! It’s Tyler!
The justification for this match between Tyler Bate and Kassius Ohno was that Ohno beat up A-Kid, and Tyler really likes A-Kid, so they had no choice but to wrestle about it. Barring some fanfic about Tyler and A-Kid, I’m not sure that’s a really strong setup, but honestly once this match started I didn’t care.
These are two men who are exceptionally good at pro wrestling. And this is a show that makes space, perhaps more than anywhere else in WWE these days, for great matches between great wrestlers. I’m not going to take you through their 24-minute back-and-forth, that’s not what I’m good at anyway. You just need to go watch this match, if you like seeing wrestlers wrestle.
This competition between a big, full-of-himself heel who both literally and figuratively throws his weight around at every opportunity and a smaller but more muscular handsome babyface hero who never gives up is the very essence of professional wrestling distilled down to its heart. Tyler Bate specializes in feats of strength, and like WALTER, Kassius Ohno is a big enough opponent that when Tyler takes him off his feet it looks impressive as hell.
Sure, there are way too many camera cuts in that airplane spin, but that’s a minor complaint at the end of the day. This was a weird episode, with no Gallus and only a brief hint of Imperium. It feels like the big stories are kind of on hold at the moment. But this smaller story, centered on a match that took almost half the episode’s runtime, turns out to be as good as anything NXT UK has done.
That’s all for this installment. Join me next week when Alexander Wolfe faces Ilja Dragunov, and the mysterious Ridge Holland debuts.