Previously on the Best and Worst of NXT: We finally made it to NXT TakeOver: New York to witness Velveteen Dream as a sexy Statue of Liberty, an enormous Austrian murder baby winning the United Kingdom Championship, and a new NXT Champion being crowned in one of the best matches in the history of the promotion.
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 April 17, 2019.
About Last Week
when theres a Chick-fli-A beside the Hobby Lobby
As NXT TakeOvers get better, the “kickoff show” episode taped before it starts gets worse.
We normally skip those episodes, but in case you missed it, all you really need to know is that the Street Profits won a perfectly fine tag team match, Candice LeRae almost blew out her knee on a botched (but recovered, and edited) Lionsault, and Jaxson Ryker proved that “can’t even have a good match with Oney Lorcan” talking point wasn’t a fluke by having a terrible match with Danny Burch.
Oh, and NXT has a new opening song by Slipknot that sounds (and looks) like ‘We’re All Together Now’ and has only been around for a week, but is already outdated and features some people who aren’t going to be on the show anymore. The Superstar Shake-Up, everybody!
Sorry, Actual Best: Buddy
Every couple of months, The Velveteen Dream (with great assistance from the rest of the NXT roster) is like, “hey, you know what’d be cool? If we just had a TakeOver match on this random episode of NXT TV.” We’ve seen it a few times now — against Johnny Gargano, in the fatal five-way number one contender match, and even that Lio Rush match back in the day was a show stealer — and now he’s out here going 15-minutes with former Cruiserweight Champion Buddy Murphy. Why? Because they exchanged some words backstage at WrestleMania. And because NXT is our friend.
If (for whatever reason) you haven’t been following 205 Live or haven’t tuned in to Kickoff Shows early enough to see him, Buddy Murphy’s nickname of the “best kept secret” in WWE isn’t a lie. He’s absolutely fantastic, and while yeah, he’s also very clearly a store brand Kenny Omega, “store brand Kenny Omega” is still a top shelf product. He’s compact, powerful, agile, could probably jump over the entire ring if he wanted, and could THRIVE if allowed to pop back into NXT from time to time to tear it up with someone he didn’t get to work when he was one half of valet lackey tag champs. The “Blake and Murphy Factor” (aka “The Alexa Bliss Experience”) got great by the end of their tag title run, but they sadly existed in that awkward point between NXT tag team wrestling being hopeless (The Ascension, Corey Graves, a bunch of jobbers) and NXT tag team wrestling being the best thing in the world (Revival, DIY, basically everyone who does it now).
Anyway, here’s Murphy taking Dream’s head off with a Sagat Tiger Knee on the apron.
One of the best things about Velveteen Dream that we probably don’t put over enough is that this isn’t the best he’ll ever be; he’s still growing and learning as a performer, so while you can see Murphy carrying him through sections of the match — Murphy’s used to wrestling a much faster pace than Dream — you know Dream’s absorbing it, adapting on the fly, and wrestling his opponent’s match while still making it undeniably “The Dream.” He and Tyler Bate are both going to be nigh-super human when they’re like, 31, if they can stay healthy.
Dream picks up the win and retains the North American Championship because Buddy’s just visiting, and both men leave the match looking better for it. Murphy’s probably going to explode working on Smackdown with guys he’s familiar with (Ali) and big stars who can work his style (Bálor, Kingston, Bryan, whoever), and maybe Velveteen Dream’s young and specific enough that he can just stay in this precious wrestling utopia his entire career, make “main roster” money doing it, and never get called up to Raw to be The Prince Experience and lose 40 second matches to a bunch of depressed guys he would’ve wrestled bangers with in NXT four years ago.
Also On This Episode
Johnny Gargano has gone straight from “Johnny Wrestling” to “Big Match John,” as now that he’s NXT Champion he’s calling Undisputed Era a boy band and making *NSYNC jokes. What’s next, Johnny, showing Adam Cole what an ass he’s being by photoshopping his face onto a donkey?
On the plus side, Gargano’s clearly learned how to manipulate people from his Good Friend Tommaso Ciampa, as Cole can’t even get through a segment without Johnny pivoting to a match with Roderick Strong. Strong’s too much of an opportunistic goon to consider what mind games are at play, and Cole’s too smart and too paranoid to just let Strong lose to Johnny and “soften him up” for a title rematch. Gargano’s managed to star the the breakup of NXT’s most actually in-sync faction by being like, “what if I gave the HENCH a match instead of the boss?” That’s seriously all it took.
