Previously on the Best and Worst of WWE NXT: The second annual Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic is under way. The Revival moved past Cedric Alexander and Adrade ‘Cien’ Almas so strongly it made Almas turn on Alexander. The Authors of Pain also advanced, defeating a team who if one stood on the other’s shoulders would be about the size of an Authors of Pain’s legs. Also on the show, Dan Matha debuted directly into a Samoa Joe beatdown, Bobby Roode asked Tye Dillinger to be his partner in the Dusty Classic, and Patrick Clark is El Hijo del Orlando Jordan. Lots happened!
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And now, the Best and Worst of WWE NXT for Oct. 12, 2016.
Best: We Are The Nation, Of Sanitation
This week opening was like an NXT’s greatest hits compilation, in all the best ways.
Firstly, you’ve got an immediate and purposefully disappointing followup to the Marvel Team-Up between Bobby Roode and Tye Dillinger. Last week, Roode approached Dillinger and practically begged him to trust him and be his partner, so Dillinger agrees (wanting to honor his late mentor, Dusty Rhodes) and “Perfectly Glorious” is formed. Or “Glorious 10,” whatever you want to call them. Y2AJ. Anyway, this week they have their first round match against the debuting SANITY, and Roode doesn’t even take off his robe. Dillinger instantly gets jumped and gets 9 of 10 craps kicked out of him, and Roode’s just like, “yeah, no.” He gets this poor guy into a match and just leaves him hanging, then goes backstage to loudly complain about how that same guy’s a “loser” who begged him to be his tag team partner. I love that Bobby Roode is basically the worst person in the world, but more of a Triple H Worst than a Kevin Owens. He’s delusional, entitled and selfish. Also, really good. What a sh*thead.
Secondly, you’ve got the aforementioned debut of Sanity. They get a cool “smoke and spotlights” entrance and gear that makes them look like Manhunt characters. They probably could’ve left the Canadian flag off the leader’s jacket to not telegraph who it was, but they get to it pretty quickly, so it doesn’t really matter. The initial reveal is that the first two members (and the tag team) are NXT jobber regulars Sawyer Fulton and Alexander Wolfe, finally elevated from enhancement talent to Actual Characters we’re supposed to care about. They finish off Dillinger quickly with a suplex/powerslam combo, and we get to the important post-match reveal: The final two members are Nikki Cross, aka NECKY STORM, and Eric Young. Now I’m wishing Bobby Roode had stuck around at least long enough to be like, “heeeey, wait a minute.”
There’s a lot to like about Sanity. The core of the team is two NXT developmental guys, and not just the Motor City Machine Guns being brought in with no effort put into making them NXT’s own. Not that I’d sh*t too hard on the Machine Guns showing up, but you get what I mean. They’re paired with Eric Young, who like him or not is a great veteran presence who can anchor them, teach them what he knows (in real life and in character) and give them a comfortable space to grow. Nikki Cross rules no matter what she does, so she’ll add dynamic character to the group, and another member who can talk. Also, we’ve got an intergender faction in NXT, which doesn’t happen … well, ever. There’s no Lady Wyatt, and no Lady Ascension goober. It’s unique, the presentation is there, and it’s set up to succeed.
Best: Billie Kay And Peyton Royce, Or
Worst: Billie Kay And Liv Morgan
Billie Kay and Liv Morgan seem to be doing that Carmella and Alexa Bliss thing where they have a terrible match on TV, so NXT’s like, “we’re gonna do it again, and we’re gonna keep doing it until you get it right.” This one is better than the first, but that’s the faintest praise. Billie still hasn’t figured out how to exist and move around in a WWE ring, and Liv is good at all the individual parts of being a wrestler without any of the parts that tie them together. She always looks like she’s wrestling in front of trainers instead of crowds.
The highlight for me is the pre-match interview, with Peyton Royce making donkey face in response to Liv Morgan still being employed. It makes you wonder why Liv thought she could hang with Asuka when she couldn’t even get one up on Cassie and Jessie, you know? Anyway, NXT’s Two Mean Girls is always great, especially with the company’s weird idea that all Australian girls are beautiful but hateful, and all Australian guys are noble, affable Ken dolls. It’s Australia, guys, not the Savage Land.
Best: Speaking Of Ken Dolls
… here’s TM-61, earning an instant Best thanks to Corey Graves’ Fun Lovin’ Criminals namedrop. That would be such a better gimmick than, “we’re from Australia and know the country code.” Turn them into Caucasian Los Guerreros.
They also need a new signature taunt, because every time I see them do this thing I think they’re trying to point out the church, the steeple and the whereabouts of The People:
TM-61 are pretty much the only established team in Block A of the Dusty Classic, so their round one cans are Tino Sabbatelli and Riddick Moss. They’re basically American TM-61, down to one of them being T and one of them being M, so let’s just call them TM-1. Their entrance makes them look like two muscular dudes at a sex party bumped into each other, sized each other up and decided to hang out. It’s like watching a Calvin Klein commercial from the 90s. The Performance Center interview pretty much confirms it.
So yeah, TMs 61 and 1 have a probably-too-competitive match, with Moss and Sabbatelli getting in way too much La Resistance-ass offense before getting put away with the Thunder Valley. The announce team tries to put them over as “very successful football players,” which would be more believable if either of them was currently playing football.
No Way Jose and Rich Swann … uh, go to prom?
Also, welcome to the bizarre world we live in where the 6-foot-3, 245-pound guy in a tag match full of cruiserweights is the only one who doesn’t get to be on Raw.
Best: LOL Blake And Murphy
This week’s main event is the long-awaited (cough) showdown between the ORIGINAL Tino Sabbatelli and Riddick Moss, Wesley Blake and Buddy Murphy. The crowd isn’t into it, because who can blame them, but they start to put together something entertaining juuuuust in time for Samoa Joe to stomp out again and ruin their lives. Seriously, that dive Buddy Murphy pulls is brutal and awesome. That guy’s gonna be somebody someday, if they can focus on him for five seconds and give him something to do beyond being International Wesley Blake.
But yeah, Joe shows up, puts them both away and crazy-eye screams at William Regal to give him Shinsuke Nakamura. The response to that isn’t Regal but Shinsuke himself, returning in a neck brace just so he can dramatically REMOVE said neck brace and sprint to the ring. It’s f*cking great, and NXT needs more crazy pull-apart brawls between Japanese dudes who don’t know wrestling’s fake and pissed-off Samoan murder machines who got their jaws broken.
The result, as you might’ve guessed, is Regal making Nakamura vs. Joe for NXT TakeOver: Eh-Rival.
You could’ve made that match a month ago and we would’ve gotten:
1. giant twins with a synchronized swimming gimmick
2. the debut of Domestic Nathan Jones, and
3. a blowoff to professional and emotional breakup of Blake and Murphy
… all right, maybe it’s good that you waited.