Pretty cool to see WWE® Superstars The Viking Experience putting over NXT Tag Team Champions War Raiders by wearing their t-shirt. I can’t believe they’d confront The Swagger-Bringing Experience like that, though, right outside of Commissioner England’s office.
Here’s the entire Dominik Dijakovic match in a single GIF. Shades of Baron Corbin!
I don’t know if you’ve been following along with the Twitter drama, but apparently NXT or Dijakovic himself thought it’d be a fun gimmick to have a central European white guy who is feuding with a black guy and wrestling a black guy on tonight’s episode rant about how the nation needs to be “purified” for the good of his people. Maybe they should have him join D-Generation X and have him end his promos with, “if you’re not down with that, I got 14 words for ya.”
The best part of this segment is when he starts his promo with, “I’M ONLY IN NXT BECAUSE MY FAMILY GAVE ME THAT OPPORTUNITY,” and the crowd’s like “….?” And then he’s like, “they took the opportunity to come here to the United States,” and the crowd goes, “oooooh.” They thought the Über-mentions over here was gonna reveal he was related to Triple H or something. Hilarious. Also, why does Dijak sound like Nailz?
The IIronics of Aliyah and Vanessa Borne want another match with Candice LeRae, and challenge her to “find another lower” to team with and face them in the ring. It’s not a bad strategy, honestly, as like half the roster got “shaken up” to Raw and Smackdown, and Candice might have to wrestle alone. Or worse, team with Kona Reeves.
Speaking of the Superstar Shake-Up, seriously, how boned was NXT this year?
They’d already “lost” a lot of these people, but they officially lost “The Viking Experience,” Kairi Sane, Lars Sullivan, Lacey Evans, EC3, Heavy Machinery, Nikki Cross, Aleister Black, and Ricochet from their roster and got nobody in return. Los Vikings, Sane, Black, and Ricochet are like, active NXT competitors and sometimes champions, and in a year where they made a big point to be like, “the shake-up affects ALL THREE BRANDS,” NXT couldn’t even get a mention beyond, “best of luck in your future endeavors.”
If you’re going to treat it like an Actual Third Brand, could we at least get a video package announcing they’ve brought over somebody? Tyler Breeze, The Revival, anybody? Bring back Titus O’Neil and Johnny Curtis, just follow through on the idea that NXT’s a third brand and not something to be “called up” from by having “main roster” stars go to it. If you’re too chickenshit to send over a couple of low-tier extras on a rehab assignment, you don’t get to pretend this show isn’t still developmental.
Well Excuse Me, Princess
Finally we have the Last Time Ever showdown between NXT Women’s Champion Shayna Two-Time and her blood rival Kairi Sane, hurt somewhat (read: completely) by the fact that Sane got sent to Smackdown on Tuesday, rending the drama of the whole “she’ll never get another NXT Women’s Championship match again” shit moot. That’s like saying Lacey Evans is never gonna get another NXT Women’s Championship match. It’s technically true, isn’t it?
It’s a shame, too, because Baszler vs. Sane is right behind Gargano vs. Ciampa on the list of long-standing rivalries that needed an official blowoff with pyro and ballyhoo. Gargano/Ciampa got clipped by an injury, and now Baszler/Sane gets clipped by a one-sided Superstar Shake-Up. On top of the general shame of them not getting a bigger spotlight and love for all the work they’ve done defining a division for the past year, we aren’t even going to get any kind of payoff for Io Shirai causing Kairi to lose the match by disqualification, which could’ve been interesting and led to something. It would’ve been a great starting point for egotistical maniac Io Shirai, you know? Or they could’ve done something with the Sky Pirates, instead of just cramming Sane with Asuka with a British lady managing them and calling them the Asians Of Pain.
The match is good, of course, because it’s always good. I just wish they hadn’t made what should’ve been an important moment in the show’s history with high drama into a Smackdown deleted scene. Ah well, Baszler vs. Shirai’s going to rule, and if you’re gonna fridge Kairi Sane, at least you fridged her in service to that.
- Johnny Gargano faces Roderick Strong in an NXT Championship match
- Aliyah and Vanessa Borne face Candice LeRae and her mystery opponent, who I hope is just Joey Ryan in a Dolly Parton wig
- Street Profits take on tHe ViKiNg ExPeRiEnCe and we hope NXT has a good idea for how to get the Tag Team Championship off Erick Aybar when they’ve already taped an entire cycle
Plus, in two weeks, it’s the debut of the best wrestler to stare at an invisible watch since Stone Cold Steve Austin:
See you then!